SECOND CHANCES Dana Bell



"What do you mean Caine killed Peter?" Kermit demanded after Blaisdell had stalked into his office and blurted out the insane tale to his old mercenary buddy. No way did he believe it with as tight as those two were. Peter was the light of Caine's universe.

"Caine confessed himself," Paul reiterated, "Then he disappeared with that damned Toronto detective."

"Nickolas Knight." Kermit frowned slightly. When the detective had been here before, Kermit had a feeling the two had met before but he couldn't figure it out. He still couldn't and he'd tried just about every contact had.

"I talked with that M.E., Natalie Lambert. She wouldn't tell me anything. Said she had no idea where they might have gone."

"You believe her?"

Paul sighed and sat down in the very hard chair Kermit kept in his office. The computer whiz didn't really like company and didn't make a visit with him comfortable. "Yes. Her eyes were red and when I questioned her, it was obvious she was hiding something. I never did get a straight answer." He rubbed his jaw tiredly. "My guess is she was very upset Knight left without saying goodbye. I think she was in love with him."

Kermit had had that feeling too watching them together. He'd met her only once after the autopsy of Peter's body. He hadn't been sure but he'd was positive Knight had asked her to fly here specifically for Peter's accident.

"Pretty lady," he commented absently. His fingers began to fly over the keyboard. Maybe there were a few rocks he hadn't turned over yet.

Kermit sat back in his creaky chair and rubbed his tired eyes under his dark green glasses. Blaisdell had finally gone home to his wife, daughters and new grandchild. That had been a relief. Paul had a tendency to be like a shark and not let go of his prey. He felt for Caine if the ex- captain every found the priest again.



In the meanwhile, his extra rocks hadn't turned up much. Thorton had been glad to hear from him and they'd talked about old times. He'd met Pete while he still worked for the DEX. Hard to believe the once active man was content running the Phoenix Foundation. Thorton had promised to keep his eyes and ears open for any clue about Knight or Caine. Griffin also dropped an email off to Oscar Goldman. He'd been uneasy about that one. Goldman was almost too upright and forthcoming. The head of the OSI didn't know anything either, promised to send any leads his way, and did he know if Blaisdell wanted a job? Oscar was looking for a new deputy director. Kermit supposed he should pass the offer along.

Kermit glanced out his partly open door. Looked like the squad room was mostly empty. Good. He needed some coffee before he tried contacting his basement office friend. He made his way to the coffeepot, poured the very black contents in his cup. Kermit paused and looked at the mug. Peter had given it to him last Christmas. It was bright green with a very famous frog on it. The detective didn't know if he'd liked having the same name.

He added some cream and sugar and returned to his computer. Sipping the bitter brew he decided against an email and picked up the phone. Odds were even on whether or not the guy was in his office. The guy picked up by the second ring.

"Muldar."

"Been awhile," Kermit replied.

"Yeah, it has. What are you doing nowadays?"

"Working as a cop. Got a question for you."

"A cop? Wonder what my father would think of that?"

"He'd say it was out of character." Kermit took another swig of coffee. He was fond of the kid. He'd worked with Muldar's father on some hush-hush project. Even HE didn't want to remember all the stuff they were responsible for. "You still in that basement office?"

"Yeah. Quiet down here."

Kermit wasn't sure he really believed in vampires. But in his travels, he'd seen a lot of weird stuff. Never hurt to get some facts. "What do you know about vampires."

He heard a sound in the background like a chair scooting along the floor. "Got a full file cabinet drawer on documented cases. Anything specific you want to know?"

The ex-mercenary took the plunge. "Just general information. How they're made, how you kill them."

"Got a vampire you need to stake?" Kermit could hear the teasing note in Muldar's tone.

"No. Just a unusual case involving the death of a fellow detective."

"You talking about Peter Caine?"

Griffin started. Now how had he heard about that? Before he could ask, Muldar said, " Got a file on my desk about someone digging up a grave at an old Shaolin temple. The coffin was taken and the tombstone knocked over. Did a little research and found out it belonged to a cop named Peter Caine."

