Well, this is my first ever Buffy fic, having until now mainly written comics stuff. Enjoy, and comments are appreciated!

Disclaimer:

The Buffyverse belongs to Mutant Enemy as far as I'm aware. No money being made, no infringement intended.

Spoilers for Season Seven up to at least Episode 12 (Potential). It's set right after.

Change

Part One

"I was never cool in school
I'm sure you don't remember me"
- Ben Folds Five, Underground

Sunnydale was...

Well, not quiet. When describing a place that sits next to a Hellmouth and has at some point or another had half the demon population of earth go through it, 'quiet' is possibly not a word you could ever use. Especially when for the last few weeks and unknown to most of the town's inhabitants, a desperate war between the Slayer and the First Evil that had ever existed had been happening under their noses.

Sunnydale was never quiet. But it was quieter. The first and most horrible of evils was currently in retreat, and the Slayer and the small group of potential slayers she was attempting to protect were using the time to train for the battle ahead. The town's normal demon population could feel the tension hanging in the air and were mostly holding their breaths and waiting for the opportunity to take sides. It was calmer than usual, certainly, but one got the impression that it was more like the calm in the eye of the hurricane, and everyone knew that that never lasted.

They were right too, but the thing that disrupted this night's calm, that threw itself through a bright white spatial rift and landed in a heap on the lawn of one of Sunnydale's smaller cemeteries, wasn't the greatest and First Evil of all time. Not yet. This was some a little less dangerous, a little less calculating and a little more hungry.

It had been here before.

*********

Buffy Summers walked up to the cemetery gates and then stopped and turned around, causing several nervous potential slayers to nearly plow into her. They hastily pulled themselves back and she gave them an apologetic look.

"Sorry guys, I'm just gonna give everyone a few warnings before we go in here, okay?"

Molly, a dark haired girl with a broad British accent, looked mildly alarmed. "Warnings? I thought you said we were going to meet some demons that aren't going to kill us!"

Buffy gave her a smile that she hoped was firm but reassuring. The whole Mentor/Teacher role was something she was still trying to get used to. "Yes, and that's actually what I'm going to warn you about. I want everyone to be careful not to be too intimidating here, okay?"

"Oh, that is so not gonna be a problem" There was a mumbled chorus of agreement.

"Okay, quiet people. And Rona, I'm being serious here. The reason I'm doing this is to show you that there are a few demon species out here that are generally harmless. Not always harmless, I stress. If you're damn sure that they're the ones responsible for the baby-smuggling ring you've just broken up, okay, fine, deal with them. But even if you're the Slayer, you're not omnipotent. You have a certain amount of time and energy, and if you spend it all hunting down demons that aren't hurting a flea then you're going to be in a hell of a lot of trouble when you come across one that is a real bad guy. Being a Slayer's not just beating people up, it's also using your brain."

She waited until they had all started to nod, and then continued. "Now, these guys aren't demons I know personally, but they know I'm the Slayer. They're nervous and probably scared. Clem's done a lot to convince them to be here, mostly by pointing out that teaching people not to kill them is a good thing, but they're still going to be jumpy as hell. Basically, all I'm asking is for you to be careful. You start waving weapons at them and they'll be gone in two seconds, and there goes the lesson. They're doing us a favour, okay?"

More nodding. She took a deep breath and turned to the vampire who stood silently beside her. "Anything to add, Spike?"

"Reckon you've pretty much covered it. Might want to hurry along, though. Clem said they'd be here at half past and I can't see them waiting around."

"Right, right. Okay people, this way..."

She opened the gates and the small crowd walked through.

*************

He watched from the lawn as the rift behind him twisted and closed. Well, that had been exhilarating! Also kind of draining and he was hungry as hell but... Geezuz! Jumping through time and space, what a fucking rush! Honestly, he should have eaten something that could do this sooner. Okay, so technically finding demons that could warp time and space wasn't exactly easy and he'd pretty much lucked out even grabbing this one but... Fuck!

He grinned maniacally and pulled himself to his feet. So. Jumped through time and space, really hungry, hideously tired but still wired as all hell and... where was this? Graveyard?

He rolled his eyes and then inexplicably let out a hysterical giggle. Graveyard, of course. After all, if he'd managed to aim right this was Sunnydale, home of the hell hounds and vampires and things that go bump in the night and sudden murders left and right. There were graveyards everywhere in Sunnydale. Gave the demons somewhere to hang, he supposed. Hee.

He really was hungry. God, that took a lot out of him! Definitely won't be able to do that again soon. Need to recharge. Need a pick me up. Need to eat. Find something to eat, gorge self, get some rest, then go and slaughter annoying brother. Then go have fun. Terror! Murder! Power!

God, this was fun. Honestly, he had no idea how he'd managed to survive as a plain old human for so long. It was just...

He stopped, and then frowned and sniffed the air. Oh goody. Food.

************

The demon was green, and appeared to have bits of silly string attached randomly all over his body. He also looked about as nervous as was possible for a green demon covered in silly string to look.

His eyes darted over his watching audience. "So... ummm... as I said, I've got this good job disposing of hazardous waste from this company... because of.... you know, the whole 'eats anything' thing. And I live... I've got a flat. And... and a hermit crab. In the flat."

Buffy smiled in a hopefully encouraging way. "A hermit crab?"

"Yeah, it's... like a pet. You know? I tried... once I tried getting a cat but it got mixed in with the pot when the guys came over for poker and it just..."

