Lazarus Author: Trixie Disclaimer: Joss owns them.

Rating: NC 17 Timeline: Takes place after Bring On the Night Summary: Buffy stumbles upon a portal that changes everything... forever. Category: B/A The rumble from the bowels of the plane sounds hungry beneath me. I sit carefully, anxious to avoid any contact between my lividly scraped arms and Giles' tweed. He is asleep and every so often makes a snuffling noise that startles me almost fully, but not quite, from the drowsy stupor I lapsed into sometime on the quiet cab ride to LAX. Giles bought me a strawberry danish and a coffee when we arrived and left me to pick up our tickets. He hasn't said much beyond, “Cream and sugar?” which I have to admit is a relief. I can't take any more words. Ever since I gave my version of the Crispin's Day speech, I've been talking. Fielding questions from the SITs and especially Dawn, who has perfected the art of babbling nonsensically during times of crisis. However, I guess it was her who gave us the idea for the plan of action. ((“I wonder if there are more Slayers out there,” she mused last night, lying flat on her back over three couch cushions, eating strips of bacon dipped in mustard. I was watching her with something akin to repulsed love and jerked in surprise at her comment. “What gives you the idea there are, Dawnie?” She shrugged and looked at me, grease smeared across one lip. “There can't be only five in the world. Bet you five million dollars the Council had tons of them, just waiting to be called.” “Five million dollars?” Anya piped in, eyes alight. “I'll take that bet.” “Quiet,” I whispered, cutting across her speech with the razor of my voice. “You might be right, Dawn. There probably are more.” “More of what, Buffy?” Giles asked, walking into the room, a book perched between his fingers. “More Slayers,” I informed him. “I mean Slayers in Training. It doesn't make sense for there just to be the five— four of us left.” “There were more,” Giles reminded me. “They were killed.” “All of them?” I stressed. “There could be more out there—and right now… with Spike MIA, we need all the muscle we can get. You can't fight a war without soldiers and right now we don't have any.” Giles looked at me. “What about the ones in Los Angeles, Buffy?” My mouth compressed. “We're not calling them.” “But Buffy—“ Willow spoke softly from the corner, where she was busy on her laptop. “We have to concentrate on the SITs now,” I said stiffly. “They're our best hope for survival. Giles—are you sure there aren't any more?” “No,” he relented. “I can't be sure of that. No one really can.” “Isn't there a way we could find out though?” I inquired almost desperately. “The Watcher's Council building? How much of it was destroyed?” “I'm sure there's rubble, but—“ “Exactly. There could be something left,” I said staunchly. “Maybe someone could—Giles, do you know anyone who could check it out for us?” “No one I would trust,” he replied. “I'm afraid there's not too many of us left in the world. They've annihilated close to everyone I have been in contact with over the years. The ones that are left—well, their loyalty to the cause is questionable.”

“What cause?” Dawn asked, flopping over on her belly and grabbing a chicken finger from the platter of munchies on the coffee table. She was the only one who was eating. I could feel my stomach churning even as she voiced her question. Anya glanced at her. “Good versus evil. You know, the whole 'moral' shebang. Where have you been?” “Right here,” Dawn snapped. “And I don't remember any 'cause'.” “We're fighting for good Dawnie,” I told her, quelling my irritation by reminding myself that she was so young. Too young to be dealing with this. “We fight for—for a balance.” She perked up. “Like in Star Wars?” “Sort of,” Willow wrinkled her nose. “Except that Buffy's Luke Skywalker.” “Hey!” I objected. “Watch who you're calling a skinny boy that pouts all the time and has massive father issues.” “Substitute boy for girl and that's you,” Anya said cheerfully. “Not helping,” I frowned at her and turned to my little sister again. “This Big Evil wants to take away the Balance. We can't let them. That's the cause, end of story.” “Not exactly,” Giles murmured. “What do you mean?” I scowled in his general direction. “I thought I summed things up nicely.” “It goes back much farther than you know,” he said. “It was—well, never mind. Some other time when we have a moment for an in-depth tale. As for the issue of the Slayers in Training—“ “It's obvious,” I cut him off softly. “We'll have to go to London ourselves. There's no other way to find the information we need.” “Oooh, road-trip,” Dawn clapped her hands together and smiled, showing mustard-stained teeth. “Just Giles and me,” I responded, rolling my eyes faintly. “I need the rest of you to stay, hole up, research and don't under any circumstances go out at night. We should only be gone for a few days.” “Buffy, I'm not certain that this is a good idea—“ Giles broke in quietly. “I'm not certain we're going to live another day,” I interrupted coolly. “But we're going to try. So everyone will do as I say. Is that clear?” “As crystal,” Giles replied without any inflection but I could see the flare of anger in his eyes. We packed quickly. I took weapons and leather and gave last instructions to Willow and Xander. “If it gets bad,” I whispered to them, before we walked out the door, “call him.”)) They didn't ask who I meant. I suppose they didn't want to say his name anymore than I want to hear it. Giles stirs beside me, his nostrils flaring slightly as he breathes out. He told me to sleep, but I couldn't and haven't been able to for days. It's not as if I don't want to, only that I really can't. I can't sleep until this is finished, until it's done. If that means my death, so be it. I just can't stand by and watch my friends ((Spike)) being manipulated and tortured by this thing that wears my Mother's face with such ease. As if her face belongs to Evil. As if we all do. ((Dawn hugged me so tight before I left. Her face was contorted slightly, as if she wanted to cry but couldn't. Her eyes looked huge on that soft, round face and she pressed her lips to my cheek. “Don't die. Under any circumstances,” she whispered and I laughed. It was all I could do not to weep. “I'm not planning on it,” I said softly. “But I promise to call you first. If I get the urge.” She laughed, then. It was a tiny giggle, but I considered it a mission accomplished. “Don't joke about stuff like that, Buffy. The last time that something big like this happened—you died. I was right there and I couldn't stop it.” “Not the last time,” I reminded her. “Remember Willow? We helped each other.” “Willow wouldn't have hurt us,” she replied naively. “Glory—she was big evil. She came from this thing.”

“I'm not all—what about---“ I knew from the tone of her voice that she. You can't tell me what to do-“ I grabbed her arm and tugged it.” The tears looked bright as they slid down to her neck. “Yes I can. “That's not true.” “There has to be something. And we may find that there's nothing. you came from me. look. I know they're out there. he blinks at me. though to tell you the truth—“ “What? What did you just say?” . I just stared at her. I want you to stay inside at night. 'What about Angel?' and cut her off. inexplicably. “No. “However. That's all I want. Giles. was going to say.” “I need you to get back. do it. I see the lights down below. It's just a feeling I have.” “What?” she said belligerently. “When haven't I listened to you? Done what you said? I had to live for you. I just meant that—“ “I know what you meant. yes.” She shrugged.” she answered petulantly and crossed her arms. I just want you to stay alive. save him and make sure he's all right.” I said sincerely. I would remain only cautiously optimistic. because I have to leave—“ “Leave. as you call them. it will take a lot of effort. creating dark spots on the collar of her sweater. I'll settle for action. “I really don't want to ever hear that word come out of your mouth again.” he says quietly.” I reply dryly. “Because the ground looks pretty close.” I murmured and she looked stricken. Maybe.” The dark bruises on my wrists begin to throb.” He fails to smile at my comment and looks past me into the night.” I answer firmly. “Thank you.“Maybe we all do. Pressing my nose against the window. “Should we—should we try and save Spike?” I wanted desperately to say. I'll have to… I'll work it out when I get back.”)) The plane banks sharply as we begin to land. is he? And Dawn… in case you've forgotten. then?” “Hopefully. You know that you're not evil. ok? I can't do this if you're not here. she muttered.” “Your feelings. Any at all. It's just a theory I have. have turned out to be on the mark in the past. Her head pillowed against my shoulder. Not Mom.” I wondered briefly at how she could push Spike from her thoughts so quickly. What I meant was that somehow we all come from this thing. So listen to me. “Fuck? You're not Mom. Finding these girls will require – well. “No.” she admitted through milky sobs and collapsed into my embrace. “Goodbye. “Just do as I say.” She looked at me. I need you to be here when I get back. “We're landing. Please don't take this personally. “Oh!” Fumbling with his glasses. “I ask you to—Dawn. I think the first place we should begin looking is in what remains of the Sicherheitsrat. hanging heavily against the inky black.” A smile touches his mouth briefly.” I repeated and pressed her against my heart. “It's not like what I think matters to you! You're going to fucking England without me—“ Too surprised to even answer for a moment. Dawn. Buffy. “You're all I have left. Everything shakes a bit and Giles awakens with a startled. How she could casually backhand Andrew and feel so little regret. Buffy. I need you to listen just this once. what do I care?” she responded. Please. didn't I? When you died and left me behind? Don't tell me what to do! I've always done what you've asked and it hasn't gotten me anything—“ “You think that's why I ask you to do things?” I questioned her. “I somehow knew you would. Dawnie. Because if you die— you're all I have left. “You mean me right? I'm this evil key that you didn't even ask for—that you had to die for!” Breathing out. “Optimism is a waste of time. “I *will* find them. I tried to keep a lid on my tightly held temper. Not right now. “We have a lot of work ahead of us. Dad's not going to do it. “Ok. you don't.

