Mother's Gift

---------------------------((Part Three))---------------------------

From childhood's hour I have not been 
As others were; I have not seen 
As others saw; I could not bring 
My passions from a common spring. 
From the same source I have not taken 
My sorrow; I could not awaken 
My heart to joy at the same tone; 
And all I loved, I loved alone. 
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn 
Of a most stormy life- was drawn 
From every depth of good and ill 
The mystery which binds me still: 
From the torrent, or the fountain, 
From the red cliff of the mountain, 
From the sun that round me rolled 
In its autumn tint of gold, 
From the lightning in the sky 
As it passed me flying by, 
From the thunder and the storm, 
And the cloud that took the form 
(When the rest of Heaven was blue) 
Of a demon in my view. 

 "Alone" - Edgar Allen Poe 


The inside of the room was heavily scented with layer upon layer of 
different types of incense.  Lavender was overlaid with jasmine, and 
those with wild roses, and those with the heady scent of natural musk.  
Candles were stuck willy-nilly around the room, some in holders, some 
attached to various surfaces by their own melted wax.  The warm light 
they cast off illuminated a space filled in every corner with a bazaar 
of old and rare objects.  Shelves carved right into the stone held row 
after row of fantastic trinkets-tiny figurines of every color and shape 
imaginable from knights in glittering silver armor and pastel gowned 
women frozen forever in a formal dance to blood red dragons and 
brightly plumed peacocks.  Scattered all over the floor were stacks of 
books, magazines, paintings, papers - anything that would not fit 

Lupercus stepped around her, making his way through the piles, picking 
his way through them somehow without disturbing anything.  Teresa 
followed, passing an enormous pewter candelabrum, an old carousel horse 
that, on second inspection, proved to have the bottom half of a fish, a 
carefully laid out collection of preserved butterflies pinned under 
glass.  The walls rose high on either side, but the space between them 
was narrow. 

They passed by a stained, cracked mirror hanging upside-down from a 
peg bored into the wall.  There was no reflection as Lupercus went by, 
but Teresa could see herself in it-half a hundred tiny images slowly 
walking by and distorting with perspective.  Up ahead, she could see 
where the room widened out, but kept gazing up at the collection of 
wonders she was given this opportunity to enjoy.  Two-dozen dusty but 
otherwise untouched men's hats were stacked up on top of each other.  
Four delicate porcelain dolls of the sort that Drusilla had cherished 
rested together in a corner that had never seen light, mouth to ear as 
if whispering secrets.  A long, spiraled narwhal tusk formed a barrier
between them and the edge of the shelf.  A little jar of black ink with 
its label yellowed and peeling was balanced precariously on top of a 
tiny orange satin pillow. 

Everything smelled old. Even the odors of the few relatively modern 
objects that she could see-a plastic alarm clock with its face broken, 
an electric sewing machine with the cord half ripped off-were masked by 
the bits of lace and men's pipes. Teresa remembered what age had 
smelled like when she was still human, or mostly so. It had been the 
stink of stale air, and dust, and the sickening, sour taste flat water 
that had been left to sit too long. Now she could sense so much more to 
it-layer after layer after layer that she would never be able to 
describe to someone who hadn't already experienced it. 

The two minutes that they had walked in silence through Lupercus' 
treasures awed her more than he ever would.  Unspeaking, she took the 
seat that he gestured to when he came to a fortress of a desk and sat 
down behind it.  In front of him was one of the largest books Teresa 
had ever seen.  She could smell the age on the crackling paper and the 
grayish leather.  She tried to shake off the wonder of the place, but 
found that she didn't want to.  She had to begin, though, or risk 
simply surrendering to the pleasure of it.  Perhaps awe was another way 
that Lupercus kept his position. 

"I've been searching for a long time," she said quietly, and was glad 
to see that Lupercus merely nodded.  "Maybe not so long in comparison 
to some."  She took in a deep breath, inhaling the myriad scents.  
"I've found the Triami Library, and seen Azrael." 

"And he sent you to me.  That was wise of him.  I'm surprised-the last 
time I saw him, he was quite mad."  Teresa didn't respond, except to 
narrow her eyes a little.  He leaned back in his chair.  "Why don't you 
tell me the story of how you came to be here?" 

She shook her head, and for a moment he thought she wasn't going to 
answer.  Instead of sitting mutely, however, she leaned forward and 
tapped her fingers across the front of the desk.  He gave her a 
questioning look. 

"It's a short, sad little tale, really," Teresa said finally, folding 
her arms across her chest.  "You know that I'm a mind reader- I've 
already told you that.  I have always suffered from my gift, if you 
want to call it that."  She appeared as if she'd call it anything but. 
"I spent my entire life up to a few years ago almost completely unable 
to control what was happening inside of my head.  It's always worse 
when I sleep, but I don't have to do that so much now." 

He gestured for her to go on when she trailed off, deep in thought. 

"I moved to Sunnydale, a nice little town right on top of a Hellmouth, 
and within a week had met Angelus, gotten involved with the current 
Slayer, who is an Immortal, met three other Immortals, found out that I 
was one myself, except by that time I had manipulated Angelus into 
turning me, found out that I was more than your average vampire, formed 
an alliance with Spike and Drusilla, two of Angelus' children, prodded 
the Immortals into a hopeless fight between them and the four of us, 
after I had let them feed off of my Immortal blood, tried to bring 
forth Armageddon, got caught in the psychic backlash of Angel's soul 
being restored, and slipped into a coma where my existence quite easily 
could have been ended." 

She paused to take a breath. 

"When I woke up, I left Sunnydale.  I wasn't exactly thinking clearly 
at the time.  Months later, I returned.  I guess I needed something to 
do- some sort of purpose to life, and I... I wanted a few things that I 
had left behind.  I wasn't going to spend eternity miserable and 
aimless and suffering."  She frowned a little.  "Come to think of it, 
things have been a lot easier lately.  I think I'm gaining a little 

"But you still came here." 

"There's more to what I am than that." 

"How do you know?" 

She cast an emotionless, level gaze directly at him, not about to 
allow anything.  "I've already told you what you need to know.  Now you 
tell me- what am I?" 

Lupercus smiled, neither smug nor hesitant.  Yes, he had gotten quite 
a deal.  "You're a demon." 

Teresa made a disgusted sound high in her throat, and rolled her eyes 
quickly heaven-wards.  "The man's a genius.  A demon!  Really, that was 
something I would have never guessed in a hundred years.  All vampires 
are demons." 

"No, not all, I think you'll find, but that's not what we're here to 
talk about.  Teresa, you are a demon."  He waited until she was looking 
at him again.  The glare she cast his way would have intimidated him at 
any other time, but now he expected no less.  "Something entirely 
different from any of us, and anything you might have been before.  The 

"I've had more of prophecies than I need in ten lifetimes." 

"If you would let me finish?"  Teresa looked away, for all the world 
like one of the bratty little girls he provided shelter for.  "To give 
your proper title, you are the Khimaira.  You're the living fulfillment 
of a prophecy thousands of years older than I am.  It was ancient 
legend when the one who turned me was young." 

"Khimaira..." She rolled the word around on her tongue, tasting the 
sharp, foreign sounding work in her mouth.  It felt like the East, like 
places she had yet to go, and lifetimes to discover.  He grinned at her 
experimentation, childlike, but revealing sharpened canines and 

"Yes, you might as well get used to it.  You are the Khimaira, all in 
one, capable of wielding all the lost magicks, of dwelling in the 
forgotten places, the ghost roads, even the haunted pools and missions 
where even we," He gestured to himself.  "The lowest and most demonic 
form of vampire fear to walk.  Your blood is dead, yet warm, a mortal 
death you have suffered, yet you are as human as the six billion who 
now walk upon the face of the Earth.  You are Immortal - one of a race 
that appeared from out of nowhere and live side by side with human 
beings, never aging, never falling victim to disease or injury unless 
your head is separated from your body.  You are demon, dead, the blood-
drinker and night-hunter.  But fire will not destroy you.  The sun 
cannot kill you.  From your first moments of life, you suffered, 
unguided, with the 'gift' that you spoke of."  He stopped the flow of 
words long enough to flip through the tome to his side - ancient, but 
no dust rose from its pages.  He squinted, trying to identify faded 
writing in the flickering candlelight.  "I believe they now call it 
telepathy, or a combination of telepathy and precognition, though those 
terms are sadly lacking." 

Teresa snorted at the understatement, and relaxed her limbs in a most 
undignified and unladylike manner, slumping in the chair's worn 

Lupercus frowned at the girl's nonchalance.  That she could do exactly 
as she was and fear no repercussions his was starting to raise hackles, 
and his eyes shown with a glaze of golden yellow.  Even in one of his 
age, patience only stretched so far.  Perhaps he had no hope of 
controlling her after all - he had had very little thought of doing so 
in the beginning - but he would have her cooperation, and her 
protection.  She had already promised.  None of his minions would lay a 
hand on her while he still lived - not that they would get very far.  
It simply wasn't fair that one as young as she had more power than he 
ever hoped to possess. 

He looked up, and knew from the mischievous twinkle in her otherwise 
calm, midnight blue eyes that his carefully constructed mental shields 
were giving way under her steady, patient probing - and that she was 
doing simply for the pleasure of seeing him riled.  Indeed, a ripple of 
annoyance crossed through his mind, and he did not know whether it was 
his own or a gift from the Khimaira.  Forcing a smile, he raised his 
hand and snapped his fingers. 

Instantly, a male figure, looking to be between six and seven years 
old, appeared from the inky darkness just beyond the door.  Teresa 
blinked- she had not noticed he was there just a moment before.  
"Refreshments for Miss Knight and myself, if you would Gaius." 

"Yes Regent," the boy, or, rather, no boy to judge by his name, bowed 
his head and was off with only a moment's glance at the legend. 

"As I was saying," Lupercus continued.  "A very long time ago, there 
were remedies given to those with the your first, inborn ability.  
Their power was harnessed and directed, put to use, since in their 
suffering they were of little use in either the fields or the 

She glared, and he ignored her. 

"They were the True Oracles." 

Abruptly her face lost all expression, becoming unreadable as a 
silhouette. Something shifted within her thoughts, and he could almost 
swear that the air became thicker and charged with static.  Apparently 
she, too, was finding it difficult to control herself. 

"They told men of the future, and decided when the old gods felt their 
sacrifices lacking.  It is in your power, as it was theirs, to 
communicate with souls long departed, and to see through time as most 
see through the air on a clear day." 

A small clinking of glass against metal signaled Gaius's return, 
carrying a silver tray laden with a dark-tinted bottle, crimson-stemmed 
goblets, and a dish of soft white substance with an oddly citric smell 
to it and tendrils of steam rising from the center.  He set the tray 
delicately between them on the desk, then bowed his head first to 
Teresa, and then to his lord and master. 

"Will that be all, Regent?" 

"Yes, thank you Gaius." 

The boy-vampire muttered a hasty 'yes Regent', 'thank-you Regent', and 
started to back away, but Lupercus held up his hand, stopping him in 
his tracks.  "On second thought, send for Tyrivnya.  Tell her to bring 
the DeOrc Glass." 

Gaius trembled, partly at the thought of asking anything of the nest's 
least sane resident, but mostly at the mention of the blackened mirror 
that was rumored to be in her possession.  He licked his lips 
nervously, mustering the courage to speak.  "Tyrivnya isn't accepting 
anyone, regent.  She's refused the Hunt for the past three nights." 

"Tell her, then, than a kindred spirit seeks her council," Teresa 
smiled, wolf-like with her unusually conformed and gleaming fangs.  
Gaius looked hesitant to obey, and he looked to Lupercus, who merely 
waved his hand. 

"Do as the Khimaira says, and be quick about it." 

Swallowing convulsively, the boy turned without even a small, 
respectful nod.  Teresa imagined he would have been white as a sheet, 
if he wasn't already. 

As soon as the heavy cave door was pulled shut, Lupercus sighed and 
shook his head.  "It's so hard to find good help these days."  At her 
unspoken but clearly thought question, he chuckled.  "He fancied 
himself to be regent, a long while ago.  He has no more such flights of 
fancy."  A sneer appeared on his features, but since it was not 
directed at her, Teresa faced it without a thought.  "I assume you'll 
not be too put off if I interrupt my explanations long enough for us to 
eat.  You don't mind human blood?" 

When she shook her head in a negative, to both queries, he smiled.  
*It's not exactly as if one out of the billions will matter now.* She 
had too much sense to think that.  She couldn't help, though, but look 
up at the face before her.  There was so much emotion, perhaps even a 
soul behind those eyes.  A vampire doesn't have a soul.  It's nothing 
but an animal.  Worse than an animal - a demon.  Was that just another 


As Teresa accepted one of the small, white cakes, her hand brushed 
against his.  She caught a glimpse of how exactly Lupercus had handled 
the would-be usurper.  Her wide-open eyes turned in the direction that 
Gaius had gone.  No soul.  "Thorough, aren't you?" she whispered, 
grimacing.  But at the same time, she was sniffing in appreciatively as 
he uncorked the bottle and poured the smooth, crimson liquid into the 

"He didn't need it anyway," he grinned, holding out one of the full 
goblets to her.  She took it, holding it under her nose like a fine 
wine before sipping.  She couldn't help it - she smiled.  It had been 
warmed, and was fresh; an older man, she decided, past the prime of his 
life - it tasted of brandy and pine, not entirely unpleasant. 

"Though, in all fairness..." Lupercus thought a moment, then chuckled.  
"No, he deserved it."  Falling quiet, he picked up his own goblet and 
one of the luagás cakes.  As his teeth bit into the thin white crust, 
the signature wrinkles and brow ridge appeared on his forehead.  She 
watched, intrigued.  It was the first time that she had seen him 
entirely vamped out. 

He didn't swallow that, but instead raised the goblet to his lips, 
took some of the blood into his mouth, and held it there.  Teresa 
frowned slightly, and sniffed at the hot, white cake in her hand.  It 
just fit into her palm, and would have been a small meal for a mortal 
child the size of most of those here.  She was more curious than 
concerned - any poison strong enough to do damage she probably could 
sense in one way or another, and it didn't seem to be doing Lupercus 
any harm. 

In fact, he appeared to be thoroughly enjoying it, one cheek puffed 
out like a chipmunk's.  But she had never heard of any vampire who made 
eating solid food a habit. 

At last he swallowed, and ran his tongue around his lips, cleaning 
them of the dark red liquid - he was a messy eater.  "Try it.  I 
believe you'll be pleasantly surprised, even if it is not exactly 
traditional for... our kind." 

