Mother's Gift

-----------------------------((Part Two))-----------------------------

             Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
             And sorry I could not travel both 
             And be one traveler, long I stood 
             And looked down one as far as I could 
             To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

         Then took the other, as just as fair, 
         And having perhaps the better claim, 
         Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
         Though as for that, the passing there 
         Had worn them really about the same, 

     And both that morning equally lay 
     In leaves no step had trodden black. 
     Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
     Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
     I doubted if I should ever come back. 

  I shall be telling this with a sigh 
  Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- 
  I took the one less traveled by, 
  And that has made all the difference. 

  "The Road not Taken" - Robert Frost 

-----18 Months Later----- 

Teresa shrugged deeper into the thick, warm folds of her down coat, 
and kept her hands in her pockets, wishing again for a pair of gloves.  
She half-considered shutting down her heart and breathing, but the sun 
was shining dully through the clouds despite the cold and it would be 
an unwelcome drain on her energy to go about in full vampire mode 
during the day.  The small sigh that escaped her lips hung as a fine, 
misty cloud in front of her face.  She rubbed her reddened fingers 
against each other.  What reason could fate possibly have for making 
this journey any harder than it absolutely had to be? 

The countryside in this part of Kyrgyzstan was atrocious--bleak and 
rocky, seemingly without respite from the awful gray monotony.  Loose 
rocks occasionally slipped underneath her feet, but never quickly 
enough to surprise her.  The sky, hung low with thin snow clouds, was 
only a few shades lighter than the land, but considerably more active.  
Even with no trees to rattle through, the wind whistled eerily above 
her head, and tugged at the few strands of raven hair that escaped the 
rough leather cord she'd tied the whole mass back with. 

Still, she kept a steady pace.  Something she'd never felt before 
tickled at the unique blood that pumped through her veins--a freezing, 
icy feather's light touch.  Nearing another Immortal was a far more 
physical thing--the momentary and almost completely overwhelming 
buzzing of all the senses like static electricity.  Sensing a vampire 
was a sort of irritating, icy fire on first contact that gave gradually 
way to a simple knowledge that another was still there, then 
disappeared completely.  This... it excited her, urged her on with its 
silent call.  It was the only way she knew which way to head at all. 

Here, she knew who she was supposed to be looking for, she imagined, 
but where... when, barely for what reason--a decayed scrap of paper in 
an ancient book in a language she had hardly known how to decipher.  
Another gust of wind shrieked wildly, pushing her forward along with 
another sheet of thick clouds which blotted the sunlight completely, 
bathing the land in murky, charred tones like old, dried blood.  Teresa 
allowed her body to change as natured demanded.  It took only a couple 
of minutes for her heat to drain away, and the chill of the dying 
winter day no longer affected her.  As she continued to walk, the sun, 
hidden, dipped below the horizon, casting a pinkish glow on the high 
tops of the clouds.  Something caught her eye to her left, a flash of 
color, greens and dusky blues, which was startling enough in this land.  
Teresa walked on with a slight smile tugging at the corners of her 
lips.  *Jump at a patch of flowers, O brave one?* 

An hour or so after sunset, the clouds parted just long enough to give 
her a quick glimpse of the silvery moon and sparkling stars before 
moving in again.  Closing in on midnight, the first, tentative flakes 
began to fall, silently, and the miles continued to melt away under her 
light step.  The sensation was growing stronger, urging more, 

Almost completely without warning, a slight rise in the ground all but 
hid the large, dark entrance to a cave -- she couldn't sense how large 
it was, or how extensive, but the urge to enter it was overwhelming.  
She didn't fight against it. 

Inside it was warm, an almost unexpected comfort, given the remoteness 
of the area.  Teresa expected it to be little more than a hole in the 
ground.  There was also light.  Not much, certainly, but enough to know 
that someone besides herself was there, and the glow was not simply 
part of some luminous illusion thrown back by the smooth, worn walls.  
Unless she advanced a few steps more, it would be impossible to judge 
what was beyond the next turn.  Yet she knew with the same sense that 
told her she was not alone that the subtle, tranquilizing presence was 
intentional -- and dangerous to the unwary. 

Calmly, she pulled her sword form the hidden folds of her coat and 
allowed herself to slip into game face.  In a flash of movement, Teresa 
eliminated the distance between herself and the yawning opening to the 
inner caves.  Her sword was met with, and effortlessly blocked, another 
before her eyes had even adjusted to the complete and utter absence of 

Another blow fell slightly to her left, and it would have gone right 
through her heart if not for a quick step to the side.  Teresa's first 
real blow met flesh; and was followed by the definite sibilant hiss of 
a wounded vampire. "Alright, whoever you are-" Teresa began, more than 
a little annoyed after searching for so long.  And yet, she could not 
even see his name...  This time it was her turn to hiss.  A sudden 
array of ultra-bright, white lights, worse than the noon sun on a clear 
day, blinded her.  She barely managed to avoid the blade to her lower 
gut by bringing her own, apparently longer blade forward and stopping 
it just short of its.. his, neck. 

Teresa panted at the same rate as the boy in front of her, she having 
returned to more or less human so that her eyes could take the intense 
glare.  "This is a fine welcome.  Do you greet everyone this way, or am 
I just special?"  When she felt a timorous intrusion, as if the one 
doing the searching had no knowledge of what he was doing, into her 
mind, she turned it away and pressed the newly sharpened blade a little 
more firmly against the vein just under the boy's jawbone. 

"You're early," he offered. 

"My timing had never been perfect," Teresa quipped back, her eyes 
taking on a dangerous golden tinge as this time his mind tried to 
invade hers and she was distracted in turning him back.  "I've been 
searching for you, I think," she managed to lace her words with doubt 
as to the correctness of her guess, "For almost a year.  You have no 
idea, obviously, how hard it is to translate coded third century German 
interspersed with some sort of Latin and arithmetic like I've never 
seen before." 

She sensed before he moved when he was about to reposition his sword 
about a foot and a half through the other side of her abdomen.  "You 
are a feisty little thing, aren't you?" Teresa frowned, her eyes never 
leaving his.  "Drop your sword." 

Breathing, giving her a speculative glance, he did as she demanded.  
The small weapon clattered obscenely against the bare stone floor of 
the cave, and she allowed him to take some of the pressure off his 
neck.  "What is your name?" she asked, knowing better than to actually 
call him boy.  The light in his eyes was far older than his countenance 
suggested.  Still, she'd seen older -- a few anyway, and something that 
had always been present in such aged souls was missing--she could not 
put her finger on what. 

"Azrael," he answered simply and softly. 

"The angel of death according to some," she supplied, looking at him 
with a raised eyebrow, or what passed for a raised eyebrow in her 
vampire face.  "Not the original, I assume." 

"No," the other Immortal answered without missing a beat.  "And your 
name is?" 

"Teresa Knight." 

A small shudder seemed to go through the perpetually scrawny frame of 
the boy kneeling in front of her.  "So you are the one I was supposed 
to teach.  I'd no idea..."  He seemed to be fishing for something, a 
long forgotten or long-buried memory from a time well before she was 
more than a prophecy. 

"You're still early.  I'm not prepared yet.  The books-" 

Teresa could sense that he was going off on a tangent, and completely 
ignoring her, so she stepped back and removed the blade from under his 
chin to bring him back to the here and now.  He looked up at her, 
questioning, and she finally took the time to have a good look at him. 

He was small, thin boned, with large dusty aquamarine eyes set deep in 
a face that seemed to suggest he'd rarely had enough to eat at the time 
he'd become Immortal -- probably around eleven or twelve years old.  He 
wasn't tall, but his wrists and ankles seemed all out of proportion 
with the rest of his body.  The hands that were splayed on the ground 
were smooth as a child's, and he was still very much in body a little 
boy.  A disheveled shock of uncombed, roughly cut, burnt-cinnamon 
colored hair hung into his eyes and almost to his shoulders where it 
escaped from what seemed to be a string of deep green leather. 

"My thanks, Lady," Azrael got out as he stood awkwardly. 

*His social skills are archaic.  I suppose that's what comes from 
living in isolation for so long.*  Teresa offered him her hand, but he 
barely looked at it, choosing instead to keep his fragile male ego 
intact.  Rolling her eyes expressively, Teresa knelt down and retrieved 
his sword.  "I believe we've gotten off to a bad start," she said, 
examining the unimpressive construction of the light weapon she had 
just defended herself against.  "What do you say we declare a temporary 
truce, since it's so patently obvious that we have been looking for 
each other most of our lives?" 

Azrael responded with utterly simplistic seriousness, missing entirely 
the note of laughter in her words.  She had meant it as a joke, he, 
however, nodded gravely and reached for his sword.  "Agreed, m'lady."  
Wanting to blink in wonder, but keeping her reactions perfectly 
concealed, she did as he wished, and relinquished the blade. 

Fixing a tight stare at the back of his head as the Immortal turned 
away from her and headed for a slightly darker passageway near the rear 
of the cave, Teresa attempted to discover what exactly it was with him 
that she found so disturbing.  Certainly, their first meeting had 
started with his attack of her, but that she could have dealt with 
easily, had it been the only thing wrong.  There was nothing 
particularly usual about his physical make-up--he could have blended 
into any modern-day crowd without a problem.  Only his eyes showed 
differently, and anyone who had lived for more than their fair share of 
days displayed the same characteristic.  The various small 
eccentricities she had seen were nothing to bother her for long.  Even 
the way he acted around her, hesitant, almost as if he was wondering if 
she was really the right one, was nothing she hadn't come across 

As he rounded the corner, disappearing completely from the blaze of 
light and leaving her standing alone in the enormous cavern, Teresa 
realized that it was something very few indeed would have missed at 
first glance.  She had been trying to read too much into him, and shook 
her head lightly in wonder.  He trusted.  He trusted far, far more than 
anyone his age, and she guessed that he must have been around to see 
the turning of the first millennium into the second, should be able to.  
She held the ability to take his life in a heartbeat, had given him no 
reason at all to think her anything more than a cold, distant creature, 
and still, he trusted her enough to turn his back on her.  *Either he 
knows something I don't, or he is the most vulnerable person there ever 
was.*  Both thoughts scared her, and she hurried after him, into the 
back chambers of his home. 

"I hope you'll find your accommodations satisfactory," Azrael smiled, 
holding out his hand to her as soon as she stepped through the small 
natural doorway.  "The books say only that you would be female, young, 
and 'dark and fair as coal against new-fallen snow'." 

"You know more about me than I about you."  Teresa took in the sight 
of a small, almost barren room without blinking.  It reminded her of a 
picture she'd once seen of a medieval cubicle within a monastery; there 
was a bed, a table and chair, and a small wooden trunk snug against the 
wall, but nothing else.  No television, no computer... *I've gotten 
along well enough without them for this long.  Why not awhile longer?* 

"Scrolls," he answered, poking into the room's corners, not looking at 
her.  "The codex.  You have a part.  They said you'd find me, not I 
you.  I should not have doubted.  The Triami Library - you must have 
found it right quick.  Watchers always know.  They will be pleased 

This time, when Teresa attempted to Look into Azrael's mind, she 
encountered only a sort of churning confusion without resistance.  With 
a shiver, she pulled out.  His mental deterioration was nearly the same 
as Drusilla's, though she guessed that there had been no Angelus to 
tear his mind to bits. 

"Yes, I was at the library.  That's how I knew to come here."  Teresa, 
getting no response from the boy-vampire-Immortal, walked up right up 
behind him.  Instead of moving, Azrael continued to jab his finger 
against a slightly darker chip of rock near the floor, mumbling 
something under his breath.  She crouched down next to him, and, 
motherly, took hold of his hand.  Instantly, his entire body stiffened 
exactly like a child who's found himself caught with a hand in the 
cookie jar.  "You haven't seen anybody else in a long time, have you?" 


