Feedback: YES! Feedback and criticism (but only constructive) is not only appreciated, it's one of the things that makes writing so much fun!
Disclaimer: I do not own BTVS, but I really wish I did. Angel leaving? Never would have happened.
Pairing: B/A (eventually), W/O, S/F
Summary: AU. The prequel to Werewolves of L.A. Buffy Summers is an ordinary girl, living a normal life, until her Mom gets a job as an art curator in a little town called Sunnydale. She thinks her life has come to an end. In fact, it's only just beginning…
"Well this is…lame," muttered Buffy, struggling and failing to come up with a word to accurately sum up having everyone she had ever known disappear from view.
The scene was exactly the same- cars were sat in the street engines running but nobody behind the wheel. An ice-cream floated in the air where someone had been eating it previously. A baseball bat was in mid swing in the park.
Everyone was gone. She utterly alone.
"Ok, don't panic. You're a Scooby now. Let's go fix this."
She sucked in a breath and headed towards the library. It was the same beautiful bright day but the citizens of Sunnydale were nowhere to be seen. Where there had been neighbours out for the weekend washing their cars, gardening or even walking down the road now they were gone, leaving only the items they had been using in their last moments. She refused the urge to peer in through the front windows of the properties to see televisions broadcasting to empty rooms, or cakes burning in ovens that would not be switched off. Someone's front door was half opened and shopping was sat next to it, waiting to be taken in.
In the distance she heard the sound of the ice-cream van, the lullaby music still playing out over its loudspeakers to children who would never come. The mechanised music made her shudder and she quickened her step.
Inside the school was cool and dark, and as she hurried down the corridors to the library she tried to squash the little hope that she had that Giles might still be inside. After all, he'd been preparing to go home and sleep only ten minutes ago, exhausted from keeping an eye on Doyle all night.
Had it really only been that long?
She shoved open the library doors. "Giles! Giles are you here?"
She opened his office door but there were only a stack of neatly folded papers and a set of keys on the table. Giles had obviously been ready to leave but maybe, just maybe he'd avoided whatever curse Xander had unleashed by being safe in the stacks? It sounded ludicrous even as her mind suggested it but she couldn't resist the temptation to enter the small number of bookshelves at the back of the library.
"Giles? Oh, please be here…" she trailed off.
But there was no response and it was with a horrible sinking feeling that she realised she would never be getting one from anybody if she didn't do something.
Six hours of research later she'd come up with nothing. Nada. Not even the tiniest hint of what might have happened to her, nor any sort of rescue plan to get her out of it. She'd trawled Giles's collection of books looking under spoken curses and witchcraft. She'd flicked through vanishing spells but they only made the practitioner vanish not everyone else. Then there'd been a whole really promising section on disappearance but it had only turned out to be about invisibility, and whilst she'd learnt a couple of nifty quick-fire incantations, she'd found zilch to explain what was happening.
Her stomach growled and she realized it was way past dinner time and the sun had begun to set. Skim reading all of those books on your own took its time and without Giles or Merrick there to point her in the right direction, or even for a general section to look under she was finding it harder than she'd anticipated. When her stomach gurgled loudly again she slammed shut the dragon skin bound book she'd been reading and headed home.
She silenced the little voice that reminded her it would be empty when she got there.
"Giles!" Xander and Willow burst through the library doors and skidded to a halt. The librarian was nowhere to be seen.
"You don't think I've made him vanish too, do you?"
"You better not have- I mean Buffy's not going to be happy to see you again but at least she doesn't grow claws and very sharp teeth when she gets angry."
Xander swallowed and called out again. "Giles! Yo, G-man!"
"Maybe he's in the faculty room…oh there you are!" The two teenagers exchanged looks. Giles had appeared from out of the stacks a bewildered expression on his face.
"Well, on the upside he's not likely to yell at me so badly if his brain has turned to mush," said Xander hopefully.
