The Living Undead

Jarvinia

Distribution: May not be archived without permission. In other words: ask.

Disclaimer: Don't own any of the characters/concepts from either Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, or Forever Knight. No copyright infringement is intended. Don't sue me...I'm I student and have less than nothing. Just having a bit of fun.

Spoilers: None, basically...set in the second half of the first season sometime after Buffy knows Angel's a vampire.

Rating: PG (maybe PG13 for violence)

Notes: This story is a crossover with Forever Knight. This is my first attempt at a Buffy story, even if it is a crossover. Hope I got everything right.... Would like to thank my beta-reader Carasek for his help. Written November 2001. Above all, enjoy it! ;)

Feedback: Yes, please!



~*~*~*~*~

The Living Undead - (01/07)

Giles gathered several books, taking his time. The day had barely ended, or at least, the school day had. Being winter meant less time before sunset, and less time to meet before getting to work. Not only that, but this was a three day weekend--the students had Friday off. Catching sight of Buffy, he slid yet another book into his bag before she reached the counter, hoping to keep this conversation as short as possible. With sunset already approaching, he barely had time to do everything before having to head to the airport.

"Hey Giles, I thought we were meeting right now?"

"Yeah, me too," Willow echoed, popping up behind her friend.

"I have something I need to do. I'm sure you'll do fine without me for the night."

"You'll be at home, right? You know, just in case we need some help?"

Buffy didn't seem concerned about his proposed absence, her words clearly curious. He sighed. "Yes, I'll be there, but call first. I mean it, Buffy." The sixteen-year-old smiled back at him. "I want you two and Xander to stay together tonight. Until you go home, you are one, got that?" Either she would follow his words, or she wouldn't. He shook his head faintly, and moved to the front of the desk.

As Giles left, Xander backed out of the librarian's way, and then approached the other two. "Where's he off to?"

They shrugged. Buffy walked over to one of the tables, sitting down. "Don't know, but he's not coming back tonight."

Willow joined her. "Oh, and we're supposed to stick together, Giles mentioned that as well."

"I'll ask Giles what's going on tomorrow. I know he's been concerned about something."

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Giles waited for the plane to deboard. Only a few passengers got off, and he immediately recognized his guest. He focused on the tall blond haired man, his appearance unchanged since their last meeting. As their eyes met, the man approached him. "Nicholas, it's been what, about fifteen years?"

"Eighteen," came the short, simple statement.

Eighteen years. He shook his head. It had indeed been a long time. It seemed to him as if they had last met the month before. However, Giles was fully awake that the man before him would have watched the world around him change. Not only that, but unlike Nicholas, time did not pass him by. "H- how have you been?"

"The same as always." Nick turned away for a moment, before focusing squarely on the Englishman. "But, you know I'm not here for social reasons. What's so important?"

Giles focused on the small crowd. "I'll explain once we get back to my place." He glanced at the bag slung over his guest's shoulder. "Is that your only bag?"

"Yes."

"Good, then we can leave right now."

The mortal started for the exit, and Nick followed after a second. He had received a message from Giles that morning, mentioning he needed some help. His friend's curiosity had led him to trouble before, and he wouldn't be surprised to know it had happened again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The young man, not far out of University by appearance, was getting too close. True, it wasn't his job to warn the mortals away, to hide the truth from them, but this mortal was just far too close and would die if he weren't cautious.

Keeping to the shadows, Nick followed the man, others of his kind just on the fringe of his senses. The library was more or less deserted, especially as far back in the building as they were. Catching sight of one of the others, he stopped their approach with a glare. The other vampire, an Enforcer by his guess, paused, then went back into the shadows.

'Good,' he thought. He didn't want to get too involved with the Enforcers, the 'police' that kept his kind in line. Quickly checking his watch, he saw that the library was about to close.

The man paid no heed, either to his surroundings, or the time. "Pardon me," Nick began, now standing just behind the younger man.

Several papers scattered, and most of the books were quickly closed. "Yes?"

"I couldn't help but notice your topics of study. Demons, mythology, vampires...." He felt the man's heart rate increase. "You seem to be having some...difficulty?"

"Nothing too problematic. I'll figure it out soon enough." Gathering up his things, he stood. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I must return home."

Nick stood in his way. "I know a fair amount about some of your research. I would like to converse with you about it, Mr. Giles."

He froze with mention of his name and the serious tone of the last sentence. He wasn't being given any room for argument. "I suppose, Mr...?"

"Brabant," he stated without worry. Giles' own research had done more harm than anything he could say to the man.

-----

It wasn't long before they arrived at Giles' residence. For nearly two hours, Nick half-listened as the man discussed his research. Currently, he was completely ignoring the words. Truthfully, he didn't know much about demons and such. His supernatural knowledge only went as far as his own existence.

Giles seemed to carefully avoid the subject of vampires, and Nick knew why. That was the young man's current project, one he was getting close to the truth on. Not only was he finding information on folklore, and the demon- vampires, but he was stumbling onto the realm of his kind as well. "So, how is your present research going? I know you're frustrated."

"I've run into some...problems. Demons aren't-"

"But, you're not researching demons. Vampires, I believe is your current subject of interest." Listening to Giles' pulse race, he knew he had hit a nerve.

"How do you know that?"

"Simple observation."

"You must be fairly observant, then. I wasn't aware that my research was common knowledge."

"Your research is far from secret, Mr. Giles." Pausing, Nick came to stand directly before the mortal. "Others know as well. Stop your probing now, and you may continue the other parts of your research."

"Vampires are real."

'Yes, they are,' Nick wanted to say, but an affirmation of the statement would only make his next action more difficult.

"You're one of them, aren't you? That's why you're so observant. That's why you're concerned about my research."

Nick stiffened, again not affirming the mortal's steady and fearless words. "Look at me," he smoothly commanded. Once he could see the faint clouding in the other man's eyes, he continued, "Your work is going nowhere. You will cease your research on vampires, and focus on one of your other topics...demons, perhaps.... Your evidence has confirmed that vampires do not exist."

Giles shook his head, "But, they do. I know it for a fact."

He caught the mortal's eye again, stating firmly, "No, they are merely myths, legends, tales made up by-"

"You're doing something to me..."

Nick watched as the other man walked out of his range, seemingly lost in thought. Perhaps it was too late before he'd even begun. His choice to act had created a new problem, one that would be difficult to correct.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Nicholas?"

He turned, and after a second realized the car had stopped. "Sorry, I haven't been listening."

Giles got out of his car, starting toward the building. Once they'd reached his door, Nicholas caught him off guard by walking right past him and into the apartment. Nicholas was clearly different than the other vampires he had met, but then, he'd remembered that from before. The first time he'd met Nicholas, the same thing had happened.

As soon as the door was shut behind him, he stated, "Nick Knight. So, that's what you're going by now. What are you doing to pass the time?"

Settling into the sofa, he replied, "I'm a detective. Homicide." Catching Giles' surprise, he let his mouth tweak into a smile. "I know, not the most obvious career choice, but I like the work. What about you?"

"More research. I'm primarily a librarian at the high school." As his guest nodded, he watched a smirk come to the vampire's lips. "What?"

"Can't stay away from the books, can you? Have you had any success in your hunt for the supernatural?"

He didn't answer right away. Whether Nicholas was serious or not, he couldn't tell. "Um...yes, actually. That's part of the reason I asked for you to come. It's a hunch really...."

"What do you mean?"

"The name you gave me, Brabant? I'm guessing it's your real surname, correct?" He waited, already knowing the answer. A second later, the other nodded. "How much Flemish do you know?"

