Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer of any of the characters mentioned in the cannon.

A/N: Yay, Chapter 11 out already! A big thank you to everyone who reviewed, I'll be getting review responses out again shortly :) Another SMUT WARNING! In this chapter (I am spoiling you aren't I? lol) That being said I hope you all enjoy the chapter!

On another note: If you are interested in getting sneak peaks, info on how my chapters are going, what i'm working on and other such story related stuff, let me know in a review or PM and I'll give you the link to my new face book profile which is under the name Frostysixhundred Fanfictionnet :)

CHAPTER 11

Doomed

Buffy shifted slightly on her mattress as the silence stretched on and seemed to get heavy and oppressive between them. She lifted her gaze from the carpet just in front of her feet to glance up at Riley who did the exact same thing a moment later causing their gazes to meet for a brief moment before Riley skirted his gaze away uncomfortably. Riley chewed on his lower lip as his gaze landed on the carpet once again as he thought on everything he'd seen the night before, the way she'd moved with such deadly grace; a single blow sending one of those ugly pink demon things soaring backwards to crash solidly into a wall… he'd never seen anything like it from a human woman before… her strength was unbelievable… almost like a hostile's… his nose that was bandaged twinging painfully as his mind ran over everything that he had seen… things that had kept him up late into the night as he couldn't stop thinking about it… wondering just what he'd born witness to…

Buffy sighed sick of sitting there and getting nowhere, her gaze landing on her overnight bag that she'd been in the middle of packing when Riley had come in about 10minutes ago now… a bag that she wanted to finish packing…

Turning her gaze from the half packed bag, she looked back at Riley who was still looking at the patch of carpet that he deemed safe for his gaze, the pensive expression on his face not going unnoticed by her. "Somebody should speak before one of us graduates." She murmured, trying to be teasing to break the tension. Whilst also trying to give him a less than subtle hint that he should begin… not wanting that task to fall to her as she still couldn't figure out a good way to start it… everything she came up with seemed stupid… not to mention crazy…

Riley raised his gaze from the carpet once again, his gaze settling on Buffy this time instead of skirting away like it had been since he'd sat down on Willow's bed. Getting up off the bed he paced for a moment; highly aware of Buffy's hazel gaze following him as she waited, her desire for him to start becoming more and more obvious with each passing moment.

Spinning around on his heal to face her, his expression deadly serious as he looked her directly in the eye. "What are you?" He blurted out, any thought he'd had of trying to be more polite with his phrasing disappearing the moment he opened his mouth. The question just slipping out past his lips as he waited with baited breath for the answer; silently hoping that she wasn't something he'd have to capture for the safety of the world…

Buffy frowned affronted by the blunt rudeness of the question. "Capricorn, on the cusp of Aquarius." She quipped stiffly as she continued to frown at him. "You?" She said pointedly as she continued to stare him down.

Riley swallowed and turned his gaze away from Buffy once again as he gathered himself. Exhaling a deep breath, he turned back towards her, his expression apologetic. "Sorry." He apologised as Buffy turned her hurt hazel gaze away from him, the frown still obvious on her pretty face as she stared at the floor once again. "That came out a little blunter than I intended." He explained as paced back and forth once again.

Pausing in his stride once again as he looked down at her, feeling bad that he had said something that had offended her. "It's just…" He began trailing off as he tried to find the words that best described what he'd seen the other night. "You are amazing!" He exclaimed. "Your speed, your strength…" He listed off.

Buffy rolled her eyes at the somewhat star struck look he was levelling on her. "Also passionate, artistic and inquisitive." She added a little sarcastically. "Who are you?" She asked again, her phrasing far more polite than Riley's, who'd talked like she was something less than human."

Riley's gaze turned uncomfortable. "You know who I am." He side stepped. "The rest… what I do…" Riley trailed off, before shaking his head uncomfortably. "I can't tell you." He said firmly, his expression only slightly apologetic.

Buffy fixed him with a firm stare as she got to her feet; her stare determined as she stared him down. "Well, then let me." She murmured as she began to pace in the small space she had. "You're part of some military monster squad that captures demons, vampires," She listed ignoring the growing look of discomfort on Riley's face. "Probably have some official sounding euphemisms for them like… 'unfriendlies' or 'non sapiens'." Buffy said with an eye roll at the idea of having such ridiculous code names for the creatures that went bump in the night as she stopped her pacing so that she was looking up at him once again.

"Hostile Sub Terrestrials." Riley admitted sheepishly, before he could stop himself completely and utterly shocked by just how much she knew about the organisation that was supposed to top secret… no one outside of the operation was supposed to know about it and yet… here Buffy was rattling off facts like it was common knowledge!

But Buffy wasn't finished yet and to Riley's shock and horror she continued on. "So you deliver these… HST's to a bunch of lab coats. Who perform experiments on them, which among other things turn them into harmless little bunnies?" Buffy rattled off, unable to keep at least some of the disgust she felt over doing such a thing. She may kill them… but never had she ever even thought about preforming such life altering experiments on them… experiments that would turn their lives upside down and make it impossible for them to be self-sufficient… as much as she hated Spike… she couldn't help but feel a little sorry for him… she'd condone kill him… but not even Spike deserved to be experimented on by a bunch of curious lab coats… not that she'd ever tell Spike that… he was far to annoying to be given such ammunition! "How am I doing so far?" She asked, her gaze meeting Riley's uncomfortable one unflinchingly as she stared up at him silently daring him to deny it.

Riley swallowed thickly. "A little too well." He admitted, still stuck in a mild form of shock.

"Meanwhile by day you pretend to be Riley Finn, corn-fed Iowa boy." Riley looked down feeling suddenly guilty about keeping his secret, secret from the girl that he liked. "Ever been to Iowa, Riley?" She asked.

Riley looked up from the floor sharply. "I am, born and raised." He assured her, before his gaze narrowed slightly. "And hey! Bulletin, I'm not the only one who's been a little less than honest here." He reminded her. His firm un-giving gaze silently reminding her that she had yet to answer his question to his satisfaction.