"Only you could see an upside to that situation," Willow hissed and then clicked her fingers in front of Giles' face. "Giles…wakey wakey!" He blinked rapidly and focussed on the children.
"I was, uh, in the stacks. I got lost."
"In your own library?"
The librarian coughed. "Yes well, you two never appear without some sort of disaster having occurred so what was it you wanted to see me about?"
"Oh, err, nothing. Ow!" Xander yelped. "Will-your elbows are really sharp and my skin is soft and easily dented."
"Like your brain?"
The boy scowled at Giles and the amused smile playing around his lips.
"Buffy's vanished. Ow! Ok, ok I was getting to that part." Xander rubbed his side. " I may or may not and that's the really important part, I might have done but I probably haven't… made Buffy disappear into thin air. "
Giles tapped his fingers on the wood of his desk. "Xander, tell me what happened from the start."
"I may have mentioned the 'A' word in a mildly irreverent way, and then Spike came up to us moaning about losing something called cigarettes and then we turn around and Buffy's gone, but you know I don't think we should jump to conclusions before we…"
"Xander you are a cretin," Giles interrupted, royally un-amused. "I have no idea what these 'cigarettes' are either, but it seems logical to conclude that wherever you made Buffy disappear to these cigarettes seem to have gone as well. I take it you haven't seen Angel yet?"
Xander winced. "No, but if we get her back then we'll never ever have to tell him I made his semi-girlfriend and their strange on-off relationship disappear into the ether."
"And if we see him before that?" Said Willow.
"Then we lie like we've never lied before. Tell him she's gone to stop with her Dad or she's gone to a funeral in another state, or…"
"It'll be your funeral if he finds out you've been lying to him as well as making Buffy vanish," said Giles, "and I think honesty may in fact be the best policy."
"No!" Said Xander adamantly. "Honesty leads to nothing but pain and bruising and social humiliation and normally death so let's not even go there."
"Alright," Giles shrugged. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
"Err guys, whilst you're having your little morality debate Buffy could be in a hell dimension for all we know, so don't you think we ought to start researching ways to find and extract her?" Willow crossed her arms.
The library doors slammed open. Little flakes of plaster drifted gently down to the floor and when the dust settled Angel was standing in the middle of the floor, radiating tension.
"Buffy's in a what dimension?"
The redhead squeaked and pointed at Xander. "It's all his fault! Kill him not me!"
"Thanks Will, feeling the loyalty today." The boy sighed. "Punch me now and get it over and done with. The sooner I'm unconscious the happier everyone will be- ow!"
Angel cracked his knuckles. "That was a warm up. Now stand still and stop squirming."
The house seemed bigger and emptier without her Mom being there to fill it. Even when Buffy had been upstairs in her room, she'd never realised that just having another person in the house with you didn't make you feel so alone. And she missed her Mom's cooking already, and her smiles and even the slightly pointed questions about schoolwork and boyfriends.
As she watched the microwave heat up some pasta Buffy had managed to come up with one good point so far of her involuntary solitude. If there were no humans in Sunnydale then there didn't seem to be any vampires either. Or even anything vaguely humanoid. On the plus side nobody was having their blood sucked out. On the downside there was nobody. In fact the only things that did seem to be alive round here were the animals. There were plenty of stray cats roaming round and she'd broken into her neighbour's house to feed their dog, which she'd heard barking outside.
Sunnydale had become a ghost town…but there weren't even any ghosts.
The microwave sounded to announce it was done and she pulled out her steaming bowl of food. Flopping down on the sofa she shovelled the pasta in her mouth, burning her tongue in her haste. She pressed the remote and the television turned onto the local news channel. She knew it was the news because the little star logo with the company name had appeared at the bottom of the screen. But instead of presenters there were just an empty desk and two empty roller chairs facing the still rolling camera.
