The Living Undead
Jarvinia


Distribution:  May not be archived without permission.

Disclaimer:  Don't own any of the characters/concepts from either
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, or Forever Knight.  No copyright
infringement is intended.  Don't sue me...I'm I student and have less
than nothing.  Just having a bit of fun.

Spoilers:  None, basically...set in the second half of the first season
sometime after Buffy knows Angel's a vampire.

Rating:  PG (maybe PG13 for violence)

Notes:  This story is a crossover with Forever Knight.  This is my
first attempt at a Buffy story, even if it is a crossover.  Hope I got
everything right....  Would like to thank my beta-reader Carasek for
his help.  Written in November of 2001.  Above all, enjoy it!  ;)

Feedback:  Yes, please!


~*~*~*~*~

The Living Undead - (01/07)

Giles gathered several books, taking his time.  The day had barely
ended, or at least, the school day had.  Being winter meant less time
before sunset, and less time to meet before getting to work.  Not only
that, but this was a three day weekend--the students had Friday off.
Catching sight of Buffy, he slid yet another book into his bag before
she reached the counter, hoping to keep this conversation as short as
possible.  With sunset already approaching, he barely had time to do
everything before having to head to the airport.

"Hey Giles, I thought we were meeting right now?"

"Yeah, me too," Willow echoed, popping up behind her friend.

"I have something I need to do.  I'm sure you'll do fine without me for
the night."

"You'll be at home, right?  You know, just in case we need some help?"

Buffy didn't seem concerned about his proposed absence, her words
clearly curious.  He sighed.  "Yes, I'll be there, but call first.  I
mean it, Buffy."  The sixteen-year-old smiled back at him.  "I want you
two and Xander to stay together tonight.  Until you go home, you are
one, got that?"  Either she would follow his words, or she wouldn't.
He shook his head faintly, and moved to the front of the desk.

As Giles left, Xander backed out of the librarian's way, and then
approached the other two.  "Where's he off to?"

They shrugged.  Buffy walked over to one of the tables, sitting down.
"Don't know, but he's not coming back tonight."

Willow joined her.  "Oh, and we're supposed to stick together, Giles
mentioned that as well."

"I'll ask Giles what's going on tomorrow.  I know he's been concerned
about something."

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Giles waited for the plane to deboard.  Only a few passengers got off,
and he immediately recognized his guest.  He focused on the tall blond
haired man, his appearance unchanged since their last meeting.  As
their eyes met, the man approached him.  "Nicholas, it's been what,
about fifteen years?"

"Eighteen," came the short, simple statement.

Eighteen years.  He shook his head.  It had indeed been a long time.
It seemed to him as if they had last met the month before.  However,
Giles was fully awake that the man before him would have watched the
world around him change.  Not only that, but unlike Nicholas, time did
not pass him by.  "H-how have you been?"

"The same as always."  Nick turned away for a moment, before focusing
squarely on the Englishman.  "But, you know I'm not here for social
reasons.  What's so important?"

Giles focused on the small crowd.  "I'll explain once we get back to my
place."  He glanced at the bag slung over his guest's shoulder.  "Is
that your only bag?"

"Yes."

"Good, then we can leave right now."

The mortal started for the exit, and Nick followed after a second.  He
had received a message from Giles that morning, mentioning he needed
some help.  His friend's curiosity had led him to trouble before, and
he wouldn't be surprised to know it had happened again.

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

The young man, not far out of University by appearance, was getting too
close.  True, it wasn't his job to warn the mortals away, to hide the
truth from them, but this mortal was just far too close and would die
if he werenít cautious.

Keeping to the shadows, Nick followed the man, others of his kind just
on the fringe of his senses.  The library was more or less deserted,
especially as far back in the building as they were.  Catching sight of
one of the others, he stopped their approach with a glare.  The other
vampire, an Enforcer by his guess, paused, then went back into the
shadows.

'Good,' he thought.  He didn't want to get too involved with the
Enforcers, the 'police' that kept his kind in line.  Quickly checking
his watch, he saw that the library was about to close.

The man paid no heed, either to his surroundings, or the time.  "Pardon
me," Nick began, now standing just behind the younger man.

Several papers scattered, and most of the books were quickly closed.
"Yes?"

"I couldn't help but notice your topics of study.  Demons, mythology,
vampires...."  He felt the man's heart rate increase.  "You seem to be
having some...difficulty?"

"Nothing too problematic.  I'll figure it out soon enough."  Gathering
up his things, he stood.  "Now, if you'll excuse me, I must return
home."

Nick stood in his way.  "I know a fair amount about some of your
research.  I would like to converse with you about it, Mr. Giles."

He froze with mention of his name and the serious tone of the last
sentence.  He wasn't being given any room for argument.  "I suppose,
Mr...?"

"Brabant," he stated without worry.  Giles' own research had done more
harm than anything he could say to the man.

-----

It wasn't long before they arrived at Giles' residence.  For nearly two
hours, Nick half-listened as the man discussed his research.
Currently, he was completely ignoring the words.  Truthfully, he didn't
know much about demons and such.  His supernatural knowledge only went
as far as his own existence.

Giles seemed to carefully avoid the subject of vampires, and Nick knew
why.  That was the young man's current project, one he was getting
close to the truth on.  Not only was he finding information on
folklore, and the demon-vampires, but he was stumbling onto the realm
of his kind as well.  "So, how is your present research going? I know
you're frustrated."

"I've run into some...problems.  Demons aren't-"

"But, you're not researching demons.  Vampires, I believe is your
current subject of interest."  Listening to Giles' pulse race, he knew
he had hit a nerve.

"How do you know that?"

"Simple observation."

"You must be fairly observant, then.  I wasn't aware that my research
was common knowledge."

"Your research is far from secret, Mr. Giles."  Pausing, Nick came to
stand directly before the mortal.  "Others know as well.  Stop your
probing now, and you may continue the other parts of your research."

"Vampires are real."

'Yes, they are,' Nick wanted to say, but an affirmation of the
statement would only make his next action more difficult.

"You're one of them, aren't you?  That's why you're so observant.
That's why you're concerned about my research."

Nick stiffened, again not affirming the mortal's steady and fearless
words.  "Look at me," he smoothly commanded.  Once he could see the
faint clouding in the other man's eyes, he continued, "Your work is
going nowhere.  You will cease your research on vampires, and focus on
one of your other topics...demons, perhaps....  Your evidence has
confirmed that vampires do not exist."

Giles shook his head, "But, they do.  I know it for a fact."

He caught the mortal's eye again, stating firmly, "No, they are merely
myths, legends, tales made up by-"

"You're doing something to me..."

Nick watched as the other man walked out of his range, seemingly lost
in thought.  Perhaps it was too late before he'd even begun.  His
choice to act had created a new problem, one that would be difficult to
correct.

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

"Nicholas?"

He turned, and after a second realized the car had stopped.  "Sorry, I
haven't been listening."

Giles got out of his car, starting toward the building.  Once they'd
reached his door, Nicholas caught him off guard by walking right past
him and into the apartment.  Nicholas was clearly different than the
other vampires he had met, but then, he'd remembered that from before. 
The first time he'd met Nicholas, the same thing had happened.

As soon as the door was shut behind him, he stated, "Nick Knight.  So,
that's what you're going by now.  What are you doing to pass the time?"

Settling into the sofa, he replied, "I'm a detective.  Homicide."
Catching Giles' surprise, he let his mouth tweak into a smile.  "I
know, not the most obvious career choice, but I like the work.  What
about you?"

"More research.  I'm primarily a librarian at the high school."  As his
guest nodded, he watched a smirk come to the vampireís lips.  "What?"

"Can't stay away from the books, can you?  Have you had any success in
your hunt for the supernatural?"

He didn't answer right away.  Whether Nicholas was serious or not, he
couldn't tell.  "Um...yes, actually.  That's part of the reason I asked
for you to come.  It's a hunch really...."

"What do you mean?"

"The name you gave me, Brabant?  I'm guessing it's your real surname,
correct?"  He waited, already knowing the answer.  A second later, the
other nodded.  "How much Flemish do you know?"

