Strangers in the Night

part 2


Maybe she'd gone crazy. She liked that scenario. It beat the hell out of what was behind Door Number 2 - the one where vampires and demons were real and lurking in every shadow here in Sunnydale. Which she guessed explained all the cemeteries. Sunnydale, which lies on top of a Hellmouth, which was exactly what it sounded like.

But there's more! Buffy, her Buffy, her little girl, was the Chosen One. Chosen to be the world's Champion and fight the other forces of darkness. Until she loses. Spike took great pleasure in informing her that she inevitably will lose and sooner rather than later. "Haven't got much of a shelf life do they Slayers? One dies, another is Chosen," he'd told her with a happy smile. Bastard.

Unfortunately she was pretty sure she wasn't nuts - though Watch This Space. Yes, she'd done her share of paddling past the pyramids, for example when Hank started "working late" at the office five nights a week and coming home smelling of Jungle Passion, but in the end she knew when it was time to pull into shore, get the hell off the barge, and deal. So just like she had to accept that Hank was a cheating asshole, she'll deal with the fact that there are vampires. That her daughter's psycho ex-boyfriend, this skinny 80's leftover and the crazy girl are all vampires. The face thing was pretty damned convincing, not to mention the way Angel had thrown her around like a rag doll and the lack of a pulse Spike had happily demonstrated for her.

Also, she did remember Spike from that disastrous Career Night. She remembered swinging an ax at his head and feeling the impact in her shoulders when it connected. Even then she'd known no-one should have been to walk - hell, he'd run - away after being hit with an ax, but he had and like everyone else she'd gone along with the Gang on PCP explanation because, well, it was the only one being offered. It's a good thing that he doesn't seem to hold a grudge against her for that little incident. In fact he seemed to be in a good mood now that he'd finished rearranging her reality.

"Any questions?"

Any questions? She looked at him. Yeah, a few. Like: if Buffy was the Vampire Slayer why had she been dating Angel, a vampire not to mention a major head case? Why did Buffy's ex hate her so much now? Was there any chance Spike would help her get out of here?

"His girlfriend told him not to kill me, right? Do you think it'll stick?"

"Drusilla is mine!" He snarled straining forward like he was going to leap out of the wheelchair at her. Whoops. "I wouldn't start any long books if I were you; Angelus is a stubborn bastard and he wants your blood."


Buffy eased the back door open, slid inside, and shut it carefully behind her. She stood very, very, still, using all of her Slayer powers to listen. The house was quiet. Mom must be asleep already. She glanced at the clock on the microwave and winced. She was really, really, late. Mom was gonna want to talk to her about this and she was running out of even vaguely plausible excuses. Maybe Willow was right; maybe she should tell Mom the truth.

"Mom, I've got something to tell you: I'm the Vampire Slayer."

"Oh, sweetie, are you feeling alright? Do you need to talk with Dr. Wences again?"

Nope, nu-uh, no way, no how would Mom ever accept it. Late night disappearances, the police dropping by on a regular basis, accusations of arson, psychotic boyfriends, gangs on PCP…nothing had managed to dent her mother's image of her darling daughter Buffy Anne. Buffy really wished she could be that girl again to have nothing more serious on her mind than boys, clothes, and schoolwork, but it wasn't going to happen. She'd give anything to be facing a bright future of college, graduation, meet a nice guy, get married, have children, happily ever after. Instead she faced a dark and probably really short future of fighting monsters till she died. And it's not like telling her would help either of them. This way at least one of them got to keep their illusions.

She crept upstairs, glad there was no light showing under her mom's bedroom door. She's asleep, yeah! Maybe she'll be able to talk Mom into believing she was home before curfew. She can try anyway. Taking no chances she undressed in the dark before getting into bed.

She lay there with Mr. Gordo tucked under her arm feeling very unsleepy. It was too early in the year for crickets; the night seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for something. It felt like everyone in the world was asleep except for her.

The car hadn't been in the driveway so Mom must have listened to her for once and parked it in the garage, which was of the good. She'd checked it out with Giles and the garage counted as part of the house and was covered under the disinvite. Not that she really thought that Angelus would try again, not here anyway. He wasn't really into repeating himself. Not "artistic" enough for him.

She hoped.

She'd been reading up on him, learning everything she could about Angelus, preparing herself. Giles approved in principle, but he'd still been reluctant at first to give her the books. She almost wished he'd stuck to his first reaction because what was inside those books was ugly, ugly, stuff. Reading the carefully detailed record of over 150 years of gleeful destruction; the rape, mutilation, and murder of thousands of men, women, and children had ripped at her heart and given her truly spectacular nightmares. "And I did it with a song in my heart." God. And she knew he was out there right now, killing.