She switched it off abruptly, the pasta suddenly tasteless in her mouth. She mechanically put the rest of it in the bin, washed the dish and then went upstairs. She curled up in the middle of her Mom's bed. She pulled the duvet over her head, closed her eyes and pretended that in the morning, everything was going to be alright.
It was not.
The research was really getting to her. She set her hopes on each new book she pulled from the shelf only to read through it and hours later find it had nothing useful in it at all. The cycle would start all over again.
Finally, desperation beginning to gnaw at her she tried some basic magic. She'd found a locator spell which would locate the person or object named. All one needed was a map of the area you wanted to search and a few chanted words later (in a language Buffy was sure she was butchering horribly) and a pretty little ball of soft, yellow light was created. She'd found the geography section yesterday in her rummaging and she had a large atlas open on the table. For a safety check she tried her own name.
The ball flicked through the pages and promptly settled over Sunnydale instantly. She smiled.
"Ok. We'll just locate the gang and go from there. Rupert Giles."
The little ball of light glowed and then began to flick through the atlas, the pages spinning faster and faster and her smile began to dim considerably. Giles was not in America, nor in Europe, nor in fact any of the Western hemisphere. He wasn't in China or Japan or Russia and as the pages flicked faster it was clear he wasn't in the Eastern hemisphere. The atlas slammed shut. The little ball hung uncertainly for a moment and the glow dimmed.
"OK, just because Giles isn't…on Earth anymore doesn't mean no-one else is. Willow Rosenberg."
Again the little ball of light flared up, flicked through the pages and then stopped again. It hovered in hesitation. Fear began to register finally and she began to reel off names as the ball glowed hotter and hotter.
"Alexander Harris…Joyce Summers…Angel…" She realized with a jolt she'd never asked him his last name.
Still the pages flickered and the ball gave no sign of having found anyone. Dread began to creep up her spine – if there was nobody left in Sunnydale…was there anyone left anywhere? She almost didn't want to say it but the names tripped off her tongue before she could stop them.
"Johnny Depp, Hillary Clinton, Donatella Versace, Freddie Prince Junior, Britney Spears, the Queen of England!"
The ball flicked through the book and then gave a little sigh. It's glow died and with a small pop the light disappeared altogether as the spell faded.
"Ok," she rationalised. "I'm the only person left on Earth. That's ok. I won't let it get to me."
She took a deep breath and then exhaled, remembering calming techniques she'd seen her Mom do trying not to shout at her Dad in front of her when she'd been little. 'Maybe even now', she thought, hope flaring again, 'the gang are trying to find a way to leave wherever they are and come find me. It's ok, it's going to be ok.'
She burst into tears.
"So this isn't my fault?"
"Fortunately for you the answer appears to be no," pondered Giles, as he read the text in the small red book. "It seems to be more likely that it is in fact not due to your idiocy Xander, and more an unfortunate manifestation of some sort of reality manipulation. By whom and for what purpose I am as of yet still unclear."
"Ok, but this still hasn't solved the problem of where the hell Buffy is," Angel scowled.
"On top of that the weekend's almost over and what am I supposed to tell her Mom?" Said Willow. "There's only so much time we can pretend she's over at mine having a sleepover especially after what's happened. I had a hard time trying to convince Mrs Summers to let Buffy stop considering she's supposed to be grounded. If she remains away any longer we're going to have to tell her the truth."
"Yeah that her daughter just poofed into thin air," drawled Spike, "she's really gonna go for that one pet."
"Spike if you're not going to contribute anything useful then will you please shut up?" Snapped Giles.
"Hey you don't get to be snarky with me mate, I'm the one going through bloody nicotine withdrawal."
"Yes and we've had to listen to you moan about it for the past 48 hours. Believe me we've been suffering with you."
Spike threw himself down into one of the library chairs and propped his feet on the table muttering. "My fags bloody disappear nobody gives a damn, bit of fluff vanishes and suddenly it's the world's biggest crisis."
