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"I'm still stinging," she whined petulantly as she strolled down the
darkened street. Willow cast a fond smile at her friend, reaching over
to grab the hand that didn't hold a stake and pat it.

"Poor Buffy," she said with a completely unsympathetic grin before she
let go of the Slayer's hand just as Buffy stuck her tongue out at her.
"I'm serious! She completely freaked! Well, not freaked, more along
the lines of, how in the hell couldn't you of told me this! You,
sneaking out at all hours of the night to fight with those... those...
things! And THAT certainly explains the dust in your clothing, I was
beginning to think you were on coke!" Buffy did a fairly astonishing
impression of her mother's rather impressive bellow.

"She didn't!!"

"She did! And all this was on the porch! All the neighbors just
stopped and started looking. It took me ten minutes just to get her
back inside, and then she wouldn't let me sleep at all that night just
cause she was too busy yelling at me. And she somehow managed to
convince herself that my being the Slayer explained ever bad thing I
had ever done, all the way down to when I failed the math sector in
the 4th grade." Buffy said as she made a face, remembering the most
unpleasant night that had involved her sitting in one spot for over 8
hours while her mother yelled until she was hoarse, then hugged her
and cried for another few hours. Add all this to the definite soreness
from the attack at Parent-Teacher Night and it left a miserable Buffy
in it's wake.

"Okay," Willow said, and Buffy turned her head to quirk a brow at her
friend. She had that thick tone in her voice, the one she got right
before she got that `Little girl with a naughty secret' grin and gave
that little shake/nod of her head. "So... badness evident. Moving on
to happier things? Like you and Angel. I've heard you two are getting
up into a `flames of passion' type stage."

"You heard?" Buffy said wryly, raising her eyebrows higher.

Willow frowned a little at her, forehead wrinkling in a way that Buffy
couldn't describe as anything other than adorable, and started again.
"Alright, so `heard' is in the list of `inappropriate phrases in
certain conversational contexts' but, seriously." She finished
triumphantly.

"And... seriously, huh?" Buffy said with what she hoped was an
innocent and empty-headed _expression. Willow frowned at her and she
barely managed to not snap her fingers and go `Damn!'

Buffy Summers knew when she was defeated.

"You know what I mean. And so, I haven't heard, but I observe!"
Buffy, sensing another opportunity to derail the conversation from
it's current route, waggled her eyebrows.

"You spend a lot of time observing me? Or is it Angel you've got the
hots for?"

"Buffy!!!" Willow squealed, and Buffy mock-yelped when her friend
slugged her in the arm.

"Will! Hey! Fragile here!"

Willow gave her the look again, all adorable-forehead-wrinkle and
pursed lips and Buffy winced.

"About as fragile as concrete!"

"Yep," Buffy said, as triumphantly as Willow earlier. "And I'm just
putty in the hands of Willow `Wrecking Ball' Rosenberg."

"Wrecking Ball," Willow snorted, cutting her friend a look. "And stop
changing the subject! You're avoiding the question!"

Buffy ducked her head and Willow turned on her feet to walk backwards
so she could watch the interesting shade of red that was spreading
across her friend's face.

"Elizabeth Anne Summers! You're blushing!!! You... you two..... did
it!?! And you didn't tell me!?"

"No!" Buffy hissed, hands rushing to cover Willow's mouth. "There's
been no.... doing of any sort lately! There was minimal flaming
before, but lately this has been more `Keeping Mom safe on patrol'
time or `Sitting back painfully while watching Mom grill Angel about
his history' time... And believe me... when you're 240-whatever years
old there's a lot to be grilled upon."

"246," Willow supplied helpfully, and Buffy snorted with laughter.
"And thank you Miss Walking Lexicon."

"Buffy!! And hey, you learned a new word!" Willow was only two steps
down from squealing. Anyone else would have had Buffy bristling with
anger at those words. She knew she wasn't the sharpest needle in the
packet, and while her intelligence (or lack of it, in some people's
eyes) had and probably always would be a sensitive subject for her,
she also knew that when Willow said something like that, she meant it
seriously. So, in place of trying to restrain herself from punching
the source of the statement, she beamed instead.

"Yeah! I've been studying for my English class. It's guaranteed to
piss off Snyder if I pass with a B," she said smugly.