"Do me a favor, kid, stay out of this one."

"That bad, huh?"

"Oh, yeah."

A couple of hours later, Kermit's desk was littered with information about vampires. Muldar had sent him everything he had plus a few cases of documented vampirism. He also had sent along the report he'd gotten from the California police about the vandalism on Peter's grave. Griffin decided he was NOT going to tell Blaisdell. Paul seemed too close to the edge as it was.

After reading the reports, much of Peter Caine's behavior fell into place. The young detective had requested the night shift, darkened his car windows on the Stealth, quit drinking coffee and eating donuts, which the younger cop had loved, stopped dating or even flirting with women, and withdrawn from just about everyone who cared about him. Jody and Skalany had both complained and wanted to know what was wrong.

At the time, Kermit hadn't thought much about it. He'd figured Blaisdell's departure maybe triggered the change, but now.no, he could definitely see the pattern. Come to think of it.he dug around in his memory. Knight had done some similar things. Damn. He wished he could remember where he'd seen the Toronto detective before.

He glanced through a few more files. One mentioned something about a 'slayer' and it amused him to think a young slip of a girl could kill creatures with such supernatural strength. He put the pages aside.

Dawn crept up and peeked yellow fingers inside his office. He glared at the interruption. The day shift was starting to come in. He shut down his computer and left. He wanted time to digest all he had learned and decide just what he was going to do.

He knew one thing, if Peter had really become a vampire than Caine hadn't committed murder. Blaisdell's anger was understandable. It was part of the grieving process. Maybe, after Paul had had a chance to think matters through, he'd not pursue trying to find Caine. Although, given their mercenary background, Kermit doubted it. He slipped into his car and drove home.

The warm days of Colorado agreed with Caine. He roused from his sleep, peaceful and rested. Peter's death still touched him yet he had found solace in the scented pine trees and helping at a local church camp. He did not believe as they did of course, but he enjoyed being around the children and teaching them to respect nature. His other duties included washing dishes, cleaning the bathrooms, and dumping the trash.

"Hi, Mister Caine," Trina greeted jumping up on the wooden fence where the horses were kept.

"Hello, Trina." He smiled at her. Trina wanted to be an artist. She always had a notepad with her and had drawn pictures of him performing his work all over the camp. She had even managed to catch him playing his flute.

"How was your day?" he asked her.

She shrugged. "Riding the horses was okay. I liked making the cross key chains." Tiny tears escaped her brown eyes. She wiped at them. Her action reminded him of Peter, when he was young. "My grandfather died."

He knew that. He had learned she had recently lost her grandparent. From things Trina had said, he sensed she had been very close to him. Her parents had sent her to the camp to distract the child and ease the loss. Caine knew the girl needed to grieve.

"Your grandfather has simply taken the next step in his soul's journey. You will see him again."

"Do you believe in Heaven, Mister Caine?"

Did he? He did not know. He knew only that death had taken two of his loved ones, Laura, his wife and Peter, his only son.

"I too, have lost those I love." He brushed a tear from her warm cheek. "It is okay to cry. You miss him."

She nodded her brown pigtail bobbing. She started to cry in earnest. He pulled the little girl close, letting her express her loss. He wished he could join her. He had no tears left for Laura or Peter.

Kermit stood before the open grave. He wasn't certain what he was looking for. He squatted down and inspected the area absently picking up a bit of dirt and tossing it away. 'Now why,' he mused, 'would anyone want to dig up a grave, steal the coffin, knock over the tombstone and then leave evidence of the crime?'

"Pretty grime, huh?" a female voice commented.

Kermit stood up If he was any judge, she couldn't be more than about sixteen. She wore tight revealing clothing, typical of modern teens, and stood there with an easy stance he associated with a trained fighter.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"He was a friend of mine."

"That's too bad." She walked around the grave. Her toe struck something and she dug a bit to pull it out. She held a bloodied stack in hand. "Uh, oh."

"You had no right to bring me back!" Peter yelled.