Angel snarled low in the back of his throat and the blonde backed down but didn't offer an apology. Giles rubbed his face tiredly.
"If Joyce asks where her daughter is, tell her that there's a field trip tomorrow that I will be taking the children on for a week. That should keep her out of our hair for a little while at least, and should give us enough time to figure out how to get Buffy back."
"Where shall I say you've gone?" Asked Willow nervously.
"Anywhere, just make it exotic." The librarian sighed. "At least then imaginary me is having a nice break. Lord knows I could use one."
For Buffy, the days dragged by.
She had a growing list of positives about living a life of complete isolation pinned to the fridge door as motivation for her to keep getting up in the mornings and not sink into a coma of depression.
1. No vampires or demons.
2. She could have been in the film Castaway. At last she had technology- Tom Hanks had had a volleyball.
3. She could do whatever she liked without consequence.
4. Next door's labrador – Scooter - had adopted her and now followed her around wherever she went. She'd never had a dog before.
She was still drawing a blank at number 5.
One week later the loneliness was being kept at bay by Scooter, who was content to pad after her happily wagging his tail. When he wasn't chewing up the books Buffy discarded in her research he was eating her socks and generally making a mess, but in any case he was always happy to be around her, and was at least as intelligent as Cordelia.
She'd pulled out the directory and begun calling strangers at random just to hear human voices on answer machine messages. Not even the thought of clothes shopping without payment cheered her up much. When the loneliness got too bad she'd take Scooter to the mall and try on whatever she liked and then take it home with her. Jimmy Choo shoes helped a little. The days now blended together in a haze of eating, researching, comfort shopping and sleeping. She sighed and Scooter glanced up from his position on Giles' chair where he'd been gnawing at the arm.
"Ok Scootmeister, one last book for today and then we'll go see what to grab from the supermarket. I promised waffles and syrup didn't I? And I feel like Chinese and ice-cream too so we'll have a feast hey boy?" Scooter banged his tail against chair happily.
"Good doggie. Ok, let's see, today's random choice of coma inducing text is…" Her eye caught the edge of a slim green book sticking out slightly from underneath the bookcase. "Universal quantum mechanics and Platonian philosophy and ethics: Or Is The World Around Us Real?"
Scooter whined. "Yeah I know. It's gonna be a long wait till dinner." She opened the front cover and in what she recognised as Giles' handwriting was a sticky note obviously written to himself:
Do not let the children ever, ever read this book. Consequences of altering the causal universe and reality would be catastrophic to say the least!
Buffy grinned to herself. "Oh Giles, big mistake." She turned the page and began to read aloud. "Chapter One: Destroying Your Universe."
Scooter whined again and the teenager sighed, slipping the book into her bag.
"Ok boy, you win. Waffles first, global destruction later."
Reality reintegration spells were apparently pretty easy to do if you had a circle of salt, a bit of blood, a black candle and you knew the right words to say. It was no wonder Giles had been worried about it falling into the wrong hands, though she was slightly hurt he hadn't trusted them enough to believe they wouldn't change the fabric of reality. Perhaps it was because he was British. They were always a bit uptight about ending the known universe.
She spread a large circle of salt around the library floor, and read over her notes again. It had taken her a couple of days to understand exactly what the book was saying, and another to know what she had to do and collect the necessary ingredients. She lit the candle and then held her finger over the flame, squeezing the blood out of it where she'd pricked it with a needle. The drop fell and the flame hissed, immediately turning black and then blood red, before fading to black again. Scooter eyed her from his corner by the door warily.
"Scooter," she hissed, "come over here you silly dog." The labrador refused to budge. "Scooter, come here boy. Scooter!"
She rolled her eyes. Labradors were supposed to be obedient but Scooter seemed to enjoy being as disobedient as possible.
"Fine. When reality folds don't blame me if you don't end up on the other side."