"What is it?  Besides luagás I mean.  That's only a name." 

"Cake, nothing more," Lupercus smiled.  "It is neither enchanted nor 
poisoned - you have my word." 

Abandoning caution to the wind, Teresa vamped and bit into the cake as 
she would any regular food; she was hardly out of practice, though she 
has spent most of the past few days subsiding on blood.  The thin crust 
was flaky, and melted on her tongue the moment it touched, spreading 
warmth and a delicious lemon-sugar taste throughout her mouth.  She 
took a small sip of blood, and the flavor of the thick, creamy center 
magnified and sweetened, dissolving so that the liquid she swallowed 
was thick and rich as syrup.  Though there was nothing that escaped, 
she licked her lips anyway, hoping for more.  She met his eyes, smiling 

"Most of us never loose the 'sweet tooth', you might say," Lupercus 
rumbled in amusement.  "Luagás satisfies as does nothing else we've 
found, though it's hardly necessary.  The recipe is yours, if you'd 
like it." 

"You're trying to bribe me," Teresa responded, nearly laughing.  It 
was really quite funny, trying to buy her- what?  Cooperation?  Good 
will?  Protection?  He already had the one.  The others were highly 

"Perhaps," Lupercus smiled.  "Or perhaps I simply am interested in 
you, Khimaira.  It is not every day that I find a legend come to life 
and willing to sit down and chat.  For all your power, you do not yet 
know the first thing of what you are capable of.  The stories say that 
you can fly." At her startled expression, he nodded gravely.  "Have you 
ever tried?" 

"Fly? Vampires can't fly.  Neither can Immortals, as far as I know."  
She glared openly, almost daring him to prove her a liar. 

Lupercus licked the crumbling edge of his luagás cake, and drained a 
portion of his goblet.  "Of course they can't," he said, licking red 
from his fingers.  "Not our kind of vampires anyway.  You, however, are 
far much more than the sum total of your parts, as I've said.  You are 
Khimaira, something else entirely."  He sighed, turning to face the 
oversized book and leafing back a few pages.  "Azrael once thought that 
he was to be Khimaira, before he disappeared.  I thought he might be, 
at first - after all, he was the only Immortal that had been 
successfully turned in all my memory." 

Teresa felt the luagás melting between her fingers, but she ignored 
it.  There were so many things that she wanted to know, but she didn't 
trust the annoyance, almost disgust, in his voice.  "Successfully 

He flinched, a hard enough task in a two and a half millennia old 
creature not faced with any immediate threat to life or limb.  She 
plucked the fragile thread of thought from his mind - a memory so often 
examined these days that it slipped past - it was clear, and as 
disturbing as any of the nightmares that haunted her when she could no 
longer keep the exhaustion at bay. 

A girl, no more than ten - an Immortal child, already, and Lupercus 
had tried to bring her across... 

Teresa's head suddenly throbbed, and she put her hands against her 
ears in immediate, ineffectual defense.  She squeezed her eyes shut as 
tightly as they would go, hissing against the pain.  A small puddle of 
blood drained toward a depression in the floor.  Shards of glass and 
bits of white meal mixed where they had fallen on the floor. "Stop.  
Stop thinking that.  Now.  Please..." 

His mouth fell open as her demands turned to pleas, and the girl began 
to hyperventilate, drawing her arms and legs up to her body.  At first 
the more she suffered, the more he couldn't help but think about the 
whole unfortunate incident.  When one of her fangs pierced her lip, and 
he could see that only sheer force of will was keeping her from leaping 
up and tearing him to bits, he started to chant - clearing his mind. 

Teresa let out a small whimper, and she started to suck on the wound 
that pierced right through the flesh of her lower lip, shivering in her 
chair.  Lupercus stared at her, realizing how ridiculously easy it 
would be, even with all her strength and ability, to entrap her, and 
force her to his will. 

"Don't even think about it," she gasped, opening up her pulsing gold-
red eyes.  "If I had sensed even the slightest hint that you had done 
that deliberately, your minions would be hard pressed to tell which 
pieces to expose to the sun, promise or no." 

He swallowed, nervous as he had been in centuries.  *On second 
thought...* Teresa wiped the pink-tinged sweat from her forehead, then 
reached for the half-full bottle on the tray before her.  Uncorking it, 
she tipped it back and swallowed the entire contents in one long 

She stopped, shaking, and returned the bottle with a small growl.  
"Tell me how Azrael came to be." 


"And stop calling me that," she snapped, "My name is Teresa." 

"Very well, Teresa," Lupercus began, looking far too much the small 
boy that his body suggested. 

"I've all the time in the world," Teresa said grimly, gazing down at 
where she dropped her meal.  The white and red had mixed together to 
form a small puddle of stomach-turning brownish-pink as the blood 
dried.  Lupercus followed her gaze, then turned his mind away - 

"I didn't turn Azrael, if that is even his real name.  Truth be told, 
I don't know who did.  I found him, wandering, alone, confused - he 
must have just risen, and there were dirt and leaves clinging to his 
gown.  The blood from his first victim was still fresh on his lips. 

"This was midwinter's even in the year 981.  I had been regent for 
less than a decade, and those few who had remained at the nest, loyal, 
or had been turned since Karnus's death, took him in.  We taught him 
all that he needed to know to survive. 

"At first there were words - rumors, only, and I paid them no heed.  
There is always talk among us, and the smallest triviality can become a 
matter of such great importance, it is not even worth telling.  But 
then, when the stories did not abate, but grew louder, until everyone 
seemed to agree... Screams came from the Sanctuaries in the daylight 

"Azrael remembered little of his life before becoming a vampire, but 
he was convinced, and refused to be dissuaded, that he had died once 
before, and come back to life.  I brought him into my private chambers, 
here, where you are now, and through his rantings and ravings - his 
mind was close to gone already, I think - he told me much the same that 
he'd told all the others. 

"'I lived before - as many years as a man, but as I am now.' 'A 
vampire, yes,' I said.  'That's what you are, what you will remain.'  
He became enraged, flying into such a fury that I was certain he would 
tear the place apart with his bear hands, or dash his head against the 
cold rock until he would do no one any more harm. 

"'Where is my sword?' he asked, and when I told him that I had found 
him with neither sword nor dagger, clothed in the white gown of the 
dead, a vicious fire burned in his eyes.  All of a sudden, a change, 
like a great pressure had been lifted from his shoulders, came over 
him.  He was furious still, but weeping at the same time. 'I felt so 
naked without it.  My sword.  I need my sword or they will come for 
me.' 'Whom?' I asked.  'Them!' 

"He was trembling all over, I remember, like a blade of grass before a 
storm.  Again I told him that I did not know who could menace him, that 
all the demons of the weir were under my protection.  That as long as 
they served me and only me, they need have no fears.  He was so scared, 
almost terrified, couldn't move at all.  'The others will come for me, 
kill me once and for all and I'll be dead.  No more Azrael; no more 

"At that time I started to believe he meant the Slayer, that he might 
have been a Watcher's child, or a Watcher himself, or had some 
knowledge of her...  There had not been a Slayer in the vicinity of the 
nest in over three and a half centuries, and I wanted at all costs to 
avoid attracting one.  I tried to get more out of him, but he would say 
nothing, and had taken up residence in a corner of the room, growling. 

"I ordered him taken to the dungeons and chained in the cubiculo sol, 
so that he cold not escape even if he could undo the fetters that bound 
him.  It took eight of my strongest to subdue him. 

"Rumors, of course, began to circulate, fresher and stronger than ever 
before, that Azrael was no ordinary demon, not once of 'our kind'.  
There was no way to prevent it, especially with the screams that came 
up from the dungeons, day after day."  Lupercus sighed, casting his 
golden eyes down.  "I should not have waited as long as I did, but I 
knew only that if there was a Slayer that knew of our existence, we had 
to distract her, then drive her away, or kill her if we could.  But we 
couldn't kill her, not even all of us together, and there were more of 
us then. 

"Six nights went by in this way, me trying to decide what to do.  
Then, when the count was taken that morning, one was missing from the 
ranks.  Alescia, little Alescia.  She was the smallest of us, but 
nearly the oldest.  I miss her still - those sweet golden curls, her 
small smile, how much she delighted in playing with her food before she 
sucked them dry as old husks..." 

He could sense that Teresa's interest was quickly declining, and shook 
his head, trying again to bring to mind the image of his sweet Alescia.  
She'd died long before the age of instant cameras and video tapes that 
could record a vampire's face. 

"We turned on him, drove him out, would have killed him.  I haven't 
seen him since then, but I knew in the back of my mind that he wasn't 

"Tell me about the legend." 

"Which one?" 

"Start from the beginning," she snapped, licking her lips.  For some 
reason the blood was settling uneasily in her stomach.  Usually it was 
the opposite that occurred - food was more likely to turn sour when she 
was upset or irritated.  Perhaps it was the smell of the blood on the 
floor, drying, that was causing it. 

Lupercus hardly needed the book in front of him to remember what she 
was asking for, but he turned toward the beginning anyway, the very 
beginning, where the pages were more brittle and broke easily.  He 
could barely read the faded words - brown seeped into brown so that 
they were little more than irregularly placed splotches marring the 

"Once," he began, not looking up at her.  He was too lost in thought, 
remembering the time when he had first been told this same legend as 
his fingers skimmed across the pages.  "A long, long time ago, before 
mortal animals, before humans, before the Immortals had first appeared, 
demons controlled this reality-demons of unrivaled power and strength.  
This was their home, their paradise.  Then, gradually, things began to 
change.  The world that they knew was beginning to dissolve.  They were 
loosing control over this world, but they fought for it." 

"When the first mortal animals began to appear, they were driven away, 
hounded back to the furthest corners of the Earth.  Many of them died, 
but unlike the demons that had come before them, they didn't simply 
vanish.  They lived on, in a way that few of the demons could 
understand.  It has been that way since the very beginning-lack of 
understanding leads to fear, fear leads to hate, hate leads to horror.  
It was not long before the mortal animals, humans included, began to 
fight back.  They started killing the demons that were killing them.  
There was slaughter all over the face of the Earth, and blood ran like 
water over the ground.  For an age, it looked like neither would gain 
control - that the world would become barren - a wasteland where 
nothing grew, and nothing lived." 

"The oldest and most powerful of demons began to disappear, simply 
going away, never to be seen again.  As they left, a new race started 
to appear among the humans.  They were foundlings, all of them, raised 
with the human families that took them in.  On the outside they 
appeared normal, but after they died for the first time - and life was 
short back then, instead of going beyond, following the rest of the 
mortal animals, they rose from the grave.  They were reviled, cast out, 
attacked as demons, but since nobody knew how they could be killed, 
they generally survived, becoming wild and reclusive, living on the 
edges between early people and the last remnants of the demons." 

"Every day, fewer and fewer demons were seen.  Those that remained 
were the smallest and sharpest of their kind, the ones that humans had 
either ignored or been unable to catch.  The great hunts became rare.  
There were no more of the big ones to overcome.  They had all either 
disappeared or been killed.  One of the last demons to leave this 
reality fed on a human, and in the fight, their blood was mixed.  Both 
the human and the demon died, but the human rose, his body cold, but 
his mind alive.  The spirit of the demon was inside of him, controlling 
him, living on through him.  He learned by experience that he could not 
stand sunlight, that he must feed on blood to survive.  It was not 
until he had made more like himself what else could kill him was 
discovered-the stake through the heart, immolation by fire.  Water from 
holy springs would burn the skin.  Symbols of human faith would repel 

"For a little while, a bare breath of time in the grand scheme, there 
was a proliferation of hybrids-results of matings and rituals, even 
accidents between the few remaining demons, the mortals, and the 
Immortals. Most had the appearance of humans. They varied in power from 
those able to call disaster with a thought, to those who could change 
forms, to those who could work such small magicks as encouraging 
flowers to grow, or creating images of things and creatures using 
pigments and cave walls." 

Teresa shifted in her chair, no longer as irritated as she had been 
just a few moments before, blinking.  Lupercus noticed her surprise, 
and nodded solemnly. 

"Yes.  Creation of that type is very much a trait bred into humans.  
It is far older than them.  People today don't realize how much magic 
is around them.  Every painting or drawing they see, it's there."  He 
gestured toward the book in front of him.  "Every word they read.  It's 
there.  Every song, every hymn, every crude sailor's ditty has a bit of 
something in it that goes back toward the beginning of time.  Every 
dance, every tapestry, every piece of embroidery, it's in there too.  
Every hint of color or creative impression not absolutely necessary for 
survival is magic.  Humans bemoan the loss of magic because they're so 
swamped with it that they cannot see it - they're drowning in beauty 
and begging for more."  He smiled, dusting at the subtly embroidered 
vest he was wearing.  It wasn't considered anything special now, but 
even two hundred years ago, it would have taken weeks of work and a lot 
of money.  "But I digress." 

"With the new types of people being discovered, and the growth in 
their population, the Immortals that had once been so hated found their 
way back in to the primitive cultures.  They formed loose societies, 
supported each other, and moved around so that no one knew of them.  
The lived by their own rules, and somewhere along the line the first 
head was taken, the first Quickening released." 

"With various kinds of vampires, Immortals, and hybrid demons like the 
Sphinx and the Centaur all living with and around the humans, it seemed 
like the few pure demons remaining, already forced into hiding, could 
be forgotten.  There was hunting and agriculture, clothing, children, 
lives to be lived.  Why think about the monsters that attacked 
occasionally then disappeared into the woods when tomorrow's meal is 
far from a certainty?  The solidarity of the mortal animals broke 
apart.  Some of the more intelligent species, those who might have 
rivaled humans, were killed off, or died off.  People killed them.  
People killed people.  Vampires killed people.  Immortals killed 
Immortals.  Immortals killed people, killed vampires, killed hybrids.  
No one was there to notice when in the deep of the woods started again 
to whisper with nightmares that had not been seen in ages." 

"By the time that the earth's inhabitants discovered what was lurking 
in their shadows, it was too late.  Demons - the old ones, the ancient 
ones that had simply gone away long, long before - appeared among them.  
They attacked en masse, wiping out whatever they touched, determined to 
reclaim what they felt was rightfully theirs.  They killed everything 
living, everything undead.  If it had a shred of mortality to it, they 
destroyed it.  Nothing was safe." 