Willow snorted and then grinned at her knowingly.
"Make Snyder mad.... And passing the class is just an added bonus?"

"Yup," Buffy confirmed with a matching grin and a nod of her head.

"Buffy?" Willow said after a pause, her voice sheepish.

Buffy cast a fast-withering glare in her friend's direction.
"What? Did I make a grammatical mistake?"

"No," Willow drawled, squinting one eye slightly in a bit of a wince.
"It's just.... a lexicon is more a dictionary, and information on age
is more encyclopedic deal."

"Oh," Buffy said thoughtfully, forehead wrinkling slightly. "Well...
hey! It could be a dictionary, cause look right below `1 a : a
spiritual being superior to man in power and intelligence; especially
: one in the lowest rank in the celestial hierarchy' for Angel, you'll
see `246 year old vampires with a tendency to brood with a
caveman-esque forehead'."

"Buffy!!" Willow gasped again, before biting her lips in an effort not
to laugh. "And... oh my god! You memorized the definition for angel!?!
And.... caveman forehead??" She choked loudly on the next stifled
laugh and Buffy cast her a sheepish grin.

"Guilty on both accounts... And besides, that was early on in the
relationship. Very school girl crush-y, like comparing the way your
name sounds with your boyfriend's last name. Course... that doesn't
work with Angel, cause I still don't know his last name." she said
with a little frown, before she plowed on with an abashed grin. "And
pardon me while I go and die, because he does! A few weeks ago... you
know those two black eyes I had?"

"Yes... You said that big muscley demon with the horns hit you."

"Well," Buffy drawled, giving her friend another sheepish look. "We
were at his apartment, and he was sitting in one of the arm chairs,
and I was moving to kiss him... kind of on surprise, but he turned his
head too quick and I bashed my nose right into his forehead!! I
thought I'd broken it!" She breathed, turning to look at her friend.
Willow was looking quite white at the moment, and twitching ever now
and then, frozen in her place on the sidewalk.

The two girls looked at each a moment more before they both cracked up
and fell to the ground laughing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


She whimpered quietly, attempting in vain to change it into a coo at
the last moment. That was a sound she could use better. She would
always coo to her little dollies, but the insolent minions had crushed
all her dolls, and drank all of her Spikey's Port. Spike would be very
angry when he found out, and Drusilla relished the thought of her
Black Knight destroying all of them, and fixing her a nice clean bath
so she could be comfortable while she listened to them scream. They
would scream such lovely screams, she knew it. The stars told her. She
preferred listening to the stars now. Her Miss Edith had been taken
from her. She could still hear her screaming accusations as the nasty
little one, the Annoying One as her Spikey had called him, had smashed
her all up.

Some of the things her Miss Edith had said had hurt her feelings very
much, and the minions had only laughed when she tried to fight to her.
She felt so weak and tired now, more so when they had arrived after
those nasty people in Prague.

She missed Prague so. All the old city walls whispered things to her,
of lovely brutal things, and lovely brutal people she would have loved
to have as little babies. Spikey had been her little baby sometimes,
and sometimes he was almost her Daddy, but he could never be her
Daddy. Spikey didn't like to hear her scream, and sometimes she needed
to hurt.

Her Daddy had left, so that had to mean that she wasn't good enough.
She deserved hurt. She didn't deserve Spikey, and all his pretty dolls
and dresses.

But, oh! Spikey had left her too! She had watched the moon pass over
the sky, listening almost drunkenly to the constant wurr of words:
chants from the stars, growls from the little thing that slept under
her bed and made her tummy rumble. The rumbling had turned into deeper
growls until she had begun to scream when it happened. She could only
scream, and scream, and scream. She tried to move to find her Spike,
but she couldn't. She was cold, but her Knight was not there to hold
her. She was hungry, but her Knight was not bringing her beautiful
little red-blooded babies like her Mummy had had, but she never,
never, never would.

She moaned in pain again, winding her fingers in circles and once
again cutting swathes through the skin of her forearms. Her veins were
tight and blue, and she could feel each and every one screaming for
sustenance and warmth. She was ice, inside and out now. Spikey had
told her that she had eyes like ice, but her ice had always made him
so hot.