What she had to remember that it was Angelus, not Angel. Angel could never do any of those things - another reason, not that she needed one, why she had to kill Angelus. Because Angel is dead and she needs to do her job and slay the thing wearing his body. The monster who was probably out there right now, luring victims with her lover's face, murdering with his hands. She really, really, needed to kill him. For Giles' sake and hers both she has to destroy the thing wearing the face of her lover and the sooner she gets it done, the better. Maybe then she'll be ready to deal with Mom.


"So, you're English?" She can't believe she said that and from the look Spike shot her, neither can he but she had to say something, anything was better than silence and being alone in her head. "What brought you to Sunnydale? The Hellmouth?" His pretty, angular face gave nothing away and she braced for another outburst.

His face relaxed into a smile. "Yeah, you could say that," he said amiably. "I came here looking for a cure for my Dru. She'd been badly hurt; bloody mob."

"Did coming here help?" she asked carefully.

He smiled. "Yeah. I found the cure." His expression darkened. "That's how I ended up in this bloody chair. Your girl dropped a sodding pipe organ on me."


He tilted his head, the flickering candlelight slid prettily over his goth pale skin. "Course, to be fair, I was trying to kill her at the time."

Kill. As in *kill*; not a metaphor or a figure of speech. "I won't say I'm sorry then."

He nodded. "Fair enough. Anyway, I won't be in this chair much longer. I'll be up and killing again in a trice."


"No need to fret, we won't be sticking around here. I'd never have brought Dru to the Hellmouth in her condition if I'd known there was a Slayer here, but last I heard she was in Los Angeles."

"We moved here from LA a few months ago. It was supposed to be a new start."

"Yeah?" He raised an eyebrow. "How's that working out for you?" Before she could answer his expression went blank. "Bugger. He's back," he hissed. He pushed the chair backwards, pivoting to face the door.

He'd just managed to put a plausible distance between him and the bed when the door slammed open and Angelus rolled in with Dru clinging to his arm. Spike froze; Angelus had been drinking and that was never a good thing.

"So Spike my boy, you been keeping yourself busy?" Angelus staggered over to the bed to leer down at Joyce. She pretended to be fascinated by the weave of her skirt while terror rolled off her in waves Spike could smell from across the room. "How're ye doin' Joyce? Hope Spike hasn't been a trouble to you." Dru peeked around Angelus and hissed at the her like a kitten.

Angelus saw he wasn't getting an answer and put his hand on her chest and shoved her flat onto her back. She started to get back up but froze when she saw him studying her with a little smile on his face. She couldn't look away from his dead black eyes; couldn't move as he shrugged off his jacket. Before she knew what was happening he was on the bed, knees on either side of her legs, pinning her in place. She shuddered as he ran his big hands up her legs, from her ankle to quivering thighs. "You know Joyce, you've got nice legs," he said. "Considering."

Spike licked his lips; focus mate. He cleared his throat loudly. "Oi, Angelus, don't think you ought to be doin' that."

"Why not?" Angelus sneered over his shoulder. "Dru only warned against killing her, doesn't mean we - well I, can't have a bit of fun." He grabbed the neck of her sweater tearing it and the blouse underneath, revealing a lacy silk bra and trembling goose fleshed breasts. "Nice."

Spike gritted his teeth and waved his finger at Angelus. "Don't think so friend. Face it, you've got a habit of gettin' carried away with your 'fun' and the Slayer's not going to go easy on you 'cause you didn't mean to kill her mum." Angelus froze. In the sudden silence Spike imagined he could hear the dust sifting down through the air. Then his grand-sire's demon slid out of cover and gave him that pointy-toothed smile that he remembered all too well from the bad old days.


Angelus's fist smashed into Spike's face and sent the chair flying backwards across the room; it crashed into the wall and overbalanced spilling Spike onto the floor. Spike pushed himself up with his arms just in time to be kicked in the throat. Gagging he flopped face down on the dusty floor only to be lifted on the toe of Angelus' boot and sent flying into the wall.

"You think I'm afraid of the Slayer?" Angelus snarled as he kicked him in the gut. Spike curled up, trying to protect his belly and groaned as the boot slammed into his kidneys instead. "I'm not afraid of that stupid twat!" Spike bit through his lip to keep from screaming as Angelus ground his hand under his heel. He forgot to guard his head for a moment and Angelus kicked him in the face, blood spattered and his vision blurred. "Buff's gonna die, soon, and I think I'll make this old bitch watch!"

