Spike in the City Of Angels, Episode 4:


Choices


by John Cope





Part Seventeen



The streets of Sunnydale were bustling with people as Buffy parked her jeep and headed over to the Alibi room. Her eyes hurt just a little in the sunlight but it wasn't that which made her duck her head a little as she crossed the street.

People were staring at her, she suddenly noticed, and their expressions were telling her a variety of different stories.

Old people seemed to have a universal look of disapproval on their faces, ok a few of the guys had a far away look in their eyes as they watched her walk past but the majority looked at her like she was... *Faith?*

The younger people?

*The girls are probably thinking eeeewww skanky, or alternatively since it's warm for the time of year "What anti-perspirant does she wear, cause it's way effective." The guys.....well I'm so glad I don't have the mind reading skill anymore.* Buffy put her hands in her pockets as she walked quickly over the road to the sanctuary of the bar. *Oh that darn vampire, making me feel all self conscious like this. It's his fault I'm in this mess in the first place, and what does he do? He just lies there all naked and criticizes how I dress, the inconsiderate poof.*

*Perhaps you should have let him die,* a voice said inside her head.

*Demoness?*

*Yep!*

*You're really gonna win points with that one,* Buffy addressed herself, standing on the sidewalk outside the Alibi, ignoring the looks she was getting from passers by. *I love Angel. I'd have died if he had.*

*Love!* The demoness snorted in disgust. *You're a fine one to talk. Here I am, the child of you and Angel's love, and what are you planning to do with me? Why throw me aside like an unwanted.....baby. Don't I have the right to.....*

*Oooooohh go away, I so don't have time.* The Slayer heard a gasp and looked up to see a young guy staring at her. *Am I game? No but I think I was growling like I was almost gonna be.*

Not giving her demoness a second to start over again, Buffy went straight through the Alibi's door and into the inviting gloom of Sunnydale's second lowest bar.

The young man stood stock on the sidewalk for a second, shaking almost as if from fear, then he ran back the way he had came, weaving through the crowds, scarcely caring how close he came to running into people in his haste to get away.

Turning a corner into a side street he ran down towards a van parked there, its engine running. The driver sat behind the wheel looked suprized that his passenger was back so soon. "What's up Forrest, the bar closed?"

"Nope and I wish it was that simple man." Forrest grabbed the cellphone off the dash and pressed in a number quickly. "Hi Sir..... Yeah I been there.....No, I didn't need to go in cause you won't believe who I saw outside on the street."

*********************************************************************************************************************

Willy was giving the top of the bar its monthly wipe down when Buffy entered the building. "Hi Slayer what can I get for you?" he asked with a friendliness that Buffy found both puzzling and quite frankly creepy.

There were five patrons in the place. Two pale guys and a short ass with a suspiciously large hat on....*Demon horns?* and a couple of humans. The three demons headed straight for the back room and the sewers but the mortals made no attempt to move from the bottle-filled table they occupied.

They were clad in leathers, there hair was quite long and, in Buffy's sensitive nostrils, they stank of an unappealing combination of engine oil and stale sweat even over the ambiance of Willy's aftershave. *Bikers in here?*

One of the guys was an Anglo, the other Hispanic, they were both looking at her in a way she really didn't like, but she ignored them having more important stuff to do. "Hi Willy how are you?"

"Good enough Slayer good enough." He kept his eyes firmly on her, ignoring his other two patrons. "Picking up some new custom, missing out on my old. You an Angel ain't been in here recently."

*And you ain't been gettin' the resultant bribes for information,* Buffy thought at the same time, wondering at the tension in the barkeeper's voice and face. Something was worrying him and for once she was sure it wasn't her. *Wonder if that's really what he means?*

"Slayer....." A slurred drunken voice spoke from behind her. "That's a dumb nickname for a girl, but hell you scared all those walkin' corpses out of here so you can't be all bad news."

"She's definitely not what I'd call bad news cabron." The Hispanic guy sounded a lot soberer. "Hey Bonita where's your rig?"

*Rig?.....Oh.*

"I'm sorry I'm not a biker," Buffy answered, not looking round. "So Willy what I need to know is......"

