After Freedom.

CHAPTER TWO; Ignorance Isn't Bliss - It's Just A Bit Annoying.

A/N: I am taking creative liberties with the amount of time here - I want to give Dawn a few months at school at least, so I'm stretching out the time between when Bella punches Jacob and senior year graduation to give her a few more weeks. Also, this chapter has Slayer/Cullen interaction, so... uh, jackpot? Anyway, enjoy. :)

Bella was anxious.

Of course, she always felt worried these days - she couldn't keep the nerves away. The only time she felt remotely at peace was either at night, wrapped in the arms of Edward (his scent calmed her aching brain more than any magic or medicine ever could) or around the Cullen house, when Jasper was at home. Of course, she didn't like to be a constant bother to Jasper - he'd have to be on full peace blasting mode whenever she was around, so Edward was really her only solace.

Well, Edward or Jacob, but that was a topic best left at peace. Although the vampire and the werewolf had reached some kind of stoic, silent, man-truce that Bella didn't quite understand, she could still feel the tension in the air whenever they were within two feet of each other.

It hadn't helped when Jacob had tried to kiss her, and she'd socked him one, breaking her hand in the process.

Not to mention that she felt like Victoria was looming ever closer, a long, red-headed shadow over her life. She longed for the day when it was done; when she and Edward could be together with no danger, no subterfuge, no overprotectiveness. When no one was looking to kill either one of them. When she could be proud to stand by his side and he could call her his equal.

In other words, when Bella was a vampire, too.

It seemed to be all she thought about nowadays. Not just for her own selfish reasons (it was getting harder and harder to be in the same room as Edward without wanting to try and rip all his clothes off), but so that things could settle down and they could move away to start their life together. Bella knew she would miss Charlie, of course, but she reasoned: doesn't every child grow up and move on? She'd just skip the growing up part.

Of course, Bella would do everything she could before she changed to see that the people she loved were okay. The visit to her mother in Phoenix had reassured her a lot; her relationship with Phil was still going strong and she seemed content to accept Bella's happiness with Edward in a way Charlie couldn't. Charlie seemed to be the wrench in her plan. Bella so wanted him to love Edward too... or at least like him. Or failing that, at the very least stop being so obvious in his attempts to make her date Jacob.

Bella loved Jacob, she did... he was her best friend. But she loved Edward more.

Bella tried to stop thinking along those lines; she knew that train of thought well, and it only ever led to pain and heartache. She knew she wanted Edward, and she knew she would always want Edward. After all, Bella had seen what life was like without him... and it didn't bear thinking about.

Bella tried not to guilt trip Edward. Really, she tried. But whenever she had brought up the subject of her change, he would get this look on his face; pained and slightly sad. It made Bella feel a little inadequate. And more than a little angry. He'd professed his love; he said he wanted her by his side forever. And yet... he didn't want her to actually be by his side forever. He said he didn't want to damn her soul.

She could maybe understand that - if she didn't believe it was completely ridiculous. Which she did. And she told him so whenever the discussion arose, and it did so much more often than before now that graduation was only a few months away.

His caveat was marriage.

He would change her - if she married him. For a short while, Bella had personally considered this to be emotional blackmail; he knew she wanted him to change her, that it would mean so much more to her if Edward did it himself. But after the brief spurt of anger at this passed, Bella realised that Edward really was just trying to, well, do the right thing. He was from the 1900's after all - from a time of chaste seduction and courtship under the watchful eyes of chaperones, until an engagement was declared.

And Bella did love him; more than anything else.

If ever she were to marry anyone, it would be Edward Cullen. It was true that maybe what was giving her trouble accepting was merely her own pride... she knew people would talk. They would assume things they had no business to be assuming. Number one on that list would of course be that Edward had got her pregnant. Which Bella of course knew was impossible. But anyway, that assumption would quickly blow over as soon as people realised she wasn't showing a baby bump.

So Bella decided not to let these outside reactions factor into her decision. If she was going to marry Edward, she would do it because she wanted to. Because she was ready to.

But, that was the thing. Was she ready to be somebody's bride?

Bella leant back in her chair, tuning out her English teacher's monotone droning.

Now that was the question.