The tosser kept ranting but Spike lost the thread after that; he felt a couple of ribs go with the next kick. At least Angelus was keeping it hands-on this time and was ignoring the knife and the various other blunt instruments to hand. After a while he sensed Angelus was losing interest. He kicked Spike a few more times for the hell of it and crashed the chair down on top of him for a finish. Spike heard the telltale crackling as Angelus' demon face receded. Spike lay still.

"Thanks, buddy, I needed that." Angelus walked out chuckling.

Some things never got easier, no matter how often they happened. Spike uncurled slowly, pushed the chair off him and lay back down to wait for the pain to slacken enough so he could start the slow process of getting himself upright. All things considered he'd gotten off lightly. No major bones broken and he didn't really use his internal organs anyway. He just hoped this little incident didn't add too many more days onto his convalescence. A familiar shadow fell over him. He looked up relieved. "Give me a hand up Dru, there's a pet."

She recoiled from his hand, hiding her hands behind her back as she retreated. "Naughty Spike to speak to Daddy so! Children ought to be seen and not heard, like Miss Edith." She shook her head sadly.

"Dru?" But she was gone. Spike let his head drop back onto the floor and lay still.

Joyce stared at Spike's crumpled form lying silent and unmoving where he'd been left. He looked dead and no wonder. She'd never seen anyone beaten that badly and she didn't ever want to see anything like it again. The cut on her face burned; she hadn't said a word while Angelus grinned and kicked and punched and stomped his victim. She'd just sat there, uselessly frozen with fear and guiltily relieved that it wasn't her.

"Spike?" Nothing. She pulled her ruined blouse together as best she could and stood up. Ouch. Now that she wasn't terrified she felt all of the abuse her body had taken tonight. Her back twinged nastily and the sore spot on the back of her head throbbed. Slowly she limped over to him. She was too old for this, any of this.

"Spike?" His black clad chest was perfectly still. She couldn't tell whether he was conscious or not. Not so pretty now, what with the split lip and one eye swollen shut. She leaned down. A chill ran down her spine when she realized she could see the bruises ripening and spreading under his skin with unnatural speed. She forced herself to touch his shoulder. "Spike?"

"Get the fuck away from me!" His one good eye glared at her as he batted weakly at her hand. She backed off.

Getting up was a painfully slow process. First he got up onto his knees, then by using the wall for support, inched himself up until he was upright. He shuffled a few steps, keeping one hand on the wall, until he was close enough to grab hold of the chair. It felt like hours before he had it upright and facing him and every time his grip slipped, or it looked like he might fall Joyce trembled like a racehorse at the starting gate with the need to help him out. Finally he had it in place. He let go of the wall and took two tiny steps forward and collapsed into the wheelchair with a groan of relief.

"Thank you," she said.

"Shut up you silly cow!" He snapped. "Nothing to do with you. Just makin' sure my princess doesn't burn."

She decided to leave him alone for now and went back to the bed. Joyce shivered. It was freezing in here, she guessed vampires didn't have much use for central heating. Gritting her teeth she lifted the bedcovers wincing at the musty smell. As she slid underneath the covers she prayed that it was only disuse that made the sheets so stiff and gritty. She pulled them up around her curled up and waited to feel warmer.


The service station was closed. They'd turned off all the signs but despite the yellow tape blocking the driveways and the fleet of cop cars, a couple of idiots still tried to drive in.

Don Jenkins yawned behind his hand. He'd been on duty for almost 10 hours straight and his brain felt like grit had gotten into the gears. It was getting close to dawn and he hoped to hell they'd be wrapping this one up soon. Not much left to do: the victim had already been photographed, examined in-situ, and taken to the morgue. Preliminary cause of death was that old Sunnydale favorite: exsanguination. Which meant they'd probably never make an arrest, never mind get a conviction. God he hated this shit. Especially when, he was the one who had to make the call to the victim's family.

Edward Lewis Jr.'s parents had been too shocked to really take in the bad news. It had been just plain painful to listen to the mother babble on about how Ed Jr. had just turned 18, how he'd been accepted to Santa Cruz, and he'd only taken the job to save up for college - he'd had to cut her off for his own sanity. There was no way in hell either of his kids are ever working after dark in this damned town.