Buffy deflated slightly, her gaze dropping from his for a moment as she tried to figure out what to say in response. "I thought a professional demon chaser like yourself would have figured it out by now." Buffy replied as she looked back up at him, surprise filling her as Riley continued to look down at her just as confused as before. "I'm The Slayer." She stated, expecting to see enlightenment fill Riley's gaze, but he remained silent as he continued to stare at her his gaze even more confused than before. "Slay-er? Chosen One?" Buffy stated, giving him an 'this should be obvious look' only for Riley to continue looking at her, his brow now furrowed with confusion. "She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries?" Buffy paused for a short moment, hoping that something she'd said would jog a memory in him, only for the confusion to remain. "You're kidding!" She exclaimed, unable to help feeling disgusted at his lack of knowledge… how could he be a professional demon chaser without knowing about 'The Slayer'!

Buffy turned away from him, her gaze going to her half packed bag and stepping towards it, her frustration showing in her every movement. "Ask around. Look it up," Buffy grumbled as she pulled the bag towards her on the bed. "Slayer comma The." She spelled out for him, an annoyed frown darkening her brow as her mind whirled with the confirmed idea that Riley Finn the supposed normal TA was actually one of those army clad, military guys that she'd seen roaming around a few times… getting in her way.

"And you fight demons?" Riley asked in awe, causing Buffy to sigh and turn away from her bag once again, having thought that her not so subtle hint that the conversation was over would send him on his way. "I mean you wailed on those guys."

Buffy shrugged as she crossed her arms over her chest as she stared up at him. "You did pretty well yourself." She admitted.

Riley shrugged off her reluctantly given complement. "But I'm a walking bruise today. You see me with my clothes off and I look like…" Riley trailed off at the raised eyebrow Buffy was giving him and realizing what he'd been saying he flushed a little causing his nose to throb uncomfortably.

"She better not see you with your clothes off." A familiar male voice rumbled from the doorway drawing Riley's gaze, who swallowed thickly at seeing Angelus standing in the doorway, a dark frown on his face. "I mean… I have bruises." Riley finished lamely, as he eyed Angelus a little warily, remembering quiet well just how easily the guy had slammed his own weapon up into his face and broke his nose, before returning his gaze to Buffy who had turned her own gaze to Angelus a small soft smile curling up her lips; a warmth in her gaze that she had never had in them when she looked at him. "I don't see a scratch on you." Riley told her his gaze looking her up and down from head to toe once again, trying to find even the smallest form of a bruise on her tanned skin.

His gaze skirting a little nervously to Angelus as he entered the dorm room, the guys annoyance and anger not going unnoticed by Riley. The man's anger unsettling him for some reason, it wasn't like he couldn't take care of himself… but he'd seen the way the guy had held his own against the pink bandaged demons in the clock tower… a clock tower that had seen better days since they'd visited it. Buffy winced slightly at his false observation, the deep cut she had sustained just under her shoulder blade twinging slightly as she thought about it. True that it was almost healed, but there was no way that she hadn't sustained any injuries the other night; if she wasn't so used to covering up her pain, she was sure that Riley wouldn't be so quick to say that she didn't have a scratch. "You're not looking hard enough." She muttered firmly as she crossed her arms uncomfortably over chest.

"I'm looking pretty hard." Riley informed her, his gaze sweeping over her once again, looking hard for any signs of injury… but again he came up empty… it surprised him that he couldn't as he was finding it hard to even stand completely upright without wincing in pain, his body was that bruised and battered from all the hits it had taken last night. Angelus who had been leaning on Willow's desk behind Riley his arms crossed over his chest, the frown still darkening his brow as he listened carefully, straightened up to his full height and made his way across the dorm room; heading towards his girl. His keen senses picking up just how uncomfortable she was getting with the direction of the conversation… and the way the boy was looking at her. Something that was bothering him as well! Angelus' movement brought Riley's gaze to him and he narrowed it on the man as he made it to Buffy's side his hand coming up to rest on Buffy's slim shoulder. "And just what is your part in all this?" Riley demanded to know. "Who are you in regards to The Slayer?" He asked, the words sounding foreign on his tongue as he still didn't have a clue what that meant… except that it was something that gave her the strength to kick demon ass.

His question brought Angelus' gaze from Buffy to him. Riley swallowed thickly, taken aback by the dark scowl darkening the guy's brow. It was a look that promised violence, as did the sneer that was pulling at his lips. Riley shifted his stance instinctively, his hands curling into fists as wondered if he was about to have a fight on his hands, but Angelus merely sneered at him, his brown eyes boring into him as he stared down at him. "Who I am is none of your concern." Angelus grumbled, as he fought the urge to bare his fangs at the boy who was part of The Initiative; a member of The Initiative that now knew that his girl was The Slayer… something that sat very ill inside of him.

Buffy sensing and feeling the tension in Angelus' body, she raised a hand and placed it over the one Angelus had resting on her shoulder, hoping to calm him down some. Looking up at him, she did her best to offer him a reassuring smile, but Angelus wasn't looking at her, his gaze focused on Riley.

Buffy swallowed worriedly as she recalled the dream she'd had in her psychology class; the fight that had taken place between Angelus and Riley, just before the voice of the little girl had started singing… "Uh," Buffy spoke up as she searched her mind for something to say that would defuse the sudden tension in the room that was so thick that it could be cut with a knife. "Perhaps you should go, Riley." She finally said, a breath of relief escaping her as Riley nodded his reluctant agreement, his eyes glancing back over to Angelus who was still glaring at him angrily, as if he hoped that his mere glare would be even to kill him… but it was enough to make Riley's knees feel weak with fear and he wondered again just what kind of being the guy was to be able to make him feel such intense feelings of fear. His gaze drifted to Buffy once again who didn't seem at all concerned by the fact that her boyfriend looked like he was ready to kill, in fact she was stroking his hand as if there was nothing out of the ordinary at all.

Riley took a step backwards towards the door, but everyone was distracted from the tension in the room when Amy the rat started squeaking shrilly and running around her small cage like crazy, trying to escape the small confines of her cage. The three of them watched the rat for a moment wondering what had gotten her all stirred up. Angelus sniffed the air curiously wondering what had gotten the animal so worked up. He'd only just scented the subtle change in the air when the floor beneath their feet began to shake and knick knacks shook so hard on their perch that they fell to the floor with small thuds. "Quick!" Angelus murmured to Buffy, the hand he had on her shoulder sliding around her back, guiding her towards the open doorframe of Buffy's wardrobe. Holding her close to him as he braced himself in the doorway. Riley doing almost the same thing in the open entrance of the dorm room.