A hand slamming onto the table top behind her. "Hey puta I'm talkin' to you, you wanna drink in our bar you'll look at me understand?"

*Puta? Does that mean what I think it does?* Buffy saw Willy gulp and smelled the fear on him. *Oh yeah it does.*

"Your bar?" Buffy said turning to look at the two men. "Since when did the Alibi qualify as a bikers' place. Why don't you go drink at the Fish Tank where you belong?"

"They got thrown out of there....." Willy began to contribute before the Anglo biker picked up a bottle as if to throw it at the bartender.

"Ain't no motherfucker threw us out of nowhere man," he spat drunkenly. "We ain't the kind of people gets thrown out and you best remember it, you little gimp."

He was in his late twenties but maybe older, an adult life spent in and behind bars had left him with excess pounds and a worn looking face. The way he was looking at Buffy now however was apt to get him a face of a totally different kind, she was being mentally stripped and didn't like it.

"So now sweet girl this bar is our place, we're gonna get all our friends to come here too, screw the damn tank." He leered at her. "That means to get in here you're gonna have to be a biker...Or be riding a biker, hell girl I know which I'd rather you be."

"Si amigo," his friend added. "And we might have some vacancies for lap dancers if they got a butt like yours."

He was older than his friend, his face harder and more dangerous looking. He had a speckled scarring on one cheek where something, probably broken glass, had sprayed him. He looked sober compared to the Anglo and Buffy immediately marked him down as the more dangerous of the two.

"You know this bar has an established clientele don't you?" Buffy leaned back against the bar, resting her elbows on the edge of it and crossing her hands on her stomach. "And it's a whole lot scarier than you guys."

*Excuse me but if Giles finds out about you talking like this.....* Buffy's demoness chimed in, but since it had no way of telling Giles Buffy ignored it, more worried by the complete lack of concern being shown by the guys she was trying to threaten. *This could get as ugly as them.*

"You mean the vampires?" The two men started laughing as the Anglo went on. "You think those sorry assed pieces of shit that slurp blood in here worry us little girl..."

*Not supposed to tell people 'bout the vampires.....* Buffy had a recollection that that point had figured in her opening pep talks from both Merrick and Giles. *But if they already know....?*

*It would be wrong, but at the same time Willy has to do business here and these guys are gonna scare his contacts away. Thus making my work harder. And as they already know about vampires....* Buffy smiled as the demoness added for good measure, *And it'll be such fun!*

"You know you guys are right, who needs all those weaklings that are filling this dump? What it needs is some strong, sexy, masculine, bike-owning new faces." Buffy turned back towards Willy bending slightly to show her leather clad butt off to even better effect. "I'd like to drink with you guys so Willy pour me a pint of my usual."

"Your usual?" Willy really was starting to not like how things were going here. "Are you sure Sla....Buffy?"

"Hey just give me the service ya hear?" She heard more laughter from behind her and a low whistle followed by.

"Hot damn ain't she a firecracker."

Willy got a couple of blood bags from behind the bar, ready warmed for his customers convenience and, popping the caps, squeezed their contents into a glass. "Okay?"

"Thank you Willy." Buffy raised her glass in a toast to him ever as she turned back towards the intruders and morphed. "Now what was it you were saying about taking over our bar?"

"Madre Dios." The Hispanic biker shouted as his companero spat a mouthful of beer across the table. "You walked in from outside...How did you?"

"Oh please do you think a little old thing like the sun is gonna bother me?" Buffy sipped her blood before adding over the top of her glass, "This is my place and you guys are so leaving it now!"

"You think I'm gonna let a girl run me out...," the Anglo began to angrily reply but was stopped when the Hispanic biker held up a hand.

"I've seen one of these creatures rip a man's throat out down round Tijuana amigo, they don't care for nothing but blood and killin'." He pulled open his jacket to reveal a .38 pushed into his belt. "But unfortunately for her bullets can hurt vampires just like people, and if she don't fuck off and leave us to our drinking, she sure as hell is gonna find out how much!"

"Ok...." Buffy moved like lightening her glass hitting the floor even as she leapt the few feet that separated her from the alcove, her talons out to grab the biker's wrist. "Didn't your Mama tell you not to play with guns?"