"Some..." he replied uncertainly, then realized where Giles was heading. "That's what you want me to do...a translation."

"Yes, if you can. It's eleventh century, I think."

Nick nodded again. It was just before his time, but he didn't think it would be a problem.

"I'd offer you a cup of tea, but I don't think it would be appropriate."

"I have my own...sustenance. I suppose I should go find a place for tomorrow. I don't want to get stuck outside when the sun comes up."

His guest stood, starting toward the door. Stopping the vampire with an almost unnoticeably quivering hand, he offered, "I have an extra room. You can stay here if you want."

"I don't want to impo-"

"You wouldn't be. Besides, it'll be easier this way. The drapes are fairly heavy so you won't have to worry about the sun."

"I...." He stopped. How could he refuse? Staying here was a whole lot better than a hotel, and he wanted to leave as soon as possible. "I suppose. But I will need to get more blood. I only have enough to last me until tomorrow night."

"I might be able to help you there as well, but we'll deal with that tomorrow." Giles paused, and abruptly stood. "Just a second, I'll find the reference."

Nick watched Giles leave the room, and he opened his bag and pulled out a single green bottle. Heading to the kitchen, he had planned on putting it in the refrigerator, but hesitated. He was hungry and it wouldn't hurt to have a glass now. Opening a couple of cupboards, he grabbed a glass tumbler, then focused on the bottle's label. It was one of LaCroix'. He hadn't had time to get anything else. Pouring a single glass, he put the bottle away. Turning, he raised the glass only to find Giles watching him.

Lowering the glass, he stood absolutely still for several seconds. Then, he brushed easily past the mortal. As he sat down again, Giles joined him on the sofa, handing him several sheets of paper. Nick took a single sip of the blood, putting the rest on the table. Although the words were familiar, it took him a few moments for the Flemish to make any sense.

He read the words through several times before retrieving the glass, and finishing his drink. Once again, he had gotten himself into a mess--that much he knew right away.

"What does it say?"

Nick looked up, the Englishman's curiosity overwhelming. "It explains the powers and instructions of use of a bracelet, a device of some kind." He paused, but Giles waited for more. "It also tells something about how to destroy it."

"Good, that's what I was looking for."

"Why would you need to know how to destroy it...." Then, it hit him. "....unless you know where the bracelet is. You do, don't you?"

"I'm not sure. We think it might be in the possession of one of your kind, but if it is...."

He put the papers down. "They'll be virtually invincible. A vampire with enhanced abilities and strength, plus the ability to channel the mind's power-"

"Exactly, which is why we need to destroy it."

"Who's the 'we' you've been referring to?"

"My...colleagues," Giles stated. "I'll have you meet them tomorrow night. Before then, we need a decent translation, particularly of how to destroy the bracelet."

"The instructions themselves aren't here, only a reference to them."

Sighing, Giles stood, his frustration apparent. "Then we need to know where to find them, and quickly."

He looked back to the papers and nodded. He would do the translation to help Giles, and to keep the device away from others.



The Living Undead - (02/07)

Knocking hard on the door, Buffy received no answer. Before coming, she'd already tried calling repeatedly, but got a busy signal every time. Giles had either been on the phone for the past couple of hours, or the phone was off the hook. His car was still there, so she knew he was home. Trying the knob, she found it unlocked, and she cautiously entered.

Something was wrong, she could feel it. In the kitchen stood a man, his back to her, but it definitely wasn't Giles. There was something about the man, not only could she sense him, but it seemed to go both ways as the man stiffened. As he turned, she could see the glass in his hands and the green bottle on the counter. Buffy focused on the red liquid in the glass, and immediately knew what it was. Still, there was no sign of Giles. Her hands tightly gripped the small wooden stake she often carried.

Upon turning, Nick had been greeted with the sight of a girl. Watching her hand tighten about something, he focused on the object and stiffened. A stake. He could see it clearly, but its possessor remained calm, as if she knew what he was, and wasn't concerned with having to deal with him. "Who are you? What are you doing here?" he asked, placing his glass next to the bottle.

Recognizing the undertones in the man's voice, Buffy became more alert. "I could ask the same of you." She allowed the wood to become more visible, holding it in front of her. As the man's eyes flashed golden, she realized the action was a mistake. Before she knew it, she had been spun around, the stake falling uselessly to the ground. Attempting to free herself, she found it impossible to move. The grip was so tight that she couldn't even scream for help.

Giles stopped solid upon the sight in the kitchen. Nicholas held Buffy tightly against him, the vampire's golden eyes and sharp fangs visible. "Nicholas, release her, she means you no harm!"

"Then what is that?!" he hissed, his eyes shifting to the fallen weapon. "And why do I feel such a threat from her?"

The Englishman shifted. This was not how he wanted the two to meet, not at all. "She is one of my colleagues. Meet Buffy Summers."

"Colleagues?"

"Yes. Let her go, and we'll explain everything."

Nick kept his stance for several more seconds before releasing the girl, quickly retrieving the stake before she could do so. The girl caught her breath, backing up toward Giles. "Explain," he stated.

"Demons aren't my only interest. Vampires rank pretty high, not only on my list, but Buffy's as well. She's the Slayer, she-"

Sobering, his features returned to their normal facade. "I don't need a further explanation." He knew exactly what a 'Slayer' was. At least it explained why he felt uncomfortable and on edge.

"Okay..." Buffy started, the situation still settling in. "Now that you know what I am, I want to know who you are and why you're here."

"I'm Nick Knight and I'm here to do a translation for Giles."

"Knight, what a stupid pick for-" She stopped feeling a hand on her shoulder. "Sorry. So, were you going to introduce him to the others?"

Giles kept his attention on his houseguest. The vampire had relaxed since Buffy's arrival, but not fully. "Nicholas? Do you want to wait until later?"

He shook his head. "No, I don't think I'll be getting anymore sleep. The day is almost over anyway."

"I'll go call Willow and Xander, ask them to come over."

Following the girl's retreating form, Nick turned to Giles. "If she's the Slayer, then you must be her Watcher, right?" Receiving a nod, he grabbed his glass, downing the contents and immediately refilling it. "I must warn you, I have meet Slayers before, and they did not fair well. Make sure she keeps her distance from me, and there will be no problems."

Giles didn't need any explanation. He knew Nicholas had come into contact with other Slayers. Most vampires that did so ended up dead. With Nicholas, it had been the other way around. He'd thought it would be different now...but perhaps he'd been wrong.

Recalling the previous night as Nicholas had simply walked into his home, it was clear that he was from a much different background, or at the very least much older than the others he'd met and researched. Then, he recalled the first time he had met the man....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

His visitor had left that morning, and night had fallen once more. He was back at the library, but this time when he turned around, he found a vampire, the sharp fangs and glowing eyes staring unemotionally back at him. Abruptly, he caught sight of another; it was Nicholas.

"Leave him be. I will take care of this problem. Go on with your other tasks." As the other approached him, Nick repeated fully changed, "Leave! This is no longer your concern, I will take responsibility for this!"

"Make sure of it, Brabant, or else..." the other hissed, leaving the others alone.

As the vampire's features once again became human, Giles found his voice. "I take it his objectives weren't friendly?"

"No. He was probably sent to kill you for your knowledge. It is dangerous to know what you know."

Now he knew why Nicholas was trying to get him to forget. He didn't understand exactly how, or what he was, but it was clear Nicholas wasn't like the vampires he knew about. Neither was the other that had been at the library. He focused on the other, waiting for him to continue.

"Come, we must leave here tonight. I will make sure they don't continue their intentions, but you must promise me several things...."

