By Sweetprincipale

Set in early Season Five. When Dracula called Buffy 'kindred'', he was doing a bit more than just saying they had a lot in common. Hungry for knowledge of herself and her power, Buffy didn't realize what kind of connection he had forged with her until he left town, and the damage was done. Hoping to break his hold over her, Buffy requests help from Spike. However, the way you break the hold of one vampire is to let another one possess you more fully. But, it'll only be temporary, right? Simple business, that's all...

Part I

Spike sat up at the sound of scuffling coming from outside his crypt. Door sliding back slowly, but not at all stealthily. That'd be- he sniffed. Finn. Slayer threw the door open like she owned the bloody place. Other demons crept past and hoped he wouldn't notice- or they sniffed around loudly, cursing his name. The Watcher made his presence known with a throat-clearing every soddin' time. "Well, well." Spike leveled the crossbow at the entrance and saw the boy entering, looking furtive. As if. "You can take the boy out of the Initiative, but you can't take the Initiative out of the boy."
Finn glared. "I'd put that down, unless you're bucking for one hell of a headache."

Damn chip. He put the bow down. "I can't be too careful. I got quite a few demons after me these days."
"I'm looking for some information. Might pay a little.
He shrugged. Money was always useful. Money from this one- one of the few types of revenge available. He sank into his chair. "I'll play."
"What can you tell me about Dracula?"
"Dracula?" he scoffed. "Poncy bugger owes me eleven pounds, for one thing." He slipped a smoke between his lips, loving the way the boy's eyes narrowed in disbelief. Always fun to wind this one up.

"You know him?"
"Know him? We're old rivals." He clicked his lighter open and sighed into the first puff. "But then he got famous, forgot all about his foes. I'll tell you what. That glory hound's done more harm to vampires than any slayer. His story gets out, and suddenly everybody knows how to kill us. You know, the mirror bit?"
Riley lost the moment of being impressed, shaking his head as if he could weed out unwanted information like old gambling debts. "But he's not just a regular vampire. I mean, he has special powers, right?"
"Nothing but showy gypsy stuff. What's it to you, anyway?"
"He's in town. Making his presence known."
"Drac's in Sunnydale-way? I guess the old boy needed closure after all." He propped his feet up on the footstool, looking a bit smug.
"Actually, he's gunning for Buffy. But I'm out to find him before he gets another shot at her." He sat as well.

"Tough talk, cowboy. But you're not gonna catch him napping in a crypt. No, the count has to have his luxury estate and his bug-eaters and his special dirt, don't he?"
"So you're saying I should check out mansions, that sort of thing?"
"No." He stood, smirking in a way that he knew would irritate the soldier before him. "I'm saying ... you should go home to your superhoney. Have a nice, safe snog. You're out of your depth on this one, boy." He turned his back. Nice to do a bit of emasculatin', return the favor for neuterin' him, at least in the fang-capacity. Once turned, his smirk faded.

"You've helped Buffy before, so she has a problem with killing you now that you're helpless. I don't." Riley bit off the threat.
Spike turned back to face him. "I'd like to see you try." Wait. No… That's not a prudent thing to think, is it? Bloody hell. Spike refused to be cowed as Riley rose, face inches from his.
"Would you?"

Refusin' to be intimidated was one thing, getting dusted by a loser like that? Not on. "Pfft." He looked away as if he didn't care. Riley walked to the door and slammed through it as Spike called out, "You're never gonna find him." The door shut with an echoing crash.
"Not before he gets to her," the vampire murmured to himself once he was alone. And that… bothered him. No one had ever turned a Slayer. That must be what he's after. One of the brides, one of the three… That's what he's after.

Well now. Wouldn't that be fun to see? Little blonde slayer, now reduced to a vamp, all clingy and draped in bits of red and gauze, dependent on the immortal poofter and his shiny hair and his chalky skin.

It was the first time he'd ever thought of vampires as inferior in anyway.

He panted, disgust crossing his features. First for himself. Then for her.

He wouldn't even fight her. He'd trick her. That was worse, somehow.

No, this one couldn't be tricked. Too resourceful. Spike lit one cig from the end of his first. It'll be fine. Why do I care?

I don't want her to be used like that.

Of course I do!