Panicked by the sudden attack, the guy went for the gun, his hand closing on the pistol's butt even as Buffy's fingers locked round his wrist and tore the arm up her strength far greater than his. The gun flew onto the table as the biker lost his imperfect grip on the weapon.

The Anglo sat and looked at it, stunned, as Buffy slammed an elbow into his friend's face, sending him slamming back into the wall despite the angle from which the blow was delivered.

Stunned though he was, however, the Mexican wasn't finished, he flexed the muscle in his left forearm to release the catch on the knife he had secured there. It dropped down into the palm of his hand and the steel gleamed sharply as it came up into sight and the guy made ready to drive it into Buffy's face. "Puta see what I....."

The words were cut off as Buffy let go his right wrist and brought her hand up into a palm strike to the guy's jaw, there was a crunching sound as his teeth clashed together. Then Buffy reeled back in horror as blood spouted from his mouth. The blow had slammed his upper and lower jaws together slicing off the tip of his tongue.

"Enrique!" The Anglo came out of the shock the sudden violence had plunged him into as drops of blood hit his face. Stunned still however he did the first thing that came to his mind and grabbed for the gun with his right hand.

"No ya don't." Buffy pinned his wrist to the table with one hand even as her other was prying the knife from Enrique's fingers. The Slayer was gone, her demoness in complete control now as she drove the tip of the blade hard into the wooden table top.

Straight through the white biker's hand.

The noise of his scream filled the room and Buffy snapped out of it as the hard aroma of human blood filled the air. Horror caused her human face to return even as she heard her demoness shout out in her head.

*Oh baby yes!*

Part Eighteen



*Oh my god what have I done.* Buffy felt bile start to rise but fought it back, she'd done what she'd done and she could fall apart later. First she had to terrify these boys so badly about what might happen to them if they ever came back or looked for revenge.

"Slayer," came a fearful whine from the Snitch.

"Shut up Willy." The fangs re-emerged as Buffy morphed once more, her demoness was barely in check anyway due to the smell of the spilled blood filling the air. The red fluid was running down the chin of the man who had bitten his own tongue through, and literally dripping off the edge of the table as the blood ran from the Anglo's stabbed hand.

*Oh please Buffy feed me!* The demoness whimpered from where ever she lay in Buffy's mind. "Remember the power that entered you when your fangs opened Flesch's jugular and his rich blood filled your mouth. Have that again hear a heart beat stop as you take a life away.*

*Never!*

Buffy picked the pistol up off the table and cocked it, pressing the muzzle against the side of the stabbed bikers head she snarled, "Your amigo here had a gun and a knife, what you got?"

"Fuck you.....owwwww." He slammed back in his seat as Buffy slapped him open handed with her free left hand, the knife ripped in the wound as he was set backwards putting more pressure on it. "Ok, ok lady, I got a Bowie knife in my right boot."

"Leg out were I can see it Mister." Buffy stole a glance at the other biker, he seemed too busy moaning and bleeding to be much of a threat to her. "Pronto less you want that knife twisting."

"No, please no more!" His leg slid out from under the table. Pressing the pistol firmly into her adversary's throat, Buffy stooped and one handed patted round his leather clad leg till she found the knife hilt. Drawing it from its sheath she whistled at the sight. "Boy Faith would have loved you."

She tossed the knife into the back room sparks flew as it struck the cement floor, it would make a nice present for Browne later.

"Willy."

"Slayer.....you need my help?" The terrified Snitch was trying hard not to look, the sight of Buffy morphed took him back to those terrifying pain-filled seconds that had been all it had taken for the vampiress to half cripple him.

"Don't be a wuss Willy." Buffy moved behind pinned biker and again pressed the pistol against his head. "Come round here with a bar towel and pull the knife out of our friend's hand."

"Please Miss can't you call 911 and get...." The biker's pleading was curtailed as Buffy slammed the pistol up against his head.

"Willy these guys are really pissing me off," the Slayer hissed. "You don't want two bodies bleedin' all over your floor you get round here now!"