Buffy leant against the doorjamb and looked out onto the silent street. The combination of the light breeze and (apparently rare - eek!) burst of sunlight on her face brought a faint smile to the Slayer's lips. The first smile that had appeared there since yesterday; when Giles had informed her that the good weather that had continued unfailingly during the two days since they'd moved here was definitely not going to last - Forks was one of the rainiest and most overcast places in the entire US.

As an California girl, born and bred, one can imagine that this did not sit too well with Buffy. However, she had elected to just enjoy it while it lasted, because to be honest, she hadn't really had the time to catch any rays in well, years. She wasn't known as she who hangs out in graveyards during the sunny daytime, after all.

Dawn's first day at school had been bright (a fact she seemed pleased with), and apparently, pretty uneventful as far as school went. She walked through the door with a look of total indifference on her face, and when asked about her day, her precise word was, "Meh."

She'd made some acquaintances at least; some guys called Mike and Eric and their girlfriends, a few others that she'd forgotten the names of as well. There were quite a few absences in her classes, she'd remembered it purely because most of them all seemed to have the same last name, Cullen, which she'd thought was kind of weird. She hated her Trig teacher, but Buffy suspected that probably had more to do with the fact that Trigonometry was her worst subject - ("Gee, thanks. Nice going there, monks.") - and less to do with the actual teacher. Also, apparently her Biology teacher was 'kinda cute, you know, in that sort of geeky, Star Trek convention type way'.

All in all, a fairly typical day for a teenage girl, and as far as first days went; pretty good. So Buffy wasn't worried on that front.

These rampaging vampires were a different matter, however.

Since the small, box television included in the furnishing of the house had an abysmal signal (only made worse once subjected to Xander's amateur electrician skills), and Buffy didn't really want anyone going to the store to buy a newspaper as part of her whole 'lay low for as long as we can' plan, Willow had rigged up a little magical Wi-Fi and was scouring the Net for any more news of possible vampire-related killings and disappearances in Seattle.

She hadn't found anything brand new, but Buffy was still worried. It was pretty safe to assume the missing people were either vampire kibble or vampires themselves by now - but what if they weren't? What if this vampire gang had some other elaborate evil plan in mind, and they were actually still alive, waiting to be sacrificed to the great slug god or whoever the cool vampires were worshipping nowadays? And Buffy was just sitting here, doing nothing.

"I think maybe I should patrol tonight," she blurted out.

Willow looked up from her computer. "Tonight?"

Buffy nodded. "What if they aren't dead, Will? I mean, come on, vampires don't just band together and kidnap people for no reason. They've gotta have some sort of plan, some kind of end game in mind."

"An 'end of the world' kind of end game?" Willow asked tentatively. Apocalypses were still sort of a touchy subject for her; since that time she'd nearly caused one and all.

"Could be," Buffy ruminated, absently pacing around the coffee table whilst twirling a thin stake in her delicate fingers. "Maybe they need these people for a sacrifice or something... I mean, I could save them."

Willow's mouth twitched as she thought. "True... but Buffy, they've been missing for a few weeks now," she said gently. "If they were part of some apocalyptic mayhem, don't you think the vampires would have gotten all mayhem-y by now?"

"Maybe they're waiting for something... like a full moon, or midnight, or a red sky in the morning, oh, I don't know." Buffy flopped down on the chair next to Willow's, and propped her elbow up on the table.

"I just feel so useless doing nothing," Buffy admitted quietly.

"You're not useless," Willow said at once. "You're very useful, in fact. The most useful one out of all of us." She smiled reassuringly, but Buffy just looked at her.

"Actually, Will, I think you've usurped my spot," she said jokingly, and a wry smile slid onto her face. Willow's face turned bright red, and Buffy giggled quietly.

"No, Buffy, I- I mean, I just did the spell... I didn't really do much, well, I mean, I guess I did, but I didn't do anything anybody else couldn't have done if they had the time and - I mean I only did it once but you - Buffy, you're useful all the time, you know with all the slaying and-"

"Willow," Buffy said, grinning. "You're babbling."

Willow took a deep breath and fixed her eyes back on the screen of her laptop, still a little flushed. Buffy felt a rush of affection for her red-headed friend. She'd missed babbly Willow.