"Some..." he replied uncertainly, then realized where Giles was
heading.  "That's what you want me to do...a translation."

"Yes, if you can.  It's eleventh century, I think."

Nick nodded again.  It was just before his time, but he didn't think it
would be a problem.

"I'd offer you a cup of tea, but I don't think it would be
appropriate."

"I have my own...sustenance.  I suppose I should go find a place for
tomorrow.  I don't want to get stuck outside when the sun comes up."

His guest stood, starting toward the door.  Stopping the vampire with
an almost unnoticeably quivering hand, he offered, "I have an extra
room.  You can stay here if you want."

"I don't want to impo-"

"You wouldn't be.  Besides, it'll be easier this way.  The drapes are
fairly heavy so you won't have to worry about the sun."

"I...."  He stopped.  How could he refuse?  Staying here was a whole
lot better than a hotel, and he wanted to leave as soon as possible.
"I suppose.  But I will need to get more blood.  I only have enough to
last me until tomorrow night."

"I might be able to help you there as well, but we'll deal with that
tomorrow."  Giles paused, and abruptly stood.  "Just a second, I'll
find the reference."

Nick watched Giles leave the room, and he opened his bag and pulled out
a single green bottle.  Heading to the kitchen, he had planned on
putting it in the refrigerator, but hesitated.  He was hungry and it
wouldn't hurt to have a glass now.  Opening a couple of cupboards, he
grabbed a glass tumbler, then focused on the bottle's label.  It was
one of LaCroix'.  He hadn't had time to get anything else.  Pouring a
single glass, he put the bottle away.  Turning, he raised the glass
only to find Giles watching him.

Lowering the glass, he stood absolutely still for several seconds.
Then, he brushed easily past the mortal.  As he sat down again, Giles
joined him on the sofa, handing him several sheets of paper.  Nick took
a single sip of the blood, putting the rest on the table.  Although the
words were familiar, it took him a few moments for the Flemish to make
any sense.

He read the words through several times before retrieving the glass,
and finishing his drink.  Once again, he had gotten himself into a
mess--that much he knew right away.

"What does it say?"

Nick looked up, the Englishman's curiosity overwhelming.  "It explains
the powers and instructions of use of a bracelet, a device of some
kind."  He paused, but Giles waited for more.  "It also tells something
about how to destroy it."

"Good, that's what I was looking for."

"Why would you need to know how to destroy it...."  Then, it hit him.
"....unless you know where the bracelet is.  You do, don't you?"

"I'm not sure.  We think it might be in the possession of one of your
kind, but if it is...."

He put the papers down.  "They'll be virtually invincible.  A vampire
with enhanced abilities and strength, plus the ability to channel the
mind's power-"

"Exactly, which is why we need to destroy it."

"Who's the 'we' you've been referring to?"

"My...colleagues," Giles stated.  "I'll have you meet them tomorrow
night.  Before then, we need a decent translation, particularly of how
to destroy the bracelet."

"The instructions themselves aren't here, only a reference to them."

Sighing, Giles stood, his frustration apparent.  "Then we need to know
where to find them, and quickly."

He looked back to the papers and nodded.  He would do the translation
to help Giles, and to keep the device away from others.


The Living Undead - (02/07)

Knocking hard on the door, Buffy received no answer.  Before coming,
she'd already tried calling repeatedly, but got a busy signal every
time.  Giles had either been on the phone for the past couple of hours,
or the phone was off the hook.  His car was still there, so she knew he
was home.  Trying the knob, she found it unlocked, and she cautiously
entered.

Something was wrong, she could feel it.  In the kitchen stood a man,
his back to her, but it definitely wasn't Giles.  There was something
about the man, not only could she sense him, but it seemed to go both
ways as the man stiffened.  As he turned, she could see the glass in
his hands and the green bottle on the counter.  Buffy focused on the
red liquid in the glass, and immediately knew what it was.  Still,
there was no sign of Giles.  Her hands tightly gripped the small wooden
stake she often carried.

Upon turning, Nick had been greeted with the sight of a girl.  Watching
her hand tighten about something, he focused on the object and
stiffened.  A stake.  He could see it clearly, but its possessor
remained calm, as if she knew what he was, and wasn't concerned with
having to deal with him.  "Who are you?  What are you doing here?" he
asked, placing his glass next to the bottle.

Recognizing the undertones in the man's voice, Buffy became more alert.
"I could ask the same of you."  She allowed the wood to become more
visible, holding it in front of her.  As the man's eyes flashed golden,
she realized the action was a mistake.  Before she knew it, she had
been spun around, the stake falling uselessly to the ground.
Attempting to free herself, she found it impossible to move.  The grip
was so tight that she couldn't even scream for help.

Giles stopped solid upon the sight in the kitchen.  Nicholas held Buffy
tightly against him, the vampire's golden eyes and sharp fangs visible.
"Nicholas, release her, she means you no harm!"

"Then what is that?!" he hissed, his eyes shifting to the fallen
weapon.  "And why do I feel such a threat from her?"

The Englishman shifted.  This was not how he wanted the two to meet,
not at all.  "She is one of my colleagues.  Meet Buffy Summers."

"Colleagues?"

"Yes.  Let her go, and we'll explain everything."

Nick kept his stance for several more seconds before releasing the
girl, quickly retrieving the stake before she could do so.  The girl
caught her breath, backing up toward Giles.  "Explain," he stated.

"Demons aren't my only interest.  Vampires rank pretty high, not only
on my list, but Buffy's as well.  She's the Slayer, she-"

Sobering, his features returned to their normal facade.  "I don't need
a further explanation."  He knew exactly what a 'Slayer' was.  At least
it explained why he felt uncomfortable and on edge.

"Okay..." Buffy started, the situation still settling in.  "Now that
you know what I am, I want to know who you are and why you're here."

"I'm Nick Knight and I'm here to do a translation for Giles."

"Knight, what a stupid pick for-"  She stopped feeling a hand on her
shoulder.  "Sorry.  So, were you going to introduce him to the others?"

Giles kept his attention on his houseguest.  The vampire had relaxed
since Buffy's arrival, but not fully.  "Nicholas?  Do you want to wait
until later?"

He shook his head.  "No, I don't think I'll be getting anymore sleep.
The day is almost over anyway."

"I'll go call Willow and Xander, ask them to come over."

Following the girl's retreating form, Nick turned to Giles.  "If she's
the Slayer, then you must be her Watcher, right?"  Receiving a nod, he
grabbed his glass, downing the contents and immediately refilling it.
"I must warn you, I have meet Slayers before, and they did not fair
well.  Make sure she keeps her distance from me, and there will be no
problems."

Giles didn't need any explanation.  He knew Nicholas had come into
contact with other Slayers.  Most vampires that did so ended up dead.
With Nicholas, it had been the other way around.  He'd thought it would
be different now...but perhaps he'd been wrong.

Recalling the previous night as Nicholas had simply walked into his
home, it was clear that he was from a much different background, or at
the very least much older than the others he'd met and researched.
Then, he recalled the first time he had met the man....

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

His visitor had left that morning, and night had fallen once more.  He
was back at the library, but this time when he turned around, he found
a vampire, the sharp fangs and glowing eyes staring unemotionally back
at him.  Abruptly, he caught sight of another; it was Nicholas.

"Leave him be.  I will take care of this problem.  Go on with your
other tasks."  As the other approached him, Nick repeated fully
changed, "Leave!  This is no longer your concern, I will take
responsibility for this!"

"Make sure of it, Brabant, or else..." the other hissed, leaving the
others alone.

As the vampire's features once again became human, Giles found his
voice.  "I take it his objectives weren't friendly?"

"No.  He was probably sent to kill you for your knowledge.  It is
dangerous to know what you know."

Now he knew why Nicholas was trying to get him to forget.  He didn't
understand exactly how, or what he was, but it was clear Nicholas
wasn't like the vampires he knew about.  Neither was the other that had
been at the library.  He focused on the other, waiting for him to
continue.