I know what Spike did. Giles. as I step onto the aisle after him. “I think I've been inactive for too long.” Shocking myself with the words. He has a soul now.” “So many people that Spike is important to you?” My temper flares. I've lost a lot of people. Perhaps they believe it helps boost his morale. “and what I just said was in German. As we step through onto the off ramp. as we walk through a Heathrow teeming with people. “What's going on?” Giles rubs his forehead. Everything's different. I wonder how far Spike could go before I would act. stretching as they gather their luggage and begin to exit the plane. “Xander told me you haven't slept for days. “But I hardly need to tell you that.” He glances at me. “I don't know if I mean that.” “Don't try to bait me. Whatever it wants.” “On what. Do you understand that?” “Yes. I'm sorry. Giles. People begin to clap. I realize that years ago I could never have admitted that to Giles. Buffy. “I will attempt to understand this like I did your affair with Angel.” he reminds me gently. we don't say a word.” For a long while. I was sleeping with him but it's over. He appears uncomfortable and shifts in the seat as the plane noses down and sets upon the runway.” I reply. However. And that's the last thing we need at this juncture.” “Your point?” I snap. his eyes searching.He looks surprised for a moment and then his face clears. You've witnessed his handiwork on countless occasions. Buffy.” “I'm not keen. I watch as people begin to stand. Buffy. I want to make sure that we have enough muscle to fight the bad guys is all. they tend to clap when a pilot makes a smooth landing. if Spike hurts anyone—if he hurts someone I care about.” I return. for some odd reason. that's what we used to call the Watcher's Council Building. Finally. Now I can. “So we can find Spike? Buffy. “It's Spike. Not to mention the fact that he's our best link into the mind of this big Evil.” “Oh. in a resounding wave of applause that echoes in my ears. I think Spike is the Key. “It depends.” he responds mildly. “Would you try to stop me?” he asks.” Surprised at my own response. what exactly is your relationship with him? Because you've been awfully keen on finding him. Suddenly I remember the cold bathroom floor and the sting of his fists tangling in my hair and know how far. exactly?” “On who it was that he hurt. Buffy.” “I'm fine. Buffy. “A European custom… at times. Giles speaks quietly. “Oh.” “In the language that doesn't exist?” I joke.” “Don't you?” “I just—he's important to me. murdering psychopath. he hesitantly says.” I mock him slightly and then shrug. We definitely need to run into some baddies so I can work off this excess energy. “But I don't want him hurt. “Yes! Why is that so difficult to understand?” “Perhaps because Spike is a vicious.” he pauses and seems to consider for a second. “We had…something. I know what he is. “What I want is to get the job done so we can go home and find—“ He's silent for a bit.” Wondering why I'm discomfited at the thought. Slinging my bag over my back. “My point is that you are without a doubt heading for a breakdown. I feel the bubbles in my knuckles crack and wince.” “I've known you long enough to glean when you're lying. The Council was originally based in Berlin with sections scattered across the Rhineland as well. I will see to it that he's killed.” . lying through my clenched teeth.

Hurt Spike for disappearing when I need him most. “Where am I?” I ask them directly. They continue to stare. Screaming like the bombs as they hurtle through the air and— It all stops. the wind rushing over my face something only found in my deepest. I wonder sometimes why she remains a form made of electricity so long after I destroyed Glory's castles in the sky but it goes the way of Spike's cruel smile and Angelus' fingers against my lips as I slept. like the loudest heartbeat and I fall back. London is shrouded with lights even in the cloak of night. hurt Angel. Hurt Angel. With a sickening crack. but the rubble has been only partially cleared. my body hitting the ground with a noise akin to a bomb tearing through a building.“Do you? It seems your judgement is impaired when it comes to him. I flush. scream but I'm not sure Giles can hear me.” “What you feel for Angel?” he asks. “Where am I?” “How did you – how did you get in here?” one of the men closest to me asks. Around one of the books is a buzzing energy that leaps slightly as I look at it. “I think I found something!” I yell in Giles' general direction. Blinking furiously. Always. Not stinging. and we halt by the customs desk. Everything spins and twirls and the insane desire to throw up clutches my belly but I swallow it back. Now they simply look like raven black blobs against the slate grey of the street. feeling my bones knitting back together underneath my skin. scream. He says something. I *am* going to start screaming. We pass through Customs and Baggage Claim without difficulty and without conversation. She hurts a bit to hold. Like a live wire about to explode. but it's lost in the sounds of the night. The mystical energy still crackles in the air around the ruined building. I reach out and touch it. all baring a striking resemblance to the men in black from that Will Smith movie. where the Watcher's Council used to stand. I flex my fingers. “Be careful Buffy!” Giles calls as I stumble over a wooden beam lying across my path. I'm not sure anyone can hear me. Breathing with difficulty. wood and glass are still smoking slightly and I can feel the slight tinge of heat. It reminds me of the way Dawn feels when I grab her. yellow as lemons. Glancing at the title of the book (“Hauptschluessel”) which is another word I can't pronounce. Just then I know why. Beside it are the tattered and burned remains of hundreds of manuscripts. Sitting at the table are hundreds of men in suits. I'm curled in the corner of a scarily huge conference room. swarming over my flesh. I approach.” I snarl. I can feel my hands trembling with the need to hurt someone. As I begin to open my eyes. cautiously touching the tape and ducking underneath it. Parts of the stone. Hurt Giles for what he said to me. leaflets and diaries. Hurt Dawn for coming into my life out of nowhere. bzzt sound over and over again and oh God. Blackness zips me up and I think my eyes are closed but I can feel myself falling. And the buzzing. bearable for the living. I find myself next to something that looked as if it used to be a conference table and a wall drowning in bookshelves. It's the same as it was with Angel—“ “It is not the same. Like thousands of bees. “I'll check this side!” I shout back by way of a response. We travel down the maze of roads to Somerset. in my head and in my stomach and my lungs and I scream. As Giles pays the cabbie. and looks so green if she's standing in the right light. God. “What I feel for Angel is completely different than what I feel for Spike. and all staring straight at me with something skin to astonishment. “Are you all deaf?” I call out. So sweet) begins to sound in my ears and spread throughout my body. Police tape. dumbfounded. his tone suspicious and frightened all at the same time. The buzzing begins to pound. I begin to hear bombs going off just then. just making that bzzt. “Felt. . I shush it all away and make this life I have. The buzzing (like bees.” He doesn't comment. Stepping over shards of glass and sifting my way through a pile of papers. waving my arms. Tentatively. I crouch down and ignore the sudden sting of the gashes threading across my arms. I land against something solid. I sit up and unfurl myself into a standing position. darkest nightmares. surrounds the site. I'm struck with the sensation that something is… off. Vaguely I think that I should take my palm away from the soft leather of its bindings but I can't help stroking the edges. I follow my former Watcher outside where we hail one of the large Taxis that I used to find so fascinating.

Big muscles. I don't want to know. “Grab her. Big. I gasp and shudder. past more men in suits. There are no taxi cabs. There are no women but I have no time to ruminate on that fact as I gather speed. “You *know* that! I'm the Slayer. clutching blood streaked noses. Named Bubba. he said all of you were dead. hearing the hot. My brow creases as I take in the people walking around. though so many creepy things are happening I tend to think not. I jog down the street. “We haven't met. Freedom. sweaty sounds of pursuit behind me as I race down halls. “I am quite sure I would remember such a dubious pleasure. The roads aren't properly paved. sensing fresh air. What is your name.” “Use me?” I reiterate. terrifying smile spreads across his grey features. Shocked. you don't?” Quentin says softly.” I snap. I see that I'm on the same street where Giles and I stopped to sift through the rubble. what?” “Come here. My Watcher will be looking for me—“ “Your Watcher?!” one exclaims. Look. “What did it look like?” I glance at him. holding out my hand. Splinters scrape my cheeks and bite into the soft flesh around my mouth. Now… who are you and why are you masquerading as a Slayer in Training?” “You don't—wait. Blinking desperately. “You mean Rupert Giles? So Ripper is back…” “No— I didn't say 'Ripper'…wait. But there are no charred and burnt remains of a building now. his hair falling over his eyes. through doorways. Everything looks slightly different. Really dead. So unless I stumbled on some way back into Heaven. How long was I out? Glancing around me.” I hear the word 'grab' and immediately wrench on the knob. Summers. Did you get someone to lie to—?” “Dead?” Quentin Travers replies. Jesus. hands and legs flying. I enter a vast. A quick kick with my steel toed boots sends the doors crashing open and I sprint out into… bright sunshine. each one taller than the last. A small boy is handing out newspapers on the corner. It shatters a second later and I leap through the opening. Leather. shaking my head as I attack the door with the rage of a hunted thing. And you know that to. He looks at me belligerently. damnit. I need to get out there. Now what in the hell is going on here? Giles said you were dead! In fact. God. In what looks to be some sort of business meeting for funeral directors. we've already met. Pounding down marble steps. “It was green. “I'm nothing of the sort. And you're supposed to be dead. I'll just get out of your way—“ “A book?” the man echoes. “I don't think so. Just a towering structure that appears to pierce the heavens with its five steeples. It could just be London fashion. somehow. Walking towards him. I feel the fear slice through me. Look. Two fall back. his eyebrows shooting up.” he replies. “Did I say Watcher? I meant boyfriend. searching for any sign of Giles. my hand closing over the handle of the door.“I didn't. Suddenly a cloth soaked in some sweet smelling liquid is shoved against my face. I believe we could use you.” I respond warily. I'm guessing he was lying?” “Giles?” Quentin repeats and then a slow. drawing blood. I use one hand to hold him off as I kick the door as hard as I can until the wood breaks. do you have amnesia or something? Because hi. “Got the money?” . girl?” “Buffy Summers. But I have to. Quentin. No one seems to be following me anymore and I look around. “Can I have a paper?” I inquire. “You? You're supposed to be dead. soaring lobby and see double doors up ahead.” “Oh. Strangely energetic. He'll be worried—I should go—“ I trail off as one of the men stands and I get a good look at him. stepping back. nor was I ever. I say coldly. Like blown to bits dead. Miss.” I reply helplessly. their clothes definitely not what I'm used to seeing. my fingers itching to reach for the door knob. I should really go. “I just touched some book and I ended up here. It holds fast and I lash out with my fists at the men descending upon me. but one continues to lunge at me. edging towards the door. You hate me.