No. Used, abused, thrown about- fine. If it's a fight. If it's me.

Oh, hell. Not even if it's me.

Something is wrong, so very wrong.

An' what am I gonna do about it?

Keep out of it, that's what.

Fog drifted into her room. A breeze that was chilly, far too cold for a warm California night brushed over her sheets, across her face. Buffy sat up with a gasp, pained and startled.

Dracula stood at the foot of her bed, blue eyes gleaming, an almost reverent smile on his face, long clever finger shaping the air as white lips framed the words. "You are magnificent."
Wide-eyed and pulling out the banter as she slid her hands for a stake, " I bet you say that before you bite all the girls."
"No, you are different. Kindred." His words rolled, all of them, and her hand froze.
"Kindred? Hardly, I-" she stammered, trying to find out where her words had gone and finding her brain hazy.

"Pull your hair back." Tongue dipped and indented the command and she obeyed, a look of surprise on her face.

Why did I do that? I don't do that! He's totally checking out my neck.

"This isn't how I … usually fight." Her eyes darted- but it was a slow dart. Something is off. And wrong. And wow, pull it back together. "You think you can just waft in here with your music video wind and your hypno-eyes…" Oh. Hypnosis. Yep. That's what it is. I bet.

"I have searched the world over for you. I have yearned for you."

Or maybe he knows all the right things to say.

He sat on the bed next to her and she barely even flinched.

"Searched for a creature whose darkness rivals my own." He puts his hand on her chin and moved her head tenderly to the side. She could feel his eyes on her bite. Angel's bite. His fingertips traced over it, almost lovingly. "You have been tasted." He smiled at her, a little intimate smile, fingertips caressing her cheek.

She was trying to keep her voice steady. "He was-"
He cut her off. "Unworthy."

Why? How? First love, warrior with a soul, who is more worthy?

Then why'd he leave? Why isn't he here, touching your cheek and saying he's been searching for me and oh holy shit, something bad is happening.

"He let you go." Blue eyes locked on flecked green.

He looks sorry for me. Smug. No- happy. 'Cause he's getting me instead.

There will be no getting of me!

"But the embrace ... his bite ... you remember."

"No." The conviction in her voice came out as- thoroughly unconvincing. She shouldn't find herself sinking into his cool touch, but he was touching again, just easing his skin to hers.

"Do not fight." A surprisingly gentle, insistent voice.' Fingers wrapped around her neck, tenderly. " I can feel your hunger."

I am hungry. I don't want to be dinner! Opposite end of the hungry, here. What am I hungry for? Can't place it…
She knew it was coming, she had a stake within reach, and she didn't even stop him. I have to know. I have to know what he knows. That's what I'm hungry for. Why am I kindred to them?

His fangs sank in, slowly, gently, without any hurry. She didn't pull away.


Riley's suspicion stood out all over him like spines. She tried to hide the bite. Red flag. Willow spouted out pages of information about Dracula, his preference to feed on victims he had a deep connection with, his ability to forge deep connections. Buffy blanked on all of them, answered the negatory in short syllables. Red flag two. Giles, brightest, weirdest demonology guy he knew pointed out that the end results of these intimate seductions was the same. Woman was turned. His woman would be turned, and she didn't seem angry about it. Red flags three through infinity.

Giles' words rang in his head. "She must want to be taken. She must… burn for him."

Her response? "That's interesting. I'm gonna go find him."

He tried to reason it away. She had transference from Angel. She was under a thrall.

It didn't change the fact that when Riley and Giles went to confront him, believing Buffy to be safely in the protection of Xander and Anya, that she was already in there with him.

"I knew you'd come." He smiled, quietly pleased.
"Why? Because I'm under your thrall?" This time the stake was ready, in her hand. Her mind cleared as if seeing sunlight through fog. "Well, guess again, pal."
"Put the stake down."
"Okay." Wait. What? "Right. That ... was not ... you. I did that. I did that because ... I wanted to.
He looked on, contentedly watching her as she grew more and more nervous. "Maybe I should rethink that thrall thing."

He moved from the head of the inordinately long banquet table.
"Stay away from me," she warned, wishing her voice was more commanding.

"Are you afraid I will bite you?" He looked confused, amused. "Slayer, that's why you came."