She began to mutter words from the book in what looked like backwards Latin. The sentences were long and hard and it took her enough time trying not to trip over her own tongue. It was only when Scooter began to whimper and hurried into the circle of salt with her, burying his head in her lap that she realised it was beginning to work. The edges of the library were growing wispy and black, like smoke and as she chanted faster and faster, gaining in confidence, the edges began to fade away, the room disappearing until she was chanting in complete darkness.
Suddenly there was a blinding flash of light. Something grabbed the back of her top and yanked hard. She tumbled backwards and opened her eyes. She found herself staring up at the library ceiling.
"Am I back?"
Xander, Willow and Giles ran to help her up.
She grinned and hugged her best friends tightly. "I have never been more grateful to see people in my life!" She turned and hugged Giles. "Oh I've missed you guys so much!"
"Yes, well, quite Buffy we've missed you too," the librarian said, clearly flustered.
There was a bark from her feet. "Scooter! You made it too, oh you clever doggy- guys this is my new dog Scooter, Scooter this is the gang, Willow, Xander and Giles." She squeezed her friends again and beamed. "I'm home!"
She punched the air and then patted Scooter's head in relief. "How long have I been gone?"
"The weekend and yesterday," supplied Giles.
"Oh, time's been all weird. I've been gone a fortnight. What've I missed?"
"Yesterday Wendall's book erupted in spiders." Xander reached around Willow's shoulder with his arm while wiggling his fingers. "Big, hairy, crawly..."
Willow twisted round and hit him.
"It's funny if you're me," protested Xander as he rubbed his shoulder.
"Giles has got lost in the stacks too many times to count. He's taken to tying rope around his middle whenever he goes in so he can come back out again."
"And is everyone else ok?"
"Laura got attacked today by something. It beat her pretty bad- shattered bones and internal bleeding. All Kendra managed to get out of her was Lucky 19."
"Right. Well that makes a whole boatload of sense."
"And apparently that's the second time it's happened. There was another kid- but he's in a coma."
"That reminds me…" Buffy smacked Xander round the head.
"Ow! Will people please stop hitting me!"
"That's for jinxing us all and making me spend a fortnight in a world with no-one else."
Xander grimaced. "Yeah, I really am sorry about that Buffy. On the other hand it wasn't my fault!" Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Giles thinks it's someone altering reality, manipulating it somehow."
"Alexander is correct- though I am not sure how this change is happening or why."
"Oh. Sorry Xand."
The boy shrugged as the bell for classes began to ring. "Don't worry about it."
Buffy turned to Giles. "Can you look after Scooter for me please? Just for today whilst school is on. Then I'll take him off your hands and you won't have to dogsit ever again. Please?" She wheedled.
Before he could open his mouth to reply Buffy had hugged him. "Thanks Giles!" And then she was out of the door followed by Xander and Willow, leaving the librarian with the labrador sitting at his feet. He sighed.
"What am I going to do with you?"
Scooter wagged his tail and began to chew Giles' shoe.
It felt strange to be walking down the school corridors filled with students on their way to class. The three teenagers passed Cordelia being dragged by a group of gangly boys into the chess club.
"No!" Cordelia was shouting, struggling to release their grip on her arms. "What are you doing! Hey, no! You don't understand! I don't wanna go!" She screamed and grabbed the door posts. "I'm not even on the chess team! I swear, I'm not!" Her fingers slipped as they tugged at her and the door slammed shut.
Xander raised an eyebrow as he entered the french classroom. "Well, it looks like I've just found the upside to this funky situation."
"I'm glad you find Miss Chases' efforts to improve herself laughable Monsieur Harris," scolded the french teacher. "Perhaps you would care to put on some clothes?"
The girls exchanged confused looks and then turned to look at Xander. Only his boxers remained on his body. The rest of his clothes had vanished.
"Xander! What happened to your...?"
"I-I-I dunno! I was, uh, dressed a minute ago! It's a dream. It's gotta be a dream." He pinched himself hard. "Ow! Wake up. Ow! Gotta wake up."