“2003?” I ask hopefully. Un-changing even when I close my eyes and wish it away.” “Can't do that. I suddenly recall. . Buffy. does it want—does it want Dawn? “I'm going to throw up.” he responds reasonably.” he pleads and then pauses. “Don't do it here!” His fingers curve tightly around my black lace covered bicep and suddenly he seems to notice what I'm wearing.” I smile slightly at him. I've stumbled into the middle of fucking World War Two and for some reason Quentin Travers is alive and I have to think. “1941. You don't look like you have much in the way of a place to go. January 3rd.” “Your sister goes somewhere to puke?” a smirk plays on my lips as I bend down automatically and help him gather up the newspapers. dropping the papers onto the curb. “Why… why are those buildings--.” “You want a place to puke?” “What?” He looks uncomfortable. They are a blur. searching the headlines. 1941 The boy stares at me. “What in th'hell?” “Don't ask questions.” he amends. “We're in the middle of a bloody war. gazing at me with something akin to worry and fear. “I'm Parr Wentworth… and you're a bit strange. The third. the ink leaving smudges between my fingers.” “That's logical. In bold print.” he says without any inflection at all.” “Don't.” “Ah. “Understandable. “I've no idea what you're wonderin'. “What's the date?” “It's January. I can hear the blood pounding in my ears and it sounds like the roar of the plane that brought me to this nightmare and the meaty clicks of my heart as it beats beneath the haven of my ribs.” I mutter.” I say. All that stands out is the date. “Who're you anyway?” “Buffy. Black and white. “Bloody hell!” the boy emits a grunt and grabs my arm. “Just… just – give me answers.” I growl and he looks startled as I grab it. “But I'm still going to throw up.what's with all the rubble?” He looks even more frightened. “London. I shake my head. Miss?” Feeling sick. His curious blue eyes rake over my quivering hands and the sweat beading on my upper lip as I step away.“No.” I agree. “That's the only name I can give you. and throw you in th' institution!” World War Two. so you're mysterious like?” he lets go of my arm and leans down to pick up the spill of papers that are flapping in the wind. Pressing a hand to my chest.” He laughs then but it's a startled laugh and I notice a gap in between two of his yellowing bottom teeth. “My sister… I can take you to a place if you want. Taking in my jeans and boots. you daft git! Don't go askin' questions like that to people! They'll think you're insane like. I shake my head again. ignoring the gurgling in my stomach for a moment. “Where am I?” I ask him evenly. he shakes his head. Who sent me here? Was the First trying to get me away from my friends? Trying to separate me to keep me from rescuing Spike and… God.” I whisper. “Is there somethin' wrong with you. my hand drifting down to my roiling belly.

he nods again. “You really know nothing?” “It's not my fault I was too busy saving the world to go to class. C'mon. “But why are you staying here if it's been bombed?” “I don' stay here. Parr. suddenly aware of how precarious my position here was. “Cathie does. I've read books… a couple at least. he replied stoutly. “A spy? I don't even know what the Luftwhatever is. and it dissolves a little bit more every time I breathe. The leather of the window seat crumbled slightly when I sat down hours ago. I nodded and then asked. “Luftwaffe's air raids destroyed that. very still.” Regarding me with temerity dancing in the sky-blue of his eyes.” I whisper to the window.her.” “Who is this Raisa?” I inquired. “I don't exist yet.but Cathie can't. But I'll find my way back. The material was springy underneath my fingertips and I imagined it as it once was. Pointing to the sagging side of the wall and the rusty.” “How can you trust me. “I think I dropped out of the sky.” “Why can't she?” I inquired. Nasty buggers.” I laughed at him.of. Parr?” “You might be a spy. “I shouldn' even have brought you here.” I muttered under my breath. there's no accent to speak of.” I said dryly. “Catharine'd never do that! She's much too dainty.He flushes and whispers.” “No doubt. “I can't tell. he cried. I'm just—I'm lost. he shrugged. The smell of gunpowder and dust was heavy in the air. And Raisa. what I meant was that Cathie has a place where she lives. “I like her already.” “Luft… what?” Shaking his head. I don't take anyone there that I don't trust. “The Luftwaffe is the German Air Force.” he answered caustically. wrinkling his nose.” +++ I sit very. No Joyce Summers with thighs stained crimson. that one. wailing against my father's shoulders for me to get.the. “And you don' look German—plus. I don't belong.” “Wouldn't surprise me a bit. Parr?” I ask him seriously.” I said carefully.” His eyes widening. Parr looked at me. My fingers tap the smudged glass at the spot where I can see Parr selling papers on the bustling street. Nah. pasting on a fake smile as I turned back to where he was standing by the decrepit kitchen sick and blackened oven. Raisa'll have my guts for garters for sure.” he mumbled. startled. I say with my Mum. I'm afraid if I shift or make any sudden movements that I too will fade into nothingness like so much dust to the wind.” he said. running a hand over the ragged cushions of the gold and red couch. “I think I have amnesia.” . my breath fogging the pane of glass in front of me. Buffy. you know?” “Thanks. “Like I said…bit strange. “You're a bit of a nutter. Or… now. I can take you there. But you'd have to be quiet 'bout it. She's got acid for a tongue. before destruction. He took me on a tour of the aging building before he left. I know what they did to people back then. “That's the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me.hell. After all.” he responded thoughtfully.” he replied. gaping holes in the floor.” “What?” I replied. identity crisis's aside. then. There has been no birth.” With remnants of High School history beginning to drip back through my brain.out. the strange name spilling from between my lips like loose change. “You remind me of Raisa. the tendons in his neck standing out in sharp relief as he shouts his wares to the public. It's an interesting thought. “Why not.” “Exactly.” “That's a good point. “I'm not a spy.

