Nightmares weren't a new thing.

When I was really young, mom would come in and calm me down, telling me there were no such thing as monsters. Sometimes, Stacey would be over, babysitting on one of the late nights where I actually went to bed when she was still there. She told me to fight back if things were after me. Sometimes it worked. Other times, though, the dream played out more like I was just watching someone else's life. That happened a lot, actually.

And then, with the joys of adolescence, came the other dreams. The sweaty, panting, bodies connecting kind. It was like Pay Per View in my head. And we're talking multiple channels. A blonde and a big broody faced guy. That same blonde and a college frat boy. Again, the blonde and Billy Idol impersonator. Occasionally, it'd be the blonde with this pretty hot brunette chick. The blonde seemed to get around. Only, she was me, which was weird. Except in the case of the brunette. Then it was just hot.

But we were talking about nightmares. The kind featuring creatures with fangs or talons or both, chasing me around town. I'd fight, just like Stacey said I should. It was scary, but even with the biggest of the baddies, there was a sense that I could take them on. I'd fight and pummel and kick ass. It felt good. But there was one particular scenario I had a hard time handling.

It's dark, as usual. I'm running down an alley. This time I'm just with the blonde, not in her shoes. This probably means I'm that dark haired hottie, but that's another dream for another night. We're slamming bad guys against walls and turning them to dust. Suddenly, this guy appears out of nowhere, so he must be a monster, right? I stab him. He bleeds. I'm fucked because I just killed a guy. An actual guy.

There was pounding on the door. I knew it must be the cops, come to take me away to jail.

I blinked, rubbed my eyes, and let the room come into focus. The door was still being beaten down by the law. Or maybe it was maid service.

"Hold your fuckin' pants on." I actually didn't bother with pants of any kind, because if it is the fuzz, they can deal with my boycut lacy underthings and Clash t-shirt. As for housekeeping, it's nothing they hadn't seen before.

The second the door creaked open, I labeled myself as an idiot. Because that's who stands in front of hotties in their pajamas.

"Hi." Dawn leaned in the doorway, casual as all hell. The heels and skirt ensemble had been replaced by track pants and Adidas. A huge duffel bag sat next to her feet. "You got some sleep. That's good."

"I, um. Yeah." Sleep. Dammit. That meant my hair was a mess, my breath was awful, and, let's not forget, I wasn't wearing any pants. I nodded toward the bag. "You moving in?"

Her long ponytail swished when she moved. "Kinda." She dragged the bag behind her as she entered the room.

"Looks heavy."

There was a zip, a clank and a shing. "I manage." In her hand was a sword. An honest to goodness pointy tipped hunk of metal.

"I don't doubt it."

-

Lacrosse, field hockey, volleyball, soccer… these were all sports I enjoyed in high school. Not because I played them, but because I liked to watch.

I was never terribly athletic. Freakishly strong for someone who tops out at 5'5'' and can't seem to gain anything past 127 pounds, sure. But sports? Forget it.

As a kid, I'd always opted out because I was either too shy or too interested in whatever advanced level book I was reading. It wasn't until I got to Westlake that I realized the glory of girls in various combos of the shorts/shin guards/knee pads/sleeveless jersey ensemble. I did, however, limit myself to the stands and, outside of mandatory P.E. classes, never worked on developing any team skills or an ability to throw or kick any object into any kind of netted receptacle.

So, when Dawn handed me my very own large weighty broadsword, I told her she was crazy.

"Is it too heavy?"

I awkwardly waved the sword around, trying not to break any of the very fine (i.e.: crap) lighting fixtures in my motel room. "No, I just don't know… how to work it."

"You're workin' it just fine."

"Are you sure this is a good indoor activity?"

"They seem to frown on sword fights so close to the boardwalk."

"If this were Vegas, we could just hang out in front of the Excalibur. Maybe make some tips."

She ducked away from my flailing sword. "Try to keep the tip out of my face."

"I don't really know what I'm doing. Isn't that kind of why you're here?"

She was behind me now, arms around me, hands wrapping themselves over mine, demonstrating grip. "Yeah. I know. You're just… well, you're my first."

"Your… first?" If I was supposed to be learning, I wasn't retaining anything.

"First slayer."

"You've, um, never done this before?"

"Oh, I've done it tons of times! There were just other people around. It's my first solo gig." With gentle movements, she guided the weapon in my hands, to basic defensive positions.

"Right."

"But then, it's still not solo solo, because Andrew's always tagging along, making a mess and interrupting my game."

"Game killer, huh?"

"Did I say game? I meant training."

"Hey, guys? I got doughnuts!" Andrew's voice was muffled through the motel room door.

Dawn sighed and let go of my arms. "I meant game."