"Uh, okay Ned. That's great. I appreciate you talking here..."

"I think Gathazirat might have eaten it, actually. I mean, the bastard swore he didn't but personally, can you really trust a guy with empathic manipulation?"

The smile didn't slip an inch. And what do you know, she had learnt something at the Doublemeat Palace. Fake sincerity, coming right up. "Okay folks, that's Ned. Colololo demon, as evidenced by the green skin and tufts of.... tufts all over his body. Generally a nice guy, certainly not worth your slaying time. Anyone have any questions for Ned?"

Vi tentatively put up a hand. "It's... it's nice to meet you, Ned. Umm... I was just wondering... do demons often keep pets?"

There was a snort and Buffy flicked her eyes over the group. "Kennedy? Something to say?"

She looked vaguely defiant. "I just thought... I mean, what kind of question is that? Aren't we supposed to be asking strategic things, or questions about how to identify them or..."

"I was just curious!" Vi looked upset.

"Yeah, well I'm just saying..."

One of the others leapt to the defence. "It could be relevant, you know. Like maybe only the nicer demons keep pets and the evil ones..."

"Oh, the evil ones keep pets too." Ned said helpfully. "Like there was this guy I knew once, Tyzac demon, he kept this full grown Komodo Dragon in his flat. Dunno how the hell it fit in there. Dunno how the hell he even got it, come to think of it..."

Buffy sighed as a full-blown argument started up and flicked her eyes over to where Spike and Clem were watching. "And what are you guys grinning at?"

"Just thinking about what a nice night it is luv."

"Riiiiight..."

"Hey, and maybe I should get me a pet. Seems to be all the rage for your average non-evil demon. What do you think Clem, a nice kitty cat?"

"What, as a pet? I don't know, Spike. I mean, it'd be kinda tempting, living with something that's so delicious..."

Spike quirked an eyebrow in vague amusement. "Oh yeah, dunno how you could do that..."

Buffy shook her head and tried to hide her smile. Time for the next guy up, before the whole thing got out of control...

She raised her voice. "Okay people, lets hear from... Gaserack? Is that how you say it? Right, everyone say a big hello to Gaserack!"

************

He paced through the cemetery, silent and damn near invisible. Literally damn near invisible, actually, because he'd eaten a Tilom demon just the other night and acquired it's camouflage effect, an odd light bending trick which made him terribly difficult to spot. God knows it had taken long enough to find the one he'd ended up devouring. Why was it that the demons with the neatest tricks were always the hardest to catch?

He swallowed a snort of laughter. Stupid question really, answered itself. He sniffed the air. Okay, several of them there, and they were close. Gently going now. Don't want to scare them, at least until you rip them into bloody shreds and eat them. Scout first.

He peered through the bushes and blinked. The hell?

*************

"...and as a proud member of the Quasuio religion I would never even consider harming a human. In the web of life they are but insects and to do such a thing would be to lower myself beyond compare in the eyes of the great and almighty Quas. All hail Quas! Bringer of darkness! Maker of small reptiles, donuts and other delicious fare! For is it not said by Quas himself..."

Buffy stared at the latest speaker with a faint air of disbelief. Seated next to her on the wooden bench, Clem hissed another apology.

"I'm really sorry about this Buffy, honest. I mean, I had no idea the guy was such a fanatic. He seemed nice enough when I saw him around..."

Spike looked like he wanted to kill something for possibly the first time since he'd acquired his shiny new soul. "He's been going on about his bloody god for the last 20 minutes! For Christ's sake Buffy, make him stop!"

She shot him a frown. "I tried! Twice I tried! He keeps saying he's just got a little more to go and then he's off again!"

"Can't you kill him or something?"

"Spike! This thing's supposed to be about demons you don't kill..."

"Yeah, but I'm just saying..."

Clem sighed. "I really am sorry about this, guys..."

"...and Quas did say to all his followers. Hail this one! For he has skin of the darkest indigo and tentacles of the finest aquamarine..."

*************

He stared, nonplussed, at the scene before him. A small group of young girls sat on the cemetery grass, alternatively watching or looking bored by a thin purple demon who was making a speech that seemed to involve an awful lot of gesturing. Off to one side was an even smaller group of other demons, and sitting on a bench at the back was... wait a second... He leaned forward, very slowly and quietly.

Buffy Summers!

That was Buffy Summers! And she was sitting here amongst a bunch of demons and teenage girls in a cemetery. At night. And... and... damn! And she was entirely capable of kicking his butt. I mean yeah, he'd certainly... changed... a lot since she'd last seen him, but she had totally snapped the necks of several savage hellhounds! This completely sucked.

He frowned and leaned back. Okay, think. At least try and think, even though he was so hungry and tired and... shit, shit, shit. Stupid Buffy spoiling his meal. Okay, he didn't really know why she was here, but everyone knew that she'd been mixed up with some weird stuff. It wasn't really important why she was there, what was important was that there was some really tasty looking prey over there and she was sitting there blocking his access. He peeked back through the bushes. Hmmm... well, that Colololo demon was standing right near the edge there. Maybe if he was really quick, and really quiet, he could grab and run, and Buffy wouldn't even notice until it was too late. Yeah, that's what he'd do. Worth a try, any way...

He twisted his face into a predatory grin and edged forward. The hunt was always the best bit.


*************