Riley flicked his gaze around the dorm room watching as Buffy's and Willow's possessions shook. His gaze landed on the bag that was lying on Buffy's bed, his gaze following its progress as it slowly shook off its perch on her bed and fell to the floor some of its contents spilling across the floor. A moment later the shaking stopped and Riley stepped out from under the door frame an excited look in his eyes as he looked around the light damage the short low level earthquake had caused. "Wow. That was some ride." He exclaimed, his gaze going to Buffy and consequently Angelus as they continued to stand in the door way, his gaze focusing more on Buffy who was looking decidedly spooked as she allowed Angelus to hold her against him, her face in his direction as she leaned into him; allowing him to see the worried look on her face. "Sorry, I'm so excited." He apologised sheepishly, a hand coming up to scratch at the back of his head. "This is my first earthquake." He explained.

"It's not mine." Buffy murmured lowly as she slowly pulled herself away from Angelus' comforting embrace and stepped out of the doorway she had taken shelter under with Angelus; his presence offering some comfort, but it couldn't stop the feeling of dread that had settled in her stomach the moment the shaking had started… bringing back unwanted memories of facing The Master and lying face down in a small pool of dirty water… the liquid filling her lungs as she helplessly continued to breath sucking in the air instead and slowly drowning… Buffy shuddered slightly and wrapped her arms about herself.

Angelus stepped out of the wardrobe doorway as well, fixing Riley with his steely gaze once again as he came up behind Buffy, getting close enough that his chest brushed up gently against her back, silently reminding her that he was there. "Weren't you just leaving?" He asked pointedly, his tone no more friendly towards the boy then it had been before the earthquake.

Riley opened his mouth, thinking of ignoring the over protective boyfriend in favour of asking Buffy what was wrong, before he thought better of it… and snapped his mouth shut with an audible click. It wasn't that he didn't care anymore, because he did still care; very much so… but now there was an even bigger problem in his way… this whole 'The Slayer' thing… he had to decide just what to do about it. Angelus watched the boy go with a severe gaze until he was out of sight, before he relaxed only slightly as he turned his gaze from the open door to Buffy. "Are you sure that you're alright?" Angelus asked, still sensing her apprehension that had started immediately after the quake had begun.

Buffy nodded and plastered a smile on her face, not wanting to worry Angelus; he already seemed worked up enough over Riley, she didn't want to add her worries to that… not until she knew for certain… "Yeah, I'm fine… but I think after I get this place tidied up I should go talk to Giles." Buffy murmured as she turned and began the task of tidying up the apartment. Whilst Amy the rat stood up on her hind legs as she rested her front legs against the bars of the cage, her little claws curling slightly about them as she twitched her nose at Buffy and Angelus a small little squeak emitting from her as Buffy walked over to her and checked her cage; righting Amy's water dispenser. "Thanks for the warning, Amy." Buffy mumbled softly as Amy went back down on all fours and walked over to her water and began licking at the tip of the dispenser.

Angelus watched Buffy putter around righting things and picking up broken things that had fallen on the floor and broken, a slight frown still darkening his brow. The commando thing had bothered him from the moment he'd first laid eyes on him, but now he had a really bad feeling… after what he had seen the other night and what they had done to his Childe; removing his ability to even feed himself in a decent away… forcing him to rely on people buying him blood… it all sat with him badly especially now that one of those in the organisation knew about Buffy… he had a feeling that Riley Finn knowing that Buffy was The Slayer was going to lead to nothing good. "I really wish that you hadn't said anything to that boy." Angelus grumbled as he moved towards her.

Buffy straightened up, a broken knick knack in her hands, a conflicted expression on her face. "I know… but I couldn't really think of any way out of it… I mean he saw me in action… you in action… I have no idea what we are going to say about you… I mean… you saw what they did to Spike…"

Angelus frowned darkly. "We tell him nothing. It's none of his business!" He growled darkly. Buffy looked up at Angelus, her worry reflected in her hazel eyes as she bit into her lower lip, wishing that she could have thought of another explanation… not in the least bit sure that she could trust Riley with the information she had given him… he was one of them after all… but it had to be better than him thinking that she was a demon… right?

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Spike scowled darkly in irritation, it was the last thing he needed, after everything that he had been put through lately, this was well and truly the icing on the cake! It was bad enough that he had sunken so low as to be living with white hats, but Giles was one thing, but having to put up with the annoyance that was Xander and his amusingly outspoken girlfriend and the constant disturbance that was his parents arguing. There was only so many times that a guy could mock another about the same thing before it got old and boring and now… and now he had to deal with this! Grasping one arm of the big red leather chair that he was using as his bed, he tugged it easily out of the way of a leak from a pipe that was running along the ceiling that had sprung up after the quake had hit the small town. "Sodden sleeping chair is bloody sodden." Spike grumbled sourly, this new tribulation another added annoyance that he didn't need in his unlife right now.

Xander ignored his unwelcome house guest's comment as he set a pan underneath the leak to catch the dripping water temporarily. "The quake just knocked a couple of pipes lose." He murmured as he straightened back up, not all concerned if Spike had to sleep on a wet leather chair for a couple of nights as he looked up at the ceiling assessing the damage that the small quake had done and was glad that the quake hadn't been stronger, or else he could be buried alive under the rest of the house instead of just having wet feet. "There is a wrench hanging up over there by the workbench." Xander informed Spike, pointing in the general direction he knew the said tool to be. "Try tightening the coupling." He requested, before he turned away to continue getting ready for work; hoping to find some dry socks to change into once he got up the stairs.

Spike frowned at Xander's back, not at all appreciating being ordered about by the young pipsqueak that by rights should be cowering in fear of him… and not so long ago would have been… before the blasted chip had been implanted in his brain by those blasted army science rats! "Do I look like a plumber to you?" He growled affronted.

"No," Xander agreed as he swung back around to face Spike. "You look like a big mooch that doesn't lift a finger around here." He grumbled motioning at Spike with one of his arms for emphasis in his annoyance. "But I have to get to work."

