He kissed me.

Nineteen-year-old Melaka Fray shuddered as the memory of her brother's cruel kiss crept across her mind late one evening. She shook it clear from her mind as she head butted a lurk savagely. The lurk – no, not the lurk, that wasn't quite the right word, was it? – the vampire lurched back a step or two, giving Melaka just enough time to pull her scythe from the sheath that was on her back. She brought the scythe – stake-end forward – towards the vampire and jammed it in his right eye. He howled with pain as he went down, and Melaka allowed her a quick second of fleeting pleasure before she used the bladed end to chop his head cleanly off. His head turned to ash in mid-air, while the rest of his body just crumbled on the floor. The Slayer wrinkled her nose at the stench of death and decay as she turned on her heel, sticking the stake back in its homemade, temporary sheath.

I'll hafta grab a new sheath first chance I get, she thought to herself as she latched on to a nearby pipe and started to scale up the forty-odd-story building. While scaling up the pipe, she idly started to think back over the past couple of months, which had been weird, at best.

Melaka, a former grabber – or thief – for a giant fish-like creature named Gunther, had come across a man late one evening when she had returned home to Versi. He had come up to her and, after murmuring something about her being "the Chosen One", and adding that she was their savior, the one who would protect them all and "end the scourge", he had promptly set himself on fire. The weirdness hadn't ended there though, and Melaka so wished that it had. It would've made life a thousand times easier, she thought. And so many of her loved ones would have been alive. But no, Urkonn, a demon, had found his way into her apartment, had discovered Melaka's destiny, and had trained her, had forced her into accepting the role that some ancient powers that had been dead quiet for the past few hundred years had suddenly decided to bestow upon her.

But that wasn't even the half of it. Melaka had discovered that her mortal (immortal?) enemy was the one person whose death she had grieved for so many years now. Her twin brother Harth. He was, in a sense, master of the vampires, a Chosen One in his own right, chosen to do the exact opposite of what Melaka had been Called to do. Born of the same flesh, they were each other's natural enemies.

When Harth had started his attack, Melaka had been somewhat reluctant to fight back. But Urkonn's murder of little Loo, a neighborhood girl who was like the little sister that Melaka had never had, had given Melaka the edge she needed to fight back. It wasn't until after she had put an end to Harth's master plan, and his subsequent escape, that Melaka had discovered that it was Urkonn who had murdered Loo in cold blood.

She paid him back, Babylonian style.

And now here she was, nineteen, alone, and somewhat confused about what she had to do next with her life. Melaka's life wasn't like the Slayer Buffy's, where she had an entire network of friends who helped her out with her slayage. It wasn't even like the Primal's, where all she was trained to do was to kill vampires. Melaka's life was entirely different, because the world had changed in the last two-hundred years. The last dregs of magick were nearly gone. Religion was nearly extinct. All that now existed were fanatics, those who believed in the second comings of their various gods. Some waited for the return of the Christ, others for the return of Vishnu, and so many other religious fanatics who waited for their own personal savior's return. The only group who had gotten their wish was the Council of Watchers. And they were too busy setting themselves on fire to even care anymore.

Melaka sighed as she pulled herself up onto the roof of the building and then took a look around. She wasn't too far from Versi, it turned out, but she wasn't sure if she wanted to take another round of the Warren before turning in for the night. There was no dearth of lurks in Haddyn, Melaka knew for a fact, but a girl had to sleep. In any case, she had to meet her elder sister Erin the next day for some sisterly quality time, a thing both young women had been doing ever since Melaka's first big battle, and the sisters' reconciliation.

Melaka's resolve to go home was cut short when she felt a sharp pain in her lower abdomen. She gritted her teeth and brought her scythe to the ready, knowing full well that it meant there was a vampire somewhere close. The Slayer leaped off of the roof of the building and back into the night, ready to face whatever dangers lay down there.

The danger that she wasn't prepared to face, though, was her sister's surprise for her the next morning.

"We're going to Fornia," Erin said pleasantly as she set a plate of warm bagels on her dining table. Melaka looked up in alarm; eyebrows raised and mouth hanging somewhat open. Melaka and Erin had never done a family thing together. They'd barely ever hung out for more than a few hours since Harth's initial disappearance.

"Fornia. On the west coast," Melaka slowly said, pouring herself a glass of unfrozen juice. "Not that I'm not grateful, Erin, it's slam, but…you and I don't have a history of warm happy fuzzies. Or you know, much of a history at all from the past six or seven years. So…why?"

"We're family, Mel," Erin replied, shaking some of her long, ash-blonde hair away from her shoulders. "Sisters. And we're all the other has. I really think we need to bond more. Especially with Harth being all – you know." Erin brought her hands up and curled them and scrunching up her face growled, "Grr. Argh."

"With him being a vampire. It's not a bad word, Erin, you can use it."

"I know, but it's just so difficult. I mean, when I saw him…all pale, and so small…just like he'd been when he went missing. It's so hard to believe. And you -"

"Can take care of myself, Erin," Melaka replied. "I'm not like the other girls. I don't have the visions or the dreams; I barely know anything about the legacy. Harth knows all that. Maybe that will give me the edge I need."

"I hope so, Mel."

"So, when do we leave?"

"This weekend."

"Oh. So…is it anything like Haddyn? Have you ever been there before?"

"No, but I heard it's very beautiful. The northern part at least. Southern Fornia was wiped out by numerous battles in the past few centuries. Lots of bad blood. Maybe even some lurks."

"Oh, a working vacation. I can hardly wait." Melaka said dryly.

"Hardly. You aren't slaying anything, Mel. This is just a relaxation thing. To get away from Haddyn, Harth, and everything else. Just you and me, and warm sun, sand, and the beaches. If they're clean, anyway."

"Could be fun."

"We both need it."

"Can you get away?"

"For a couple of weeks. What about you?"

"Not employed by anyone to do any grabbing, and since I'm Watcher-less and fancy free…"

"So it's settled then."

"Looks like."

Erin smiled, pleased. She didn't really need to get away from anything here in Haddyn. Not as badly as Melaka did anyway. But she did want a strong bond between herself and Melaka. They were all the family each other had left, not counting a psycho-vampiric brother. Besides, with Melaka's new role in life, who knew when Melaka would be gone for good?

"So, what else is going on with you, sis?" Erin asked pleasantly. Melaka shrugged and smiled a tiny, sweet smile. Maybe Erin was right in saying that they had to get closer. And maybe this was the way to do it.

Maybe this was the way for her to start a semi-normal life.

Outside, in the shadows, a figure cloaked in shadows watched over the Slayer. He stood just far enough away so that he was out of the Slayer's vampire radar, but close enough to be able to get a good look at her. He had come back to the States all the way from England when he had heard rumors of another Slayer having been called, all the while wondering why none of the Watchers had come to him and told him. After all, he was now the Head of Council, and had been for the last hundred-odd years. One would think that they would come up to him and let him know that, hey mate, new Slayer bird's been Called.

But no, the Watchers had kept it to themselves. It wasn't just the fact that the fanatics had kept the news to themselves that bugged him, it was also that that idiot Trevor Creevy had decided to approach the new Slayer and set himself on fire in front of her. Idiot. She'd probably avoid any Watchers after that.

Which made his job just that much harder.

After all, he wasn't just a Watcher.

Spike was a vampire too.