Rupert Giles bestowed upon Ethan Rayne's skull a classic Liverpool Kiss, the dull 'thuk!' of the vicious head-butt echoing in the costume shop salesroom, with the abrupt agony of this diverting Ethan's savage jab that would have crushed Giles' larynx, to instead glance off the side of the school librarian's throat.

Both of the combatants now reeled apart, groaning and clutching their hurts, but still holding each other's murderous gaze. As one, they both dropped their hands to hold them in half-closed fists ready for the next attack or defense, and both men started to circle in the middle of the room, sliding their feet in the mark of expert brawlers, ready to kick, knee, or stomp. Whatever it took to permanently put down their enemy.

"Getting tired, Ripper?" taunted Ethan. "Back in the old days, that would have meant an instant concussion for me. Now, I think after I've won, all I'll need is a few aspirin to clear up my mild headache."

Giles probably wouldn't have answered that. As noted by his former friend, back then the young Englishman had won his nickname because he preferred the old ultra-violence rather than talking his opponent to death. It was all moot anyway, as at that instant, the front door to the costume shop was kicked open in a thunderous crash.

Even during their lifetimes of witnessing the strangest events, the next few moments were rather bizarre for both Englishmen. Having two teenage boys, one in a blue shirt and the other in a red shirt, stride into the shop, with the first boy holding in his arms with perfect ease despite its evident weight a massive, cumbersome device that had an unmistakable gun barrel-type muzzle aimed with what could only be called worrying expertise at them both, abruptly sobered the older men from their homicidal thoughts about each other.

Splendidly rallying, Ethan turned to Giles, to sardonically ask, "Friends of yours?"

The Watcher just glowered at his former comrade, until a most unusual statement was heard by both, uttered by the young man in the blue shirt.

"Willow said to tell you we are indeed friends of the Scooby Gang."

Everyone in the shop had to then wait for a solid minute until Ethan's fit of howling laughter had ended, with the man himself doubled over in mirth, arms wrapped around his body, as he giggled, "Oh, young man, it was worth the whole night just for that!"

The grave teenager being addressed, whose weapon hadn't budged a centimeter from being pointed at the British pair, calmly answered, "It seems that you are indeed responsible for the events transpiring in this location that brought myself and others to this place. I must confess that your reasons for doing so do not seem to be logical, Mr. Ethan."

"His name's Ethan Rayne!" snarled Giles. "And he didn't have any reason for creating such chaos tonight, except for the sheer fun of it!"

"You really need any other incentive besides that?" Ethan's baffled features showed pure surprise, until his face lowered in a doleful look directed at the man besides him. Sadly shaking his head, the Chaos mage reproved Giles, "Ripper, you've become such a fuddy-duddy. This, from somebody who actually streaked the Queen's garden party!"

The embarrassed Watcher opened his lips to stutter his response to that, abruptly closing his mouth at someone's angry bark, "WHAT did he call you?!"

Both Ethan and Giles now stared at the last of the quartet in the room, the smaller teenager in the red shirt, who had a furious expression on his face, after demanding the answer to that question in a strong Scots accent.

"Ah…." Giles tried to think of any reason for that specific query, until he decided to simply tell the truth. "I was given that nickname in my youth, as a play on my first name of Rupert."

"Plus he laid open a lot of faces with a fistful of sharpened pennies between his fingers, producing enough gore that even old Jack himself would've been impressed," an unasked-for Ethan gleefully contributed.

"I'm no' an admirer of that butcher, or even anybody who thinks it's an honor to share his name, ye glaikit sumph," Scotty coldly informed the Sassenachs, his look of disgust clearly showing the insult was meant for them both.

Both of the Englishmen stared with honest bewilderment at the irate teenager glaring at them. It was the other young man, still holding his weapon on the older men, who broke the short silence with a calm question. "Mr. Giles, as per the telephone call you received from Cordelia Chase, have you made any progress on identifying and reversing the cause of tonight's turmoil?"

His head turning to give Ethan a ferocious look, Giles growled, "He admitted it, but we were in the middle of our discussion when you came in. I still have no idea how to do anything about it, but if you'll allow me to continue…." Giles' last threat trailed off in an angry rumble at the expression of mocking derision now on Ethan's face.

Observing this, Spock looked thoughtful, and said, "Mr. Scott, if you please," as the boy in the blue shirt stepped to one of the shop tables that had earlier been holding Halloween costumes. On this now bare table, the Vulcan placed his stun weapon, all the while keeping it aimed directly at Ethan, who despite himself allowed a flicker of apprehension to appear on his features.

