Starlight I : Sheratan's Call

Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters except for Mia, Bryan, Daniel, and Cassandra. Joss Whedon owns all of the others.

Rating: PG 13. I promise. At least I'm not planning anything above it. There might be some harsh language, a bit of violence, and a few 'references', but nothing above kissing is going to be described without warning.

A/N: Hi, guys! I'm new here, and I'm not really sure about writing fanfic, so I'd be really happy if you read my work and reviewed it. I just want to get better, and make sure the time you waste reading my work is worth it. : ). Erm… I know there's something else I have to do. Ah yes. Please tell me if I missed something I had to do. Thanks! Okay, now, onto the story. I hope you enjoy.

Edit: I've had a complaint about my formatting. From now on, anything that is not part of the actual story shall be in bold… disclaimers, Author's Notes, etc. Thank you.

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Chapter 1: The Curse

"Oh, bloody hell!"

With the epithet still rebounding around on the walls of his crypt, Spike cradled his bleeding hand, and cursed. It wasn't long, however, before he licked his fingers, sucking at the sweet liquid that dribbled from his knuckles. He laughed bitterly. Stale crypt wall dust flavour. On the house. Or on the crypt. Or both.

God, he was confused.

He started pacing again. He knew that he'd been babbling. But he couldn't help it. He felt another crazy urge to smash his fist into the wall.

He shouldn't be feeling guilty. Bloody hell! Feeling guilty was for poofters. And a specific grand-daddy poof. 'Sides, you couldn't feel guilty without a soul kicking around, right?

Spike stopped, abruptly. That was a good point. Why was he feeling guilty without a shred of anything resembling a soul knocking about in him? Was he feeling guilty at all? If he wasn't feeling guilty… what was that… stupid… thing that was bothering him right now?

No. He wasn't feeling guilty. Just… uncomfortable, that's all. Just a strange nagging feeling that maybe he ishould/i be worried about working with Adam. Maybe he ishould/i be worried about the extreme probability of Adam not holding out his end of the bargain. And a strange nagging feeling that maybe…

Spike let out another crazed laugh. "And what'd Dru think of me?" he muttered. "Feelin' uncomfortable about doing the whole double-cross thing on the Slayer? She'd dance for bloody joy about it."

And that only brought an uncomfortable image of Dru, dancing in Brazil. The last thing he'd seen before he'd left. Only it wasn't with him, like it'd almost always been. With that stupid Fungus Demon git…

And that was when Spike gave up, and collapsed onto the dilapidated armchair he'd taken from the tip, and got drunk.

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Buffy was fuming.

Not fuming in an I'm-just-irritated-and-will-get-over-this-soon way, she was fuming in a bad way.

Fuming in a Buffy get-out-of-my-way-or-I'll-annihilate-you way.

The search for Riley had turned out futile, and had earned her a nice gash on her forehead and Forrest's death. She couldn't help feeling guilty about him, even though she had warned him repeatedly not to follow her. Now, she was extremely angry. Mostly at herself, but also at her friends for deserting her. She didn't understand how they could all turn on her like that. It had been so quick… and she had never seen such resentment in their eyes. The anger combined with the guilt to pave the way for an all-out Buffy fury, and that was what she was trying to work out.

So now, the Slayer was storming in the direction of the graveyard, about to unleash all hell on whatever crossed her. Not that she didn't normally, but the dangerous, almost demonic glint in her eye actually scared away a group of fledglings who had been planning to ambush her. A newly risen vampire, however, didn't get the chance. Normally, she just staked them as soon as she had the chance. But tonight the poor fledgling withstood ten minutes of her fury as she unleashed her pent up anger, every last bit of it, onto his broken body. To alleviate her somewhat guilt, it also happened to be a maths teacher who'd used to have a grudge against her.

Satisfied, Buffy continued, stalking westward. As she paused for a moment, one the group of aforementioned fledglings who hadn't run away foolishly decided to jump her. Three others, following their hive mentality, followed. Buffy almost grinned.

