"Oi, you lot. Hold up."

The gang of unearthly creatures following the blond vampire obediently came to a halt, with several demons and vampires giving each other snarls and growls for daring to invade their personal space. Spike paid no attention to this. Instead, he was looking further up the street where two people had come out of a side street without noticing their watcher, and this pair was now unconcernedly walking away from the group.

*It's the whelp and his new bint, out prancing tonight like it's bleedin' Hyde Park. Time for a quick snack, then we keep looking for the Slayer. Maybe we'll bring along both of their heads so she can see her dead friends before she dies screaming.*

The vampire sadistically chuckled, which made several of the fledglings hastily elbow each other and join in, though their laughter was mostly confused, as they had no idea what they were supposed to be happy about. Spike rolled his eyes. *Minions. Is it me, or are they making them dumber every decade?*

He glared at his followers, which quickly shut them up. Nobody wanted to piss off a vampire who'd killed two Slayers and intended to complete the hat trick this very Halloween night. Satisfied, William the Bloody jerked his head at where the two teenagers were still walking up the street, and growled, "First we eat them, then we go for the main course: Buffy Summers. You lot can wear her down, but it's me that's going to finish her off, hear? Right then, let's go after them."

At that, Spike turned around and started striding after the Slayer's friends. After a few steps, the British vampire came to an abrupt halt, standing stock-still for a few moments, before slowly swiveling around to stare expressionlessly at his underlings, who had also stumbled to a stop, standing in a group and beginning to shuffle their feet sheepishly under their leader's unblinking gaze.

In an absolutely even tone, Spike inquired, "Is there some peculiar American reason why a few seconds ago every one of you blokes started snapping your fingers and singing doo-wop?"

The entire group of minions looked down at their fingers, which were indeed in the proper position to provide a beat, and shamefacedly looked back up again. Several of the demons even furtively hid their hands behind their backs.

One of the older fledglings, who was as close to being a second-in-command that Spike would allow, said uneasily, "Uh, it just seemed like a good idea at the time--"

"Well, it wasn't!" snarled a particularly ticked-off Englishman. "Honestly, I don't care how many movies that sawed-off Cruise chappie makes, real vampires don't chase their prey accompanied by a musical number! Now shut your cakeholes and come on!"

At that, Spike spun around and started walking briskly, with his underlings falling over themselves to scramble after, and all of these lesser demons glad to no longer be under a truly murderous gaze. Indeed, the blond vampire still had on his face an extremely ferocious expression as he went down the sidewalk, though it was mostly due to him biting his tongue to take his mind off the urge to start humming, "With cat-like tread…."

Spike HATED Halloween.

After a few blocks, the suspicious part of Spike's mind that had kept him alive -- er, existing -- for over a century was now loudly calling for attention. The group of demons he was leading had now almost caught up unnoticed with the Slayer's friend and his girlfriend. That relationship was easy enough to perceive, with them holding hands and all that, but even with the pair acting so lovey-dovey with each other, surely they had to realize the danger they were in by walking the streets of Sunnydale at night.

Xander Harris hadn't ever acted so truly idiotically like this before, in Spike's experience.

The blond vampire was beginning to warily shoot glances around, wondering if the news about the Slayer losing her powers had been a lie or some sort of trick, and whether it was possible they were all walking into a trap. At that instant, when Spike's paranoia had reached its peak, the two teenagers finally looked behind themselves.

A pair of identical screams of fear split the air, as Xander and the girl by his side broke into a full run into a side alley, their faces having looks of pure terror as they disappeared out of sight down the passageway.

One of the youngest fledglings howled in hungry glee and dashed after, coming to an unexpected stop when Spike casually stuck out his arm and clotheslined the unfortunate demon, sending it slamming to the ground onto its back.

"Did I tell you to go after them, you stupid wanker?" This was clearly a rhetorical question, as the vicious kick to the fledgling's crotch delivered by Spike brought forth an agonized scream rather than any comprehensible answer.

Ignoring his minion writhing on the sidewalk, the British vampire turned to the rest of his gang and growled, "Those Happy Meals went into a dead end. There's nothing in there but a vacant lot with warehouses around, with no way out. Now, when we go in, I want the lot of you to spread out, in a line across the entire alley, so they can't possibly escape. Right, let's move!"

The demons did as Spike commanded, with that vampire himself staying in the middle of the line and hanging back a step. If his gang was too stupid to recognize this meant anybody attacking them would have to go through the underlings first before the Slayer or anybody else could confront Spike, that was their problem. He wasn't their bleedin' mother.