"What things? And for what reasons?" The vampire stared back at him, but didn't answer. Instead, they again travelled to his apartment before anything else was said.



Once the door shut, Nicholas answered, "You will not research vampires, or allow your curiosity to probe into these matters again. Suffice to say, it is hazardous to one's health."

He already knew that, but what he wanted to know, was what Nicholas was. It was probably exactly what he'd stumbled on--whatever that was. "Who was the one in the library?"

The vampire shot a glare across the room, and then relaxed. "Another of my kind. He is of a group that keeps knowledge of us from the mortal world. From those like you, Mr. Giles. As it would have been discovered that your memory cannot be changed, your encounter would have ended in your death."

He held his ground. It was another piece of information he could file away for later. "Is that the only request?"

"You will also never speak of this meeting, and only contact me in the direst of circumstances."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Giles winced at the memory. He had nearly forgotten about the vampire's terms. He had never really headed the first one. Nicholas had led him away from that location, but a month later he had returned, almost forgetting about the whole event.

His research as a Watcher often led him into the vampire's world. Although he had, for the most part, tried to focus his research on just those vampires that concerned him...the other would occasionally pop back up. Then, of course, there was a slight amount of personal research which pertained only to Nicholas.

But the second, he hadn't ever broken. At least, not until now. With the rumours, he'd been led to a book, and from there to the Flemish passage. He'd immediately dug up one of the most recent phone number he'd been able to find of Nicholas'. It was nearly five years old, and he had been thankful it still worked.

Focusing on Nicholas, he noted that the vampire seemed calm, although a bit frustrated. But there wasn't much anger, at least not that he could see. As the remainder of the bottle was poured into the glass, he saw Buffy approach out of the corner of his eye.

"They're on their way. Last night we found some more out. There's a new vamp in town. We don't know his name yet, but Angel said he was going to do some snooping around last night."

Nick paused just before the glass' contents touched his lips. "Angel?"

Buffy fidgeted. "Uh, he's a...friend."

"One of your kind. He's on our side. We'll talk to him tonight. You'll be able to get more blood from him."

The vampire shook his head, clearing his thoughts. No, it couldn't be Angelus. Angelus would never side with a Slayer, he'd kill her on first sight--or more likely, every one around her first.

Leaving the room, Giles walked over to his books. Next to the papers, was Nicholas' translation. The actual instructions to disable the device were a spell, one that he hadn't found in his books here. He had other ones at the library though, and Willow and Xander could help him with the search. "Are you sure the translation's right?"

"Yeah. The language isn't much different than what I learned."

"So, whoever has this is more or less invincible?" He caught a nod from Nicholas. "Whether they are human, demon, or vampire, it enhances strength and healing capabilities."

"Particularly if they're a vampire," Nick added. The excerpt had contained nothing about which type of vampire, however, so it could either be for his kind, or those that seemed to have gathered here.

"So, what exactly does it do?" Buffy asked, her eyes shifting between Giles, and the vampire. "If we're right, a vampire does have it. So what are we up against?"

After taking another couple of minutes to read the translation through one more time, Giles looked up. "From what I understand, it was created specifically for a vampire. It will enhance the wearers abilities, effectively making them into an ancient, which will add mesmerization and flight if they don't already have those abilities."

Nick stiffened. As a vampire he'd had both the ability to fly and hypnotize nearly since he was brought across, but then those Giles and Buffy were referring to were of a different breed. If this girl was a slayer, as was claimed, then these vampires weren't merely vampires, but demons as well. They were soulless. Demons in human disguise.

Turning to the door, he could feel two mortals just on the other side. Almost immediately the door opened, and they entered. Both were about Buffy's age, and upon seeing him, they seemed to get a little nervous.

Giles looked up from the words. "Ah, I could use your help on a few things...?"

Willow had frozen in place, her attention focused squarely on the stranger. Buffy had mentioned Giles had a visitor, but she had been expecting someone like Giles, not the relatively young man that sat there. "Yeah, sure." Then alternating her focus between Giles and his visitor, she asked, "So.... Who's this?"

"He's going to be helping us."

Xander's eyes shifted around the room, focusing on the drawn drapes, and quickly realized there was no sunlight in the room. "He's a...vamp, isn't he?"

Willow shook her head. He didn't look like one to her. "Isn't he a little old?" she whispered.

Nick just sat, his eyebrows rising in surprise. The two didn't seem very concerned at what he was. In fact, they had relaxed somewhat since entering. At the girl's comment, he responded, "Old? Now, if I looked as old as I am...then I'd look old."

Willow started at the reply. "Okay, I'm wrong. So...what are you doing here? I thought your kind usually stuck with, well, your kind."

He brushed off her comment. "Helping you. Right, Giles?"

Giles caught the near glare. "Hmm...yes."

"Shouldn't we have asked who? I mean, we've already asked what and why-" she abruptly cut off her rambling. "I'm Willow and that's Xander."

"Nick."

"Wow. Not only do you look normal, a bit pale perhaps, but your name's normal too."

Giles could see a hint of annoyance forming in Nick, and he focused on the most likely source. "Willow."

"Yeah, Giles?"

"Here," he said, handing her the translation. "We need to find the spell mentioned near the end. It will destroy the device we're looking for--a bracelet."

Flipping to the last page, she cringed. There really wasn't much to go on. It would mean searching through everything, for any mention of this device. Willow started for Giles' books.

"You won't find it there. I've already looked."

"I guess it's off to the library then."

"I'll go over to Angel's, see what he knows," Buffy volunteered.

Giles looked toward Xander, and then his guest. "Xander and Nicholas will accompany you, but not now. Wait until the sun sets."

Nick listened to the group's silence for a moment. "There's just over an hour left, and as long as I get a ride we can go now."

Giles focused on the vampire. A vampire who was willingly going outside during the day. It just defied reason. "Are you sure?"

"I'll cover up and ride in the trunk. I'll be fine. I've done it before." It wouldn't cause too much damage. Nothing that wouldn't heal, anyway.

The group prepared to leave, and as they pulled out of Giles', the mortals were all a little surprised. Indeed, the trunk contained one almost completely shrouded vampire.



The Living Undead - (03/07)

As they waited at Angel's door, Buffy and Xander paid much more attention to the faintly smoking bundle that darted inside, sans invitation, at which they eventually followed.

Closing the door, they found the room dimly lit, Angel watching cautiously as the other vampire uncovered.

Angel kept calm at a distance from his visitors. Something was different about this vampire, he could feel it. It was something he'd felt before, but only on a couple of occasions. As the vampire's face was revealed, Angel stiffened. Yes, he had met this man before. It had only been once, but it had been memorable.

Nick froze as he made eye contact with the other. Immediately, he recognized the vampire. It was Angelus.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

London, early February 1793

The streets were only mildly active, most of the populace keeping safely indoors. His visit to London was an attempt to get away from the chaos in France. Nearly four years earlier the revolution had begun, and now a terror ripped through the city. Madame Guillotine was in full operation, and he had wanted a break from the constant fear of being named an enemy of the revolution. The sentence was the guillotine, a device that was a little too efficient at beheading for his liking. Even the King had not been spared the blade; and that's when he had left.

Talk of the revolution was a popular topic even here, but Nick could tell the people here were not as enthusiastic as the French--they saw what was really going on.

Walking along the outskirts of the city, he prepared to find some unfortunate soul, one who was either dying to give them a quick end, or one who deserved to die for their actions. Searching, his gaze stopped on the distant form of a young woman, sitting nearly frozen in an alley, the cold winter already taken its toll on her. She wouldn't live much longer in this state.

