Buffy moved silently at Spike’s side, her heightened senses focused intently on the night around them. Her enhanced vampiric eyesight easily pierced the deep blanket of darkness that had settled over the cemetery, and her remarkable new hearing picked up the tiny rustles as insects made their way through the grass. The myriad of scents that floated on the night air assailed her nostrils and she faltered, trying to separate the various smells and discern their source.
Spike stopped and, turning around, took in the look of confused wonder on his pseudo-childe’s face. He smiled indulgently and moved to wrap his arms around her, pulling her back against his chest and breathing against her ear, “You’ll get used to it, love. It’s a lot to take in right now, I know, but it won’t take long ‘fore you get the hang of it.” He nuzzled against her neck, burying his nose in the soft fragrant hair to find the smooth silky skin below and bestow a gentle kiss. “C’mon, kitten, time to eat.”
He led her through the graveyard and back to the gate they had visited earlier.
Willow was jerked awake, her head flying up from where it had rested against the waffle weave cotton blanket, her hand searching for the alarm clock in order to cease its horrific shrilling. What she found instead was a hospital room, and the loud shrilling beep was coming from the monitor beside the bed. A thrill of terror coursed through her body at what the horrific noise meant before her sleep-hazed mind focused enough to realise that the man lying in the bed was moving—weakly, but moving none the less. Giles had ripped the monitor leads off and pulled the drip out of his wrist, and was now making an effort to sit up despite his body’s obvious objections.
“Giles! Stop, you shouldn’t…”
“I need to get to Buffy, need to…”
Willow’s breath caught in a painful sob and she caught his hand, looking sadly at the watcher before giving voice to the words she had tried so hard not to allow herself to think. “Oh, Giles. Buffy is dead. We found her grave, remember?”
“No, not dead.” Giles’ voice was thick with grief as he tried to find the strength in his trauma-weakened body to sit up in the narrow bed. He looked at the hope-filled face of the young girl before him and sighed deeply. “Oh, Willow, I’m sorry… I… when I said not dead, well, I’m afraid it is in fact considerably worse.” Drawing a shaky hand across his face, he hastily dashed away the tears that had formed at the thought of what his slayer had become. “Buffy has been…” His voice faltered as he sought once more to overcome the grief that welled up within him. Steeling himself visibly he lifted his eyes to the frightened redhead’s. “I am afraid Buffy has been turned. I am so sorry, terribly sorry…”
“What? No! No, she can’t be. You’re wrong, you have to be wrong.” Xander leapt up from the chair, the shrill, monotonous beep having finally forced its way through the reality-escaping shroud of sleep under which the boy had gladly slipped during the course of their vigil. “Buffy can’t… No… you’re wrong. You… You have to be.” With a last accusing stare he turned and fled the room, seeking the cold, hard sterility of the hospital halls as refuge from the emotion-filled face of the weary watcher.
“Xander!” Willow called frantically after her friend’s rapidly retreating back. “No, don’t go out there. Xander! Please, come back.” Turning large, tear-filled eyes on the man in the bed, she spoke quietly, “What is happening, Giles? Why? I mean, I get that people’s nightmares are coming true, but why and how? And how do we make it stop? And will Buffy still be a vampire if we do?” The last terrified thought was voiced so quietly as to be all but indiscernible over the still horrendously beeping machine.
“I honestly don’t know.” Giles sighed deeply, recalling the horrific sight of his slayer digging herself out of the grave, her normally-pretty face transformed into the cruel, ugly visage of the creatures she was chosen to destroy. “I wish I had the answers,” he whispered; whether to himself or to the frightened girl, he wasn’t sure.
The vampires made their way out of the cemetery and onto the usually quiet suburban street. Smashed cars lined the streets, horns sounded loudly and lights flashed; the glare blinded the newly-made vampire, and she whimpered softly.
“Kitten?” Spike turned questioningly as Buffy hung back, shielding her eyes with her arm. Moving swiftly, he folded her in his arms, holding her face protectively against his chest. “It’s okay, love. Your eyes’ll adjust in time. Look at me, Buffy.”
Buffy looked up, forcing herself to focus on his eyes and keep hers open until they adjusted to the brightness. “Where are we going, Spike?” she asked quietly.
“Figured we’d have a look around, see if we can suss out what’s going on around here and how it’s likely to affect us. Then we need to see ‘bout getting us some dinner.” He stroked her hair as he answered, watching with satisfaction as more of her tension eased under his touch.
They made their way carefully through the abandoned streets, their senses alert for any signs of danger. As they walked, Spike showed Buffy how to change effortlessly between faces, teaching her also how to focus her senses in human form and then to enhance them further by shifting into her demon face. He taught her how to separate the different scents on the night air, encouraging her patiently until she was able to discern not only the various odours, but the direction from which each was coming and how far away their source was located. He smiled indulgently when she caught first the scent and then the sight of the homeless man curled in a drunken stupor amongst the deep shadows of the cluttered alley. An unaccustomed sense of pride filled him as he watched her glide gracefully towards her prey.