“Don't be like those ladies askin' for a kiss. a hand pressed hard against my throat. “Don't step there —there's glass. I sit now. Cool and bright.” he responded.you'll get hurt. Whispering. surprised. they should be clearing away all the wreckage from these bombs. “Russia originally. staring at me.” “What?” I asked. you know? It's just cause I'm out sellin' papers and they think… well. on top of Cordelia. obviously embarrassed. It's cold. I don't know why he didn't ask why my lip is bruised. “Buffy?” I jerk awake. Suddenly wondered if he was still alive… in 2003. fell through to nothingness. Not until I've found out what's happening—until I've found a way back. the blood from her stomach splattered across my thighs. I think. his gravely voice. Quentin Travers'.” A sharp ache sliced through my chest as I thought of Xander. maybe they think I don't have a home? Maybe I'll want to live with them… and you know. rubbing my eyes as I feel something poking my shoulder. “Bit lost too. I love you. Did he live in a nursing home now--? My mind whirled as I whispered.” he shook his finger at me.” he answered vaguely. my eyes sliding over the flaxen pale of his hair which fell over eyes the colour at the core of flames and looked as if they had seen far too much. “May be wartime but I'm no desperate enough to want a woman old enough to my Mum. I don't think Raisa likes cleanin' much and she's the one who found this place. “What're you doin'?” “Cleaning.” I gazed back at him. faintly amused.” he answered. found Spike.” “Where's she from?” I asked distractedly. relieved. Sickening thwack of Faith's body as she fell. why there are deep gashes around my hairline. tramping down onto the street to his corner. and watch him. I'd best be getting to these papers. blunt in the muted air of the Magic Box.” Parr said. “I love you. You're quite pretty. “Times are hard. Parr.” “Oh.” I snapped back. nailing boards to my windows to keep the night out. whoever she was. drawing up to his full height. I dream. I can't sleep.” Parr glanced at me.” he waved carelessly and walked out the door. Cold on top of me as he cried low. “Your sister's not exactly a happy homemaker. did not like to clean. lying on his bed listening to the strains of country music as he mourned Cordelia or Willow… or both. “I think y'are lost. I know I still look like I got into some kind of fight.” he defended.“Cathie's friend. the hole in her lover's heart spreading to her own. Of course… this is wartime.” I wondered if I would ever see him again. Xander. Willow's eyes gone red as she surveyed Tara's bent body. I guess— but… oh never mind. “Old women come onto you?” “Wellll…” he muttered.” “Bye Buffy. right. I curl down into the seat. suddenly feeling a little sad for him. “She's a God”. . “Much too young for you. They won't sell themselves. Lost… with nowhere to go. Wrapping my arms around myself. “What?” is all I get out before I'm knocked flat on my back.” “Oh…” I said quietly. my eyes drifting shut. why my arms are scraped. This Catharine. As best as I tried to clean up before I got on the plane with Giles. again and again.” “Still… if you're around. “Not that you're old. Maybe he's used to seeing people like me. picking up his papers from where they lay as a bundle on the rickety kitchen table. “How old are you?” “Thirteen. “Well. protected Dawn… As I sleep. I take it?” “Cathie doesn't have time. Buffy. “Goodbye. “She an' Raisa are always busy doing somethin' and besides.” My lips quirked. picking up a broom that was set haphazardly against one wall and beginning to sweep up the bits of jagged metal on the floor. hopefully we can just be friends. Glory's cackles and Dawn's screams melding into one until I couldn't distinguish and I was afraid I was hitting the wrong one (sister) with the hammer. I love---“ Angel. Spike.

“What business do you have there?” “My boyfriend lives there.” “Too bad. “Buffy.” I break in. I was just crashing here for a few minutes.” She turns slightly and lowers her voice.” “Parr?” the one with the silver eyes grinds out.” the other one.” I reply dryly.” I say reluctantly. “No. “I'm headed over to Somerset anyway. “Parr shouldn't have brought you here. No.” Catharine says softly. taking a step forward.” Catharine shushes her gently. their lashes blanketing pale cheeks.” “It's just my style. I assume he knows her. never mind . who are you?” I choke out. infuriated. 101 questions?” I growl back and they both look surprised. “Is that where you're from?” “Sort of.” I reply. “Personally.” Raisa bites off scathingly. “Parr brought me here. I stand. to stave off further attack.” Catharine says.” I gaze at them curiously. “You know. They both advance closer. looking interested.” the one I guess is Raisa snarls. “But now that you are… well.” I hedge. “It's not as if we have any time to clean it. the black whip of her hair hanging over one shoulder. lowering my voice just enough to suggest naughty happenings. “Did you ask Parr any questions?” “Only why this place is such a mess. “We have to—bring her—safe?” “You don't have to bring me anywhere.” I say without preamble. He'll just have to save his hard-on for another day. “Otherwise… not really. the quiver of suspicion in her voice. “Why do you care if I know anything about you?” Raisa's glance flits to me.” “Why are you dressed as a man. whom I think must be his sister Catharine. “How many times am I going to be asked that question? Because it's starting to bore me. “Not until we get some answers. Cathe. I couldn't care less who either of you are. “You'll have to come with us until we find out how much Parr actually blathered about. I'm not a spy. I strain to hear her next words. and I read all of the magazines from America. “He said I could only stay for a little while but I fell asleep. but two women gaze back at me in startled astonishment.” “Then who are you?” Catharine asks. “I'm just visiting here you could say. glancing up into silver eyes. and I'm leaving. staring as not one. “It is so. “How do you know fight training manoeuvres? Are you a spy?” I roll my eyes.” “I haven't heard that. outraged. “What is this.“Who are you?” a voice spits and I blink. “Look. “Who are you and how do you know him?” “I'm no one. grasping the person's shoulders and hurling him or her up and over my head. “I told you that little shit would only be trouble.” “Parr didn't say anything.” I protest. we'll have to keep you until we find out what you know.” “If Parr brought her here. I'm sure that doesn't figure into your plans so I'll just be—“ “Somerset?” Raisa replied questioningly. androgynous clothing is in nowadays. not wanting to reveal too much information. says calmly. taking in their knee length skirts and blouses. then?” Raisa inquires coolly.” I answer. “He'll be waiting. Bouncing back onto my feet. more quietly than her counterpart. “You must have parachuted in here.it's not his fault.” “This place isn't a mess!” Raisa exclaims.” I respond. It's not a big deal.” “What does that mean?” Raisa growls.

” I point out to the black haired girl. I find my arms in Raisa's shockingly strong grip. I'll consider it. glinting in the watery light of the stars.” she remarks. “Well…you'll have to come with us. rubble spilling from their innards onto the streets. Until we do—keep the questions about business. Cathe—“ . I can smell dust and copper. “Besides. and for the first time. will you?” “No need to snarl or use language.” “I'll come. with the vague idea of escaping when we get near Somerset Street. “We don't talk about our work with strangers.” Attempting to brush past them. Cathe. We fought in school. it doesn't matter. Do I make myself clear?” “Stop being so hard on her. We walk in a cloak of inky darkness. “We're doing something you wouldn't understand. “Don't be stupid.” Raisa looks down at me without even a hint of a smile.” Raisa scowls at her. the air sharp and new. I think she's innocent.” Catharine giggles. her green eyes sparking with amusement. Her hands tighten like vises and she murmurs.” “When you lose that 'holier than thou' attitude. “Are you sure she's not your sister?” “Oh do shut up. “Just stop fighting. I sense an element of humour to her tone. keeping a trained eye out for the street I want. It's part of our friendship. I'd imagine it's different than in the magazines—“ “For fuck's sakes.” “That's what I've been saying. their sides hanging listlessly. “I've had enough with the trying to reason with you. “Let's go. looking like a wraith against the night. Raisa. Buffy. It was Cathe's other brother. so that's why you hate Parr.” I tease Raisa.” “It's not really any of my business.” “So… apparently jokes aren't welcome along with questions?” I reply. we don't know for certain.” I answer. Parr wouldn't have brought her here if he didn't trust her. Buffy. Thought he was too good for her. actually. but there's a note of affection in her tone that she can't hide.” Raisa answers.” Catharine glances at Raisa.” I reply wearily. “We always argue. then… how do you two know each other? Friends from way back?” Catharine smiles. I'd be appreciative if you could tell me more about American fashions. girls. Catharine's brown hair flows down her back. I'll see you later. “See anything. “So we'll have to take you for a bit.” “I don't think so.” she snaps. Cathe!” Raisa interrupts.” “All right. but you could stop being such a bitch.” “Ah. “Just a thought. “You know. “Where are we going?” I pose the question without much interest to distract them. “As I said… you're coming with us. who doesn't look at me.” I give in. All windows have been blacked out and there are no street lamps. Now and again we pass buildings blurry from the bombings.” Catharine says chidingly. frustrated. “Still. “Can't you stop the prattling about fashion for one minute? We don't know who she is.” Catharine counters primly. a smirk playing on my lips. “She probably doesn't know a thing. Raisa. as if blood hangs over the city when it sleeps. “It wouldn't be if you weren't so superficial.” “Try me. displaying perfectly white teeth. Perhaps you'll be more amendable to answering our questions outside? Plus. removing that stick from your ass wouldn't hurt you.what secrets you think you have. “Not exactly how you would describe us.” “Ok.” +++ My face and wounds flush pink from the cold as we walk outside. irritated as I still don't see the street sign I want.” she responds. Raisa was going out with my brother and I hated her for it.

