Chapter Three – The Harvest

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Ines kicked the vampire in the chest and he backed away. She heard her friends scream and ran to save them. She kicked a vampire out of the girls and watched as Xander was dragged. She jumped on the vampire and used her stake to pierce his heart. She helped the boy to his feet.

"Where's Jesse?" He gestured.

The girl looked around. No sign of the other boy. Nor did she feel his presence anywhere. She turned her attention to the trio present, and decided that it would be best to get them out. Their safety was more important.

The next day, Ines had to gather in the library with Xander, Willow and Buffy. Giles was there as well, how he should explain to the young people what had happened the other night. They deserved an explanation.

"The world is much older than people know. " Giles started. "Demons known as the Ancients have walked for ages over this world. But, in the present times, these Ancients can not be found. Except in certain spells, relics ..."

"Vampires." Ines added.

"Okay." Xander intruded. "We're talking about vampires. This doesn't seem real."

"But that wasn't what we saw yesterday?" Willow asked irritably with her friend.

"So vampires are demons?"

Ines shrugged, looking at the boy.

"I just killed them. Giles is the man with the answers."

Giles took off his glasses to clear them, pausing. When he was satisfied, he continued.

"The books say the last demon to feed on a human being, their blood mixed. His human form was possessed, infected by the devil. Gradually they have been increasing in number, and today thousands are waiting for the return of the ancients."

"Great." Xander joked.

Giles, not shaking, returned to his account.

"To combat the growing evil, the slayer was born. A girl endowed with demonic powers. When one of them ... succumbs, another is called in its place." He swallowed. "The slayer's identity is kept secret for the greater good. And this is sums up our story."

"Of course, I just want to know how to kill them."

Ines looked at the boy and shook her head.

"I'll kill them. You just stay out of my way."

"Jesse's my responsibility."

"Everyone is my responsibility as a slayer." She confirmed. "I should have looked for him sooner."

"That's not true, and we know it's not your fault."

Ines stood, shaking her head.

"I'm going to look for Jesse, that doesn't mean he's still your friend. And I have to do my job, so forget this conversation." And for Giles. "We need to find out about the harvest."

When her watcher nodded, she left, leaving the group behind. Ines found a passage through the cemetery, going into the sewers. She found Jesse, and to her dismay her suspicions were right. It was more disgusting to discover, still in the sewers, the sinister figure that haunted her dreams. She found a way out, hurried back to the library.

Through the doors, she watched as Giles and Willow and Xander were still on the scene. The blond girl was no longer with them.

"What about Jesse?" Xander asked when he noticed Ines, but the look on her face indicated that Jesse was dead. There was nothing she could do.

"I don't like that." She said, thinking of the vampire she saw.

"I fear you'll like it even less." Giles brought her a book. "The harvest is tonight. A very old and powerful old man by the name of Master. He came here to feed himself. The Spaniards call this place of Boca del infierno, or hellmouth. It is a portal to another dimension and this Master wanted to open it."

"And does he have to feed himself for that?" Giles stared at her. She looked away. "Palpitate ..."

"The Master was unsuccessful when an earthquake stopped him. He is trapped, but there is a night every century where he can escape. If he can ..."

"End of the world." Ines finished for him. "Great. And this is today?"

"Yes." He said. "He needs some kind of priest. You just need to stop it."

Ines rolled her eyes.

"Speaking makes look so easy ..."

"We know when, now we need to find the place and stop it."

"There is no such thing about us." She demanded. "It's me and it's just me. You stay out."

Willow tried to protest, but she knew her argument would be invalid. Ines ran to the gun cabinet, ready to stop the vampires. Giles went to her.

"You cannot just wander around hoping to find them."

Ines stopped and turned to the watcher.

"They go to the Bronze. No other place today will be so busy."

He nodded, grabbing her shoulder.

"I trust you, but be careful."

The girl shook her head and left. The sun was setting on the horizon and she knew her time was running out.

The vampires walked toward the Bronze. Luke, proud as a Master's priest, led the group. Angelus came back a little farther, arms folded. Seated at the Master's right hand, he should be the one to bring him up. But killing Luke would not help.

He stopped walking when the scent of someone struck his nostrils. He sucked in the air, only to find out right. She could not be in that place. Should not. He cursed himself mentally as the thought of taking it came to him. It was insane to compromise the Master's ascension for a girl he saw only once. And that, for him, should be just fun and food.

He heard the screams of the humans in the Bronze and knew he had begun. It took less than a second to decide. He ran to the shouting place.

Buffy flinched in a corner. She wondered where the girl was the other night as another girl was taken to Luke. She closed her eyes, not wanting to see the scene, and waiting for her turn. She felt a cool hand on her shoulder and opened her eyes. She let out her breath as she recognized a familiar face. It was Angelus.

She opened her mouth to speak, but he cut her off.

"Don't talk." He whispered. "Just come with me, will you?"

Buffy glanced back, toward the stage and the vampire, and saw when Cordelia was taken.

Even though she did not like the brunette, she could not leave her. Buffy tried to protest, but Angelus began to pull her arm. He was too strong for her to let go, so she just let herself be taken.

Ines jumped from the roof into the building and watched as Cordelia was brought to the stage. She jumped and fired at him with the beast. The vampire who held Cordelia was dust, and Ines caught Luke's attention.

"Sorry to interrupt." She said. "But this is my job."

Luke threw the girl in his arms to the floor.

"The Slayer?" He laughed. "Your blood will be more valuable to the Master than any other human. Bring her to me."

Two vampires held Ines, but she was faster and in a matter of seconds the creatures turned to dust. Ines then jumped onto the stage to face Luke. The vampire was huge and moved toward her. She had a hard fight, but at last she was able to drive a stake into his heart. The vampire was dust. Ines managed to harvest, but it was almost gone.

She sat on the stage, breathing in relief as she watched the startled people leave. They did not understand what had happened, but by the next day they would have forgotten. Ines was only a shadow to them.

Angelus stopped running still holding Buffy's hand only when they were far enough from the Bronze. He wanted to hide her for the rest of the night, just in case. However, she had to stop as the girl tired of the race felt. She stared at him, trembling a little.

"What was that?" She gestured.

"You don't have to thank me, really."

Buffy felt her cheeks flush a little and he was right.

"I'm sorry and thank you for saving me."

"It was nothing." He said.

She nodded, noticing his grip on her hand. Angelus released her slowly as he looked around.

"Could you tell me what happened there?"

But he shook his head.

"Maybe it's best to keep her in the dark, Buffy. If there is something for you to discover, you will know tomorrow. For the moment, be content to be alive."

Even unconvinced, Buffy agreed with him. Then she remembered Cordelia.

"What's going to happen to the others?"

Angelus did not answer. Instead, she grabbed Buffy's hand again and walked with her again, this time in quieter footsteps. She followed him without reluctance, knowing that she owed her life to him. She tried not to think of the others, though her mind was taking her back to the place.

They stopped at her door. Angelus was happy to realize that the girl would never get lost in the city again. No reason to worry about her going to the graveyard unintentionally.

"Thank you." She repeated.

She smiled slightly at him. The vampire also smiled at her, wondering why he let her live. He felt a sudden urge to kiss her, but he suppressed his desire. It was not the moment. As the silence persisted, Buffy saw the cue to leave. She ran home, pausing at the door to say goodbye to her savior. However, she was alone. She opened the door and entered the safety of her home.

This is it!