However, the entire group of vampires and other demons reached the end of the cul-de-sac without any incident, with Spike perking up at the coming opportunity for blood and terror provided by the cowering pair awaiting them. The two teenagers were standing with their backs pressed against some kind of hedge or wall of shrubbery a dozen feet high and stretching across the entire vacant lot, as if they were trying to force themselves deeper into the vegetation in a vain attempt at escape or shelter.

Spike didn't give the slightest thought to the new undergrowth that had clearly taken over the vacant lot since the last time he'd been there. Instead, he just smirked, and swaggered ahead of the line of monsters staring hungrily at their victims. The Englishman opened his mouth to deliver one of his trademark jovial threats, but he never got to convey this.

In an enthusiastic vocal rumble that actually made the ground shiver, a growling voice spoke with great good humor, "Well, don't you all look positively yummy!"

Spike stared in disbelief at Xander and the young woman next to him. Neither of these teenagers had said that; instead, they stepped away from the hedge and just looked back at Spike, with growing nasty grins appearing on the pairs' faces.

A flicker of motion appeared at the top of Spike's eyesight, and he jerked up his gaze at this, and the vampire's jaw dropped open in total astonishment.

Lifting itself with ease over the top of the hedge, the crown of a massive plant showed itself. At the end of a snaky length of a yard-wide stalk, the head of something that resembled a misshapen tulip bulb, if tulip bulbs were the size of a Volkswagen, swung itself back and forth, clearly examining all of the beings standing frozen before the monstrous vegetable.

Spike's survival instincts were just about to kick into gear, but the plant moved too fast for that. Dropping its head over the hedge, which was now shown to be part of itself, the plant stopped the fall of the top part of its body right in front of Spike, as filaments around what was clearly its mouth writhed into what was clearly the nastiest grin of all, as the green monster's mouth opened to gleefully shout right in Spike's face, "DINNER TIME!"

From the wall of shrubbery, dozens of tendrils burst out, ranging in size at their base to the thickness of telephone poles and narrowing to their ends to the width of human fingers. Like these digits, the tendrils were clearly for manipulative activity, which was promptly demonstrated by all of the vines now swiftly reaching out for and then wrapping around every one of the demons in the alley, pinning the arms of these creatures to their sides and then effortlessly lifting them off the ground, as more tendrils came out of the shrubbery to seize the kicking legs and restrain them. These cocooned demons hanging in the grip of the tendrils were then slowly pulled towards the shrubbery wall.

We said every one of the demons, didn't we? Well, there was one exception. Just after Spike had been informed what occasion it was, the enormous plant's mouth had gaped open to its full extent, giving William the Bloody his very last chance to look at anything at all in this world.

He saw teeth.

Big ones.

Very sharp.

Lots of them.

At extremely close range.

Several minutes later, Seymour/Xander and Audrey/Harmony held hands and watched intently as two small demons stopped their fruitless struggles, with vines firmly tightening around them. They were being held in front of the left side of the wall of the hedge. The other demons, who had been gang members led by the now-destroyed vampire, had disappeared into another part of the shrubbery, pulled completely out of sight.

Audrey anxiously spoke, "Be careful of them, won't you?"

The plant monster had been idly watching what it was doing to the small beings that were easily identifiable to its plant senses as being human adolescents, even if they looked like what the guy standing before him had described as demons. Now, the head of that vegetable creature swung to look at the blonde girl having concern on her face. A sardonic smile appeared on the plant's lips, as it breezily spoke.

"Reeeelax, baby doll. They're safe and sound, just like the rest of 'em."

A rustling sound went through the air, as the wall of shrubbery in front of the captives parted, showing at least a dozen other small demons being held in the air that began to unsuccessfully jerk and kick in their own restraining vine cocoons. The tendrils now holding the most recent prisoners pulled them to join the others, and the shrubbery again closed, cutting off from the two humans' sight those children who had been turned into demons and other monsters on this Halloween night by their costumes that had been purchased from a Chaos magician with a really malicious sense of humor.

Glaring at an innocent-looking hedge that showed no sign it was the hiding place of a vicious creature who wanted to bring doom to the world, Seymour threatened, "If any of those kids are hurt, I'm gonna come back with a chainsaw and flamethrower!"

Audrey II somehow managed to put a offended look on its face -- um, front part of its head -- as it reminded the young man, "Hey, bucko, you're the one who came up with the idea of me keeping' 'em safe."

"Safe. Right." In his late-fifties-style costume of Seymour Krelborn from the 1986 movie Little Shop of Horrors, also purchased at Ethan Rayne's costume shop, Xander rolled his eyes and pulled off his now-real eyeglasses to rub his face with his other hand. Both of the personalities now sharing the body of the Sunnydale native struggled with immense frustration that resulted in the young man glowering right at Audrey II. "Just what you're doing to them now is going to traumatize them for life! If there had been any other way to get them off the streets and away from the other monsters -- YOU included! -- I'd have taken it! I really am serious! You take a single drop of blood from them, and I WILL find a way to….what?"