You were obviously wandering around without a clue what to do. my foot lashes out and connects with a snarling mouth. It isn't until I hear a cough behind me that I remember my companions. I'm not surprised to see looks of horror and shock on their faces.An arm encircles my neck from behind. “I wouldn't mind adding another Slayer to my list. Slayer in Waiting. “Thought you'd be fighting a little girl. and you are?” He laughs suddenly. adrenaline rushing through my veins like the comfort food it always has been.” “What?” I shake my head to clear it. Whistler has been trying to help us but—“ “You know Whistler?” I break in. how different was the concept of a Slayer back then—now? Especially during a War? I have to piece all this together and find a way out of this Hell. “And who did you think we worked for?” . “If you had needed a stake. I was right then—you did parachute in here.” “No… I didn't. sending an exasperated glance in Catharine's direction. huh? Can't deal with the big leagues?” “Slayer.” Catharine says pointedly. “What's the matter?” I taunt. It seems like the safest answer right now. about?” Catharine asks petulantly.” I say weakly.” My mind is racing. I think I'll be off now.” “And what were you on. “You do too?” Catharine responds delightedly. Slayers in Waiting. Spike. I lose myself in the fight. Raisa clamps a hand over my mouth and her long. About the work you'll be doing. I'm Buffy. “Look—“ I begin. You'll stay with us. I'm quite surprised he didn't tell you about us. didn't you? To work with us?” “Umm… yes?” I reply. I suppose…it's the best Safe House for miles. Whistler. What have I gotten myself into? More importantly. then? I thought I must be out of style—“ “We'll get her some clothes later. His nails dig into the scrapes on my arms and I groan with freshly remembered pain.” “You didn't?” Raisa looks affronted and then pensive. “What a fool. “Why didn't you tell us you were a Slayer in Waiting? You must have known who we are. flipping backwards and kicking his knees. sending him to the ground. really. Squinting in the blackness. “You work for the Resistance!” I exclaim. “Oh.” Suddenly I realize what they do. my entire body trembling.” Raisa interrupts. that's right.” He steps closer and I feel his breath on my face.” he grounds out. “ I'm the Slayer. I chop both hands down on the wrist.will. “So that isn't the fashion. Turning to look at them. “If you ever shout that again.” I watch him fade into the night.” she enunciates and her eyes go narrow with suspicion. sticking out her hand. “We only know him in passing. Catharine looks relieved. but Raisa cuts me off. elegant nails dig into my teeth. blood pounding in my ears. “I don't think he knew I was here. wiping the blood off his lips with the back of his hand. He stands. “Bloody Whistler!” Raisa cries. I smell vampire on the flesh and feel a prickle of excitement. I don't think we've met though. But I'm sure we'll meet again. I. “First we have to explain some things to you. Seeing as you've got some back-up. you could have just asked. I take it mutely. and I feel a sudden trickle of sweat down the back of my spine.” Raisa says. “Raisa Volchcova. I seek out his eyes. “Catharine Wentworth. We give him information and he passes it on. Oh… God.you. eliciting a howl of pain from my attacker and a grunt of satisfaction from me. “The name is Spike.” “Well I just got to town. Spinning around. Jesus. sure I heard wrong. “Maybe we didn't get the word out well enough. Slayer. But he's been our link to other Slayers in Waiting around the world.kill. Oh.

” Raisa's mouth twists. its edges brown and burnt. “His name is Angel. “if you ate it. probing the patch of flesh near my left breast. I clarify. “A vampire… a vampire with a soul? What's his name?” They both look at my white.” she begins softly. no. himself! Of course he doesn't want us killing his own kind!” “He's a vampire with a soul. “He's a vampire.” “Where's your headquarters?” I change the subject swiftly. “I agree with you. finally taking a bite of the rolled oats. it is a necessary evil. I'm sure they told you you'd be working for the Resistance. which is a relief. “Unlike regular Resistance fighters.” Catharine laughs. Rai. there is no need to teach us battle techniques. how to fire a gun—“ I wince imperceptibly. You know how they depend on our contact to do that.” “Your contact?” I ask. obviously annoyed. You know that—Whistler explained it to you. “I thought we were only down with the vampire fighting.” Dawn spreads over the sky and the sharp splotch of sun hurts my eyes. my cheek pressed against cold. are we in… hiding or something?” “Didn't Whistler tell you anything?” Raisa sneers.” I glance to where she sits in the corner by the door. yes?” “Um. Seeing my distaste.” “They just create more.” Catharine corrects her. obviously annoyed. “It's the best way to keep your strength up. “I mean.Realizing that I've again cast myself as the enemy. a worried tone in her voice. “That makes the difference. I sit at the window seat. “She probably didn't get debriefed. Eat it. “People aren't to know we're Slayers. hmm?” “Our vampire Slaying is done on the side. Instead.” “Oh.” Catharine's sleek fall of brown hair glints in the morning light. “We don't have a specific one. How to hold an alias.” “What if one day he hasn't had any lunch and he thinks our necks look particularly tasty—“ I interrupt. dirty glass and bits of tape that cling to it in the shape of Xs. You have a long day ahead of you. They are cold and faintly salty. yeah…?” . but otherwise have no discernible flavour. When you were recruited. We're supposed to be using our bodies.” “Who does know we're Slayers?” I inquire. Not our trigger finger. finally letting go of me.” “I still don't like it.” Raisa snaps. tense mass of strength. curling my legs beneath me.” she shoots back. From many different things. Catharine frowns at her. Raisa… he's just doing his job. “It's strictly forbidden by our bloody contact. “He'll be yours too. rooted to the spot ever since Catharine's hastily spoken words.” Raisa whispers.” “But… we're Slayers.” Catharine nods. a wiry. “Bloody figures he wouldn't want us killing vampires. That could create more problems than a thousand guns ever would. we are taught basics. “Oh. Buffy. It looks so disgusting that I'm pretty sure my stomach would reject it should I try and force it down my throat. “Poor girl… you thought you wouldn't have a heavy work load. “I'm not hungry. “Guns aren't big on solving problems. Raisa mutters.” Catharine comments.” Raisa laughs derisively. Buffy—we are in hiding. Unfortunately. My hand clutches a bowl of slushy oatmeal that Catharine handed to me a few minutes ago. white skin and Raisa shrugs. “It would be better.

“I was deceived.” I laugh shortly.” I retort.” I whisper.” Raisa hisses. “We are human. “At my Watcher's urgings.” Raisa puts in.” Raisa snaps. “is that the Watcher's Council is exactly what we are hiding from. “Don't make her talk about it.” I giggle in Raisa's direction. “He's gorgeous. We have to get you ready for your meeting with Angel.” “Give me a break. “Is that a fact?” I shiver.he did not tell me what side I was fighting on. yes.” My breath hitches. All I know is that he was recruited by Whistler—“ “So he and Whistler are friends?” . I began the training and everything seemed all right.” Catharine grins. feeling as if icy fingers are crawling up my spine.” Catharine whispers. 'Hitler's a bad man!'” “So they're more on board with the. what do you mean a secret branch? Aren't we hired out by the Watcher's Council? They must have some sort of affiliation with the British army. “Who knows how long they've been gathering them? Whistler's trying to find them as quickly as he can… but there's just not enough of him to go around. “If you choose to be juvenile.” I say softly. “Yes it is.” I sigh. looking away.“What they didn't tell you is that this is a secret branch of it. standing and stretching her arm above her head.” Catharine gasps. “The long and short of it is that the Watcher's Council isn't exactly waving signs that say.” “Excuse me?” “Buffy…” Catharine bites her lip. “What she means.” Raisa answers. “Very taciturn. “Oh—the one who you went out with. three years ago… everything was different. “My brother. “Humans don't know we exist of course—“ “Wait a second. everything just became very muddled – when the war began… my Watcher--. “Do you?” she murmurs. “They really told you nothing.” Raisa's eyes flash for a moment. I was just teasing.” “Your Watcher?” I reply incredulously. “How many Slayers in Training have they caught?” “No one's sure. “Tell me about him. We've got other people helping of course— Jane's in France—“ “Who's Jane?” I inquire.” Catharine responds quietly. “Besides.” Raisa explains.” “I understand. you're going to get us all killed. “Yes. A vampire with a soul… though I'm still not sure how that works. Soon though.” “What do you mean?” my eyes narrow. then. “How long have you known him?” “He's been a contact of ours for about a year. I assumed—“ “You joined the army?” I break in.” Catharine smiles.” “I'll bet. “It's not as if we know very much. Like a dark Prince in a fairytale. She scowls. I'm not just a Slayer. slumping back against the window and setting the bowl of oatmeal to my side. 'Hitler? Yay!' signs. anyhow. When I was called. “I wanted to help my country… after all. I did. My Watcher—he sold me into the service of the German Army.” “We don't have time for that.