Approaching silently, he watched as the woman's eyes locked on him, her shivering increasing, possibly in response to seeing his indifference to the chilled air. Planning to take her, his ears caught on a distant scream. It wasn't asking for help, wasn't that of a madman, but of a woman, terrified. He left the freezing woman, taking to the air as soon as he was in the shadows.

A few alleys over he landed, his eyes locking on a group of people. There were two men, a woman, and a young boy. The two men were faced away from him; the closer holding the other like his kind did when feeding. As the man released his prey, Nick smelt the faint aroma of blood. The man then went for the boy, a low growl responding to the woman's plea to release her child.

As the man, a vampire by his estimate, made to strike, Nick pounced forward and pulled him away. The boy quickly ran to his mother, and he shouted, "Go! Get out of here! Do not return until after the dawn!" Watching them hesitantly follow his instructions, his grip faltered, and the vampire struggled free.

The man turned to him with not only glowing eyes and gleaming fangs, but also a transfigured face. He was more than simply a vampire; he was a demon as well. LaCroix had told him about these creatures. They were the lowest kind of vampire, far below even the carouche. As the other snarled, Nick allowed his own features to change in the darkness.

"Why have you stopped me!"

"Because you had no reason to take more than the man. His blood is plenty! There was no reason to involve his family, let alone kill them as well. Feeding is one thing, torture is another!"

"Perhaps to you, but to me they are one and the same." The vampire-demon began circling him, explaining, "We are killers, we live to kill. To show the mortals their weaknesses and that they are merely prey for the taking!"

"They are more than just a food source! More than items for our amusement!"

"You are as bad as them! I bet you even avoid killing humans when you can...or do you even drink human blood?"

Nick's eyes brightened, and the other smiled in satisfaction. "I drink human blood, just not those of the innocent-"

"So you instead revel in the pleasures of murderers, thieves, and liars? Is that much better than my actions which seem to displease you so much?"

"I take them because they deserve to die."

"And what about me? What is your judgement?"

"If you were mortal, I would kill you."

"But because I'm a vampire you won't. Not even being what I am?"

He remained silent. Oh, if he did kill this creature he wouldn't feel any guilt for it. That he knew right now.

"You are worse than those you feed on. You are a coward."

That pushed Nick over the edge, and as scarlet flooded his vision he caught the other as he pounced on him. Throwing the man to the side, Nick demanded, "What is your name?"

"Why, so you can place it on a block of stone over my ashes? It won't come to that, but your answer is Angelus...." Snarling, he again rushed the blond vampire, succeeding in pushing the other into the stone wall, but quickly finding the roles switched.

"How old are you, Angelus? Perhaps double your age of appearance, maybe less?" Nick held Angelus against the wall, the vampire's struggles proving useless. "If you leave this city now, I will neither harm you further, nor alert others of your carelessness." He released the younger, pushing him toward the alley entrance.

"Then, I wish to know your name as well."

"Nicholas. Nicholas de Brabant." With that, he took to the air, hoping Angelus would do as asked.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nick shook his head, pushing the past away. After that night he had never seen Angelus again, although he highly suspected the vampire of several murders he had come to know about, the first of which being those of the woman and boy he'd saved.

"Angelus," he began, ending the awkward silence. "I'm amazed you've survived this long...considering your usual pastimes."

"I could say the same of you. I was right about you revelling in the pleasures of your victims. Perhaps not then, but once you were worse than I ever was...."

Nick locked his glare on Angelus. "Ever was.... What about you?"

"I've changed. I no longer kill, not even for blood. Are you still killing those that you think deserve death?"

Buffy and Xander stared on, watching the two circle one another, both seemingly pushing the other toward the edge. Xander waited for someone to speak, but no one did. "Okay, I don't know what's going on between you two, but we need to work together. Angel doesn't kill any more, and I don't know about Nick, but he's a friend of Giles. So...just get along."

They each nodded, keeping their attention fully focused on the other.

Nick kept his guard up. Then, attempting to keep conversation on topic, asked, "Anyone new in town?"

"Some vampire. One of my kind," Angel answered, directing the last at the other vampire. "From what I can tell, he's more or less an Ancient, he has more abilities than me. They can fly and mesmerize their victims. They often don't have much care for any type of life, mortal or otherwise."

Xander became a little nervous. "Fly? They can just take off anytime they want?"

Nick kept as calm as he could. He would have to be careful. Other than Giles, no one had seen him changed, at least not yet. "Have you heard anything about a bracelet? A 'ring of power' is the best description we've found so far. It was made specifically for our kind. It enhances ones abilities."

"Nothing specifically..." Angel began hesitantly, not sure what he should say. "Theron, the vampire that's new here, has pretty much kept to himself. Rumour has it, he's been testing something, perhaps this bracelet."

Xander stuck it together, blurting out, "Okay, so we got some super vamp that's making himself even more so."

"Pretty much," Nick stated, beating the other vampire to the answer.

Buffy sighed. With both Xander and Nick here, her side of the conversation got completely run over. But, at the moment, she didn't really care. She wasn't exactly thrilled with the news. But, it could be worse. It could be a group of them. "Great. Wonderful."

"Could you excuse us a moment?" Angel asked, gesturing sharply from the two mortals to the door.

"Uh, we should probably get over to the library. Right, Buffy?"

Despite wanting to protest, she didn't. Angel and Nick had to be on the same side, and if they needed privacy to talk out their differences, then so be it. The only difficulty would be getting to the library without transportation. Buses, she disliked buses. "Okay, we'll see you after sunset, then."

Angel remained stiff until the door was firmly closed. "They don't know that you're different...that there is more than one kind of us, do they?"

"No, and we should keep it that way." Nick held the younger's gaze until Angel looked away. "You know more about what's happening than you've said. This Theron, he does have the bracelet, correct?"

"Yes, but he hasn't used it in any kind of public setting. Not even among the others." Leaving the room, Angel felt the other vampire's eyes follow him as he poured himself a glass of blood. Turning, Nicholas' faintly golden eyes shown back at him through the dim light. Silently, he prepared another glass and handed it to his visitor.

Taking the offer, Nick quickly drank the blood, the sweet liquid quenching his thirst if only for the moment.

"Do you want some more?"

His eyes focused on the thin, now empty glass. Handing it back, Nick turned away. "No, I'll be fine. Although, I could use some for later. If I could get that here, it would be much simpler."

"Is that why you're here? For a blood supply?"

"I'm here because Giles asked me to come, and I will stay until the device is destroyed." Accepting a box from the dark-haired man, Nick started toward the door, but turned first. "I'm heading over to the library. Are you going to try to get some more information?" Catching a single nod of the other, Nick left the building, the sun just barely set.



The Living Undead - (04/07)

Quietly, Nick made his way into the library. He'd taken the blood back to Giles', filling the bottle full with the donated blood, then drinking the rest before leaving.

Slipping silently into the room, Nick stopped behind the redheaded girl, watching as she searched through a book. Although he would much rather be doing nothing, he would help.

As Willow stood to get another book, she turned and bumped into Nick, who was right behind her. Other than a gasp of air, she kept silent, moving past him to her destination.

Buffy glanced up at him, her curiosity being replaced first by surprise, then confusion. "How'd you do that? I mean, how long have you been there?"

With a slight wince, he answered, "Not long. I just got here." He moved away, his focus moving to several of the books. He had to keep them from discovering he was different, that he wasn't the same as the vampires the teenagers had been hunting.

Buffy stood and followed him. "Where's Angel?"

"Trying to get a better idea of what is going on."