"How long?" 

He was silent for awhile, and, against her better judgment, Teresa 
nearly glanced into his thoughts.  She was spared by his sudden 
scratching of his head, and the puzzled expression on his face. 

"What year is this?" 

"It's January of the year two-thousand and one." 

To her surprise and amusement, he began to count on his fingers.  She 
waited patiently until he got to the fourth count of both hands, then 
her mind began to drift.  Though she had poured over every obscure bit 
she could find in every modern and ancient text that hinted at having 
some answer, this had not been what she was expecting. 

"One hundred and twelve." 

Teresa was startled out of her thoughts.  His syntax was too modern; 
his vocabulary was... no, who was she to judge that?  But his 
clothes... They had to be modern, didn't they?  She must've heard 
wrong; that had to be it. 

"Excuse me?" 

Azrael looked at his hands again, and nodded with finality.  "One 
hundred and twelve." 

His shirt was plain, and white, with nothing to distinguish it at all 
from any of the other thousands upon thousands of shirts that had been 
produced around the world for the past twenty years at least... Come to 
think of it, she had no idea how old that particular design was, and 
there was absolutely no advertising of any kind on it...  The pants 
looked like walnut brown corduroy... Maybe, but that didn't seem 

"Are you telling me that you haven't met another human being, 
Immortal, demon, vampire, or any other sentient creature since 1889?" 

"I believe that was the year."  Azrael suddenly brightened, and jumped 
to his feet as the impulse hit him.  "Yes.  One hundred and twelve 
years ago I left everything else behind.  That was a very good year.  I 
remember that year."  Teresa merely watched as he stopped short, and 
announced, "I must go now.  I will return shortly."  With that, he left 
the room, not looking back. 

She waited a few moments, to see if he'd return as shortly as he'd 
seemed to imply, then, chuckling, flopped carelessly down on the flimsy 
bed.  A thin cloud of dust rose from the woolen blanket.  No matter, 
she didn't need it anyway; not only was the cave warm, even in the far 
rear, but as long as she remained in her vampiric state she had no need 
to keep her own internal heat up. 

How long had it been since she'd started on her search?  It felt odd 
to finally be here.  Maybe this would turn out to be just another dream 
in the endless nights of dreams.  It felt too good to be true, and, at 
the same time, unreal.  It had been a year and a half ago, almost to 
the day, that she'd left Sunnydale for the second time, desperately 
clutching a few papers and one precious map against her side. 

That last day in Sunnydale had been the worst-the wound to her heart 
was healed over, but the stake had left her weakened.  She'd eaten 
enough to feed an army of teenaged boys, then finished off with three 
days' supply of blood.  A few hours of only mildly disturbing dreams 
had been enough to wake up just as the sun way setting with a fresh 
mind.  Five minutes to pack everything she had with her.  Ten to take 
the last few things she wanted from her house.  It wasn't hard at all 
to hitch rides half way across the country. 

All of her stuff except for the absolute essentials had been left 
behind in Chicago, under lock and key.  Hopefully it was still there.  
She had nothing of any great value, really, except to herself.  It was 
the usual give and take.  Anything could happen, but it probably 
wouldn't.  She'd given up worrying about the possibilities after a 
couple of weeks. 

From Chicago she'd spent three miserable days trying to figure out 
where to go next.  For hours she'd read and reread all that Giles had 
given her, with no better ideas than the ones she'd started with.  
There was the prophecy of her coming, and Angel's soul being returned; 
a few paragraphs about a "girl child born to light reborn to darkness" 
that seemed to be studies in contradiction; and some of the few 
mentions of aberrant vampires who had either retained their souls or 
had, after a time, tried to repent.  It was the map that had taken most 
of her time and had drawn her interest back hour after hour. 

Finally, after a few minutes of moral debate, she'd found the 
youngest, slowest, and most impressionable authority in the city and 
gotten herself a passport and a plane ticket to Europe.  If she got a 
few odd looks on the plane, it was because of her morose behavior, and 
nothing more.  Touching down in Paris should have been the delight of 
her still young life, even if it was complicated by her inability to 
speak French.  There was beauty, yes; but there were also so very, very 
many people.  One thing she'd learned-four days without sleep and the 
continuous mental hum of millions of people contributed remarkably well 
to looking like a heroin addict on her last legs.  As soon as she could 
choose a direction, she was gone. 

After that, it had been near endless searching.  All over France, 
across Spain and Portugal, then she'd had to double back to spend a 
couple of very fruitful weeks in Rome before heading north, to Germany.  
Over the months, she'd learned how to listen intently to the surface 
thoughts of people as they talked, and no longer doubted her ability to 
get the gist of any modern language within a few days.  It helped, 
though not as much as her knowledge of Latin.  She chuckled quietly, 
remembering how often and vociferously she'd had to fight for those 
classes.  A waste of time indeed. 

Sometimes she bothered herself more than anyone else did.  It was a 
constant annoyance, knowing that whatever she did, it made little or no 
difference.  No one would care unless she failed, and she didn't even 
know what she was doing.  Finding food wasn't hard, especially with 
money, but blood was always hard to come by.  Some nights it would seem 
that each person that passed her by was a more delectable morsel, each 
aching to satisfy her sharp fangs and the howling of her personal 
demon.  As long as she ate enough, her will held out against the 
temptation.  Only a few times had she had to resort to a quick suck at 
someone's neck.  They'd all been older men, after a young, nubile girl 
for a quick bang in a dark alley; she could have done far worse than 
leave them a few pints paler. 

Weeks had gone by as she'd meticulously scanned the German 
countryside, looking for anything - any grove or mountain or cave - 
that might possibly hide a building big enough to house every bit of 
data gathered by the Watchers of the Slayers, the Immortals, and 
another group of the same name that monitored the balance between 
demons and Hunters, up to the fifteenth century.  The texts she'd found 
in Rome had been insistent on this being the area of the fabled Triami 
Library.  No one else that she came across had any knowledge of its 

The night she'd found it had been clouded over, making it hard, even 
for her, to see.  Only occasionally would the moon peek out from behind 
the thick, fleecy clouds and cast a little light.  It had been a 
complete accident, actually.  If she hadn't stooped down to wash her 
face in a tiny trickle of a stream, she would have missed the heavy 
wood and iron door half-buried in the ground. 

Her first impression was a wave of putrid air that hadn't been touched 
for centuries.  After choking and sputtering for awhile, she'd shut 
down the Immortal functions of her body and went without breathing or 
heartbeat.  Inside, once she'd dug the rest of the dirt away from the 
only visible entrance, there hadn't even been the little natural light 
to help her.  She'd stumbled around, nearly blind, until remembering 
the flashlight she'd stowed somewhere in her backpack, near the bottom, 
thinking that it might be useful if she ever got into such a situation.  
Ten minutes later, after twice searching everything in her bag, she 
finally admitted defeat and left the dark, vaulted room that she could 
tell extended meters above her head.  As long as there was no immediate 
danger, she could come back in the morning with all the supplies she 

The next day was overcast, but humid, and she could see clearly her 
own slight footprints around the stream.  She hadn't even bothered to 
hide the load of dirt she'd dug away from the buried entrance.  
Careless, probably, but she'd been Listening every single moment for 
any mind within miles of hers.  There had been no one, and even now she 
felt blessedly and brilliantly alone. 

Ducking into the long abandoned room, Teresa had been able, from the 
sunlight filtering in from above, to see that she'd only scratched the 
surface of her find.  The door she had come through had been overgrown 
with the same grass and vines that covered the utterly normal looking 
hill that loomed above.  She'd found what must have been an outside 
stairway leading to a broad upper balcony in the largest room she had 
ever seen.  Enormous columns supported the middle of the vaulted 
ceiling, and tremendous beams ran up and down at regular intervals 
along the walls.  Huge windows-some plain glass, the rest ornate 
constructions, cut and stained to depict biblical and historical 
scenes-ran between the beams.  They had probably been the finest pieces 
of their day, but to have stayed intact under the loads of earth 
pressing in from all sides have to have taken a touch of magick.  She 
didn't doubt that she would find symbols of protection running along 
the outside of the panes.  No light shone through them, just the 
dullness of deep brown dirt. 

Trying to keep her excitement under control, she'd flicked on one of 
the several battery powered lanterns she'd brought with her and set it 
on the ground next to the open door.  This was the very place that 
scholars had spent lifetimes looking for, and she had found it in well 
under a year.  Either luck had finally been on her side, or it was 
simply the right time for it to be found.  Perhaps when she was gone it 
would sink back into the ground like some behemoth beneath the waves, 
only to resurface when there was a need once again.  She remembered 
smiling at the thought.  This was no longer some long-lost fable, told 
over and over again until it became legend.  It was real.  The stone 
beneath her feet was real.  It could be measured and tested and 
documented.  It wasn't going to disappear again; not if she could 
possibly help it. 

That first day she'd done nothing but explore, grateful, after finding 
her way down to what had been the ground floor and leaving behind the 
sunlight, for the long-lasting brightness she carried with her.  It 
certainly beat holding onto a sputtering, dripping candle for hours on 
end.  Each turn in the labyrinth of passages that wound further back 
into the earth brought more into view.  Once, she came upon a corridor 
that felt like it must be at least partially above ground, but laying 
her hand against the smooth wall she had met only cool dryness.  It was 
the same wherever she went, and it had to be the lack of any moisture 
and the constant temperature that kept everything so perfectly 
preserved.  After that, she always shut the door tightly behind after 
entering.  It wasn't her goal to destroy the work of centuries. 

Though people flowed around and sometimes even over the enormous 
treasure beneath them, none were aware of its being there, let alone 
the strange girl, her face slowly growing ever more pale, that had come 
to call it something like home.  Whenever she absolutely had to leave 
the library, not more than once a week, she meticulously disguised the 
entrance and hid any footprints.  The constant darkness lent itself 
well to letting her vampire nature nearly full reign, until she could 
tell without thinking if the sun was up in the sky, and how long it 
would be until sunset.  With no people to intrude on her thoughts, it 
was hard sometimes to remember why she had been seeking this place at 
all.  Then another nightmare would come.  They always did.  And she 
would remember. 

Every once in awhile, Teresa had contemplated calling somebody across 
the long void of ocean and land between them.  Giles, maybe; or Methos.  
Angel would be the easiest-their bond meant she could touch his mind 
almost effortlessly and sometimes without realizing it.  If she would 
have had someone, a friend, the task of looking, day after day, though 
the old and sometimes fragile manuscripts would have been easier.  Even 
someone who could just be there to share her happiness whenever some 
small clue presented itself would have been nice.  Someone who knew how 
to keep his thoughts quiet, and not scream into her mind... 

Some of the texts she had had no choice but to put aside as 
unreadable.  The English and Latin she could read with little problem, 
even if they had been written in a time when people spoke far 
differently than they did now.  She knew enough Spanish and French, by 
now, to grasp the basic ideas of anything written in those languages.  
German had been her first priority, and the dictionary, tapes, and 
books she had managed to purchase were some of the few thoroughly 
modern things she'd had since coming.  Even with five languages, she 
knew she was missing a lot.  There was Hebrew, which she recognized but 
had no idea how to start translating, and Greek, which had tried and 
failed to find any sort of tutorial on. 

Even when she couldn't read the words on the pages, occasionally she'd 
come across some wonderfully detailed map or chart that led to another, 
sometimes more manageable volume.  She would have lost track of the 
days, except for her nearly perfect memory.  Whenever she could, she 
would work for days on end, not stopping for sleep or sustenance.  
Exhausted, and still desperately seeking any concrete meaning for her 
continued existence, Teresa was always glad to forget what she had seen 
in her dreams upon waking. 