Don yawned again, and wondered if the coffee machine in the store was working. The door had been locked and there was no sign the perps had been in there, so it technically wasn't really part of the crime scene… Naw, the forensic guys would never go for it. He'll just have to wait. Shouldn't be much longer. The techs had finished examining the immediate crime scene awhile ago. They'd moved on to searching the wider area in hopes of finding some kind of clue. They're all Sunnydale veterans too so he figures they knew it was a waste of time, but they have to dot their i's and cross the t's just like he does.

He woke up a little when the head C.I., Jim Terra straightened up from his search of the dusty junipers over by the toilets with something held carefully in his gloved hands. He called another tech over and they both headed over to Jenkins.

"Found something," Jim said showing him. It was a woman's handbag, leather, looked like nice quality but not new. Careful not to disturb the small stain on one corner that looked like it might be blood, he opened it and looked inside.

"Car keys. House keys." He handed each item over to his assistant to be logged and bagged. "Wallet." He opened it. "$46.00 and change. Credit cards, ATM card, - so probably not robbery. Driver's license, expires 2004, Joyce Louise Summers, 4/26/62." She smiled politely up at him from her DMV mugshot, she looked like a nice lady, and Don would bet 20 bucks she was as dead as Ed Jr. "1630 Revello Drive, Sunnydale." Terra's voice was studiously neutral, but Don knew he figured her for dead as well.

"Think she was involved?"

He shrugged. "Let's see if we can get a number and give her a call." Gotta go through the motions.


There was an almighty thump and dust rained down from the ceiling as Drusilla shrieked again in pain or delight. Spike's hand clenched on the arm of his chair, twisting the metal. They'd been at it for hours. He'd tried concentrating on his aches and pains, even resorted to composing poetry in his head, anything to distract himself from their bloody racket, but nothing really worked; he was getting desperate.

Not just the rutting next door he needed distraction from: there was that damned woman as well with her breathing and her damned heart pounding away, filling the air with the tempting scent of warm human blood. She'd managed to fall asleep somehow, curled up in the bed. Not the first time he'd seen a human go dormant under extreme stress, but he wished she'd stayed awake because knowing that she was so totally vulnerable made it very damned hard to stick to his resolve.

Angelus cunning plan wasn't hard to work out: he'd left a helpless woman locked in a room with a starving vampire. The tosser expected Spike to drain her dry. Likely he figured he could get round Dru's prophecy that way and give him an excuse to stake his rival without her kicking up too much of a fuss. Well, sod that for a game of soldiers.

She stirred in her sleep, turning her face more firmly into the pillow, exposing the pulsing blue vein. His teeth sharp, he leaned forward.

"Oooooooo Daddy!" Drusilla shrieked on the other side of the wall.

Spike sat up snarling and the left armrest crumpled under his grip. He needed to get the woman out of here before his willpower or Angelus' temper ran out. He knew there had to be a way of doing this. He just had to think. If only he weren't so fucking weak he'd take her out of here himself. One good feed would put him right. Pity he couldn't call for a delivery.

He froze then and smiled.

He rolled out into the hallway and carefully locked the door behind him. He grimaced at the cacophony of groans and thumps that echoed in the hallway then went off in search of what he needed. The minions were in the parlor, lounging around on a collection of scavenged furniture while they boasted about their kills. The lot of them shut right up as soon as he rolled into sight and sat there staring at him slack-jawed. It had been so long since he'd been out of his room half of them had probably forgotten he was still around.

"Cheer kiddies." He showed them his pearly whites and was gratified by the synchronized twitching. "Listen, Angelus wants his new toy fed. Now. One of you lot needs to go get something for her." They looked at each other uncertainly; finally a tall git Spike didn't recognize opened his mouth.

"Um, I dunno, it's kinda late."

Spike didn't bother to hide his contempt. "Yeah? Not my problem is it."

"There's a 7-11 at 5th and Wilkins," a female voice offered helpfully.

"How come Angelus didn't tell us himself?" Bob piped up suspiciously.

Spike shrugged. "Don't know, don't care. Feel free to knock him up and ask him." He watched as the minions traded looks; they could hear the noises coming from the master bedroom as well as he could and none of them fancied interrupting.

Tall Boy pointed at Bob. "You go."

"Fuck," Bob said resignedly.

"Better hurry, it's almost sunup. Bring the stuff along to my room." Spike turned his back on them, feeling their eyes on him, feeling better than he had in weeks.


The phone was ringing.

Phone. Ringing.

Buffy blinked in disbelief at the glowing red numbers. 4:41 a.m.

Phone. Still ringing.