Giles joined the group, setting a thick, somewhat dusty book on the table. "Which is what we need to do. First objective is to get the bracelet and second, we need to destroy it. Willow and Xander are still looking references to the bracelet, specifically the spell to disable it. Until we find it, I don't think we should do anything. Too risky."

Hearing the slight groan of the teens, Nick suppressed a smile. Of course they wanted to simply barge on in. It was their nature.

For over an hour he stayed at the library, watching the others, listening in on their words and growing frustration. Approaching Giles, he stated, "I'm going to go see how Angel is doing. Perhaps he's found something." Nick was out the door before a protest could be made.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

A half hour later, he was standing outside an old building. Trying to locate Angel's position had been difficult as he could barely sense the younger vampire. Not only that, but he had always avoided their kind as a habit. They were, as LaCroix had once described, 'unclean and unfit to mingle with our kind. They are barbarians, lower than the carouche, lower than even the demons in the world.'

Entering the building, he continued to follow his instincts, eventually heading down a flight of stairs. Keeping to the shadows he could see four others. One was Angel, who turned slightly as he arrived. The vampire he was speaking with was clearly the one in charge, probably this Theron. The other two were simply present, not contributing much at the moment.

Feeling a faintly familiar heartbeat, Nick shifted, alerting the others to his presence. He moved forward, stopping just behind Angel, and immediately holding Theron's gaze.

"And you are...?"

"Nicholas."

"So, Nicholas... I can tell you're not one of us," he said, his hands indicating the rest of the room. "May I ask what has sparked your curiosity here?"

Focusing on the speaker, Nick didn't answer. The man was several inches shorter than himself, yet held the same stance LaCroix often held. Despite that, he felt no real threat from this vampire. The sense of power was missing, although with a glance to Angel, he could see it was not the case for the younger. "Nothing in particular. I just happened to be in the area."

"Well then... Just make sure your visit is solely that. I have no wish to provoke a conflict between us."

Nick stepped closer, stopping just a couple of feet from the other. "I assure you, I am not here on behalf of the others. My interests are personal, and they will remain so."

"Good. Now, I suggest you leave the..." He cut the sentence off, his ears catching on a faint sound. "Seems as we have some company.... Anyone with you?"

"Not that I was aware-" The vampire pushed his way past him, and Nick watched as Buffy was pulled into the room. All present stiffened at the arrival, including himself. This was not going well.

No one made a move toward the mortal. In fact, Theron went straight for Angel, completely ignoring both the newcomer and the girl.

"What is this, Angelus? I know you were involved with a group of mortals, but don't tell me you've turned on your own kind! I put more trust in this stranger than I do you! At least his kind do not betray their own." Moving behind the younger, he whispered into Angel's ear, "What are you here for? Is it about this?" Holding up his wrist, a large blue stone sat on the inside portion of the form-fitting bracelet.

Buffy's eyes went wide, and she became even more alert than she had already been. About to speak, she changed her plan when Nick gestured her silent.

"What does it do?" Nick asked curiously, hoping to divert the attention from Angel.

"It makes me invincible! That's what it does." He examined the metal and stone, looking at his wrist at different angles. Letting his wrist drop, he said with enthusiasm, "It's actually quite an amazing device. It means it's virtually impossible to kill me. No more problems with sunlight, pesky wooden stakes, or any of that."

They turned away from Angel, Theron's attention falling on a sword leaned against the far wall. "Watch," he continued, and held his arm out as if he was in a virtual reality environment. Within just a few seconds the blade was about a foot from the out stretched hand. It hovered upright, and after a second he turned around, the blade following his movements. "Neat, isn't it? I'm still getting used to moving objects around, but there are a few other things I can do." He let the sword point at Angel, and before anyone could react it had passed through the vampire's chest, bringing him to his knees.

From where he was, Nick could see the blade twist around a full time before it was removed. Angel didn't have the opportunity to move before the action was repeated. As the sword was removed, returning to its wielder, Nick inched forward, at which time he caught the other's attention.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to do anything else to him, just keep him away from here. And now that your curiosity has been assuaged, I expect you to do so as well." Spinning, his stare locked on Buffy. "The girl on the other hand...."

Nick moved between them, allowing his features to change. "Leave her. I will take care of the problem."

"And how will you deal with it?" Walking around the newcomer, he moved behind Buffy, brushing her hair away from her neck. In response he received what should have been a powerful blow to his stomach, which instead merely made him laugh. "Personally, I suggest you drain her. Slayer's blood is as sweet as it gets." He licked his lips in emphasis.

"I know." Nick's eyes flashed crimson for a second as he played along with the game, but at the same time he felt his hunger rise in anticipation. Out of the corner of his eye, he noted Buffy's confusion and knew he'd have some explaining to do. Seeing a touch of surprise from the other, he explained his statement, "I've had their blood on a couple of occasions."

"Then, we will release her. Allow the Hunt to you...but remember to take *that* with you." He glared at Angel's fallen form, then backed out of the way.

Nick slowly approached Buffy, who was still standing in the room even though she could easily leave. Using a hint of his speed he moved toward her. Unleashing a snarl, Nick watched her go for the door, then turned back to the other. "The Hunt will not begin now, but once I have taken care of Angelus. The mortal will be no trouble for me. No trouble at all...." With that, Nick took Angel in his grasp, and once he was free from the building, he took to the air.



The Living Undead - (05/07)

Buffy barged through the library's doors, startling the few occupants, and heading straight for Giles. "That 'friend' of yours, whatever he is, is hunting me! For my blood! For a *Slayer's* blood! He's-"

"Buffy!" Giles watched her anger boil. "Nicholas isn't like that, I'm sure of it."

"To start with, he doesn't vamp out like the vampires I've...." She trailed off as Giles' attention was caught on something behind her. Turning, Buffy's jaw dropped. Before her stood the very topic of their conversation, carrying the bleeding and barely conscious Angel. "Angel!"

Approaching them, Giles asked, "What happened?"

"We, or I should say Buffy, found the bracelet. Its wearer is already learning some of its tricks." Nick moved for the table, and the mortals cleared off the collection of books just before he reached it, laying the injured vampire on the surface. "We obtained a...casualty."

Giles kept the teens back. "Yes, I can see that. I am curious as to how this happened though."

"Um...." Buffy gave a concerned glance at Angel, then turned back to her Watcher. "I think it was my fault. I sort of got caught...."

Tuning out the mortals as Buffy explained what had happened, Nick focused on the other vampire. He watched as pain ripped through his barely conscious form. Angelus...Angel needed blood to heal, and he needed it now. The transfigured features focused hungrily on the mortals behind him, even as something else seemed to hold him back. Nick didn't know what it was, and for the moment, he didn't care.

He turned away for a mere second, quickly removing his jacket and undoing the cuff of his shirt. Holding his wrist within reach, Nick waited, but Angel just stared at it with a combination of need and disgust. "It won't hurt you. It will probably help more than mortal blood. Take it."

Angel considered the offer a moment longer. When he'd previously met Nicholas, he'd believed the older vampire a coward. Now, he was being offered something he would have taken if he'd been capable of it--Nicholas' blood. True, he was injured, but the other had no obligation to do this. Nicholas could have simply left him somewhere...but then it made sense. He didn't want innocent mortals to die, and that's what would have happened if he'd been left without nearby blood.

Snatching the wrist up, Angel bit hard into the blood just beneath the surface. Having expected to taste something horrid, he drew harder when the blood was sweeter than a mortal's, sweeter than anything he'd ever tasted. It was cool, smooth, and flowed easily into his mouth. He could drink it forever.