Janette sighed and poured herself another glass of blood. "Stop complaining and have a drink. You need it to help restore your strength." She tried to give Peter his still untouched goblet.

He pushed it away despite the mad craving of his body. He wanted to vomit at the mere thought of drinking the vile stuff.

"I was lonely, mon cher," Janette repeated. "La Croix stayed in Toronto to run his silly radio program. Nickolas abandoned me." She didn't tell him Knight had disappeared the same evening as his father. There were some things she had no intention of telling him. She didn't want him running off to find the Shaolin priest.



"Come on," she gave him her best seductive smile, offering the filled wine- glass again. "You're body is hungry. Feed it and then rest while you recover."

Peter's normally brown eyes flared red. "I won't drink it."

She sighed. It was going to be a very long day.

"You're the slayer," Kermit stated.

The girl jumped. Her blue eyes surveyed him, probably trying to decide if she could take him. Impatiently she pulled a blonde lock over her ear. "What ever gave you that idea?"

"Friend of mine does research into the paranormal. His files on vampires mentioned a slayer." Kermit took a step toward her. "Besides, you're carrying that stake like you handle it everyday."

She glanced at the bloody instrument in her hand. Her face flashed a 'whoops' expression. She tossed it the ground and rubbed her hands on her jeans. "I've gotta get going before my teacher discovers I'm not part of our field trip." She walked in the direction of the temple ruins.

"Slayer," Kermit called. She half turned to answer him before catching herself. "I won't let you kill Peter."

She gave him a hard look over her shoulder. Kermit couldn't decide if it was a warning or a challenge.

"Where have you been?" Blaisdell roared as Kermit walked back into his own office. "You've been gone for days!"

"Field work," Kermit automatically replied. "Friend of mine gave me lead. It didn't pan out." He booted up his computer. He'd put the word out to a lot of old spook friends. Maybe his email had some useful tidbits.

"You could have at least told me."

Kermit sat back in his chair and regarded his old captain. The lines of stress and grief were reflected in Paul's face. His hair seemed grayer and the pain was mirrored in his hazel eyes. The dark suit he wore was rumbled.

"Paul," Kermit said, "if I find anything, I'll notify you." Kermit needlessly adjusted his glasses. "But I want to know, what are you going to do if I find Caine?"

Blaisdell looked at Kermit than away. "Same as last time, call the authorities and have him arrested to stand trial."

"Hmmm." New messages flashed on his screen. He poked a button and waited for the first to come up. He didn't know if he believed Blaisdell or not. Yet, with their history, he was willing to give Paul the benefit of the doubt. He just knew he wouldn't tell his friend everything. "This is going to take time. Whoever helped Caine and Knight go underground is a real pro."

"There has to be a crack somewhere."

"Still going to take time. Go home." Paul turned to go. "Oh, by the way, Oscar Goldman is looking for a new deputy director. Wants to know if you want the job."

Paul glanced at him surprised. "It's been years."

Kermit shrugged. Bad habit he'd picked up from the elder Caine. "Might want to think about it."

Light slowly crept down the long stone steps. Peter stood poised at the bottom. Just a few steps up and it would be all over. The hunger would stop and he would be at peace again.

Long black nails grabbed him and pulled him back. "What do you think you're doing?" Janette hissed at him. "You could die."

"That was the idea!" Peter shouted back.

"Fool! Eternal life is a gift!"

"At the price I've paid!"

Janette tried a new tactic. "Mon cher," she purred, "you can start over. Have a new life." She fluttered her eyelashes at him while her sable eyes smoldered with desire. "You will be with me. Is that so terrible?" She unbuttoned his shirt and kissed his chest.

Peter fought the desire to respond. This seductive creature had condemned him the first time he thought to make love to her. He hadn't been able to live the life of a vampire then. He knew he didn't want to live it again. He pushed her away. "Don't."

"You wanted me. I could feel it."

Peter closed his eyes. "Leave me alone." He walked to a corner of the ruined temple basement and wrapped his arms around himself. He rocked back and forth, like he was a small child. The hunger in him would not quiet itself. He would have to feed soon, or go mad. "Pop," he whispered, "help me."