But it wasn't for the bite. It was for the knowing part. What is a Slayer? What am I? What's in me? "No. Last night ... it's not gonna happen again."

"Stop me. Stake me." He invited the attack, hands spread, completely at ease.

She wanted to. "I... Any minute now." But I don't want to kill him. I want to know what he knows. Then, I'll kill him.

"Do you know why you cannot resist?

" 'Cause you're famous?"

"Because you do not want to."

He was right- sort of. Not about the biting. The knowing. Dammit, why do people always want something out me? "My friends-"

"They're here." He read her startled glance accurately. She didn't want them to see her weakness. She relied on them- but they relied on her as well, relied on her to be some bastion of good. But there is darkness there, she can feel it. "They will not find us. We are alone."

He was close enough to touch her. "Always alone."

No. Wait. I don't want to be alone. Slayers are alone. I want to be alone with someone. The tension grew on her face. "There is so much I have to teach you. Your history, your power ... what your body is capable of…"

The way he said that last bit made her stomach quail. Okay, here's where I get off. Power, yes. History, sure. You touch my body and you'll be filling up an urn in minutes. "I don't need to know."

"You long to. And you will have eternity to discover yourself."

Longing. Discovering. Flashes of bodies tangling, hers and Angel's, hers and Riley's. She was still locked. They hadn't found the secrets. She didn't want this guy to, either. But… She didn't move. Knowledge is power, words from old songs in school drifted back to her.

" But first ... a little taste."

"I won't let you."

"I didn't mean for me."

Again with the chorus of wait, what? She watched him bare an arm, rolling up a sleeve to show sinewy white skin with dark little hairs. That's not the arm I wanted.

Well, what the hell does that mean? "What are you-

"All those years fighting us. Your power so near to our own... " He made a scratch, fingernail crossing the skin and raising a fine line of blood. "- and you've never once wanted to know what it is that we fight for? Never even a taste?" His arm was offered.

There should be disgust and repulsion. Instead, curiosity. "If I drink that-

"I have not drunk enough for you to change. You must be near death to become one of us. And that comes only when you plead for it."

Like he knows I will. I won't. That isn't what I'll plead for. I'll never ask for that. "I'm not hungry."

"No. Your craving goes deeper than that." They locked eyes. He whispered to her, a guide's whisper, a lover's whisper. "You think you know ... what you are ... what's to come. You haven't even begun." He offered her the taste. She wasn't near death. Safe to drink.

I will find what I'm looking for- the knowledge. The source of my power.

She kissed the line of blood, wrapping her tongue around it to pull it into her mouth.

He breathed out the words, hand reaching for her hair. "Find it. The darkness. Find your true nature."

Her closed eyes flew open. Fighting. Running. Not away from, always to the battle. Endlessly, tirelessly, ready to seek and destroy the evil. The First Slayer was there, roaming, raging, pouring power through the ages into her.

And never really feeling comfortable with herself. In the moment, there was the blood cry, and after- the confusion. Never really satisfied. There she was, all the light, the warrior of good- and she felt like she belonged in the dark sometimes, fighting, brawling, raging, a thing to be feared, a thing with power.

But it ain't his and I'm not letting him turn it to his use. Her head pulled up slowly. "Wow."

He looked satisfied, knowing.

She loved it when they looked pleased before she attacked. The huntress knows her prey. Her prey is cocky. That's why it's fun to take down. She jerked her hands away from his arm and onto his chest, flinging him back, sliding him down the table as the look of shock bloomed on his face. How gratifying.

"That was gross."

"You are resisting."

"Looks like."

"Come here. Come to me." He beckoned her.

"You know, I really think the thrall has gone out of our relationship. But I want to thank you for opening up my eyes a little."

"What is this?"

"My true nature. You want a taste?"

She fought him hard. She realized in seconds that she was fighting herself, too. Something was off. Unsatisfied.

The hunger. She had received only partial knowledge. She killed him, she staked him two times, and he kept reforming, fading before he could be taken thrice, fading to her whisper of "How do you like my darkness now?"

It wasn't a clean kill. He had disappeared, but he wasn't gone for good.

Neither was the hunger.