Buffy, taking a few steps to the side, again caught Nick's features. She could see the gold in his eyes, the sharp teeth barely peeking out between his parted lips. She'd never seen a vampire quite like this.

Feeling his body protest at the continued loss of blood, Nick pulled his arm back as Angel tried to keep his hold. With more force and a slight tearing of the wounds, Nick succeeded.

No longer able to keep her silence, Buffy angrily asked, "What are you?"

He turned his amber tinted vision first to Buffy, then back toward the others. Giles didn't show any outward reaction, but the others. They stood, open-mouthed, at what they viewed as his unusual appearance.

"You-you look different than Angel. Normal..human...except for the eyes and teeth..."

Focusing on the other girl, he allowed himself to revert back as she watched. Her eyes went momentarily wide.

Xander recovered. "Well, at least this explains how you can move around so easily. It does, doesn't it?" He didn't get a response one way or the other, so continued, "You know, about the invitation thing...?"

Tiredly, Angel let out a soft laugh. "Guess you don't have a choice, Brabant."

Angel faded off to sleep, and Nick sighed. No, he didn't have a choice, not anymore. "Yes, I'm...different."

Now, Buffy's mind had a few dozen questions to ask and she didn't waste any time. "But you're still a vamp?"

"Yeah, I'm still a vampire. I'm just of a different...breed."

"Okay...." Buffy, her anger still visible, walked over to another nearby table, pulled up a chair, sat and looked expectedly at the vampire. "What's *different*? Since you don't need an invitation, I'd say that's different. What about crosses, holy water-"

"They still work."

"Stakes?"

"Depends on your aim."

"Pretty good. Your appearance is different. Why?"

"I'm not a demon...not like Angel's kind."

She wasn't sure what to think of that answer. Not a demon. Shrugging it off, she asked, "Do you have a soul?"

"Y...." He paused. "I really don't know. I think we do...I'm pretty sure we do. After all, I remember going to the door and coming back...." He trailed off, really not wanting to go into that. "I think it's pretty well damned though."

Buffy's eyebrows raised. That was a big difference. The vampire's she dealt with were demons. So was just about anything else she'd seen. "What about your abilities? Sunlight?"

"Not much different than Angel here....perhaps a bit stronger, quicker. I...can bend a mortal's will and-"

"Fly," Xander stated, jumping into the conversation.

"Yes. All of my kind can do those things. It doesn't come with age."

Willow approached. "So...how old are you, anyway?"

"If you count my mortal life, just over eight hundred."

She sunk into a chair next to Buffy. "Wow. Angel's not even half that. That's...wow. You're old."

The room went silent, and the Slayer figured now was a good time to get things straight. "So...do we have another arsenal against Theron, or are you going to kill me?"

The question caught him off guard, and it shouldn't have. He'd already changed in front of the girl earlier, and more than once. As he'd entered, he'd heard her exclamations to Giles, and truthfully, she didn't have much reason to believe him. "I have no intention of killing you. And yes, I will help." The girl locked gazes with him, and he held it firmly.

Giles cleared his throat. "Well...I think we should get back to work...Buffy?"

She turned to him, and with a momentary glance back to the vampire, she stated, "Fine, but I don't trust him." Having said that, she headed over to the counter, and everyone slowly began to disperse.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

"Giles?" Buffy whispered, trying not to disturb the others, particularly the now two sleeping vampires.

"Yes?"

"Could I, uh, speak to you outside?" With that, she stared for the entrance, and listened to his footsteps as he followed. Once outside with the door firmly shut, she got down to the point. "I want you to find out everything you can about him. I don't trust him. Not with hearing parts of his conversation with Angel earlier."

He hadn't heard this yet. "And...what was said?"

"Angel had said that Nick was 'worse than he ever was' or something like that."

"Yes...well...."

"You already know about this, don't you?" She started circling him. "Why aren't you telling me?"

Giles carefully followed her movements. "It's not important."

"Not important. He's a killer just as much as those I stake! Has he ever killed a Slayer before?" She watched him freeze, standing cold like a rock. "Giles, tell me. I deserve to know this."

"Yes," he whispered. "Two and nearly a third."

"When?"

"About five-hundred and fifty to six-hundred years ago from what I've been able to discover in the Watcher's records. He's supposed to be killed on sight-"

"Then, as soon as this is over, that's exactly what I'm going to do."

"Buffy!" Realizing his volume was a bit loud, he quieted back down to a whisper. "You would not win. You are not stronger than him, and the ones he took down were not new."

"I don't care about that. He will not live!"

He grabbed her arm before she could storm back into the library. "Listen to me. The past is the past. Leave this alone. Even if you do manage it, another of his kind will kill you." He paused, releasing her. "I'll get what current information I can, but in the last hundred years his past is pretty clean. As far as the Watcher's know, he either hasn't killed, or has only rarely. They have considered changing the guidelines on him as he's more on our side than against it. Just consider what you're doing before you act."

"I know exactly what I plan to do, and I know the consequences." She backed away, heading back into the library.

Giles stood shaking his head. He had no intention of mentioning his meeting with Nicholas in the past, nor now. He had a mess that was just getting more and more chaotic.



The Living Undead - (06/07)

Willow left the main counter. There was just too much stuff spread out on its surface. She passed the table Angel lay sleeping on, and continued to the only free table large enough to spread out her books. Coming around a shelf, she stopped cold. Nicholas lay right in its middle, his body looking much like a corpse, although a tad less pale. Continuing forward, she put the books on the table's corner. For a second, she stood silently, watching the vampire sleep.

Hesitantly reaching out, she softly poked him in the shoulder. He didn't move. Releasing her breath and taking another, she repeated her action a little harder. He sat up abruptly, and Willow jumped back. "Sorry." She waited, but he just sat there with his arms supporting him and his eyes closed. "Uh...I w-was just wondering if you'd mind moving over a little? I um...need some space, and the other tables seem to be occupied at the moment."

"Sure." Moving to the far edge, he lay back again.

Sitting down and getting all of the books open to the needed pages, Willow couldn't concentrate. "Um, I have another question...."

"What?" he sighed.

"Well...if you have all of these abilities...the hypnotism, speed, strength and flight, wouldn't you just be able to take the bracelet from this vampire?"

He drowsily considered it, then shook his head. "I cannot counter the bracelet's effects. It allows the user to inflict damage from a distance...I wouldn't be able to get close enough. Perhaps if I could surprise him, but that would be difficult."

"Okay...." Watching him again close is eyes, she returned to her books, looking for some reference....

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

"Buffy! Giles!" Willow nearly screamed to the others.

Nick, who had rolled onto his side, suddenly found himself wide-awake and sailing to the ground as he had forgetten that he was on the table's edge.

Buffy, Giles and Xander rushed toward them. Buffy immediately approached the vampire, a stake in one hand, quickly asking, "What did he do?" her attention going between her friend and the now standing vampire.

"No, no, no.... I found it. At least, I think I did."

"You did? Where?" Giles stepped closer, scanning the open pages. As they fell on the indicated text, he picked it up, reading through the first part and stopped. "'One of the undead who is not dead.' What's that supposed to mean?"

Nick stiffened, the words making perfect sense to him. Vampires had often been considered the 'undead' or the walking dead, and he had been no exception until recent years. When he'd first met Natalie, she had immediately stated that he wasn't dead. Then, with her observations, she had proved it to him.

Xander considered the expression, but it just didn't make sense. "But vamps are closer to dead than living...I mean, no pulse, no breath, no-"

"Uh...I have a pulse."