As Spock stepped away from the phaser, Mr. Scott moved to stand in front of the table, his hand reaching out to rest on the weapon trigger. Ethan looked really nervous now, perhaps due to the obvious glint showing in the eye of the Scotsman raised on tales of Homildon Hill, Culloden, and centuries of punch-ups between supporters of Rangers F.C. and Man U.

"Please move away from him, Mr. Giles," politely commanded Spock, reaching for his tricorder in its carrying case at his side.

Looking both wary and puzzled, the Watcher backed up a few steps, and then he stopped, to observe the teenager with the pointed ears holding a small metal and plastic device that the young man was intently scrutinizing. After he touched several pads on the face of the device, the display light shining on the satanic features of the adolescent shifted, with the changing shadows on his face making him appear as a true Prince of Evil, perhaps Lucifer himself, who had heard the truly good news that a few more million souls were now in thrall to that demon.

In a composed tone, Commander Spock informed the room, "Perhaps that statue of Janus directly behind Mr. Rayne may have something to do with tonight's events."

For a second, everyone in the room froze. Then, Scotty, Giles, and Ethan all turned their heads to stare at the seemingly-innocent small bust of a double-headed Roman god, mixed expressions of curiosity, startlement, and apprehension on their faces. Spock was an exception, instead developing the faintest frown on his features, as he began to turn his head to look behind himself.

An unexpected blast of blue energy slammed into the Vulcan's body, making the science officer convulse as azure electricity crackled over all of his form, until the phaser bolt winked out and Commander Spock limply dropped to the floor, falling onto his tricorder as the teenager became totally unconscious.

The others were also affected by the stunning to various degrees, depending on how close they had been to Spock. In a daze, Scotty also fell to the shop floor, landing on his right side, and then rolling over onto his back. He managed to remain conscious, even if his limbs were no longer fully under his control. Desperately straining, the young man in the red shirt turned his head, his eyes widening at seeing their attacker, and the Scotsman bellowed in fury.


From where Giles and Ethan had reeled back against other tables in the costume shop, swaying, but still on their feet despite their entire bodies feeling numb from the effects of the phaser stun, the two Englishmen stared in utter bewilderment at the teenage stranger strutting into the shop, an evil smirk on the young man's face.

The new arrival stepped over Spock's comatose body and stopped by the table holding the phaser the Vulcan had placed there. Looking down at Scotty's furious face as the engineering officer struggled to throw off the lack of sensation in his arms and legs, this Mudd person was clearly enjoying how his helpless victim could barely move. The teenager standing over the other adolescent then slid his boot toe under the quivering torso of Scotty, and heaved with his foot, flipping over the body onto its face, with this muffling the sudden outburst of numerous Gaelic expletives.

"SHUT UP!" shouted Mudd, his jovial mood fading into real anger. He sneered at the young man on the floor, "You really thought I'd let you and pointy-ears do what you were planning? Maybe you actually believed you could send us back to our time and place just by flipping a switch? Well, unlike you and your fellow hero, I managed to think of what would happen if you did succeed in changing things back to normal here! We'd be gone! There's no guarantee our personalities would return to our real bodies in the future! Now, you and the Vulcan might really think committing the closest thing to suicide would be worth it, but Harcourt Fenton Mudd is going to live, you idiot, even if I have to spend my remaining years in this pesthole!" Harry finished his rant with a vicious kick into Scotty's ribs.

The victim of this grunted in agony, and a pained young voice that sounded totally unlike Scotty stuttered a name in an American accent, "W--w--warren?"

Mudd smirked, and placed his hand on the phaser resting on the table, as the pair of older men continued watching in complete disbelief all that was taking place. Ignoring them both, the teenager now idly caressing the weapon, boomed out in a gloating tone, "The young Mr. Mears and I have come to an arrangement. I will use my knowledge of future technology, helped with Mr. Spock's tricorder, to make him -- us -- rich and powerful beyond his wildest dreams. Actually, he'll then be able to fulfill ALL of his fantasies. What's it to me if some primitive females don't care for his actions? We'll both have a most enjoyable time, anyway." A cruel look now appeared on the young man's face, as an amoral confidence man and a budding sociopath finally concluded a mutual agreement in a merging of their personalities that would almost certainly lead to blood and pain for uncounted others.