The french teacher rolled her eyes. "Xander, this is clearly not a dream. Kindly remove yourself from my classroom until you are ready to appear fully dressed."
Xander nodded, his cheeks flaming red and then turned tail and fled, Willow and Buffy chasing after him down the corridor.
Buffy suddenly knocked into something hard. She grinned. "Spike! I can't believe I'm going to say this but it's great to see you again."
"That's fab fluffy, glad you're back," said Spike sarcastically, "but did you bring any of my fags back? English says they might have disappeared off to wherever you went."
"Um, sorry nope. No fags in the world with no people either."
Spike screamed and ran off again back down the corridor, punching a boy in the face who was walking past. Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Well, he took that well."
She continued to walk, though she had completely lost Xander and Willow. The corridors were fairly empty as most students were now in class and spotting the Principal at the bottom of the corridor on his patrol to catch unwary students; she ducked into an empty classroom and closed the door.
She turned at the sound of her name and beamed. "Angel!"
"Now astral projection is the theory that while one sleeps one has another body, a-an astral body, which can travel through time and space…"
"Um Giles? I think that might be a bit complex. Scooter's bright but I think that might be beyond even him. I'd start with 'sit' if I were you."
The librarian straightened and coughed, as Buffy and Angel walked through the doors. "But hey, if you want to teach my dog Neoplatonist theory go ahead." Buffy grinned and sat down in Angel's lap as Scooter came running up to her. "Hey baby, what was Uncle Giles teaching you? Aren't you a clever doggy?"
Giles spluttered. "Neoplatonist theory? How on earth did you know…"
"I had to read a lot of very, very dull books to get back here Giles, all of which you own. I read so much it began to stick unfortunately." Buffy raised an eyebrow. "Including a certain book under the bookshelf that you may want to consider hiding elsewhere?"
Giles' eyes widened but before he could reply Willow and Xander walked in, and the librarian was once again struggling for words.
"W... where are your other clothes?"
"Oh, don't I wish I had the answer to that question," said Xander grouchily, pulling on a gym shirt.
"Xander kinda found himself in front of our class not wearing much of anything," Willow explained.
"Except my underwear."
She giggled. "Yeah! It was really...bad. It was a bad thing." She snorted at Xander's dirty look.
"'Bad thing'? I was naked. 'Bad thing' doesn't cover it. It was a total nightmare."
Willow frowned. "Well, yeah Xander- it's your nightmare! Like it happened to Wendell. That thing with the spiders? Wendell had a recurring dream about that."
Things quickly began to sink into place. "I-I dreamt that I got lost in the stacks... of course!" Said Giles.
"Everyone disappeared around me," chipped in Buffy, "and Spike's lost his fags, Cordelia's joining the chess team."
"Faith is fighting the urge to wear pink and stroke kittens," added Angel.
Xander choked. "Excuse me?"
"She got sent home this afternoon. Her leather trousers turned pink. She punched a lot of people."
"Ah." Giles opened the local paper and scanned down the articles, flipping through pages, searching for something.
"So uh, our dreams are coming true?"
"Dreams? That would be a musical comedy version of this. Nightmares, our, our nightmares are coming true," lamented Giles, "and I think I know why." He motioned to the article in the paper. "We already know that Laura was attacked and that when Kendra and Merrick went to the hospital she mentioned Lucky 19. There's another boy in the hospital, beaten like Laura except he's in a coma. He was a Little League player – number 19." Giles smacked the table in success. "Somehow I think he's crossed over from the nightmare world he's trapped in."
"And he brought the nightmare world with him. Thanks a bunch, Billy," said Xander. He turned to Angel. "I am expecting an apology at some point. Billy caused the end of the world, not Xander."
The older boy raised an eyebrow and growled something back at him that Buffy didn't understand but made Willow blush and Giles clear his throat.
Buffy caught her friend's eye. "Tell me what he said later," she mouthed. Willow nodded.