Caine looked up from his sweeping. What had he heard? The wind rattled the pines and birds sang their happy song. Children's laughter filled the place. He shook his head and finished his task. It must have been his imagination.

"Afternoon, Caine," Miss Margret Hamilton greeted as she walked by.

"Good afternoon," he returned with a friendly smile. Miss Hamilton ran the music and art classes for the camp. "What will you be teaching the children today?"

"Just a couple of children's choruses. Stuff that has been around for a long time. The words have actions with them. Helps them get into the music and hopefully, plants the message of God's word in their hearts."

"Should that not be for them to decide?"

She sighed. Her gold flecked green eyes scanned the camp. She seemed to be watching the children playing. "Most of them decide for themselves anyway. Many will walk away into the world's way of thinking. Very few will follow traditional religion."

"This saddens you," he stated.

"It saddens God," she informed him. "He loves us."

After Blaisdell left, Kermit opened his first email. It was from the Scarecrow. He'd had a friend at the Agency check into Knight's background. The guy had a better than average arrest record, lived in an old warehouse, and had a hobby of buying expensive art. Other than that, there weren't any records. His second email was from Adderly at ISI. Since the injured agent had a lot of time on his hands, he'd made some phone calls to contacts in Europe. A few of them didn't know the name Knight, but when a photo was shown, and how VH had managed to score one of those, Kermit didn't know, many recognized him.



'I've been told he traveled Europe a lot,' Adderly had written. 'Stayed at the best motels, sometimes, the worst dives at others. Sometimes alone, other times with a blonde man or a very beautiful French woman, or both. Thing is, old friend, there are personal reports about this guy dating back to World War Two. How that can be? Picture shows him to be around his late twenties or early thirties. I don't know why you're asking about him, but personally, I'd be very careful. You and I both know we've run into some strange things in the field. There aren't always rational explanations for things. Guess those oddities keep Spooky busy at the FBI, huh?'

Spooky. Kermit shook his head. He wondered when Muldar had acquired the nickname. Mentally he kicked himself for not keeping up on the kid's life. He really should keep better track of old friends' children. Too bad about Samantha, but it couldn't be helped. He felt a twinge of guilt and pushed it aside. Better to keep some secrets buried.

He sent back a reply to Adderly asking for a copy of the picture the agent had of Knight. He glanced through his other messages. There was one from a Jarrod. Jarrod? He didn't know anyone by that name. He almost deleted it then changed his mind. He opened the email and read the message.

'If you're looking for Caine, you'll find him in Colorado.'

Colorado? What the hell was Caine doing there?

He heard the light steps on the stairs. Peter raised his head and tuned into the heartbeat. A trifle fast. He could smell her. Powerful, intoxicating, and young. He licked his lips as his hunger stirred. He could almost feel her throat and taste her sweet blood.

"You should not be here," he heard Janette's French accented voice say.

"Neither should you." The girl's tone sounded cocky.

"Well, you won't live long enough to tell anyone. My friend is hungry."

"He'll just have to stay that way. I'm the slayer."

Janette caught her breath and screamed. He felt her die. He huddled farther into his dark corner. Unreasonable fear filled him. He didn't know why he was trying to hide. He wanted to go back to his peaceful sleep.

Footsteps and a sing song, "Come out, come out wherever you are."

Peter realized death by his father's hand, by one who loved him, had been one thing, but to die by the hand of the slayer.someone who was trained to kill vampires as if they were vermin, was quite another. He ran.

The flight to Colorado was smooth. Kermit disembarked at DIA, rode the train to the main terminal, claimed his single bag, got his rental car, and drove into the growing metro Denver area. Traffic was fast and rude. He found I70 and headed west to the mountains. Somewhere after the Eisenhower Tunnel he turned off onto a dirt road which took him high into the Rockies and his destination. He'd gotten a second email from Jarrod with more specific directions and a jaunty, 'Good Luck'.