They all turned toward the vampire, the three teenagers' eyes wide. Buffy recovered first, demanding, "How?"

He shrugged. "A friend of mine is a doctor. She's proved I'm alive, although it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. My heart beats about once every ten minutes, and I do need to take the occasional breath to remain conscious."

"The undead that's not dead," Willow muttered. "Must mean one of your kind, right?"

Nick didn't answer, instead turning to Giles who was reading through the section. "Well, it says that one of the undead who is not dead must recite the spell. It will not destroy the bracelet, but it will prevent its use by the individual that the spell is directed at."

Nick backed up. He didn't want to get involved in this. "No...I don't know anything about that stuff...I wouldn't be able to-"

Giles met the vampire's eyes. "Nicholas, we need your help with this part. If not, we'll try to get it without your help, but it would be much better if you did."

"I..." he trailed off. He'd already promised to help. Besides, what damage would one spell be? "I'll help."

"Good. Look this over." Giles handed the book to Nicholas. "The rest of you...keep looking. I'm going to get something from home. I'll be back in a little while." The Xander and Buffy went back to the front of the library, and Giles was about to follow, but felt a light touch. He turned to find Nicholas, apparently hesitant about something.

"Could you...bring something back for me? From the...refrigerator? I had figured we'd go back to your place, so I left them there."

"Of course. I'll be back as soon as I can." Watching Nicholas nod, then sit at the table, Giles headed for the entrance.

"Could I go with you?"

He turned to Buffy. For all the world she appeared curious, but he knew why she wanted to come. "Yes, but try not to speak before you think."

They headed out the door, and they were almost to Giles' before Buffy asked, "So...what did you find?"

"I haven't-"

"Then, what do you know? Apparently you know him, and you've obviously done a little research on him."

"Yes, I have. Nicholas is...complicated. He's a lot like Angel, actually. They've both been pure killers, both wiped out entire populations on a couple of occasions, but there are differences. Nicholas spent about the first four-hundred years of his life like this, for the next three hundred he changed to killing the guilty...taking blood for his survival from the dying. About a hundred years ago, he just stopped killing altogether. He is dangerous, but then they all are. They are nearly perfect killers, yet, it is possible to control what they are."

"Why do you trust him, then? If he could easily turn on you, why trust him?"

"Why trust Angel?" He received a glare, and quickly apologized. "In a way, Nick saved my life. He had protected me from his kind when I was getting too close to his kind of vampire. He couldn't make me forget, and he let me remain with his secret despite the fact I was a stranger."

"And, the blood?"

"From what I know, he doesn't drink human blood anymore, or at least not on a regular basis."

"And you got this information where?"

"Watchers' files. If he was considered a high threat, he would be dead by now...it would have been some Slayer's duty to kill him, but the council has ordered that action only be taken if he's spotted by a Slayer, and only if the action is needed. Their kind can kill a Slayer without much difficulty."

"Well, he won't. I'll see to it that he ne-"

Giles brought the vehicle to a quick stop. "Buffy!" He shook his head, and resumed their path. "Don't make a decision now. Nicholas is not like the others. I'm sure he would save your life if something happened."

"Let's just get the stuff and get back to the library." She leaned back in the seat, her arms crossed and her attention on the passing scenery.

She just hoped Willow and Xander would be okay. True, Nick hadn't really done anything too suspicious...other than his words to Theron. She didn't like it...how he could change so quickly, and how truthful his enjoyment of the other Slayers he'd killed. She couldn't help wonder if he'd be tempted to take hers, to kill her as he'd done those others.

As the car came to a stop in front of Giles, she got out. When he asked her to get the blood from the refrigerator, she groaned, but followed Giles up to the door anyway.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Mid-afternoon came, and Nick stared at the words again. Now, he understood them. He understood exactly what their purpose was, which made him dislike it even more. He didn't like spells, or demons, or any of this stuff. Compared to this venom that could kill with a scratch, his kind were venom- less, fang-less snakes.

He slammed the book shut, causing Willow and Xander to turn his way. "Sorry. I'm just not comfortable with this." He stared at the book for a couple of seconds, then stood and approached the still sleeping Angel. In a way, the younger vampire was lucky. His injury was enough that he would not be participating in the coming events. Their kind healed slower, a serious injury possibly disabling them for weeks or more.

The library doors opened, and he watched Buffy and Giles enter. Buffy shot a glare at him, but brought him the bottle of blood. He took it and uncorked it, then stared at the contents for a moment.

Giles watched his actions carefully for several seconds, then cleared his throat. "Nicholas...I have an idea on how to do this."

The vampire looked up.

"Theron thinks you're on his side? He thinks you're hunting Buffy, right?" Receiving a nod, the librarian continued, "Then I propose you continue your charade. Make him think you are still hunting her, that you want to use this device to finis-"

"No way! I won't let myself-"

"Buffy! We have to get close to him. Nicholas will not carry through on any of these actions, right?"

"Of course not."

The three words gave no comfort to her. "I-"

"You will be armed. It would only be an illusion to trick them into thinking you are weak, and that Nicholas is on their side. If we do it right, it would work, and we'd have the opportunity to use the spell and disable the device," Giles said, trying to calm her. He really didn't need these two to get into an argument right now.

Willow and Xander came up behind them. "So...what do we do?"

"Nothing, really. Theoretically, they should be able to handle it on their own."

"But..." Xander started, being cut off by Willow.

"Okay." She fidgeted a second. "I guess. How's Angel?"

"Recovering," Nick stated. Then, the mortals all turned toward him. "He'll be back to normal in a couple of days, but he won't be helping out. Besides...if Angel showed up, Theron might be tipped off to something going on."

Buffy pulled her attention from the sleeping Angel and focused on her Watcher. "Well, then, I guess we should start getting ready...and I want it known that I object to being the bait...his bait...."

"Noted. Now, for what I wanted to check on...." Giles pulled out on of the books, and opened it to a page he'd marked earlier. "It says here that the living undead are souled, more or less human. They have enhanced abilities; speed, vision, hearing etc., they are immortal and thrive off of blood and de- well, that's about it, really. Basically I just wanted to get a confirmation, make sure our guess was right. I think that's a pretty good description of your kind."

Buffy listened carefully to Giles. In her eyes, he wasn't much different than the mindless creatures she killed at night, except perhaps the fact that he wasn't mindless.

Well, she didn't have much choice in the matter. The bracelet had to be taken from Theron, and if this spell would do the trick, she would go along with the plan. But, any one wrong move, and this vamp would be a pile of smouldering ash.



The Living Undead - (07/07)

An hour after sunset, the group was on their way to confront Theron. The mortals had gone in Giles' car, while Nick took a more direct route--the sky.

Apparently arriving before the others, he glanced down at the quickly copied words. Hopefully they had the right spell. He didn't want to know the consequences if they didn't.

Hearing an approaching vehicle, he slid into the shadows. As they got out, he closed in, stopping right behind Giles.

"Now, all we have to do is wai-" he turned, coming face to face with Nick. "Nevermind." Recovering from Nick's sudden appearance, he opened the trunk, pulling out a small arsenal; a crossbow for himself, and a few extra stakes for Buffy. "Xander and Willow, I want you two to stay out here the whole time, preferably in the car. We need as few people down there as possible. We'll take care of anyone that comes out." Once they had reluctantly shook their heads, muttering their opinions, Giles turned to Nick and Buffy. "Are you ready?"

"I guess. I really don't like spells though...."

Giles paused, then ignoring Nick's comment, said, "It's time to get this over with."

With a light nod, Nick met Buffy's eyes. She stood like a stone, her clothes ripped and torn, then with a nod she started for the building.

