Buffy was brought out of her slumber by the tentative sounds of her door opening. She blinked deliriously for a moment, before looking over her shoulder. The sight of her sister peeking through the door greeted her and she offered a tired smile as she sat up.

"Hey, what's up?" She asked, her voice hoarse from sleep. Dawn bit her lip, looking slightly embarrassed.

"Can't sleep."

"Bad dream?" She nodded. Buffy shuffled back and lifted the duvet. "Come on." Dawn smiled gratefully, quietly shutting the door and padding over to the bed. She slid in next to her sister and wiggled into place as the duvet was pulled over her.

"Haven't done this since I was ten." Dawn mused. Buffy chuckled quietly as the two sisters lay facing each other.

"I think the last time I came into your room after a rough night was when I was fifteen." She replied with a smile. "Right after I became the Slayer." Her younger sister grinned ruefully, that had been interesting night. Buffy did not tell her until two years later that the reasons she had crept into her younger sister's room was not a bad dream, but the fact she had killed her first vampire.

"It's been so long…" Dawn muttered. "A lot has changed." Buffy hummed in agreement as they quietly together. "It's nice to be in here with someone again." She looked around the master bedroom with a wistful expression. "Still feels like mom is in here." Buffy grinned.

"She'd have my head if she saw the state of the closet now." Dawn giggled.

"And the fact you let a boy in here with at night." Buffy gave her a mock glare.

"Don't let Spike hear you call him 'boy'," she threatened. The younger sister giggled again as they shared a rueful moment.

"I miss her, Buffy." Dawn said quietly. Buffy responded with a sad smile.

"Me too." The sisters reached for each other and gently entwined their fingers affectionately. They lay together, enjoying each other's company for a few moments before Dawn spoke again.

"It doesn't feel like home without her, does it?" She ventured. Buffy remained quiet, dropping her gaze from her sister's. Dawn watched her as the Slayer sighed before reaching up to touch her cheek.

"Go to sleep, Dawnie." She nodded and rolled over to her side. Buffy shifted closer and wrapped her arm around her and the two sisters were gently lulled into slumber by their each other's comforting presence.

Dawn's question went unanswered, even though they both knew what the answer was.

No, the house was not home anymore.

Spike was standing on the outskirts of Sunnydale High's grounds, looking over the building with a critical eye as he smoked his last cigarette. He knew that the small white lie he had told Buffy about going home would likely result in her ripping him a new one, but right now he did not care. This was not about Buffy tonight. No, tonight was about a different Slayer.

He listened carefully to sounds coming from within the building, his vampire senses granting him supreme awareness even though he was not inside. He could hear Warren shouting and complaining to his minions about how useless they were and how he was not to be made a fool of. He snorted derisively.

Who was more foolish? The fool? Or the fool who never learned? Warren should have backed off the second Alucard and Mina came into town. Instead he began his own personal crusade in an attempt to one up them for their actions against him. All he had done was provoke the ire of the Angel of Death.

And the Eternal Slayer.

He was brought of his thoughts by the sounds of approaching footsteps and glanced around to see Mina approaching him. He raised his head, seeing the long black overcoat and her hair was tied back. As the coat fluttered around her whilst she walked, he could also make out the glint of a pistol on her hip.

Mina was on the prowl tonight.

"Was beginning to think you wouldn't show." He offered in greeting as he stomped out his cigarette. Mina scoffed as she moved around him to glare up at the building.

"Is he in there?" she demanded. He nodded.

"Yeah, he's been whining for the past ten minutes about what happened earlier." He answered. He glanced at Mina sardonically. "You know this'll will probably ruffle Buffy's feathers, right?" She snorted.

"If she doesn't like it she can take it up with me, this isn't about Buffy tonight." She answered coldly.

"It's not you she'll take this out on." Spike replied with a laugh. "She'll understand why you're doing what you're doing, but she'll be pissed that I decided to come along and didn't tell her. That will piss her off." Mina looked over at him at that and narrowed her eyes.

"If you want to leave, I will not hold it against you." She stated. He shook his head.

"Not a chance, I want to make sure Warren gets what he deserves." He growled. Mina nodded.

"Thank you, Spike." He nodded and she took a breath. "Kill the Bringers, all of them. But leave Warren." She instructed. "He's mine."

"Thought you said you weren't going to kill him." Spike pointed out. She sneered with a vicious gleam in her eyes.

"I'm not. But he will wish that I had when he realises what awaits him."

Warren shoved the Bringer away from him with a snarl as he seethed over the events that had transpired earlier that evening. He could not believe that Alucard and Spike had not only saved the hostages he had taken, but had also annihilated the group of acolytes he had brought with him to take of them. He refused to believe that they were anywhere near as powerful as he had been warned, it was simply not possible. Nothing was that powerful.