Spike rolled his eyes as he followed Xander across the wet basement floor. "Yeah, delivering melted cheese and bread, doing your part to keep America constipated."

Xander turned to face Spike again, making the vampire stop dead in his tracks to keep from running into him. "Mock not. Remember who pays for the plasma around here, pal." Turning back away from Spike, he picked up the wrench he had mentioned before having been making his way over to his workbench, before angling himself back so that he was fully facing the harmless vampire once again. Spike looked down at the wrench as it was held out in front of him, the silent demand that he take it obvious. "You earn your keep, or you don't get kept." Xander wheedled as he continued to hold the wrench out, determined to get his unwelcome house guest to do something helpful around his home. Reluctantly Spike snatched the wrench from the boy's hand, the idea of not getting feed and unable to get it for himself not appealing to him in anyway… much more so than trying his hand at helping out.

Satisfied Xander turned away from Spike as he looked around the basement he was calling home. "When you're done fixing that leak," Xander began as Spike looked down at the slightly weighty wrench that was in his hand, before he looked back up at the annoying demanding boy's head who was conveniently showing his back to him. Hoisting up the wrench Spike went to strike the boy with a solid blow with the wrench only to come up short, almost dropping the wrench as his hands rushed up to clutch at his head as the blinding pain rocketed through his head with a sharp intensity. "Try cleaning up this mess." Xander continued oblivious to the attempt Spike had made on his life. "And doing a little laundry for once wouldn't kill you…" He rattled off as he turned back to face Spike, pausing as he took in the way the peroxide vampire was holding his head in pain and softly groaning as it slowly began to fade. The knowledge that Spike had tried and failed to hurt him making Xander frown. "Unfortunately." He grumbled, before walking passed Spike who glared at him as he slowly raised his head again, the wrench still in his hand, almost mocking Spike with his inability to use it the way he wanted as the chipped vampire looked down at it in annoyance.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy looked around her dorm room one last time, searching for any damages she might have missed in her somewhat hurried clean-up of the dorm. She was alone in the dorm now; Angelus having disappeared a short while after the earth quake, muttering something about checking up on something… though she couldn't really be one hundred precent certain about that as she hadn't been paying all that much attention to him at the time, too lost in her thoughts and fears… she couldn't even remember if she'd given him a proper goodbye when he left, something she felt bad about, but there was nothing she could do about that now. If Angelus was offended; which she doubted, she'd just apologise… but somehow she thought that he had been just as distracted as she had been at the time.

Not seeing anything out of place Buffy turned to walk out the door only to have it open before she could reach it as Willow stepped into the room a friendly smile lighting up her sweet face as she saw Buffy was already there. "Hey!" She greeted. "I was in the library during the quake," Willow informed Buffy happily, completely unaware of her friend's uneasy state as she strolled into the room, dumping her text books on her desk. "Almost got buried under some 19th century literature." Willow continued as she turned to face Buffy again. "And I don't have to tell you how hard it is to dig through some of that stuff." Finally taking note of the lack of reaction from her friend, when the rest of the campus was buzzing with excitement. "You ok?"

Buffy nodded. "Yeah," She assured her friend as she glanced around the dorm room she had recently finished putting back to rights. "A couple of broken knick knacks, but no biggies." She replied with a small shrug.

Willow nodded as she looked around the dorm herself, unable to help feeling relieved that she wouldn't have to help Buffy clean up their dorm after spending a fair bit of time helping to clean up the mess the quake had made of the campus library. "Well, Porter dorm is completely blacked out." She began as she turned her gaze back to Buffy. "So, naturally they are dealing with the crisis the only way they know how, 'Aftershock Party.'"

"Ah," Buffy murmured as she nodded in a slightly sage like way. "This coming from the dorm that brought us the 'Somebody Sneezed' party and the 'Day That Ends in Y' party."

"They do seem to be pretty generous with the milestones." Willow admitted, but was keen to go nonetheless, seeing as there was no way that there was anything else that she could do… seeing as most of the campus was under lockdown due to power outage.

Seeing Buffy's still reluctant expression she bit her lower lip for a short moment as she considered what could entice her friend into feeling more happy about going with her. "Hey, y-you know… you could possibly see if-if Angelus would like to come? I-If you think that he'd be interested in going?" Willow offered, Angelus' name sounding strange coming off her tongue in such a context, but she highly doubted that bringing up Riley's name would earn her any brownie points were her blond friend was concerned. Not now that her scheme; that had seemed to clever at the time, to set up her friend with the nice normal Teachers Aid had been discovered.

Buffy gave a little wince. "Yeah, he'd probably be interested… for all the wrong reasons." She muttered. She could just imagine Angelus in amongst the crowd of drunken college students… but then… maybe Angelus would behave himself… he'd done a lot of things lately that she had never thought to see him do in recent months. Buffy shook her head to clear the image of Angelus attending a party with her… that was the last thing on her mind right now. "I'm pretty sure that Angelus is busy." Willow gave Buffy a curiously look and Buffy shrugged. "He rushed out of here not too long ago… looked like a man with a mission in mind." Buffy replied.

Willow looked away feeling slightly uncomfortable as she couldn't help but wonder what type of mission Angelus could have in mind… she gave herself a mental shake though as she turned her gaze back to Buffy as she did her best to remind herself of the way Angelus had been changing since he'd started wooing Buffy… a wooing that he seemed more and more serious about with the more time that past. "So… you won't be going then?" She murmured a little disappointedly, her slim shoulders slumping slightly.

Buffy gave her best friend a small smile. "You go on ahead, and I'll catch up with you there." She promised, her words immediately brightening Willow's expression. "I'm on my way for a little Giles one-on-one." She explained, answering the question that Willow had yet to ask.

"Anything wrong?" Willow asked concerned, wondering at Buffy's sudden need to visit Giles after having just successfully defeated The Gentlemen before they could complete their grizzly mission of heart collecting.