A rasping chuckle came from Ethan Rayne, causing the teenager standing by the futuristic weapon to snap his head over to stare fixedly at the Chaos mage. Ignoring the menacing look on the younger man's face, Ethan chortled, "Isn't it lovely when a lad has an impressive goal in life? Congratulations on your new career, young man. Now, if you'll just excuse me…." Ethan started to casually edge to the side as his voice trailed off, only for him to abruptly stop at a most heart-freezing sound.

Click. Click.

The teenager standing in front of the weapon on the table had turned a dial on this device through two positions, until it was at the furthest right point. Neither of the two Englishmen standing in front of the phaser had any idea of what had been done, but they suspected it wouldn't be good news for them. The wheezing gasp of sheer shock coming from the teenager on the floor of, "Have ye gone daft, ye numpty?! Put that back tae what it was before!" only increased their apprehension. The number of teeth shown to the pair in a mirthless grin by Harry Mudd didn't help, either.

"Spock identified that small statue behind you as having something to do with this all. I want to know exactly how I got here, how you did it, how I can control it, how I can keep others from interfering with it. In short, everything. Or else." This was delivered in a tone of absolute menace by the young man.

Giles and Ethan simultaneously glanced at each other in shared alarm. The Watcher's unease rose to new levels at seeing his former friend's worried look abruptly change to sadistic glee, as Ethan glanced back at the man called Harry Mudd, who had his finger ready on the trigger. A mad smile on his face, Ethan snickered, "Why don't you show us how serious you are? Shoot him." The mage nodded his head at Giles after those last words.

Harry Mudd only looked over at Rupert Giles in mild disgust, and chillingly shrugged, as he said, "He doesn't mean anything to me. You, on the other hand….if you don't give me some kind of reason right now to keep you alive, I'm going to shoot you both!" The look on Harry/Warren's face then was insane enough to actually rock Ethan back on his heels. The startled look on the Chaos mage's features now changed to an actual pout as he reluctantly decided it was best to follow orders.

Grumbling, Ethan carefully turned around, keeping his movements slow, and lifted the Janus statue off from the table where it was resting. Holding it in both hands in front of his chest, the Englishman returned to facing Harry Mudd, only now there was a more confident look on Ethan's face. Speaking calmly, he said, "This is imbued with Chaos magic, that I also put into the costumes I sold in this shop. That caused the wearers of those costumes to change into whatever they were wearing, which is why you came here, from where you were before tonight. To end the spell, all that needs to be done is to destroy this statue, which is quite fragile. Oh, by the way, if you shoot me right now, you'll break the spell and vanish! So, what are you going to do, lad? Mmmmm?"

Ethan's maniac laughter now rang throughout the costume shop, as he gloried in the Mexican standoff.

Every one of those on their feet, and even Mr. Scott on the floor, were immobile as they all considered this new situation. This was changed by an absolutely unforeseen incident that changed everything in the next few instants.


A shriek of pure anger came from the intangible figure easily passing through everything in the shop -- the walls, tables, Rupert Giles -- in its furious rush directly towards the teenager behind the phaser. Clad in a pure white sheet with blank features, except for eyeholes, its arms were held out forward at shoulder level, hands and fingers clutching as they prepared to seize their frightened prey. Willow's unthinking charge, caused by her sudden rage at Warren's treacherous acts clearly evident when she'd poked her head into the shop to see why he'd left the girls outside to push his phaser into the wrecked front entrance of the shop and fire into the room, now started a sequence of events that would end in serious consequences.

Mr. Scott, having regained some mobility, lashed out with a foot to kick Warren's ankle --

Ethan Rayne, still holding the Janus statue, took a quick step away from the phaser --

Rupert Giles lunged towards what Ethan was holding, his arms outstretched to knock the bust to the floor --

Willow was now only a few steps away from Warren and coming on strong, still enraged --

An absolutely terrified Warren Mears, now at this instant fully in control of his body, smashed his hand with all his force against the trigger of the phaser, just before Scotty's kick would have landed --

This jury-rigged phaser, the first one created by the engineering officer in the hardware store several hours ago before he had gone on to create better constructed others, had been selected by Mr. Spock for his personal use due to the fact that it was too dangerous for anyone else to employ, as it required the Vulcan's most careful touch with the controls on their lowest setting. Any rough use or handling accompanied by misalignment of the weapon's mechanisms, by mistake or intention, risked the release of massive amounts of energy in a manner possibly deleterious to those persons in the immediate vicinity.