My Mother—she has a slight problem with alcohol.” “We're not really supposed to patrol.” “He had quite a reputation. Such long adventures. “Does Parr know what you do?” She nods. Parr looks after her more often that not.” “But usually they're the ones starting the wars. “But he's a dedicated member of the cause.” “Very funny.” Catharine says whimsically.” “What happened to your father?” I inquire gently. Which I suppose is admirable. or so Whistler tells us.” Raisa replies sardonically. not that I know of. Buffy. Dawn staring at the door as if it will open at her command. “I had to tell him.” “So what do you do. and I had to explain to him why I couldn't come by as much.” Catharine supplies. attempting to grasp the notion of a world that is not under siege by some dark demon force—but rather… by other humans. . “But we do anyway. She begins to run the water and wisps of steam rise from the crystal stream. “Oh yeah?” “I don't see any torment. “Like a novel. “But isn't that always the way? We're an engine without a spark. “A bit. More often than not however we assist in training the soldiers in battle techniques. Giles searching. “Unfortunately. “Its funny that we managed to screw it up this time.“No. Home. which is more than can be said of most families. Willow and Xander researching. We need all the help we can muster. her bow shaped mouth curved in a smile without any humour. “There most definitely are not many. her movements smooth and controlled. What does it mean when its us who are doing it?” “I think it means we've got a lot to learn. “We don't do anything especially different than the regular Resistance. but Whistler knows of him. Most would rather harvest us.” Catharine comments.” My heart hurts for a moment. “Have you heard of him?” My stomach gurgles and I shift in the seat. her brow creased in thought. After all. “I see it in his eyes. actually. But we are in deeper hiding. There's a lot of pain in them. gazing out of the window in the direction of Somerset. We're a dying breed.” Raisa interrupts with a sardonic glance at her friend. other things that you will learn as we go along. Spike —Spike lost. Apparently he's very concerned with helping Slayers. without feeling. I glance out the window at the corner where Catharine's brother sells newspapers. “We can't forget that. she's right. “I'm sorry.” Raisa says. we pass intelligence to those in France and… well.” Startled for a moment by her words. exactly?” I ask. and shrug.” “Why should you be?” Catharine asks with a half-smile. We need something to get us on the right track.” “Usually I'd say she's being her usual dramatic self. He changed it when he was—I think he was actually cursed with a soul. Demons I may not understand… but at least—they have a reason.” I whisper. Glint of his flesh burning and the cross hanging heavily over his arms and chest.” Raisa puts in with a wry smile. He didn't seek it out voluntarily. “I don't think they've met.” Raisa begins to do sit ups.” Catharine takes her bowl and goes over to the rusty ceramic sink. I need to get home. Train us to kill. I close my eyes and flashes of a church flit behind my eyelids. Catharine's melodic tones break into my reverie. Usually we are sent on missions to France. You must as well—wouldn't your Watcher have told you about him?” “His name as a vampire was Angelus—the one with the Angelic face. really.” I snap back.” Raisa frowns. since there aren't many who want to help us. feeling a little queasy.” Catharine assures me. “We're trained… we're trained to fight demons. “At least I have them alive and well.” I remember that pain too well. ((Aren't we just a sodding engine?)) Shaking my head. It's because they're evil. “You know what I mean. My hands twist together as I think of all the things that could have happened in the night I've been gone. you see.” “He's different now. vampires don't stop coming just because it's wartime. filled with loneliness and despair—“ “And lots of murder and mayhem.

“No one ever told you stories when you were little?” “No. We've got to show her the training center—and she can meet Angel there. You're not entertaining any ideas of going in there. We don't know much about you.” “Are we?” She nods. “Makes things clearer.” “Its best we don't know much about you anyway. Cathe. “I was just making conversation. Might give us some clue as to what their weaknesses are.it's very mysterious.” “I'll remember that.” Raisa finally nods approvingly. “Good thinking.” “What's the matter?” I tease her. her slightly pointed teeth sharp in the morning blush of dawn.”)) As we walk down Somerset. “We're beginning to understand each other.” Raisa says with a deceptive smile. looking confused. “I don't think making up a bedtime story helps anyone. of course not. nothing. “He died before I was born. You have to match me or I'll eat you alive. “I'm Russian. Who knows how long this fucking war will go on?” Catharine appears pained. “Oh. are you? Because that would only amount to disaster. Secondly.” +++ We cut a wide swathe as we walk down the road. “So you'd better stay away. Don't you understand what they would do to us should we step foot on their property?” I feel sick suddenly as I remember the feeling of soaked cloth against my nose. Buffy. Like a novel.” she responds shortly and my smile fades. Mother doesn't speak of him. “Why you put your hair in such an unflattering style is quite beyond me.” Raisa says in a low voice.” “Did I say I was going there?” I respond snappishly. “Will you? I wonder if you let anything touch you. “All I want to know was if you two had ever been inside. “Now can we get a move on? Cathe.” “Facts are the only things that make situations clearer. lower your voice. Raisa locks eyes with me. “Try and drug you?” “That's only the beginning. ((“I feel like I'm 30 years old. “I shouldn't imagine that anything to do with that building is safe.” I muttered to her as I pulled on the clothes. and I understand that—but we have to find some way of finding out what their plans are.” Raisa grins.” Catharine puts in.” Raisa replies.” “It's nicer to have a reason. lend Buffy some clothes. I glance at her. “You're scared of them. “Have either of you scouted out the Watcher's Council building—for ways to get in secretly?” She looks horrified. “Oh…wait.” I sympathize and she nods. Now properly attired for the times in a knee-length black and white plaid skirt and a black blouse.” “So shouldn't you be a cold bitch?” I ask.” Laughing. I used to wonder when I was young if they had a great love affair and that's why she turned to the drink after he died.” “What do you need to know?” I ask casually. “Couldn't you use British swear words? They sound much more dignified. I fiddle with the constraining bun Catharine swept my hair into and feel as if I'm going to fall over in the tottering high heels. “Insult for insult. I like to believe that is what makes her do it. You seem like you're just passing through.” “Why is that good thinking?” Catharine inquires. I don't see why it's such a terrible idea. sending a questioning glance in her friend's . a chill passing through me.” “If we had a plan. she tilts her head. “First of all. She clucked her tongue.” Looking at me calmly.” Raisa remarks coolly.She shrugs. Buffy.

It's a tall. I attempt to discern what is written upon them. Punching a code into the complicated series of locks decorating the side of the wood panels. That is what you will say when anyone asks where you live. I barely hear Raisa and Catharine calling. “Do you think I wanted to spend one more minute with two crazies?” I grin. “That's an improvement. as I hadn't even been watching where I was going. Inserting a key into the lock. axes. “We'll be back! Have fun communing with the weaponry!” Mumbling. Running my hands over their sleek surfaces.” a voice says from behind me.” “What?” he questions. “Its better inside.” Catharine interrupts.” “Ah. Pressing my nose to the smudge-free glass.” Catharine giggles. rising at least fourteen floors from the street.” I whisper. Scanning his milky pale features.” “How about not forming any personal attachments?” I joke. his eyes widening a little as he stares back at me. “I will. “Most think this is an apartment building. pale hand reaches out and grasps the doorknob as we reach the end of the tunnel. it won't seem suspect. Steeling myself. she opens the door and steps inside.” As we walk.” Catharine announces. A voice I would know anywhere. here we are. Giles. Just talking to myself. Angel leans in the doorframe.” “What about that boyfriend you said you had?” Raisa asks suspiciously. “Sometimes they enlist a Fang Gang or two for extra work. I glance at the building we're in front of.” “That's vampires. Momentarily disappointed I mutter.direction. “You owe me. Cathe. The domed ceiling rises far above our heads. turning around and round as I absorb all of the sights. “Is it under—' “Yes. to form a huge circular ceiling. “Nothing. she moves aside for me to pass her. “I'm well versed in that golden rule. surprised. “Keeping a low profile is key. though. I'm not sure what kind. His hair. “Holy shit!” “Exactly what I said when I walked through here the first time!” Raisa crows.” “You're both vulgar. “Thought it might be fancier. “They're Jewish papers. That way if you are seen entering it. are you?” “Quicker than you'd think.” I murmur. As we step through. “It's simply safer that way – especially for the vampires that work for us. I notice the tunnel we're traversing appears to be leading at an angle down to the ground. He looks leaner. stacks of artillery shells encased in tiny boxes. I scan the contents within the hollowed out structure. I marvel at how he has changed so little in over sixty years. however… “No longer gelled into submission. you would love this).” Catharine's slim.” “Speaking of…” Raisa intones. surprised. Bending down. plural?” I inquire. startled. thick coils of rope and papers. his muscles sleek in his black pants and smooth black sweater. upon which is painted “We Are Protectors” in a deep crimson. “I can't believe this place!” I exclaim.” she sniffs. looking relieved. I catch a quick glimpse of shining cabinets and rows upon rows of guns. leading us down a flight of steps set in the street to a door down below. concrete structure. the blacked out shuttered and the few pots of flowers baking in the morning heat. I gaze up at the rows of taped Xs lining the windows. “You're not too quick on the uptake. .” I walk over to the triangular shaped island in the center of the room. Shielding my eyes from the sun. swords. On all available wall-space is bolted a glass cabinet holding every kind of gun imaginable. adopting a casual expression. Books carefully placed in alphabetical order (Oh. I spin around.