"Wrong?" Buffy repeated the question, as she pondered for a small moment on whether she should divulge her fears to her best friend. "No, mm-mm, not at all." She lied, deciding against worrying her friend until after she had spoken to Giles of her fears and had them confirmed by her father figure. Willow gave her friend a searching look for a brief moment, before shrugging it off. There didn't have to be an approaching disaster to want to go see Giles. Satisfied with her reasoning Willow smiled brightly at Buffy, glad that she now had someone going with her to the party, before she turned away from her friend knowing that she wanted to get going, whilst she need to start thinking about what she wanted to wear to the party.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus moved swiftly through the thickening trees in the part of the Campus that none of the students came. His eyes scanning the trees, searching for any sign of the military men that were infiltrating his town, putting his family in harm's way… had the gall to actually harm one of his family. And now or would soon know about his Slayer! He couldn't be one hundred precent certain about their reaction to her, but he knew human nature and if they were who he thought they were then he knew enough to know that they couldn't be trusted!

Angelus snarled softly a sneer twisting his lips as he remembered the indignity of the souls encounter with the cowardly bastards! Trapped under the soul he could do nothing but snarl in indignation as he was corralled into helping them… into being sunk down into the depths of the sea, legs tied to heavy weight that they said was to help him reach the depth need to board the submarine they had wanted him to board… Angelus fought back a growl as an age old anger built inside of him at the memories. Pausing in his stride to compose himself, Angelus fisted a hand and slammed it against the closest tree, making wood and bark flying everywhere for a moment after the impact. Pulling his fist back, he noticed that he'd hit the innocent tree hard enough to dent the wood.

Taking a breath Angelus moved on as he calmed himself; it would do him no good to let anger get the best of him… anger had led him down the path that had had him tormenting his mate instead of caring for her as he should have been from the moment she had set him free… hearing a noise to his left Angelus quickly ducked behind a tree, and few moments later a small patrol of military garbed solders ambled by, moving at a sedated pace obviously just on a routine patrol of the wooded area. Angelus frowned darkly as he watched them move right by him without noticing him and for a moment he considered killing them, releasing the pent up energy his anger had left bottled up inside of him. But he remained where he was, watching them as they moved on through the thick gathering of trees… trees that would seem to most demons a safe haven for them… and a prize one at that being so close to the University campus. It was all a set up though… the students were bait to bring the demons and the demons… where for… the military's scientists?

Angelus stepped out from behind the tree as they disappeared into the trees. Angelus growled, his fingers still itching to do damage to them, but he wasn't stupid, they'd been carrying the same kind of weapons Riley had been last night, and he had no desire to feel the sting of the electric bolts that they fired… and as strong as he was, he knew that with that many… there was a good chance that one of them could at least get a lucky shot in… which would then lead to him getting captured much like Spike had been… and the last thing he wanted was a blasted incapacitating chip in his brain that fired off blasts of mind numbing pain through his head, making him entire useless, like his good for nothing Childe…

Making sure that they had really gone from the area, Angelus turned in the direction they had been coming from, and began carefully tracing the footprints they had left behind in the soft grass and leaves covering the ground.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles sat at a table in his back courtyard, doing his best to enjoy the late afternoon sun as he studied his map, a task he was finding a little hard with his Slayer pacing agitatedly behind him, disturbing the tranquil peace of his courtyard. "Something horrible is going to happen, Giles." Buffy exclaimed with absolute certainty as well as worry in her tone as she continued to pace behind Giles. Her hazel gaze going to him expectantly, waiting for him to say something that agreed with her… and gave her something to work with… to stop the horrible from happening.

But Giles merely shrugged as he continued to pursue the map he had laid out in front of him. "It was an earthquake, Buffy." He said unconcernedly. "A not uncommon occurrence in Southern California. No reason to think it was anything more."

Buffy stopped her pacing as she looked at Giles in disbelief not having expected to hear something that was so unconcerned from him. "Oh, I so have a reason. A darn good reason." She exclaimed as she pointed at her chest for more emphasis, despite the fact that Giles was paying more attention to his map than he was to her. "The last time we had an earthquake, I died." She said pointedly, as if to remind him of that fact, hoping that that would get Giles into gear… hitting the books to do the old research thing he was so keen on doing… most of the time… just not the time that she really needed him to.

"Yes, I know that," Giles assured her, still not taking his eyes off his map of Sunnydale. "And therefore I completely understand your anxiety."

"Oh good," Buffy muttered with sarcasm etched into her tone. "Because I'd hate for my little untimely horrible death concern to be ambiguous." She grumbled as she frowned at Giles, wishing that he'd take her more seriously.

"But unless evidence suggests otherwise," Giles continued as if he hadn't heard her. "I think that we can assume that it's shifting landmasses and not a portent of some imminent doom." Finishing what he was doing with his map, Giles held up the board he had pinned the map to and held it an angle that Buffy would be able to see it. "Now in the meantime, I've got a few theories about our mysterious commando friends." He said as he gestured to the red pins he'd marked the maps with, each cluster of them marking a sight were the military men had been sighted.

Buffy swallowed thickly as she paused in her pacing. "Oh… really?" She mumbled as she sat down on a chair beside Giles, who shifted once again to accommodate her new position. Setting the map down on the table so that they could both see it.

"Now, based on the locations of our various sightings, and Spike's reluctant description of their underground installation…" Giles began glad that he had managed to get Buffy's complete attention.

Giles satisfaction didn't last long however as Buffy's concern over the earthquake quickly took her attention once again and she jumped up and began pacing again, unable to sit still with all the nervous energy that was bottled up inside of her. "What if the quake was a sign?" She questioned Giles, who took off his glasses in a sign of annoyance as he began cleaning them. "Ah, a bad omen and we just ignore it? There is going to be a lot of red faces when the world comes to an end." Buffy quipped nervously, various images of her impending death filling her mind… none of them pleasant and one of her hands went up to her throat as for a terrifying moment she could almost taste the foul water she had drown in…

"Buffy," Giles began trying to keep his exasperation hidden as he replaced his glasses. "If the quake heralds some such catastrophe, I'm sure there will be other signs to follow, which will afford us plenty of time to avert it." He assured her, putting emphasis on certain words that he felt were important. "Now, I believe that the commando installation is either very close to, or directly underneath your school." Giles soldered on hoping that he'd now managed to focus Buffy's mind. "Now if that is the case I'm convinced that one or more of them may be in your very midst."

"Plague!" Buffy exclaimed, not having been paying any attention to Giles as he talked about the military men, her mind too caught up in her impending death.

"What?" Giles exclaimed surprised at her sudden outburst. The word seeming completely off track for both of their conversations.