"Come, we must leave here tonight.  I will make sure they don't
continue their intentions, but you must promise me several things...."

"What things?  And for what reasons?"  The vampire stared back at him,
but didn't answer.  Instead, they again travelled to his apartment
before anything else was said.


Once the door shut, Nicholas answered, "You will not research vampires,
or allow your curiosity to probe into these matters again.  Suffice to
say, it is hazardous to one's health."

He already knew that, but what he wanted to know, was what Nicholas
was.  It was probably exactly what he'd stumbled on--whatever that was.
"Who was the one in the library?"

The vampire shot a glare across the room, and then relaxed.  "Another
of my kind.  He is of a group that keeps knowledge of us from the
mortal world.  From those like you, Mr. Giles.  As it would have been
discovered that your memory cannot be changed, your encounter would
have ended in your death."

He held his ground.  It was another piece of information he could file
away for later.  "Is that the only request?"

"You will also never speak of this meeting, and only contact me in the
direst of circumstances."

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

Giles winced at the memory.  He had nearly forgotten about the
vampire's terms.  He had never really headed the first one.  Nicholas
had led him away from that location, but a month later he had returned,
almost forgetting about the whole event.

His research as a Watcher often led him into the vampire's world.
Although he had, for the most part, tried to focus his research on just
those vampires that concerned him...the other would occasionally pop
back up.  Then, of course, there was a slight amount of personal
research which pertained only to Nicholas.

But the second, he hadn't ever broken.  At least, not until now.  With
the rumours, he'd been led to a book, and from there to the Flemish
passage.  He'd immediately dug up one of the most recent phone number
he'd been able to find of Nicholas'.  It was nearly five years old, and
he had been thankful it still worked.

Focusing on Nicholas, he noted that the vampire seemed calm, although a
bit frustrated.  But there wasn't much anger, at least not that he
could see.  As the remainder of the bottle was poured into the glass,
he saw Buffy approach out of the corner of his eye.

"They're on their way.  Last night we found some more out.  There's a
new vamp in town.  We don't know his name yet, but Angel said he was
going to do some snooping around last night."

Nick paused just before the glass' contents touched his lips.  "Angel?"

Buffy fidgeted.  "Uh, he's a...friend."

"One of your kind.  He's on our side.  We'll talk to him tonight.
You'll be able to get more blood from him."

The vampire shook his head, clearing his thoughts.  No, it couldn't be
Angelus.  Angelus would never side with a Slayer, he'd kill her on
first sight--or more likely, every one around her first.

Leaving the room, Giles walked over to his books.  Next to the papers,
was Nicholas' translation.  The actual instructions to disable the
device were a spell, one that he hadn't found in his books here.  He
had other ones at the library though, and Willow and Xander could help
him with the search.  "Are you sure the translation's right?"

"Yeah.  The language isn't much different than what I learned."

"So, whoever has this is more or less invincible?"  He caught a nod
from Nicholas.  "Whether they are human, demon, or vampire, it enhances
strength and healing capabilities."

"Particularly if they're a vampire," Nick added.  The excerpt had
contained nothing about which type of vampire, however, so it could
either be for his kind, or those that seemed to have gathered here.

"So, what exactly does it do?" Buffy asked, her eyes shifting between
Giles, and the vampire.  "If we're right, a vampire does have it.  So
what are we up against?"

After taking another couple of minutes to read the translation through
one more time, Giles looked up.  "From what I understand, it was
created specifically for a vampire.  It will enhance the wearers
abilities, effectively making them into an ancient, which will add
mesmerization and flight if they don't already have those abilities."

Nick stiffened.  As a vampire he'd had both the ability to fly and
hypnotize nearly since he was brought across, but then those Giles and
Buffy were referring to were of a different breed.  If this girl was a
slayer, as was claimed, then these vampires werenít merely vampires,
but demons as well.  They were soulless.  Demons in human disguise.

Turning to the door, he could feel two mortals just on the other side. 
Almost immediately the door opened, and they entered.  Both were about
Buffy's age, and upon seeing him, they seemed to get a little nervous.

Giles looked up from the words.  "Ah, I could use your help on a few
things...?"

Willow had frozen in place, her attention focused squarely on the
stranger.  Buffy had mentioned Giles had a visitor, but she had been
expecting someone like Giles, not the relatively young man that sat
there.  "Yeah, sure."  Then alternating her focus between Giles and his
visitor, she asked, "So....  Who's this?"

"He's going to be helping us."

Xander's eyes shifted around the room, focusing on the drawn drapes,
and quickly realized there was no sunlight in the room.  "He's
a...vamp, isn't he?"

Willow shook her head.  He didn't look like one to her.  "Isn't he a
little old?" she whispered.

Nick just sat, his eyebrows rising in surprise.  The two didn't seem
very concerned at what he was.  In fact, they had relaxed somewhat
since entering.  At the girl's comment, he responded, "Old?  Now, if I
looked as old as I am...then I'd look old."

Willow started at the reply.  "Okay, I'm wrong.  So...what are you
doing here?  I thought your kind usually stuck with, well, your kind."

He brushed off her comment.  "Helping you.  Right, Giles?"

Giles caught the near glare.  "Hmm...yes."

"Shouldn't we have asked who?  I mean, we've already asked what and
why-" she abruptly cut off her rambling.  "I'm Willow and that's
Xander."

"Nick."

"Wow.  Not only do you look normal, a bit pale perhaps, but your name's
normal too."

Giles could see a hint of annoyance forming in Nick, and he focused on
the most likely source.  "Willow."

"Yeah, Giles?"

"Here," he said, handing her the translation.  "We need to find the
spell mentioned near the end.  It will destroy the device we're looking
for--a bracelet."

Flipping to the last page, she cringed.  There really wasn't much to go
on.  It would mean searching through everything, for any mention of
this device.  Willow started for Giles' books.

"You won't find it there.  I've already looked."

"I guess it's off to the library then."

"I'll go over to Angel's, see what he knows," Buffy volunteered.

Giles looked toward Xander, and then his guest.  "Xander and Nicholas
will accompany you, but not now.  Wait until the sun sets."

Nick listened to the groupís silence for a moment.  "There's just over
an hour left, and as long as I get a ride we can go now."

Giles focused on the vampire.  A vampire who was willingly going
outside during the day.  It just defied reason.  "Are you sure?"

"I'll cover up and ride in the trunk.  I'll be fine.  I've done it
before."  It wouldn't cause too much damage.  Nothing that wouldn't
heal, anyway.

The group prepared to leave, and as they pulled out of Giles', the
mortals were all a little surprised.  Indeed, the trunk contained one
almost completely shrouded vampire.


The Living Undead - (03/07)

As they waited at Angel's door, Buffy and Xander paid much more
attention to the faintly smoking bundle that darted inside, sans
invitation, at which they eventually followed.

Closing the door, they found the room dimly lit, Angel watching
cautiously as the other vampire uncovered.

Angel kept calm at a distance from his visitors.  Something was
different about this vampire, he could feel it.  It was something he'd
felt before, but only on a couple of occasions.  As the vampire's face
was revealed, Angel stiffened.  Yes, he had met this man before.  It
had only been once, but it had been memorable.

Nick froze as he made eye contact with the other.  Immediately, he
recognized the vampire.  It was Angelus.

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

London, early February 1793

The streets were only mildly active, most of the populace keeping
safely indoors.  His visit to London was an attempt to get away from
the chaos in France.  Nearly four years earlier the revolution had
begun, and now a terror ripped through the city.  Madame Guillotine was
in full operation, and he had wanted a break from the constant fear of
being named an enemy of the revolution.  The sentence was the
guillotine, a device that was a little too efficient at beheading for
his liking.  Even the King had not been spared the blade; and that's
when he had left.

Talk of the revolution was a popular topic even here, but Nick could
tell the people here were not as enthusiastic as the French--they saw
what was really going on.

Walking along the outskirts of the city, he prepared to find some
unfortunate soul, one who was either dying to give them a quick end, or
one who deserved to die for their actions.  Searching, his gaze stopped
on the distant form of a young woman, sitting nearly frozen in an
alley, the cold winter already taken its toll on her.  She wouldn't
live much longer in this state.