Pressing a palm to the sticky warmth beneath my hairline. I hear that you're on our side. he shifts position. None left scars but that one bite. “It's strange though—you—“ “What?” Looking uncomfortable.” Our eyes lock as my head jerks up. “Isn't it for you?” “Wasn't it. “Maybe.” “Most don't see the difference. he leans in and grasps my hand in his. . I haven't met many. that was a lie.” Involuntarily.” “I am.” I retort.” he corrects. “As long as my neck stays fang-free.” he corrects me.” “Is it supposed to be?” Raising my eyebrows. I'm Buffy. “Its what I do.” he agrees and his eyes dart to my betraying movement. “All right.” I smile. “I take it you've been bitten before?” “Once.” “Catharine told me. “An introverted Slayer. “They told you I was a vampire?” “With a soul.” I shake my head. “But why put yourself in the middle of all of this—its not exactly a big barrel of safety. omitting the other times. by the way. Since there doesn't seem to be anyone like that around. I feel for the faded scar rising slightly from the surface of my flesh.” “Catharine's the Slayer.” I respond without thinking. “And. A while ago. “I'm the Slayer. “You don't have to lie to me. The pale skin and all. I walk closer to him.” I shrug. Not exactly normal coming from a Slayer in Waiting. you're him by default.” I shoot back. His palm is like cool silk against mine as he whispers. I avoid the magnetic pull of his eyes and lift my shoulders. not really.” I nod. “Maybe its just my really expensive perfume?” He chuckles softly.” Glancing down. “It was nice to meet you.” “What made you?” “Can't I want to help?” for a moment he looks faintly angry and my belly twists.“So you're one of those. taking a step closer to me. “I can smell you—you just… you smell very powerful.” he half-smiles and my heart lurches.” Taking another step closer. “It's not that. I'm still not sure they even counted. “You must be Angel.” “And you're not meeting one now. “Wasn't fun.” he murmurs. “No big. “Besides. “But I can smell that too.” A grin plays on his lips for a moment before it quickly disappears. my fingers stray to the collar of my blouse.” “Why do you?” he counters. “You're from America?” “California.” I nod. “I'm not most.” he responds.” I mutter under my breath. I have no issues at all. “Raisa and Catharine told me to look for someone gorgeous and brooding.” “How did you know?” he asks. “Have you been there?” “I used to live there—I came here to help.” I gaze at him and he looks rueful.

Wheezing slightly. I make out a fist coming towards my head and duck.” one of the men growls with an unfamiliar accent. I quickly begin to move across the vast marble lobby. I'm going to have to do it myself. I know they will wonder what happened to me.” I begin to shake. crawling away. the floor sliding up to meet me. I smile. steadying my arms behind his back as he brings a cloth to my face.” The night is heavy and bittersweet. Ascending the stairs to the main door.” “Goodbye. falling against the counter for support. that Catharine will mourn briefly. I haven't felt . I have to get out. flipping up and out of the hold. Buffy. The thought of her sends prickles down the backs of my legs. “See you soon. half-fall down the steps. The metal is cool and bright underneath my fingers and turns without a hitch. limping along the side of the street to fall on the doorstep of the abandoned apartment building next door. you just haven't met *me* before. My assailant buckles briefly. albeit with a groan of pain. I test the knob.but they will forget. that Raisa will dismiss me as a flighty bitch who probably got herself killed. that Angel may wait for long moments by the Church. I say a silent farewell to the people I've met here. Dawn. clad entirely in black leather. I step inside quietly but there are no signs of life. I ignore the sick feeling in my stomach that hasn't gone away since I saw Angel. The shadows of the spires against the moon look like knives and I swallow. ignoring the sharp heat of pain as they re-open my wounds. I edge up to the building.” A thought occurs to me suddenly. “Someone please find me. “Let's just say…I'm a friend.“I'll see you tonight for your first assignment. “Watford Street. Stopping for a brief moment to tie back my hair in a messy knot. They lock with mine for a moment until his partner grabs me from behind. Everything hurts in this strange new world. “Oh. Glancing up at the sign that reads “Somerset Street”. my legs moving me past burned out buildings. their edges charred from the bombings that Raisa and Catharine told me the Luftwaffe have inundated London with over the past few weeks. The sickly sweet stench of the chloroform invades my nostrils and I cough. I press a hand to my back. Backing me up against the start of the stairs.” Angel replies quietly. my tears as hot as burning stars falling on my cheeks.” I cry softly. As the edge of the marble stair slams into my back. “Who in the hell are you?” I snarl. making sure the ever present stake is secured in my boot. smell the sweat a split second before I hear the. Lowering myself to the floor. My gut tells me something is wrong back home and that even though I had planned to wait for Raisa and Catharine to help me break into the Watcher's Council building. I cry out briefly. “GRAB HER!” Whirling.” As they both fall to their knees. in the direction of the door. I launch a series of punches and kicks against them. Gliding through the entrance way with my back pressed to the wall. boys.” he says low as he leaves the room. I half-run. Raisa will give you directions. rubbing the gashes on my arms. Slayer. My hands skid across the slippery surface as vomit swells in my throat. I walk silently and steadily. you've really never met a pissed off Slayer before. below the Church. I pat the side of my leg. I kneel as I'm praying and bend my head to the slick marble. “Someone please… I want to go home. Surprised and a little wary. his eyes a leaf green through the mask protecting his face.” Launching myself out the double doors. I sense the breath. Both lunge at me and I return their punches with my own.” “Gotcha. “You think that was enough to take me out?” Jumping to my feet. Keeping my ears pricked for the tell-tale buzz of aircraft. “We have you now. landing behind them both. “Are you my contact or just Raisa and Catharine's?” “I didn't say I was yours. Actually. my feet and fists moving in a dance all their own. my steps light and purposeful. the one with the green eyes cracks me across the face and I slip. I'm sure I'll remember this little jaunt into the past when I'm kicking the ass of whoever sent me herewhoever thought they could separate me from Dawn. feeling the muscles and bones underneath my flesh knitting themselves back together. lashing out with a low kick to the knees. Jesus.

” I snap back.” He begins to circle me and I follow him. “Always do. hooking his thumb into the belt-loops of his pants. “That's bloody rich! Been doin' your homework on me?!” “Not exactly. I smell the sulphur as he places the lit smoke between his lips and raises his eyebrows. standing and staring straight into his eyes. you're a liar. on you. For what reason.” “You remembered to. I feel like that should make more of a difference. It should. he howls. but you're nowhere near a pro. “What's that I smell?” Chills sweep through my body at the familiar.” “Mind tellin' me what in the fuck that would be. revealing a strip of pale skin. Your first and only. Goldilocks. “No? Doesn't get you hot under all that leather to be close to a fight you might not win? Cause if you've been readin--” “I will win.” he drawls.” I cut him off smoothly. then?” “I'd rather fight.” he cocks his head to one side.” I say quietly. “You're a sight prettier than the last one. Something tells me Spike used to play for the other team in his early years as a vampire. he leans down and strikes it against the stone road. Noticing the kohl lining his eyes.” “Liar. but switches quickly to exultant.” “What happened to her?” I ask bluntly. a few feet away from me. “Why didn't you?” “Maybe I like an equal fight.” I reply calmly. our gazes never wavering. “Haven't heard anything about you.” Taking a cigarette from his back pocket and a pack of matches.” I repeat.” “Spike. I realize this isn't the Spike that I know. “Were you trying to bring the easy for me? Because I don't need it. I don't know. I smother a smirk.” . “You haven't killed a Slayer since the Boxer Rebellion. Tears burn in my eyes as blood drips down my cheek from the deep cut near my temple. clad in dirty black pants and a sleeveless black shirt. “Also with good reason. I can feel little prickles of electricity alighting inside my fingertips as I struggle not to touch him. Feel that he's ok? Hit him and hold him and – Jesus. not looking up. You may have lost your virginity. Made it a bit difficult to have a decent fight with her.” I hope he doesn't notice my hands shaking. Taking a step closer.” I reply. He stands.this way since— since I slipped on tiles to get away from the sting of Spike's grasping hands and felt the bathtub against my back. Buffy. he sends me an insinuating glance. “You remembered?” his tone is surprised. “Could it be the blood of a Slayer? So juicy and vulnerable—like a lamb waitin' to be plucked out of a flock. mocking tone. “What?” “I said. aren't we. Slayer?” “With good reason. “Must've made quite an impression.” I hedge.” Barking with laughter. “Killed the bitch.” “A bit smug. “Not every day I meet a Slayer as ripe as you. He blinks. “You could've kicked me just then. Spike. She had a stick permanently embedded up her arse.” “I could have.