Slowly, she had realized that she spent more and more time each day in 
one section of the library, and, more often than not, what she was 
reading repeated what she'd already known.  It was only after she 
brought three enormous books together that it dawned on her: all of 
them had been written by the same person.  True, there was no signature 
that she could make out, no author's notes at the back, but they were 
all in the same small, neat handwriting that tended to wander and 
become scrunched together toward the edge of the page. 

At first glance there was nothing to tie the volumes together.  Two 
were bound in leather, but one looked more worn than the other; one was 
covered with a heavy, orangey-brownish colored cloth.  The paper and 
ink on each were of different colors, and one had obviously been 
stopped half-way through and finished with a different color.  Even 
going through them, they seemed disjointed.  Had these, in fact, been 
copies?  There was a feeling, as she handled them, that they were more 
than they appeared. 

Two days, four hours of sleep, three bags of blood, and seven thousand 
Calories later, Teresa was no closer to unraveling the mystery and 
decided to take a break.  She opened her mind slightly, forcing on 
herself the mental exercise that she had given up what seemed ages ago.  
She cast her thoughts outward, and met the nearest people-a family, all 
asleep in their old, vine-covered home.  Their peaceful slumber brought 
a smile to her face.  Next was a couple that had married shortly before 
her arrival.  They certainly weren't sleeping, and she passed them by, 
grinning and letting them enjoy their privacy. 

In the modest town about fourteen miles to the north, most of the 
inhabitants were either sleeping or just settling into bed.  She was 
glad.  Usually hitting a mass of people meant confusion and an aching 
head.  With their thoughts peaceful, she could pick out those who were 
still fully awake and alert.  There were the gas station attendants and 
a couple of college students at home on vacation; a small family all 
awake with a fretful child that she soothed as much as she could.  
Teresa could all but see the mother holding her tearful baby thanking 
her lucky stars when the infant quieted. 

She took in a deep breath of the cool, still dusty smelling air of the 
library, and closed her eyes as she searched further.  Out across the 
German countryside, across knots and snarls of humanity, over the broad 
seas, until she reached Paris, and the pulse and thrum of activity 
there.  Uncertain numbers of human souls blended together, each trying 
to press itself forward, each being forced into the background by the 
sheer weight of those around it. 

Shuddering inwardly, she sped past the metropolis, going as far as she 
could possibly push herself.  Somewhere near London the thoughts lost 
all distinction, each fading into a mist that was impossible, without 
any definite purpose in mind, to penetrate.  She hadn't attempted such 
a stretch for a long time, and was surprised at how fluidly it came. 

Not pausing even a moment, she focused all her mental abilities to 
seeking out those who were closest to her heart-Giles first, then 
Buffy, Richie, though he detested her very existence, Duncan, Joe, far 
off in Seacouver, Angel, sleeping out the sunlight, and finally Methos.  
They were all there-light, distorted by distances which she had never 
before attempted to bridge, but present nonetheless.  Breathing a sigh 
of relief, she drew back into herself slowly, leaving them none the 
worse for her curiosity. 

In a few seconds, only the beautiful silence of the countryside-
deserted at this time of night-occupied that portion of her thoughts 
that made her so vulnerable and, at the same time, more powerful than 
she would ever dare to be. 

Teresa opened her eyes to the faint glow of a fading electric lantern, 
and rolled on to her side.  The three books she had read cover to 
cover, knew practically by heart, were right there.  If she could make 
nothing more of them tonight, she would leave the library and give the 
location to Giles and Joe.  They each get a place in their respective 
Watcher histories, though she would get nothing.  That was alright with 
her.  She'd be around to see when they were nothing but history. 

What had she gotten out of them exactly?  They were stories and 
legends of Immortals, vampires, and demons come together, but not in 
any organized fashion.  Generally, it seemed, such meetings resulted in 
the permanent deaths of one or the other party.  Very few of the 
Immortals who were turned survived the experience sane.  Demons and 
vampires conspiring together had brought about some of the greatest 
human tragedies in recorded history, and some that she'd never heard of 
before.  Immortals thrown into the mix were either evil already or very 
shortly corrupted.  Those few who weren't often took their own lives to 
end the tortures visited upon them.  A creature that would bleed, 
scream, and die, then come back to life, was considered a wonderful 

Immortal children were considered the choicest, and most coveted. 

Really, she wasn't much more than a child, in body at least.  Her 
physique was that of a teenager, viewed in a cold, objective light, 
though it was absurdly easy to fool the rest of the world into thinking 
she was older. 

Child vampires were rare... There was one story of a band of them come 
together, who had leave their nest shortly after the arrival of a 
stranger who insisted that, despite all evidence to the contrary, he 
was not a vampire.  What had been the exact words?  It was so short a 

Teresa opened the topmost book to near the back.  It was the chronicle 
of a young Watcher she was after, who had devoted his entire life to 
seeking out freak vampires.  He had already been studying the small 
cult of vampire children when another... she found it. 

 "Three days from Easter last.  Among the coven was 
  a great commotion.  This Watcher was able to observe 
  what he took to be a new fledge.  The boy, perhaps 
  of eleven or twelve years, is near the age of the 
  eldest-appearing, though there were more distinguishing 
  marks including a mulberry coloured splotch near the 
  left ear.  He is possessed of dark hair and rustic 
  dress.  Though this Watcher was unable to ascertain 
  the cause of the dispute, his belief is that the boy 
  may be an unauthorized creation by a junior member of 
  the coven. 

 "Five days from Easter last.  The new fledge, who from 
  this point on this Watcher will identify as Baker in 
  his thoughts, since he presents no other name, and none 
  of the others seem inclined to provide him with one. 
  Again, last night, there was a ruckus from the coven, 
  and this Watcher hastened to observe.  The hour was 
  growing dark, yet the fledge refused outright to take 
  up the Hunt.  Perhaps there is something more here than 
  this Watcher was able to observe at first. 

 "Six days from Easter last.  Were it not for the iron 
  leadership of the child-vampire Lupercus, by this time 
  the coven would long have fallen to disorder and decay. 
  Emelia, by the usual quirks of her character, last night 
  challenged Lupercus for leadership of the coven.  Very 
  quickly the fight was deemed worthless, as Lupercus has 
  close on to five centuries greater in age than Emelia.  All 
  arguments are hushed, and even the smallest among them 
  seem ill at ease around the strange, silent new fledge. 

 "Seven days from Easter last.  The strange fledge has gone 
  missing.  No signs of his corporal form have been observed 
  by this Watcher, and he does not, at this time, hazard a 
  guess as to the nature of his disappearance. 

 "Thirteen days from Easter last.  It is with regret that this 
  Watcher admits to falling behind in his scribing without just 
  cause.  Every night the coven has been out in force, and 
  'tis only the great distances they go that keeps the good folk 
  of the surrounding villages free from suspicion.  From break 
  of day to close of day, great wailings emerge from the sole 
  windowed chamber of the weir, though none so comprehensible as 
  to enable this Watcher to make heads or tails of the mystery. 
  Perhaps it is the strange fledge, bound within the room, that 
  produces such awful cries.  Of special note, one of the senior 
  members of the coven, a little one whom the others call 'Alescia', 
  has not returned from the previous hunt. 

 "One fortnight from Easter last.  Truly a remarkable occurrence, 
  perhaps to such a degree that this Watcher will receive a place 
  in the histories.  Let the facts of the night be told in plain 
  detail here, so as to set the fresh upon the page whilst in my 
  thoughts.  At nearly mid-day, long after this Watcher had finished 
  with his Journals and had retired, he was quite rudely awoken by 
  a crash of dishes within the small pantry.  Though thieves or 
  vagabonds he had expected, the true sight which greeted him was 
  such that his nerves are still strung tight as bow-cords.  As he 
  sprung from his bedchamber with nothing but nightshirt and boots 
  for garments, he was forced backward by the considerable strength 
  of none other than the strange fledge observed previously. 
  'Mark well these words, Watcher,' he said.  'My dream was but one 
  and I am the first.  Not vampire, to walk in the daylight.  Not 
  Immortal, to be forever human.  I am not the one to bind them. 
  There will come another and she will need me.  The prophecies of 
  her coming are many, but scattered.  Some day she must come to 
  me.'  With that, this incredible being thrust into this Watcher's 
  hand a cloth covered with markings and map-work. 'I should have 
  been the Teacher.  Something has gone wrong.'  He proceeded to 
  press his hand over mine.  'The wait will be long, but she will 
  come.  I do not doubt.  Copy this, and spread the word near and 
  far.  I will be there when the time is ripe.  Fare thee well.' 
  There were no more words, but in an eye-blink, he was vanished." 

There was nothing more to the narrative.  Teresa could only guess that 
the Watcher had been killed shortly after finishing that last entry, 
and anything more that had been said was lost forever.  There wasn't 
even a note to mark his passing.  At the bottom of the page, however, 
was something she had overlooked in the countless hours she had spent 
in research.  Drawn in brown ink now mostly faded on the light brown 
page, was a map.  The names were unfamiliar, but the topography was 
distinctive.  If this was not a part of the puzzle to her existence, 
than perhaps nothing was.  She had left the library that same night, 
not looking back... 

Right now, that page, that book, was in the backpack propped against 
the foot of the narrow, dusty bed she was occupying, and the library 
seemed a million miles away in space and time.   Her golden, vampiric 
eyes calmly took in the bleak, gray wall opposite her, then the equally 
gray ceiling, and then floor.  She had spent so long searching for 
this, hoping it would give meaning to a life that felt meaningless.  
What else could he tell her that she did not know?  Did she still want 
to know?  Had the journey been an end in itself?  The sensation of 
another approaching roused her from her thoughts. 

The dark-haired head of Azrael popped into her chamber with no 
introduction other than what nature had provided him.  "I'm ready, 
Lady, if you'd like to come with me." 

Teresa hesitated only a moment, still wondering if she shouldn't run 
as fast as her legs could carry her for the cave entrance.  If she 
could simply find a way to keep to the shadows, to the edge of society, 
she might live a long, long time.  What had Giles asked her?  
*'Everyone asks, sometime in his life, who he is.  How do you know that 
you will not be disappointed with what you find?'*  Ignorance is 
bliss... but knowledge is power.  Taking a deep breath, she stood up, 
and allowed Azrael to lead her into the dimly lit corridor. 


"You've not heard the entire prophecy," Azrael said suddenly, gazing 
at her.  He fingered the coarse, white cloth of his shirt and seemed to 
grow very thoughtful and distant at the same time.  "All the 
prophecies.  Parts of prophecies, pieces of prophecies... Some come 
true and some just look like they come true and others fall all to 

"I've only heard the part about myself," Teresa interjected, trying to 
stem the flow of his nonsense words until that they finally stopped.  
She cast her eyes toward the rows and rows of ancient volumes occupying 
every available space in this cavernous library that he had lead her 
to.  Libraries seemed to be taking up her life lately, though that 
wasn't entirely disagreeable.  "And only by second hand.  You said 
there were many prophecies?"  When he didn't answer, she prompted him, 
"And one shall come from a peaceful land..." 

As if that had unleashed some sort of floodgate, Azrael half closed 
his eyes, stood, and began to recite: 

"And one shall come from a land of war.  He shall be one who society 
has forgotten, a beggar boy with no name but that of an angel.  Once 
taken, twice taken, he shall be an innocent still when brought to the 
darkness by a creature of light--for he must be taken by the vampires.  
With no guide but the past, one dream, his book is written in the blood 
of a hundred tyrants and a thousand nights.  Two into the whole shall 
he be powerful, but forbidden forever to be but one or the other, and 
never was he one like us.  To find him is to look into the bleakest 
lands of a crumbled empire, far from the places of plenty, and the sky 
shall announce his presence.  His name shall be Teacher, and it is he 
who must prepare for her coming." 