Approaching silently, he watched as the woman's eyes locked on him, her
shivering increasing, possibly in response to seeing his indifference
to the chilled air.  Planning to take her, his ears caught on a distant
scream.  It wasn't asking for help, wasn't that of a madman, but of a
woman, terrified.  He left the freezing woman, taking to the air as
soon as he was in the shadows.

A few alleys over he landed, his eyes locking on a group of people.
There were two men, a woman, and a young boy.  The two men were faced
away from him; the closer holding the other like his kind did when
feeding.  As the man released his prey, Nick smelt the faint aroma of
blood.  The man then went for the boy, a low growl responding to the
woman's plea to release her child.

As the man, a vampire by his estimate, made to strike, Nick pounced
forward and pulled him away.  The boy quickly ran to his mother, and he
shouted, "Go! Get out of here!  Do not return until after the dawn!"
Watching them hesitantly follow his instructions, his grip faltered,
and the vampire struggled free.

The man turned to him with not only glowing eyes and gleaming fangs,
but also a transfigured face.  He was more than simply a vampire; he
was a demon as well.  LaCroix had told him about these creatures.  They
were the lowest kind of vampire, far below even the carouche.  As the
other snarled, Nick allowed his own features to change in the darkness.

"Why have you stopped me!"

"Because you had no reason to take more than the man.  His blood is
plenty!  There was no reason to involve his family, let alone kill them
as well.  Feeding is one thing, torture is another!"

"Perhaps to you, but to me they are one and the same."  The vampire-
demon began circling him, explaining, "We are killers, we live to kill.
To show the mortals their weaknesses and that they are merely prey for
the taking!"

"They are more than just a food source!  More than items for our
amusement!"

"You are as bad as them!  I bet you even avoid killing humans when you
can...or do you even drink human blood?"

Nick's eyes brightened, and the other smiled in satisfaction.  "I drink
human blood, just not those of the innocent-"

"So you instead revel in the pleasures of murderers, thieves, and
liars?  Is that much better than my actions which seem to displease you
so much?"

"I take them because they deserve to die."

"And what about me?  What is your judgement?"

"If you were mortal, I would kill you."

"But because I'm a vampire you won't.  Not even being what I am?"

He remained silent.  Oh, if he did kill this creature he wouldn't feel
any guilt for it.  That he knew right now.

"You are worse than those you feed on.  You are a coward."

That pushed Nick over the edge, and as scarlet flooded his vision he
caught the other as he pounced on him.  Throwing the man to the side,
Nick demanded, "What is your name?"

"Why, so you can place it on a block of stone over my ashes?  It won't
come to that, but your answer is Angelus...."  Snarling, he again
rushed the blond vampire, succeeding in pushing the other into the
stone wall, but quickly finding the roles switched.

"How old are you, Angelus?  Perhaps double your age of appearance,
maybe less?"  Nick held Angelus against the wall, the vampire's
struggles proving useless.  "If you leave this city now, I will neither
harm you further, nor alert others of your carelessness."  He released
the younger, pushing him toward the alley entrance.

"Then, I wish to know your name as well."

"Nicholas.  Nicholas de Brabant."  With that, he took to the air,
hoping Angelus would do as asked.

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

Nick shook his head, pushing the past away.  After that night he had
never seen Angelus again, although he highly suspected the vampire of
several murders he had come to know about, the first of which being
those of the woman and boy he'd saved.

"Angelus," he began, ending the awkward silence.  "I'm amazed you've
survived this long...considering your usual pastimes."

"I could say the same of you.  I was right about you revelling in the
pleasures of your victims.  Perhaps not then, but once you were worse
than I ever was...."

Nick locked his glare on Angelus.  "Ever was....  What about you?"

"I've changed.  I no longer kill, not even for blood.  Are you still
killing those that you think deserve death?"

Buffy and Xander stared on, watching the two circle one another, both
seemingly pushing the other toward the edge.  Xander waited for someone
to speak, but no one did.  "Okay, I don't know what's going on between
you two, but we need to work together.  Angel doesn't kill any more,
and I don't know about Nick, but he's a friend of Giles.  So...just get
along."

They each nodded, keeping their attention fully focused on the other.

Nick kept his guard up.  Then, attempting to keep conversation on
topic, asked, "Anyone new in town?"

"Some vampire.  One of my kind," Angel answered, directing the last at
the other vampire.  "From what I can tell, he's more or less an
Ancient, he has more abilities than me.  They can fly and mesmerize
their victims.  They often don't have much care for any type of life,
mortal or otherwise."

Xander became a little nervous.  "Fly?  They can just take off anytime
they want?"

Nick kept as calm as he could.  He would have to be careful.  Other
than Giles, no one had seen him changed, at least not yet.  "Have you
heard anything about a bracelet?  A 'ring of power' is the best
description we've found so far.  It was made specifically for our kind.
It enhances ones abilities."

"Nothing specifically..." Angel began hesitantly, not sure what he
should say.  "Theron, the vampire that's new here, has pretty much kept
to himself.  Rumour has it, he's been testing something, perhaps this
bracelet."

Xander stuck it together, blurting out, "Okay, so we got some super
vamp that's making himself even more so."

"Pretty much," Nick stated, beating the other vampire to the answer.

Buffy sighed.  With both Xander and Nick here, her side of the
conversation got completely run over.  But, at the moment, she didn't
really care.  She wasn't exactly thrilled with the news.  But, it could
be worse.  It could be a group of them.  "Great.  Wonderful."

"Could you excuse us a moment?" Angel asked, gesturing sharply from the
two mortals to the door.

"Uh, we should probably get over to the library.  Right, Buffy?"

Despite wanting to protest, she didn't.  Angel and Nick had to be on
the same side, and if they needed privacy to talk out their
differences, then so be it.  The only difficulty would be getting to
the library without transportation.  Buses, she disliked buses.  "Okay,
we'll see you after sunset, then."

Angel remained stiff until the door was firmly closed.  "They don't
know that you're different...that there is more than one kind of us, do
they?"

"No, and we should keep it that way."  Nick held the younger's gaze
until Angel looked away.  "You know more about what's happening than
you've said.  This Theron, he does have the bracelet, correct?"

"Yes, but he hasn't used it in any kind of public setting.  Not even
among the others."  Leaving the room, Angel felt the other vampire's
eyes follow him as he poured himself a glass of blood.  Turning,
Nicholas' faintly golden eyes shown back at him through the dim light. 
Silently, he prepared another glass and handed it to his visitor.

Taking the offer, Nick quickly drank the blood, the sweet liquid
quenching his thirst if only for the moment.

"Do you want some more?"

His eyes focused on the thin, now empty glass.  Handing it back, Nick
turned away.  "No, I'll be fine.  Although, I could use some for later.
If I could get that here, it would be much simpler."

"Is that why you're here?  For a blood supply?"

"I'm here because Giles asked me to come, and I will stay until the
device is destroyed."  Accepting a box from the dark-haired man, Nick
started toward the door, but turned first.  "I'm heading over to the
library.  Are you going to try to get some more information?"  Catching
a single nod of the other, Nick left the building, the sun just barely
set.


The Living Undead - (04/07)

Quietly, Nick made his way into the library.  He'd taken the blood back
to Giles', filling the bottle full with the donated blood, then
drinking the rest before leaving.

Slipping silently into the room, Nick stopped behind the redheaded
girl, watching as she searched through a book.  Although he would much
rather be doing nothing, he would help.

As Willow stood to get another book, she turned and bumped into Nick,
who was right behind her.  Other than a gasp of air, she kept silent,
moving past him to her destination.

Buffy glanced up at him, her curiosity being replaced first by
surprise, then confusion.  "How'd you do that?  I mean, how long have
you been there?"

With a slight wince, he answered, "Not long.  I just got here."  He
moved away, his focus moving to several of the books.  He had to keep
them from discovering he was different, that he wasn't the same as the
vampires the teenagers had been hunting.

Buffy stood and followed him.  "Where's Angel?"