Buffy sat beside her best friend for a few more minutes as she tapped away on the keyboard. The Slayer couldn't stop fidgeting, and she could tell it was distracting.

"Do you mind if I go for a walk?" Buffy asked. Willow replied with, "Sure, Buff," just a little bit too quickly, and Buffy snorted quietly as her suspicions were confirmed.

"I'll be back soon; you know, keeping to the whole lay low thing."

Buffy grabbed her stake purely out of habit, and shoved it in the back pocket of her jeans, where it was covered by the bottom of her jacket.

As part of her plan of not getting unnecessarily noticed by the general population, Buffy headed back up the road they'd drove along, heading in the direction of the woods. Guess I'll see if Giles was right about those leprechauns after all, she thought wryly to herself.

It was sunny in Forks.

While this, for humans, would normally be a good thing, for vampires like Edward Cullen, it merely meant boredom. Bella was at school, so Edward took the chance to get out and hunt, ready for spending the night with her. Emmett and Rosalie had just had a little lover's spat (nothing that wouldn't blow over by evening) but he'd decided not to take any chances and just get out of the fearsome vampiress' way for the afternoon, so he'd joined Edward on his little trip.

They had decided to hunt somewhat close to home for once; it was nearly the end of the school day, and Edward didn't want to delay seeing Bella for longer than was necessary, especially with Victoria and her lackies lurking. Not to mention Jacob Black. Edward's teeth automatically began to grind together even thinking the name of the disgusting dog.

He was thankfully distracted, however, by a playful punch in the chest from Emmett.

"Come on, dude," he laughed. "Are we hunting or are we taking a leisurely stroll?"

Edward rolled his eyes as Emmett grinned, then lifted his face to scan the air. Without warning, Emmett's eyes grew wide with excitement.

"Grizzly, due north," he managed to spit out before barrelling off.

Edward followed him at a slightly slower pace; he knew he was faster than Emmett... catching up to him would be an easy matter. But grizzly bear wasn't really to his tastes. Edward tried to separate the strands of scent in the air, searching for another type of animal.

He caught one alright, just not the one he was looking for. He cut off his breathing at once, and shot after Emmett. He'd stopped inhaling in time, but Emmett's mind had been focused solely on the hunt... and he was out for blood.

What the hell is a human doing way out here? Edward thought angrily.

As he approached the scene, it seemed to play out in slow motion. A slim, blonde girl in a denim jacket was walking right across the path of Emmett's prey. Except he wasn't really Emmett anymore; he was a feral vampire focused on the hunt. Emmett stopped running, and his eyes flickered to the girl, as his feet automatically turned to change his course.

Edward realised what Emmett was doing, and darted towards him just as he was about to devour the human. Boulders collided.

Emmett landed with a giant thump on the ground, whilst Edward rebounded and was thrown backwards, his lighter weight no match for Emmett's sturdiness other than to slow him enough so that his own weight would take him down.

Frantically, Edward looked around for the human girl. He cursed inwardly. She had seen everything - so of course she'd run away. He sighed and rose to brush himself off, when suddenly he heard a dull thump, like a baseball bat connecting with wood under a layer of carpet.

It was the human.

Edward's eyes widened with disbelief as Emmett flew to the ground once more, the girl's leg still suspended in the air from her... kick? That was impossible. She definitely wasn't a vampire, Edward could hear her heightened heartbeat like war drums across a valley.

He looked into her eyes; she'd caught sight of him. He looked for crimson there. No, her eyes were green as grass... it couldn't be possible. She was definitely human.

Those green eyes narrowed dangerously, and for a moment, Edward Cullen felt a tiny thrill of apprehension run down his spine; a feeling that he was wholly unused to. It was as if for a moment, he had taken leave of all rational thought, and the primal instincts within him had emerged, much like when hunting.

However, this time the primal forces within him had come up with fear instead of hunger. But as quickly as it had surfaced, it disappeared, as the woman smirked and drew herself up a little, one eyebrow quirked in a challenging manner. Edward was stumped. It seemed as if she found the whole debacle... amusing, somehow.

Emmett got to his feet, a venomous glare directed straight at this arrogant human. She curled her hands into fists and shifted her feet, a stance Edward instinctually recognised as offensive. When Emmett did not move, she leant forward a little and stage-whispered: "This is the part where we fight."