Without taking a breath, he continued on. 

"And one shall come from a peaceful land. She shall be one alien to 
society, an outcast, and the taste of death has once filled her heart. 
With mother's curse, the old soul shall be awakened within her breast. 
To seek her, you will not find. Better to wait upon her coming into the 
new land. On both sides of the battle, she shall acquire friend and 
foe, but before the winner is declared, one from the side shall turn to 
the other. Her blood is none, but her blood is sweet as nectar to the 
dark ones. And she must be taken by the vampires. Afterwards, she will 
not be one of them, nor one of them, and never she was one of us, but 
like the power of one of them and one of them combined. Two into the 
whole shall she be powerful. The Slayer's second shall know her by 
sight of raven and flickering candles, but the angel shall know her 
first by raven and scars. Before the angel drinks, he shall make her 
drink of Hell.  Nine from the sides shall come searching for her, and 
the Watchers. Three to darkness, three to light, three to the shades 
grey. With help from the three to the shades grey, she must choose 
between the darkness and the light. The will is hers, and hers alone. 
To rule in the darkness or make beautiful the light. Her name shall be 
unspoken, and her heart shall always be alone. Two the same and 
separate and together at once, contained in one, her choice will 
determine the fate of the future." 

Teresa imagined that she felt all the blood within her veins freeze.  
Azrael appeared to have gone into a trance, and only the whites of his 
eyes showed beneath the lids.  Hearing the entire prophecy said aloud 
was disturbing enough, but more horrible still, to her, was the utter 
blankness of his mind.  It was hard to stop the near reflex that kept 
her from mind from locking itself within her own skull.  Instead of 
stopping, as she fully expected him to, he continued with what must be 
more of the prophecy. 

"Those whom love hath bound together, must in blood and pain be 
forged.  By impossible acts she will further their bindings, so that 
the cycle can continue as it has since before the tides were 

Something of this sounding vaguely familiar, like a memory she had 
long forgotten perhaps.  She knew that there was more coming. 

"And by fire and storm shall the populace be tried for their crimes of 
childhood.  And by quake and ice shall the populace be tried for their 
crimes of youth.  And by famine and plague shall the populace be tried 
for their crimes of maturity." 

Azrael paused in his recitation just long enough that Teresa thought 
he might be finished.  *If this is just one of the prophecies, I may 
leave tomorrow.  I can spare the year and a half.  Hell, I could 
probably spare a century and a half.*  She shivered again, and he shook 
off the hold. 

"For in the last days a man will emerge from the sands of a morbid 
land, and he shall be called Evil.  And his eyes shall attract the 
nations; men will fall before him and bow to his will of their own 
volition.  Woe to she, woe to he who falls against his will.  Only 
those who have given themselves unto him shall be allowed into society, 
and outcasts are torn to pieces... The past shall be forgotten, except 
by those who remember from times long gone by, and those who are fated 
to die.  Mortals fight side by side with Immortals, and the vampires 
and the Slayers shall fight side by side with demons." 

Somewhere along the line, her stomach started taking on a mind of its 
own.  She hugged her arms around her waist, trying to stop the nausea 
from impairing her ability to listen.

"And the world shall not remember nor rejoice nor mourn the passing of 
one age, and wake as if from a dream..." 

Azrael blinked his eyes a few times, so that they came back into 
focus, before finishing. 

"And the agony of the fall of the one who shall be unnamed shall go 
unrecorded in the great story, as she rises and walks.  For it is her 
lot.  Forever to be Alone." 

Teresa looked through hooded eyes that would have thrown daggers if 
they could.  She wanted to strangle the little urchin until his eyes 
popped out of their sockets and his tongue turned blue.  She wanted to 
carve him into pieces to be fed, one by one, to every vile creature of 
the land and sea.  She wanted to break every bone in his tender little 
body one by one and laugh as he screamed.  She did nothing but swallow 
the bitterness that rose in the back of her throat. 

***How alone can a telepath be?*** 

The boy jumped at the intrusion of another's thoughts into his own, 
his lungs working frantically to pump oxygen through the body that 
thought itself still alive.  His scrawny neck showed the action clearly 
as he gulped down air, the veins standing out in stark relief.  Quickly 
his fingers sought out the chair directly in front of him for support.  
His eyes, as they turned to meet hers, were full of uncertainty and 

"I would help you if I could," he said quietly, backing away mentally 
as well as physically from Teresa's subtly threatening posture.  "I 
wanted to be the Teacher.  I cannot, but I think you know who can help 
you better than I." 

"Oh?"  Teresa didn't bother to hide her irritation.  *I wish I wasn't 
such an idiot.  Always alone...  Fuck that.  Why do I even bother?*  
"Tell me now, because I'm going as soon as I'm able." 

"Lupercus."  He grimaced saying the name, then more at her expression. 

"Why him?  I thought he's the one that locked you away." 

"He did." 

"Then why on earth would you want me to do anything but kill him?" 

Azrael blanched as white as she'd ever seen anyone but herself go, his 
eyes wide and childish in fear.  "No, please don't do that.  I would 
tell you, but I can't.  My.. my.. I.. can't... Can't tell you.  My 
tongue is tied.  I used to know, but I've forgotten."  He looked on the 
verge of tears, desperate to make something known, yet unable.  "The 
coven is just outside of Paris now.  He's still there.  I can feel 

"So what about the other prophecies?" 

He looked at her slowly, then cast his eyes upward, slowly circling 
the room.  Teresa lifted her own gaze, and saw that the room had 
somehow enlarged upward, or there had been the illusion of a ceiling 
previously.  Books.  More books.  Yet more books.  And she was fed up 
with them.  Their eyes met back level at the same instant. 

"All those?" 


He saw the stormy mixture of emotion creep into her eyes; the 
desperation and anger and hopelessness all at the same time.  In his 
muddled thoughts, he could recognize only that he was failing in a duty 
he had spent centuries in preparation for.  There was something more he 
was supposed to say, or do, but he couldn't figure out what.  He had 
known it long, long ago.  Something had gone wrong with this cycle, and 
he could not fix it. 

"You're thinking," she said without emotion. 

What could he do to convince her?  Something ached to be said, but he 
could not say it.  All the prophecies needed to be read.  She needed to 
know them by heart... *What have we done wrong?* 

"Stay... here?" 

Teresa snorted at the likelihood of her complying with that particular 
request.  "You're out of your bloody mind.  Give me one good reason." 

"You... you've spent so long looking for me already.  What, what 
difference could another day, another night make?  You are im-immortal.  
One year makes no difference to our kind." 

"Our kind..."  She chuckled lightly.  "And what kind would that be?  
Immortals?  Vampires?  Or do you mean this select little club of 
somewhere-in-betweens?"  Azrael remained silent.  "Or is that yet 
another little thing you are forbidden do discuss?" 

Azrael could only shake his head, his mind clouding so that ordered 
thoughts were all but impossible to attain, and repeat his request.  
"Please stay?  Stay the day and leave when the sun has set?" 

So many emotions in so little time... would she always be plagued by 
such instability?  Hadn't there ever been another like her?  One who 
could truly help?  Teresa dragged a hand over her eyes, and knew that 
she would have to sleep under the unrelenting rays of sunlight if she 
left now - peeling red skin, horrible blisters, and all the pain that 
went with them if she had to spend the whole day outside.  Maybe it 
would be cloudy.  *Why me?*  It had been days since her last rest, and 
the fatigue was telling. 

"I will stay until the sun sets.  If you can think of anything to keep 
me here, tell me before then.  If you don't..." She took a slow breath, 
then let it out thoughtfully, determined not to sink into a fit of 
madness - speaking to him without words, that had was madness.  "I 
don't want to see you again before the Fates pull us together."  He 
nodded his apparent agreement, and she sighed.  "I will be going to 
Paris next, I guess, though why I would possibly want to return there 
is beyond me."  She smiled, then without warning thudded her forehead 
against the hard wooden table before her in an entirely teenage gesture 
of amusement at overwhelming futility.  "No, it's not.  It's a 
diversion, or a challenge.  It's a chance that I might find out more 
about myself.  It's a direction."  When she started giggling, Azrael 
blinked in confusion and moved a bit closer - hesitantly at first, then 
knelt down and crept to her side so that he could see into her face.  
Her eyes, glittering with gold, met his and she stopped giggling, but 
not smiling.  "And if anyone wishes me a life in interesting times, I 
will personally rip his throat out." 

Azrael smiled, though in the vague, uncommitted way of someone who 
hasn't understood.  "What do you think you will do, once you've gone to 

The smile disappeared as quickly as morning mist on a hot summer's day 
- the sort of change that made one wonder whether there had ever been a 
real difference.  The mind did play tricks... "Must you spoil my 
momentary spot of brightness?"  From the hurt expression on his face, 
as well as the emotion that radiated from him, she knew he had not 
meant any harm and mumbled an apology.  "I don't know.  It depends on 
what I find there." 

He shook his head, trying to explain more clearly, and failing to find 
the words.  "That's not exactly what I mean." 

Teresa arched one eyebrow in perfect if unfelt disdain.  "If you'd 
like me to, I could simply pluck the question from your mind."  A smirk 
completed the illusion. 

"No, no, no, no," Azrael said hastily, backing off and nearly 
stumbling in his urgency to get away from her and the imminent danger 
she posed.  "I... I..." 

The slow smile that graced her features was tired, but honest enough.  
"Don't worry.  As much a monster as I am, I don't usually intrude 
beyond the surface-most thoughts unless I have a damn good reason." 

"I can't root around in a person's mind like that," Azrael said 
quietly, casting his eyes away and apparently forgetting his original 
question.  Teresa did not feel inclined to offer any more of an answer. 

"Though I hate to interrupt your impending five minutes of gloom," she 
said, standing.  "And part of me would truly adore spending the next 
seventy years delving into the mystery that is myself, I am in need of 
a few hours sleep before I leave."  The boy-vampire-Immortal continued 
to stare off into space, taking no notice of her rising, or abrupt 
departure as she strode from the cavern. 

Azrael hung his head tiredly, unable and, for once, unwilling to sort 
through half-sane thoughts and visions.  He had been waiting for 
centuries for her to arrive, and felt keenly the sting of her 
rejection.  Perhaps, if he had been just a few years older when the 
vampires had come for him... 


Out in the hallway again, Teresa achieved a few steps before sinking 
to the cool natural stone floor.  It was simply too much to keep up the 
appearance of normalcy, even for her - she felt as if every bit of 
energy had been drained from her body, leaving only a heavy, helpless 
carcass behind.  The uneven pressure of the hard rock against her rump 
seemed to anchor her body in place, while her mind, though free, was 
too tired to do anything.  Calls met up with walls of silence, but she 
could not spend her entire life at the point of exhaustion. 

Surreal - the past hours - too insane to be true.  She would certainly 
wake in a few minutes, wouldn't she? to find herself curled safe and 
warm in an otherwise empty house - her father away on one of his 
innumerable business trips. Even then, there had been good times. 
Now... Libraries, vampires, Immortals, and rows upon rows of prophecies 
dreamed up by untold ages of seers... All to be cleared away and 
forgotten over a leisurely breakfast.  Yet she found herself still 
trapped in the same reality, and reluctantly forced herself to
her feet. 

Half stumbling, half running, Teresa made it back to her tiny cell and 
collapsed onto the bed, completely unaware of the cloud of old dust she 
raised with her activities.  *Best to get it over with quickly, and 
forget this as soon as possible.*  What she didn't realize was that she 
was trying to cope with a sudden emotional overload, after so long a 
wait.  As her lids slid shut, the image of the hundreds of volumes 
overhead came back to mind.  *Sometimes the future is best left 

Knowing, somehow, that she would be safe from all but her innermost 
foes, Teresa slept. 