"Just what I needed…" she announced as the three circled her. One lunged, and she sent a flying kick in her direction, their two bodies soaring through the air as the fledgling crashed onto the grass, Buffy landing nimbly beside her. As the two other vampires rushed her, she took them both down with a roundhouse kick, and then flipped gracefully, taking the first fledgling down. When all three had turned to dust, she beamed, the final tension seeping away from her. "A little workout," she completed her sentence. Satisfied that no-one else was around as she scanned the cemetery, she walked home, preparing for a long shower that would help complete her unwinding. Unbeknownst to her, the graveyard was not as empty as she'd thought it was. Two sets of eyes watched her as she went, unblinking.


"She is angry," the other of them noted. "A petty, useless, human emotion. But it is interesting. I want to know more about this anger and the Slayer. I want to know what caused it."

"Well, it makes sense, doesn't it? After what he told us."

"It makes sense, yes. But the Slayer does not make sense. That is what intrigues me."

"What do you mean?"

"She is… different. Complex. More complex than I'd originally thought."

"What do you mean?" he repeated. "She's simple. She fights us, she kills us, and then, eventually, one of us gets smart enough and powerful enough to kill her. Then the next Slayer comes along."

"No. I've been reading about the Slayer line. This one is different from the others. Unique."

He thought of snorting in derision, but remembered the power of the being that stood next to him. Instead, he resolved to break it to him gently.

"All Slayers are the same, boss. They really are. This one will get killed off soon, just like the rest of them. The only reason she's lasted so long is that she's strong."

"No," he said stubbornly. "This one is special. But she is also weak. The anger she is displaying now is testimony to that fact."

He sighed, shrugged, and gave up. "Have it your way, boss."

It wasn't an evil leer that crossed his face, nor the typical trademark sneer that the evil guys in all the movies seemed to possess. Instead, he simply smiled.

"Oh, I intend to."

The two walked back casually towards the caves that led to the Initiative deep below the earth. As they negotiated their way through the labyrinth, the vampiric sidekick looked at him strangely.

"By the way, boss, what did you mean by 'I intend to?'"

"Trust me," Adam said simply, as he walked through the complex.

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"You did know that that 'eye of newt and tail of rat' thing isn't true, right?"

"What in God's name are you talking about?" Bryan asked, annoyed.

"You know," Mia waved her hands about vaguely. "That's what they sing about, right? The witches?"

Her boyfriend looked at her blankly, and she sighed and gave up. "You know, when they used to curse people? Like, all those stories? They used to say stuff about the ingredients being newt eyes and rat tails and stuff like that."

"And this has to do with this, how?" Bryan asked exasperatedly, gesturing at the small triangle they'd drawn in pig blood, with a candle at each of the three respective corners and a bowl of unidentified simmering objects in its middle. On either side of the bowl, two photos lay, a boy and a girl softly smiling out from them.

"Well, we're cursing them, right? And we didn't use newt eyes and rat tails, so it mustn't be true."

"Fine, whatever," Bryan rolled his eyes. "Let's just get this little thing over and done with. If Mom found out…"

"Oh please," Mia pouted. "I thought you'd cleared things up with your Mom ages ago."

"I thought I did too, but I had like, one candle in my room the other day, and she just went all spazzo on me."

"Aww… poor little bad boy Bryan," Mia smirked. "Not so big and bad as he puts out, huh?"

Immediately, with an almost feral growl in his eyes, Bryan was up. Moving almost inhumanly quickly, he slammed her against the wall of the basement, and then moved his hands so that they rested on the wall on either side of her head, trapping her.

"You will never talk about that incident again," Bryan snarled, his voice low and menacing. "Do you hear me?"

Mia, however, was not put off. She'd been in situations like this before. Heck, this was why Bryan Cornwall, of all people, was her boyfriend. Her big, tall, handsome, strong, bad-ass boyfriend that everyone disapproved of.

"Depends," she shrugged whimsically. "I could tell them about your fight." She traced a finger lightly over a large bruise that decorated his jawbone. "How manly you are… and could be."

As the two became more and more entwined with each other, none of them noticed the flame of the three candles flare to the ceiling, somehow leaving it unsinged. As unexperienced as they were, and as caught up in the moment as they were, neither Mia nor Bryan smelt the scent of a curse gone hideously wrong.

The two photographs slowly burned.

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(Okay, I'm sorry for it being short and disjointed. I'm going to sound desperate, but that's because I am. Please review! Thanks. : ) )