Alucard did not even had the decency to die when he was shot in the face. No, he simply lost an eye. Perhaps blindness would teach him to stick his nose where it did not belong.

When Warren had been contacted by the First to be his right hand he finally believed he could achieve everything he wanted. He had always known he was better than everyone around him. He was smarter, so much smarter and deserved the acknowledgment of that. But instead he was being ridiculed and pushed to the outside, when in his mind he deserved to be the centre of attention. Everyone should have been worshiping the ground he walked on.

Well, when the First returned and he was given his rightful place, everyone would know to respect him properly.

He turned to the Bringer he had just shoved and glared at him.

"Go out into the town and take as many humans as you can and bring them here." He grinned maliciously. "That vampire wants to try and show me up, we'll see how he feels when he finds all the corpses of the people he's tried to protect." He nodded and turned to the Bringer. "Go! Now!" The Bringer bowed and departed.

Warren smirked to himself, rubbing his hands as he thought about his revenge against Alucard. The vampire was about to learn the consequences of making a fool of him.

But just as he had that thought, he heard the sounds of fighting out the main hall. There was growling and snarling and the noises of snapping bones and tearing flesh. Ignoring the surge of fear that rose through him, he stormed out the door and stalked towards the source of the commotion. He barrelled through the doors and came to an abrupt stop, his eyes wide with shock.

All of his Bringers were lying crumpled on the floor, all save one. Some had broken necks, their heads at odd angles and others were lying in pools in blood. The one that was still alive probably wished that he was as dead as his comrades. He was pulled against the chest of Spike, who had his fangs in his neck. The vampire snarled into his throat, his amber eyes rising to meeting Warren's terrified gaze before draining the last of the demon's blood and pulling his fangs free. He dropped the body to the floor, joining the rest.

He smirked frighteningly at Warren, stepping forward as he held his arms to the side. His amber eyes glowed with malicious intent as he glanced around the corpses.

"Evening, Warren." He drawled. "You're looking a bit pale." His smirk widened as Warren quite literally paling in fear. The human made an acute noise of terror before reaching out his handgun. Spike laughed mockingly. "This song and dance again? And it worked so well for you last time." Warren's eyes narrowed, taking aim and going to fire.

Just as his finger tightened on the trigger, another gunshot rang out and his gun flew out of his hand with a ping. He yelped, shaking his hand and holding his wrist as it ached. He looked around wildly, in search of the shooter but found nothing. He glanced up and fell back with a frightened squeak as Spike closed in. He quickly dived to the side and ran for the gun, Spike turning to watch him with sadistic amusement. The vampire made no move to intercept him.

There was another crack and his gun skidded along the floor away from him. He stopped and listened carefully. He could hear the sounds of ammunition being loaded and the soft click of the handle being pulled back. Warren glanced around wildly, trying to find the shooter. Another loud crack and he crashed to the ground with a shrill cry of pain, his cheek bleeding from the bullet grazing past it. He grabbed his face, blood seeping through his fingers.

"Where are you?!" He yelled in terror. Spike laughed at him with his fangs gleaming dangerously as he grinned disturbingly. Warren crawled towards the gun and seized it, turning around to aim towards Spike. He gasped at the fact the vampire had disappeared in a burst of supernatural speed.

He turned this way and that, his eyes wild and sweat soaking his face as he panted in fear. Every small creak on the floor, every tiny whistle of wind and he gasped. His gaze was frantic as he searched desperately for any sign of his tormentors. He heard Spike's mocking chuckle again.

"You look lost, boy." He drawled. Warren howled and fired his gun. A deafening bang echoed throughout the hall followed by another resounding ping as the bullet ricocheted off of a distant wall. He breathed heavily, watching the shadows for any sign of the vampire. "Missed." Spike taunted from the darkness behind. Warren spun and pulled the trigger twice more, the walls cracking as the bullets tore into them. A third gun shot rang out shortly after he fired the second time.

Warren yowled in pain as a bullet tore through his shoulder and he crashed to the ground. Grabbing his wound with high pitched, agonised grunts of pain, he staggered to his feet and ran for the door to the corridor. He barrelled through, losing his balance and toppling back to the floor. He quickly scrambled up and began running down the hall, clutching his injured and bloody shoulder as he went. If he made it to the Hellmouth, he would be fine.

He got halfway down the corridor when something flashed in the blackness ahead him and another crack echoed. His leg was taken out from under him as a bullet embedded itself in his thigh and he crashed to the ground face first, his gun clattering away. His hands drifted the burning wound on his thigh as he whimpered in agony. He rocked back and forth, tears of acute suffering slipping down his cheeks.