"What if the end of the world is coming in the form of a plague?" Buffy suggested, her mind working overtime as she paced back and forth. "Then too many people may be infected by the time we actually…"

"Buffy!" Giles said loudly, almost shouting to get Buffy's attention, his shout causing her to stop in her nervous pacing to look at him. "Will you stop worrying about what may be and concentrate on what is!" He demanded, more than a little annoyed now at her lack of concentration on what he felt was the more pressing matter at hand. Buffy opened her mouth to say something else, only for Giles to raise one of his hands in a gesture for silence. "Vigilance is all very good, but as we are getting close to figuring out just who these military men are… this is the much more pressing question."

Buffy stared at Giles for a moment as silence reigned between them as they both stared at each other, before Buffy blinked and glanced away. "Uh, I, uh… I have to go." She muttered and without waiting for a reply from her father figure who didn't seem to care one little bit about her fears, before she hurried out of the courtyard.

Giles let out a tired breath as he took his glass off once again and set them down on the map he'd been working so hard on. "Of course, go ahead. This stuff can wait, it's not like it's important at all." Giles muttered to himself as he rubbed his eyes, he could feel a headache building up behind his eyes. "Honestly, you'd think that every earthquake was a herald of disaster."

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus walked into his mansion with a dark scowl pulling down his brow as he shrugged off his jacket and tossed it over the couch, before throwing himself down on the plush cushions, his legs dangling over one of the arms as he crossed his arms behind his head. His gaze focused darkly on the ceiling as he reflected over his failure to get even close to the military's base. The security having gotten to tight the closer he'd gotten. It was very vexing especially now that his girl was so very close getting caught in their crosshairs… something he didn't fancy happening. He didn't know if they'd ever run across The Slayer before in all their years of operating and he didn't care… all he cared about was the fact that one of them now knew about his Slayer… which meant that soon more of them would know… and then… they would undoubtedly take an interest.

Angelus snarled loudly, the sound echoing through the large room he was in, he didn't trust them to begin with and trusted them even less now that he knew that they had infiltrated Buffy's University, using it to cover up their presence at the school… which had to mean that their main base was so close to the school that they needed an excuse to be seen around the campus without causing suspicion. Angelus bared his teeth at the ceiling as he wondered just how many there were hidden right under his nose… how many he'd seen without realizing it… how many were so close to his girl… able to harm her if they so choose… using the element of surprise to their advantage… and humans were far too likely to strike out at their own kind for being different than them.

Angelus' eyes flashed a golden amber and his face began to shift into the hard ridges of the demon, before he controlled himself with a fair amount of effort and his face returned completely to the smooth handsome features of the human. He still had time, the boy had only just found out about Buffy and he cared about her; something that bothered him terribly, but at this moment it was an advantage… it would afford him some time as the boy decided what to do with the information he had gained… but it would only be a little extra time. The boy was what they had made him, he was a well-oiled machine and it would be a miracle if he decided to keep the information to himself instead of telling his superiors all…

In that small window of time he would have to decide what the best thing for him to do was and he would have to decide quickly if he wanted to keep Buffy safe from their clutches. If they could neuter Spike, he could only imagine the things they would do to Buffy… Angelus shuddered at the thought a cold feeling slithering through his veins at the things his imagination came up with… and a loud growl rumbled threateningly from his chest, his face threatening to shift once again. Taking a deep breath Angelus forced himself to settle down as he reminded himself that nothing had happened to her yet and that he wasn't about to sit by and let something happen to her. Still he remained uneasy as he lay on his couch looking up at the ceiling, his mind whirling as he attempted to think of a course of action that would keep Buffy safe…

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley walked beside Forrest down one of the many white halls of their underground base, his mind still whirling with all the information it had been given earlier that afternoon, trying to come up with the answer to the question he'd been asking himself since then… what was he to do? But no matter how hard he tried his mind just continued to spin around in endless circles… getting no closer to an answer then when he had first been told! Buffy Summers… A Slayer? He understood the words, but their meaning in this case escaped him. It seemed obvious to him that it was an important thing and meant more beyond the obvious meaning… but he had no idea as to what that deeper meaning meant…

Glancing over at Forrest who was walking beside him as confident in his stride as always… Buffy had said to look it up… well he had no books that would mention such a thing, but he could ask one of his close friends about it… "What's a Slayer?" He asked, breaking the silence between them.

"Slayer?" Forrest repeated as he turned his gaze to Riley, wondering where the strange question had come from. "Thrash Band. Anvil handed guitar band with delusions of Black Sabbath." He replied, describing the well-known band.

Riley shook his head, as he thought back to the conversation he'd had with Buffy, trying to remember some of the details she had given him. "No, a girl, with powers." He elaborated, summing up what she'd told him in simpler terms… and upon saying it realizing just how little she had told him, before her boyfriend had shown up and put an end to that conversation with his mere presence.

Forrest nodded in sudden understanding. "Oh. The Slayer." He corrected. "Oh yeah, I've heard of The Slayer." He said.

Riley smiled in relief, hoping that more information would help him to decide on what he was going to do. "Fill me in." He requested as they came to a stop in the hall.

"Well, the way I got it figured The Slayer is like some kind of bogey man for the Sub-terrestrials." He explained with a unconcerned shrug. "Something they tell their little spawn to make them eat their vegetables and clean up their slime pits." He said ignorantly.

Riley touched a hand to Forrest's shoulder as he went to move on, a slightly confused look on his face. "You're telling she doesn't exist."

Forrest smiled as he fought down the urge to laugh as he took in the look of confused disappointment on his friends face. "Oh, wait a sec. Am I bursting somebody's bubble here? Maybe this is a bad time to tell you about The Easter Bunny." He said mockingly, before laughing.

Riley gave him a disgruntled look and went to move on, not appreciating being laughed at, but Forrest caught his arm stopping his friend in his tracks. "Sorry," He tried to apologise but couldn't stop laughing through it and then. "Sorry," He tried again this time managing to contain his laughter. "It's a myth, Rye. All part of that medieval folklore garbage kooks dream up to explain the things we deal with every day." Forrest said confidently as a scientist wearing a white lab coat marched a large demon that had horns protruding from either side of its ugly head walked by them down the hall.