Heart hammering loud enough to almost burst Buffy's over sensitive eardrums, Willy came round the bar limping just a little. "You just want me to yank it out."

"If you're talking about the knife yes, otherwise no." Buffy really wanted this to be over and Willy so wasn't helping. "Can you get a move on please?"

Sixty seconds or so later, Willy was holding the blood spattered switch blade out before him, swaying a little as he fought the urge to faint. The whimpering biker was wrapping a rapidly reddening towel round his mutilated hand almost doubled over with the pain the fight completely out of him.

The Slayer growled deeply to get everyone's attention. "You boys clear out but, bear some things in mind. First you're leaving behind weapons with your prints on them, second the law won't touch vampires, third I see your faces again and you die. This is a vampire bar and you just arn't welcome in it."

The Mexican was getting over the shock now but could only nod fearfully as the pain from his tongue tore through him. Buffy remembered how he'd spoken to her though and picturing how things might have gone had she been a normal girl asked spitefully, "Hey sugar would you like that lap dance now, violence always gets me hot."

Suddenly she grabbed the Anglo by his long hair and pulled his face back her tongue darting out to lick clear one of the spattered droplets of blood. "And thirsty...so anytime you fella's wanna come here and get drunk....."

"We goin'," the Hispanic biker choked out through a mouthful of blood. "Por favour Senorita let us go."

"See now you're showing your manners, this is good." She let go her shuddering prisoner's hair. "Well off you go then. Don't bother writing and if I see you again." She flashed them gleaming white fangs. "You're gonna be joining me for dinner."

They ran for the door without a backward glance, too busy being glad to have lived to spare so much as a thought to why a vampire should have let them live.

Buffy let her human features return as she threw the gun onto the table, she felt like being sick at what she'd done. *I should have walked away, but that would have left Willy to those guys and I guess I owe him.*

*Did I just do the right thing?*

Willy was shaking, staring at the blood that was pooled around his bar. Buffy followed his gaze and plaintively as if seeking his forgiveness said, "I'm sorry Willy, I made a mess of your floor....and your table." Her eyes fell on the wall against which the bloody mouthed Mexican had been slumped a few seconds ago. "And your wall."

"That's okay Slayer." The Snitch sounded unexpectedly gentle as he spoke. "I mean you should have seen the state this dump used to get into back in the days when Luke used to come in here. Blood up the walls and across the ceilin' if you catch my drift. No Slayer you did me a favor and I won't forget that."

"I hurt those guys like I hurt..." Buffy felt a tear start to roll down her face even as she spoke but to her amazement Willy just smiled ruefully.

"Guess in a way I had it comin'." He shrugged. "I mean don't get me wrong, I'm not happy about it but all the time I've been in this business I should have remembered not to piss off a vampire like I did you."

"Thank you, but accept the fact that I couldn't be more sorry for what I did to you." Buffy nodded to herself as she added, "But if you lie to me again....."

"Capice." Willy found a chair without bloodstains and sat. "So before I get the mop out and start cleanin' my floor, what was it you wanted here Buffy?"

"There are some Watchers in town and as you know I'm not popular with those guys." Willy nodded in understanding. "You had any Brits in?"

"Nope not since the last time those two Limey vamps of yours showed. And if they're back in town can you send them over cause boy can those two drink." He mimed counting out bills. "Profits ain't never been so good."

"Ok I'll try." Buffy promised. "But other than them no Englishmen?"

Willy shook his head so she went on. "Other problem is a group of local boys out with them and maybe also hunting vamps. Jungle telegraph say anything about them?"

"Well shit has been happening Slayer." Willy sat back in his chair as he spoke. "A lot of antsy demons bein' in here recently bags packed and ready to motor but I assumed the disappearances were down to you."

"Disappearances? What disappearances?"

"You know vampires and demons not meetin' people they were supposed to meet." Willy realized the shakiness of the ground he was on and quickly added. "I ain't talkin bout trying to conquer the hellmouth type guys I just mean regular live an let live kinda demons."

"Who are disappearing." Buffy's face took on the beginnings of the look. "And you didn't tell me this why?"

"Everyone assumed it was you doin' it Slayer," Willy answered, looking a little nervous now. "And our deal was information on arrivals by demons, nobody said anything about wanting to know about departures so my conscience is clean."