She gave a broken shriek at that, throwing her arms apart. They landed
bonelessly against the pavement, and she whined when the thump one
gave against the pavement made a bolt of pain creep up to her
shoulder.

Spikey was being very, very bad. He shouldn't leave his Princess alone
for so long. The insolents had done naughty things to her, things that
only her Daddy should do, things that Spikey had never wanted to do,
but did when she begged but it didn't feel like he made it feel.
Spikey had been very bad, and he would not be allowed to have any tea
for a month, and she would not do any of the little Naughties that
made her Tarnished Knight so happy, the things that sent thrills
through his body that she could see. Little arcs of red color that
would wind and bound through his muscles when she touched him.
She whined again, this time in longing, as she remembered so many of
the times she and her Knight had had. Times when he was so much unlike
her Daddy, and would lay back to let her do whatever, ever, ever, ever
she wanted to do to him. How much he seemed to enjoy it, and always
how eager he was to please her.

Spike was her little baby, not Daddy's. Spikey wasn't her brother, he
was her baby.

She rolled her eyes, watching the lights at the horizons edge, and she
whimpered brokenly again. Her fingers twitched restlessly and she
rolled her head to stare at her hands and arms, splayed out beside her
like the crucifixes Spikey got mad at her for touching. They had
always hurt so exquisitely when she touched them, held them in her
hand. She could feel the love of the God the strange people in black
clothes spoke of. Her Daddy had taught her that pain was love. She had
always been very cross with Spikey for not letting her feel God's
Love.

Her veins burned and she let her head fall to the side, staring at the
furrows left in her wrists by her own fingernails. No dark blood
gathered in the cuts, and her tummy clenched inside at the thought of
food. Of warm, full blood coursing into her mouth; of tearing into a
throat and leaning her head back to catch the gouts that flowed
outward like standing beneath a glorious fountain, made just for her.
She screamed then, but it only came out as a whine that issued from
her open, parched mouth. They had thrown her out here because of her
screaming, unwilling to feed her and help her get better like her
Spikey was going to do for her. She could remember many nights when
she had fed from her Spikey's throat, or from a slash from his tongue
when she was too weak to sit up in bed and take her meals herself.
Spikey called them happy meals, but they were bad happy meals. No
matter how thoroughly she searched inside of them she could never find
the little toy that was supposed to be there. She had once had a
collection of pretty horse figurines, but one day they had gotten the
same figurine again and her Spikey had slaughtered the place for her
when they wouldn't give her a different one, and then had gotten her
the right one. She had lost the horses somewhere, but suddenly she
wanted them back. She had no more dollies, she had no more anything.
Miss Edith whispered nasty things to her, whispers of what a bad Mummy
she was. She whimpered again, wishing her Knight was there to tell her
bad dolly to be quiet, that she was a wonderful, wonderful Mummy, and
that he'd make sure to smash her to dust if she wasn't nice to her
Mummy.

But Spikey wasn't there anymore.

A wind blew by, stirring up a cloud of dust and paper on the street.
She watched the substance glitter in the air and cried brokenly,
sobbing and screaming the short, hoarse sound that made up the sounds
now, not enough liquid left in her body to form rightful tears.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Willow smiled warmly at her best friend, listening to her chatter on
about the general injustice of high school, even joining her in a plot
to take the country by storm and reset the school system on their own.
"We'd make kickass leaders," Buffy said proudly, fiddling with the
cheese fries that Willow had insisted she eat, because it was comfort
food and if she mentioned a diet the witch would have to kick HER ass.
Buffy had merely responded by sticking her tongue out at her again and
ordering the cheese fries from the disgruntled looking waitress. She
looked like she wanted to ask what two teenagers were doing out at 5
in the morning, but was simply too tired to ask.

"We should get home, you know. Dawn's coming, time for all good
vampires to get in the bed, and time for all good Slayer's to start
resting for Bronze night." Willow said happily. Buffy grinned back at
her, sucking the last cheese soaked fry into her mouth and grabbing
her hand tightly, though thankfully at the last second her brain
registered that it was a human hand she was holding onto. Willow
smiled back at her, and she rubbed her fingertips gently over the back
of her hand. The bones beneath the skin felt tiny and fragile. Willow
seemed so small and fragile to her, though truth be told that the
budding witch was several inches taller than herself.