"Oh, really?" Emmett's booming laugh echoed.

The woman shrugged. "Hey, I don't care. I can kick your ass now or I can kick it later."

Emmett growled lowly. No matter who issued it, Emmett was not one to back down from a challenge, and her tone was definitely challenging.

"Okay, then. Last chance to reconsider, doll," Emmett hissed, mocking the slip of a girl a little.

She scoffed quietly. "No, thanks, honeybunch," she said, her tone equally condescending and imbued with confidence. "But if you'd like to back out now, I won't think any less of you." She smiled sweetly. "I don't think that's actually possible."

Emmett growled lowly, and began to charge. Edward thought rapidly about intervening; clearly the idiotic woman was about to get herself killed. No one deserved that, no matter how obnoxiously arrogant they were to think they could take on a vampire, especially one of Emmett's size, and live. But just as he was about to dart forward and scoop the girl out of the way, she had swung to the side, with all the practised ease of a lynx, and definitely faster than Edward would have said possible by human standards.

Emmett hurtled forward into a thick oak tree, crashing into it with a resounding snapping sound, and the tree groaned lowly as it was forced to the ground. It smashed against the earth, and Edward's mind jarred as his incredibly sensitive hearing was assaulted. And yet the woman seemed unfazed. In fact, Edward would even go so far as to say she looked... bored.

"Well, now that we've successfully rattled the neighbouring wildlife..." she quipped, smirking. "You think we could maybe get this show on the road anytime soon?"

Edward hadn't seen Emmett so incensed in a very long while; and it was definitely not something he would like to have directed at him, were he standing in the young woman's position. Deceptively agile, Emmett sprung into the air, making for her. As he reached out, she slipped underneath his descending body, bringing one huge arm with her. Emmett was flipped over, and landed unceremoniously on his back; the ground cracked under the force and weight of him.

"You're really not getting this picture, are you?" The woman dug her foot under Emmett and flipped him onto his front.

Edward had been stunned into paralysis by the scene before him, but he had to intervene. He sped forward, knocking the girl off her feet and allowing Emmett time to get onto his. She let out a gasp of air as he landed on her chest. He heard her cough, "Oh, you shouldn't have done that."

Edward's brow furrowed as the girl wrapped her leg around his and elbowed him hard in the ribs, causing him to fall backwards so that she was now on top of him. Her hand flew to her back pocket and she drew out a short stick of wood with a pointed tip.

"Is that... a stake?" Edward almost laughed as the girl drove it down towards the space where his heart should be.

"Damn skippy," she hissed as it collided.

And splintered into thousands of pieces.

The girl's mouth widened in shock. "What the - ?"

She didn't get time to finish her sentence as she was yanked off Edward by Emmett and thrown straight across the clearing, landing on a patch of grass with a soft thump.

She got to her feet with speed, and glared. "How did you do that?"

Edward's brow rose high in amusement. "You really thought you could take us down with a stake? How Hollywood."

Emmett snorted, as Edward's face slowly turned stony. "Who are you?"

The girl cocked an eyebrow disbelievingly. "You're kidding, right?"

Edward and Emmett exchanged a look. "Uh, no?" Emmett said.

The girl rolled her eyes and sighed in frustration. "Look, I can't keep doing this, okay? Aren't vampires supposed to spread the freakin' story among themselves? You know, in the interests of staying undead for as long as possible? Jeez, your sire really didn't care about you two, did he?"

"How do you know what we are?" Edward asked, his voice ominous, having picked up on the key word vampires.

The girl put her hands on her hips. "The question you should be asking is why don't you know who I am."

"Anyway," she continued. "I'd love to stay and chat but... actually, no. That's a lie."

And with that, the mysterious blonde girl sped away with inhuman speed into the trees, leaving Edward and Emmett Cullen standing there, stunned.

Buffy ran so fast she thought her heart was going to burst out of her chest. She ran for at least twenty minutes before she reached the road again, and another ten before she reached the house - I walked further out than I thought I did...

But she didn't have time to think about that, or anything else, really. Buffy crashed through the front door, slamming it shut behind her, and stumbled into the living room, where Giles, Willow, Xander and Dawn all jumped up as she stood there, breathing heavily.

