I own nothing; no suing please. I just like writing my favorite characters into stories with my own hoops for them to jump through. All done in fun.

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The cloud of dust cleared as she brushed off her jeans. Doing so, she noticed the cut on her leg. The cut was nothing, just a scratch; it was the blood stain that bothered her. Buffy pouted at the ruin of her newest outfit. Dust she could wipe away, blood took time.

'At least it's just dust. No True Blood vamps for me.'

She could only picture herself running around and staking that type of vampire. Blood everywhere. She'd have to wear a hazmat suit nightly, or run the risk of buying new clothing every day.

'Then again, that's a lot of shopping.'

She continued through the graveyard, thinking of all the outfits she could procure. The slayer shuddered, but the valley girl that still lived in her giggled like a little kid causing mischief. That universe could possibly be bearable.

'Plus there would be a Sam Merlotte for the taking.'

Yes. That universe could definitely be bearable.

Buffy continued the rest of her patrol daydreaming of the adorably scruffy shapeshifter, especially since she found very little that needed prodded with the pointy end of her stake. But, this was the usual routine these days. After the Sunnydale incident, all potentials had been called. Multitudes of young women were fighting the fight. Vamp attacks were now reduced to the level of shark attacks.

She started into the city, ready to make a quick sweep of the back streets before heading home. Her daydreams of shopping and bartenders put a bounce to her step. All she could think was that, it was a good time to be a good guy.

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He needed a hit. His body shook fiercely as he struggled to simply breathe. It had been over a week without a dose of Tripto, and he grudgingly thought of his last time. Dirty garage, skulls, fighting. It was not a pleasant memory, but the feeling was there. The sweet release that came with the drug. The clarity. The only positive thing it ever gave. Jayden felt the blood trickling down his nose.

'Just a few more steps. Right. Left. Right. Breathe. You can make it.'

He had to keep thinking in the moment, or he'd pass out before reaching the spot: the dark back alley with the leaking rainspouts and pungent dumpsters. His mind cringed thinking of what he had become.

Just last week, he was a hero. He was the agent who found the Origami Killer, the agent who cleared Ethan Mars' name, the agent who saved little Shaun Mars from an untimely death. Now, he was a nobody. Just a junkie searching for his next score.

The bureau looked over the case with a fine toothed comb. Hundreds of briefings, press conferences, and evidence collection. And yet with his ARI obtained for review, he still felt its presence; it was still a part of him. It only got worse from there. Then the hallucinations happened; frequently with no warning. It ranged from little army tanks to complete atmosphere changes. He found himself caught in a non-existent world more often than not. He took leave from the office, but it did no good. The only thing that made it better was,

"Tripto."

He made it. His dealer popped up from his dumpster trash heap throne to greet the former agent. Two of his flunkies stood poised on either side.

"Back so soon. And with the shakes. Man, do you ever need a lil' extra edge."

Jayden just 'humph'ed in response, trying to control his hands as he searched for his wallet. This process was taking much longer than usual. He fumbled to get into his pocket, then to pull out his wallet, and still longer to open it without dropping everything into what he could only hope was just a puddle of rainwater. His dealer noticed this as well, and subtly conveyed his annoyance with tapping feet and groans.

"You got it or don't you, man?"

"Yeah, I got it, Griff. Just give me a second, will ya."

"Listen pal, I aint got all night, and there's plenty a'guys looking for a sweet little blue get-a-way…"

With this, he pulled out the turquoise vial filled with the alluring liquid. Jayden felt himself lurch forward instinctually. The drug had become part of him as well. His instincts, however, had led him over a dangerous line. He got to close. Thug number one grabbed his arm, and tossed him against the wall, as thug number two picked up the wallet that had been dropped in the process. Griff stepped up.

"Hey! No freebies! You want, you gotta pay."

He stretched his arm out to the lackey, and received a wallet for the trouble. He calmly searched through it. There was a pause as he starred at the identification card. He scoffed, and proceeded to take out all the green he could find. He then discarded of the empty slip at his client's feet. Jayden made to protest, but only got shoved further into the back wall. He could feel the bricks pushing straight into his spine.

"It seems like you don't have enough to cover. What a shame, Agent Jayden. I hate when this economy hits my best clientele. But then again, I don't really appreciate agents sniffin' round my space…"

With this, he felt his arm released only to be replaced with blistering pain in his stomach. Thug number one stood straight, fist still clenched, as he watched Jayden slump to the ground with the blow.

"It's a dangerous game you're playing here, agent."

He felt himself dragged up. He tried to get his footing back, but thug number two had taken this time to come in for the delivery of a hard cross punch to his face. Now the blood wasn't only from withdrawal.

'There's got to be something I can use as leverage. There's always something. Quick, Norman, think.'

Jayden quickly scanned his surroundings, but it wasn't long before he found himself pinned back by thug number one. He tried to break his arms free. This guy would have been a tough match on a good day. But now, with the shaking, and the blood, and the dizzy feeling that just wouldn't go away…

"You don't look too good. Maybe you should lay down for a bit."