And then, he heard the approaching thumps of someone's boots approaching him. He panted, looking towards his weapon and crawling towards it. He hissed as his injured thigh scrapped over the floor, exasperating the already excruciating burning sensation in his leg. He reached forward, groping for his gun.

A heeled boot stomped down on his hand and he cried out as he felt the bones break. He looked up and paled at the intimidating visage of Mina glaring down at him, the barrel of her flintlock pistol aimed unflinching right between his eyes. He swallowed, his fear keeping him in check as she watched him. The doors opening behind him signalled the arrival of Spike, and his terror escalated in even further knowing that he was at their mercy.

"I can smell his fear." Spike muttered, his demon purring within him at the smell.

"Good." Mina answered, not taking her eyes off her prey. "You should be afraid, Warren. Very afraid." Warren held up his free hand, beginning to plead.

"Look, I know…" He let out a whine as Mina ground her heel into his hand.

"You know nothing." Mina growled. With a snap of her leg, she kicked him across the face with such force that he flipped onto his back. Warren groaned, his mouth and nose bleeding heavily at this point. "If you did, you would have known better than to pick a fight with Alucard." She circled him as Spike kept his distance, watching the scene play out whilst listening for any returning Bringers. "You would have also known better than to shoot him." As she spoke, Mina stomped on his thigh, digging the heel of her boot into his wound. Warren screamed in agony, the pain provoking his anger.

"You fucking bitch!" He glared up at her wildly. "I swear to God, you're going to…"

"I wouldn't go making threats you have no hope of following through, if I were you." She answered darkly, grounding her foot on his leg. Warren whimpered. "Besides, I have nothing to fear from scum like you."

"Your lover boy learned the hard way that I'm…." Warren screamed again when Mina's boot stomped down on his wounded shoulder, blood seeping out from underneath to stain his shirt crimson."

"Alucard has no reason to fear you. The only reasons you got lucky enough to wound him as you have was due to him being distracted and you had some help from your master." Mina's eyes narrowed dangerously. "And if Alucard isn't afraid of you, why should I be?" She smirked mockingly. "He doesn't even fear your master." Warren growled furiously, trying to get free but only succeeded in causing himself more pain.

"Mina…" Spike spoke, "we'd better wrap this up." He looked over his shoulder as he spoke, he sensed something approaching as did Mina.

"In a minute, Spike." Mina's emerald eyes burned brightly as she next spoke. "Let me make this very clear, Warren," she leant down as she hissed her next words, "The only reason you're still breathing is because Alucard needs you alive for now. Under any other circumstances you would be lying dead on this floor for what you did to my mate." She smirked sinisterly. "But not by my hand." Warren frowned and the Slayer saw the fear returning to his eyes.

"The pain you're feeling now is nothing compared to what Alucard is feeling, but the key difference is that he has hardly said a word about it," she grinned mockingly, "let alone shed a tear." She pressed her foot down on his shoulder one last time, earning another moan of pain and another set of tears before she moved to stop next to him. "And losing his eye won't stop him, in fact it will barely even slow him down. So I'm letting you live, Warren. But don't mistake it for mercy." Spike heard a set of doors open in the distance, followed by the unmistakable growl of the Turok-Han.

"Mina…" he warned. She glanced up, sensing the Turok-Han's powerful presence in the air. Their time was up.

"Let's see how valuable you are to the First." She offered. At the look of fearful confusion from Warren she went on. "No doubt your blood is already calling to the Turok-Han. I wonder, what will happen when it finds you?" Warren's eyes widened and she smirked. Spike could hear the Turok-Han searching for them, drawn by the scent of Warren's blood. "Will it drink first…or will it take you to the Hellmouth straight away?" She tilted her head. "I guess, we'll see." Then Mina's eyes narrowed and she stood over him as Spike moved to her side.

It was time to go.

"Regardless of what occurs, know this," she sneered, her eyes holding a deadly promise. "Tonight, I held your life in my hands. Live the coming days knowing that soon," her voice was so certain, so sincere in her words, that Warren felt terror grip him like a vice grip of icy inevitability, "Alucard will claim it!" She snarled the final words before stepping over him and walking briskly towards the exit, Spike right behind her.

They left the bleeding and terrified Warren lying on the ground, awaiting the judgement of the Turok-Han.

When Alucard awoke the next morning he realised two things. First, he knew his eye was already starting grow back. He could feel the flesh and nerve endings knitting back together and that it would take one or two more days for it to be fully healed. The pain had receded as well, though was still present enough for it to cause him no end of annoyance.