"Trying to get a better idea of what is going on."

Giles joined the group, setting a thick, somewhat dusty book on the
table.  "Which is what we need to do.  First objective is to get the
bracelet and second, we need to destroy it.  Willow and Xander are
still looking references to the bracelet, specifically the spell to
disable it.  Until we find it, I don't think we should do anything.
Too risky."

Hearing the slight groan of the teens, Nick suppressed a smile.  Of
course they wanted to simply barge on in.  It was their nature.

For over an hour he stayed at the library, watching the others,
listening in on their words and growing frustration.  Approaching
Giles, he stated, "I'm going to go see how Angel is doing.  Perhaps
he's found something."  Nick was out the door before a protest could be
made.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

A half hour later, he was standing outside an old building.  Trying to
locate Angel's position had been difficult as he could barely sense the
younger vampire.  Not only that, but he had always avoided their kind
as a habit.  They were, as LaCroix had once described, 'unclean and
unfit to mingle with our kind.  They are barbarians, lower than the
carouche, lower than even the demons in the world.'

Entering the building, he continued to follow his instincts, eventually
heading down a flight of stairs.  Keeping to the shadows he could see
four others.  One was Angel, who turned slightly as he arrived.  The
vampire he was speaking with was clearly the one in charge, probably
this Theron.  The other two were simply present, not contributing much
at the moment.

Feeling a faintly familiar heartbeat, Nick shifted, alerting the others
to his presence.  He moved forward, stopping just behind Angel, and
immediately holding Theron's gaze.

"And you are...?"

"Nicholas."

"So, Nicholas...  I can tell you're not one of us," he said, his hands
indicating the rest of the room.  "May I ask what has sparked your
curiosity here?"

Focusing on the speaker, Nick didn't answer.  The man was several
inches shorter than himself, yet held the same stance LaCroix often
held.  Despite that, he felt no real threat from this vampire.  The
sense of power was missing, although with a glance to Angel, he could
see it was not the case for the younger.  "Nothing in particular.  I
just happened to be in the area."

"Well then... Just make sure your visit is solely that.  I have no wish
to provoke a conflict between us."

Nick stepped closer, stopping just a couple of feet from the other.  "I
assure you, I am not here on behalf of the others.  My interests are
personal, and they will remain so."

"Good.  Now, I suggest you leave the..."  He cut the sentence off, his
ears catching on a faint sound.  "Seems as we have some company....
Anyone with you?"

"Not that I was aware-"  The vampire pushed his way past him, and Nick
watched as Buffy was pulled into the room.  All present stiffened at
the arrival, including himself.  This was not going well.

No one made a move toward the mortal.  In fact, Theron went straight
for Angel, completely ignoring both the newcomer and the girl.

"What is this, Angelus?  I know you were involved with a group of
mortals, but don't tell me you've turned on your own kind!  I put more
trust in this stranger than I do you!  At least his kind do not betray
their own."  Moving behind the younger, he whispered into Angel's ear,
"What are you here for?  Is it about this?"  Holding up his wrist, a
large blue stone sat on the inside portion of the form-fitting
bracelet.

Buffy's eyes went wide, and she became even more alert than she had
already been.  About to speak, she changed her plan when Nick gestured
her silent.

"What does it do?" Nick asked curiously, hoping to divert the attention
from Angel.

"It makes me invincible!  That's what it does."  He examined the metal
and stone, looking at his wrist at different angles.  Letting his wrist
drop, he said with enthusiasm, "It's actually quite an amazing device. 
It means it's virtually impossible to kill me.  No more problems with
sunlight, pesky wooden stakes, or any of that."

They turned away from Angel, Theron's attention falling on a sword
leaned against the far wall.  "Watch," he continued, and held his arm
out as if he was in a virtual reality environment.  Within just a few
seconds the blade was about a foot from the out stretched hand.  It
hovered upright, and after a second he turned around, the blade
following his movements.  "Neat, isn't it?  I'm still getting used to
moving objects around, but there are a few other things I can do."  He
let the sword point at Angel, and before anyone could react it had
passed through the vampire's chest, bringing him to his knees.

From where he was, Nick could see the blade twist around a full time
before it was removed.  Angel didn't have the opportunity to move
before the action was repeated.  As the sword was removed, returning to
its wielder, Nick inched forward, at which time he caught the other's
attention.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything else to him, just keep him
away from here.  And now that your curiosity has been assuaged, I
expect you to do so as well."  Spinning, his stare locked on Buffy.
"The girl on the other hand...."

Nick moved between them, allowing his features to change.  "Leave her. 
I will take care of the problem."

"And how will you deal with it?"  Walking around the newcomer, he moved
behind Buffy, brushing her hair away from her neck.  In response he
received what should have been a powerful blow to his stomach, which
instead merely made him laugh.  "Personally, I suggest you drain her.
Slayer's blood is as sweet as it gets."  He licked his lips in
emphasis.

"I know."  Nick's eyes flashed crimson for a second as he played along
with the game, but at the same time he felt his hunger rise in
anticipation.  Out of the corner of his eye, he noted Buffy's confusion
and knew he'd have some explaining to do.  Seeing a touch of surprise
from the other, he explained his statement, "I've had their blood on a
couple of occasions."

"Then, we will release her.  Allow the Hunt to you...but remember to
take *that* with you."  He glared at Angel's fallen form, then backed
out of the way.

Nick slowly approached Buffy, who was still standing in the room even
though she could easily leave.  Using a hint of his speed he moved
toward her.  Unleashing a snarl, Nick watched her go for the door, then
turned back to the other.  "The Hunt will not begin now, but once I
have taken care of Angelus.  The mortal will be no trouble for me.  No
trouble at all...."  With that, Nick took Angel in his grasp, and once
he was free from the building, he took to the air.


The Living Undead - (05/07)

Buffy barged through the library's doors, startling the few occupants,
and heading straight for Giles.  "That 'friend' of yours, whatever he
is, is hunting me!  For my blood!  For a *Slayer's* blood!  He's-"

"Buffy!"  Giles watched her anger boil.  "Nicholas isn't like that, I'm
sure of it."

"To start with, he doesn't vamp out like the vampires I've...."  She
trailed off as Giles' attention was caught on something behind her.
Turning, Buffy's jaw dropped.  Before her stood the very topic of their
conversation, carrying the bleeding and barely conscious Angel.
"Angel!"

Approaching them, Giles asked, "What happened?"

"We, or I should say Buffy, found the bracelet.  Its wearer is already
learning some of its tricks."  Nick moved for the table, and the
mortals cleared off the collection of books just before he reached it,
laying the injured vampire on the surface.  "We obtained a...casualty."

Giles kept the teens back.  "Yes, I can see that.  I am curious as to
how this happened though."

"Um...."  Buffy gave a concerned glance at Angel, then turned back to
her Watcher.  "I think it was my fault.  I sort of got caught...."

Tuning out the mortals as Buffy explained what had happened, Nick
focused on the other vampire.  He watched as pain ripped through his
barely conscious form.  Angelus...Angel needed blood to heal, and he
needed it now.  The transfigured features focused hungrily on the
mortals behind him, even as something else seemed to hold him back.
Nick didn't know what it was, and for the moment, he didn't care.

He turned away for a mere second, quickly removing his jacket and
undoing the cuff of his shirt.  Holding his wrist within reach, Nick
waited, but Angel just stared at it with a combination of need and
disgust.  "It won't hurt you.  It will probably help more than mortal
blood.  Take it."

Angel considered the offer a moment longer.  When he'd previously met
Nicholas, he'd believed the older vampire a coward.  Now, he was being
offered something he would have taken if he'd been capable of it--
Nicholas' blood.  True, he was injured, but the other had no obligation
to do this.  Nicholas could have simply left him somewhere...but then
it made sense.  He didn't want innocent mortals to die, and that's what
would have happened if he'd been left without nearby blood.

Snatching the wrist up, Angel bit hard into the blood just beneath the
surface.  Having expected to taste something horrid, he drew harder
when the blood was sweeter than a mortal's, sweeter than anything he'd
ever tasted.  It was cool, smooth, and flowed easily into his mouth.
He could drink it forever.

