Chapter One

Buffy was dreaming. She was floating just below the ceiling in the school basement, looking down on the seal. Angel and Andrew were standing together, also looking down on all that stood between the world and the mouth of hell.

It was a strange, unnatural scene, made more so by Andrew's state of undress - his shirt was off and he glanced up at Angel with a look of sexual hunger.

Abruptly, Angel grabbed Andrew, spun him so he hung over the seal and swiftly drew a knife up his abdomen from his waist to his breast bone, gutting him.

Andrew opened his mouth, clearly screaming but Buffy could hear nothing. Angel propelled Andrew forward onto the seal, face down in the steaming, bloody pile of his own viscera. He lay still. The points of the seal flipped up, giving a horrid semblance of life to Andrew's body, as it shifted with the seal's movements. The opening descended, taking the body with it.

Angel strode down the revealed steps, ignoring the bloody mess beneath his feet. When he reached the bottom, he pulled a necklace from his pocket and slipped the chain over his head. Buffy, looked down on him, feeling the hair stand up on the back of her neck at the look on Angel's face. She had never seen such a look of pure, ice cold hatred; not even when he was Angelus. The large, gaudy crystal around his neck, began to glow. Dazzling light spun out in all directions from the faceted stone and somehow, Buffy knew, all the Turok-Han were dusted.

She watched in fascination as Angel went up in a column of flames; not a normal dusting but a slow stripping of layers until he was no more. His voice reverberated inside her head.

"I know what Spike did to you, Buffy."

Buffy opened her eyes to find a beautiful pair of blue ones gazing into hers.

"Dreaming pet?"

"Yeah."

"Angel and Andrew?"

"Yeah, you too?"

"Yeah." Spike tightened his hold on her. "Little ponce had it coming."

"I guess. It's already happened? Usually I dream stuff before…"

"He's my grand-sire, pet; I felt him dust."

"It's weird, Angel killing like that without losing his soul, first."

"How do you know he hadn't?"

"Angelus would never sacrifice himself to dust a load of potential allies."

"True. You OK?"

"About what?"

"Angel."

"What, him dying? Yeah."

"You don't have to pretend, for me, kitten."

"I'm really not. It's all so distant….it's like if I heard my dad had died. Sure I'd be sad but I've not seen him for so long, he's not a part of my life and, to be honest, he's an arsehole….Angel? Same thing. The last few years, we've hardly seen each other and when we did, it's been disastrous. He leaves me 'for my own good' then comes back to interfere with my life, harbour my enemies, beat up my boyfriend… The last time I saw him, was just after Willow brought me back. He was glad I wasn't dead anymore but I could tell that he'd moved on. The whole time I was with him, I was wishing I was with you."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. Angel never understood me, not like you."

He kissed her, gently at first but then harder as he felt her hands all over him; stroking, caressing, teasing. They made love slowly and tenderly, sinking fangs into each other as they climaxed. After, Buffy clung tightly to him and fell back into an uneasy sleep.

Spike could still not believe that so much had happened, in so short a time. It had not even been twenty-four hours since they had left Sunnydale. It was day and they were parked. The back of the van was dark and safe. At sunset, they would drive again. Spike knew that there was a city but he wasn't certain how far. The last time he'd been here, he'd been a bit out of it.

The blood was running out. Buffy, newly turned, was hungry most of the time and Spike was feeding her. He was drinking the bagged stuff and letting her feed off his neck, as part of their lovemaking.

He knew he shouldn't.

As her sire and a master vampire, he should be dominant and dominant vampires didn't open their veins on demand but what could he do? It was Buffy. He drifted off to sleep.


At last, the city lights were on the horizon and Spike knew that they'd be alright. He would connect with the local demons and get everything sorted.

The hotel was big and expensive but Spike knew that big meant impersonal and that was what was needed.

Buffy watched, confusion turning to admiration as Spike spoke to the reception clerk, in whatever was the local language. How had she ever thought he was stupid? There was a long verbal exchange and then Spike took off the flashy diamond ring that he'd taken out of the bag and put on, not ten minutes earlier. He handed it to the man and waited solemnly for a signed receipt. Then, it was smiles all round as he signed the two of them in.

"What was that all about?" Buffy asked, after they'd found their room.

"They wanted our passports, as security. I said we'd lost most of our luggage and would they accept the ring, until we get sorted."

"There was more to it than that."

"Yeah." Spike looked slightly guilty.

"You thralled him."

"Yeah. I don't like to, it's like cheating, you know? But sometimes it's less hassle."

"You can't do thrall."

"Who says?"

"Angel. He told me, way back, when you first came to Sunnydale. He specifically said to watch out for Drusilla's thrall but that you couldn't do it."

"Despite what you may think, I'm not completely stupid. Angelus hated to be at a disadvantage - especially with me - massive inferiority complex. He couldn't do thrall and if he'd found out that I could, he'd have gouged my eyes out. Literally."

"Could you have done it on me, when we were…?"

"Sleeping together? Yeah. But I never did, it would have been like…" He looked away, too ashamed to say the word.

"I know. If you'd been responsible for my…behaviour, you'd have had me treat you better. But you could have." She hugged him, burying her face in his chest. He could feel her tears soaking through the fabric of his shirt. "When I was beating you, in that alley, why didn't you just make me stop?" He stroked her hair.

"Buffy, love…you needed to do it. If I'd messed with your head, it would've been like the Buffybot…it wouldn't have been you…"

"But she made you happy." Buffy said, between sobs.

"For a little while. I couldn't bear to look at it after you died, though. The others had it patrolling, looking after Dawn, doing PTA stuff…and it kept saying things to me…Red couldn't get rid of its core program and it was programmed to…"

"We're such screw ups." Buffy said, laughing through her tears. "If someone wrote all this stuff down, no one would believe it."