"What was needed was a miracle. Populations were being wiped out 
faster than ever before. No one and nothing was safe. Somewhere along 
the line, a small group was forced together--Immortals, mortals, 
vampires, and several hybrids, all driven by one of the ancients.  They 
saw what was going to happen if they fought each other instead of 
working with one another, and somehow were able to put aside their 

"It was decided that between them they would create a champion-a being 
as powerful as the ancient demons, faster than the fastest vampire, 
with the best of the abilities of the hybrids, the Immortal's tendency 
to cling to life, and the human being's adaptability and tenacity. They 
knew there was danger in creating such a life-how easily it could turn 
on them, especially with its demonic component-but there was no other 
choice left." 

"The magicks that they used to do what they did are long lost; 
possibly they were never known outside of the small group that worked 
them. Legend has it that the one pre-immortal among them was chosen as 
the focus. Some versions say that she went willingly, others that she 
was forced, but in the end, what emerged was a creature far different 
than anything the world had seen before, and they called her the 

"She was able to defeat the demon that held them locked together for 
survival, but when it was dead, the others in the group tried to gain 
control of her, each for his own benefit. Disgusted at their behavior, 
and able to know the simple, selfish power-grabbing behind it, she left 
them behind." 

"There are many different accounts of what happened to the Khimaira in 
the years that followed, some even saying that she fled into isolation, 
living as an animal or worse, but most seem to agree that she went 
after the demons that she had been created to destroy, that she slayed 
them or helped to banish them to separate demon realms.  Since there 
was no one with her to record what happened, it is only known that 
again the ancient demons began to disappear." 

"The record of her existence ends with a demon, just as it began, or, 
rather, three demons. A powerful trio of dragon-like creatures, each 
linked by mind and body, since separating them from each other was the 
only way to destroy them." Lupercus handed Teresa a small fragment of a 
paper, showing three identical monstrosities covered with coats of 
needle like scales and razor sharp wings. If she credited the scale 
given, each was close to a hundred feet long. 

"They breathed poisonous gases, and each of their scales was capable 
of delivering a lethal dose of venom. They could not be surprised, 
because there was never a time when at least one of the three was not 
awake. A single brush of their wings could slice a man in two. As fairy 
tales go, your typical indestructible monster, but this was no fairy 
tale, and it was killing on a massive scale." 

"With the help of some local tribes, the Khimaira was able to lure the 
demon into a narrow rocky ravine, and push the boulders that lined the 
cliffs on top of it. They were separated, and two were crushed, buried 
by the falling rock, but the third one escaped and fled. It could be 
killed, but it's far from easy to destroy a beast like that, even after 
it has lost its invulnerability." 

"Somehow, they met up again, and the Khimaira managed to grievously 
wound the demon. There were few people to witness the event, but it is 
one of the first recorded in several Watcher chronicles. It was written 
that just before the creature died, it grabbed the Khimaira in its 
claws, trapping her. Slowly, it pulled itself up, and spread its wings. 
As it rose up into the air, those down on the ground could see the 
Khimaira struggling in its grip. Then suddenly a blast of freezing cold 
wind washed over them, and they saw a black rent in the sky open up. 
The demon was swallowed up by the blackness, disappearing completely, 
and only a moment later the tear vanished. The last full demon and the 
champion of the earth's current inhabitants were gone completely." 

"When the sun set that night, one of the few who had been there, a 
young man by the name of Samiul was dreamt that the Khimaira appeared 
to him. She told him that she was trapped, but that someday, somehow 
she would return. Some day the fates would pull her back to earth, to 
another body prepared for her arrival. She would come in time to fight 
when the creatures of earth put forth from themselves one of such evil 
that the demons shivered in anticipation of its birth." 

Lupercus licked his lips, not exactly smiling, but something close to 
it.  "Samiul was one of the first Watchers of one of the first Slayers, 
and I would tell you that story, but certainly not tonight. It is it is 
getting close to morning, and you could find out from any Watcher's 
library the origins of the Slayer." 

Teresa nodded slightly, her manner subdued, her mind doing its best to 
come to terms with what she was hearing. "Then I am the same? I am 
her?" she asked quietly. 

"Perhaps you share the same soul, Teresa. You can't remember what it 
was like back then, but perhaps it's there, somewhere, waiting to be 
let out. Or perhaps it's not. But you -are- the Khimaira, Teresa. Make 
no mistake about that. You were an Immortal, yet you were successfully 
turned. That in itself seems to happen only once every few hundred 
years. If Azrael sent you to me, he must believe that you are the 
Khimaira. Tell me, what made you come here?" 

"Excuse me?" 

"Why did you come here?" 

"I wanted to know what I was. I already said that." 

"But Teresa," Lupercus said, shaking his head, then looking up at her. 
"Everyone wants to know her own identity.  Tell me you didn't feel some 
need, some compulsion, to search in places that few know of and fewer 
still see. Tell me you didn't know in your heart that you would find 
something. You said yourself that there was something more to your 
story, before you heard any of this." 

Teresa was silent. 

"One of the most important and wide-spread prophecies concerning the 
Khimaira was recorded in the year 70 AD by a reclusive Roman scholar. 
His name has been lost, but it was hard to forget, once heard." He 
closed his eyes. "And one shall come from a land of war... And one 
shall come from a land of peace... And the chains of love being bound 
together in blood and pain... And the one that would be called 
Evil..." Lupercus stopped, noticing Teresa's reaction to the phrasing. 

"You've heard it before, then. It would be the one that you've heard. 
So many others were burned during the Inquisition that you're virtually 
unknown. Time was that the prophecy of your coming was as widely known 
a legend as vampires or unicorns-" 

"Unicorns." There was a touch of sarcasm to her voice. 

Lupercus looked at her in all seriousness. "You really think people 
are that creative?" 

Teresa just shook her head, wondering if there was any mythical 
creature that had never really existed. She was living proof that 
prophecies sometimes come true. "So what do I do until I have to 
fulfill this, this all seeing prophecy?" 

Lupercus actually laughed, real mirth dancing in his eyes which had 
returned without her noticing to their rich brown color. "Why, you live 
Teresa. You go out and do whatever you feel like doing. You have 
eternity in front of you, and you ask, 'so what do I do now?'. You're 
free. You can be anything you please in the world!" 

"Anything..." Teresa was mumbling more to herself than speaking aloud, 
her eyes unfocused. "A new identity? A different me?" 

The disturbing sensation of something creeping nearby, like long-
legged spiders crawling up and down her spine, tore Teresa instantly 
out of her ruminations. She jumped in her seat, and cast her eyes back 
toward the exit, only to find that a girl dark haired as herself was 
standing less than an arm's length away.  She gulped back a cry of 
surprise.  Here, in this underground lair, she had met two beings whose 
minds were closed to hers. If they decided they wanted her... Teresa 
could see far into the nearly black pools that were Tyrivnya's eyes, 
and in them she saw a creature nearly as mad as Drusilla, and perhaps 
even more dangerous. The confidence that she had shielded herself with 
took a direct hit, yet remained intact. 

"Tyrivnya," Lupercus said, gesturing for her to come forward. As she 
did, Teresa noted the blouse and skirt combination, almost gypsy-like 
with bright bits here and there, that she wore. The fabric brushed 
against her legs. "I see you've brought the DeOrc Glass. What color is 
it tonight?" 

"Black as coal, black as pitch," Tyrivnya whispered, standing right 
next to Teresa. Though she wavered as if she might fall to the floor 
any second, she didn't lean on the desk or against the wall. She turned 
her wide, nothingness-filled eyes to Teresa's, and the two females 
locked that way for a moment. "Black as the heart of the blackest 

Teresa glanced at the small silver object that Tyrinvyna held against 
her body. It looked stained and tarnished, and had the shape of a hand-
held mirror with a long handle. The entire thing, what was not covered 
by the mad vampire's fingers, was elaborately inscribed with some sort 
of runes that she had never seen before. Tyrivnya flexed her hands 
around it. 

"You see nothing for our guest here then?" Lupercus asked, not exactly 
certain what was going on between the two. He knew well enough what the 
different colors of the DeOrc Glass meant, and black wasn't one of 
them. "Show us the Glass," he ordered when neither breathed a word. 

Tyrivnya turned such a look of contempt his way that Lupercus was 
tempted to add a few words. She was his junior by some thirteen hundred 
years, and hadn't much strength, but she was unpredictable. One of the 
innumerable drawbacks to being turned early-one couldn't rule by brute 
force alone. He was glad when she faced Teresa again. 

"Black in the night, brings us starlight," Tyrivnya chanted, keeping 
the DeOrc Glass pressed tightly against her abdomen.  "Light we need 
though we are black, perfect vision we sadly lack. Though nations fall 
and empires rise, this one brings a sweet surprise." 

As she listened to the girl's words, Teresa felt little. It was as if 
she had managed to separate herself into two halves-one to watch and 
listen, and one to mull over what she took in. 

"When the deeds are done, and the wars are won, when the world is born 
again, she will be alone with he, who dying will unbalance the plan." 
Tyrivnya grinned toothily. "So it again it goes, the story grows, and 
the fights begin anew. Emerging again from nothingness, she regains her 
innocence, and therefore there's the blackened hue." 

Tyrivnya laid the DeOrc Glass down on the desk so that both Teresa and 
Lupercus could see into it. There was nothing to see. It was like 
staring at the dark sky from underneath the ice of a pond-slick and 
shifting, but sickening too, with the strangling feeling of being 
drowned. Teresa looked away as Lupercus handed the Glass back to its 
owner. "You're free to go Tyrivnya." 

The girl-vampire took her prize possession with another beaming smile, 
aiming it directly at Teresa, before clutching it to her chest and 
taking off at a run down the narrow, tightly packed room. Somehow, she 
made it through, knocking over only one large fuzzy stuffed bear with 
nothing but threads for eyes. The soft sound it made as it hit the 
stone floor covered any from Tyrivnya. 

Teresa calmly focused on Lupercus, who was not looking at her, but 
rather at where Tyrivnya had gone.  She quickly glanced at the book he 
could easily have crawled on to, then shook her head, bringing his 
attention. "I have to go. Tonight. Now." She stood, watching his 
expression shift briefly to disbelief, then become stone once more. 

"You don't want to hear the other prophecies? The words of people 
who've predicted you for thousands of years? Don't you want to know the 
future? Your future?" He smiled, as if that should instantly cause her 
to return to her seat. 

*No. Not if I live to be a thousand, no.  Not if I live to be ten-
thousand. I want no more part in this.* "No." Teresa almost stumbled 
over a collection of nestled wicker baskets as she turned away and 
started to head for the exit. When she felt a hand on her arm, she 
viciously shook it off, causing Lupercus to hit hard against the solid 
wood of the desk. She snarled, pressing forward so that he had to push 
his back up against the unyielding surface to avoid coming into contact 
with her. Teresa crouched down, putting on hand on the floor and 
leaning toward him. 

"I have learned enough. I don't want to know any more prophecies. If I 
have no choice in the future, then I don't want to know about it. If I 
wanted to know my life was going to be nothing but doom and gloom, I'd 
go to New York and find some nutcase on the street wearing a cardboard 
box. If I wanted to know my life was going to be a bed of roses, I'd 
phone the Psychic Hotline. Now, I would like to thank you soundly for 
what you've given me, but, as you so keenly pointed out, I have a life 
to live." 

She released him, and shook her head slightly as her face returned to 
normal. "I will remember the bargain. If I can ever help you, I will, 
but don't expect anything more than that. I don't know whether to like 
you or hate you, yet. Maybe I'll come around here again some time in a 
few hundred years, or maybe I won't." 

Teresa knew, somehow, in that instant, that something had changed. A 
terrible premonition washed over her that was all emotion with 
absolutely nothing substantial to back it up. There was going to be a 
shifting, and she was going to be there. She jumped across the room, 
moving from open space to tiny open space, and was, within a fraction 
of a second gone from view. 

Lupercus shook his head, and standing, brushed the dust off of his 
pants and shirt. He looked up at his shelves, and rearranged three sets 
of salt and pepper shakers with a century old deck of cards.  "Nothing 
like young demons to add a bit of excitement to a dull day." 


Teresa stepped from the close, smelly confines of the public bus and 
onto the hard pavement. It was just before dusk, and the sun was 
putting on a truly outstanding display, painting the sky with sleepy, 
warm colors. She smiled a little, slightly surprised that the din she 
expected to hit her was not quite as bad as it had been the first time 
she had set foot in Sunnydale. 

She slung her heavy, overloaded backpack, her only luggage, over her 
shoulder, and stepped away from the bus as it started away with a 
whoosh from the brakes and a renewed rumble from the engine. She was 
the only one getting off at this stop. 

Standing and closing her eyes, Teresa could all but see Giles, still 
at work in the small bookstore he now owned. Buffy and Angel, she knew, 
were almost certainly sequestered in their sun-proofed home until 

The urgency that had driven her away from Lupercus had not abated. In 
fact, it had only grown stronger with each passing hour, every hour. 
She'd nearly lost control once, when someone had grabbed her while she 
slept. If he'd questioned for a moment why her eyes were yellow... The 
nightmares seemed to be seeking to outdo themselves. 

Even now, stooping down to lay a hand on the Californian soil, Teresa 
felt conflicted. Obviously, there had to be a reason that she had given 
in to the vague premonitions. She'd had much worse before, rarely with 
anything coming of them, and if something was about to happen, and even 
if she could prevent it, should she? What if, instead of stopping it, 
she decided to help it along? 

"Depends on what it is, I guess," Teresa said to herself, pulling out 
a handful of grass, then letting the thin blades trickle through her 
fingers. Bits of dirt stuck to her fingertips, staining them brown. She 
rubbed them off on her pants. 

Yes, it always came down to that, didn't it? Deciding which side to 
choose. She had time, she decided; she could wait. 

"At least I have a good excuse for being here," she added, thinking 
aloud as she started the short trek further into Sunnydale. She'd be 
doing Watchers everywhere a great service by giving Giles the location 
of the Triami Library. Having a few favors owed was beginning to look a 
lot more enticing than it had when she had set out. She wasn't quite 
the same person. 

So much had changed, and so much had stayed the same. Teresa could 
still see how many buildings were left empty-either abruptly vacated by 
their owners as soon as they found a better place, or abandoned by 
those who had died unexpectedly. The Laundromat that had been closed 
when she first arrived was open again, though, and the twenty-four hour 
gas station. She wandered idly past it, wondering whether it was now 
owned by a human or a demon. 