Buffy could feel Nick follow her, and as they neared the entrance, she felt his hands hold her in a relatively tight grasp. Focusing on her role, she began to struggle, letting her voice sound tired and frustrated, which wasn't hard. As they descended, she could feel the others, and in a moment, watched them stare at them.

The one she'd seen before, Theron, let his gaze stop on them. "I thought you were going to kill her."

"I am. Your device has intrigued me. I was wondering if I might be able to try it out?"

The vampire glanced to his wrist, narrowing his eyes. "I thought your kind usually avoided such thi...."

Nick let his eyes glint gold. Taking a few steps, he positioned them so the other was between himself and the Slayer, with Theron's facing him. "It interests me. I would like to take her life slowly...watch as her energy is drained from her. Then, I will take her blood." The gold flashed crimson, making both Buffy and the vampire inch back. Then, as the vampire considered the request, Nick nodded just enough for Buffy to see.

She knew his intention, and although it wasn't time, she approached, pushing one of the other vampires away, her stake heading right for Theron's heart. In it's decent, in stopped just before hitting him. Pulling back, she found she couldn't move her arm, and then he turned toward her.

"I'm learning quickly how to use this device. You might be the Slayer, but you are of no consequence to me." He raised his hand, letting the blue stone shine toward the mortal.

Almost instantly, Nick reached for the bracelet, and by virtue of speed, pulled it off of the vampire's wrist.

Theron spun on him, pushing Nick into the wall. "You are like Angelus! You are a betrayer to your own kind and mine!"

Nick, slightly stunned at his own actions didn't waste anymore time as he slipped the device on. As a tingling sensation started at the bracelet and spread throughout his body, he hoped he could figure out how it worked. He really hadn't planned on taking it from Theron, but then, he was originally going to use the spell Willow had found.

Holding the bracelet so that its stone faced Theron, he mentally pushed, and as desired, the other vampire was sent flying across the room. Theron slammed into the wall, and Nick kept the pressure up, holding the vampire immobile.

Buffy, although a bit stunned by the quick turn of events, dusted the vampire, at which time the other two bolted toward the exit. One didn't make it, his fate being the same as Theron's. Turning toward Nick, she watched him remove the bracelet slowly, looking at it closer. "Why didn't you use the spell! He could have killed one, or both of us in an instant!"

He winced, then heard the others come down the stairs; Giles armed with a crossbow, and Xander and Willow right behind him. Brushing past Buffy, he handed the bracelet gratefully to Giles. Locking eyes with the Slayer, he left the building.

She stormed after him, arriving outside seconds after him. "I didn't trust you before, and I certainly don't trust you now."

"I have done nothing to harm you, nor do I inte-"

"Just shut up! Your change in plans back there could have made us both dead! Now, you're going to be that," she said gesturing to the pile of ash between them, "in just a few minutes. I know what the Watcher's policy is on you. If a Slayer comes in contact with you, you are to be killed on sight."

"Buffy!"

She gave her Watcher a glare, halting him in his approach. "I've made my decision, Giles! I'm not going to let him just walk off. He might not have tried anything here, but how do you know he won't turn back into what he was in the past. He was, and still is, a killer. You didn't see how easily he 'pretended' to be hunting me. It's his nature."

She turned on the vampire, and rushed forward, giving him a strong kick to the abdomen, throwing him slightly off balance. Prepared to give him another, he was gone. Sensing a presence behind her, she struck out, her arm being securely held. Feeling her legs being pushed from under her, she found herself lying on the ground, face down, completely immobile. Waiting for pain or darkness to overwhelm her, she was stunned when he released her.

"As I said, I will not harm you. I do not kill for sport or blood." He paused, then took off into the sky before any of them could give a reply.

"Wow," Xander commented, staring off in the direction Nick had left, completely forgetting about the confrontation.

"Xander, Willow? Do you think you can get back to the Library on your own?" Giles asked. "Good," he stated receiving a nod, then turned his attention fully on Buffy. "You're coming with me."

"Where?"

"My place...let's see if we can catch him before he leaves. That, and I want to explain something else I found in that book. Now, come on." Buffy stood still for a moment. Then got in Giles' car, slamming the door. This weekend had to be just about the worst she'd had.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Nick repacked his things. He was seriously considering flying to Los Angeles to catch a plane instead of leaving from here. He wanted away from that girl. Although he had no wish to kill her, he couldn't help but be tempted by her blood. At first, he'd just been nervous, but now.... It was something that was just there, like instinct. If it weren't, he wouldn't mind staying a few more days...she was a nice girl, but...she was also the Slayer.

Hearing the door open, and two mortal heartbeats, he almost opened the window and left then and there. Instead, he approached, meeting up with Giles and a somewhat subdued Buffy.

"Giles explained something about your kind...I guess it was what he really wanted to check on.... Um, I guess the reason I have so much hatred is because of what you are. Giles told me it's something that comes with being a Slayer. I guess it works both ways. It's just instinct, but-" She stopped, then caught her Watcher's glare. "And also, I uh, wanted to apologize for everything."

"No need." He turned to leave, but felt Giles' hand on his arm.

"Nicholas...I hope I'll be able to meet you again."

"I wish I could say the same. It is dangerous for me to even be here. Others of my kind would not hesitate to kill the Slayer." He glanced to Buffy for a mere second. "But, if you need any help, I won't refuse the request."

"Will you stay until tomorrow night, then?" Giles asked, hoping Nicholas wouldn't refuse him. He didn't want the man to just disappear as he'd done in the past.

He sighed. "Yeah, I'll stay. Just...no one try and stake me, okay?" Nick gave a boyish begging expression, which brought a slight smile to Buffy's face.

"I won't do that again. Promise."

"Well, then.... Now that you two have finally made up, we can get back to the library and find a way to destroy this thing." He held the bracelet up a moment, before stuffing it back in his pocket.

Nick and Buffy nodded, and the three headed down to Buffy's car and off to the library.

*+.*+.*+.*+.*+.

Twenty-four hours later, Nick found himself sitting on a plane for the first part of the trip back to Toronto. As asked, he had stayed. The previous night, they spent most of the time trying to figure out how to destroy the bracelet. Angel had helped with the search, but had eventually returned to his own home, with Buffy, to finish healing. He was a little confused at that event. After all, she was a Slayer and he was a vampire.

As it turned out, destroying the bracelet had been simple. All that needed to be done was to remove the stone from its setting. He suppressed a laugh remembering the simplicity. The metal had then disintegrated, becoming a pile of fine black powder, and the stone had lost its blue lustre, becoming a clear, colorless stone.

He pulled it out of his pocket, staring through the clear material. When Giles had insisted he keep it, he wasn't sure what to say, but did anyway. It would be another piece to add to his collection of mementoes. Even if he never met any of them again, he would always remember his side trip to the strange Californian city, and those that protected it from the demons and undead that threatened its citizens.

Nick suppressed another laugh. And then there was he, a vampire, one of the undead, but not, heading back to his relative safe haven. Compared to Buffy's everyday life, his was boring and repetitive. There was more to her than the other Slayers he'd met. Buffy would have her title as long as she lived, and he felt that she would last longer than those that had previously held it had.

As the plane took off, he felt strangely relaxed. It was as if everything had been momentarily lifted from him. For the trip back, he knew he had nothing to worry about. No demons, no spells, no strange devices...even LaCroix seemed less of a threat somehow. Although he'd originally dreaded making the trip, now that he was returning, he was glad he'd come.

~fin~



Jarvinia

jarvinia@hotmail.com

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