Disclaimer: I don't own BtVS.

Chapter 12

Angelus was waiting for his iron poking-stick to heat up in his make-shift fire pit, when he heard footsteps.

"Oh... So that's what happened to my history teacher. I thought you said you only killed my principal."

He glanced back at Buffy. She didn't seem disturbed by the mutated body hanging from the ceiling in shackles. "I didn't. He's still alive." As proof, Angelus gripped a bloodied right arm in a literally-bone-crushing grip. The sound of a crunch was followed by gasps, the immobile body now squirming.

Buffy merely watched with fascination. "Can I help?"

"Go ahead." Angelus handed her the hot poker. "See how many sounds you can get out of him."

"...alright..." Buffy pressed the burning iron into the man's torso. She pouted at the lack of sound. Only a hiss. "It didn't work."

"You're doing it wrong. You have to go like... this."

Buffy watched on with the open-mind of a student. She'd please Angelus yet. How awesome would it be if she was better at getting people to make funny sounds than Angelus?

The first thing Willow noticed about the new principal- for the last one had died as well, apparently- was his gaze. It was lifeless and dull, as if he didn't really see anything. Then there was the way he answered things. When asked what he thought of current school policies, he had said, "Policies equals rules and regulations set by an organization. School rules and regulations set by an organization are what I think of." And then? Then he had moved on to not-answer the next question. He called himself Mr. Smith, not answering to requests of his first name.

He hadn't assigned any detentions yet, so he was already better than Snyder. Even if he was strange.

"I like him," said Buffy. "I walked right past him this morning when I was late to school, and all he did was remind me of when school starts. Snyder would have slaughtered me."

"I hate to say it," said Xander, "but of all the people to go, I'm glad Snyder was one of them. And speaking of people who aren't here, the history teacher hasn't been to school for the last week. At first it was nice, but-"

"-our sub assigns a lot more homework than our teacher," Willow cut in, sharing a pained glance with both Buffy and Xander.

Of course, now that Willow thought about it... The principal had disappeared after parents-teachers night, and the history teacher had disappeared a couple days later. Could it be that... No, of course Buffy's family didn't kill them. What am I thinking? Buffy's not a killer! At least not of non-demony things! Somehow, her thoughts failed to reassure her.

"Really?" asked Buffy, eyes alight. "Why?"

"You could do with being stronger. You've slacked over the summer, and some training would help," said Angelus.

Buffy glanced around at the tomb stones and grave markers of the graveyard. As far as she was concerned, Angelus was brilliant. If she paid attention and focused, she could be as amazing as him someday. She was still a bit disappointed that Spike hadn't been allowed to come along, supposedly being too distracting, but she was bound to improve with Angelus as her teacher. "What first?"

"First, what does a vampire always have?"

"Teeth," Buffy said, decisively.

"Fangs," Angelus corrected. "A weapon."

"Oh, right. Spike told me that. And to never drop my own weapon." She lifted her wooden stake for demonstration.

"Come at me. Let's see how long you can last."

Buffy was awed at the mere suggestion. Her, go against Angelus? She wasn't about to disagree with him, though. If he wanted her to attack him, he probably had a good reason. Maybe he would go easy on her? She lunged at him. He dodged, kicking her inner knee just hard enough to send her to the ground. Buffy pushed herself back on her feet, examining her golden-eyed, demon-faced father.

Definitely going easy on me. Meaning he wasn't leaving any marks on her, even though she couldn't touch him. "I... don't... see how this is... training," said Buffy, between breaths.

"Focus on dodging for now, not attacking," Angelus advised. And, somehow, his words truly helped. Without the extra effort of attacking, Buffy was no longer being hit. Granted, Angelus wasn't moving at his full speed, but she was glad for that. He would probably gradually work up to sparring with her at his full speed.

The air rushed out of her, as she was suddenly held in a head lock. "Don't get lost in thought," he said, releasing her.

"Buffy!" Buffy mentally cursed upon hearing a certain familiar voice, glancing to her left. There stood Giles, wide-eyed behind his spectacles. "There's a vampire behind you!" She glanced at Angelus, waiting for advice on what to do.