“Who?” Rising up in a flash. he grabs me and pushes me down. “Besides. “Don't do this. “Who—“ “Look down.did my homework. “No? You're beneath me. I feel the tips of his silver fangs brush against the soft. “Cecily?” the name is a whisper. Rocking back slightly. I never let myself be surprised. “The girl who's letting you go. taking another cigarette out and lighting it. gonna have to make this your first loss.” I sneer.” “Isn't over. pet?” he asks silkily.” he throws over his shoulder. instead of tryin' to play mind games?” “Cue the world's smallest violin. Coughing slightly. shit. Oh. he shakes his head.“Didn't think you did. watching him soar backwards. my hands on my hips. Spike. he drags deeply. barely. blocking his fist with mine and cracking his nose with the heel of my palm. Slayer. I notice his surprise that I didn't go flying into the street behind me and grin. seizing my wrist. luv. “Gettin' weak. Don't do this. we'll fight. I feel the trickle of coppery blood from between my lips and wince. I lean my head back and stare at the stars. “You're way out of your league. “I'm gonna keep coming. Get gone. “Trust me Slayer. aren't you the master of manipulation?” Cupping one hand around the smoke. I won't even fight with you. I just won't.” My stomach hurts as I say the words. more like.” Seeing him disappear from view.” I whisper. aren't you? Does it feel good?” Dizzily.” Seeing the stake I have pointed over his heart. inner flesh and punch his stomach. his face sliding in and out of focus. the motion of our hands dizzying. “Sorry. Attempting to disregard the shooting aches emanating from my back.” Rearing backwards. crushing it beneath his boot.” He punches me across the cheek so quickly that I don't have time to duck. Count on that. He looks up at me.” he spins away. “No weaker than you. straddling my waist and slamming my head against the stone. his eyes search mine. “Vampires don't get weak. “Who'n the bleedin' hell are you?” Pushing him off me with one hand.” I respond. his eyes bright. Isn't that enough of a good for the night?” “You're probably some descendant of Cecily's.” “Until you have one good day?” “One good lay. landing in a heap. .” “You're going to love me someday… William. I watch as he arises. I'm far from a virgin. I stand.” I growl. I won't let this come to a point where I might have to use the stake in my boot. “Stake you. meant to torment me. drawing the smoke deep into his dead lungs and then dropping the cigarette.” he cackles. We parry and thrust. luv. Slayer?” he taunts. his fighting gets rougher and sloppier as I become more and more winded. “You bloody whore! Now you really are beneath me. spinning around and sending a roundhouse kick straight to his ribs. “All right. “Why didn't you just stake me. Keeping up with me.” “What would you do if I lunged at you right now. keeping the stake trained on him. The throbbing from my kidneys is nearly unrelenting. Slayer. Wearily.” he answers. my knees giving out. my back throbbing with the force of a thousand suns. almost a breath. “Why in the fuck do you think you know me so well?” “Like you said.” he says piteously. I sink down onto the cobble-stone. I look at him.

” “You staked him?” “Of course.” Touched despite myself. I know he would be now.” he observes.” embarrassed. Raisa and Catharine tend to ignore that. Help me up?” Lacing his fingers through mine. though.” “Like a friend would do. “Not one I couldn't handle. Why? “Buffy.” “I can see that. but what kind of bias is that? Aren't you trying to help? Isn't that the most important thing?” His head jerks up and his dark eyes burn into mine.” I remark. “Bothering you?” . smiling faintly. but I… I thought I should try and find you. I take in Angel's worried face and shrug. I'm more—someone to train you. I recoil as my knees crumple. drawing me against his chest and hooking his thumbs behind my knees. right now. flinching as I do so.” “Pardon?” he looks startled and I smile.” Glancing up at the shocked whisper. I reply. “I got in a little fight. he bows his head. “Let's sit over there for a while. Just got a little rough.” “But not your type?” “I don't have a type.” “Oh.” Picking me up in his arms. “Good point. he supports my waist as I slowly rise. “Your earlier comment. what Dawn is doing? Swallowing back the tears. Must stop it and find a way out of this.” I answer. “Catharine thinks you're helpful as well as dreamy. he carries me over to the steps I collapsed upon earlier and sets me down carefully. “Vampire?” “Yes. excuse me. “But he got in a few good moves beforehand. “She's a nice lady.” I rejoin gratefully. Help you.” “Then why are you sitting in the middle of the road?” he asks gently. I wonder if she's staring at these same stars.” I tease. “It's no big.” “You don't date?” “You're very blunt. “You make a very good friend.” “When you didn't show up—I got—well.” I lie. “You're the first person to think so. Can you walk?” Faltering slightly. “And.” “No I'm not. “I'm not really your contact—the Resistance forbids a vampire having that kind of contact with a Slayer.” If he could blush. aren't I just gazing at the memory of the light—at fire that burned out long ago but hasn't been extinguished to me? I'm being maudlin.I wonder. After all.” he murmurs. “Better?” “Much. Those guys at the Watcher's Council building were ready for me—they knew I was coming. we're not supposed to leave. “I—“ “Come here. coming to a rest beside me.

He doesn't seem to notice and nods.” I reply. “Wars tend to make people less wordy. “Maybe I do push things away.” he says wryly.” he denies softly. “What do you think?” “I'm a fan of moving the fuck on. he helps me up.” he says softly and our eyes meet. I send him a sheepish glance.” “It was cold of her Watcher to do that. “I just find it interesting. he gives me a doubtful look. It's as if people stop talking to save themselves. I don't like vampires almost beating me in fights. that I'm flirting.” I quip. Cupping his palm around my elbow. really?” I tilt my head and then realize with a sense of horror. leaning back on his elbows.” I concede. “He was her lover. Wilting. “Almost can't feel them.” Regarding me for a moment until I begin to shift uneasily.” “Oh. I look away first and begin to stand gingerly.” “Understandable. just waiting for someone to shoot holes in it. it looks like a giant dartboard. Makes me edgy. “Really? Let's put it this way.” I assure him. She loses herself in books and dreams because life's dealt her such a difficult hand.” I snap. “Keep that in mind.” I muse.” Angel interjects.” “I don't doubt that. Although its meant as a deflector.” “Point taken.a retaliatory swing. She was hurt by the betrayal.” I wiggle my nose at him. “Though I guess some talk more than enough for the rest of us.” I grouse. “She's angry. “Oh. I've lost it. “So I think she should pull herself out of this and feel better because she got out alive.” “Whoever says the least wins?” “Exactly. do you?” “What does that mean?” “It means.” “These are nothing.” he shakes his head.” “The stint in the German Army really affected her. “I don't think she had a very happy childhood. Catharine's not like that. huh?” He looks at me.” “Like Raisa? She sure has a chip on her shoulder. “that you let things slide. “He wasn't just her Watcher. he finally says coolly. my eyes studying the tape threading the windows of the building across from us. “She's waiting for the war to be over. Flirting with the past-version of my current ex-lover. I think I was being a bit pushy anyway. . massaging my back tentatively.a punch in the back right now would get me.“No. Leaving Russia so early on and now the pressure of waiting for something…” “I wonder if she resents Catharine. Especially considering you're wounded.” he answers.” Raising an eyebrow.” “Oh.” he comments.” “You're saying I'm just punishing her because she's not as strong as me?” “When did I say that?” “You didn't have to.” “Yes she is.” he half-smiles. or staked?” “You'd be a pile of dust. You can never be too careful around me. I think I'm being touchy-Buffy tonight. “I'm only telling you because I think it may help you understand her a bit better. my breath hitching. How do you know?” “That doesn't matter. Uneasy. “Sorry. She's not as strong as some people. But isn't that better than wallowing in misery? Slayers don't get very long lives.” Angel says pensively. “After all. “You don't let anything touch you. she's not waiting.

” Nodding. of Willow touching Tara's grave… … of Angel. I begin to walk and we take it step by step back to the door of Raisa and Catharine's apartment. still feel his chest against my cheek… still feel how safe I believe I am in his presence. standing in the doorway like an avenging angel. Buffy. Groaning in pain. Of my Mother and Spike. I dismiss. “This is very nice of you. drinking marshmallow hot chocolate. the sticky coolness of his palm like a breath before he releases my fingers.” “A gentleman always sees a lady to the door. aching in their cage. “Raisa? What in the hell? Never wake me up like that again. I'll explain on the way. by the way?” “It's a train. “And what in the fuck happened to you?” Swiping a self-conscious hand over my blood caked forehead. and Dawn's left alone? Sliding to the floor. smiling slightly. But it's not Angel and I have to get home to Dawn and that's Spike but it's not Spike and God. their bodies moving as one. but you're a vampire.” “I get it. “We don't really mix.” He's so still. “What?” I ask. I imagine I can still feel his eyes on me. “I try not to feel.” “Does that matter? If you can still… feel. “Buffy?” “BUFFY!” My head falls back with a crash.” “Have you?” Touching his chest unthinkingly. nothing—“ “Never mind. “Ah. I mean. I press my face to the door and hug my screaming bones.” “What?” Suddenly her lip quivers. We have a problem. A whisper.“What's the mission. her hair streaming over her shoulders in messy swirls. “There's also a heart that doesn't beat. I just have to find a way back to Dawn. God.” I tease. Angel and Cordelia. If I can't get into the Watcher's Council building without getting attacked. what options do I have left? Take Raisa and Catharine and get them killed so I can escape? Tell Angel and make him help me? What if I die here… and everyone succumbs to the First? What if I die here. “And you're a Slayer. It's better that way.” He catches my hand in his. It's different. . Bring Raisa and Catharine. Angel. dreaming vaguely of home. “But there's a soul in there.” he jokes lightly. I sit up.” Leaning against the door. my joints cracking. That's Angel. I slip into sleep. how can it still hurt? “Good night.” And I do. jerked into a panic. I murmur. of Dawn eating anchovy pizza and singing a little song. Meet me at the corner of Kensington tomorrow at midnight.” he shrugs. beautiful on top of lilac sheets. do we?” “I've heard that one before.” “Why weren't you inside?” she retorts.” “See you tomorrow. “Oh.

“Catharine's missing.. ..” To be Continued.

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