Darklight: yeah
Rankokun: I hope this was fast enough
Dawn: Joss Whedon is a freaking genius, and I can only hope to someday be half the writer he is

The Sunnydale Connection (Part 8)

A pillar of light and flame erupted up out of the Hellmouth, blasting through rock and school as it rocketed skywards. Spike screamed as he stood there in the centre of the beam, the medallion he wore sending out beams of light that filled the cavern. Turok-Han, Bringers and other assorted daemons burst into flame on contact with the light.

"TIME TO GO!" Faith yelled above the sound of rock giving way.

The Potentials bolted for the stairs, Faith and Matilda bringing up the rear, leaving only Buffy and Spike.

"Go!" The blond vampire stood rock solid under the flow of power filling the Hellmouth, "I mean it! I gotta do this."

"I love you." Buffy looked at him, tears welling up in her eyes.

"No you don't, but thanks for saying it." Spike smiled softly, "Now go!"

Buffy turned and ran up the stairs and out of the Hellmouth.

His body burning as the daylight struck him, Spike smiled, finally at peace, "I want to see how it ends." He turned to dust as the cave finally collapsed in upon itself, sealing the Hellmouth forever.

"This has been without a doubt the craziest six weeks of my life." Matilda was sat on the floor of the school bus as the others looked at the crater that was once Sunnydale.

"Hey, that's life on a Hellmouth." Principal Woods smiled, "The fun just never stops."

"Laugh it off teach: I'm not the one who got stabbed."

"True." Woods laughed, "How do you know how to patch someone up so good?"

"You live the kind of life I did, you learn how to deal with this sort of thing." Matilda shrugged, "ER Docs ask too many questions."

"So what you going to do now?"

"That depends on Faith: I don't want to go back to my old job, and I doubt she'd last long in New York without upsetting my former employers. I'll go where she goes."

The Bracken demon known as Elwood walked though the hotel lobby, followed by his bodyguards. He hated New York, but he needed to be there to finalise a deal for some powerful magical books he'd acquired from a former, now dead, Watcher.

He told Ricky to keep watch in the lobby. He didn't think much of the young Vampire, but the guy was unquestionably loyal, and could be trusted with such a simple task.

The hotel was known in daemon circles for being very accommodating, and the windows where all specially treated to block the part of the spectrum that was harmful to vampires. The penthouse had a beautiful view of Central Park, and Elwood smiled as he waited for his contact to arrive.

"Um, boss." Ricky's voice crackled over the radio, "There's someone here to see you."

"Who is it?" Elwood asked, looking at his watch.

"Someone serious." Ricky looked at the crossbow bolt that was pointed straight at his heart.

"Tell him I'm coming up." A soft voice ordered.

"She's coming up…" Ricky was cut off by the sound of a crossbow firing and his body crumpling to dust.

"Holly shit!" Elwood grabbed an axe from the coffee table and looked at his other three bodyguards, "Someone's coming up, someone serious."

The three demons looked at each other, drawing their weapons. The tallest one, a 200-year old vampire, carried a long rapier hidden in his trenchcoat. The other two, Bracken demons like their boss, pulled .45-caliber automatics from their belts.

"Lou, check the stairs." Elwood nodded to the vampire as he went to check the security cameras that watched the approaches to the room. He caught a glimpse of something moving at the very edge of one camera before it died.

Following his employer's orders, the vampire known as Lou walked out onto the landing that looked out over the stairwell. It was impossible to get a good scent: too many people used it each day, but he couldn't see or hear anyone. He turned around to go back inside the penthouse, and didn't notice the metal nose slip over his head until it was too late.

One sharp tug and his neck was severed. He looked surprised for a split second, and then crumpled to dust on the floor.

"They got Lou!" Elwood saw it all happen on the CCTV, a panicked expression crossing his face. He momentarily changed from his human guise to his demon form, before regaining control. He hit the button that activated the security system, supposable turning the penthouse into an impregnable fortress.

A shadow moved across the shutters that had descended over the wall-to-wall window, and the other two demons opened fire, emptying their guns in a matter of seconds.

"Go check it out!" Elwood ordered, backing up against the wall as the shutter reopened. The two remaining bodyguards reloaded their weapons and stepped out through the shattered glass and onto the balcony beyond.

The heavy metal shutter fell down with a crash, followed by a pair of muffled gunshots and two bodies hitting the floor. The shadow repapered, and Elwood saw an eye pear at him through a bullet hole. Elwood back-pedalled, dropping his knife so he could grab a phone and dial a number from memory.

"Wolfram and Hart New York, how may I help you?"

"This is Elwood Lake." The Bracken daemon spoke quickly, "I'm staying at the Hotel Augusta off Central Park. Someone's to…" He stopped as he left the cold metal of a knife press against his throat, "I'll call you back." He ended the call.

Matilda's face appeared from the shadows next to his face, a small business card in her other hand.

"Call this number." She ordered, her voice low and soft but full of menace.

Nodding, Elwood dialled the number printed on the card and held the phone to his ear.

"Do you know who this is?" The voice on the other end asked.

"Yeah." The daemon swallowed, his throat dry.

"Good. I'll get straight to the point: you stole some books from a friend of mine shortly after her death. I want them to be returned in the same condition you found them. Do this and we let you live. Do you understand?"


"Good. Let me speak to our mutual friend."

"He wants to talk to you." Elwood held out the phone for Matilda.

"Yes?" She asked, taking it in the hand that held the card.

"Make sure he understands." The line clicked off.

"Do you understand?" Matilda asked, her voice just above a whisper.

"I understand." Elwood swallowed again.

Matilda disappeared back into the shadows, her knife leaving the demons neck.

Elwood slowly turned round, but there was no sign of the Slayer.

Giles sat at his desk in the rebuilt Watchers headquarters in London and smiled: despite Buffy's views to the country, sometimes the old council's methods were still needed. Matilda was perfect for jobs that required stealth and skill: her pervious training, coupled with her Slayer strength and reflexes made her the perfect 'stick' for the new Watchers Council.

Buffy didn't like it, but she'd adopted a policy of 'Don't ask, don't tell' when it came to this side of the work.

A black SUV with tinted windows pulled up outside the hotel as Matilda stepped out the front door into the first light of dawn. She opened the rear door and climbed in without looking round, and the car rejoined the sparse pre-rush hour traffic.

"So how did it go?" The driver, a newly qualified Watcher asked.

"As planned." Matilda methodically removed all her weapons and placed them in a box on the seat next to her, "I don't think we'll have any more trouble from him."

"That's good." The driver nodded, slightly nervous: he'd heard stories about the Slayer sitting in the back of his car, and the last thing he wanted to do was annoy her, "Your flight back to Cleveland leaves in two hours, and we'll be at JFK in one."

"That's good." Matilda fastened her seatbelt and lit a cigarette, opened the window to let out the smoke. She smiled, "It'll be good to get home."

The End!

My thanks to everyone who's reviewed, and to Zira for beta-reading the second half of this story: it's been a wild, twisted ride, but you've all stuck with me to the end, and that means a lot to me.

Catch you on the flipside,