Both Audreys looked in puzzlement at the teenager who had abruptly stopped talking, to stand there with his head cocked to the side as if listening to someone. An evil grin slowly grew on the boy's face, as he again looked at the plant monster, with that creature now warily watching the confident look on the male's features, as the human snickered, "Do the words 'Vietnam' and 'Agent Orange' mean anything to you, big guy?"

Audrey II hesitated at Seymour's -- Xander's -- whoever's -- sudden cockiness, before coolly replying, "Nope, and I don't care. Look, I have absolutely NO reason to take the slightest sip of blood from any of them, and you know why."

At this, the plant received full-bore looks of cynicism from all four personalities present in two bodies.

Audrey II brought up its tendrils to just below the bottom of its head to perform a shrug to make an Armenian envious, and said with total exasperation in its voice, "Listen, let me put it this way. If, for the first time in your life, you had Lobster Thermidor, would you WANT to go back to eating gruel for the rest of your existence? Now that I've had demon blood, to me, humans have dishwater in their veins. I mean, you just can't believe the taste, the flavors….YOWZAH!"

Following that last happy exclamation, Audrey II tilted its head up to the sky and let loose a thunderous belch that actually made small pebbles bounce up from the ground in the alley.

Both Xander and Harmony and their new neighbors in their heads took this opportunity to share a silent glance that clearly expressed their wish for Giles to complete his promised 'sorting out Ethan the arsehole as quickly as possible especially concerning who you're with, and I liked the black-and-white movie better, mind you -- all right, all right, I'm off!' when they'd managed a private telephone call to him about the what, why, how, when, and who.

Above them, the plant monster was also taking the chance of the others' inattention as it unsuccessfully tried again to send out shoots of itself outside the Sunnydale city limits. Just like the other attempts, these new plant growths promptly died when they left the Hellmouth area, leaving Audrey II thinking, *Drat. Well, if I gotta be stuck here, I'm gonna eat my fill.*

The head of the creature from outer space came down at the humans' eye level, as the creature said in a cold tone most unlike its usual jovial rumble, "I'm feelin' peckish again. Time for you to do your job, luring other demons here. And try for more variety, okay? Maybe something with scales. I'm feelin' the need for fiber."

Both Xander and Harmony grimaced at this, but they reluctantly turned to leave the alley to play bait again. After a few steps, the boy looked in surprise at the girl stopping and turning around to walk back and stand again before the plant monster, whose head was beginning to disappear back down behind the shrubbery wall. Xander had worriedly followed his girlfriend, who said hesitantly, "Um, Audrey II, I've got a question."

Now really alarmed, Xander hissed out of the corner of his mouth, "Harmony, ix-nay on alking-tay to the onster-may!"

The plant's head had popped back up again, and it was interestedly watching the two nervous teenagers standing before it, as it amiably rumbled, "She can ask what she wants, Seymour or whatever you're calling yourself. Maybe….upid-stay?"

Over Audrey II's sniggering, Harmony cleared her throat, and waved at the dust pile that was the remains of Spike the vampire. "You eat demons, I get that. But…why vampires? I mean, they just turn to dust, right?"

Xander closed his eyes in pain as the head of the plant monster tilted in amusement shown equally in its tone of voice as it answered, "What, you don't want me to?"

"No!" hurriedly said Harmony. "I'm sorry, I just didn't ask it right. Never mind, we'll go now…." She and Xander nervously backed up and prepared to leave, only to apprehensively stop at Audrey II's chuckling.

"That's okay, blondie. While I don't eat vampires, 'cause as you said, they turn into dust when I chomp on 'em, it doesn't mean they aren't consumed."

Both of the teenagers managed a simultaneous confused, "Huh?"

There was a loud crunching noise as the bottom of the wall of shrubbery rose like an opening movie curtain. Xander and Harmony could now see through the present gap to where a massive trunk sank its taproot into the bare ground of the vacant lot. Two leafy tendrils promptly shot out from under the raised shrubbery to reach the dust pile of a former Billy Idol double. These tendrils ended in broad leaves which moved briskly in sweeping up the vampire's ashes to deposit these on a large flattened leaf a few feet back on one tendril.

Fascinated, the teenagers watched the tendrils slide back into the shrubbery, the vine carrying the ashes moving gingerly as not to spill any dust, until it reached the trunk and then the leaf with the ashes flipped over to deposit the remains of Spike the vampire onto the ground next to the trunk. As a tendril began to mix the ashes into the soil, Audrey II gleefully spoke the eulogy for the blond member of the Scourge of Europe.

"I'm telling' ya, vampire dust makes numero uno, Grade A, absolutely perfect compost!"