A slight sound from the depths of the alley drew his attention just as Buffy’s head shot up, her eyes trained intently in the direction of the noise. A group of six rather ragged-looking vampires stepped from the shadows and he watched as his childe fell instinctively into an easy fighting stance, her weight perfectly balanced as she waited, poised for action.
The lead vampire, a large broad-shouldered bulky type with no fashion sense, looked her up and down before sneering, “Why don’t you run along before I teach you what happens to insolent fledges who get between me and my dinner.”
“I don’t know,” she quipped lightly. “It seems like today has been a good day for learning new things. So why don’t you go ahead and teach me?” Buffy cocked her head to one side, smiling sweetly as she quirked her eyebrow challengingly at the vampire.
The leader approached, swaggering confidently and snarling his fury at the newly-risen vampire. His dick jumped in anticipation; he was going to have fun breaking this insolent little scrap of a thing. “When I’ve finished with you, you’ll be begging me to dust you,” he informed her.
“Really? ‘Cause gotta tell you, begging? Not exactly my strong point.” With this, Buffy flew into action, her first blow snapping the larger vampire’s head to the side. She landed blow after blow, dodging, kicking, spinning, a flurry of movement too fast for the less skilled bully to contend with. Her eyes glowed, their golden depths sparkling with the promise of pain, and she smirked dangerously as the other vampire’s fist finally made contact, landing a stinging blow to her jaw. “Now that wasn’t nice,” she informed him before battering his body with a rapid-fire combination of kicks and punches culminating in a powerful kick that left him on his knees cradling his crotch as he groaned in agony.
Smashing a nearby crate, Buffy quickly gathered a serviceable shard of the shattered timber. “And here I was thinking I was going to learn something new and exciting,” she complained, shrugging dramatically. “Oh well, guess you can’t have everything. Or in your case, anything,” she added as she plunged the make-do stake into the vampire’s heart.
The rest of the pack, who had up to this point been mesmerised by the sight of their leader being beaten by the pretty, diminutive blonde, broke from their trance, moving forward as one to avenge their fallen leader.
Spike remained motionless at the alley’s entrance, held entranced by Buffy’s lethal grace as he watched her spin and weave; her powerful kicks were executed with the poise of a ballerina, and small fists flew with deadly skill as she systematically disposed of the remaining vampires. She was exquisite. His eyes drank her in, following her dance with avid intensity, his body aching with lust. It was only when he pulled his eyes momentarily from his childe’s captivating display and noticed one small, scruffy-looking vamp armed with another piece of the broken crate sneaking around behind the slayer while her attention was fixed on the two opponents in front of her that he made a move.
“Now, now. That’s not playing fair,” he chastised as he lifted the smaller vampire off the ground by his head. A sharp twist of his hands and he was brushing the dust off his clothes in time to watch as Buffy staked her last opponent.
She smiled as she moved towards him, opening her mouth to say something. Grasping her arms, Spike pulled her roughly to him, covering her mouth hungrily with his, cutting off her words. When she returned the kiss with equal fervour he pushed her backwards, slamming her back hard against the rough brick of the alley wall, his body pinning her as he further deepened the kiss. Her legs lifted to wrap around his waist and he captured her hands, one hand holding them firmly above her head while his free hand travelled eagerly over her body, staking his claim. He ground into her, mindless of the unforgiving wall against which she was imprisoned.
Her body shuddered with release and, as she moaned her pleasure against his neck, it was all he could do not to follow her example. He dropped her hands and stepped back, allowing her feet to fall to the ground. With his hands on her shoulders, he pressed down; Buffy was quick to realise what he was asking of her and, dropping to her knees, she smiled brazenly up at him as she reached for his fly, more than eager to comply with his request.
Xander ran blindly through the now-deserted halls, desperately fleeing the watcher’s emotion-charged gaze and the horrific finality of the man’s words. As he’d sat with Willow at the watcher’s bedside, he had refused to dwell on the words they had seen engraved on the tombstone. He had, in fact, given them no credence after the initial shock had worn off. He knew that that they were a lie. Buffy dead? That concept seemed so implausible to him that, all evidence to the contrary, his brain refused to acknowledge it.
Buffy turned? That possibility was a regular star in his most horrifying nightmares, an inevitability that his mind had no difficulty accepting as very real. He told himself that if he didn’t listen, it wasn’t true. If he kept running, if he didn’t hear the words, refused to acknowledge their truth, this would turn out to be simply another in his long list of terrifying dreams in which yet another of his friends was turned into an unspeakable abomination, a creature with no soul and no conscience, a filthy, twisted mockery of all that they had been in life.
He rounded a corner to come face to face with a young boy.
The boy’s eyes widened in fear. “Not that way,” he pleaded.“He’s down there. He’ll get you.”
“He? Who?” Xander stammered in response, craning his neck to see as far down the seemingly empty corridor as possible. “There’s no one there, kid,” he assured the boy.
“He’s there. He’s always there,” the boy spoke with quiet resignation. “You can’t hide from him.”
Xander opened his mouth to assure the boy once more that there was no one there when an ugly club-wielding monstrosity lumbered into view.
“See?” The boy’s statement contained no accusation, just simple acceptance.
“Come on,” Xander urged, grabbing the boy by the arm and dragging him with him as he turned and ran back in the direction from which he had just come.