In short, it could easily blow up.

Which was exactly what happened.

An enormous ball of pure blue energy erupted from the suddenly-shattered remains of the phaser, no longer contained or restrained. Most of this energy burst backwards, to engulf and incinerate the teenager standing behind the weapon, killing both Warren Mears and Harry Mudd before both even knew they were dead. The charred corpse still stood upright in front of someone who in another universe had lost her dearest love at the hands of this sociopath. Not that Willow knew this, or even had time to respond to this in her rush, as things were still happened too fast for ordinary humans to react.

Another spike of dangerous blue energy had burst from the front of the destroyed phaser. No one would ever know why this spike moved in its exact course as it did, though it might have had something to do with chaos this night. Regardless, the energy spear shot directly at the bust of Janus in Ethan's hands, striking it precisely on the forehead of the carved piece of stone facing the weapon, and shattering it into innumerable pieces.

Ethan also had no time to react to this, as one specific golf ball-sized piece from the broken bust of Janus had shot straight up at blurring speed, to catch the Englishman under the chin, easily penetrating flesh and bone in its upward course, to emerge in a spray of blood and liquefied brain tissue from the top of Ethan's skull. Again, all this had happened too fast for the Chaos mage to know his life was ended, or to even be amused by his manner of passing.

Things weren't over yet.

Just right before Ethan Rayne died, a second piece of the Janus statue had been blasted away, to unerringly strike Rupert Giles on his right arm. This stone fragment, still containing within itself Chaos magic, was the size and rough shape of an axe blade, and in the manner of that chopping weapon, it tore through the flesh of that limb, amputating it just as easily as any metallic flat head with an edge attached to a wooden handle could have done. Giles was hurled away from his lunge towards Ethan, spinning around and spraying blood throughout the room from his new stump, all too fast for him to understand what had happened, or to even feel pain, before he collapsed to the floor and passed out.

As blood from an unconscious Englishman pooled onto the costume shop floor, in a land far away, in its most recently acquired human form, a demon called Eyghon screamed in absolute agony in its hotel room, clutching its right arm at the exact place where a fragment of stone permeated with enchantment had just ripped right through a magical tattoo a British teenager had once been stupid enough to acquire, at the same moment his friend, then present at the time of the tattoo being applied and who also had gotten an identical one of his own, had been promptly killed by another piece of the same rock. This demon, who had no idea that right now in another dimension a god of gates, doors, doorways, beginning and endings was laughing his insubstantial ass off, slumped over dead in his chair, exposing for a moment the round hole in the top of his head, just before his body began to dissolve into unidentifiable demonic goo.

Willow Rosenberg knew nothing of any of this. A still form lying on the porch of a house in suburban Sunnydale suddenly sat up with a top-of-her-lungs shriek. Scrambling to her feet, Willow frantically tore off her ghost costume, throwing this to the floor of the porch, and backed up until she collided with the outer wall of the house. Hugging herself in her sexy clothing and shuddering so hard she could barely keep her feet, Willow sobbed, looking unseeingly in front herself. She didn't know how long she did this, but eventually, her sobs trailed off into gasps, and then deep breathing, until Willow finally regained her wits. Somewhat.

"BUFFY! GILES! MR. SPOCK! SCOTTY!" screamed the redhead girl, spinning around and then realizing she was back at the place where it had all started for her on this Halloween night. Somehow, she'd been sent from the costume shop, where something had happened…..? Willow choked, memories flashing in her head of Warren standing over still forms and holding two other men at bay with his phaser, her running at that bastard, and… light?

Desperate to find out what had happened to her friends, the girl raced off the porch, through the front yard of the house, and into the street, right into the path of a beat-up van that slammed on its brakes in an ear-splitting screech of stressed metal and skidding tire rubber in an effort to avoid colliding with a young woman standing in the middle of the road and waving her arms. The enclosed motor vehicle came to a shuddering stop just a foot from the body of the teenager, who ignored her close call to run around to the passenger side of the car.

Pulling the right-side door open, Willow leapt into the passenger seat, slammed her door shut, and turning to the startled driver, she reached out to grab his 'Dingoes Ate My Baby' t-shirt, yanked him to her, and screamed in his face, "DRIVE TO DOWNTOWN! NOW! NOW! NOW!"