Angelus let his human features take over once more, raising a brow at the watcher. "I'm sure Buffy's aware, Watcher."

Giles froze, eyes narrowing. Buffy could practically hear the wheels turning in his head. "I... see. Angelus."

Angelus grinned, bearing his fangs. Buffy had no doubt that it wasn't a friendly gesture in the least. "Should I kill you, or will you keep from telling your little watcher friends?"

"I already had suspicions," said Giles, hand slipping into his left pocket. "They would already be here if I had plans of telling them of this... situation."

Their attention was shifted when the sound of shuffling and gasping filled the air. It was loud enough for even Giles, without any supernatural abilities, to hear. There was a rectangular hole with dirt piled around it, a recently-dead corpse being thrown out. A boy of about sixteen appeared from the grave, grabbing the corpse and swinging it over his shoulder.

"Hey," said Buffy, frowning. "What're you doing?" She was beyond confused, and merely watched as he ran off with the dead body. "Why'd he run away?"

"Grave robbing's illegal," said Giles. "I fear he might wish to do a sacrifice. Any other city, I'd say otherwise, but this is the hellmouth." He glanced at Angelus, seeming to come to a decision. "I would like to know what a fourth of the scourge of Europe is doing coexisting with a slayer."

Angelus placed a possessive hand on Buffy's right shoulder. "You seem like a smart guy. Figure it out. But know that, if you bother Buffy, you'll die."

"Wait, Spike's a vampire?" Apparently, Xander was the only one who hadn't had even the slightest of clues. "As in, he drinks blood, is soulless, and kills people?"

Buffy nodded.

"And your parents are vampires? How'd they have a human child?"

"Buffy already told us," said Willow. "They decided against killing her, because Drusilla knew Buffy would be the next slayer."

"You were being serious?" asked Xander. He looked dizzy. "That's just weird. Angelus helped defeat the Master, didn't-"

A scream cut off Xander's sentence, as Cordelia ran into the library, shaking. She collapsed in the empty chair beside Buffy, gasping for breath. Buffy stared at the girl who had tried to steal Spike on more than one occasion.

"B...body parts," said Cordelia, barely catching her breath. "And this guy... he tried to kill me."

"And you're telling us, why?" asked Xander, raising a brow.

"I figured Buffy was in a gang or something, and didn't know who else to go to," Cordelia admitted, glancing over her shoulder. "But it was really freaky. I mean, that dumpster..."

"Hold on a moment," said Giles. "You said body parts, correct?" When Cordelia gave a nod, Giles continued, "This could very well be connected with the grave robber Buffy and I saw."

"So he wasn't making Zombies," said Willow. "Maybe he's making something like Frankenstein's creation, since he's only using some body pieces."

"He looked to be our age," Buffy pointed out. "I don't think any of the students at our school would know how to do that."

There was a long silence...

"Aha!" Everyone jumped at Willow's sudden exclamation. "Um, sorry. I just realized, there're some kids really good with the sciency stuff. This friend of mine, Chris, won the science fair two years in a row, and people think he'll win this year, too. So, we could check the lockers of the contestants or something."

Cordelia pulled the just-found paper from Buffy's hands. "What the hell is this? Some kind of girl jigsaw?" It was a body, minus the head, with lines separating each separate body part. "And what's with the whole headlessness?"

Willow was the one to answer, looking up from a piece of paper. "Brain tissue decays too fast for them to just get it from a dead person. They need to kill a girl for her head."

"And they didn't kill the other girls?" asked Xander.

Willow shook her head. "No. They died in a car accident a week back. The lockers... they belong to these two guys, Chris and Eric."

"So, now what, Buffy goes and stops them somehow?" asked Cordelia.

"Something like that." Buffy turned to Willow. "Do you think you can get Chris's address?"

Buffy stalked up to the door of Chris' house, ignoring Xander and Willow's worries at such a domestic approach. She didn't see a better way. She gave a few good knocks. There was a long pause. She knocked some more. And some more.

The door flew open, revealing a boy that looked suspiciously like the grave robber. Then again, Buffy had barely seen the grave robber, so who was she to judge?