He slowed the car as he approached the camp. Drive right in or do a recon first. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. Caine wasn't a fugitive. He was a friend - a friend who had helped him, his sister, and many others. Kermit cruised in and parked in the visitors' area.

An attractive red head met him with a warm smile. "Can I help you, sir?"

"Sir makes me feel old. My name is Kermit Griffin. I understand an old friend of mine is working here. Kwai Chang Caine?"

"Oh, yes." She gave him an odd look and led him down a dirt path. "My name is Margret Hamilton. How do you know Caine?"

"I worked with his son, Peter."

"Worked?"

"Yeah, Peter's dead."

"I didn't know." They traveled in silence for a bit. "What do you do, Mr. Griffin?"

Many questions. Kermit couldn't decide is she was just curious or making conversation. "I'm a detective. Call me Kermit."

"Kermit. Like the famous frog."

Kermit ground his teeth. A branch bonked the top of his head raining pine needles down into his short cropped black hair. "Owww."

"Sorry. I forgot to warn you."



The slayer chased him. He had one advantage. He had grown up here. He knew every inch and every passage especially the basement ones. He'd played games here of hide and seek. He ducked down a side hall and used his vampire powers to jump high up on a ledge. Scrunching back, most of him would be hidden from her. He peered over, his night eyes watching her movements. She slowed looking all around.

"Oh, come on," she pleaded. "Let's do this the easy way. I have an algebra test to study for and mom is making my favorite for dinner."

Part of Peter sympathized. He remembered what agony tests were. He also fondly remembered Annie's home cooked meals. The vampire part wanted to kill the slayer and drink her warm life's essence.

"Come on, Peter. Don't play hard to get." How did she know his name? "Met a friend of yours the other day. Tall, dark, wears sunglasses," Kermit had been here! "He was concerned about you." She darted behind a pillar, stake raised. Not finding him, she walked around it and surveyed the area. Peter hoped she couldn't see as well in the dark as he could. "Don't you think he'd be relieved if you were back in your grave. Where you belong."

"Buffy!" someone yelled.

"Back here!"

Now what?

When they finally found Caine, he was talking with a very young girl. He had a bird in his hand and she was shyly asking questions. Kermit heard Margret say softly, "Thank you, God."

Caine glanced at them as they approached. His lined face was both surprised and delighted. He raised his hand and the bird flew away. The girl clapped her hands and laughed. She hugged the priest. He hugged her back.

"Hello, Caine," Griffin said with a rare smile.

"Kermit."

Margret glanced from one to the other. "I have a class in a few minutes. If you'll both excuse me." She took Trina's hand and the two hurried off.

"You have come a long way to find me."

"Blaisdell's looking for you."

Sadness reflected in the Shaolin's brown eyes. "I know."

"I know you didn't kill Peter and I didn't tell Paul where you were."

"But he asked you to find me."

"And Knight."

"I do not know where he went."

"I didn't ask." Kermit removed his glasses and sat down on a stump. He looked Caine directly in the eyes. "Someone dug up Peter's grave and removed the stake."

A sharp intake of breath. Caine's face turned white. He sat upon another stump. "Who?"

Kermit shook his head. "I don't know. What I do know is that the slayer," at the priest's puzzled expression he stopped to explain, "according to a friend's research a young girl is chosen and trained to kill vampires," he continued, "She was at Peter's grave the same day I was. I know she was hunting. I warned her off."

"She listened."

"No. I think she'll hunt him down and kill him."

The Shaolin's eyes took on a far away look. "Perhaps that is best."

"What?" The priests reply started Kermit. "Don't you want to even try and help him?"

"I did. Before. There was nothing I could do. My son is dead. I will mourn his loss." Caine stood. "Please, leave. Go home and tell Blaisdell what you will."

Kermit stood too. "What are you going to do?"

"Continue to walk my path. Alone." He walked away.

The detective watched until the hunched, tan covered figure disappeared into the pines. Time for him to go home.



A beam of light pierced the darkness. "Where did he go?" The man had an obvious English accent. Dressed the part too in brown tweed.