As Willow let go, the guy her age with spiky blue hair fell back, his eyes widening a little, as he turned to face the steering wheel, taking his foot off the brake to stomp on the gas pedal. The van peeled rubber, and shot forward, sending both occupants of the vehicle slamming back in their seats. As the van rushed down the street at well past the speed limit, a fingernail-gnawing Willow heard a polite question in a composed voice from the driver's seat, "Uh, exactly where are we supposed to go downtown?"

Anxiously peering straight ahead, Willow absently muttered, "Second and Broadway, and hurry up!"

The engine of the van howled, as more power was applied, and the young man ignored blasting past a stop sign, to instead glance out of the corner of his eye at the seriously-hot chick with red hair sharing his van. Okay, she was clearly insane, but considering how she was dressed, who cared?

Cordelia Chase had her own problems. It had all started going wrong a few minutes ago, just after Mr. Spock and Scotty had entered the costume shop. Right after that, without saying a word, Harry Mudd had pushed his own shopping cart containing his phaser towards the shop, ignoring the calls sent after him by Willow and herself. Buffy -- or Madelaine, as she called herself, just looked bewildered and about to burst into tears, as usual. Staring uncertainly at each other, and then worriedly around themselves in the Sunnydale night, the high-school girls had huddled by Scotty's shopping cart.

"What's going on?" hissed Willow. "Did anybody say he was going in there too?" The redhead nodded at where Harry had stopped in front of the kicked-open door, with the teenage boy clearly listening intently to whatever was being said in the shop.

Cordelia snapped, "I don't know! You think I even got near him again after what happened?" The brunette girl glowered at the smartest student in Sunnydale High, who was looking like someone had stolen her answers to the calculus quiz. As Willow opened her mouth to say something, she was interrupted.

Blue light again flashed through the streets of Sunnydale, as Harry Mudd fired a phaser bolt into the costume shop. As all three of the girls gaped in sheer shock at this, they watched the boy then walk into the store in a triumphant strut.

"What….why…." gabbled Willow, her sentiments shared exactly with Cordelia, who was also unable to understand what the hell was going on. Madelaine just pressed closer to the other two girls, at least until Willow started jogging across the street towards the costume shop, causing Queen C to become seriously pissed, as indicated by her screaming after the redhead girl.


Willow called back over her shoulder, still heading for the store, "I'm going in there! You stay out here, and protect Buffy!"

Cordelia was about to blow her top, until she suddenly realized that one, nothing could hurt Willow's ghostly form, and two, Mr. Chase's daughter was the only one who could operate Scotty's phaser if they were attacked by any of the monsters roaming around town tonight. The brunette made a growling sound, as Cordelia realized she was stuck with dumb-Buffy. Glaring at the frightened girl in the ornate gown, the head cheerleader of the town's high school angrily stalked over to the shopping cart and peered at the crude weapon that the possessed teenager had shown her how to operate while they had been walking here. Satisfied she could use it, Cordelia straightened up, almost bumping into Buffy, who had crowded after her. The girl in the ragged cat costume finally lost her temper then, yelling at the French girl, "Will you-"


The entire face of the costume shop glowed with a blue light, and then all the front windows blew out, spraying glass almost to where the pair of girls were standing. Well, one of them was standing. The other girl had suddenly dropped to her knees, shrieking in agony, as she clapped her hands to her head, to pull off her dark wig. Buffy Summers then fell forward onto the asphalt of the street, lying prone as she wailed, "ANGEL! ANGEL!" as her body was wracked with heaving sobs.

Cordelia stared in horror at what had happened to Buffy, and then she frantically looked at the costume shop, only for her terror to increase, as the brunette girl saw flames appearing inside the costume shop, easily discernable through the destroyed front windows. Cordelia dropped to Buffy's side and grabbed the blonde's shoulder, yanking her up to scream into her face, "BUFFY! There's a fire in there! We have to do something!"

Buffy barely registered this. All the experience of being a helpless human girl brought out of her own era into a terrifying place and time, in a land where monsters and demons really existed to attack those who were defenseless, had just crashed into her mind in an overpowering rush of memories. Accompanied by this was the abrupt return of the Slayer Spirit, itself a staggering occurrence of sensations and feelings of being more than human, that was well over ten times worse than what had happened to her consciousness when she'd first been Called years ago.