"Yeah I guess," the Slayer responded grudgingly. Her hand went into her jacket pocket and she pulled out a roll of LA supplied vamp cash then peeled off four fifties. "Sniff around for me Willy, you find these guys and there's a lot more where this came from."

"Slayer you just got my full attention, I'll let you know what I can find out." Folding the bills Willy put them in his shirt pocket. "Now I gotta get to this cleaning so if you don't need me for anything more?"

"Yeah you mop away but find something for me soon ok." Buffy picked the pistol up off the table and released the cylinder, up ending the weapon she dropped the six shells it contained onto the table then using her demoness enhanced strength snapped the cylinder free of the frame. "Oh and could you get rid of this for me."

"Sure." Willy had a useful sewer running under his business that had carried away any amount of dubious contraband over the years. "I'll make sure it's not traceable, it's the least I can do for you boss."

"Boss!?!"

"Well....you know." Willy blushed a little and looked down at his shoes. "Guess I have been kinda working for ya, and as Lady bosses go you sure are....."

"I'm not posing for your cousin, Willy, no matter what you say." Buffy laughed feeling the weight lifting. "I'm gonna go now I got stuff to do, you be good and if those guys or anybody else comes round giving you a hard time call me or Angel, we look after our people you hear?"

"I hear." Willy nodded as Buffy rose and walked to the door. "I owe you Slayer, don't think I'll forget that."

"No Willy," the Slayer Vampire whispered as she went through the door. "I owe you and it's a debt I'm never gonna get cleared."

**************************************************************************************************************************

"Ok baby there you are." Forrest was stood by a lamp post two blocks down from the Alibi's front door. "Now let's see where you go."

He had contemplated tackling the vampiress, going into Willy's and trying to take her down and if he'd had Riley and Grant with him he might have done it, and probably died. Two bloodstained bikers coming out of the bar had been all he'd needed to see to tell him that full frontal wouldn't get it done.

Anyway Riley was in the hospital and Grant was heading security back at the complex and Billy who was driving the van hadn't got much combat time and most of that was the sneak attacks the Initiative specialized in.

*No little lady I'm thinkin' we definitely need to creep up behind you and dart you in the rear.* He grinned at that thought. *Sweet target too.*

The Slayer got into her jeep and even as she backed out of her space Forrest was signaling to Billy to drive up in the van. "Ok Agent get after her but not too close."

"We following her to where ever she's going?" Billy asked without any trace of nerves as if taking on the world's strongest vampire was all part of a days work.

"No just for a couple of blocks." Forrest wasn't doing anything about this girl on his own and certainly not with the shit firepower that the Watchers had provided. "Once we get to the main crossroads we can tell which way she's headed, to the College, to her house or back to the mansion. And from that we'll be able to tell where the all important Miss Rosenberg is at."

Forrest sat back as Billy slowly eased the van into drive and started tailing the Slayer. *And once I find that out I think it's time for me to tell our guests that we're runnin' this show from now on cause they sure are making one fuck up after another.*

"When we're done Agent you drop me off and I'll get a taxi to the so called hideout." Forrest got a sheet of paper and a pen from the glove compartment and started writing. "I'll give you a list of stuff I need and you just make sure Grant gets it loaded in this van."

"Yes sir." Billy slowed the van. "Forrest she went west, heading for the mansion."

"Good, that puts her in an out of the way spot." The place was formidable up on its hill and maybe that vamp of hers had installed security devices on its perimeter but they would surely find out soon. "I always wanted to storm a castle and that place sure does look like one."

*Let's just hope they don't have any boiling oil!*

Part Nineteen



Willow sat in front of the computer thinking.

