Damien's first thought was that he was very, very cold.

Despite his notorious given name, Damien Holsevik had been a "good kid." He wasn't in the honors classes, he didn't play any sports, he wasn't particularly popular—rather, he was one of those countless average students whose existence seemed to serve primarily to fill the space between the popular, the brilliant, the rebellious, and the moronic.

Damien had had a circle of equally innocuous friends, all just trying to keep their heads above water during high school, avoiding the popular sharks, the brilliant dolphins, the rebellious jellyfish and the moronic groupers. It had all been going fine, even in a school as danger-prone as Sunnydale. Damien and his friends generally managed to stay out of trouble. They didn't go to the Bronze, the local night club for teenagers; they didn't go out after dark, because there were...things out there; on weekends, they tended to stay in and watch movies or play games. They had just enough people to fill a whole lunch table. Life was good.

But then Tommy had vanished. No one knew what happened; they'd never heard a word. His parents had been frantic. He was simply...gone.

Then it was James, then Chris. One by one, Damien watched his beloved eight-person lunch table dwindle to five, then three, and then, one day, it was just Damien, eating a sandwich, all alone.

That was the day she walked over.

He had been watching her out of the corner of his eye for months. He'd never really met her, but since she'd starting coming to his class every day, he'd slowly been developing a crush on her. He'd never been able to get up the courage to say anything to her, other than "Thanks" and "What's the assignment for tomorrow?" He was pretty sure she had a boyfriend, anyway.

But that didn't stop his heart from flopping in his chest when Willow Rosenberg walked up to the lunch table.

"Hi Damien," said Willow. "Do you mind if I sit here?"

"It's not like anyone else is going to," Damien said, gesturing at the empty table.

"Yeah," said Willow as she sat down. "That's kind of what I wanted to talk to you about. I've noticed you seem distracted in class lately. You were always good about handing in your assignments, but you haven't given me anything for two weeks."

"Yeah," said Damien. "I've been a little, uh. stressed out."

"It's your friends, isn't it?" said Willow. "Do you know what happened to them?"

"No," said Damien. "I have no idea. They all just...disappeared." He forced a smile. "Seems to happen a lot around here, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," said Willow, who forced an awkward chuckle of her own. "Listen, Damien...if you see your friends...make sure they're your friends, okay? I mean, watch and make sure they're not, um, weird or something."

Damien looked at her, confused.

"Look, just trust me. Stay inside after dark."

"I always do," said Damien.

"Okay, good," said Willow, smiling. "I'm sure everything will be fine."

Then they'd chatted in a friendly way for the rest of lunch. He discovered she did have a boyfriend, but that was okay. It felt good to talk to someone, especially a beautiful girl like Willow Rosenberg.

Despite his concern for his missing friends, Damien felt particularly good as he made his way home that afternoon. He was passing the local cemetery when he heard a voice say, "Hey, Damien!"

He stopped and looked around. No one was in sight.

"Over here!" said the voice, which seemed vaguely familiar. Damien went into the graveyard, searching the shadows. He heard a rustle, and thought he saw a shape standing in the shadow of a mausoleum.

"Who are you?" said Damien.

"It's me, Tommy," said the voice. "Come here."

"Tommy?" Damien exclaimed. He started to run toward the mausoleum, then stopped. "Wait a minute—what are you doing there? What's going on?"

"Nothing, I'm fine," said Tommy. "Come here."

"Where have you been?" Damien asked.

"With the rest of the group," said Tommy. "We found this really cool place. Come here and I'll show you."

Damien took a step forward, then stopped.

"No offense, Tommy, but you're in a mausoleum, hiding from the sunlight, badgering me to get closer to you. I haven't seen you in weeks and all our other friends have vanished—and we're in Sunnydale, where weird shit happens all the time. I'm not walking over there."

He heard a loud sigh. "I thought you might say that," said Tommy. "Hey, do you remember my dad's crossbow?"

"Yeah..." said Damien.

There was a snapping sound and something thumped Damien in the chest so hard he tumbled over.

He saw a long, green plastic shaft jutting from his shirt. There was a thick nylon cord tied to the end of the arrow.

The cord went taut—and Damien screamed as he was dragged toward the mausoleum.

Through the pain and terror, he saw Tommy's face, laughing in the shadows; two fangs glittered in his mouth. Behind him, Damien could see the rest of the lunch table, their hands twitching in anticipation.

Tommy was still hauling him in. "Just like fishing," said Tommy.

Then there had come great pain, and darkness.


Damien awoke.

He knew what he was. He knew what they'd done to him. And, in keeping with the nature of what he now was, he didn't care.

When he awoke, his first thought was to dig his way out. He broke the wood of the coffin easily and began to claw his way through the moist topsoil, eager to reach the surface and begin to feed.

Then he stopped. His ears—exceptional even when he was human—had picked up something.

He heard voices. It sounded like two girls. At first he was pleased—he could feed easily; but then, it occurred to him that he might be rather vulnerable when he first rose, particularly before he'd pulled his body free. Who knew what those girls could do? They might have cans of Mace, at the very least, which, while not killing him, would certainly make the next few hours a bit difficult.

He decided to wait. They talked for what seemed like hours. It sounded like they were directly above him—were they sitting on his tombstone? It was like they were waiting for him.

But no. He could wait them out.

After what seemed like hours, he felt vibrations—footsteps—above him. The voices were going away. Soon, there wasn't a sound.

Finally! freedom!

Damien began to claw his way with renewed gusto. His newfound strength made it easy. Within a few minutes, he had pulled himself up out of the surface.

He stood, flexing his arms. He reached up and felt his new fangs—they were sharp. Very sharp.

There was so much to do, Damien thought. His first visit would be to a certain Ms. Willow Rosenberg.

With a grin, Damien took a step—and stopped.

He looked down. A wooden stake jutted from his chest.

"Ah, sh—"

Damien vanished in a cloud of ashes.

A figure stepped out from behind the headstone. He was seven feet tall and wore a loose trenchcoat. He also happened to be a demon.

He pulled a pack of cigarettes from his pocket, lit one, and took a puff.

"I wonder if they got an In-N-Out Burger in this town."