Riley rushed in. Dracula was gone. Blood was on her lips. Was it from him landing a blow, or her sucking face with the undead prince? Was it- something else? He shuddered. "You okay?"

She smiled widely, so sunnily beautiful. "Chock-full of free will."

Something was wrong. She couldn't sleep. She had complete free will, yes. She wanted to do every action she undertook.

Like showing up at Giles' flat at the crack of dawn.

He let her come in, telling her that he had to talk to her anyway, but letting her speak first.

She took a deep breath and began. "Ever since we did that spell where we called on the First Slayer ... I've been going out a lot. Every night.
Giles looked mildly surprised. "Patrolling?"
"Hunting. That's ... what Dracula called it." She had to get up. She felt too hot. Her skin was too tight. "And he was right. He understood my power better than I do. He saw darkness in it." She paced.

Giles looked concerned. Something more than her words was upsetting him.
She sat abruptly, desperately. "I need to know more. About where I come from, about the other slayers. I mean, maybe ... maybe if I could learn to control this thing, I could be stronger, I could be better. But ... I'm scared. I know it's gonna be hard. And I can't do it ... without you. I need your help. I need you to be my Watcher again. And… I need you to help me take whatever darkness I have and use it for something good. No- don't tell me it's not really dark. I- I started to feel it."

Giles hesitated. "Buffy, of course I'll be your Watcher. Forever, if you need me that long. And as your Watcher, I must first tell you that darkness is a power to be used. You've heard of fallen angels?"

"Huh? I mean, yeah, but-"

"Dear, there are beings of light who used that power for evil. There are more who used it for good. You- you have a touch of dark in so much brilliance. You needn't fear that."

Momentarily reassured, Buffy sighed and sank back, only to start yanking on her sleeves and lifting her hair as if feverish.

It was his turn to pace. "I do think there maybe something else we should concern ourselves with."

"What?" Buffy rubbed her neck distractedly.

"Buffy, did Dracula use any terms with you such as - well, let me see… Mine? Child? Bride? Wife?"

"Eww! Giles- what in the-"

"Oh, silly, really. He's not the typical vampire, as you well know. He does form these incredibly close bonds with those he wishes to turn, and he lays groundwork to keep them bespelled, as it were."

"Well, I killed him. Mainly."

"Yes, yes, and if you had been called by any of those possessive terms, that would break almost all ties. Some might remain, but thank God, he never attempted to get you to embrace him as one of his family, his kin."

Buffy's head jerked back. "What?"

"You've heard the term sires, of course. In Dracula's peculiar family tree, he has sired many, but he creates differentiation among them. Some are considered children, he acts as patriarch. Some he considers wives or brides, they are to- uh- well- romantic intimacies-"

"Moving on." Buffy paled.

"Mine is a word that indicates possession in general, or saying that you'll soon be a daughter, a family member. Those are words of ownership and not easily broken."

"But they can be?"

"Oh, absolutely. In theory."

"Which is it?" Buffy reared back from the couch, throwing herself upright so suddenly that he halted in his own pacing to catch her as she came unsteadily to her feet. "I need to know, can it be broken or are there are only theories that it can be?"

"Dracula is rare, but there are some rules he abides by in the vampiric code, and some that are specific


"Ah- the deep connection itself. Most vampires simply feed. He wants reciprocation. For example, not only would he bite a victim of choice, he'd make sure the victim asked for further exchanges of blood, offering to be bitten again, asking him to bite, or willingly feeding from him."

Buffy made a sick whimper. "I have a question. Don't freak, okay?"

"Oh dear Lord," He took off his glasses in preparation.

"Kindred- that means you think the same way? Like kindred spirits?"

His mouth hung open, no sounds coming out. Even gobsmacked, he managed to look dignified, a professor frozen in mid-lecture. "It can."

"Ca it mean something else?"

"It can mean one's family. One's clan, tribe, or blood relative."


"Shit, indeed. What did he-"

"He said I was kindred! I thought he meant we had stuff in common!"

"He claimed you as family!"

"Seeing that now."

"Then he bit you!"

"Yes, two little neck holes say you're right again," Buffy gasped nervously.

"But you- did you? You didn't?"