*Buffy alive again, that'll be so neat. We can hang where ever we want without her having to concentrate all the time on reflecting and the shadow having thing.* The Wiccan smiled as she recalled the best part of the conversation. *And an off campus house, there's one for sale two doors down from Oz's and there's a cellar for when Angel wants to sleep over, cause you gotta figure for vampires that means in the day.*

Browne grunted a little in his sleep and mumbled, *Oh Bahadur idderao chabeli.*

*Is he dreaming about Buffy?* Willow shook her head not understanding the Hindi or Pushtun or mixture of both that the Vetala was speaking. *If you're gonna talk in your sleep you should have the manners to speak in English so people can understand you.*

There was no response to her thoughts, Browne just resumed a silent death like sleep. *Least without the breathing he doesn't snore.*

*Anyway it was probably something slay related.* Willow smiled amused at her notions. *The Spike fear is really startin' to make you paranoid girl.*

She was alone with two vampires on the ground floor of the house. Browne, who was in the room with her, and the alternate Spike who was in the garage. Ordinary Spike had gone upstairs to sleep hoping to "grab forty winks" before they went out to do some more violence.

*Not that I agree that there's gotta be violence. Or at least not major.*

Oz had been sent out in his van as soon as he came downstairs. The provisions for mortals in Angel's kitchen had proven to be sparse so the guitarist had been sent out for groceries and also on the all important mission to "get clothing."

*Good thing I got myself that drawer in his room at the band's house and if he finds what I think he will at Xander's then we'll all be fine.* Willow didn't know if Anya had a drawer but she expected that the former Patron 'Saint' would have made some clothing arrangement.

Her oldest friend had put in a brief appearance. Xander had looked at the dread machine, grimaced, asked her if he could help and when told no grinned in relief and gone back upstairs. "Till the food arrives."

*Hope Oz gets stuff that's fast enough for Xander's taste.* She suddenly scowled as she thought of something. *Doughnuts! I forgot to list jelly doughnuts.....Oh I hope he remembers to get some, Giles will be disappointed if we don't have any at the party after we rescue him.*

Karen had come downstairs and checked the situation with her. "No sign of the Watchers leaving the country and a solid lead on one of their local pals. Things are looking ok."

Willow had tried to persuade her to go to the hospital but failed getting the response. "If I see this guy Riley there's likely to be the kinda bloody scene that'll get the cops involved in this and you want that guy ready for grabbing, not down at the police station making a statement about me."

There was a look of determined anger crossed Karen's face the like of which Willow had never seen her wear before. "Those bastards. They sack Giles from a job he was good at because he was too attached to Buffy. He loves her like she was his own child, is there something wrong with that?"

"Absolutely not," Willow replied emphatically, she loved Giles almost as much as she did her own parents. The Englishman might not have kids of his own but he had two surrogate daughters and a son in the Slayerettes. "I thought they treated him really mean, I even wrote a letter!."

"Shows you how they think about the Slayers, usually the Chosen One gets dragged away from her family and friends to be raised by a Watcher who what isn't supposed to even care about her." Karen shook her head bewildered by it all. "And now they come here to kidnap him away from the life that he's made for himself, away from me. These guys are really gonna pay for this."

*Hey just hope Buffy doesn't think that.* Willow though to herself after Karen left to go home change eat and check messages. A School Principlal couldn't unexpectedly disappear even at weekends. *These guys deserve to have their wrists slapped sure but there's a limit to what pay should mean....isn't there?*

The Wiccan was happy though cause in front of her there was the manuscript Buffy had brought back with her from the alternate world. *Oh this looks good.*

Lariella.

She had been a Slayer in the early dark age, Don Diego had followed a faint record path but he had fixed her in existence around AD 399. It was a year in which the world was changing, when the Western Roman Empire was crumbling before the barbarian migrations and the Goths were just eleven years away from their sacking of Rome.

Here as the Empire that had founded the Council to defend the people from the nostferatu and other monsters who haunted the nights collapsed a new Chosen One appeared. Lariella.

She was beautiful and well placed in society. The daughter of a Senator, she lacked for nothing.

She was brave, the fragmentary annals had spoken of victory after victory over the resident powers of darkness in Italy and Gaul.

She was doomed.

The Goths had brought their undead gods and demons with them.

Wotan. The name sprang from the page as Willow read. *Are these records evidence that Wotan was some kinda ancient powerful vampire, truth or black propaganda by a Christian writer? I so wish Buffy had brought back the whole book!*

The Slayer had been captured by a vampire who had lived in the dark forests of Poland and Germany for centuries before the people who worshipped him moved south. First across what was now Belorussia then the Ukraine and then west through what became Romania, Hungary and Slovakia to enter the Italian Peninsular. Blood sacrifice had fed it as the Goths forged a path of anarchy and blood through once orderly provinces.