"You're really beautiful, you know that?" She said, sending a slight
glare in response to Willow's disbelieving look. "You are. When you
smile like that. You ought to smile like that more often." She grinned
cheekily as Willow blushed several darker shades of red and ducked her
head.

"Can't do that," she whispered quietly, and Buffy tilted her head
slightly in question.

"Oh yeah? And why is that?"

"Cause that's a just-Buffy smile. No one else can see it, cause it's
just for you."

She raised an eyebrow again, and regretted it when Willow looked
painfully abashed at the motion.

"Does everybody else get special just-them smiles?" She said quietly,
still rubbing her fingers thoughtfully over the back of Willow's hand.

"No.." Willow whispered back to her, and the sound only served to
reaffirm that fragile, so easily broken image in the Slayer's mind.

"Sleep with me?" Willow's head shot up at high speed and Buffy blinked
for a second, frowning.

"Wow.... and talk about coming out wrong... I meant... come home with
me?"

Willow's lips were starting to twitch.

"Dammit, I mean, do you wanna spend the night with me?" Willow was
starting to giggle softly and she rolled her eyes dramatically. "Oh,
dammit, just go back to the sleep with me. It was simpler, more
straight forward, and oh so honest."

"Buffy!" Willow gasped and the blonde smirked back at her
triumphantly.

"Come on. We can wear tiny little PJ's and fuel Xander's fantasy life
for the next three or four months."

"Buffy!!" She shrieked louder and Buffy sniggered when the waitress
looked over at them.

"Hey, I'm tired. Wears thin on nerves and proper conversational
skills. Come on, seriously? Tomorrow's Saturday...well...today
technically, but you know. We can crash at my place and then head for
the Bronze later tonight, right?"

"Sounds good," Her friend whispered back, though she was still as red
as a cherry.

"Keep it up, Will, and you'll give yourself an aneurysm," she said
with a smirk, standing and pulling out her half of the bill.

"Oh shush you," The redhead groused with a glare, throwing down her
dollar bills, then glanced at the perplexed looking waitress. She
glanced back at the same time to meet Buffy's eyes and they smirked at
each other as they threw down a few dollars more extra tip.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Cummon, Red," The moon-haired girl said, throwing her arm around the
Lady. The Lady wore the clothes of a knight, and her hair was blood
red. The Moon-Haired girl wore white and silver, reaffirming that she
was indeed from the moon. "The shortest route back to the house is
through the warehouse district. We can finish up patrol and get home
at the same time."

"Sounds good," The Lady smiled throwing her arm around the moon-haired
girl's waist.

They're coming, pet, they're coming.

A voice whispered to her and she hummed brokenly. It sounded so much
like her poor, gone Spikey. Spikey who was dust and floated on the
wind, free free free, so free from the chains of a body. Sometimes she
wanted to claw herself out of her skin so what was on the inside could
break free of the shell, but Spike never let her, but Spikey was gone
now but she couldn't move her arms to guide her nails. They wouldn't
have helped, she realized. Spikey had always kept them beautiful,
painted and filed, and oh so sharp, because Princess liked it that
way. But now her nails were ragged and chewed and broken.

They're coming, pet, they're coming.

The voice told her to hold on, not the chants of the stars, but his
voice so clearly. She could see the two still, the Moon-Haired girl
and the Lady. Walking walking walking.

It took several minutes before she realized that she was no longer
watching their approaching progress in her buzzing mind, her senses
warning her of the impending sunrise.

She could not move herself out of the sun.

Her vision began to close in, a mixture of fear, desperation, hunger,
hunger that burned all through her veins, her sense screaming about
the need for food, the need for shelter.

Out of the sun, out of the sun.

She whined again, not surprised when it sounded in her ears like the
cry of a child.

"Oh my god!!"

They weren't in her head anymore.

They're here, pet, they're here.

He was there! He was there before her, touching her dirty, bruised
face, and she sobbed again when he disappeared but his eyes, his eyes
were there, but then they weren't and...

"Will! My Will!" Her voice was broken, and so small it hurt her ears.