Buffy, taking a few steps to the side, again caught Nick's features.
She could see the gold in his eyes, the sharp teeth barely peeking out
between his parted lips.  She'd never seen a vampire quite like this.

Feeling his body protest at the continued loss of blood, Nick pulled
his arm back as Angel tried to keep his hold.  With more force and a
slight tearing of the wounds, Nick succeeded.

No longer able to keep her silence, Buffy angrily asked, "What are
you?"

He turned his amber tinted vision first to Buffy, then back toward the
others.  Giles didn't show any outward reaction, but the others.  They
stood, open-mouthed, at what they viewed as his unusual appearance.

"You-you look different than Angel.  Normal..human...except for the
eyes and teeth..."

Focusing on the other girl, he allowed himself to revert back as she
watched.  Her eyes went momentarily wide.

Xander recovered.  "Well, at least this explains how you can move
around so easily.  It does, doesn't it?"  He didn't get a response one
way or the other, so continued, "You know, about the invitation
thing...?"

Tiredly, Angel let out a soft laugh.  "Guess you don't have a choice,
Brabant."

Angel faded off to sleep, and Nick sighed.  No, he didn't have a
choice, not anymore.  "Yes, I'm...different."

Now, Buffy's mind had a few dozen questions to ask and she didn't waste
any time.  "But you're still a vamp?"

"Yeah, I'm still a vampire.  I'm just of a different...breed."

"Okay...."  Buffy, her anger still visible, walked over to another
nearby table, pulled up a chair, sat and looked expectedly at the
vampire.  "What's *different*?  Since you don't need an invitation, I'd
say that's different.  What about crosses, holy water-"

"They still work."

"Stakes?"

"Depends on your aim."

"Pretty good.  Your appearance is different.  Why?"

"I'm not a demon...not like Angel's kind."

She wasn't sure what to think of that answer.  Not a demon.  Shrugging
it off, she asked, "Do you have a soul?"

"Y...."  He paused.  "I really don't know.  I think we do...I'm pretty
sure we do.  After all, I remember going to the door and coming
back...."  He trailed off, really not wanting to go into that.  "I
think it's pretty well damned though."

Buffy's eyebrows raised.  That was a big difference.  The vampire's she
dealt with were demons.  So was just about anything else she'd seen.
"What about your abilities?  Sunlight?"

"Not much different than Angel here....perhaps a bit stronger, quicker.
I...can bend a mortal's will and-"

"Fly," Xander stated, jumping into the conversation.

"Yes.  All of my kind can do those things.  It doesn't come with age."

Willow approached.  "So...how old are you, anyway?"

"If you count my mortal life, just over eight hundred."

She sunk into a chair next to Buffy.  "Wow.  Angel's not even half
that.  That's...wow.  You're old."

The room went silent, and the Slayer figured now was a good time to get
things straight.  "So...do we have another arsenal against Theron, or
are you going to kill me?"

The question caught him off guard, and it shouldn't have.  He'd already
changed in front of the girl earlier, and more than once.  As he'd
entered, he'd heard her exclamations to Giles, and truthfully, she
didn't have much reason to believe him.  "I have no intention of
killing you.  And yes, I will help."  The girl locked gazes with him,
and he held it firmly.

Giles cleared his throat.  "Well...I think we should get back to
work...Buffy?"

She turned to him, and with a momentary glance back to the vampire, she
stated, "Fine, but I don't trust him."  Having said that, she headed
over to the counter, and everyone slowly began to disperse.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

"Giles?" Buffy whispered, trying not to disturb the others,
particularly the now two sleeping vampires.

"Yes?"

"Could I, uh, speak to you outside?"  With that, she stared for the
entrance, and listened to his footsteps as he followed.  Once outside
with the door firmly shut, she got down to the point.  "I want you to
find out everything you can about him.  I don't trust him.  Not with
hearing parts of his conversation with Angel earlier."

He hadn't heard this yet.  "And...what was said?"

"Angel had said that Nick was 'worse than he ever was' or something
like that."

"Yes...well...."

"You already know about this, don't you?"  She started circling him.
"Why aren't you telling me?"

Giles carefully followed her movements.  "It's not important."

"Not important.  He's a killer just as much as those I stake!  Has he
ever killed a Slayer before?"  She watched him freeze, standing cold
like a rock.  "Giles, tell me.  I deserve to know this."

"Yes," he whispered.  "Two and nearly a third."

"When?"

"About five-hundred and fifty to six-hundred years ago from what I've
been able to discover in the Watcher's records.  He's supposed to be
killed on sight-"

"Then, as soon as this is over, that's exactly what I'm going to do."

"Buffy!"  Realizing his volume was a bit loud, he quieted back down to
a whisper.  "You would not win.  You are not stronger than him, and the
ones he took down were not new."

"I don't care about that.  He will not live!"

He grabbed her arm before she could storm back into the library.
"Listen to me.  The past is the past.  Leave this alone.  Even if you
do manage it, another of his kind will kill you."  He paused, releasing
her.  "I'll get what current information I can, but in the last hundred
years his past is pretty clean.  As far as the Watcher's know, he
either hasn't killed, or has only rarely.  They have considered
changing the guidelines on him as he's more on our side than against
it.  Just consider what you're doing before you act."

"I know exactly what I plan to do, and I know the consequences."  She
backed away, heading back into the library.

Giles stood shaking his head.  He had no intention of mentioning his
meeting with Nicholas in the past, nor now.  He had a mess that was
just getting more and more chaotic.


The Living Undead - (06/07)

Willow left the main counter.  There was just too much stuff spread out
on its surface.  She passed the table Angel lay sleeping on, and
continued to the only free table large enough to spread out her books. 
Coming around a shelf, she stopped cold.  Nicholas lay right in its
middle, his body looking much like a corpse, although a tad less pale. 
Continuing forward, she put the books on the table's corner.  For a
second, she stood silently, watching the vampire sleep.

Hesitantly reaching out, she softly poked him in the shoulder.  He
didn't move.  Releasing her breath and taking another, she repeated her
action a little harder.  He sat up abruptly, and Willow jumped back.
"Sorry."  She waited, but he just sat there with his arms supporting
him and his eyes closed.  "Uh...I w-was just wondering if you'd mind
moving over a little?  I um...need some space, and the other tables
seem to be occupied at the moment."

"Sure."  Moving to the far edge, he lay back again.

Sitting down and getting all of the books open to the needed pages,
Willow couldn't concentrate.  "Um, I have another question...."

"What?" he sighed.

"Well...if you have all of these abilities...the hypnotism, speed,
strength and flight, wouldn't you just be able to take the bracelet
from this vampire?"

He drowsily considered it, then shook his head.  "I cannot counter the
bracelet's effects.  It allows the user to inflict damage from a
distance...I wouldn't be able to get close enough.  Perhaps if I could
surprise him, but that would be difficult."

"Okay...."  Watching him again close is eyes, she returned to her
books, looking for some reference....

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

"Buffy!  Giles!" Willow nearly screamed to the others.

Nick, who had rolled onto his side, suddenly found himself wide-awake
and sailing to the ground as he had forgetten that he was on the
table's edge.

Buffy, Giles and Xander rushed toward them.  Buffy immediately
approached the vampire, a stake in one hand, quickly asking, "What did
he do?" her attention going between her friend and the now standing
vampire.

"No, no, no....  I found it.  At least, I think I did."

"You did?  Where?"  Giles stepped closer, scanning the open pages.  As
they fell on the indicated text, he picked it up, reading through the
first part and stopped.  "'One of the undead who is not dead.'  What's
that supposed to mean?"

Nick stiffened, the words making perfect sense to him.  Vampires had
often been considered the 'undead' or the walking dead, and he had been
no exception until recent years.  When he'd first met Natalie, she had
immediately stated that he wasn't dead.  Then, with her observations,
she had proved it to him.

Xander considered the expression, but it just didn't make sense.  "But
vamps are closer to dead than living...I mean, no pulse, no breath, no-
"

"Uh...I have a pulse."