Giles immediately sprung to action, coming to grasp her arm. "Buffy, are you alright? Are you hurt? What happened?"

"Never mind that, no time," Buffy panted. She pointed out towards the woods. "Went for a walk. Found vampires."

"Vampires?" Xander questioned. "Buff, it's four o'clock. The sun's still out. Vampires are all safely tucked up in bed."

Buffy shook her head even as he spoke. "No, they were definitely vampires. Blood drinking, feral, strong, fast... plus I got the spidey sense off 'em. Definitely vamps."

"They must have had some sort of aid to allow them to traverse in the daylight," Giles said, going into full Watcher research mode. "Something akin to the Gem of Amarra, perhaps? Were they wearing jewellery... or an amulet of some sort?"

"Giles..." Buffy breathed. "They were trying to kill me, I didn't really get much time to focus on their fashion sense."

"Of course, but..."

"No, wait, wait..." Buffy interrupted. "I didn't even get to the bad part."

"There's a worse part than they were out in the sunlight?" Willow asked, eyes wide.

"Hell, yeah... I staked them-"

"Alright, Buff!" Xander cheered, but Buffy silenced him with a look. "They didn't die."

Giles looked up from his books, and the rest of the Scoobies just stared at Buffy in shock.

"I brought the stake down, it hit his chest and it just broke into like, a million tiny pieces."

"What happened after that?" Giles asked, a little breathy from the shock of the information his Slayer had just imparted.

"We had a little chat and then I ran away," Buffy said dryly. Her breath had returned, and she stood up straight, crossing her arms.

"Get this," Buffy looked annoyed. "They didn't even know who I was."

Xander mock-gasped. "How dare they?" he said, sarcastically.

"Actually," Giles said. "That could be relevant, Xander."

"Oh," Xander said, looking put out, and slumped back down onto the couch.

"Buffy, I need you to tell me everything you remember about these creatures. Clearly, they aren't normal vampires, at any rate," Giles said, settling down at the coffee table with a giant pile of books.

"Well, they definitely weren't Uber-vamps anyway," she said. Giles scribbled down on a piece of paper the word Turok-Han and then crossed it out.

"They were..." she sighed. "Really fast and really strong. I nearly shattered the bones in my leg kicking one of them in the chest."

Giles nodded, and kept writing.

"They laughed after the stake broke... what was it he said? Oh, yeah; 'how Hollywood'."

"Anything else?" Giles said, then looked up when Buffy didn't answer. To his surprise, she had gone a little pink. "Well, they were both good looking. Like, really good looking."

Giles raised an eyebrow, "I doubt that's relevant, Buffy."

"Hey, you said tell you everything!" the Slayer said indignantly.

Giles returned with a look that said I suppose.

"Oh, hold on... yeah. Um, they were both really pale; a lot paler than normal vamps. Oh, and they both had the same colour eyes, but they didn't have normal vamp game faces on. It was just the eyes. They both had totally black eyes."

Giles frowned, then suddenly leapt up from the table and darted into the other room with an agility any man of the same age would kill to have.

After a moment, Buffy looked at the others, who had resumed their seats, and frowned. "Don't you hate it when he gets that 'eureka!' moment, but forgets to share?"

Willow, Xander and Dawn nodded.

The huge, white mansion was serene from the outside. Not even the lightest of breezes stirred a single blade of grass in the perfectly-mowed front lawn; not a single speck of dust could be seen on any one of the many shiny, double-glazed windows. It was the picture of serenity and bliss.

But inside, the atmosphere was fizzling.

"I have no idea what she was," Edward hissed, pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration. He had told Bella he needed to hunt again that night, so he couldn't stay over. As much as it pained him to lie to her, she was anxious enough as it was, and there was no need to worry her further with tales of some unknown danger.

Emmett shook his head, looking blank as well. "Haven't a clue."

"But you say, she was definitely human?" Carlisle asked for the third time, his eyes narrowed.

"Yes," both Emmett and Edward stressed the word. "Heartbeat, pulse, blood... everything. She was human."

"This is impossible," Esme whispered. "And she... took you down to the ground, Emmett?"