And the second thing: Mina was not sleeping next to him. In fact he could make out her heartbeat downstairs. With a wince of displeasure, both at her absence and the pain, Alucard pulled himself out of bed and rose to his feet. Using his hand to brush his hair over his wounded eye as before, he moved out of the bedroom and headed for the lounge, descending the stairs carefully. He reached the foyer of their home and glanced into the sitting, seeing Mina curled up on the sofa with her coat pulled over her as a makeshift duvet.

He could also see her pistol lying on the small table in front of the sofa. He sighed with a small, amused smile, knowing full well what she had done the night before.

He made his ways over to her and knelt down next to her. Reaching over, he tenderly brushed her fiery hair out of her face as she slept. Mina's nose wrinkled in her sleep before she gave a noise of sleepy displeasure, and her eyes opened. She blinked rapidly before smiling at the sight of him. She shifted on the sofa so she was facing him fully, her eyes wandering over his topless form appreciatively for a moment.

"Good morning." She greeted. She extended her hand and pulled his hair across to inspect the wound. Her smile widened when she saw it was sealed and knew it would be growing back soon. Not as soon as she would have liked, but soon. "It's healing nicely." He hummed in agreement.

"Indeed." He tilted his head at her, his eyes glowing knowingly. "So there was no need for you to do what you did last night." She tensed at his words and her eyes narrowed in suspicion. He nodded his head to her pistol and she huffed. "Mina…"

"There was every need, Alucard." She growled, throwing her coat and sitting up. He straightened as she glared at him. "I'm not you! I don't have the self-control to ignore the fact that my mate for over two centuries has been wounded by a brat who has a bloody messiah complex!" She shouted. Alucard just gazed at her calmly.

"I would never say you had to ignore it, but you did not have to go after him the way you did." Mina crossed her arms, tossing her hair angrily.

"The little wanker is lucky I didn't kill him." She hissed. Alucard regarded her for a moment before turning away. He picked up her pistol and inspected it. She watched him, coolly.

"So he's still alive?" She shrugged.

"So I assume." She responded. "I left him, bleeding, for the Turok-Han." He turned back to her, his lips curled into a half smile.

"You wanted to see how much the First truly values its servant." He stated. She arched a brow in challenge. "Clever but risky. What if the Turok-Han killed him?" Mina shrugged.

"I guess we'll find out, won't we?" He chuckled.

"Yes, I guess we will." Her gaze softened as he put the pistol down. Alucard winced noticeably as he straightened up, rolling his neck as he closed his one eye with soft exhale.

"I hate seeing you like this." She whispered. He smiled turning and heading for the cabinet where his brandy was kept.

"You will not have to see it for too much longer." Alucard jested morbidly. He heard her sigh and then the soft ruffle of clothing.

"Yes, but that's still longer than I'd like." He turned back to her as she came towards him, unbuttoning her blouse as she did so. He watched as she undid half of the buttons before gazing at her face. "I can make it better."

"Mina." He chided gently. "You don't have to…"

"But I want to." She protested. As she spoke, she pulled down the left half of her blouse along with her bra strap, exposing her pale shoulder and neck. "Please..."

"I'll be fine." He touching her cheek with a loving smile. "It will be healed in two days." She took hold of his hand, pressing her lips to his wrist.

"And in two days anything could happen." She reasoned. "So, for the sake of pragmatism, let me heal you." She stroked his knuckles, dropping another kiss to his wrist. "And, for my sake so I don't like this anymore, let me heal you."


"Alucard…" He chuckled with a wry grin. She always could find a way to get him to follow her wishes. It was one of the many reasons he loved her. He gave her a nod and she smiled at him brightly. He leant down and kissed her sweetly. She traced his jaw with her fingers before she pulled away.

"I love you." Mina breathed, passionately.

"And I you." He replied, pecking her lips again before tracing feather light kissed over her cheek, jaw and neck. She tilted her head, offering him better access, as he ran his nose over her skin and took in her scent. She shuddered in anticipation when she heard his fangs slid down with a quiet 'slick.'

And then his fangs slid gently into her neck.

Mina let out a soft gasp at the initial stabbing sensation but moaned deeply as he began pulling her blood from the wound. Her arm wrapped his head to cradle him to her throat, her hand tangling with his midnight locks as her other hand gripped his side. She gave another sensual moan as he took another long pull from the wound as she felt his side of their bond overflow with pleasure and want.

The immortal couple stood together, Alucard drinking tenderly from his mate as Mina held him closer, enjoying the indescribable intimacy that a vampire's bite could provide to those who shared their hearts.

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