There were people out. A pair of little kids, twin boys no more than 
ten years old, with rust-colored hair and freckles, ran toward her from 
across the street, laughing the whole way. Their parents, along with a 
tiny three-year-old girl clasping her mother's hand, crossed after 
them. The two boys scrambled in the grass, coming up with a Frisbee 
clasped between them, which they immediately started to argue over. As 
Teresa moved past them, she smiled slightly at the boys' mother, who 
gave her back a short, harried smile that wasn't unfriendly. Dressed 
unobtrusively in worn blue jeans and a purple t-shirt, with only a 
small, silver cross necklace, she sensed that the people around her 
would never guess for a moment what she was-so much the opposite of 
that night in Paris. 

Maybe there were too many people out. They were starting to trickle in 
groups and pairs out of their houses, enjoying the night unaware of 
most of its dangers. Their minds buzzed around hers, forcing her to 
dampen her senses to cope with the overflow of thought. She'd been 
trying to track down Giles with her mind alone, but, seeing a telephone 
on a nearby corner, Teresa turned toward it.  The directory was still 
there, and, after a moment, she was on her way again. 

The tiny bell just above the door vibrated as she entered the tiny, 
dark shop set just below street level. 

"I'm sorry, we're closing." Giles's voice, coming from behind the 
counter. He was bending over, his head buried between to stacks of 
books; he couldn't see her. Silently, she stepped forward until she 
leaned against the cool countertop, her weight supported by her elbows. 

"Aw, but I thought you loved me." 

Teresa winced sympathetically as Giles's head hit the underside of the 
counter with a thump that sent ripples along the hard material next to 
her ribs. He muttered a few well-chosen curses as he looked up at her, 
rubbing his aching cranium. 


She grinned mischievously, offering her hand. "Last time I checked." 
As close as his immediate thoughts were, she wasn't at all offended 
when he looked warily at the extended appendage and decided it would be 
a better idea to help himself up. 

Giles gently brushed his fingers over the throbbing spot on his head, 
half expecting to see blood and glad when he saw none. His mind was 
racing a half a million miles a minute-too fast to make any sense. It 
was she. Part of him had almost completely forgotten about her, it had 
been so long, but that bare week what seemed, now, like forever ago, 
seemed determined to press itself forward, along with the brief time 
they'd spent together in the library. He looked at her young face, 
expectant, waiting. "You, uh, you look well." 

"Immortality will do that for you," Teresa said, cupping her head in 
her hands with a sweetly innocent expression that was completely at 
odds with her usual self. 

"You're here for, um, Buffy and Angel's wedding, I presume?" Giles 
asked, unable to make up his mind as to how nervous he should be. That 
she appeared more normal than not was not helping him. 

"No!" Teresa said, blinking in complete surprise, and putting her 
weight back on her feet as she slipped off of the counter. Instantly, 
she opened up her mind, but she was rewarded only with a jumble of 
images and sensations in such profusion that it brought a stab of pain 
to her head. She groaned, and leaned over until the throb had lessened. 
"Damn." She grimaced, then noticed Giles looking at her. "Years older 
and wiser, and yet I still keep doing that." 

Giles chose to ignore her last comment, knowing that he could do 
nothing to help her. "If you're not here for the wedding, then why are 
you here?" 

"Danger," Teresa answered, hoisting her backpack onto the counter. 
"Among other things." She unzipped one pocket, and quickly pulled out a 
small, cheap, brown daily journal of the sort that could be found at 
any discount store. She tossed it carelessly in front of him, and 
nodded toward it. "And that." 

"What is it?" He adjusted his glasses then picked the small book up 
off the counter. 

"Maps, charts, dates, directions, et cetera," she grinned, feeling 
more herself again. "The location of a certain library, lost for 
centuries and thought destroyed..." 

"You found the Triami Library?" Giles asked, incredulously flipping 
through the pages of notes that Teresa had meticulously written out. 
There were also incredibly detailed drawings interspersed throughout 
the text, and what appeared to be a blueprint of the place, but he 
couldn't make heads or tails of it. "This is it?" 

"The very same," Teresa chuckled. "Now," she continued, tapping on the 
open page of the book that he had quickly become engrossed in. "A 
wedding? I admit it's been awhile since I did any serious looking," *a 
long while* "But how could I possibly have missed this? It's 

"I-I don't know, to tell you the truth. They've been preparing for 
nearly six months now, since they announced their engagement. It's five 
days from now, on Sunday. Everyone should be arriving soon, tomorrow 
night. Adam and Willow, Duncan with his girlfriend... Joe should be 
here tomorrow morning. Xander and Cordelia are supposed to make it in 
time for the ceremony..." 

"Everyone here, at the same time..." Teresa felt a wash of emotion 
pour over her, exactly as it had done before in the cavern. It started 
with a jolt of terror that mellowed slightly into a sort of unfocused 
dread of the future. She wasn't going to knock Giles around like she 
had Lupercus, though. He'd break. The blood drained from her face with 
a noticeable color change. "Just liked old times," she whispered. 

"Teresa? Are you feeling well? I could get you some coffee..." 

*Yech* Of all the nasty concoctions to be offered. "Got any blood?" 

"Uh... um..." Giles fidgeted uncomfortably. 

"Nevermind," Teresa said offhandedly, picking up her backpack. "Just a 
word of advice and a question for you. Be extra careful this weekend. I 
think I know that things have been quiet around here lately, but I have 
the worst feeling that that may be about to change." She waited until 
he nodded in response, then took a deep breath. "Have you ever heard of 
the Khimaira?" 

Giles wrinkled his brow then shook his head as he answered. "No, I 
can't say that I have." 

*I guess Lupercus was right.* "Oh well, thanks anyway." Teresa pulled 
the shoulder straps up, preparing to leave. 

"Wait, is it some sort of demon? This Khimaira?" 

Teresa felt a momentary thrill-perhaps he did know... perhaps others 
knew-but just as soon as she had though so, the moment had passed. She 
smiled sadly. 

"Yes, it is." 

"Is it what we should be looking for? If you know, I could research, 
and find something to stop it before it does... whatever it is that 
it's going to do." 

"No," Teresa said, turning to head for the door. "It just a name that 
stuck in my head. No danger here, at the moment. Besides," she added, 
pausing by the entrance. "If the Khimaira decided that it truly wanted 
to do something, there's absolutely nothing that you could do about 

"How very odd," Giles whispered to himself, watching as Teresa exited 
the shop without even the tiny bells above the door ringing. He held 
the book that she had left in his hands-solid, undeniably physical 
evidence that she had been here.  "How very, very odd." 


Kenny knew that he didn't have very much time left, that he was 
cutting it almost too close, but it wasn't every day that he found a 
pair like this, and he had been keeping up his charade perfectly. 
Almost perfectly. Buffy suspected nothing; Angel, he had been watching, 
and seemed to know that he wasn't everything he had said he was. Then 
again, he knew that Angel wasn't everything he said he was. One didn't 
generally live eight hundred years without meeting up with a few 
vampires along the way. 

Watching the preparations for their upcoming marriage had been 
occasionally amusing, until he had snuck a peek at the guest list. 
After that, he had had to make the decision: stay, or disappear. He 
wanted to stay. He wanted to be there, hiding, watching when MacLeod 
and Amanda found the bodies, or at least one body and the dust of 
another. They had nearly been his end once before. He would give them 
their reward. 

Alone in his room, the guest room that they had given him, with the 
television on, he fingered the perfectly sized blade that he had 
smuggled into the house. They'd be here tomorrow, he'd overheard, but 
others would be coming earlier. Best to do it in the early morning, 
just after sunrise. They would both be asleep. A couple of bullets to 
the head would ensure that they didn't wake up during the procedure. 
The first person to enter the house would probably think it empty. 
Perhaps he could deal without actually watching Amanda and MacLeod 
having to look at the bodies. Knowing that he had caused them pain 
would be enough. 

He glanced at the digital clock on the table next to the bed. The 
liquid green display read 8:54. They were both out right now. "Patrol" 
they called it between themselves, allowing him free reign of the 
house. Eight hours until showtime. Too soon, and the blood would be 
drying on the pillows. Too late... 


She entered the Bronze as a siren, every sense heightened to a nearly 
unbearable pitch in the seething mass of humanity.  The hearts beating 
around her added their rhythmic pounding to the music blaring through 
the speakers in every corner of the building--they'd decided to go it 
cheap tonight, not bothering with a band.  Carefully, ever so 
carefully, she scanned the area, wondering if she'd find the object of 
her quest. In Sunnydale, how could she possibly not? 

She hadn't learned exactly what she was searching for in all those old 
books and ancient scrolls. Azrael had been little help at all, despite 
his apparent importance. Lupercus... he had given her a story, which 
she could accept, or deny, even though she knew he was telling the 
truth as far as he knew. Months of study with her only companion the 
thoughts that she either invited or those that intruded, had not been 

She should have known. How could she have missed something as 
important as a wedding? Buffy and Angel getting married? But she had 
made it back to Sunnydale, in time. Perhaps she had known, deep down, 
just been too busy to think about it. She couldn't expect anything so 
warm as an invitation. In fact, she severely doubted the bride would 
care to see her within a hundred miles. Everyone back in Sunnydale that 
had scattered so soon after her leaving... Almost everyone, at least. 
Spike and Drusilla were dust, and Giles had not breathed a word about 
Richie. Maybe there was nothing to be worried about, that the 
premonitions, vague as they were, had merely served as a way to get her 
here. No. She accepted that she was fallible, but she was not 
delusional or stupid, and she knew there was something more. 

She had not seen them yet, would not, without something that she had 
read about in one of those ancient tomes. A gift. It was something only 
she could provide, actually, which made it all the more special. She 
tried to put out of her mind everything but her focus. If it were to be 
ready in time, it would not wait. She had already started the 
preparations, simple as they were. 

A few of the young men, boys really, paused to watch her as she passed 
them by without a second look, perhaps a little disappointed.  Then 
again, how could they have ever hoped for a chance?  That hair--
lustrous and long, a stained glass butterfly comb holding it up--eyes, 
mesmerizing, so blue that you could loose yourself in their depths--
that short, deep sapphire dress, shading to black, that clung to every 
curve... and something about her, an aura that made one want to devote 
himself to her for the rest of his natural life.  She was in a class 
above theirs, but still, why couldn't they hope? 

Just as the last strains of some forgettable song drifted away, Teresa 
felt another of her kind--vampire--close by.  And he couldn't sense her 
as anything more than another of the many young, foolish girls going 
about their small lives, albeit one with something a bit above the 
rest.  He caught sight of her at the same time she found his eyes, and 
fixed them to her own.  His were warm, ruddy brown to go with a tan 
that hadn't faded in what must have been only a few weeks since his 
death.  Warm... and seductive.  Well, he would dine on no more of 
Sunnydale's population after tonight.  It took only long enough for him 
to see her to decide what he desired.  << Almost good enough to eat. >>  
Thinking she couldn't see him, he licked his lips in anticipation. 

//When they said I don't exist well you know they're lyin' 
When they say you don't exist then you know you're dyin'// 

Teresa chuckled lightly at the song's lyrics, low enough that not even 
those nearest her would hear, a dangerous--to her prey, at least--gleam 
beginning to sparkle in her eyes.  Midnight danced with lightning's 
delicious fury as she smiled ever so slightly, flirtatiously, more as a 
silent invitation to him than to herself, though, really, she felt 
every reason to be smiling.  So amazingly simple to become this, when 
she tried. Making certain that the vampire's eyes remained fixed on 
hers, she slowly started to make her way across the room. 

//Stripped of all my strength in the mud I'm lyin' 
Stripped of all your thoughts then you know you're dyin'// 

*Fate certainly has a twisted sense of humor,* she decided silently, 
listening to the music blaring from the speakers and finally allowing 
the lyrics of the song to sink in.  *But that's to be expected, of 
course.*  The song had become amazingly popular lately, she registered 
from the thoughts of those around her, and at the same time, she 
realized that she'd never read the book that was its namesake. 

//Won't let 'em take away what I know they're after 
They can have my body but that's not what matters// 

*They have -no- idea, and yet, they managed to capture it quite well, 
for all that.*  Halfway across the Bronze, Teresa paused--and brought 
her hands from behind her back.  With the air of royalty, she tilted 
her head and preceded to examine her freshly manicured fingernails, a 
bored expression pasted expertly across her features.  Soft, warm 
fingertips were drawn slowly across a countertop, an action guaranteed 
to produce results in next to no time at all. 

//When they I don't exist well you know they're lyin' 
When they say you don't exist then you know you're dyin' 
Screaming in the fire with the witches burning 
Lookin' up the past 'cause I know it's turning// 

*Would that the past could be taken back, I don't think I could have 
done it any differently.*  And the thought came, unbidden, not a moment 
later: *But I doubt I could have borne a more normal life, either, even 
if offered the choice.*  With that on her mind, the other vampire's 
quick movement across the room and to her side barely registered in 
even her hypertuned senses. 

"You're new around here?" 

//Into something else 'cross the telephone wire 
Starin' at Big Brother, he's the greatest liar// 

*He has a nice enough voice.  Pity he's already dead.  Even such a 
trifle as a nice voice can take you so far in the world...* Teresa 
smiled again, shaking off the unnerving sensation of another so near 
that his thoughts were almost pouring off.  No control.  Perhaps she 
should simply shut down that warning system, but she decided it wasn't 
worth taking even that slight risk. Besides, there wasn't much she 
could do about quieting the din in this crowd. 

//When they say I don't exist well you know they're lyin' 
When they say you don't exist then you know you're dyin'// 

"Yeah," Teresa admitted after an acceptable delay, allowing her voice 
to sound smaller and more timid than she usually had cause for it to 
be.  "I just moved in a few days ago.  I haven't met a lot of people 
yet," she inserted the slightest hint of challenge into that statement 
with his barely noticing how much he reacted to it. 

//There's a cancer in the system and its heart is rotten 
Yeah they took away my love but she's not forgotten 
Two and two is four is the greatest thoughtcrime 
Two and two is five well you're wasting my time// 

"Well then, I think I might be able to help you with that..."  He 
smiled, revealing an even set of teeth that only daddy's money could 
have produced, as he fished for her name. 

"Teresa," she offered up sweetly.  "Teresa Knight."  *They know I'm 
here already, and there's nothing they can do to prevent my leaving.  
And no reason to take an alias yet.  If anything, they owe me, don't 
they?*  Even if they didn't feel the same. Sunnydale was as close to a 
home as she had had in a long time. Returning felt right, somehow, 
though she wouldn't stay long. Get through whatever it was that brought 
her here, then leave again. One hand, warm with the promise of 
delicious life, snaked down from her side, where it had dropped as soon 
as she had felt his chilling presence near, and brushed hesitantly 
against his. 