Riley watched them with a small frown as he tried to digest what Forrest had told him and match it to what he'd seen the night before… and belatedly realizing that he'd get no more help from his friend on this matter. "How do you explain the things we deal with, Forrest?" He asked curious as to how his friend dealt.

"They're just animals, man, plain and simple." Forrest merely shrugged as he turned away from watching the demons back. "Granted they're a little rarer than the ones you grew up with on that little farm in Smallville…" Forrest trailed off a loud bellowing growl sounded from behind them. The both of them turned to look at its cause and saw the horned demon that had just been led past them knocking its scientist escort aside. Without hesitation the both of them ran to help contain the riled up hostile, who as they ran towards it shoved a cart carrying medical supplies at another scientist who had also run up towards the demon.

Forrest immediately jumped on the demons back hoping that his weight and strength would bring the hostile to the ground, but all the demon did was thrash wildly as it tried to throw him off. Riley threw a punch at it when it turned to face him, taking the opportunity when it was given not wanting to harm his friend who had his arms locked around the hostile's throat as he hung on. The demon was more annoyed by Riley's punch then hurt and in retaliation shoved Riley hard sending him stumbling back as he fought to keep his feet. "Where's that hypo?" Forrest shouted as the demon began bucking under him wildly again trying to throw him off, just before the hostile slammed him up against a wall, the pain rocketing through his back forcing him to release the demon.

The sudden shout however caused the already extremely nervous scientist to drop the small bottle filled with the incapacitating drug that would knock the demon out cold. The frightened scientist whimpered, before he quickly dropped to his hands and knees to pick it up. The horned hostile punched a third man clad in full military gear, the blow making the man drop his baton and fall back on his ass. The horned hostile turned his attention back to Forrest as he got back up to his feet a wince of pain crossing his dark features. The look had barely passed over his face when the hostile's strong hand closed about his neck, constricting his airflow… threatening to suffocate him. Moving quickly Riley snatched up the fallen baton and closed in on the hostiles back, bringing the baton down hard on the back of the hostiles head, sending the demon down to the ground unmoving as unconsciousness claiming the riled hostile.

Riley tossed the baton back to its rightful owner who was getting his feet, clutching at what appeared to be a broken nose with one hand. "Never mind." Riley told the scientist as the still terrified man who was only now fitting the needle to the small bottle. His gaze going back to Forrest who was breathing hard and clutching at his bruised throat.

"Like I said." Forrest gasped as he stepped over the unconscious hostile and made it back over to Riley's side still massaging his throat. "Animals." He turned his gaze in the direction of the many cages that were filled with hostiles as loud banging sounds along with howls and growls filled the air. "What's that racket?" He asked Riley as he turned his gaze back to Riley.

Riley shrugged. "Animals rattling their cages, been doing it all day." He replied. "Wonder what got them all worked up."

Forrest shook his head as his gaze went down to the unconscious hostile that the scientists were hurrying to get taken away to its cell whilst it was still out cold. "Earthquakes man, make everybody crazy."

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy swiftly entered the mansion on Crawford Street; pausing in her purposeful stride, her breathing only slightly laboured having hurried over from Giles condo. Her gaze searched as her senses stretched out in search of the man she was looking for. She didn't have to search long, her eyes landing on him almost immediately, her keen senses unnecessary this time as she spotted his legs hanging over the edge of a couch set up before the large empty fireplace. Smiling in relief at having found him at home, instead of having to wait for him to get home from whatever it was he'd left in such a hurry to go do.

Buffy had barely made it half way towards his couch before she saw his legs move and a moment later all of him came into view as Angelus sprang to his feet. "Buffy?" He greeted as his eyes drank in the sight of her, taking in her flushed appearance and quickened breath. "Is something the matter?" He asked looking behind her to see if anyone was following behind her; his fear for her safety immediately jumping to the forefront of his mind.

Buffy continued on her way towards him, the distance between them closing as Angelus also stepped towards her. "No," She assured him. "Well, not really." Buffy babbled. "I was just at Giles'…"

"And did he say something to," Angelus began only to have Buffy shake her head at him, causing him to trail off.

"No, I was just over there and I suddenly had this overwhelming urge to see you… be near you." Buffy explained as she moved closer to him still, brushing herself up against him as her pupils began to dilate with her desire for him. The nervous pent up energy she had been feeling since the earthquake having turned to arousal.

Angelus swallowed thickly as he took in her eyes that were usually a bright hazel having turned to a deep jade. The scent of her desire for him filling his nose as her feminine hands came up to slide gently over the silk of his shirt, the heat of her skin through the cool silk sending warm shivers of delight through his body, his own desire rising swiftly in the confines of his leather pants. Buffy fisted her hands in the silk shirt she had been stroking; feeling the deliciously sculpted muscles beneath it. She used her grip on his shirt to help balance herself as she moved up onto the balls of her toes to press her lips against his, her tongue flicking over his lips; begging for entrance into the wet cavern of his mouth. Angelus groaned as his lips parted for her on instinct, his hands coming up to hold her, one cupping the back of her head; his fingers delving into the softness of her blond hair as his other curved about her back, pressing her lithe body against his for a long moment.

Reluctantly Angelus pulled away, freeing his mouth from her seeking one as he looked down at her. Taking in the disappointed pout on her lips as she stared up at him questioningly; wondering why he had pulled back. "You aren't under some kind of spell or something like that are you?" He asked.

The question made the pout disappear from Buffy's lips as she smiled up at him, a small giggle of laughter rising up inside of her; that escaped for the briefest of moments. "No."

"Good." Angelus rumbled huskily, before he crushed her up against him once again, his mouth finding hers once again, ravaging it with the passion he had held back before as he tried to keep his wits just long enough to ascertain that his mate wasn't under the influence as she had been the last times she had suddenly come to him and acted much like this…

Buffy moaned against his lips, her tongue duelling with his as her hands that were still fisted in his silk shirt tugged and a ripping sound rent the air for a short moment as the small buttons popped free of the shirt, the stiches that held them to the shirt nothing compared to the strength in her arms. Immediately her hands slid underneath the ruined silk of his shirt; her hands luxuriating in the feel of the soft skin of his chest that covered the hard muscles. Buffy's mouth left his after a long moment, her lips trailing down his cool flesh. Tasting his familiar skin under her tongue, her teeth had only just gently scrapped over his small nipple when his hands shifted upon her and she was lifted up into his arms. Buffy wrapped her legs about his hips when her feet left the ground, her gaze meeting his for a moment, before his mouth claimed hers once again.