Emmett scratched his neck distractedly, unwilling to recount again how a human girl who couldn't have weighed more than ninety pounds had managed to kick him to the floor and then flip him face-down. "Yep," he mumbled.

Jasper's lips twitched at Emmett's demeanour. "A girl kicked your ass?" he clarified.

Emmett glared at him, and Jasper held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. "Hey, I'm just checking."

Alice looked deep in thought, and only looked up when Jasper gently brushed her arm with a single finger. "I'm just thinking, why didn't I see this before it happened? And then I thought, maybe it's because it wasn't a decision, it was an accident. So, one of you, decide to go take your revenge on her or something."

"Easy," Emmett said darkly.

The Cullens waited with baited breath (figuratively, anyway) while Alice and Emmett both concentrated.

After a few minutes, Alice made a frustrated noise and her eyes flew open. "I can't see her."

"Maybe you didn't concentrate hard enough on making a decision, Emmett," Edward suggested.

"No, he was concentrating," said Alice. "Believe me. I could see him ripping down trees... but it was just her. She was blurred."

"Meaning?" Carlisle asked.

"Meaning either there's a werewolf around, or she's not human."

"Well, since she is human, she must be with a wolf," Emmett growled. "I knew they were going to try and take us down..."

"There could be another explanation," Carlisle said, arms folded, interrupting Emmett's dangerous train of thought. It would not do to break the uneasy truce they held with the wolves. "Alice, you said she was blurred? So, you could vaguely see her?"

"Not enough to be able to tell what she was doing or saying or anything," Alice clarified.

"Then maybe... she's part human?"

The room was silent after Carlisle's theory, until Alice spoke. "But then by that token, I should be able to see the werewolves when they aren't wolves."

"Ah, but the wolf is strong inside them all the time, Alice. Hence why they can phase at their leisure. And you have never been a werewolf. But you have been human, so if she was part human..."

"Then I could partially see her, but whatever the other part, the non-human part is... that's what's making the image blurry. It's a good theory, Carlisle."

"Well, it's not like we have many others," Emmett said.

"The question is," said Rosalie, who had previously remained silent from the corner of the room. "What's the other part? And more importantly, what the hell does she want with us?"

The Cullens looked towards the blonde vampire, whose look was grim. "She could expose us, you know."

"I don't know..." Edward's forehead creased. "I mean, she had a stake. Clearly she doesn't know a whole lot about us, other than we're vampires."

"Couldn't you read her mind?" Rosalie asked scathingly.

Edward scowled at his coven sister. "A little. Not much... it was like a bad radio signal. But whoever this girl is, she thinks in the moment. All I caught were glimpses of what she could see. Which at that moment, was us. Nothing helpful, I'm afraid."

"You were a little preoccupied at the time, dear," Esme offered, patting her son's arm. Emmett rolled his eyes.

"The question becomes," Carlisle started, drawing all eyes to him. "What are we going to do now?"

Giles looked harried as he rushed back into the room, and gently lay a pile of weathered parchment and small, bound volumes down on the coffee table. Buffy had to smirk, even in an apparent crisis, Giles still couldn't handle his books with anything less than tender care.

"Hold on..." Buffy's forehead creased. She remembered this specific pile of books and papers. "Isn't that the stuff you got from the Council headquarters?"

"Yes," Giles nodded, a little breathless from the weight of it.

"Wait... all that stuff about the new, old... whatever, species?" Xander asked. "The demons that scared ye olde desert Watcher men so much they bagsied themselves a demon and got with the Slayer-makin'?"

"Articulate, as always, Xander," Giles commented dryly. "But yes, that is the general idea."

"Okay, but what's it got to do with these vamps?" Buffy interrupted.

"I believe that these creatures you faced are this ancient species." Giles dropped his bombshell. "I looked more into translating some of these older phrases during our, er, settling in period here. I didn't tell you before because it didn't seem pertinent, it was just the odd few words or phrases here and there, but together with the description you gave it makes perfect sense."

As he spoke, Giles sifted through the parchment until he found his own notes on the subject. Pushing his glasses a little further up his nose, he read out; "They hunger; eyes dark as the night."

"Check," Buffy said.

"Milk and moon and starlight, they stand transparent."

"Paleness? Check."