"He told me I would finally know the source of my power. Why I have to hunt. Why I am… like I am," Buffy confessed in a broken-sounding whisper. Ashamed. "He cut his arm and I… I'm so sorry, I was so stupid, I-"

"This is my fault. I should have insisted we continue to train and study last year. I failed as your Watcher and now- you're connected to Dracula until we break the bond." Giles raked his graying hair back with a short, sharp gesture that spoke volumes of anger and loathing, all aimed at himself. "It's all right, Buffy. It can be broken. We just need to do it soon. Dracula has left this place and I'm sure he's very weak right now, staked twice, but in a few weeks, maybe a month at most, he could come back and try to reassert his hold over you. Whether he succeeds remains to be seen-"

"But why risk seeing it? Very with you. So what do we do? A de-invite from my subconscious or something?"

"I have to look, but- in theory, a powerful vampire can break another's hold simply by creating a stronger bond. Dracula didn't- didn't do anything besides bite you, did he?"

"He put me in a spooky absence of my own will state."

"Should a vampire claim you as kindred, bite you twice, share blood with you twice, and complete some deeper act of intimacy, that should break the spell. And then, that vampire releases his ownership of you."

"Whoa. Back up. Ownership?"

"Buffy, I know the term is unpalatable-"

"It's like slavery, Giles."

"And they are demons, Buffy. They do enslave you. If he were to make you his bride, you would be enslaved to his whims, whatever they were. But you and he-?"

"He touched me. My face, my cheek, like he wanted to kiss me, but he didn't. He bit me instead. I'm glad that's all it was."

They both shuddered.

"Thank heavens we have Angel on our side," Giles headed to the phone. "He'll be pleased to help, I'm sure."

Biting. Intimate. Her skin burned first with missing him, love, and lust, and then dread. "Riley's going to freak with a capital F."

"It wasn't as if you'd asked the fancy gypsy with his castles and nuzzling she-demons to land in Sunnydale."

"He hates Angel. So much."

"I'm not dead keen on him myself." He flipped through some papers on his cluttered desk and handed the phone to her as he concluded dialing. "I'll accompany you to LA. Riley needn't know."

"I can't keep huge secrets like this from my- Hi, Angel?"

Giles left the room, but still heard the conversation, at least in part.

"Yes, the real Dracula. Thrall, party cape, eyes you would die for- no! Angel, I'm not- Why does everyone say I have transference issues?"

Stomping in a circle. "Look, can you help me? He called me kindred and bit me. No, I didn't know! Well, I know now!"

Stomping. Edges of berating, a muffled, male voice in full exasperation. Angel seemed to speak more loudly and clearly to Buffy after their relationship than in the entire duration of it, Giles mused as he made a fresh pot of tea.

"He bit me once, I drank once, so if you could just bite me two times and-" Her voice died away as muffled exclamations and berating filled the air. "I didn't know!" Her voice came back with a vengeance. "Kindred isn't the first word I use when I think of family. I use the word 'family' like a normal person! Can you do it? It should be over in a few minutes, less even. We have to have some other act of intimacy, Giles said. We could kiss or something. Nothing major, don't wig. Oh, and you have to call me a possessive name and then let me go when it's all done. That breaks the bond and he'll never spin my head again. Okay?" Dracula will never spin my head again. But Angel doing this will put it on permanent rotate. Her lower lip crumpled and she forced it back to set, thankful Giles couldn't see her.

He waited tensely. He heard the reluctance in her voice. "Sure… sure, I'll be at Giles' for a little bit. You think it over."

Giles heard the phone go back into its charging stand and he emerged to see a rather confused looking young woman. "He's arranging things?"

"He's thinking about arranging. But um- this is weird. I know Angel can't do it."

Giles sighed deeply. "I feared as much, Buffy. The temptation to give into something beyond biting and intimacy… Well, to increase the level of intimacy…" he trailed off. He read the lore. Bites could become sexual, at least for the vampire. Maybe for those being bitten, getting off on the rush. Sexual pleasure with Buffy could start a chain reaction of desire that left Angel soulless- and oh, horrors. She'd 'belong' to him during that time, presuming he called her his kindred or bride- oh that would shatter any hope she had of moving on- before biting and any subsequent sexual pleasure. Then, once changed to his evil form, he could command her to do any number of unspeakable things, and though she could resist, it would be painful and there'd be little guarantee of him releasing her without a fight. She shouldn't have to go through this again.