Whoever it was, was determined. And so very dead if it's a wrong number. Buffy groaned and fumbled the phone to her ear. "Gggrgh," she said.

"Good morning. I'm Officer Don Jenkins of the Sunnydale Police Department. Sorry to disturb you, am I speaking to Joyce Summers?"

Fear shot through her before she remembered that they'd dropped the charges and they weren't in L.A. anymore anyway. "Uh. No. I'm Buffy Summers, Joyce is my Mom. Is something wrong?"

"Miss Summers I really need to speak to your mother. Is she there?"

"Yeah, she's asleep. I'll get her. Hold on." Clutching the cordless in one hand Buffy toddled down the hall to her mother's room and knocked on the door. "Mom?" She opened the door and stared in disbelief at the empty bed. "Mom?"

"Hello, Miss Summers? Are you still there?"

"She's not here. I don't know where she is." "Oh." The cop didn't seem surprised at the news.

"Miss Summers, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but the reason I called was that your mother's purse was found at a crime scene."

No, no, no, no. "Is she O.K.?"

"Miss, I don't know, that's why I'm calling. The victim has been identified and he definitely isn't your mother. But we'd like to talk to her. Do you have any idea where she might be?"

"No. She always comes straight home after work. I came in late, I thought she was already in bed."

"Miss Summers, what kind of car does your mother drive?"

"It's a 1997 Explorer."

"License plate number KNQ113B?"

"Yes, I think so."

"A vehicle matching that description was found abandoned out on Colson with a flat tire about a quarter mile from the Texaco station where we found her purse."


"Can you think of anywhere she might have gone?"


She stands on the balcony looking out at the clear blue sky and the shimmering sea rippling below. The air is balmy and smells of sea and flowers. Reflected in the wraparound mirrorshades on the table she can see a washed out cartoon playing on the T.V. in the room behind her, a grinning fox chasing an animated cookie. Run, run as fast as you can…

"What did you say?" Keanu murmurs into her ear, fingers brushing softly across her nipples.

"Nothing, just being silly." She turns in the circle of his arms so she can look up into his beautiful dark eyes. When she looks into them she can see how much he loves her, how much he wants her. He kisses her hard, till she's drowning in the sensation. When he stops it's like losing the sun; a shiver runs down her spine. "It's cold in here," she says. "Can we turn the air-conditioning down?"

They're lying on the rug in front of the roaring fire. "Mmmm," his tongue tickles her throat, one hand sliding down her body unerringly finding the perfect spot and applying the perfect pressure between her legs. Feels so good, but she's still cold. "Hungry?" He asks. "There's food." There's a roast suckling pig on the table, surrounded by fruit and vegetables, skin gleaming golden, mouth stretched by a ripe mango. It smells delicious, but she can't shake the feeling that its little black eyes are watching her. "Gotta eat something," he coaxes.

"Later," she says leaning into his touch, wanting more kissing.

"O.K. Hey, I know!" His smile lights up his face. "Let's play twister." He pulls his shirt over his head giving her a lovely view of his lightly haired chest. He tosses the shirt away and unbuttons his jeans sliding them down his long finely muscled legs to pool at his feet…

"Mornin' Joyce. Nice dream?" Joyce opened her eyes to find Spike smirking at her. He was more gargoyle than angel at the moment: his damaged eye was blackened and swollen shut and the bruises Angelus had inflicted had matured into their full rainbow glory. Hard as it was to read his thrashed face something in his expression made her suspect that he knew exactly what she'd been dreaming about. She blushed; dammit she must have been talking in her sleep. Then the realization that he'd been watching her sleep hit and she sat up. Bad move, as her body was quick to inform her. She felt hungover and she was so hungry she imagined she could smell food.

"Figured you'd be hungry. Got you something to eat." Spike shoved a bag into her hands. "Bon appetit."

Joyce opened the bag to find a lukewarm microwave burrito, a bag of cheese puffs, a couple of candy bars and a 16 oz bottle of cola. As a last meal it left something to be desired, but she was too hungry to care.

He watched her eating until she wondered if she should offer him some, but in the movies anyway vampires didn't eat or drink anything but blood. Besides, there wasn't that much and she was starving. As she washed the last of the food down with a final swallow of soda Spike spoke. "Liked that did you?" She looked a little self-conscious.

"Yes, thanks."

"Nothing worse than dying on an empty stomach. I'm speaking from personal experience."

Joyce felt the food she'd just gobbled turn to cement inside her.