Later that day, some four hours before sunset, Azrael crept into the 
room where Teresa had finally fallen asleep.  He'd waited, for hours, 
always patiently, for her mind to open to him.  It never had, and now 
she was beyond him, her mind locked tightly around the coils of a 
restless sleep. 

What he saw confused him for a moment or two.  Teresa's pale form was 
spread out on the bed, covered, but shivering and sweating at the same 
time.  Her eyes were open and glassy, unseeing, as if she was under 
some great strain that took all of her will to control.  Her fingers 
clenched and unclenched around the fabric of the bedspread.  
*Nightmares.* He realized. *Scary dreams.*  He thought for a moment, 
then silently moved toward the side of her bed.  *I can fix that.*  
Carefully, he put out his hand, the fingers glowing with some sort of 
warm golden light, and touched lightly her uncovered forehead. 

Where he'd touched, the ashen skin colored briefly with warmth, life 
-- the pulse of innocence.  It spread, and as it spread, disappeared.  
There was not a trace to mark that anything had ever happened, except 
that Teresa's eyes closed, and the racing, frantic beat of her dreams 
dropped down into peace...  The breaths that had gasped with each 
intake ceased altogether, and, almost unnaturally beautiful in its 
utter happiness, a smile played at the corners of her lips. 

Azrael answered with a smile of his own, his eyes lighting with a 
spark of hopefulness that he had not allowed himself to feel since she 
had first revealed to him how powerful she really was.  Even if she 
would never know it, he could make her happier.  *No more nightmares 
tonight, chosen.  Sleep easily.* 

He left the bedroom with no more disturbance than when he had arrived, 
and, with the ease of much practice, descended the unlit stairwell to a 
chamber deep beneath the surface of the earth.  His fingers touched 
ordered rows of jars and little tin canisters - the sort that would 
have been found in any decent early Victorian apothecary.  None of 
them, however, contained medicine. Dumping the contents of two tins 
onto a nearly clean portion of the floor, he squatted down, and took a 
small pouch from inside his shirt. 

In the completely lightless cavern, it would have been impossible for 
anyone else, even Teresa, to see the markings etched in white on the 
small ivory chips that Azrael took from the pouch with exquisite care.  
Even he could not see them as the flew from his fingers to land amid 
the dust-like substance spread over the floor.  But he could sense 
them.  He knew with an intuitive awareness which had landed where, and 
what face they were showing.  After a moment's disbelief, he moaned 
softly, and drew his finger through the soft substance beneath.  It did 
no good, and altered nothing, but it relieved some of his sorrow. 


Teresa awakened to an unaccustomed feeling in her skin and the back of 
her eyes.  There was a sort of delightful, rippling heaviness that 
wanted to pull her back down and sink into quiet slumber once again.  
Instead of a moment of panic and insecurity as she adjusted to a 
reality that was more safe than her nightmares, she felt warm, and 
delightfully alive - the strong, warm thrum of blood beat coursed 
through her.  Feline-like, she yawned, and stretched luxuriously until 
she felt the tendons popping at the excess.  Where was she?  Did it 
matter?  The thought came back to her that this was what it had felt 
like, that single time she had awakened as a vampire without 
conscience, and without caring.  So utterly and so completely normal... 

Then, in a wild rush, the past caught up with her, and she breathed a 
small breath of amusement - not stopping to wonder why.  *Sunset, or I 
would not have woken.  It would be best to go now, and not even look 
for him.*  Teresa knew, somehow, that now that the flare of anger had 
passed, if she saw him again she might not be able to resist the 
temptation to press everything from him.  There was enough pain on her 

Quietly, Teresa pulled on her warm coat, and looped the straps of her 
bag over her shoulders.  She felt for the sword at her side, and 
welcomed its comforting presence.  There was no sound, other than her 
soft breathing, and no movement, other than her quiet treading, as she 
crossed maneuvered her way back to the cave entrance.  She couldn't 
quite keep from looking back into the stillness just before the exit.  
Had the years led her to this, and it was a disappointment, or had she 
merely caught a hint of a scent of a mystery which drew her, all 
unknowing, toward it?  If she had woken up to see a field of stars as 
her only cover, and the ground as her bed, it would have almost made 
more sense.  All a dream, to be forgotten or remembered by the 
dreamer's whim.  Even with the rock under her hand, and the scent of 
still air in her nostrils, it might be a dream.  Shaking her head, she 
stepped outside, into the cold night air that accentuated the myriad of 
stars above, and the seemingly endless emptiness ahead.  Teresa broke 
into a run, faster, and faster - as fast as her legs would carry her 
and still it was not enough.  Away. 


By the time that Teresa reached the outskirts of Paris, she had 
decided that she could not-would not-continue her search beyond this 
Lupercus fellow.  She had already discovered so much... perhaps she 
simply needed time to sort everything out.  And that was the one thing 
that she had in abundance.  To her chagrin, she had found herself 
running short of cash upon re-entering "civilization."  Soon she would 
have to implement a few well-chosen strategies, or risk spending a few 
years in the gutter-not something she looked forward to with any 

She mumbled a barely audible thanks to the bus driver as she stepped 
off, then cast her gaze slowly around.  For once, the flood of 
impressions that she received upon focusing was controllable-surprising 
and a little disconcerting.  A woman passed her, preoccupied with her 
own thoughts in the dim dusky light.  ***Late, late, late.  The meat 
will be bad by the time I get home.  I shouldn't have left it out.***  
The thoughts intruded upon her own, unbidden, but after a second she 
was almost able to shut them out.  A darkly mustached man nearly 
brushed her shirt as he hurried along, not looking where he was going. 

Here was one city, and there was an entire world.  She could do 
anything, be anything, become anyone she wanted - remake herself, if 
she decided to.  No, she knew, shaking her head silently.  Before 
disappearing into the mists, she had a few things left to do.  At the 
top of her mind was a boy-vampire - a vicious, soulless killer, if the 
stories held any truth - and there were hundreds of years missing. 

Though she barely noticed the cold, several people who did eyed the 
curious girl walking past them with surprise.  Most shook their heads, 
and a moment later remembered nothing of it.  Those who stopped to 
watch a few seconds of her easy, flowing gait, would perhaps puzzle 
over it briefly, then return their attention to whatever else needed to 
be done.  Teresa wasn't bothering with keeping herself hidden, or 
unobtrusive.  She stood out in the crowd of evening passengers like a 
circling tropical raptor among arctic lemmings - unknown, slightly 
threatening, but hardly enough to detract them from their chosen paths. 

She started wandering; the sort of aimless, pointless meandering that 
most people, given a chance, will do.  There was no family expecting 
her, no teachers or professors demanding of her, no jobs or business 
obligations to tie her down to any one location.  Had there not been 
the lingering shadow of an event now well and truly cemented into the 
past: inalterable, unchangeable, she might have been able to enjoy 

Teresa was faced with the unenviable task which she had assigned 
herself: finding a single mind of which she had no prior contact, and 
no direct knowledge of, in the frightfully confusing menagerie that was 
Paris.  She could, of course, simply slip, rodent-like, into the sewers 
and begin her search there.  Not all the noxious fumes or biohazardous 
waste products in the world would kill her, yet she felt no inclination 
to go that route. 

Paris, like most cities its size, and even more particularly, its age, 
had a thriving nocturnal community ranging from the most harmless of 
sprites and goblins-though even they were not good to cross unless one 
knew what she was doing-to various were-beasts, vampires, and demons 
far more dangerous and sinister than she had yet dealt with.  That she 
might rank with them crossed her mind, but she could not bring herself 
to think of it more than that.  Even if she were, technically, one of 
their kind, she would have to tread lightly.  Immortals were another 
consideration, and one she wasn't taking lightly, but even if they knew 
a thing about the demonic side of the grand city, chances were she 
would end up in a fight before one told her a thing.  On the other 
hand, were there was an Immortal, there was usually a Watcher... 

Finding Lupercus was not worth loosing her life, her powers, or her 
soul, and she fiercely doubted that any she found would take cash, 
check, or credit card.  Sidestepping a young man with the smell of 
alcohol on his breath, Teresa nearly laughed out loud.  All that she 
had she carried on or with her-just let them try to take it!  She 
didn't exactly have a load of guilt weighing down her hands from 
slapping it out of some unfortunate vampire.  She'd put up a bloody 
good fight, if she felt like it. 

The thought of blood brought up another nagging problem - the gnawing 
hunger that bit at her insides.  The sharp scents of vinegar and aged 
cheese, and of fresh bread and spices wafted to her nostrils from some 
nearby establishment.  At any other time, she would have turned 
instantly for something so obviously inviting, but tonight it only 
turned her stomach, resulting in her complexion taking on an unusual 
greenish tinge.  Her mouth watered for something less substantial but 
utterly more satisfying; something she had not been allowing herself 
much of recently.  It had been less than a minute since she had passed 
that drunk... 

The crowd that lingered around her was enough still that her abrupt 
reversal of direction, especially since she did not collide with the 
person immediately behind her, was forgotten almost before it had 
happened; it was simply one of the innumerable little things that 
humans did for no apparent reason. 

Teresa caught up with the man without a problem, the unsteady gait and 
mute, glazed eyes marking him as a target to anyone with have a mind to 
think in those terms.  He should be grateful, she thought.  She would 
leave him a few pints lighter then dump him somewhere where he was 
unlikely to be found.  He would almost certainly wake up in the 
morning, which was more than he would get from many. 

Unnoticed, uninterrupted, she lured him with the lightest touch of the 
hand away from the press of people.  Who would have let him out like 
this, she wondered.  He was not as young as she had first thought, but 
rather lacked the deeper wrinkles to the forehead and around the sides 
of the mouth that usually come from two or three decades of 
responsibility.  A happy-go-lucky drunk, most likely, who managed with 
luck and a smile to get through life and would then die alone and 
unmourned.  A thick, partially combed mop of dark brown hair topped his 
head, and his chin was rough with stubble.  His clothes were coarse and 
dirty and lacking in any hint of class, but that made no difference to 

The various sounds and scents of the place, now that she took the time 
to notice them, were heady-pungent almost to the point of being 
overwhelming-but not entirely unpleasant.  As the awareness of her 
immediate surroundings increased to a point far beyond anything the 
ordinary human sensory system could appreciate, the corresponding 
mental onslaught dampened to something approaching a gentle murmur on 
the outskirts of her consciousness, like the little stream running not 
far from one's house whose sound, at first, is constant, but after 
awhile is not noticed.  To live always like this, she almost wanted to 
cry for a half of a second.  Not to hear them always so loud!  To be 
able to not care! 

Every one of her senses was geared into a state that left her little 
room for rational thought.  She was every bit the wary predator; the 
one who took to death as naturally as to breathing, but knew in its 
heart that at any moment the tables could be turned, and that there was 
no one to beg mercy from; no one would care for her. 

She had little experience with this - had had so short a time to be as 
a vampire aught - to exist in that sweet moment, that incredible 
illicit thrill of the heartbeat singing in two heads at once.  How 
could she begin to think that anything could be better than this?  Her 
eyes shone golden with the large black pupil standing out against the 
unnatural color; her mouth tingled and she ran her soft tongue over the 
keen little fangs that grew in readiness for their task.  The beast in 
her cared enough to silence the noise, but she could not become like 
all the rest - could not let it rule her - would not be the demon.  She 
embraced it, and it hated and loved her in equal measure. 