They all turned toward the vampire, the three teenagers' eyes wide.
Buffy recovered first, demanding, "How?"

He shrugged.  "A friend of mine is a doctor.  She's proved I'm alive,
although it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  My heart beats about
once every ten minutes, and I do need to take the occasional breath to
remain conscious."

"The undead that's not dead," Willow muttered.  "Must mean one of your
kind, right?"

Nick didn't answer, instead turning to Giles who was reading through
the section.  "Well, it says that one of the undead who is not dead
must recite the spell.  It will not destroy the bracelet, but it will
prevent its use by the individual that the spell is directed at."

Nick backed up.  He didn't want to get involved in this.  "No...I don't
know anything about that stuff...I wouldn't be able to-"

Giles met the vampire's eyes.  "Nicholas, we need your help with this
part.  If not, we'll try to get it without your help, but it would be
much better if you did."

"I..." he trailed off.  He'd already promised to help.  Besides, what
damage would one spell be?  "I'll help."

"Good.  Look this over."  Giles handed the book to Nicholas.  "The rest
of you...keep looking.  I'm going to get something from home.  I'll be
back in a little while."  The Xander and Buffy went back to the front
of the library, and Giles was about to follow, but felt a light touch. 
He turned to find Nicholas, apparently hesitant about something.

"Could you...bring something back for me?  From the...refrigerator?  I
had figured we'd go back to your place, so I left them there."

"Of course.  I'll be back as soon as I can."  Watching Nicholas nod,
then sit at the table, Giles headed for the entrance.

"Could I go with you?"

He turned to Buffy.  For all the world she appeared curious, but he
knew why she wanted to come.  "Yes, but try not to speak before you
think."

They headed out the door, and they were almost to Giles' before Buffy
asked, "So...what did you find?"

"I haven't-"

"Then, what do you know?  Apparently you know him, and you've obviously
done a little research on him."

"Yes, I have.  Nicholas is...complicated.  He's a lot like Angel,
actually.  They've both been pure killers, both wiped out entire
populations on a couple of occasions, but there are differences.
Nicholas spent about the first four-hundred years of his life like
this, for the next three hundred he changed to killing the
guilty...taking blood for his survival from the dying.  About a hundred
years ago, he just stopped killing altogether.  He is dangerous, but
then they all are.  They are nearly perfect killers, yet, it is
possible to control what they are."

"Why do you trust him, then?  If he could easily turn on you, why trust
him?"

"Why trust Angel?"  He received a glare, and quickly apologized.  "In a
way, Nick saved my life.  He had protected me from his kind when I was
getting too close to his kind of vampire.  He couldn't make me forget,
and he let me remain with his secret despite the fact I was a
stranger."

"And, the blood?"

"From what I know, he doesn't drink human blood anymore, or at least
not on a regular basis."

"And you got this information where?"

"Watchers' files.  If he was considered a high threat, he would be dead
by now...it would have been some Slayer's duty to kill him, but the
council has ordered that action only be taken if he's spotted by a
Slayer, and only if the action is needed.  Their kind can kill a Slayer
without much difficulty."

"Well, he won't.  I'll see to it that he ne-"

Giles brought the vehicle to a quick stop.  "Buffy!"  He shook his
head, and resumed their path.  "Don't make a decision now.  Nicholas is
not like the others.  I'm sure he would save your life if something
happened."

"Let's just get the stuff and get back to the library."  She leaned
back in the seat, her arms crossed and her attention on the passing
scenery.

She just hoped Willow and Xander would be okay.  True, Nick hadn't
really done anything too suspicious...other than his words to Theron.
She didn't like it...how he could change so quickly, and how truthful
his enjoyment of the other Slayers he'd killed.  She couldn't help
wonder if he'd be tempted to take hers, to kill her as he'd done those
others.

As the car came to a stop in front of Giles, she got out.  When he
asked her to get the blood from the refrigerator, she groaned, but
followed Giles up to the door anyway.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Mid-afternoon came, and Nick stared at the words again.  Now, he
understood them.  He understood exactly what their purpose was, which
made him dislike it even more.  He didn't like spells, or demons, or
any of this stuff.  Compared to this venom that could kill with a
scratch, his kind were venom-less, fang-less snakes.

He slammed the book shut, causing Willow and Xander to turn his way.
"Sorry.  I'm just not comfortable with this."  He stared at the book
for a couple of seconds, then stood and approached the still sleeping
Angel.  In a way, the younger vampire was lucky.  His injury was enough
that he would not be participating in the coming events.  Their kind
healed slower, a serious injury possibly disabling them for weeks or
more.

The library doors opened, and he watched Buffy and Giles enter.  Buffy
shot a glare at him, but brought him the bottle of blood.  He took it
and uncorked it, then stared at the contents for a moment.

Giles watched his actions carefully for several seconds, then cleared
his throat.  "Nicholas...I have an idea on how to do this."

The vampire looked up.

"Theron thinks you're on his side?  He thinks you're hunting Buffy,
right?"  Receiving a nod, the librarian continued, "Then I propose you
continue your charade.  Make him think you are still hunting her, that
you want to use this device to finis-"

"No way!  I won't let myself-"

"Buffy!  We have to get close to him.  Nicholas will not carry through
on any of these actions, right?"

"Of course not."

The three words gave no comfort to her.  "I-"

"You will be armed.  It would only be an illusion to trick them into
thinking you are weak, and that Nicholas is on their side.  If we do it
right, it would work, and we'd have the opportunity to use the spell
and disable the device," Giles said, trying to calm her.  He really
didn't need these two to get into an argument right now.

Willow and Xander came up behind them.  "So...what do we do?"

"Nothing, really.  Theoretically, they should be able to handle it on
their own."

"But..." Xander started, being cut off by Willow.

"Okay."  She fidgeted a second.  "I guess.  How's Angel?"

"Recovering," Nick stated.  Then, the mortals all turned toward him.
"He'll be back to normal in a couple of days, but he won't be helping
out.  Besides...if Angel showed up, Theron might be tipped off to
something going on."

Buffy pulled her attention from the sleeping Angel and focused on her
Watcher.  "Well, then, I guess we should start getting ready...and I
want it known that I object to being the bait...his bait...."

"Noted.  Now, for what I wanted to check on...."  Giles pulled out on
of the books, and opened it to a page he'd marked earlier.  "It says
here that the living undead are souled, more or less human.  They have
enhanced abilities; speed, vision, hearing etc., they are immortal and
thrive off of blood and de- well, that's about it, really.  Basically I
just wanted to get a confirmation, make sure our guess was right.  I
think that's a pretty good description of your kind."

Buffy listened carefully to Giles.  In her eyes, he wasn't much
different than the mindless creatures she killed at night, except
perhaps the fact that he wasn't mindless.

Well, she didn't have much choice in the matter.  The bracelet had to
be taken from Theron, and if this spell would do the trick, she would
go along with the plan.  But, any one wrong move, and this vamp would
be a pile of smouldering ash.


The Living Undead - (07/07)

An hour after sunset, the group was on their way to confront Theron.
The mortals had gone in Giles' car, while Nick took a more direct
route--the sky.

Apparently arriving before the others, he glanced down at the quickly
copied words.  Hopefully they had the right spell.  He didn't want to
know the consequences if they didn't.

Hearing an approaching vehicle, he slid into the shadows.  As they got
out, he closed in, stopping right behind Giles.

"Now, all we have to do is wai-" he turned, coming face to face with
Nick.  "Nevermind."  Recovering from Nick's sudden appearance, he
opened the trunk, pulling out a small arsenal; a crossbow for himself,
and a few extra stakes for Buffy.  "Xander and Willow, I want you two
to stay out here the whole time, preferably in the car.  We need as few
people down there as possible.  We'll take care of anyone that comes
out."  Once they had reluctantly shook their heads, muttering their
opinions, Giles turned to Nick and Buffy.  "Are you ready?"

"I guess.  I really don't like spells though...."

Giles paused, then ignoring Nick's comment, said, "It's time to get
this over with."