//When they say I don't exist well you know they're lyin' 
When they say you don't exist then you know you're dyin'// 

"Teresa..." The vampire rolled her name around on his tongue, testing 
the sound of it.  "Such a beautiful name."  And he smiled, again, that 
same false, charming smile that must have already lead dozens of young 
girls to their untimely deaths.  "I'm Seth Meisner."  He caught her 
fingers firmly in his grasp, and pulled her toward him.  "Perhaps you'd 
like me to show you some of the... sights of the city?" 

//When I'm dead and gone then you'll know I'm history 
But they will know I never was oh what a mystery 
Screamin' from the pain and you know you're bleeding 
Cryin' at the faces, cold unheeding// 

*Either he's more hungry than I think, stupider than I think, or he's 
decided I'm some sort of slut.*  Without waiting or hesitating a 
heartbeat, she peered into his thoughts, past the general, 
unrecognizable patterns, focusing.  The latter was, unfortunately, at 
the top of his mind.  Though she wanted, in that moment, to crush his 
fingers into tiny, bleeding fragments for the pleasure of hearing his 
screams, then watching him heal whole again for his presumption, Teresa 
kept her touch light, and lowered it.  *Better to let him think so.  
Things will go all the more smoothly.* He wouldn't be thinking that 
much longer either. 

//When they say I don't exist well you know they're lyin' 
When they say you don't exist then you know you're dyin'// 

"I think I'd like that, Seth," she said in a whisper barely audible 
over the music and the crowds flowing, mostly unnoticed, around them.  
Smiling deliciously, cocking her head to the side, she caught his hand 
in hers, pretending surprise at the chill to his flesh.  "You're so 
cold, I think you need someone to warm you up a bit."  She was so 
wrapped up in her own role that the Buzz hit her as a complete shock, 
aggravating overly tuned nerves.  Out of the corner of her eye, she 
watched Buffy and Angel entering the Bronze. *Damn. Familiarity breeds 
contempt, is that it?* 

"Let's go out back?" Seth suggested, nuzzling far too close for 
comfort toward the warm, inviting skin just underneath her jawbone.  
Knowing that Buffy had sensed her at the same time as she had, Teresa 
all too willingly lead the way. 


//We will meet again when the world stops turning 
We will meet again when the books stop burning 
Take you in my arms and the world stops turning 
Take you in my arms and the world is burning...// 

Buffy stopped dead in her tracks just inside the door to the Bronze. 
She no longer came here often, not since graduation, but it was still a 
popular feeding place for the few vampires that stayed in Sunnydale. 
She couldn't have made a mistake-that face was seared into her memory. 
Even a moment was enough. Her stomach lurched. "Oh my God." 

"What? What is it?" Angel asked, quickly scanning the crowd that was 
occupying Sunnydale's only popular teenage hangout.  Nothing caught his 
eye immediately. It seemed a little too quiet, perhaps, for the number 
of people, but that would not produce the sort of reaction that Buffy 
had just displayed. 

"Teresa Knight." 

"Buffy..." Angel said, grimacing.  It'd been around two years since 
the last time he'd seen Teresa Knight, and that for only a few moments. 
It had been longer, much longer, for Buffy.  She had to be wrong; the 
girl wouldn't have come back again, couldn't. He would have known, just 
from the link between sire and childe, he should have known. And he 
couldn't see her now. It didn't make any sense. *But since when has 
sense come into play?* 

"It was -her-, Angel," Buffy insisted, unwrapping his hand from around 
hers when he refused to move as she started to.  "I'd know her if I was 
blind and deaf, if I was in a coma and she came within a mile of me, 
I'd know.  If she-" Before she could run for the back of the Bronze, 
Angel caught her by the shoulder. 

"Okay, you've made your point.  But what would she be doing here?  
Now?"  He squeezed her shoulder, gently, and Buffy looked up into his 
eyes, pools of deep brown, the soul behind them speaking louder than he 
could. He didn't think that it was really Teresa. She should feel hurt 
that he didn't believe her, should feel something, at least, toward 
him. Instead, she felt a growing anger only at Teresa. 

"I don't know.  All I know is that Teresa Knight just went behind the 
Bronze with some poor guy who has no idea what he's getting himself 
into. She's probably looking for a quick meal. It's my job to make sure 
that he lives to see another day, now come on." 

Hauled bodily through the Bronze by one fuming Slayer, Angel found her 
impossible to resist, literally. A few people gave the pair odd glances 
as they went by, and more than a few shot off suggestions as to what 
they were in such a hurry for. Buffy, he was certain, didn't hear any 
of it; he ignored them. 

*If she thinks she's going to ruin the wedding one little bit...* 
Buffy pushed open the back door to the Bronze, hoping she wasn't too 
late already. 


Feeling them coming closer, now that she knew they were there, Teresa 
hurriedly led the vampire to the nearest partially secluded corner. The 
light flickered above them, going out; metal bars prevented them from 
going forward. Now, if she could stop him from struggling... It didn't 
take much, really. That very moment, he stopped, grabbing her tightly 
by the wrist. 

"I bet you'll be good to the last drop," Seth said huskily, his face 
vamping out as he held tighter, forcing her to turn toward him. With 
his free hand, he reached for her neck. << Ten to one, she screams. >> 

"Unlikely," Teresa grinned, in one move too swift for him to react 
pinning him against the bars that had been behind her. His face pressed 
up against them, and his hands were behind his back, held together. She 
licked her lips as her face changed, and ran her tongue over the bared 
fangs. He snarled as she sunk the sharp canines into his neck, stealing 
back the blood that he had taken from others. 

The cold, powerful taste of another vampire's blood delighted her. 
Even with this weak fledgling, it held an intensity that no mortal's 
blood possessed. There was no heartbeat to bring it to the surface, but 
it still flowed sluggishly somehow, and each mouthful was a new 
experience. She didn't stop when she felt his consciousness lose its 
grip, nor when the body sagged against hers. She held it tightly, 
continuing until there was nothing more to be drained. When she 
released him, he collapsed to the ground, his true face still showing. 
Looking up, Teresa saw Buffy and Angel, watching her, not ten steps 

The few seconds that the three stood, staring at each other, dragged 
on like eons. A dribble of dark crimson dripped from Teresa's lower 

The light went out completely. 

When it flickered on again, weakly, Teresa was gone. 


*Well that turned out well,* Teresa thought to herself, sarcastically. 
*Why don't I just crash their wedding too? And then the honeymoon? 
Buffy thinks I'm evil incarnate, and Angel barely knows what to think. 
This had better work, or the next time I get the urge to come to 
Sunnydale, I'll stake myself.* 

She very carefully opened her mind, tracing back to the spot that she 
had vacated less than a minute ago. When Buffy put a stake through the 
heart of the motionless vampire laying on the street, she knew. When 
Buffy and Angel started discussing what they should do, she knew. 
Making a slight detour to pick up the backpack from where she had left 
it, she knew when they began to search for her. 

*I can't keep beating around the bush like this. I'll wait until just 
after sunrise, then catch them in their house and tell them what's 
what. And if they don't accept that, then, well...* Teresa sighed, 
still feeling a little odd from the effects of the vampire's blood 
moving through her. She wouldn't do anything to them, no matter what 
they did to her-not now anyway. 

It was getting easier, as people started to drift off to sleep, for 
her to keep up her gentle scan. Throughout the city, ones and pairs and 
groups were settling in securely for the night. The predators were 
outside. *And so am I.* 

Teresa was passed by a trio of young male vampires, easily sensed, and 
they weren't doing much to hide themselves from mortals either-their 
eyes were practically glowing with hunger. She hardly thought she 
warranted the lewd thoughts she was getting from them, though, until 
she realized that she was still wearing her short, fluttery dress-not 
built for moving, and definitely not for moving swiftly, at night, with 
a breeze. So it was both sex and hunger that was on their minds, and 
she appeared to be their favorite sort of prey. Too bad she didn't have 
time to deal with them. Teresa smiled as she felt them turn, quietly 
approaching her back, then took off at a dead run. 

The wind pressing against her body was exhilarating, but not quite as 
good as the disbelief in the minds of the three vampires she had left 
behind. She laughed for the sheer pleasure of it, delighting that she 
could produce such effects. The thrill was over all too shortly, 
though, as she reached her destination-a cheap, disreputable hotel on 
the edge between the good and bad parts of town. Unfortunately, it was 
all that she could afford, and just a tiny bit better than staking out 
a corner in some run-down building. 

Two minutes and a bit of sweet-talk that left her nauseous later; 
Teresa was in a tiny room with all the luxury of a day at boot camp. 
She could hear the couple in the room next to hers in more ways than 
one, and only hoped that the wall would survive the night. 

*Directions, directions, what were the directions?* Teresa plopped her 
backpack onto the bed, and hurriedly unzipped one of the numerous small 
pockets that sprouted like weeds from every surface. There wasn't much 
time left until the blood within her would be too weakened to be of any 
use-it would dissolve into her own. Her fingers encountered the smooth, 
cool outline of the Swiss Army Knife that she had left in her luggage 
more for its can opener than for its blades. She fumbled getting it 
out. *Directions...* 

*The blood of a vampire that has recently drained another of its kind 
to the point where rejuvenation is impossible to the individual has 
several uses, as it is unusually potent. If a small amount which is not 
sufficient to turn is given to a mortal, it aids in restoring a balance 
to the humours, especially good with maladies to the nerves and heart. 
Care must be taken in using this method, as an especially weak or 
sickly person may turn without warning. Should this occur, the person 
must be staked immediately and the body burned if it remains intact. 
Between vampires, this blood also has uses, but the secret is not well 
known, due to the rarity of circumstances which lead to such 
interaction. A small amount will increase the overall strength and 
vigor of the recipient. A large amount, from completely draining the 
original attacker down to a few cups, will result in a tremendous 
increase in strength, especially in ability to withstand the vampire's 
most fatal enemy, the sun. The field researcher that observed this 
particular occurrence estimated four swallows to every day in which the 
vampire was able to walk during the day. The knowledge of this was cut 
by the valiant efforts of local villagers, who were able to stake the 
vampire. Thus it seems that while immunity is increased, it is not 
perfect. It has been theorized that a string of vampires, one draining 
the other completely, then being passed along to the next, might 
result, after a time, in a demon of incredible strength, all but 
impossible to kill. This knowledge must never, at any time, be allowed 
to fall into their hands...* 

Teresa shook her head as she came back to the present, and carefully 
retrieved the knife from its pouch. She opened up the largest blade, 
looking at it carefully. It was perfectly clean, unused, and glistened 
even in the dull light given off by the lamp beside the bed. She bit 
her lower lip, wondering... *Four swallows, twelve swallows is how 
much?* And she needed some sort of container... There had been another 
gas station just across the street... 

She was gone and back again without anyone at the hotel noticing, but 
this time clasping a large glass jelly jar in her hands. Teresa sat 
down on the bed and opened it-strawberry. Too bad she wouldn't have 
time to enjoy any of it. She upended the jar, dumping the contents into 
the garbage can, then grabbed the knife and went into the bathroom. The 
water from the faucet was tepid. Bits of sweet red jelly washed down 
the drain, swirling around the rust stained ceramic. 

"Now or never..." Teresa took a deep breath, then turned her wrist 
over and put the knife against it. The sharp metal slashed through her 
flesh so quickly that she barely felt it until it cut across her scar, 
and then she opened her tearing eyes with a gasp, seeing the mess of 
crimson liquid pumping out. Most of it flowed into the jar, which 
filled more with every pulse. Some of it dripped down the sides, 
turning the little bit of water left in the bottom of the sink a 
horrible dark pinkish color. She watched, detached, until the jar was 
nearly three-quarters full.  Watching it come out, she remembered the 
woods... It had mixed into the dirt then, making mud... 

Her flesh was starting to knit together again. Tiny flickers of 
electricity danced along the deeply slashed edges, healing them. Teresa 
leaned her head over the sink, weakly holding herself up against 
gravity that seemed to have doubled in the past minute. 

The jar was just over three-quarters full, with more coating the 
sides, but the only indication that it was her blood was the stain left 
behind on her wrist. Teresa wanted nothing more than to pick up the jar 
and take back what she had just given up, but if she did that, she 
doubted her ability to repeat the whole procedure. She forced herself 
to put the lid on the jar, and content herself with licking the sides 
clean and doing the same with her wrist, then the knife. She turned on 
the faucet, cleaning up the last remaining traces. 

Just five hours left until sunrise. 


Buffy and Angel were perfectly quiet as they returned to the home they 
shared.  Not even the crickets were chirping outside the door. They 
were dragging, tired. Over four hours of searching for Teresa had 
turned up nothing, but it was only the threat of the sun that had 
eventually turn them back. In the east, Angel could just barely make 
out the first pink tinges that heralded the dawn, too faint for Buffy 
to detect. 

Not saying a word, they both began the usual routine that they had 
adopted. Angel went to the refrigerator, downing nearly a bottle of the 
"wine" that he kept there. Buffy checked in on Kenny, and found him 
curled up on the bed, the television still on. She turned it off, then, 
meeting Angel by the stairs, they descended into the cool darkness of 
the basement. 


Kenny cautiously opened one eye, peering into the pre-dawn twilight. 
He had known the instant that Buffy walked in the door, of course. Her 
Buzz had alerted him better than any other warning system ever could. 
He swung his legs to the side of the bed, scattering dirt and a few 
fragments of leaves from his shoes. Hidden under the covers were his 
sword and the gun that he had just stolen from a neighbor. The time was 
now. He crept silently from the room. 


There was something wrong. Teresa knew it five blocks away from their 
house. Four blocks away, a hard knot twisted her stomach, sickening 
her. At three blocks she began to panic, and wasn't because of the 
sunlight striking her back as she ran. This was no vague, uncertain 
premonition of doom; this was a sense of horror and certainty that 
painting a picture of a future missing something vital. They were both 
asleep, but the other was not... Unheeding of the few people that were 
already outside, she ran as fast as her legs could carry her, so fast 
that it felt more like flying along the ground than running. 


It took one shot to prevent any interference from Angel. Kenny did his 
job well, with little mess. The vampire never knew what hit him. Buffy, 
of course, had woken up the instant the shot was fired, but got only a 
glimpse of her attacker before he silenced her as well. 

"Here's to a job well done." Kenny raised his sword, standing almost 
directly over Angel. He wasn't certain how long the vampire would take 
to reawaken, but he wanted to chance that his well-deserved Quickening 
would be interrupted. His mind calm, his body tensed for the down 

***A riddle, a riddle, what to do with a little Immortal who doesn't 
play by the Rules...*** 

The sword nearly dropped from his hands. They had gone cold, as Kenny 
heard a voice speaking inside his head. Along with the voice, there was 
anger, and predatory malevolence. As clearly as he could hear the 
words, he could sense that whatever was happening, it would not be good 
for him. Unbelieving, trying to figure out the source of the voice, he 
looked all around the room. Nothing, no one, except the two unmoving 
bodies in the bed he stood over. 