Summoning a bit of restraint, Teresa pushed the man bodily against the 
grit and grease encrusted brick.  The first signs of fight in him made 
themselves known as her hand, absurdly strong for all its delicate 
beauty, restrained him.  She would not damage him unless she had no 

Not quite knowing what she was doing, she focused a part of herself 
into him; she brought her eyes to his.  Teresa felt some obscure thrill 
rise as their gazes locked and, for the first time, an amazing 
knowledge of power came over her; a power not so much destructive as 
persuasive.  What could she do?  If she wanted him to bend silently to 
his last breath, she felt he would have done it willingly - like a hare 
dazed to immobility and waiting patiently for the serpent to strike, he 

Delighted, she never looked away from his face - ugly as it was, still 
possessing a certain beauty all its own.  When she reached with fingers 
that had extended to pick up the tiniest vibrations of blood coursing 
through the limp arm she sought.  Every trembling millimeter of her 
skin begged her to sink the fangs that ached with need to pierce the 
neck, to slip like two tiny daggers into the carotid, to let the hot 
liquid gush unhindered into her mouth and pool around her tongue, to 
stain her teeth and lips the color of crimson life.  The demon raged, 
the vampire smiled, the Immortal allowed, the human, if it was still 
there, or ever had been, she could not hear, and Teresa, unable to 
resist the demand entirely, with a fingertip turned his head aside so 
that she could run teeth over hot, pliant flesh. 

Why had she ever thought to deny herself this?  How long had it been, 
from a human being breathing under her own eyes and not some cold, 
dead, plastic container?  Hadn't it been like this the first time?  Why 
not simply do and be done with?  Kill, and dispose of the carcass like 
so much dead meat?  Because, and the thought was enough to tear her 
lips, unwillingly, away from the skin that so certainly would have 
yielded the very next moment, she wasn't, and could never be, like all 
of the others. 

Before she could think again, or change her mind-she knew that now she 
could not simply walk, or run, away-Teresa brought his sun browned 
wrested to her lips and almost cried out at the overwhelming surge of 
ecstasy as her mouth closed around and fangs impaled themselves.  As 
fast as his heart beat, she could not get it fast enough; instead, she 
sucked with a certain ferocity which she had never before displayed 
with her victims.  How long?  One mouthful.  Another.  Another.  Too 
fast!  But was it too much?  She did not want to stop; could not... 

No, it was not yet too late, and Teresa was strong-strong enough to 
gasp and force herself away before the heart began to falter and the 
face grow ashy pale in death.  Her legs gave out from under her and at 
the same time she lost whatever had been keeping her as she was, drunk 
with power.  The rough, dirty pavement scraped her hands, which healed 
so instantly that she felt only the sting of regeneration.  A few feet 
away, the man, released completely from her hold but reeling as much 
from his blood loss as Teresa was from the unexpected intensity of the 
feeding, slid along the wall until he came to a sitting position. 

For a few moments of blissful lethargy, Teresa did nothing but remain 
- half sitting, half sprawled across the hard ground - where she was 
and breath in the now deliciously scented air.  That had been truly 
unbelievable.  Was it the place or the time; the man?  More likely, she 
knew, it was the almost total abandonment, the wild joy, after such a 
prolonged period of abstinence.  She smiled, and though she did not 
turn her head, it was for him, and with newfound gratitude.  Slowly, 
she could hear again, both the man's steady pulse and the other, more 
insistent pulse of the city around her.  The latter pulled her back to 
the freshly bitter wound of reality.  First, however, she ran her 
tongue along her lips, capturing the last remaining traces of liquid, 
and over the little fangs that, even when she was relaxed, never quite 
went away. 

She dragged the man's unconscious form to the nearest door, found it 
locked, opened it anyway with a bit of force, and deposited him gently 
against the cool, shaded wall of some little used back room.  Even if 
somebody was to discover him before he woke, she would see only a drunk 
who had fallen asleep in an unusual location; and anybody who saw the 
bite - two deep, slightly ragged holes still weeping a little red which 
was smearing on the wrist, framing the tears from the rest of her teeth 
- would think it had come form some species of animal. 

Teresa, buoyed and fortified by a good meal, set back out into the 
city with more optimism and a bit of a buffer to protect her mind - one 
of the more fortunate side effects of the blood high.  Had she thought 
more about it, Teresa would have known that she had reached her 
decision, and that she was going to be staying in Paris, come Hell or 
high water, until she found the truth! 



"Which left?" 

"Your left!" 

Buffy whirled, her stake finding the vulnerable chest of a newly risen 
vampire.  She staggered forward a final step despite the incredible 
impact of the weapon into her chest, her hands half raised in defense, 
before dissolving.  A large wedding band and two smaller rings dropped 
to the ground right in front of the watching Slayer.  Buffy stooped 
down, found the wedding ring and one of the others, and balled them up 
in her fist. 

Angel, knowing what she was going to do, remained out of the way, just 
looking.  He watched as she knelt down next to the freshly disturbed 
earth, scooped a little aside, and deposited the small sum of gold and 
gems into the cold ground-it was the only way for her to honor the 
memory of the dead that she had never known as the living, once the 
body was nothing but a small amount of dust drifting on the wind. 

"You want to get something?  Coffee?"  Angel took Buffy's hand as she 
wordlessly came up to him.  The fell in step, walking along silently 
until Angel was almost certain that she had decided to ignore him. 


"Yes, love?" 

"What was it like?" 

Something about the little ritual must have sparked one of her more 
philosophical moods. 

"What like?" 

"When you first woke up..." She twined her fingers tightly around his, 
pressing the warm into the cold, the sign of her still almost childlike 
need to know.  "Most of them are just like animals, like they can't 
think beyond the next few minutes.  Did you remember who you were?" 

"Not for the first few days," he answered truthfully, no longer 
ashamed as he might once have been to reveal something so intimately 
related to his origins.  "None of us really do.  If the sire cares at 
all, he'll stay with a new fledging until it can think for itself 
again."  Of course, there were always a few exceptions.  "How about 
you?  You never told me what it was like when you woke up." 

"It felt weird." 

Angel couldn't help but smile. 

"I didn't know that I had actually died at first. I'd never felt like 
that before, but... I don't know how to describe it.  It hurt-my lungs 
especially-but I never thought for a second until Duncan and Adam 
showed up that it was anything but Xander and his CPR."  She turned 
slightly and offered a grin, which Angel laughed at.  He knew Buffy 
suspected that Xander would never forget that time, even if it hadn't 
exactly been what he wanted.  He himself remembered it quite well, and 
was just a little amazed that Buffy could be so nonchalant about the 
whole affair.  Then again, their deaths hadn't exactly been the same. 

The piercing, childish scream shattered the almost perfect silence at 
the same moment that Buffy became aware of the skin-tingling sensation 
of another Immortal, and for a split second, she expected to see the 
pyrotechnic display of a full-fledged Quickening.  Without even having 
to look at each other, she and Angel took off in a ground eating dash 
toward the sound.  Before either had time to collect their wits, they 
found themselves fighting a half dozen vampires, all of them 
fledglings, who had managed to surround a dirty and bleeding scrap of a 
boy.  If he hadn't been the Immortal Buffy had sensed, he would have 
been dead long ago.  As it was, he was barely holding his own. 

Buffy cracked one vampire, a gangly, black haired, dark skinned 
female, across the nose and felt the bone underneath shatter instantly, 
drops of cold blood splattering everywhere.  It grunted, spinning back 
from the impact, but before the Slayer could fish the stake out of her 
sleeve and end that one's meager existence forever she was grabbed from 
behind by another who might easily have been the first one's in life 
sibling.  She whipped her head backward and felt her own skull connect 
sharply with the much more sensitive vampire brow ridges. 

The first vampire to turn away from the boy and attack Angel ended up 
a pile of dust within a few seconds.  The next landed a pitifully 
ineffectual kick to his shins that did not gain it even a few more 
seconds of life.  A third, the youngest among them if they had all been 
turned as recently as he guessed, took one look at where her friends 
had been, and then took off running.  Smarter than the rest.  Angel 
didn't bother to go after her.  After assuring himself that Buffy had 
her two well under control, he pulled the only remaining vampire off of 
the boy, thinking grimly that they might be too late.  He could see 
fresh purple bruises rising on his skin, and one arm was bent at an odd 
angle.  If he had already been bit... 

Angel had very little trouble plunging a stake through the vampire's 
back and straight into the heart without preliminaries.  It instantly 
dissolved into a cloud of fine particles, coating the boy's blood-
sticky skin.  Just as Buffy ran up behind him, Angel caught the kid, 
fainting, in his arms.  They both got one quick glimpse of very large 
eyes before they rolled back in his head and the body went limp and 

Catching Angel by the shoulder, Buffy started to take a hold of one of 
the kid's arms.  He tried to grab her arm, to stop her.  "Buffy, he's 
already dea-" 

"He's like me, an Immortal," Buffy cut him off abruptly.  "He'll wake 
up in a few minutes." 

Wordlessly after that, they hurried him to the nearest available 


Teresa Knight found herself back in the library. 

True, it wasn't the library she had been in just a few weeks ago.  Nor 
was it same library that she had spent so many months of diligent and 
obsessive research in.  It only vaguely resembled either of them, 
having been built only one hundred and twenty years before.  Late 
Victorian styled inlaid wood panels glowed warm, buttery gold and wheat 
across the highly shiny surface, and books that were probably new or 
nearly so when the place was first built lined the shelves that 
extended far above her head.  In each little shadowed nook elaborate 
handmade carvings found homes, and in most of the more illuminated 
spaces paintings were set in heavy gilt frames.  It smelt of old polish 
and even older paper, and she loved it. 

It hadn't been terribly hard, for all her worries, to this place.  The 
second night, two nights ago, drawn by the live blood smell from one of 
her unconscious victims, a common vampire-sandy brown hair, typical 
pale skin, dumb as a rock-had ventured a bit too close for its own 
good.  She'd grabbed him roughly by the scalp and broken his nose 
before she started to ask questions.  And after she'd gotten what she 
needed, she'd put a broken off chair leg through his back.  Her bit of 
community service. 

Now she was wondering why she'd done it.  She could hear his thoughts, 
plain as any human being's; they were not the same, but not so terribly 
different.  She could not allow herself to become like them, but it 
wasn't her job to kill them either.  She wasn't the Slayer. 

No one was left in the building except for a single librarian in the 
front room.  It was after hours, but not having seen anyone come in, 
the old man had not come back where she was to look for anyone.  In a 
minute, she heard his footsteps shuffle across the floor.  The lights 
went out, bathing the place in the weak, ineffectual gleam that 
occasionally worked its way in from the streets through the windows.  
Where she was, not a spot of light was cast for nearly twenty feet.  It 
would be the same in the daytime.  This was where the entrance was, she 
was certain.  Out of her sight, a doorknob turned, a door creaked, and 
then all was silent as the age withered librarian left the building, 
unaware of the nest his precious daytime residence hid. 

Hopefully he never would be. 

Teresa felt something akin to relief as she was able to reveal her 
vampire face, and the surge and shift of abilities within her that 
accompanied its appearance.  She could see clearly all of a sudden.  It 
had not been startling the first time it had happened-the severe 
increase in visual acuity, the colors shifted slightly toward red as if 
viewed through a tinted film, the slightest movement, even in her 
extended peripheral vision, catching her attention-but it had been when 
she'd tried it afterwards-after she left them.  A lot of things had 
caught her off guard back then. 

Also, the smell, faint, but definitely there, of open, underground 
spaces lingered in the calm atmosphere.  Only a vampire, or another 
demon of some sort, would be able to detect it, hidden as it was under 
so many other overlying scents.  If she could determine in which 
direction the concentration was stronger, she would be able to find the 
entrance.  Like some sort of animal with its nose to the air, she 
picked her way back a few steps into the gloom.  Her hand touched a 
smooth panel, then rapped on it gently.  It was almost too simple, 
giving off a hollow sound that she could hear if she listened closely 
enough.  It was little wonder to her that they were known. 