"'Struck dumb with perfection'... er, 'cold beauty' and 'a face devil-bless'd in trickery'... I believe these phrases to refer to their looks."

"Told you it was relevant," Buffy grumbled, then waved her hand impatiently. "Go on."

"No woven steel, nor iron, nor bone can', I believe this word is 'pierce', 'their hardened shell'. And, er... 'diamonds fall before them'."

"I'm kinda getting why my poor stake didn't stand half a chance," Buffy said, eyebrow raised.

"And then the passage I managed to translate before we came here. 'The Cold Ones we name them. For they are ice and darkness, yet they walk upon this land like ...' er, this part was a little too scorched... 'Our fear is too great. Our people fall; we must stop these beasts, they who crawl in the dark...' again, a space here... 'For this purpose, we create Her. The She-Demon who will match them. She will tear away their dark. For this great purpose, we create Her; named the Slayer of these foul beasts.'"

There was silence after Giles spoke.

"Well... ominous, much?" Buffy said, breaking the tension that had inadvertently built during Giles' reading. "And 'She-Demon'? That's just rude."

"Not to mention kinda plain," Xander cut in. "They could've come up with something a little more grand... like… Female Overlord, or Lady Kickass or, uh…Woman of the Night?"

"That last one's another name for a prostitute, Xander," Willow pointed out quietly, as Buffy snorted.

"I think I'll just stick with She-Demon actually, thanks."

Xander smiled sheepishly.

"I say we find her and kill her," Rosalie said bluntly.

Carlisle sighed, as the others looked shiftily at each other. Most were reminded of the very similar conversation they'd had when Edward had first met Bella, and Rosalie's very similar stance on the issue.

"I would prefer violence to be the very last resort," the patient patriarch said quietly.

"We know that Carlisle, but the fact is this woman, whoever she is, tried to kill Emmett."

"Actually, I was the one she tried to stab in the heart with a wooden stake," Edward pointed out. Rosalie ignored him.

Esme stepped in, and attempted to defuse the situation. "Edward, you said you were hunting when you came across her?"

"Yes," Edward nodded. "Emmett caught her scent. I stopped him before he pounced on her."

"Then... is it not possible that this girl merely attacked because of a perceived threat?" Esme asked.

Edward and Emmett exchanged glances. "Still, Esme," Edward said. "She knows what we are."

"Well, we can't just execute her for that," Esme rebutted, annoyance in her tone. "I would have thought you would know better, Edward. Were we to kill based on that criteria alone, would Bella not have befallen the same fate you now deem necessary for this girl?"

Edward flinched at the mention of Bella dying, but looked suitably chastened.

Carlisle laid a hand on his wife's arm in support. "I agree. I think we should find out more about who and what this girl is, what she is doing here and precisely what her intentions are towards us before we make any rash actions."

Jasper and Rosalie looked unconvinced, as did Emmett. "Better safe than sorry," Jasper said in his usual reserved tone.

"All life is sacred," Carlisle countered, sparing a patient glance for his most blood-troubled son.

Jasper looked briefly down at the ground, and then towards his mate, silently asking her opinion. Alice looked torn, but with a glance at Carlisle, and remembering Esme's words about Bella, she nodded.

"I agree with Carlisle. We should find out more before taking any action. Besides," She shot a placating look at Emmett and Rosalie. "If we were to act now, without knowing what she is capable of, we could end up with a lot more trouble on our hands than just a bad case of wounded male pride." Alice directed the last part towards Emmett with a stern glare, which he studiously avoided meeting.

"Then it is decided," Carlisle said. "We will bide our time with regards to this matter, and refocus on the trouble we know for certain is brewing. That of Victoria."

Dubiously, the Cullen clan nodded.

Just a couple of things; firstly, if you would like to have a say in the pairings of this story, please go and vote in the poll on my profile.

Also, I've had an idea to create more crossover between the Buffy and Twilight fandoms - and his name is Riley. As in, they are the same Riley; human Initiative soldier from Buffy turned vampire and slave to Victoria in Twilight. (If I do decide to use this idea, it definitely won't result in a Buffy/Riley pairing, don't worry), but it's an idea... one which I would love some feedback on. Let me know :)

Reviews are the fuel that feeds the writing fire.

~ Raven.