***Perhaps we should beat him, perhaps we should eat him, perhaps we 
should feed him to flesh-eating ghouls...*** 

"Aaah!" Kenny groaned as pain lanced through his head. It exploded in 
white-hot stars behind his eyes that refused to stop when he shut them. 
His fingers lost their grip on the hilt, and the sword fell harmlessly 
to the side of its intended victims. 

***A better idea I think it would be, to take off his head and claim 
it for me. That then would teach him to play by the Rules.*** 

He heard the whisper of a sharp blade through the air just a split 
second before he felt the sword at his neck. 

*Oh, shit!* 

His world went black. 


"Oh, ow..." Buffy awoke, groggy, and put her hand up to the side of 
her head. "God, what time is it?" She couldn't see anything in the near 
perfect darkness, but she was used to that. What she wasn't used to was 
feeling as if she was experiencing one hell of a gigantic hangover. 
"Oh, ow..." What had they been doing last night? She couldn't 
remember... Sniffing, she laid her head down until the dizziness 
stopped. *Immortality does have its perks. Now, if I could just 

"Angel?" Gently, she snaked her hand across the sheets, encountering 
her fiancé's cold, still body. That, like a lot of things, didn't phase 
her anymore-she'd grown used to it. When he didn't respond, she tried 
again, a little louder. "Angel?" 

Still not terribly concerned, Buffy rolled back to her own side, and 
reached for the lamp that she knew was right beside the bed. Only, her 
fingers found only empty air where it should have been. Coming fully awake, and more than a little uneasy, she tried again. Where there 
should have been a table, there was nothing. She leaned down a few more 
inches until she found it-laying on its side. 

"Angel?" Pulling the covers off of herself, Buffy sat up in the bed. 
He still didn't answer. "Angel? Please, answer me!" Her eyes had 
adjusted as best they could, but that was still only enough to make out 
the vaguest of outlines. She groped to his side, finding, then shaking 
him by the shoulders. He was still whole-there should be no reason for 
him to stay silent... "Angel!" 

*Okay, calm down, get a grip, think straight... Oh, God, I wish he 
would wake up...* Buffy shook her head, willing herself not to panic. 
*What's the first thing to do? Light. I need light.* 

Half-stumbling, she crawled out of bed, working her way across the 
floor, until she came to the far wall-nearest the main entrance to the 
room. Bits of furniture and scattered clothing hampered the way 
slightly. She stood, tracing her way up the cool surface, letting her 
hands wander until they came upon the light switch, only about a foot 
to her right. 

The light that suddenly flooded the room blinded her for a moment. 
Buffy blinked rapidly, clearing her vision. The first impression that 
she got was that the room had been ransacked-the table next to her side 
of the bed was on its side, the lamp that had been on it smashed. A 
heavy wardrobe that had been against one of the other walls had been 
knocked over somehow, and the clothes that were in it were strewn 
across the floor. Her eyes immediately went to the bed-Angel looked, 
amid the clutter, singularly serene.  No, too still for normal sleep. 
He would have answered her... Buffy walked back across the mess, 
kicking things aside as she went without thinking. 

There was a little bit of blood on his forehead that she could see, 
and a small, ugly blackish mark that was surrounded by the blues and 
purples of injured flesh. So he'd sustained some sort of head wound-a 
bullet, probably, from the look of it-that would explain why he wasn't 
answering her, and, left to its own, it would heal itself in another 
half-hour or so to judge from how quickly she knew vampires to 
regenerate. *But why wouldn't I have woken up? Why don't I remember? 
What -happened-?!* 

Buffy reached up again to touch her own forehead, almost out of 
reflex. There was no mark there that she could feel, but when she 
brought her fingers down, they were stained with sticky, dried blood. A 
chill passed through her stomach. *So that's why I can't remember.* 
What had Duncan told her...? She wiped her fingers off on her 
nightshirt, looking down. *Damage to the head and neck are the worst 
sort of injury an Immortal can sustain. Very occasionally, bad wounds 
will leave scars, and some memory can be lost if the head injury is bad 
enough. Most of the time, though, it will return not long after the 
flesh is completely healed.* Immortals healed faster than vampires, but 
not much faster. If Angel was still unconscious... She had to be 
patient, had to wait. There were no sensations of anyone else in the 

Her eyes flew open. *Oh, no. Kenny!* Whoever had gotten them must have 
gotten him as well, either shot him, or kidnapped him, or... she didn't 
want to think about all the possibilities. Leaving Angel behind, she 
whipped open the door and all but flew up the stairs. 

"Kenny?! KENNY!" He wasn't in his room, but she could see no signs of 
a struggle. Everything looked exactly as she had seen it last, except 
missing one small, Immortal child. "Kenny!" Buffy raced around the 
house, thudding upstairs to check the rooms there, searching in closets 
and behind old trunks filled with everything from books to crosses and 
Holy Water. "Kenny!" 

He wasn't anywhere; that much was obvious. She would have sensed him.  
Rounding the kitchen for the third time, Buffy finally noticed the note 
attached to the refrigerator with a magnet. It had not been there when 
she had come in just a few hours ago, before the sunrise. The memories 
were coming back. Pulling it off, she immediately began to read. 

 Dear Buffy and Angel, 

 I wasn't exactly sure how to say "I'm sorry for the 
 decapitated body in your bedroom", so I took care of 
 Kenny myself. Good thing I showed up when I did-he 
 apparently handles a gun just as well as he does a sword. 

A loud noise, a shadowy figure-small and childlike, looming over her. 

 I'm almost certain once Duncan arrives, he'll be able 
 to tell you everything about your little houseguest from 
 Hell. He was, by the way, several hundred years old, and 
 definitely not the sweet little tyke you took him for. 
 He likes to draw his victims in that way. He's taken 
 hundreds over the years. Quite an unusual experience for 
 my first Quickening. Quite the thrill, to be honest. 

A blast, and then blackness... She still didn't want to believe it. 
And Kenny was dead now? He'd killed them, then been killed by 
someone... Another memory tugged at the back of her mind. The 
darkness... the child over her... Kenny wouldn't-couldn't... 

 Your room was a disaster when I left it. Sorry about that 
 too, but I suppose you can just be glad that the 
 Quickening didn't set the entire place on fire. In any 
 case, I've decided to stick around for a while. 
 Premonitions are funny things, you know? I thought that 
 after I killed Kenny, I would just pack up and leave town 
 again, but something's holding me here still. Anyway... 

The Bronze. A face that she remembered. A vampire... Teresa. Teresa 
Knight. No, that just didn't make sense. Teresa Knight, draining a 
vampire outside of the Bronze, then leaving his body for her to 
stake... Teresa Knight, in Sunnydale to help them? "Impossible..." 

 I can't exactly see you inviting me to your wedding, 
 but I left a present anyway, in the refrigerator. 
 It's for Angel, really, but Buffy, I'm sure you'll 
 enjoy it. Enough of my blood for him to spend three 
 days in the sunlight, no SPF 10,000,000 needed. I'd 
 recommend using it soon though-I'm not exactly 
 certain how long its potency lasts. 

*What the Hell?!* Buffy opened the refrigerator door. There, next to 
Angel's usual green-tinted bottles, was a large, clear jar of some 
kind, partially full of deep crimson colored liquid. 

 Buffy, I am not evil incarnate, no matter what you 
 think. Angel, Buffy, I just wanted to say I'm happy 
 for you. I hope you get to spend forever together, 
 just like in the fairy tales. God knows, somebody 
 deserves to. 

  Yours in Eternity, 
   Teresa Knight 

She could hear Angel start to move around downstairs. He would wake 
up, wondering where she was, probably as confused as she herself had 
been... Buffy, feeling too many conflicting emotions to feel much of 
anything at all, closed the refrigerator door, laid the note down on 
the kitchen table, and, mechanically, walked toward the basement door. 
The others would start arriving, soon. 


"I don't know. Are you sure it's going to stay this way?" 

"Buffy, your hair is perfect. If we put any more spray on it, you're 
going to go up in flames when you walk past the candles." Willow 
carefully rearranged for the fourth time the tiny white flowers twined 
through her hair. Her fingers kept slipping. The butterflies in her 
stomach were terrible, but at the same time, she was nearly giddy with 
excitement. She glanced at the other women in the room, and was 
somewhat glad to see that she wasn't the only one. 

"Buffy's not really going to catch on fire, is she?" asked the little 
girl hiding, wide-eyed, behind Cordelia's skirt. Amanda laughed, 
scooping her up and depositing her on the bed next to Willow. "Of 
course not sweetie. How would you like some flowers in your hair?" 

"Oooh, yes!" She squealed in delight, abruptly forgetting any 
reservations she might have had a moment before. Willow laughed along 
with everyone else. Daphne was Cordelia's baby cousin, and, at four 
years old, the perfect choice for flower girl. Privately, Willow 
thought she was the most adorable child she had ever seen. "I'm going 
to look just like a princess!" 

It was Buffy who looked like a princess; like a character stepped 
right out of a fairy tale. She was radiant, standing in the center of 
the room, patiently allowing Cordelia to go over every detail of the 
shoes, the hair, the makeup, the gown... The gown was gorgeous-one of a 
kind-the sort that few others but an Immortal of a few hundred years 
could afford. The only thing missing was the cross that she always had 
around her neck, and she would not be wearing one today. 

"Put your hands over your eyes." Daphne did as Amanda instructed, and 
the thousand year old Immortal applied enough spray to keep the little 
girl's hair in place, even if she suddenly decided to take up 
gymnastics. Willow remembered not to shake her head, coming out of her 
thoughts. Just half an hour left until they would all depart for the 

She moved carefully, not wanting to get a single wrinkle in her own 
dress. Though she might have been a little apprehensive about wearing 
the dark blackish-purple color a few months ago, it seemed perfect now. 
For Buffy's wedding, she'd wear anything, even 'eggplant'. It made the 
pure satin white of Buffy's gown stand out just that much more. 

Buffy saw Willow fidgeting on the bed. *Maybe she'll be the next one 
of us to go through this.* Her smiled widened. *I wonder if I'm going 
to have to kick Adam in the pants to marry that girl.* The love between 
them was obvious from the moment they stepped off the plane, even if 
they didn't display it quite as noticeably as certain others did... 
"You nervous?" 

"What?" Willow blinked, not expecting anyone to actually talk to her. 

"You'd swear you were the one that was getting married," Amanda 
winked, taking Daphne off of the bed and setting the little girl free. 
"Don't worry, I'm sure you will soon." 


"Don't tell me you haven't discussed it yet!" Cordelia said, looking 
over at Willow as if she might have missed something before. "I hope 
you're not going to have one of those Vegas weddings." 

"Make sure he gets down on one knee to propose to you. That's the only 
way to go," Buffy grinned. 

"But... I- but..." 

"It's okay, Willow, we understand," Buffy added, winking. "Don't we, 

"Oh, of -course-," Amanda said, biting back another laugh. The redhead 
looked exactly like a child who had gotten caught not with her hand in 
the cookie jar, but a few steps from a safe getaway, and was now trying 
to hide the evidence. 

"Well, yes, but I say you should run up and grab the bull by the 
horns, so to speak." After receiving a few odd glances, she frowned. 

Buffy smiled again. There wasn't much time left... She couldn't 
remember when she had felt so happy, or so nervous... As she watched 
the others, her thoughts drifted back over the past months, how 
everything had led up to this point... 

There was still a chance that something could go wrong. There was 
always that chance. No matter how well you've planned, prepared, and 
schemed, there will always be something you've left out without 
realizing it. And things that pop up at the last minute. Amanda and 
Duncan had confirmed Kenny's identity after seeing one of the few 
pictures they had taken of him, but Buffy could still barely believe 
what had happened. Teresa was still out there. A loose canon. No one 
had seen or sensed her during the week. 

"Buffy?" Willow's voice. 

"Huh?" What was it now? 

"It's time to go." 

Everyone else was ready, standing, waiting for her. She took a deep 
breath, stepping forward. "Here we go." 


"Companion to our demons... They will dance, and we will play..." 

Accompanying the sounds of her singing was the steady, soft brushing 
of a cloth over a flawless steel blade. She had found the dagger buried 
up to its hilt in the soft ground in one of Sunnydale's many cemeteries 
and claimed it as her own. An hour ago, she could have seen herself 
reflected perfectly in the flat blade. Now, she continued to rub 
without looking down. It was the sort of rhythmic motion that allowed 
one to stay awake without thinking. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it 
didn't. It wasn't working this night. And it wasn't her own thoughts 
intruding on the silence of the condemned building. There were small 
things: an assignment due, a cat to be shooed off the couch; and big 
things: a first date, a first kiss... And there was the wedding. Buffy 
hated her. This was Buffy's night. Teresa wanted nothing more at that 
moment than to not be able to experience the wedding through their 
eyes. *I should have left.* But it wouldn't go away, and she would not 
feed in Sunnydale. *They're already at the church. I should have left.* 
She wished that she could be there to give her good wishes. 

"With chairs, candles, and cloth... making darkness, in the day." 


"Nervous, kid?" 

Angel jumped when he felt a firm hand on his shoulder and heard the 
voice at the same time. Methos's hazel eyes, highlighted by a smile 
that was just short of a smirk, met his when he turned to look. If his 
heart had been beating, it would have been racing. There were some 
advantages to being a vampire--but they didn't include losing the 
feeling of butterflies in the stomach. He lied. "A little." 

"I was nervous for the first, oh, thirty or so of my marriages." 
Methos took his hand off of Angel's shoulder to adjust his tux jacket 
once again. Classic black. It went with the flowers. "It goes with the 
territory. Don't worry. Everything will go just fine." 

"Not a good thing to say in Sunnydale. I can just imagine it." Angel 
cringed, his already pale face going even paler. "It'll probably be a 
fire demon, or The Araazi Cult. I heard they were in LA a few weeks 
ago. Even the vampires have been quiet for the past week. I keep seeing 
something, or somebody, bursting in during the middle of the ceremony 
and ruining everything..." 

He did have a point, but Methos wasn't about to let him start brooding 
over it. "Try not to think about it. Try to relax. Try to think of the 

Angel turned to him, an actual smile on his face. Methos laughed and 
clapped the young vampire on the back. "Come on." 