After a few seconds of nothing, when she felt she might simply be 
forced to pry the wood loose and leave a few unsightly splinters to 
mark her intrusion, something started to happen.  The door, as that 
was, indeed, what it was, swung outward on hinges that were so 
perfectly concealed that she almost doubted they were there. 

One thing was there, though.  Actually, two things were there, and 
they did not look very happy to see her.  Dropping back into a 
defensive position, Teresa barely had time to hiss before being 
attacked by two unnervingly strong demons who wore the faces of 
children hidden underneath their yellow-gold eyes and calloused ridges. 


Angel held his figurative breath as Buffy wiped the last smears of 
blood away from the boy's scrawny neck, showing him clearly that where 
there had been bite marks only moments before, there was now only 
smooth, rather lightly tanned skin.  The various cuts and bruises that 
he knew he had seen were all gone, and somehow even the bones in the 
kid's arm had shifted back into position and healed, all without his 

"I thought you said he would wake up in a few minutes," Angel said, 
sounding, despite Buffy's reassurances and the obvious healing taking 
place, uneasy.  There was still no heartbeat, and he had been dead for 
nearly ten minutes.  For all the death and carnage a vampire could 
cause, it was very rare to see one in the company of a dead body-to get 
rid of it was an instinct of disgust almost as strong as the bloodlust 
that usually lead to its presence.  Even Drusilla, mad as she was, had 
taken care to deal with the drained carcasses she left behind, even if 
it meant simply dropping them then getting away. 

For the first time since they had taken him in and hauled him to the 
nearest empty warehouse, Buffy sounded uncertain.  "I thought he would, 
but I don't know.  Maybe it takes longer for kids, or something.  Maybe 
we should try giving him some chocolate.  It always used to wake me 

He laughed once.  "Have any handy?"  Then he blinked rapidly as she 
reached around for the tiny backpack she had on and swung it around, 
her face a mask of seriousness as she said, "Well I did have-" 

They were distracted by the boy's sudden intake of breath as he sat 
bolt upright.  At the same time, his heart reanimated, racing to pump 
new blood around his starved body and to heal the last remaining 
damage.  Looking rather groggy and unsteady, he tried to roll off of 
the high table they had set him on.  Buffy grabbed hold of and held on 
to the boy's shoulders until his eyes opened and until first he stopped 
thrashing around and second, a small amount of recognition came into 
his wide open and terrified eyes. 

None of them made a sound, but when she finally let go, he instantly 
swung his legs around and tried to bolt away from them. 

"Oh no you don't."  Angel, with a well-timed burst of his vampiric 
speed, was around the table and in possession of a struggling, kicking 
Immortal child before either of them had a chance to blink. 

"Let me go let me go let me go!" The boy kicked backwards, knocking 
Angel's knees with his sneakered feet, but he only tightened his grip. 

Buffy spoke up.  "Don't you think you're being even a little 

"Let me go," he demanded again, now sounding as sullen and immature as 
he looked. 

"You would have woken up in a ditch, or worse, if we hadn't brought 
you here." 

He quieted down enough that Angel let his feet touch the ground.  
Buffy put a hand on his shoulder.  "How long have you been an 

"What?" His face was contorted with confusion.  Buffy and Angel gave 
each other a look that said volumes; most clearly, "uh oh." 

"What's your name?" 

He looked worried for a second, and Buffy decided that she knew how he 
felt-alone, apparently, and being interrogated by two perfect 
strangers, even if they had just rescued him from a bunch of blood 
sucking demons.  She knelt down in front of him. 

"You can trust me.  I won't hurt you; I promise." 

He scuffed the toe of his shoe in the dust, casting his eyes down.  
She barely heard his mumbled reply. 



Teresa was more amused than anything else.  After a few seconds of 
intense fighting, the vampires who had attacked her had proved to be 
barely more than fledglings.  At most, they had been turned a few years 
before she was born.  One, the smaller of the two, was lying, 
unconscious, underneath a pile of enormous encyclopedias.  The other 
she held a few feet out from her body, not letting it get close enough 
to kick.  The hooded sweatshirt it was wearing gave her the perfect 
grip without too much danger. 

"Puisque vous avez tellement évidemment échoué dans vos fonctions, et 
votre vie est maintenant confisquée, inquiétez-vous pour me dire qui 
vous êtes et si Lupercus est dedans?" 

The little demon flailed uselessly in Teresa's steady grip, warranting 
a sharp crack across the cheek.  The clear red outlines of her palm 
showed for a minute, then disappeared, but the throbbing lasted far 

"Cora Lee, childe of Susan, of the line of Lupercus," she said 
finally, conceding unwillingly to a superior force.  Either way, she 
felt, to give in to a foreign vampire who must be several centuries 
old, at least, and to face Lupercus later, or to struggle against her, 
meant death.  At least she knew what was waiting for her at the hands 
of her master. 

Teresa's grin was feral, displaying just a little more fang than was 
strictly necessary, appearing every inch the concentration of evil.  
She was delighted by the lengthy address, sensing that it was their 
equivalent to name, rank, and serial number.  Though Cora hadn't 
answered the second part of the question, she was enjoying herself 
enough that she didn't deliver another jolt of pain, and instead 
replied in the same formal manner. 

"Teresa Knight, childe of Angelus, of the line of Aurelius." 

Cora Lee's eyes, bright orangish-yellow as they were, widened almost 
impossibly far in her true face.  Teresa knew, as fast as the little 
girl-demon thought, that she had heard rumors - almost legends, now, of 
Angelus, who had once been the most vicious and merciless killer in 
Europe.  Half-remembered fragments about his sire, Darla, and hers, 
Aurelius, came to mind, but Teresa didn't have time for a useless 
sideshow.  The girl had seen nothing first-hand, and she did know where 
Lupercus was.  It was all that she needed. 

Not bothering with the waste of time that was more idle chit-chat, 
Teresa stepped forward and into the perfect darkness inside the wall. 


The afternoon sun was shut out of the house with heavy blackout 
curtains.  Behind them, a few of the windows had been painted over, but 
most remained exactly as they had been when Buffy and Angel had first 
moved in.  None of them had to be - the bedroom, where Angel was 
sleeping right now, was in the basement. 

Kenny was sitting at the kitchen table, happily snacking on a huge 
peanut-butter and jelly sandwich, potato chips, and soda. 

"Xander always did say a growing boy needs his nutrition," Buffy 
grinned, ruffling the boy's sandy hair.  "I guess I just didn't believe 
him until now." 

Kenny grinned widely, showing off a smile decorated with crumbs and 
sticky purple smears.  He'd told her slowly, over the last few hours, 
how he had ended up vampire bait in Sunnydale, California. 

His parents (she didn't interrupt to correct him) had died five months 
ago in a car accident.  He'd been with them at the time, and knocked 
out in the crash, but had woken up afterwards.  That had been the point 
at which he'd fallen silent, and Buffy had tempted him back with 
macadamia nut cookies.  The police had shown up after a few hours, but 
not before he'd watched his mother slowly bleed to death, not able to 
do anything to help. (A big glass of cold milk.)  In the hospital, no 
one was willing to tell him anything, and the doctors had kept asking 
him questions about how he'd gotten away without any injuries.  Then 
the police, and finally a guy with a funny looking tattoo on his wrist, 
had asked him the same thing.  He'd gotten scared, and ran away from 
the hospital, taking nothing with him but the clothes they had given 
him and a worn blanket.  Ever since then, he'd been running, trying not 
to stay too long in the same place.  (The sandwich and chips, then soda 
as well, after a small pleading look.)  He'd been slowly working his 
way west, and had turned to Sunnydale after hearing that nobody sane 
would look for him there.  "And that's about it," Kenny had shrugged, 
and gotten back to his food. 

Buffy's grin softened to a smile that was tinged with sadness.  *He's 
just a kid, and I've been an Immortal for less than three years.  I'll 
have to talk to MacLeod and Pierson.*  She looked at him again.  *And 
Joe.  If he was right about the guy with the tattoo, the Watchers were 
after him, and not doing a very good job of it.  Joe and MacLeod were 
back in Seacouver, she'd heard last, and Adam had been living with 
Willow in Los Angeles for the past few months.* She smiled for a 
moment, remembering the last time she has seen her friends.  They were 
perfect for each other. She would be seeing them again soon enough. 

Though the silence wasn't bothering her, Kenny started to fidget in 
his chair, pushing around the crusts from the bread that he had 
insisted on tearing off.  The first time he glanced at her, she missed 
it, but the second they met eye to eye, and he looked expressively over 
toward the large television set in the next room. 

"Can I watch tv?" He asked politely, seeming at once reluctant to 
leave his seat without her permission and incredibly anxious to see 
what was on.  With a smile, she nodded.  She could only imagine how 
long it had been since he'd last had a chance to just be a kid.  
Flashing another of his heart-melting smiles, he hurried out of the 

*He can stay here for a little while, but I can't take care of him.  
I'll call MacLeod tomorrow and see what I can do.*  With the sounds of 
the television starting to nibble away at the edges of her attention, 
Buffy shook her head, then turned and checked the fridge.  Angel's 
blood supply was getting a little low, but she decided she'd rather be 
the willing 'donor' than have much of it around right now.  Hopefully 
Kenny hadn't yet figured out that Angel was anything but human.  She 
twisted the ring around on her finger.  A week.  They'd start arriving 
then.  Maybe she could take care of him for a single week. 

The dim, flickering light from the cartoons racing across the screen 
just barely illuminated Kenny's eternally young face.  No one could see 
him, no one knew what he really was. 

A childish smile slowly turned to a smug, self-satisfied smirk. 


It was evident from the amount of dust and cobwebs lining the 
passageway that not only was it little used, but that like most 
vampires, the group that controlled it wasn't much for housecleaning.  
There was almost no light, but given her current state, she didn't need 
much.  Cora Lee dangled in front of her like a dead fish held by the 
tail for market, rotating slightly, and giving no audible response to 
Teresa's absent questioning, but thinking loudly enough that Teresa was 
almost certain the walls should be vibrating around them.  Very, very 
long walls.  They had left the civilized, familiar feel of the library 
long behind. 

"How much longer did you say it would be until we got to Lupercus?" 
She didn't expect an answer in the traditional sense, but got more than 
enough.  A hundred feet or so ahead, the tunnel would take a sharp 
turn, almost completely doubling back on itself, but heading downward, 
further below the city streets.  When she reached it, she navigated 
around the thin lip of earth as if she had been making the trip her 
entire life. 

"You know," Teresa said after a few more minutes had passed and they 
were still in the tunnel, "I'd almost swear that you didn't like me or 
something.  Why on earth could that be?" Cora Lee cringed a little, 
expecting any number of tortures-vampires weren't famous for their 
rationality, and any imagined insult would be enough.  Hopefully as 
soon as they reached the large cavern she'd be able to wriggle free and 

"Doubtful.  You see, in case you hadn't figured it out already, I'm 
holding you hostage.  You're probably not worth much to them, but if 
all else fails, you'll make a handy shield for a minute or two.  Just 
until I can find the one I'm looking for." 

Cora Lee was entirely silent, but the blood from her latest kill 
drained from her face, leaving it ghostly white.  No one had challenged 
Lupercus since his last opponent had been whipped down to submission.  
They'd all heard the screams.  It took a lot to break a creature who'd 
been around since before Charlemagne.  But who else but a child-vampire 
would want to be the leader of a child-vampire nest?  Teresa wasn't 
exactly an elder, but she appeared old enough to survive, alone, in the 
human world. 