Finally, there was the event that was the most traumatizing of all what had occurred to her this Halloween night: witnessing the end of Angel, her dearly beloved, and knowing she had caused that tragedy. It didn't matter to Buffy at all that her body had been under another's control at the time, and that person had actually been the one to distract Angel during his battle with the demon that had finished with the vampire being staked. The Slayer screamed in anguish, and weeping bitterly, she blindly flailed away at the other girl shaking her and shouting ignored words.

Buffy's careless sweep of her arm just barely connected with Cordelia's side, which meant that instead of caving in her ribs, rupturing her internal organs, and breaking her spine, the brunette was slammed back hard against the street asphalt with serious bruises and the breath smashed out of her. Stunned, Cordelia struggled to draw in air and she managed to stagger to her feet. Looking down in utter rage at the blonde girl sobbing on the street, the young woman in the expensive cat costume whirled around, and lurched towards the shop with flames flickering out of the empty windows.

Stopping at the shop entrance and looking into what seemed the foyer to Hell, Cordelia felt absolute terror in every bit of her whole body, but she took a deep breath, and crouching, she slipped past the shopping cart into a room containing savage heat, blinding smoke, and roaring flames of a fire that was steadily consuming the entire building.

Just a couple of steps inside, Cordelia tripped over a body and fell onto the floor. It was a bit cooler there and with better air, but the girl forgot that as she twisted around and screamed at the sight of the charred husk of a young man lying just a few feet away from her.

"Miss Chase! Miss Chase!"

Cordelia rolled over on the floor and stared across the room, where a few yards away, a teenage boy was huddling against a limp older man lying on his back. Cordelia's eyes darted to where the young man had his right hand pressing a clump of red-stained fabric from a costume against…. The girl just barely kept from vomiting at the sight of Giles' stump where Scotty was trying to staunch the bleeding. Her attention was drawn back by the engineer's shout.

"Lassie, get Spock out of here!" He pointed with his left hand at where the Vulcan was on the floor, still unconscious. "I cannae do it, else this one will bleed out! Please, Miss Chase!"

Cordelia jerkily nodded, coming to her feet and then crouching over after a fit of coughing from bringing her head up into the deadly atmosphere of smoke and hot gases higher up in the room, she scrambled over to the science officer. Bending down and putting her hands under his shoulders to grab him by his arms, the tall girl shuffled backwards, pulling the insensible boy after her along the growing-hot floor, ignoring the small box that was left behind. During all this, Cordelia had no time to wonder why Mr. Scott had been speaking in his native accent and then suddenly sounding like an American boy.

After a terrifying journey to the front door, Cordelia managed to get Spock outside and far enough to what was hopefully a safe place in the middle of the street. She dropped him, to gasp for fresh air, ignoring the blond girl still absorbed in her grief on the other side of the street. Then, Cordelia ran right again for the front entrance of the costume shop.

Spike couldn't believe his luck.

The blonde vampire had been following the group for the last few minutes, his fervent desire to attack the Slayer warring with his caution about getting close to those people using strange weapons of blue light that had easily brought down some of the most powerful demons of Sunnydale. It might have been different if he'd had his gang of minions around him, but Spike had sent them off earlier to search the town for his quarry, only to find her right at this moment having a conniption fit in the middle of a roadway. She was wailing something about the poofter, but William the Bloody didn't give a tinker's damn about all that. What mattered now was everyone else was occupied with the dog's breakfast in that conflagration, leaving Buffy Summers totally unprotected and vulnerable.

Spike acted instantly on his murderous impulses, racing from the alleyway he'd been lurking to where Buffy was lying on the ground. He made it all the way to the young girl before she even reacted, his dive onto her body smashing the breath out of Buffy and giving him time to put her in an unbreakable clutch that rendered the Slayer totally helpless.

"Hey, love, fancy meetin' you here," sadistically chuckled Spike in full game face just a few inches from Buffy's terrified features, her tear-stained cheeks giving him a wonderful idea. Spike stuck out his tongue and bent down to lick the girl's tears off her face, enjoying how this made her shudder, and also the exquisite taste of her grief. Grinning at Buffy, Spike informed her what was going to happen next.

"Well, pet, I'm not a fan of the wham-bam-murder-you-ma'am school, but there's no time to drag this out. Breaks the cockles of me heart, it does, but I'll just have to be satisfied with drainin' you dry. Sláinte, Slayer!" Spike then lunged his upper body toward the girl's throat, about to bury his fangs into Buffy.