"That's a problem, too. But now… When Dracula bit me, he-he touched my scar. From where Angel bit me when Faith shot him?"

"Yes?" Giles looked mildly perplexed.

"He told me that I had been tasted. And the one who did it- was unworthy. He'd left me." Yeah. I'm not the unworthy one. Buffy shook her head. "Look, I don't know why I get this weird gut-feeling, but I do. Angel can't do it. Not because he's tempted- I know he'd overlook that, but I think it's because Dracula called him unworthy. I don't get how I know, but-"

"The residual, weak bond between you and Dracula remains. His disapproval of Angel- without even knowing who he is, mind you, is somehow significant. By calling him unworthy of you, he has indicated that the one who bit you can't be his equal to challenge him on his- ownership. I'm sorry, hated word."

This time, Buffy tangled her hands in her hair. "So, Dracula's opinion somehow matters?"

"Not in life, only on this one issue. He is powerful. He is also clever. He put different layers of hold on you, so subtly, and made it hard to break them as well. He'd have to be very confident he wouldn't have any other challengers but the one you'd allowed to bite you. Presumably that would have been a very special vampire, one who you had a bond with. Slayers typically don't have such bonds. Should they have them for some reason, the idea that a vampire would be strong, strong enough to rival a slayer in terms of not only strength but intellect and ability to create connection- they're rare."

"So I am eternally screwed? I'm eventually going to ache to live in a drafty castle, wear nighties, and want to snuggle up to Mr. Transylvania 1500?"

Giles stammered out something comforting, lost under the ringing of the phone. Buffy lunged for it, stopping short. "How am I going to tell him I don't want his help now? Just say, 'Sorry Angel, never mind'?"

"Uh- say it's too risky with his past connection to you, or tell him about the unworthy comment?'"

"I don't want to hurt him, Giles!"

"You'll think fast then!" Giles snagged the phone and thrust it into her hand.

At close range, he could hear the male voice, a voice that still made him cringe. You couldn't change the face. You couldn't change the voice. The soul had no bearing on those unfortunate similarities when he compared Angel to Angelus.

"I'm sorry," Angel said slowly, voice full of pain.

"Wh-what?" Buffy hadn't expected that.

"My guys are going to research another way to break the bond. You get Giles and the gang on it, too. I know that- my soul-"

"No, it's okay," Buffy quickly interposed, turning away from Giles. Tears shouldn't sting her eyes. He should have at least offered. I know it's risky. But I would risk everything for him. I wouldn't make the same mistake again. Except for thinking for a minute that "I'll love you forever" equals "I'll be there when you need me." "I get it. Let us know what you find out."

"If I could-"

"I get it. Uh- say hi to everyone. Okay. Bye."

"Bye. I lo-"

She hung up fiercely. Then hit the off button. "I'll tell you one thing I miss about your old phone- you could totally slam that puppy down. It could take a good angry hang up."

"I know. These cheap things. So flimsy in their plastic- digitalness." He hesitantly put his arm around her shoulders. "We'll find a way."

"I could kill Dracula in the permanent way, right? That'd end his hold?"

"Absolutely. However… I imagine he's realized that you are the only human in the world capable of doing that and he'll be hiding someplace distant and remote. If you suddenly feel his hold on you strengthen, like you're losing free thought and the ability to resist his aims, you'll know he's nearby. I'll call any sources I have and we'll track him."

"And he'll use his sources and find out we've found out and move to Outer Deserted Arctic Circle just as I get on a plane to head to wherever he is?"

"Well- yes, I mean- he may think he can string this out for several years. He's not burdened by time constraints."

"But I have Mom and college. I can't go globe-trotting!"

Polishing again, knowing as the words left his lips that they were unwise. "We could leave it, I suppose. The farther away he is and the more time passes, the hold will be less tangible. It doesn't seem to be tangible now."

"Oh, no, I always feel like my skin shrunk in the shower and my head's on too tight and my body is too hot and I have to move every second." Buffy threw up her hands.