"I was trying to coax him out," Buffy retorted.

The light bounced off the ledge. Peter hoped he hadn't been seen.

"There are many places he could hide, Buffy."

"I know. He grew up here."

Surprised, Peter was impressed. The girl must have done her homework on him. She would make a very good cop.

"And that makes him more dangerous. He's on his own turf, as you would say."

"Come on, Peter. I'm tired of this game of hide and seek. Aren't you? Why don't you come on and face me and we'll have a good fight and then I'll stake you. Whatdaya say?"

"Oh, that will bring him running."

Peter's feet lightly touched the floor. He liked the girl's spunk. "You really think you can take me?"

"There you are." She smiled at him. "Ready to rumble?"

It had been hard for Caine to send Kermit away. It was harder still not to return to California and help his son. But that creature was not his son. It was a vampire. If the slayer slew him, it would be a good thing.

A timid knock on his cabin door. He answered and smiled at Trina.

"Camp ends in a couple of days. Where are you going to go, Caine?" Her earnest eyes begged him for a reply.

"I do not know."

She looked at floor kicking at something unseen. He thought briefly of Peter. "I asked mommy and daddy if you could come home with me."

"That is your home. I could not intrude."



Big tears welled. "I'll miss you!" She ran and hugged Caine. He hugged her back. "I will miss you too."

Adderly's picture was waiting for Kermit at his hotel. He had chosen one with a rustic cabin log look just inside Rifle. He tossed the envelope on the bed and splashed water on his face. He hadn't expected Caine's reaction. It was out of character for the man. The priest always ran to Peter's rescue.

He took a sip of bottled water he had picked up. Altitude was a tricky thing and drinking lots of fluid helped. Sitting on the bright flowered bedspread he opened the envelope. The picture inside was of Knight in a medic's uniform from World War Two. Beside him, no it couldn't be, Kermit removed his glasses and took a closer look. Beside the vampire was Kermit's own grandfather.

She fought well and Peter felt they were equally matched. His kung fu moves surprised her. She countered as best she could, getting up quickly when he knocked her down. He wondered if she felt any pain. He knew he'd injured her more than once.

He whirled kicking her in the face. She fell back. He reached out a hand to help her up. Her eyes met his. Shock registered on her face. He sensed the man coming up behind him.

"Giles, no!" she cried. "He has a soul!"

The morning the children were to leave, a couple came to Caine's cabin. He had packed his backpack and his bag. He was ready to continue his journey.

"Mister Caine," the man said. "I'm Isaac Smith. I wanted to thank you for what you have done for our daughter, Trina. I didn't think she'd ever get over the death of her grandfather. Miss Hamilton told us you helped her." His wife nodded her agreement beside him.

"Her heart was in pain. I only helped her find a way to express her loss."

"You've done more than any of the counselors we went to see," his wife put in.

He gave a small shrug. He was used to ministering to people.

"I'd like to invite you to stay with us for awhile. We have plenty of room and I think it would be good for Trina." Mr. Smith shuffled uneasily. "She said you'd lost your wife and son."

Mrs. Smith touched Caine's arm. "We're sorry for your loss. Please say you'll stay with us. We'd love to have you."

Mr. Smith added his encouragement. "Trina's talked about you. You're like family to us now."

Caine listened to the voice of his heart. After having a home for so many years with Peter, the Ancient, the Blaisdells , Kermit and others, he found he did not want to give up caring for people. This couple offered him an honored place. He would be glad to spend more time with Trina. Children reminded him of the bright promise of tomorrow and the wonder of life. He needed that.

"I am honored. Thank you." He gave them a slight bow. He walked with them back to their car. Trina ran up and gave him a hug. He ruffed her hair.

"It will be a couple days drive," Mr. Smith informed him.

Caine cocked his head. He hadn't thought to ask where they lived. He had assumed they lived in Colorado. "You do not live here?"

Mrs. Smith giggled. "Heavens, no. We live in Sunnydale, California."

Kermit punched keys on his computer. A light rap on his door informed him he had a visitor. "Come in," he said as he hit the 'send' key.