Teresa could sense an ending, an abrupt opening of the tunnel into a 
large, open cavern. The air was thick with layers of old refuse and 
bungled attempts to mask the odor.  The light was dim, barely adequate 
to show a jumbled arrangement of mismatched chairs, couches, tables, 
and a few old boxes spread haphazardly through the cavern.  Her sudden 
appearance took the four vampires lounging comfortably in the mess 
entirely by surprise.  All of them, three little boys and one girl 
appearing to range in age between five and eleven, were up and in game 
face by the time she took two steps. 

"You're dead this time Cora Lee," the smallest of them hissed, 
sounding half pleased and half annoyed, barely sparing the newcomer a 
passing glance.  He ran his tongue over his descended fangs, 
anticipation glittering in his oddly dark orange eyes.  He stepped 
forward, the others falling in behind him. 

The sound of Teresa's unusually rumbling, fang-baring snarl brought 
their attention from their little lost lamb to her dark predator.  In 
her hand, Cora Lee tried to shrink away from the approaching quartet, 
willing to try for any protection, however uncertain.  She hadn't been 
so scared since the night she'd been out shopping with her mother, and 
they'd been separated in the crowd.  The next thing she knew, Susan had 
grabbed her and dragged her into an unlit closet... 

Stephan growled, turning his upper lip so that he resembled the canine 
from which he'd earned his nickname.  Who did this little tart think 
she was, barging in like this for what could be only one reason?  He 
hadn't survived nearly two centuries as an underling to an ancient fool 
only to be reduced to nothing by a fledgling who was too old for them.  
Displaying a quickness he rarely showed off, he kicked the leg of a 
worm-eaten table, shattering it and providing several handy bits.  He 
expected that he'd have it in hand and in her heart before she had a 
chance to attack, but instead he found his head in a rather 
uncomfortable grip and his hand carelessly crushed, the wood 
splintering into the flesh. 

"You have horrible manners little boy," Teresa whispered into his ear, 
breathing cold breath along the side of his face.  "How about I teach 
you a lesson?"  She wrapped her arm under his chin, and dug her hand 
across his face, twisting it so that a tiny amount of pressure would 
snap the neck.  A sudden movement, and she might snap it whether she 
wanted to or not. 

Cora Lee found herself on the ground, unharmed.  She took one look at 
the tableau in front of her, then scrambled to her feet and fled back 
up the tunnel, unnoticed. 

Teresa turned, holding the completely unresisting Stephan in her arms 
as she did, so that they were facing the others.  "Now, I'd love to 
stay and chat with you all, but I'm here to see someone and-" 

Stephan felt a burning shaft of pain go through his stomach as he came 
to rest on top of a foot long stake, landing hard as Teresa spun him 
from her grasp.  He hissed at the sensation, but didn't dare to move. 

He was near them, coming closer, and Teresa whipped around, eyes 
flashing, focusing on the far end of the cavern and the largest dark, 
open mouth out of it.  He didn't know who she was, only that there was 
someone causing a disturbance, and he wanted it stopped.  Vampires or 
not, as long as they stayed with him they would obey the few rules he 
set down- 

The cavern was eerily still the moment Lupercus appeared.  There was 
not a breath drawn in the entire space-the others either too shocked or 
two scared, Teresa taking in sensations as a sponge absorbs water until 
she was full, and had no choice but to set all her energy to processing 
the information.  Had any of them thought to attack her in those few 
seconds, she could have been brought down easily.  By the time the next 
move was made, Teresa had regained herself. 

He was nearly as she'd expected.  Turned at twelve or thirteen years 
old, he had the slim, strong, graceful body of a child who had not yet 
started adolescence.  As plain and washed out, as forgettable as Azrael 
had been, Lupercus was remarkable.  His short, dark sable colored hair, 
perfectly trimmed to a childish cut, shone luxuriously even in the 
half-lit gloom, a sharp contrast to nearly colorless skin that, to 
Teresa's sensitive eyes, displayed a tracery of fine bluish-purple 
veins under the surface.  His features were finely sculpted, almost 
feminine, with deep, liquid brown eyes rimmed with thick lashes.  She 
imagined that had he lived ten years more, he would have been the most 
gorgeous man she had ever met.  He was beautiful already.  With two and 
a half millennia of life, he'd had plenty of time to exploit those who 
would like nothing better than to take advantage of his appearance of 

"Teresa Knight." She said, inclining her head slightly to the master 
vampire.  "I know who you are, Lupercus, and I've been searching for 

Lupercus returned the nod, displaying no emotion in response to the 
intruder's bluntness.  "You seem to have the advantage of me, Miss 
Knight.  What have you been looking for?" 


"From me?" 

"I'm not what you think." 

Teresa's vampiric guise disappeared, to be replaced by her own brand 
of beauty.  At first she caught a hint of annoyance from those around 
her, mostly from Lupercus, but with the first heartbeat, even he was 
caught by surprise.  A few strong pulses later, she drew in a long 
breath, and her body temperature began to rise above that of the 
surrounding atmosphere.  Two of the underlings hissed, uncertain 
whether they should run or attack.  None of them moved. 

"I'm something far different from you." 

She felt something remarkable occurring - the invisible barriers of 
Lupercus' mind slowly clouded, shutting off his thoughts from hers, 
quieting the cavern just that tiny amount more.  This time it was her 
turn to blink with surprise, and she instantly snapped back to the way 
she had been a few moments before, indistinguishable from any other 
vampire.  Trying to salvage a bit of control over the situation, she 
pulled herself straighter. 

"I want answers." 

He narrowed his eyes, sensing, for all the presence she put forth, 
that there was still more bluff than bite to her words.  She couldn't 
possibly be what he had thought at first.  "You've come here uninvited 
and unannounced.  What makes you think I will answer anything?" 

In less than a heartbeat, Teresa was at Lupercus' side, one hand held 
loosely at the back of his neck.  He might be able to prevent her from 
doing anything, and then again, might not. She could kill him. How 
could she?  He hadn't expected that, hadn't anticipated...  For the 
first time in a very long time, he felt fear stab like a cold knife 
through his belly.  She shouldn't be this strong, this young. 

"Because I would find it a -pleasure- to throw you around like a rag 
doll for a few hours before I stuck a stake through your heart? Because 
I could wait until daybreak, when everyone returns, to humiliate you in 
front of them all?  You'd like that, wouldn't you?"  Teresa was all but 
purring.  "Because I could drag you out into the morning sun without 
batting an eyelash, hmm?"  She grinned ferally, releasing him and 
stepping back.  "Because you're such a -nice- person?" 

As he stood there, rubbing his neck like a little boy, she ran her 
fingers along a nearby table top, tapping them as they went along, 
somehow able to make even that simple motion full of bottled menace.  
"Because Azrael said you knew the answers..." 

Lupercus, recovering as much dignity as he could, started barking out 
orders.  "Stephan, Marc, Sylvia, Martin... go for a hunt.  Stephan, I'd 
advise that you get somebody to check on that stake for you."  When 
none of them moved to comply, he fixed them with a glare that nearly 
would have frozen Teresa's heart, had she not been the indirect cause 
of it.  "Don't let me see you again until you think I've forgotten why 
I hate you."  Again, they were perfectly still.  "GO!"  As if they had 
shared one brain between them, the four instantly scrambled out, 
Stephan slipping once as he pulled the stake out of his gut. 

"Now," Lupercus said, perfect calm returning instantly despite 
everything, "I find myself in the unenviable position of having to 
either comply with your demand, for answers, as you say, or to fight 
you, and possibly loose, as you've already demonstrated."  He 
continued, taking in the figure standing casually in front of him.  
"I'm a reasonable man-" 

"Vampire," she interrupted. 

He went on as if she had said nothing.  "I'll tell you this much right 
now-I know what you are."  She raised an eyebrow, but he couldn't tell 
if she was impressed or simply scornful.

"So you know that's why I've come?" 

"Why else would you be here?  What else would you be looking for?" 

"How much else might a two-thousand, five hundred year old vampire 

A small smile slipped across his face.  The living-undead.  She was 
slipperier than a fish, as she deserved to be.  On his part it had only 
been a guess.  Still, if she did not know the magnitude of her 
abilities...  "Touché.  You have questions; I have answers.  Let's make 
a deal." 

"Let's I remove your spinal column through your nostrils." 

"I would really prefer that you did not.  I think you'll agree with me 
that that would benefit neither of us."  She did not respond, so he 
took her silence as acquiescence and continued.  "It's a very simple 
deal, really.  Nothing big, nothing important, and I will tell you all 
that I know about what you are." 

"Everything?" She sounded hesitant, and at the same time, deadly 
serious. He nodded, the very picture of gentlemanly honesty. "What do 
you want from me?" 

Lupercus chuckled quietly. She acted as if he was going to remove a 
limb or some such nonsense.  Far from it-he wanted something far more 
valuable. "Promise me your protection." 

"My what?" her voice cracked with amazement.  She felt her jaw drop, 
and shook her head, trying to rationalize things.  "You want my what?" 
She must have heard him wrong, she decided, or he had not said what he 
intended to. 

He very nearly laughed at her reaction, but covered well, taking her 
hand in his smaller one and starting to gently lead her back toward the 
unlit tunnel he had come from.  She followed, unresisting. 

"You'll understand better soon, but what I'm asking you for is your 
protection." Again, surprise rippled over her features, but this time 
it was more subdued.  "There is always the chance that you will never 
need to keep up your end of the bargain.  The group could turn against 
me tomorrow, pin me out in the sunlight while you're far away and 
unable to help.  Even if they don't realize it, together they are at 
least as powerful as I am."  He smiled.  "Fortunately for me, it isn't 
in a vampire's nature to work together with others.  Their selfishness 
is my saving." 

"So I have the power of a master vampire after two years, and I can 
stand the sunlight, so what?  You don't need me to hang around you like 
a bodyguard, and I'm not willing to spend eternity following you like 
some sort of whipped puppy dog.  It sounds to me like you're not saying 
exactly what you mean and," she halted suddenly in the pitch darkness, 
forcing him to stop as well.  "For some reason, I can't see into your 
thoughts.  You're blocking me." 

A small success.  She wasn't going to be fooled, though.  It had been 
a while since he'd had a real challenge, one that didn't involve the 
attempted hostile takeover of his small group.  The others either hated 
him or were terrified of him. 

"Let's call it one life in exchange for another, then.  I tell you 
about your life, you agree to save mine should the situation ever 
arise.  I'm not the sort who's out to destroy the world-I've had plenty 
of time to do that.  If I wanted to, I would have tried long ago."  
Teresa flinched a little.  "The truth is, I enjoy life.  If you ever 
find me staked out for the sun, you will take me out of harm's way.  If 
some demon decides I would make a good chew toy, you will rescue me."  
He began to head back into the corridor, and she didn't protest.  "If 
I'm being attacked by a Slayer, you will ensure that I make it through 
the encounter." 

"Just you?" 

"Me and nobody else." 

Teresa didn't answer for a minute.  *It's wrong.  I shouldn't.* She'd 
watched enough television to know that promises like the ones that 
Lupercus was asking for now always turned out to be something far more 
sinister than they sounded.  A few days ago she might have laughed at 
him, but right this second- 

"I promise." 

It was done.  She had agreed, and it was as unbreakable as if she'd 
signed the contract in her own blood. 

They came to a small crack of light in the complete inky darkness.  
Lupercus gripped at the edge with his fingers, and it slowly widened as 
the door disappeared into the wall.  He held it opened, and gently 
guided her into the warm, golden glow of the ancient room. 

"You won't regret this, Khimaira." 

(End part2)