"Perhaps part of that is just your own awareness of your power, Buffy. You've felt restless since we joined together to defeat Adam. Your slayer strength and energy may be blossoming in new ways, your body-"

"Don't say blossoming and body together, Giles. It makes me sound like I'm a thirteen year old who needs her first real bra." She paced, spun, rolled her sleeves up and down.

"I had no idea," Giles said in a mortified voice. Why don't they train Watchers about any of the physical idiosyncrasies of young women? Why? "I should have said, your body may be changing- oh, no. I suppose that's worse."

"He told me he was going to teach me. My history. My ability. About my body. I don't think he meant a new way to bench press," Buffy's voice was rising through the octaves.

"Gypsy bastard," Giles lost his apologetic edge at once. What did he mean? Oh, he didn't need to ask that. The thought of the shrewd, charismatic man with his hands all over his girl, in her unwilling state- aware but able to fully fight. A pen snapped in half over his thumb, pieces scattering to the floor, black ink staining his hand. "I'll - wash my hand," Giles muttered, exiting to the kitchen sink.

"You get it. So, no, waiting is not okay. We find a way or we find a harmless, strong vampire whose willing to play 'catch and release' with me. Someone preferably sane and not heavy into hurting would be-"

They both realized it. They both were kicking themselves for not realizing it earlier. "Spike?"

"How much do you think he'd want for this?"

"Probably a thousand."

"Oh man."

"You can beat him down on the price," Giles suggested hesitantly. Beating him down could take literal form.

"I think we keep the threat of beating as part of the 'if you don't bite her, kiss her, and then say she's free, we'll do unspeakable things to you' terms of the deal. Oh, ew. I have to kiss him again. I already kissed him like a thousand times when we were 'betrothed' by Willow." Buffy shook her head wearily. At least he's good at it. Lately… he's seemed okay-ish. Very eager to not be killed. "I might tell him this evens us up. We didn't stake him for helping Adam, and he betrayed us, now it's time to pay us back?"

"That sounds reasonable."

"Spike isn't reasonable."

Giles hesitated. "Not entirely, but he is resourceful and clever. He definitely exhibited qualities of possessiveness over Drusilla. I don't know the precise nature, but I dare say she 'owned' him more than the other way around. Otherwise she'd have remained with him after Acathla."

"If you say I'm going to need Drusilla-"

"No! Not at all. Dracula didn't claim Spike to be unworthy, which is excellent for us. Not to cause you further pain, Buffy, but Dracula claimed that the vampire who was unworthy bit you and then left. Hence the uh- unworthiness. Spike is not the leaving sort. Were he to have bitten you, I'm sure he'd still be an active - I mean, should you and he have had the romantic relationship and it - I seem to be talking myself into bad places today," Giles ended nervously.

Buffy smiled in a forlorn way, patting his arm. "Spike is unreasonable, violent, and rude- and he's also romantic, faithful, and patient with bad situations, like mentally unstable girlfriends. I get what you mean." And it sounds weirdly nice. Not being left, that is. "If he bit me, are you saying he'd never want to leave?"

"Oh, no! No, this would be strictly business, perfunctory. And we don't seem to be able to shift him anyway."

She laughed in spite of herself, then sobered as a wave of prickling energy and nervousness coursed through her. "Do you think he'll play ball?"

"I think you can convince him." I think he'll jump at the chance. "Spike is proud of his connection to slayers. To briefly have a vampiric bond with a living one, who asked for it- it will be something he boasts about."

"Oh, well then, no. I can't let him tell people!"


"All right, all right. Maybe I'll tell him he can't tell until I'm dead or something."


"Never mind, right, braggy vamp, not important. A connection to slayers is a good thing here, because that's the whole- the whole powerful stuff, the worthy challenger stuff, right?"

"I assume it will help."

"Let's go threaten a vampire."

"Perhaps you should try asking politely first?"

"You're ruining my fun, you know that?"

"We need him."

"I hate that."

"He's needed you before. It's a balance. It's simply a matter of common goals."

"What's the common goal now?"

Giles was silent. "It's a matter of money," he corrected, looking pained.

"I want a cosmic rewind button. I would have never let him bite me, stopped Mom before she let him in."

He nodded with a sigh. So many actions to erase, to do-over. "If only, my dear."

To be continued...