"God dammit!" The dagger imbedded itself in the crumbling wood beam 
across the room. Teresa didn't bother with doors, or stairs. She was to 
the nearest window in a second, and through it the next, shards of 
glass falling along with her. As soon as she hit the ground, she was 
running. But they were closer. Like a fast approaching storm, they had 
sprung up without warning. She hadn't anticipated, hadn't known. Even 
if she could make it... 


Everything was ready. They were standing together in front of 
everyone... Willow's reassuring smile gave Buffy the extra courage she 
needed to start, and, in a moment, it seemed that everything was part 
of some wonderful dream. The Priest's voice was just enough to twine 
reality and fantasy together. 

" you, Buffy Anne Summers, take this man, Angelus Nicholas Snowe, 
to be your honored and cherished husband, to live with and love for the 
rest of your life?" 

Breathlessly, "I do." 

"Then turn to him and make this profession of your faith..." 

She didn't need even the guidance of his words, but could have 
repeated them in her sleep. "I, Buffy, take you Angel, to be my 
husband, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for richer, for 
poorer, in sickness and in health." Angel's wink nearly made her laugh, 
but she was able to continue. "To love and to cherish until death does 
us part..." 


"Uli, Vanessa, you'll go around back, cut off the basement door. 
There's only one door, and five from San Francisco should already be 
there. Anyone that comes out kill or turn as you please. Remember that 
some of them might be Immortals, so if you snap their necks, they'll 
stay down longer." 

Olivia wasn't concentrating on driving the enormous van she had stolen 
off of a recent victim. The curbs, and passengers, suffered as a 
result. Her green eyes shifted into gold. 

"Ryan, Kate, Marc, you three will rush the back of the crowd as they 
leave the church. Remember to wait until the happy couple, at least, 
are out, but don't wait so long that people start to straggle. I have 
word that the wedding party isn't very large, and that it's on Holy 
Ground, so the Immortals have been persuaded to give up their swords 
for the ceremony, but don't assume anything." 

"Maire?" The wide-eyed, brown-haired, bespectacled, mousy girl in the 
seat beside her looked up from the laptop computer she had been busily 
clacking and clicking over. "Are the others ready?" 

"In assigned positions and ready, Master. No pre-assignment gatherings 
to rouse suspicion. Three lost to the Slayer, but no information 
leaked. The twenty-seven from the Seattle contingent will arrive as 
scheduled just as we do." 

"Las Vegas?" 

"Only three, but yes, they're already there. Xavier refused to allow 
any of his to become entangled, just as you predicted." Maire pushed 
the glasses back up on her nose. Only three weeks turned, she still 
clung to some of her human mannerisms. "Dylan was able to make it." 

"Good," Olivia snarled happily, pushing the gas pedal to the floor. 


"...and do you, Angelus Nicholas Snowe, take this woman, Buffy Anne 
Summers, to be your honored and cherished wife, to live with and love 
for the rest of your life?" 

Her smile was like a ray of sunshine. "I do." 

"Then turn to her and make this profession of your faith..." 

After they had been through so much together... "I, Angel, take you 
Buffy, to be my wife, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for 
richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. To love and to 
cherish," There was a tear in her eye. "Until death does us part..." 


Dylan felt a tap on his back, and turned, expecting one of his 
companions. Instead, his head was thrown back as a fist like iron 
connected with his nose. His body made contact with the sidewalk that 
ran around the church, blood from the broken bones in his face staining 
the pale concrete. Just before the stake plunged into his heart, he 
caught sight of a young woman with dark hair and gold eyes bending over 

"Loser." Teresa waited until the ashes blew away in the strong breeze 
that was coming off the ocean, then went silently for her next target. 


Half of the church was in tears, and the other half looked near it or 
incredibly proud, or happy. Daphne was bouncing up and down, but 
whether she was excited or had to go to the bathroom, Cordelia wasn't 
sure. Between the organ music and the various sounds made by people as 
they started to stir, she couldn't be certain, but she could almost 
swear that she heard someone fighting outside, beneath the window. 

***Everyone get out of the church! Get out now! The back!*** 

Nearly everyone in the ceremony broke with the orderly, traditional 
path they had been following, the bride and groom themselves pausing in 
confusion in the middle of the aisle. People stopped what they were 
doing, unsure how to proceed with this new intrusion. Willow and Methos 
looked toward each other, each wondering if the other had heard the 
same thing and not reassured by the knowledge that they both had. 

***I can't fight them all off at once! Get out!*** 

They were almost frozen in place-- some in shock, some startled, some 
simply too confused to move. Amanda reached for her sword out of 
reflex, only then remembering that she'd left it with the others'. They 
couldn't fight here anyway. It was Holy Ground... So what the Hell was 
going on? 

***Too late!*** 

Cordelia screamed as the glass behind her shattered inward, raining 
her and the rest of the bridesmaids in a shower of glittering 
splinters. She felt something knock into her before her head hit the 
floor, and remembered nothing after that. 

Vampires immediately poured in through the broken window, snarling, 
angry, some coated with dirt and blood. At least one had marks around 
its chest, showing where a stake had narrowly missed. Most of those who 
realized they would be of no help in a fight against a bunch of 
bloodthirsty demons made a dash, some stopped in their tracks as the 
front doors burst open and more mobbed in. 


Two vampires gripped her right arm, and another three were holding on 
to various points of her left side. Teresa kicked out with her only 
free limb, the right leg, managing to catch one of the four in front of 
her off guard. She hissed as the large male that was attached to her 
left shoulder leaned in for a bite, and suddenly pulled away from all 
of them, quickly twisting his neck so that his face was turned exactly 
the wrong way. He dropped like a rock, but as she watched another one 
of them right his spine, she knew he would only be out of the game for 
a few minutes. Her stake had been dropped minutes ago. 

*Oh, come -on-!* Teresa whipped herself nearly out of reach, ramming 
heads together as she went forward. She crouched as one of them 
regained his footing, and tripped him with an outstretched leg. A 
nearby sign provided the wood necessary to reduce him to dust. Just as 
he died, another jumped on her back, forcing her down momentarily. She 
met her end as quickly as Teresa could roll over, but they just kept 


"This isn't happening," Buffy said once, still trying to deny what was 
going on right in front of her. Angel's hand on her shoulder shocked 
her back to life. "Can you fight in that dress?" 

One of the more IQ resistant rushed toward them, held back by Angel's 
sudden lunge. 

"Damn them all!" She reached for the vampire Angel was restraining 
with one hand and with the other grabbed and splintered the top edge of 
one of the wooden pews. It left a ragged edge perfect for impaling. She 
didn't bother with wiping the dust off before follwoing her new husband 
into the meelee. 


"Uungghh..." Teresa slammed her fist down on one side of her knee, 
popping the twisted bone back into place. One of the few left outside 
saw her "helpless" state. Ran for her. Stake. Dust. The cold, numbing, 
tingling sensation around her leg told her that it was healed. With the 
arrival of yet another van, she'd been overwhelmed by sheer numbers. 
She blinked her yellow eyes and knew that they had gotten into the 
church... A pile of rubble against the wall... the window now a gaping 
hole... screams... Why hadn't they listened to her? With a surge of 
adrenilin produced by anger, Teresa leapt across the dark ground, 
directly through the ragged hole. 


If panic and confusion has reigned a moment before, an ordered chaos 
had upsurped its place. Close to fifty vampires swarmed in the church. 
Half a dozen left to fight... 

"Hello, Buffy." 

The Slayer whipped around at the sound of her name. "Olivia." 

Several vampires, two males, one female, broke off from the main pack 
to take sides with their master against the Slayer. 

"Glad you remember me, Buff." 

The circle inched forward, closing in. 

"You know, I can't imagine why you didn't kill me the last time, but I 
assure you, you will regret it." 

Buffy shifted the position of the stake in her hand. Out of the corner 
of her eye, she saw Duncan taken down by the combined forces of nine 
vampires, two attached to his neck and sucking. In the back of her 
mind, she remembered that vampires were always stronger after feeding 
on Immortal blood. 

Methos' sword sliced cleanly through the chest of one, then came 
around for a second slice that cleaved its head from its body. It 
instantly dissolved to dust, but four had jumped him from behind in the 
meantime. If they got his weapon... She couldn't see Giles or Amanda, 
and with Duncan temporarily out of the picture, his nine started toward 

"It's not going to end like this. Not now. Not tonight," Buffy said, 
her eyes going back to the vampires slowly circling in front of her. 
Her voice lacked the conviction that she needed to hear. Olivia, 
standing slightly in front of the circle, threw her head back in an 
empty laugh, and Buffy's heart sank. She could sense another group 
approaching, and knew that someone had been killed or disabled. She 
couldn't fight them all at once, there were just too many, and closing 

Olivia allowed her forces to gather in, letting them take their time. 
She wasn't about to spring forward; even for the glory of a Slayer 
kill, she wasn't stupid. Having done a little research herself, and 
seeing the complete lack of cuts or scratches on the girl, the rest 
fell into place. An Immortal Slayer. Both intriguing and dangerous, and 
it would fit with sketchy reports of a second active Slayer operating 
in Europe. 

"You plan to stop us? Do something then!" The Slayer stood perfectly 
still, and Olivia watched as the group that had been ringing the other 
female Immortal stood back, then headed for them. She chuckled. Despite 
the unforseen appearance of another ensouled vampire just outside the 
church, and she had no idea how they had accomplished that, things were 
falling neatly into place. "You're finished, Slayer, but I'll have your 
blood before I have your head." 


Teresa worked silently through those she came across, picking them off 
one at a time. The stragglers she caught first, using stakes ripped 
from whatever wooden surface was nearest. They went without having time 
to alert those around them. Draining, then snapping the necks of a few 
gave her the initiative to continue, and kept her on the edge of 
frenzy. Giving into that animal would get more than the other vampires 
killed, however, and she contained it. 

Under a blanket of glass shards, her dress ripped and back bleeding, 
Teresa found Cordelia alive, but unconscious, barely inside the church. 
She must have been trampled in the first wave, then ignored. She moved 
on, feeling as Duncan was taken down, but right in front of her was 
Giles, very mortal, and hampered by the attentions of four vampires. 
One stake. Two. The third was dispatched in the second second, its 
fangs tearing into the Watcher's throat. The fourth had enough warning 
to widen its eyes, but crumbled to dust the moment after. 

***Stay quiet and listen to me,*** she calmly thought to him. Ignoring 
her, her reached for his neck. She grabbed his hand mid-way. It was 
better that he not feel the blood oozing from the ugly wound. ***Get 
Cordelia and get out of here. Go to the hospital. Don't stop until you 
get there.*** She visualized where the bridesmaid was, and Giles 
finally looked up at her with some recognition. "Teresa?" 

"It's me. Can you do that? Can you help Cordelia?" 


His first concern, always his Slayer. 

***Alive, but not for much longer if I don't move. Help Cordelia.*** 

Teresa sensed the approach of two vampires from behind. She twisted, 
impaling the first one with its own momentum. The second had enough 
warning to slow, skidding on the waxed floor, but Teresa leapt 
silently, pressing her hand over the demon's mouth and twisting its 
arms behind it. Her own fangs found the carotid artery, taking freely 
from the cold fluid that came into her mouth. Three sucks. Stake. Dust. 
She turned, and Giles was already gone. Her eyes sought him out, 
disappearing through the back door, Cordelia limp in his arms. Two less 
to worry about. Had Joe stayed? No, he'd gone with Willow... 

Against all odds, she felt Angel and Methos still fighting. Methos was 
working with a dozen snarling, grimacing vamps piled on top of him. She 
couldn't even see him through the undead mass. He must have staked one, 
because the entire heap collapsed in on some inner cavity. 

There were ten or eleven roaming about the church, reluctant to get in 
a tangle with the Slayer despite the number already surrounding her. 
Teresa crawled beneath a pew and slid forward on her back across the 
waxed floor. She grabbed the nearest one by his leg, and he fell 
between the cracks in an instant; the next, he joined the rest of his 
deceased fellows. When his female companion rushed over, seeing him  
fall, she met his fate. 

They weren't falling fast enough. Even the number that she had killed 
was barely making a dent in the pack, and the slow going was 
frustrating. Another opening. Another second, and the third in a row 
went down without a fight, taken like an unsuspecting buffalo by a 
lurking piranha. The thought came to her that if she could only find 
Angel, and get Methos, Buffy would have a chance. She could take the 
ones on Methos by herself, but only if the others didn't all rush her 
way. But where was Angel? She couldn't see him... she had to see him to 
send to him... a moment of confusion, then an attempt. 


His answer was a question in his own thoughts, but despite the ruckus 
around her, Teresa could hear it plainly and all but see his head going 
from side to side. Apparently he was doing exactly as she was, hiding 
beneath the pews and moving to pic off the stragglers, working towards 
Buffy. They must have been pulled apart... <> 

***It's Teresa. Where are you, and can you make it to Methos?*** 


***She's surrounded. There's about twenty-five circling her, waiting 
until she makes the first move, from what I can hear. Listen to me. We 
need to get Methos and...*** She felt the first stirrings of Duncan 
reawakening. ***Duncan if we're to have any chance of all of us getting 
out of this alive.*** 

Teresa felt the seconds grind like hours as he argued the matter back 
and forth in his mind, eventually hearing the answer she expected. 
Before he could rethink it, she dashed across the floor, diving right 
for Methos. With her face as it was, none of those struggling around 
her questioned what she would be doing there. Once she saw Angel, 
however, Teresa whipped the stake she had concealed out of her sleeve. 
One. Two dusted. Three. On the other side, Angel got one before cries 
from the rest alerted the others. Teresa screamed as someone she had 
not felt arrive kicked her viciously in the back. Hot pain lanced 
across the suddenly fractured ribs. In the second that she was 
vulnerable, she was tackled. Thoughts and sounds and pain blurred, 
burned, attacked, forcing higher thought down, out of her mind. A stake 
was brought down in her chest, but missed the heart, and was deflected 
by the hard plate of the breastbone. The rent flesh oozed blood. With 
another scream, Teresa blindly bit upwards, and was rewarded by a 
mouthful of flesh. She tore sideways, and cold liquid splattered all 
over her. There was no scream. She spit out chunks of skin and fat from 
the neck of a demon who was now out of the picture. 

Someone kicked her in the side of the head, and some broken metal 
piece ripped open the skin. She shrieked, this time, pulling free from 
however many were holding her down, uncaring how many or how strong 
they were. They were trying to get her by sheer numbers, exactly as 
they had outside, but she had learned from that, and took them as she 
could get them, using teeth, fingers, elbows, fists, knees, and feet as 
weapons. She had the satisfaction of landing a solid blow to the crotch 
of one male, who immediately went down like a ton of bricks. Something 
tried to grab her leg, only to run, whelping in pain, when she pulled a 
fistful of hair and bloody scalp from its head. 