Two more punches in quick succession.

"Rest it off."

Uppercut. His arms were released, and Norman Jayden fell to the ground in the puddle he had concerned himself with earlier. His eyes fluttered closed.

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As soon as she reached the city streets, she heard the faint sounds of scuffling. Pulling out her tried and true protector, Mr Pointy, she quickened her pace. She felt a little shame about the smirk that slowly had found its way to her face, but she got such enjoyment from a good fight. Not Faith level of enjoyment, but enough to yearn for it with its absence. A little fight, a little banter; it all made for a happy slayer.

She turned another corner. The light from the streetlamps was almost completely faded. The only glow came from cheap neon signs in sleazy bar windows.

'Picture perfect feeding ground if I ever saw one.'

Her anticipation grew as she rounded the final corner. What she found was not to her pleasing, however.

She slumped her shoulders, and placed Mr. Pointy back in her specialty-made inside jacket stake holder. She quickly surveyed the area, not that she anticipated any problems. The two bodyguards were of a slightly intimidating size, if you didn't have superhuman strength and agility on your side. And then there was the smaller guy.

'Little slimer probably never fought for himself once – has goons to do that. Goons who don't look of the smart variety.'

She was behind them, but didn't mind giving up the sneak attack to let out her frustration.

"Seriously?"

The group turned. The thugs had what Buffy assumed to be their ordinary gruff, but blank stare. The little guy just smiled, puffed up his chest, and straightened his clothes.

"What do we have here? Anything I can help you with baby?"

She rolled her eyes. Did he actually think he stood a chance? Normally, she wouldn't involve herself in human affairs, but, well, she was bored. The fight wouldn't be up to her level, but maybe some decent banter was obtainable.

"Yes, actually. I'm working on a study about the economic decline and its connection to the rise of lowlife street sleaze. I would love if you'd like to speak as a representative for city scum."

His smirk turned to a scowl quickly, and one of the hulks turned in.

"Should I take care of it?"

Buffy subtly rolled her shoulders in anticipation of a brief rumble, still with a pleased expression on her face. Until she saw what was hidden by tool number one: a guy, beaten unconscious, face-down in a puddle. Her expression faded, and her eyes glazed over. This was an all too vivid reminder. 8 years and still she was haunted by what the Master had done to her. But then again, who can forget dying?

She let go of the breath she found herself holding, and stepped forward, no longer concerned with banter. Or with the thugs now yelling at her. Swing, punch, dodge, kick, slide, cross-counter, elbow. Both assailants fell seamlessly to the ground. A cold glare in his direction, and little slimer was gone. She didn't have time to congratulate herself on her correct assessment of the group; she immediate rushed to the guy, and flipped him over.

Her first reaction was a sigh of relief when she noticed his chest rise and fall. Just unconscious was much better than not breathing or dead. His face was pretty cut up, but she'd seen, and been through, worse. She stood up, and lifted under his arms, propping his back against the brick wall. She heard him let out a soft groan.

'Probably some broken ribs'

After she made sure he wasn't going to fall back over, she went and picked up the battered wallet that had been lying next to him.

'Agent Norman Jayden. FBI'

Buffy checked the picture to his face. It was definitely him. A much more cleaned up, less bloody version. She knelt down next to him, and swept some of the wet hair out of his face.

"You're not a journalist are you?"

Buffy jumped a bit. She didn't even realize he was conscious yet.

"No. Why?"

"No reason."

He went to stand on his own, but Buffy wrapped an arm around him before he could get too far. Just in time to catch him as he stumbled down again. He silently thanked her.

"You need some help home?"

"Why are you being so nice?"

She paused briefly. Sure she protected people on a daily basis, but walking them home wasn't in the job description. She knew nothing about this man, aside from his name and that he had an FBI badge. Why was she going out of her way? Sure he was cute, but… then it hit her. It was small, but it was a connection, and it made sense to her.

"I found myself in a similar situation before."

He made a small grunt, signaling a type of shame Buffy wasn't sure she wanted to delve into with strangers, so she continued.

"Not exactly the same, but close. If I didn't have my friends with me, I wouldn't be here. You don't seem to have any Calvary running in, so I decided to take the position."

He put on a small smile that Buffy could tell was slightly forced. She hoped it was from the pain and the situation, not her company. Again, he tried to stand, and again Buffy was there to help. This time he managed to stay on his feet. She smiled at him.

"You're not used to taking help from people, are you?"

"No, not really."

They took a few steps, and by the end of the alley, it became a bit more comfortable between them.

"Least of all not by a small little girl like yourself."

She paused. Great, she rescued a chauvinist. She looked over at him, her irritation clearly written on her face, only to notice the smile on his. Genuine this time. He was messing with her.

'Maybe I'll get that banter after all.

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