"Speaking of Kendra and Merrick- is anyone else slightly concerned that we haven't seen them recently?" Offered Buffy, trying to diffuse the tension in the room.
Giles blanched. "And considering what those two are likely to dream about things are not going to be pleasant. We can't have an incapacitated Slayer at a time like this!"
"Ok so the plan is: stop evil. Find slayer. Nice - a plan in four words. We should do that more often," said Xander.
Giles folded his arms. "And soon. Or else everyone in Sunnydale is going to be facing their own worst nightmares."
"Um, I don't wanna worry anyone but we now have giant wasps outside," said Willow peering through the library blinds.
"Oh it's not the wasps you need to worry about my little wolves," said a voice from the doorway. The man who had spoken was tall, well muscled, with stubble covering his strong jaw. He flashed a dark look at Giles and raised his shotgun. "Rupert. It's been a long time."
Giles blanched. "You're dead."
"Didn't stick," the man laughed and sighted him down his gun. "Now just stand still and let me finish what I started nearly 3 decades ago."
Giles pushed everyone out of the way and leapt, missing the bullet that exploded out of the shotgun as he jumped behind the stack. The silver bullet shattered the wooden balustrade, splinters flying everywhere.
Willow and Xander had moved with only the speed being a werewolf could give them, as Angel grabbed Buffy and carried her with him as he'd leapt for the safety of the bookshelves. He kept a tight grip on her as they sheltered in the maze of shelves, his fingers curling protectively into her top, ready to take her with him when they needed to run. Humans simply wouldn't be able to keep up.
"Rupert! It's not very sporting of you to move!" The hunter called.
"Who the hell is the gun toting psycho?" hissed Buffy.
"Balthan." Giles' replied tightly, his face white.
"And he is?"
"A bounty hunter."
"Come out, come out little werewolf," called Balthan reloading his gun. "Or are you going to die like the coward your father was?"
Buffy shot Giles a look. She'd never seen him look so furious.
"He died begging for me to spare him," the hunter taunted. "And then I blew his brains all over the kitchen wall, so I guess that didn't pan out for him."
The blood was pounding in Giles' temples; his claws were retracting out of his hands. "Giles don't let him get to you," urged Buffy. "We need to escape and then we can fight him. Here he has the advantage. He'll just blow stuff up till he finds us."
Giles nodded and with a great deal of effort he focussed his mind. "There's a window at the back- we can crawl out of that."
Silently the group made their way towards the back of the library when Scooter began to bark. Buffy stopped moving and made to turn back the way they'd been going. Angel's steel grip on her meant she wasn't going anywhere however.
"What a sweet dog!" called Balthan. "It'd be a shame to have to kill him. Unless that little human you've got with you would like to come out and strike a bargain?"
"Angel, let me go," whispered Buffy.
He bent down and pressed his lips to her ear. "You go out there he'll kill you or use you as a hostage to get us back out. You're expendable to him. Being human gives you no protection."
Scooter barked again. There was a loud thump and the dog began to whimper. "That was your first strike," called Balthan. "Can't say fairer than that."
Buffy scrabbled at Angel's fingers. "I can't just stand here while he tortures my dog! Please."
"I'm sorry, but you're not going anywhere." He turned to Willow. "Get that window open and take her through it."
Buffy sighed and murmured something under her breath. "I'm sorry too." She pressed her lips against his hard and then promptly disappeared.
"Buffy!" Angel cursed under his breath.
"Get out of the window and go. I'll be fine," came a disembodied voice to his left and he caught the faint scent of her skin before she was gone.
Giles touched Angel's shoulder in comfort. "Come, do as she says. Buffy seems to have come back from her little trip with all sorts of new skills. No doubt she will be fine."
Buffy watched from a shadowed corner of the stacks as Angel reluctantly turned away to help Willow through the open window. Once they were all safely through she made her way as quietly as she could back to the front of the library. She located Scooter who was sat shivering in a corner, watching Balthan warily.