Somehow she managed to clear the seething tangle of human shapes to 
find the fount... she must have been dragged through half the church... 
unmindful of the welts she raised on her own flesh, Teresa grabbed the 
bowl full of holy water and launched it at those nearest her. Screams. 
The smell of burning flesh. Several blinded, then dead as Teresa found 
the remnants of a pew and smashed them chest-first into it. Another. 
She grabbed a convenient sized piece and dived toward another. Her back 
was turned, trying to run. Dust. Another. Dust. The third swerved, 
lived another few seconds, but was ended in the second lunge. Dust. 
Another. Dust. A red haze had come over her vision, enraging her 
further. There was no counting, no thinking, no hesitation -- grab, 
stake, dust. Another. She hated them, and didn't know why, only that 
they deserved no mercy. 

What was happening? "Vanessa!" Olivia screamed, momentarily stunned as 
her perfect attack splintered into groups of threes and fours, some 
running. The front doors were thrown open. How? The metallic flash of a 
sword as it cleaved a head from its dissolving body. Dust, drifting 
thick in the air. Someone in a frenzy, moving almost too fast to be 
seen; not human. Not even vampire. Not her kind of vampire, at least. 
Uncertainty. Crumbling. Escaping. She was grabbed across the shoulders 
from behind, the grip of the Slayer strong and true. Sweetly, "Pay my 
respects to Jeremy, would you?" The stake hit home. White. Black. 

Buffy jumped back as Olivia turned to dust, slamming into the stunned 
remnants of those who had been surrounding her. Even they were breaking 
up. Seeing the Slayer loose, most fled. Those that didn't, died. The 
church doors were wide open, revealing a cloudless sky. Vampires 
scrambled across the lawn, dashed off into the night. She half turned 
with her stake held at the ready, but not one pressed its snarling face 
next to hers. They were gone... Except for one, and that one was still 
wearing his torn tuxedo, now grey instead of black with dust. He was 
helping Methos, Duncan, and Amanda, who must have just woken up, to 
hold a snarling, unrecognizable figure against the church wall. The 
howls that came from it were animalistic and unnatural, and sent chills 
down her spine. It snapped at Angel, and he slapped it across the face, 
holding it down at the same time. Buffy let the stake lower as she 
stepped in front of them all, her wedding gown torn and blood-stained. 

Teresa was not in control of her body. She was buried beneath blood 
and grime and the demon's flaming gold eyes, hotter than any the Slayer 
had seen since... since Angelus. For a moment, the fear that she felt 
overwhelmed her. The look was too alike. She was his childe, after all. 
Angel cracked the girl across the cheeks again, and her head hit the 
wall hard, and stayed. Instead of bouncing back, she opened her mouth, 
moving the bruised jaw. The ridge disappeared from her brow in an 
instant. Her eyes shut, and she hovered for a moment, unmoving, then 
collapsed, muscles quivering in exhaustion. Only the hands that had 
held her back a moment before supported her now, lowering her as gently 
as they could manage, their own bodies still healing. 

When Teresa opened her eyes, they were still gold, but as they faded 
into orbs of shadowy blue, Buffy realized that they were not looking at 
her. They were unfocused, staring at some distant point. The cut on the 
side of the girl's head was healed, a spot of pale flesh uncovered. The 
ugly welts on her forearms were all but gone, leaving skin that 
appeared mottled where there was no dirt. They all heard when her 
fierce intake of breath forced several ribs back into place, the 
benefits of Immortal physiology. 

Angel stood back from the others, another urgency taking over his 
thoughts. Seeing Buffy only a few steps away, he rushed to her, 
encircling her in his strong arms. She grabbed his head, bringing him 
down for a desperate kiss that lasted until the panic had stopped. They 
were alive. They were still alive, and together. 

Teresa tried to stand up. The first attempt was weak, but by the second 
her body at least was fine. Her mind, however, had not entirely 
returned. Amanda held her under the arm when she took a few awkward 
steps, then stopped. She held up her head slowly, as if it were too 
heavy for her neck. Though no tears fell, her eyes glistened with 
moisture. Her voice halting, her expression one of near agony, she 
looked away from them. "I was too late." 

Duncan put his hand against the shrinking Immortal-demon's back. "It's 
only a building, Teresa. You've saved our lives." 

Painfully, she turned her head again, keeping her eyes to the floor. 
"Not all." 

Methos felt the slight, timorous brush against his mind, neither a 
word nor an image, but a feeling, and grabbed for the nearest support 
to keep himself upright at the way it spread through him. "Willow..." 

Buffy snapped back to herself, the Slayer coming to the fore at the 
mention of her best friend. "What about Willow?" Teresa didn't answer 
her. "Dead?" She couldn't believe she could be asking this. Angel 
grabbed her hand. 

"Worse," the Khimaira admitted quietly. 

"But what-?" 

"Turned," Methos interrupted the Slayer, standing firmly again. It 
seemed like such a short time... It was just the blink of an eye for 
him... He'd come here for a wedding... a wedding of Immortals, and he 
would have to- 

"I'm sorry I couldn't save all of you... I'm... sorry-" Teresa broke 
from their grasp. She felt the just-healed knee nearly give out, 
turned, saw them all staring after her, and ran from them. There were 
no tears in her eyes, only a small hollow in her heart. Stupid 
mortals... so... fragile... The wind pushed her hair back and struck 
the blood-tears off of her cheeks.


There was not a cloud in the sky. Bright, golden sunshine, cool with a 
hint of the previous night's rain, bathed her body. She took in the 
sweet-tasting air, delighting in the newness of it; she was drinking in 
spring. Even the grass was smooth against her skin, the tiny velvety 
buds of flowers poised to release their perfume. 

The transition lasted only a moment, so that she barely noticed the 
darkening of the sky, the lengthening shadows on the ground. Dusky blue 
covered everything, blanketing, erasing minor faults and obscuring 
larger ones. There were buildings around her- low rows of houses, and 
in the twilight just before the disappearance of the sun, they were 
perfection. Teresa felt them around her, comforting, present... home. 

She was walking along a road which seemed to go on indefinitely in 
either direction, its ends a haze that she did not need to see.  
Someone, a man, was walking along the opposite side, far, far in the 
distance- an immense journey to get to him. He was talking to another 
someone, but the figure was indistinct as a ghost or spirit. The spirit 
noticed her, and she felt the first jolt of shock go through her. It 
was real, and it knew her. No one was supposed to know her... Then 
pain, then fear. Her eyes were sizzling. 

"The light!  It burns!  It burns my skin!" 

She screamed in terror. A bright flash of light that lasted for several 
seconds and bathed everything in terrible white and red, like a nuclear 
explosion, stripped the skin from her bones, and melted the eyes right 
out of their sockets.  She screamed, but her mouth was on fire, and the 
sound mixed with the ripping, groaning howl from the explosion that 
obliterated matter. 

Nothing had happened. In fact, no time at all has passed. The man and 
his now completely fleshed companion - a curly, brown-haired woman, 
were in the same place that they were before the flash. 

Teresa felt that the buildings on her right side - small buildings, 
houses still, but old and falling apart, were now menacing, angry at 
her.  On her left, the side where those people were walking so far and 
yet so close, was now an enormous open field; manicured as a formal 
park in some prim Victorian town. 

Old-fashioned band music, low, unidentifiable, came from that park. 
Someone, for a moment, was enjoying himself. There was a moment of 
laughter, of smiles. Then, above that, a low, pulse-like growling 
started deep within, beating with her blood and in her veins like a 
sound that wasn't a sound, and terrified her. 

She tried to run, to force her legs to take her away, to even move. The 
wind blasted suddenly, screaming in her ears and holding her in place 
as firmly as steel shackles. 

Then the man and woman were there, not more than a few feet away.  
Neither were the same. Neither could possible be real. They are both 
hideous to look at - the flesh rotting from their faces and hanging in 
brown and gangrenous black strips.  Yellow puss pooled in their empty 
eye sockets, and noseless nostrils show a gleam of green bone under 
decaying - burned flesh.  They both smiled, and showed perfectly white 
and strong fangs to her, making a sound something like a hiss. 

Her heart thudded erratically in her chest, the terror a living thing 
gripping her vitals in its iron vise, telling her to save herself, to 
dive down into the save earth beneath her feet and move through the 
soil as through water.  But she couldn't - she was caught-helpless-
unable to move. 

The horrible creatures - she could see that despite their flesh, their 
hair shone glossy and smooth and clean, and their clothes were fresh 
and unstained, continued to move forward.  The male licked his cinder-
black lips, staring at her without eyes.  The growling picked up 
volume.  It was close to her now - too close, and she could feel its 
rancid breath on her shoulders. The man, holding his arms protectively 
about the female, turned his head toward the darkness gathering behind 
her.  He looked at her again, sightlessly, and hissed, but his soft, 
almost inaudible outpouring of air came with an impossible to ignore 
warning - 'Run, we're coming after you...' 

He laughed horribly, bits of flesh falling off of his teeth, and Teresa 
recognized the voice: Spike's.  And the woman with him was Drusilla. 

Soundlessly, instantaneously, another impossibly bright flash exploded 
around her. Again, her voice failed. Her screams of searing pain were 
swallowed in the absence of sound. Her eyes failed. No black, no white. 
A nothing. But then she was running, her feet pounding against the 
gravely pavement beneath her - she slipped, fell, felt her knees grind 
against the sharp rocks until they drew blood, but the panic gripped 
her heart.  'Run. Run. Run.' 

No more thought. All was thought. Nothing could be real.  And the was 
growling increasing, blotting out all other sound save the sand and 
gravel flying under her feet.  And for a moment, everything was black - 
an utterly dark, soundless, heatless void.  It did not last long enough 
for her to scream, or to panic, but disappeared, and all there was was 
her thoughts... 

It was a familiar place, one that she'd been to many times before... 
She'd passed that intersection of roads many times before... All sight, 
and nothing else... And then she could feel her body again, feel her 
hands against the hard road, and her legs - nearly bare, against the 
sinking-soft and yet sharp and unyielding gravel shoulder.  Sand and 
rocks bit into her hands, but she could feel herself slipping. She knew 
that there was something there, a sewer tunnel, to the right.  No, 
mustn't slip that way. If she fell, she'd fall into the slime and 
muck... And again she could not see. The only sense missing was sight, 
this time, and though she could feel her hands moving, she could not 
see anything, could not tell whether she was staring into blackness, or 
a grey mist.  More knowledge, suddenly acquired- to her left was 
something unknown, and possibly wild, or possibly sanctuary.  In front 
of her was more road, and houses- homes, but nobody was in them. And 
there was so very much road- impossible to take the right course from 
there.  Behind - there was no behind, only a wall of nothingness that 
is silent until she realized what it was. Her head was splitting, her 
mind racing and painfully restrained... 

Then it began to pulse, and the pulse was the same speed and frequency 
as the growl.  Cold panic ate into her from the inside, freezing her 
reason, her will... 'No, no, no... nononononononononono!' 

Something lurking in the tunnel was trying to draw her in- into the 
darkness- something slimy and wet and running with ooze that gave off 
no smell.  But it was strong, and its only thoughts were dark.  There 
was no good in it, no life.  It was a creature of darkness, and hunger.  
Without seeing, Teresa knew that a bright light had instantly banished 
the darkness in front and to her sides, but not to her back.  She 
shrieked, clawing at the ground in front of her- trying to dig her way 
in-she was as terrified of the light as she was of the darkness; there 
was no thought in the light, no emotion, just light. 

Then the light disappeared, and she was paralyzed, frozen solid as a 
marble statue as that rancid breath curled hot and wet against her 
shoulders.  There was something canine about the presence, but not 
right- not natural- not something that would be allowed to appear 
anywhere but in the dream realms.  The air stunk, and she was sick.  
There was still no sight in her eyes, but she felt it draw closer, and 
the utter blackness had turned to blood... spoiled blood and bruises - 
dark purple pulsing black stains... 

Teresa awoke suddenly in the darkness just before dawn, and for a 
second could not tell whether or not she was still dreaming-the sky was 
the same color-dark... a bruise against the sky, angry and boiling. The 
clouds of a gathering storm churned and roiled above her, the breeze 
whipping fine tendrils of her hair back and forth. Pressure and 
moisture hung in the air, building in concentration. Her heart was 
still frantically racing in her chest, and her forehead was covered 
with icy beads of blood-sweat. She shivered, disoriented and dizzy, and 

After running through the night, she had dropped, unable to continue, 
on the beach. Some guiding instinct had sent her towards the water, 
keeping her from running in endless circles. She had needed to get 
away, to run as fast as she could to get away from that place. So 
stupid, to put herself so near the Hellmouth for so long... It played 
on her, used her... The waves licked at the sand only a hundred yards 
from where she was, their sound unsteady as the coming gale drove them 

Calming quickly, she put a hand up to her cheek. The flesh was cool, 
smooth, solid. Somehow, she must have slept away an entire day and 
night, under the wide-open sky, without anyone finding her. A rocky 
overhand had provided some shelter from the blistering sun, but there 
was no other screen. Anyone could have wandered in. There was only a
single track on the sand. 

Spike and Drusilla... No, she wouldn't think about that. The dreams 
were just that, dreams. Nightmares. So terribly, terribly real... No. 

Her mind opened slowly, stretching, waking. There was something 
missing that had been here before, always around but never in front. A 
life that was no more. There was another still there, but different... 
and the rest... 

She had saved them. All but two were alive because of her. It had not 
been her fault, and things could have gone far worse. They hadn't... 
Cordelia, Giles... They were alive because of her. But what had she 
done? What... 

"And I asked her for some happy news," Teresa whispered to herself, 
sitting up and wrapping her arms around her knees. Her clothes were 
still torn and stained with blood and dust, now nearly covered with 
sand. The wind was picking up. Perhaps, this time, she wouldn't come 
back. There was no one who needed her, no one who really wanted her. 
*I've nearly been around the world and back again, and for what? A 
name? Yes, Khimaira, what are you going to do with yourself this time?* 
And if she didn't want a new life? A few cold, heavy drops fell around 
her, then hit, running down the dry fabric. Teresa backed into the 
chilled rock and laid her head down, burying it in her arms, alone, 
tired again, and very, very small. She would feel better soon, she knew 
from long experience. 

"But she just smiled and turned away..."