"I'm here, I'm here!" The Lady was speaking, but she heard it, she
heard it.

I'm here, pet, I'm here.

"My Spike," she choked , before her vision narrowed again, closing in
rapidly until there was nothing but black and that small voice.

"I'm here, I'm here."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Willow!!!!" But it was too late, the girl had already hit the ground
beside the woman.

"Buffy! Oh god, Buffy, hurry! We've got to get her to a hospital!"
So fragile, so easily broken. Buffy stared at her, lost in the sight.
She was so kind-hearted, so compassionate. So fragile, and beautiful,
delicate like a glass sculpture. It made Buffy want to protect her
from everything. To slip all the way back into Victorian times so she
could ensure that Willow would never know the hurts of the world and
that she could keep her, no, not locked away, but protected from
everything, in a beautiful, cluttered, over-stuffed and over-sized
house, expensive and decadent, and worthy of her friend`s beauty.
That feeling of protectiveness welled in her heart again, and the
Slayer, hard flesh and firey looks and razor wit, simply melted when
the redhead looked at her again, tears shining in her eyes.
Nobody could ask for a better friend....

"Please Buffy, we've got to hurry!"

"She's a vampire, Willow." Her voice cut through both of their hazes,
Willow's of worry, and Buffy's of some unnamable and simple warmth she
had no name for.

"What?"

So surprised, but Buffy couldn't blame her. She had never seen a
vampire in such horrible condition. Sure, some of them could use a
serious fashion update, but physically they were perfect.

"Will! My Will!"

Buffy blinked, hating the feeling of stupidity, of missing something
she got when Willow suddenly reached out to touch the vampire's face
softly.

"I'm here, I'm here."

"Willow?" The redhead was still whispering I'm here, and Buffy somehow
managed to stay solid when faced with the worlds most pitiful begging
look.

"Will--"

"Buffy.... Please? I've never seen ANYONE look this bad. And..and...
she looks like... like she's crazy, Buffy... She keeps saying things
about a Will and a spike."

"She's a vampire, Willow," The Slayer repeated stubbornly.

"Buffy!! Look at her! Do you really think she could hurt us if we took
her back with us!? And... and you heard about Angel when he first got
a soul! Maybe she's got one, that's why she's like this! It looks like
she's starved past death, Buffy, and you know it. Please, please? We
can't leave her here! Sunrise is coming. Just please take her back
with us, Buffy? If she's evil we can take her out later, I promise
but..."

"Willow! This is absolutely insane! It's a vampire, and you don't even
know... her... it's name, or what it`s doing here, why it`s like this,
and you're asking me to take it home with me!?"

"Buffy!" She was wailing and she could see, in her eyes, how entirely
serious she was.

"Dammit!"

This was so stupid!

So why was she doing it?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce Summers was a fairly accepting woman. She was open minded about
a lot of things, and, all parents agreed, she was very, very patient.
This helped a lot with having Buffy as a daughter. In the last 2
weeks, she had discovered the truth about vampires, nearly had a
stroke after splitting a man's head open, and received the shocking
news that, not only was the man she `killed' a vampire, but her
daughter's boyfriend was as well.

Naturally, after these developments, seeing her daughter carrying the
emaciated and battered form of a woman through the doorway should have
been no surprise. At first she was inclined to say it was that
Cordelia girl she'd seen around town and heard about from both Buffy
and Willow, but the features proved to be too different.

"Buffy!"

"Please, Mom, just don't." Buffy sounded short on temper and Willow
was cutting her eyes between the blond staring at them, to the blond
that was making her way up the stairwell.

"Willow?" She said helplessly and the redhead looked back to her,
swallowing slowly.

At any other time she would have been seething at how late the two
arrived, but now she knew Buffy had a good reason to be out so late.
She had one bad situation out of the way, and she had to deal with
another.

"We... we found her."

Joyce blinked hopelessly, tilting her head to follow the sounds of her
daughter's footfalls on the floor above before she looked back down at
the nervously shifting redhead.

"I know you're humane, Willow, and you probably have a bad tendency to
pick up strays, darling, but this is ridiculous..."

The End.
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The authors own nothing. Joss, UPN, WB, etc. own Buffy, the show, the characters, the places, and the backstory. The authors own any original plots.