Cordelia had missed all this. She'd once again entered the costume shop, to find out it was even more frightening with the increased flames, smoke, and deadly gases. A single breath of this caused her to drop to lie on the floor, coughing fiercely, and then to crawl along it to find her companions. Barely able to see in the drifting smoke almost down to the floor, despite the flames burning around her, Cordelia frantically crept along the floor, until she almost collided with two people.

Scotty had still kept his right hand pressed against Giles' stump, but he'd shifted around to grip the collar of the man's tweed jacket with his left hand, and started shoving with his feet to cause them both to inch towards the front entrance. Also coughing fiercely, the engineering officer managed a weak grin when Cordelia showed up and also grabbed Giles. As they both pulled him along, they were making progress in their escape, until a crashing noise from above drew both of the young peoples' attention.

One of the shop shelves being consumed in the blaze, had finally weakened and collapsed, to come falling down right at the trio, weighty enough for gravity to turn it into a severe danger, even without the shelf still merrily burning.

Without even thinking about it, Cordelia threw her body over Giles just before feeling the wooden debris smash into her head and other parts of her form. The girl was nearly battered unconscious at the blow, even the streak of fiery pain along the side of her head and down her face barely registering. Cordelia's stupor caused her to pay no heed to how Scotty next to her had his eyes widen in horror, with the boy then pulling away the blood-sodden heap of rags in his right hand from Giles' stump, to clap this against the side of Cordelia's face, the sickening smell of scorched flesh and burned hair not making the slightest impression on the girl beginning to pass out.

During her descent into unconsciousness, Cordelia also ignored her and Giles being both urgently dragged out by a sobbing boy, and his words of "Miss Chase! Lassie! Miss Chase, Cordelia, please don't die!"

Spike ignored the trio coming out of the blazing building. He had more serious problems.

His fangs were actually making a dimple in the flesh of Buffy's throat, but they weren't going further in to break the skin, rip into blood vessels, and drink the glorious fluid of the Slayer. At this exact moment, he….could….not….move. Spike's body was totally frozen, every muscle unresponsive, his now-panicking demon mind unable to make his corpse accomplish the slightest action.

Someone else was in control of the body of Spike the vampire, as next demonstrated by the actions of that seriously-alarmed demon. Spike lifted his fangs from Buffy's throat, gently let go of his grip, and ignoring how the girl promptly scrambled back out of his grasp along the ground, the vampire stood up to stand at attention, staring blankly ahead. All the time, the demon that had taken over the body of a young Englishman over a century ago was frantically and uselessly trying to take back control of his form.

Buffy Summers stared up at Spike in total bewilderment. Still lying on her back on the street asphalt, the Slayer gaped at the vampire standing before her with his arms at his side and a slack expression on his face. He was as still as a statue, and the young girl had no idea why.

Scraping sounds coming from further down the street caused Buffy to tear her attention away from Spike and glance at where this distraction was happening. Buffy's astonishment further increased at seeing street manholes being pushed aside from below, and forms coming out from the sewers, to stand still in the street in identical postures as the blonde vampire. The Slayer senses possessed by Buffy informed the girl that the newcomers were also demons, though the game faces of many of these vampires would have been enough to tell her that.

As Buffy shakily sat up, more noises of opening doors and footsteps resounded throughout the street, almost drowning out the roar and crackle of the burning building behind her. Buffy finally got to her feet, gaping around herself, as the entire street began to fill with demons and otherworldly creatures, all of these not paying the slightest attention to the Slayer, but instead walking, crawling, lurching, oozing, and otherwise moving to the middle of the roadway, to at last stand totally motionless there.

In the next instant, a massive wave of pure thought blasted into Buffy's mind, causing her to convulse and barely stay upright on her dainty dancing slippers, with this abruptly conveyed message from an unknown sender ignoring all her uncertainty and indecision over all of this night's events, and giving her a clear and unmistakable command:

*Slayer, SLAY!*

Staring straight ahead, Spike was still distracted from madly trying to get back control of his body at seeing Buffy Summers standing before him shuddering, swaying, and then standing upright again, as the young girl's pretty face turned into a savage mask of pure rage and bloodlust. As the girl leapt right at Spike, to land in front of him, gripping his neck in both hands and pulling with all her Slayer strength to rip his head off his corpse, he who had once been William the Bloody, part of the Scourge of Europe, had time for one last thought before becoming ash in the wind.

*Oh, bug--*