Lariella hadn't stood a chance, the details of the battle in which she had been captured were unclear but her fate was certain.

The vampire was seeped in blood and magick, and he felt the power in the girl from his first contact with her. He turned her without hesitation and had no difficulty controlling her making her an ally in his depraved passage through a world in tumult. She hunted for him in daylight bringing him victims by the score.

But Slayers had been turned before and the Romans had a cure.

Secretly, the potion had been mixed and made ready, and a body of men assembled.

The dark god was always by the Goth's kings side, ready to employ his fearsome power against any who might challenge his authority, and so the task before the warriors was terrible.

Their mission was to get close enough to the Gothic King Alaric's camp to cast a spell that would restore Lariella's life. And then strike hard and fast against the vampires lair usually located in some cave or forest close by and give the Slayer the chance to destroy the vampiric god.

It had worked. Lariella had struck the vampire down from behind in the ensuing confusion before he realized what had occurred, and in the panicked stampede of his minions that resulted, had managed to win clear.

She survived scarcely three months before falling in battle with the demon successor to her victim as lord of the Gothic host's demonic followers. He it seemed was a creature still remembered in Don Diego's time but by a later name, Heros Von Uberwald.

*Pity she didn't survive longer it would be good to know if there were any obvious side effects.* Willow had a reason for happiness though in finding that the turned Slayer had regained her humanity fully six months after her death. *Which means Buffy should be ok, too."

*I can't wait to show this to Giles.* She folded the paper carefully and put it in the drawer of the computer desk. *He'll be so pleased.*

A loud clatter from behind her startled Willow and she turned sharply to find a black clad Angel standing by the living room table. He had deposited something on top of a newspaper someone had left on there. He didn't exactly meet her eye as she stared hard at what he'd put there.

Eyebrows raised in puzzlement she asked, "Angel, why have you got a chainsaw?*

**************************************************************************************************************

Jason found as he had expected, a very angry Slayer waiting for him in the cellar.

"How you doin' then girl?" he asked lightly, giving the unused plastic bottle a kick across the floor. "Couldn't do anything luv, too nervous?"

"My hands are chained you fucking asshole!" Buffy was so near to bursting that she was almost ready to wet herself and never mind the humiliation. She had been dreaming up interesting ways to kill Englishmen as she lay there and now was real keen to try some. "I couldn't reach to undo my pants and the bottle was too far away."

"Sorry luv 'ow shortsighted of me not to spot that." Jason sat back in his chair and picked up the keys from where he had dropped them. Then reaching into the jacket he was wearing he pulled out a small pistol. "I love your country, all I had to do too get this was ask round among those handy lads from the Initiative and they provided. You have any idea the trouble you 'ave to go through to get a shooter back in England?"

"So you're gonna shoot me is that it?" She wasn't begging Jason noticed, he liked this girl. "Thought you boys were sending me home?"

"No." He threw the keys to her they landed an inch from her right hand. "You can't dodge a bullet Buffy so I'm gonna let you loose. You'll find a bucket round that corner there and a bit of privacy too. Of course there's no window and this gun is cocked."

Hesitantly the Slayer began to undo the cuffs listening as Jason went on.

"I'm starting to think that the wheels may well come off this ballsed up mission before much longer, which is why I wanna cut a deal. You're going home Buffy, that should be all that counts to you, what happens 'ere thereafter ain't none of your concern."

"Maybe," the Slayer replied as she stood and stretched cramped limbs. "But that doesn't mean I'd fight the Buffy from this world to save your sorry ass. So if that's the deal you're gonna offer me think again. I'm not interested Jeeves, not interested at all."

"Not the issue." Jason seemed to be at his ease but in reality he was ready to spring into action at the least sign of resistance from the girl who slipped round a corner in the basement to relieve herself. "All I'm askin' you to do here Buffy is keep me alive. Think you can manage that?"

Continued

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