"We love each other and we're together, that's all that matters." He pulled the hem of his shirt out and dried her eyes with it.

"Not all that matters."

He looked at her, questioningly.

"We're gonna need cash."

"Leave that to me. We'll hit the shower and then you stay here, I'll go find somewhere to unload some of these rocks."

"I can't come with you?"

"I could feel your bloodlust rising, downstairs, just now. Why d'you think I didn't want us shown to the room? You can't be trusted around humans, not yet."

Buffy sighed. She knew he was right. She could smell the blood pulsing around inside the humans and she knew that she was dangerous, soul or no soul. Deep inside, she could feel the demon, surging like the tide; a dark, primal need. No wonder fledglings were so keen to attack. The hunger was like an animal, gnawing her insides. 'Ok,' she thought, 'major cliché.' Then again, things became clichés because they were a good description of the way things were.

The hot water jetting over her body felt wonderful and Spike's hands, lovingly soaping her, felt even better. Her enhanced senses, allowed her to smell his arousal, as she caressed him with slippery, soapy hands. They kissed, as they got thoroughly dirty and clean, at the same time.

Buffy lounged on the king sized bed, wearing only a fluffy towelling robe, while Spike shook his jeans and T shirt, vigorously, out of the window. Once he was satisfied that all the sand from the demon's cave was gone, he dressed.

"I'll get you a change of clothes, pet." He said, taking a handful of diamonds and pocketing them. "I've put the 'do not disturb' sign out, don't let anyone in." He said, kissing her. "I'll be back as quickly as I can."

Alone, Buffy switched on the TV, muting the sound when it became obvious that no one was speaking English.

"Stupid foreign countries." She muttered.

She washed out her clothes in the bathroom and hung them up in the shower, to dry. Then she saw something that shocked her to the core. Thankfully, in the bedroom, there was a solution…


Spike bounded happily into the hotel room a couple of hours before daybreak.

"Open the bubbly, love, we're solvent agai…" His voice trailed off as he saw Buffy. She was draped across the bed, the towelling robe barely covering her, her eyes blinking up at his, with a complete lack of comprehension. The empty bottles scattered around the room told Spike all he needed to know.

"Started without me, huh?" He opened the fridge and looked inside. All that was left was the bottle of champagne. He took it out and refilled the fridge with the blood packs he had brought back with him.

"Spike?" Buffy raised her head and looked at him, "Getting drunk is more fun that it used to be. Takes longer, though," she added, after a bit of thought.

"Yeah. What happened?" Spike said, sitting on the bed and putting his arm around her.

"Stuff."

"Tell me."

"I was in the bathroom."

"Yeah?"

"The steam had cleared from earlier."

"The mirror?"

"Nothing there. Just an empty room, like I don't exist."

"Buffy, love, I'm so sorry." He didn't know what he could say to make her feel better. He well remembered the shock of looking into a mirror and seeing…an empty room. In the years that followed, he had learned to live with it but Buffy…

"I'm never going to know how I look…"

"Beautiful. Always."

"Yeah." She said, laughing. "And you said 'Carrie' looked sexy, in that movie, when she got the pig's blood dumped on her.

"What? Lots of people use food in foreplay."

"Gross, Spike." She said, wrinkling her nose, then realizing that licking a blood drenched Spike, all over, might be fun. "Anyway, you said we had something to celebrate."

"Yeah," He said, grinning, "I've been playing poker."

"I'm not eating kittens. I don't care if I am an evil vampire, I have to draw the line somewhere."

"Not for kittens. For cash." Laughing, he pulled a thick wad of notes from his pocket. Then, with a flourish, he pulled out the handful of diamonds that he'd taken when he'd gone out.

"You didn't lose any?"

"Nope."

"Did you cheat?"

"Didn't have to, pet. That night with Clem and the others, we were friends, we were all cheating."

"I'll never understand demons."

"Not so much a demon thing, more a male thing. One of my new contacts will be over, after sunset tonight, they're sorting us passports."

"We'll be able to leave the country?"

"Where would you like to go?"

"Somewhere where they speak English. Oh and how come you speak all those languages, anyway? Is it a vampire thing?"

"No, it's an education thing. I spoke most European languages, before I was turned. After… well it's always an advantage to understand what people are saying, so, everywhere I travelled, I made a point of learning; never got my head round oriental languages, though." For an instant, Buffy thought she saw sadness in his eyes, then he was himself again. "Where would you like to go, love, back to the states?"

"I was thinking you might like to show me England." Buffy said, softly.

"I would love to." He replied, kissing her.

He knew the exact moment that he lost her attention and he broke the kiss.

"What's up, pet?"

Buffy was staring over his shoulder at the silent television. Spike turned to look. He swore and hit the mute button.

"What are they saying?" Buffy asked, franticly.

"Shush, let me listen."

They sat in silence, watching the images of Sunnydale, play out on the screen.

First there was some obviously stock footage of the old Sunnydale, normal town - outwardly, anyway. This was cut to footage of an enormous crater, apparently all that was left.

"They're saying it was a massive earthquake. The whole town, swallowed." Spike translated, absently, as he listened. "They say it's a miracle, nearly the entire population had already left. Very few known fatalities."

A photograph of Amanda filled the screen.

"Her parents are saying that she refused to leave and she's presumed dead."

At that moment, the screen was filled with footage of a dusty school bus and a crowd of reporters pointing microphones at a group of people. Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. Dawn and the others were alive.

"Survivors, pet. They drove that school bus out of town at the last minute."

"Just them? What about all the other potentials?"

"Just them. I don't see Faith. I guess there's a new slayer."