With a light nod, Nick met Buffy's eyes.  She stood like a stone, her
clothes ripped and torn, then with a nod she started for the building.

Buffy could feel Nick follow her, and as they neared the entrance, she
felt his hands hold her in a relatively tight grasp.  Focusing on her
role, she began to struggle, letting her voice sound tired and
frustrated, which wasn't hard.  As they descended, she could feel the
others, and in a moment, watched them stare at them.

The one she'd seen before, Theron, let his gaze stop on them.  "I
thought you were going to kill her."

"I am.  Your device has intrigued me.  I was wondering if I might be
able to try it out?"

The vampire glanced to his wrist, narrowing his eyes.  "I thought your
kind usually avoided such thi...."

Nick let his eyes glint gold.  Taking a few steps, he positioned them
so the other was between himself and the Slayer, with Theron's facing
him.  "It interests me.  I would like to take her life slowly...watch
as her energy is drained from her.  Then, I will take her blood."  The
gold flashed crimson, making both Buffy and the vampire inch back.
Then, as the vampire considered the request, Nick nodded just enough
for Buffy to see.

She knew his intention, and although it wasn't time, she approached,
pushing one of the other vampires away, her stake heading right for
Theron's heart.  In it's decent, in stopped just before hitting him.
Pulling back, she found she couldn't move her arm, and then he turned
toward her.

"I'm learning quickly how to use this device.  You might be the Slayer,
but you are of no consequence to me."  He raised his hand, letting the
blue stone shine toward the mortal.

Almost instantly, Nick reached for the bracelet, and by virtue of
speed, pulled it off of the vampire's wrist.

Theron spun on him, pushing Nick into the wall.  "You are like Angelus!
You are a betrayer to your own kind and mine!"

Nick, slightly stunned at his own actions didn't waste anymore time as
he slipped the device on.  As a tingling sensation started at the
bracelet and spread throughout his body, he hoped he could figure out
how it worked.  He really hadn't planned on taking it from Theron, but
then, he was originally going to use the spell Willow had found.

Holding the bracelet so that its stone faced Theron, he mentally
pushed, and as desired, the other vampire was sent flying across the
room.  Theron slammed into the wall, and Nick kept the pressure up,
holding the vampire immobile.

Buffy, although a bit stunned by the quick turn of events, dusted the
vampire, at which time the other two bolted toward the exit.  One
didn't make it, his fate being the same as Theron's.  Turning toward
Nick, she watched him remove the bracelet slowly, looking at it closer.
"Why didn't you use the spell!  He could have killed one, or both of us
in an instant!"

He winced, then heard the others come down the stairs; Giles armed with
a crossbow, and Xander and Willow right behind him.  Brushing past
Buffy, he handed the bracelet gratefully to Giles.  Locking eyes with
the Slayer, he left the building.

She stormed after him, arriving outside seconds after him.  "I didn't
trust you before, and I certainly don't trust you now."

"I have done nothing to harm you, nor do I inte-"

"Just shut up!  Your change in plans back there could have made us both
dead!  Now, you're going to be that," she said gesturing to the pile of
ash between them, "in just a few minutes.  I know what the Watcher's
policy is on you.  If a Slayer comes in contact with you, you are to be
killed on sight."

"Buffy!"

She gave her Watcher a glare, halting him in his approach.  "I've made
my decision, Giles!  I'm not going to let him just walk off.  He might
not have tried anything here, but how do you know he won't turn back
into what he was in the past.  He was, and still is, a killer.  You
didn't see how easily he 'pretended' to be hunting me.  It's his
nature."

She turned on the vampire, and rushed forward, giving him a strong kick
to the abdomen, throwing him slightly off balance.  Prepared to give
him another, he was gone.  Sensing a presence behind her, she struck
out, her arm being securely held.  Feeling her legs being pushed from
under her, she found herself lying on the ground, face down, completely
immobile.  Waiting for pain or darkness to overwhelm her, she was
stunned when he released her.

"As I said, I will not harm you.  I do not kill for sport or blood."
He paused, then took off into the sky before any of them could give a
reply.

"Wow," Xander commented, staring off in the direction Nick had left,
completely forgetting about the confrontation.

"Xander, Willow?  Do you think you can get back to the Library on your
own?" Giles asked.  "Good," he stated receiving a nod, then turned his
attention fully on Buffy.  "You're coming with me."

"Where?"

"My place...let's see if we can catch him before he leaves.  That, and
I want to explain something else I found in that book.  Now, come on." 
Buffy stood still for a moment.  Then got in Giles' car, slamming the
door.  This weekend had to be just about the worst she'd had.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Nick repacked his things.  He was seriously considering flying to Los
Angeles to catch a plane instead of leaving from here.  He wanted away
from that girl.  Although he had no wish to kill her, he couldn't help
but be tempted by her blood.  At first, he'd just been nervous, but
now....  It was something that was just there, like instinct.  If it
weren't, he wouldn't mind staying a few more days...she was a nice
girl, but...she was also the Slayer.

Hearing the door open, and two mortal heartbeats, he almost opened the
window and left then and there.  Instead, he approached, meeting up
with Giles and a somewhat subdued Buffy.

"Giles explained something about your kind...I guess it was what he
really wanted to check on....  Um, I guess the reason I have so much
hatred is because of what you are.  Giles told me it's something that
comes with being a Slayer.  I guess it works both ways.  It's just
instinct, but-"  She stopped, then caught her Watcher's glare.  "And
also, I uh, wanted to apologize for everything."

"No need."  He turned to leave, but felt Giles' hand on his arm.

"Nicholas...I hope I'll be able to meet you again."

"I wish I could say the same.  It is dangerous for me to even be here. 
Others of my kind would not hesitate to kill the Slayer."  He glanced
to Buffy for a mere second.  "But, if you need any help, I won't refuse
the request."

"Will you stay until tomorrow night, then?" Giles asked, hoping
Nicholas wouldn't refuse him.  He didn't want the man to just disappear
as he'd done in the past.

He sighed.  "Yeah, I'll stay.  Just...no one try and stake me, okay?"
Nick gave a boyish begging expression, which brought a slight smile to
Buffy's face.

"I won't do that again.  Promise."

"Well, then....  Now that you two have finally made up, we can get back
to the library and find a way to destroy this thing."  He held the
bracelet up a moment, before stuffing it back in his pocket.

Nick and Buffy nodded, and the three headed down to Buffy's car and off
to the library.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Twenty-four hours later, Nick found himself sitting on a plane for the
first part of the trip back to Toronto.  As asked, he had stayed.  The
previous night, they spent most of the time trying to figure out how to
destroy the bracelet.  Angel had helped with the search, but had
eventually returned to his own home, with Buffy, to finish healing.  He
was a little confused at that event.  After all, she was a Slayer and
he was a vampire.

As it turned out, destroying the bracelet had been simple.  All that
needed to be done was to remove the stone from its setting.  He
suppressed a laugh remembering the simplicity.  The metal had then
disintegrated, becoming a pile of fine black powder, and the stone had
lost its blue lustre, becoming a clear, colorless stone.

He pulled it out of his pocket, staring through the clear material.
When Giles had insisted he keep it, he wasn't sure what to say, but did
anyway.  It would be another piece to add to his collection of
mementoes.  Even if he never met any of them again, he would always
remember his side trip to the strange Californian city, and those that
protected it from the demons and undead that threatened its citizens.

Nick suppressed another laugh.  And then there was he, a vampire, one
of the undead, but not, heading back to his relative safe haven.
Compared to Buffy's everyday life, his was boring and repetitive.
There was more to her than the other Slayers he'd met.  Buffy would
have her title as long as she lived, and he felt that she would last
longer than those that had previously held it had.

As the plane took off, he felt strangely relaxed.  It was as if
everything had been momentarily lifted from him.  For the trip back, he
knew he had nothing to worry about.  No demons, no spells, no strange
devices...even LaCroix seemed less of a threat somehow.  Although he'd
originally dreaded making the trip, now that he was returning, he was
glad he'd come.

~fin~