His eyes widened as they landed on her. "Oh, hey. Buffy, right?"

She pushed past him. Might as well enjoy the benefits of humanity while they lasted.

Buffy didn't take in the surroundings much, even as she looked around. She turned to Chris. "Where's the lab?"

A moment's hesitance, then decision. He started walking, and she followed. Down a hall, and through a door, they soon were going down stairs and into the basement. Buffy looked on in awe at all the mechanical and scientific equipment, before her eyes finally settled on a sewn-together body, minus a head. She slowly approached it, wondering if the skin would be dry and cold, or brittle, or something else entirely. "Why're you making this?"

"For me." The voice was deep, and turned out to belong to a monster-like man. He was big and buff, stitches covering his form, even down the middle of his face. "She's my bride."

Buffy looked over the body once more, doubtful. "I dunno... She looks pretty lifeless." she spun around, catching the needle in Chris's hand before it could get near her. "I'm giving you one chance, and one chance only. Get a girl that's not from Sunnydale High, or I'll shred every piece of lab equipment you have, and anything I can find to do with this experiment. I can forget this ever happened."

Chris glanced at Buffy, then at the needle, and then past her head. "Daryl? What do you think?"

Buffy glanced over her shoulder. 'Daryl' looked thoughtful. A strange look on the oaf of a man. "I really wanted Cordelia. This girl's pretty, too..."

A harsh, unexpected shove from Chris, and the needle penetrated Buffy's skin. She reached out for the nearest thing as the world started to turn black, latching onto Chris's shirt. "Waz 'appening...?" she slurred, before everything blacked out.

Willow fidgeted in the cold night air. "It's been half an hour."

"Maybe he's taken her as my replacement," offered Cordelia. Willow and Xander locked eyes, coming to a silent decision.

"We need Giles," said Willow, at the same time that Xander said, "We need to break in."

"You don't have any abilities, moron. If Buffy couldn't get out, why would you be able to?" asked Cordelia.

Xander glared at her. "It was just an idea. And besides, it's not like Giles would be much help. These are humans, not demons, and Giles isn't stronger than Buffy either."

This time when Willow and Xander shared a glance, they were thinking the same thing.

"Can't you see it's all a trick? Bloody hell, open your eyes!"

Angelus elbowed Spike, hard, in the ribs, getting a pained hiss for his efforts. "Shut up. This show sucks enough without your commentary."

"Then why're you watching it? Could be out, draining the blood of innocents," Spike pointed out, smirking. "You like Passions."

"Not the TV show," Angelus replied. "It gets worse as the series continues. They use the same plot, over and over, with just a slight modification."

"Yeah, but-"

A loud knocking interrupted their banter. Spike huffed. "They can wait. My show's on."

Angelus gripped Spike's forearm, hauling the younger vampire up as he himself got up. "Only humans say that. Answer the door."

Spike did as he was told, albeit with a glare and mumbled obscenities. He opened the door so hard, the handle slammed into the wall, making a dent. Angelus watched with amusement as the people on the other side jumped, clearly taken aback. He was positive that two of the three were Willow and Xander, Buffy's friends. The third he couldn't really recognize, but she did look somewhat familiar.

"Um, we're not exactly sure, but Buffy went to confront these two guys, who were making a Frankenstein type of creation, for some reason, but we don't know, and she went into the house, and we haven't seen Buffy since. We think they might be holding her captive or trying to cut off her head, or maybe just fighting her, but we don't think it'd be smart for us to just barge on in, and could you help?" Willow wasn't even red from her breathlessness. She did radiate fear, though.

I took a moment for her rambling sentences to register. Spike was the first to react. "Take me to her."

Someone was trying to cut off Buffy's head and put it on a weird Frankenstein body? I wonder if she could still be turned? Angelus shook the thought. Maybe he'd test it out sometime, just to satisfy his own sadistic curiosity, but not now, and not on Buffy. He added it to his List of Things to Do Before the World Ends or I Get Dusted. For now he had to torment someone who made the mistake of targeting Buffy.