Spike tilted his head thoughtfully. "Angelus is asleep right now, worn out after last night. But around sundown he'll wake up and once he's dressed and put half a jar of gel in his hair he'll be back to finish what he started."

Joyce put the trash into the bag, folded the top neatly, and put it down beside the bed. She pulled a blanket around her shoulders; the room seemed to have gotten colder.

"I'm sure the Slayer knows you're missing by now. It won't take her long to find this place; 'course it'll be too late for you by then."

Something snapped inside. "Enjoying yourself?" Joyce spat. "Want to see me cry?"

He assumed a look of wounded innocence. "'Course not. What I'm saying is: Angelus figures he'll break her by killin' you off, but he's wrong. Not that it won't tear her heart out when she finds you unpleasantly dead; I'm sure she'll still be all weepy and red-eyed when she hunts him down and dusts him and Dru and me and anyone she even suspects had anything to do with your death."


"Yeah. But it won't do *you* much good though will it? Or her. Besides it doesn't have to go that way. I can get you out of here and home safe. Only we've got to work together. I'm too weak right now to do it but luckily you've got what I need to make me well again." Lightning fast he wrapped his thin white fingers around her wrist. She shivered as he gently traced the vein with a black-nailed thumb. "Right here."

"I thought the idea was not to kill me." She thought she did a good job of keeping her voice steady.

"Not talking about killing you," he wheedled. "Wouldn't need that much. Human blood is powerful stuff; you have no idea of the taste - the power in it." He leaned in closer, gradually dropped the volume so his last few words came out in a husky whisper. "You'll barely feel it, and then you can go home..."

His big blue eyes were chock-full of sincerity; Evil? Moi? Joyce snorted.

"Why?" She asked flatly.

He straightened up, a look of grudging respect flickering across his face and let her have her arm back. "You mean, why bother to try and sweet-talk you instead of just taking what I want, say while you were asleep?" Joyce nodded. "Because this needs to happen on the Q.T. You make a fuss, Angelus might hear and if he catches me snacking on you without his permission he'll strangle me with my own guts, just for starters."

Joyce winced. "Oh. But won't a great big bite mark on my neck give it away?"

Spike grinned. "Not going to touch your neck. There're plenty of other places…" His good eye narrowed, and his tongue slipped out to wet his bottom lip. It's like a reflex with him she realized. "So what's it going to be Joyce? Do we have a deal?"


The world was a very different place at night. Even Revello Drive with its comfortable Craftsman style homes and neat lawns seemed vaguely sinister in the pre-dawn darkness. He knocked softly on the door. Buffy answered a moment later.

"Giles. Oh. Thank you for coming, I don't know what to do." Buffy's voice trembled. She looked even younger than her 17 years standing there in her childish pajamas. At 17 she'd been the Slayer for more than two years, which meant that she had already exceeded the median tenure. The record was six years.

"Of course. Have you heard anything else?" She shook her head. "Nothing. I'm scared Giles. If Angelus took her… I don't even know where to start looking. The factory burned to the ground."

"We don't know that it was him yet. Perhaps you ought to get dressed. It will be a little while before you can call Willow or the others."

"O.K." She left him alone.

She was gone for a long time. While he waited the night faded into day, morning sun poured in through the picture window and lit the living room with a golden gleam. It was a room designed to make one feel comfortable. Warmly furnished in excellent taste, pleasantly domestic like the woman who had decorated it.

How many hours has it been now? 12? 14? Far too long to maintain reasonable hope.

Restless, he stood. Found himself studying the pictures on the mantel: portraits of Buffy at various stages of childhood, some with Joyce, one or two with an unfamiliar man who must be Hank Summers. There were several of two older couples - grandparents. He didn't know if either Joyce's parents were still alive.

Slayers do not have families. They have a Watcher, and behind him, the Council. But they'd failed to identify Buffy Summers as a potential Slayer and so the rule had been unavoidably broken. The agony on Buffy's face was proof that the council was correct. It was bad enough that the Chosen One had to face death nightly. It was insupportable that they should also have to face the deaths of their loved ones.

He prayed that at least Mrs. Summers' death had been quick.

Jennie had been quick; Angelus had broken her neck and hadn't even bothered to feed from her. She hadn't been the target after all, her death was only a means to torment him and through him, Buffy. Joyce, on the other hand was someone Angelus knew, someone 'Angel' had a relationship of sorts with and the most important person in Buffy's life. He didn't want to think about what Angelus has probably done to the poor woman. He'd want to make her death and its aftermath, something memorable.

He only hoped that his Slayer was strong enough to survive it.


Oni's place:


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