"I'm here, just like you wanted," she called out, before her anger got the better of her. Balthan moved his gun instantly to where he heard her voice, and she chuckled at his expression when there was no-one there.
"So you're not a little human after all," the hunter replied, "you're a little witch, playing with the big bad wolves."
"Oh no, I'm as human as they come," said Buffy slowly walking down the steps. "But I've had a lousy two weeks and in that time I just picked up a few things here and there."
Balthan's grip on his gun tightened slightly. "You're cheating."
"You're the one with the gun. Now who's cheating? In a fair fight Giles would kick your ass."
Balthan smirked. "Please sweetheart, you have too much faith in your little wolves. I've killed more wolves than you've had boyfriends, and once Giles is gone, I can add him to the rather nice collection of furs I have of his family."
Buffy's fists clenched. But whilst the hunter had been taunting her, he'd let his guard down. She slipped quietly behind him and smacked him across the head with the library telephone.
The shot gun went off, the bullet skimming her head and ploughing a hole into the wall behind her. Before he could do anything else she did the best move she knew. She kneed him in the crotch.
"That was for trying to kill my friends." She kicked him harder and Balthan dropped to the ground.
"That was for hurting my dog and this," she kicked him again, before smacking him once again with the phone. The hunter groaned. "Was for being an asshole."
She undid the invisibility spell that she'd cast. "Scooter honey, come on." She opened the library door even as Balthan narrowed his eyes in anger. "Quick before the evil guy gets the feeling back in his balls."
The labrador yipped and they both bolted down the corridor as the hunter roared in rage. "Get to the car Buffy, just get to the car," she muttered to herself. She burst through school doors, down the steps and fled across the road, almost colliding with her friends as she did so.
"I thought I told you guys to go!" she yelled.
"I thought I told you not to go back!" Angel argued. "What do you think you were-"
A bullet exploded into a tree trunk by her head. "Run now, fight later!" She shouted, tugging Angel's arm as she began to race for her SUV. "I may have angered the gun guy a little."
"Really?" Xander deadpanned. A bullet gouged a hole into the ground by them, dirt spraying up in clouds. "Because he seemed such a nice guy before."
"So what's the plan?" Asked Willow, her hair streaming behind her.
"I'd got as far as find Mom's car. Drive off. Live," panted Buffy.
"Good plan. I'd go with that," said Xander as the wolves sped up. Angel gripped the back of Buffy's jeans with one hand and Scooter in the other and carried them effortlessly as the wolves reached even faster speeds.
"How's he keeping up with us?" Said Buffy, peering over Angel's shoulder. "Human's shouldn't be able to keep up."
"This is a nightmare Buffy," Giles reminded her. "Be grateful we can run at speed at all."
"On another note," asked Xander, "is anyone slightly reminded of Jumanji at this point?"
"Not really the time," Willow breathed, "but the answer's yes."
Another bullet zipped past their ears. "He's getting better with his aim."
"I hadn't noticed," Giles snapped.
"There's the car!" Buffy yelled. "Get in, get in!" The group piled in and thanking her Mom for leaving the keys in the ignition she pressed the pedal down, just as Scooter leapt into the back seat, squashing Willow, Xander and Giles.
The car roared off, tyres squealing as a bullet blew off one of the wing mirrors.
"Mom is totally gonna kill me for that."
"Buffy! Look out!"
Please read and review!
It makes me so happy to read all of your happy feedback :) Most reviews ever for the last chapter - my readers totally rock my socks! Thanks for being so supportive. Hope you all enjoyed the new chapter I know I had great fun writing it. And to all of my anonymous reviewers: Bella, Ryan, Ally, Lizzy, Amy, Paris and Sarah, you guys are shy but I love you anyway!
P.S Does anyone know Angel's last name? If not I'd love some suggestions for what it could be.