Paul stood before his desk. "You found Caine," he accused.

Kermit sat back and crossed his hands on his chest. "Peter was a vampire, Paul. Caine only eased his suffering. That's not murder. The person who truly murdered your son was the one who brought him across."

Blaisdell sat in the hard chair and glared at Kermit. "You're not going to tell me where he is." He stated it like a fact.

"Truthfully, Paul, I don't know where Caine is. The camp where he was working has closed down for the season. Caine could be anywhere now."

Paul snorted. The two men sat in silence. Griffin waited for his friend to speak first.

"Annie and I are moving to California. I took the job Goldman offered me."

"Thought the OSI operated out of DC."

"They did. Goldman moved their offices. They're in LA now. Seems the OSI and Phoenix Foundation pool their resources and work together."

"Interesting."

"I thought so." Paul fell silent again. "I just can't stay in a house that constantly reminds me of my son."

"I'm sorry to see you go, Paul. But I understand. I keep expecting Peter to come barging into my office."

Blaisdell smiled. There wasn't as much pain in his eyes anymore. Kermit was glad to see that. His friend rose and so did her. Blaisdell extended a hand. "See you around, Kermit."

Kermit shook his hand. They had been through a lot together, first as mercenaries and later as cops. He was going to miss Paul. "Good Luck. You know where I am if you ever need anything."

"Thanks." Paul left.

Kermit sat back down. Change was the only constant in the universe. He pulled out the picture of Knight and gazed at the photo. How many times growing up had he'd asked his grandfather about it?

"That's Nickolas Bouchard," he'd said. "Saved my life out there. Pulled me away from the Nazis and patched up my leg. Couldn't find a nicer guy."

"I hope he is, gramps," Kermit murmured and put the photo away. "I wish him well." He pulled up his emails to see if anything interesting was happening anywhere. Maybe he'd ask Captain Simms out tonight. He'd been neglecting her with all his traveling.

He wandered out of his office and knocked on her door. "Hi," he said entering. "Free for dinner tonight?"

She gave him a smile and nodded. "What have you been doing?" she inquired although he figured she knew he wouldn't tell her.

"Finishing up some business on an old case."

"You want me to what?" Angel gasped when Buffy asked him.

"I want you to look after Peter Caine and keep him out of trouble. I don't want to have to stake him. He has a soul. Like you."

The brooding dark vampire glared at the intruder. The younger vampire squirmed. "Look, I can go somewhere else," he offered.

"No, you can't." Giles reminded him. "You either stay with Angel or I will stake you personally." The watcher disapproved of Buffy's plan. He'd made that very plain.

"Now, Giles," Buffy reproved. "We have to give him a chance."

"No we don't," Angel and Giles said together.

Buffy leveled a stare at all of them. "If Peter gives us any trouble, I'LL take care of him. In the meantime, " she started out the door," I have some new vamps to take care of." She turned. "Coming Giles?"

With a last angry glance the watcher left with his charge. Angel shuffled around, picking up a few things and tossing them in a corner. "Since I'm stuck with you, we should go over a few ground rules. First, this is my place, what I say goes. Second, we don't drink from humans. If I catch you doing, I'll stake you."

Seemed everyone would stake him if he got out of line. Peter began to feel wobbly. He hadn't eaten since he'd been revived.

Angel noticed. He went to his fridge, got a bottle of plasma, dumped it a cup, warmed in the microwave and handed it to him. "Drink this. You'll feel better."

Peter wanted to gag. His body screamed and he quickly downed the contents. He hoped he wouldn't vomit. "Any more rules?" he asked as he put the cup in the sink.

"Yeah. We fight the bad guys. Help out the slayer. You got a problem with that?"

Peter shook his head. It would feel good to do the right thing again.

List of special guest appearances: Peter Thorton - MacGyver Oscar Goldman - Six Million Dollar man Scarecrow - Scarecrow and Mrs. King VH Adderly - Adderly Jarrod - The Pretender Muldar - X Files