Angelus groaned as their tongues duelled passionately as he swiftly walked them across the room only stopping when he'd pressed Buffy up against one of the stone walls of the large room they were in. His hands swiftly moved to rid her of the clothes that denied him the pleasure of direct contact with her flesh.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow stood awkwardly in the midst of the party that Porter dorm was throwing as she looked around, trying in vain to spot somebody she knew in amongst the crowd. She was beginning to believe that it had been a bad idea to come here before Buffy… she hadn't though that she would feel this awkward… the last few times she had felt perfectly fine coming alone… but then she had been dating Oz and the added cool factor he gave her had had people talking to her… the guys in the band and those that liked the band… but now that Oz had left for parts unknown to her… had left her in the eyes of everyone, it was like she didn't exist to them anymore… Willow's shoulders slumped at the unwanted reminder of Oz and she continued to look around at the people who were moving about; taking no notice of her as she stood awkwardly… alone…

Her eyes scanned over the people, hoping that perhaps she would spot Tara in amongst them… perhaps looking as out of place as she was… perhaps hoping to spot her as well, but it was a silly hope… from what she knew of Tara from her short acquaintance with her she was far too shy and quiet to want to come to such a rowdy gathering. Willow looked towards the door hoping to see the familiar blond head of Buffy as she finally made her appearance; like she had promised she would. Not seeing her Willow sighed disappointedly, before sweeping her gaze around the crowd again. A small group shifted as her gaze landed on them, revealing a couple sitting on a single chair and Willow smiled as she at least recognised one of them.

Relieved to have found someone she knew, Willow immediately made her way over to him a friendly bright smile curling up her lips. "Percy! Hi!" She greeted drawing the couple's attention to her.

Percy looked at her surprised, not having expected to see the red head at the party. The girl he'd gone to high school with not one for attending them… or getting invited to them. " Hey, Willow!" He replied as he got over his shock and shifted in his chair slightly so that he was facing her more. The memory of a time when she'd lifted him up by the throat and threw him back against a pool table not yet old enough to allow him to be rude as he had been when she'd done it. "What's going on?"

"Stuff." Willow said with a slightly nervous shrug, wishing that she could say more, but the things that she was into wouldn't go down well with the general public. Her gaze drifted to the pretty brunette that was perched on the arm of the chair beside him, looking at her with a politely bored expression. "I-I thought you got that football scholarship to USC?" Willow asked Percy as she turned her gaze back to him.

"I did." Percy replied, before gesturing to the brunette beside him, who was swiftly growing bored of not being the centre of his attention; this boring conversation having already going on too long in her opinion. "Laurie goes here."

"Hey." Laurie greeted, trying to keep her impatience in check, believing that the conversation couldn't go on for much longer. The girl in her opinion was about as lively as a broken twig.

"Hi." Willow greeted with a small awkward wave of her hand, her awkwardness growing as Laurie continued to stare at her… her gaze not seeming as friendly as it seemed to be on the surface. "Some party, huh?" Willow said, trying to ease the feeling… that she hoped was just a feeling.

Laurie forced herself to smile. "It's ok." She muttered, hoping to put a swift end to the conversation and get the girl to go away.

A slightly awkward silence followed and Laurie turned her gaze to Percy, trying to tell him silently with her gaze to get rid of the obvious nerd who had come over to them. Percy turned his gaze back to Willow and broke the silence. "How's Oz?" He enquired, not quiet taking the meaning of the look Laurie was giving him.

"Oh," Willow began glad that at least this would give her something more to talk about, even if the topic did pain her still. "Actually, Oz is…"

She trailed off as Laurie stood from her perch, leaning down so that she could link her arm with Percy's drawing his attention away from her with little effort as she whispered something in his ear. Willow watched as Laurie stood back up and took a couple of steps away as Percy licked his lips as he turned his gaze back to Willow. "Uh, listen… we're going to get some drinks." He excused quickly. "Cool to see you." He said as he got up, his hand grasping Laurie's.

Laurie gave Willow another fake smile. "Bye." She said, before she swiftly led Percy away, quickly disappearing into the crowd.

"Yeah, catch you later." Willow muttered disappointedly, a sinking feeling inside of her that she had just been unceremoniously dismissed, but she consoled herself that it had been Laurie who didn't really know her at all and not Percy who had wanted to get rid of her. Looking around again Willow wondered what she could do now… whilst she waited for Buffy to make her appearance… Looking around again she hoped that she may have arrived whilst she'd had the momentary distraction of Percy and his girlfriend.

Willow watched as a topless guy trailing after two hot women, followed them through a door and into another part of the party, she shook her head and turned her gaze away from them, not having even the slightest interest in what they were going to be doing. Her gaze swept away from the door they had disappeared through, just missing as a long fingered green hand tipped in deadly looking claws closed about the edge of the door preventing it from shutting completely.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

The shirtless guy stood alone in another room, that was mostly cut off from the sounds of the party as he messily filled up plastic cups with alcohol, having been sent to replenish their cups. His body bopping to the beat of the music coming through the door as he hummed along to it. "Hey," He shouted as he glanced back towards the room he had just left, where the noises of his friends could be heard through the door. "You guys serious about naked limbo? Cause I'm in." He shouted as he finished picking up the four plastic cups and began picking them up, pressing a couple against his chest with his arm so that he could take them all out at once.

But as he turned around his entire body froze as he came face to face with an ugly greenish coloured demon that looked less then friendly. His expression was one of shock and fear as the demon roared loudly, before it swung out at the boy, its long claws slicing effortlessly through the vulnerable flesh of his throat. The boy dropped the cups he had been holding spilling the alcohol to the floor. Blood that was spurting from his neck mixing in with the alcohol as the demon grasped him, keeping him from falling lifelessly to the floor…

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy let out a wordless cry as she looked down at Angelus' head as he thrust himself home inside of her over and over again. One of her hands braced herself against the mantle of the fireplace, her other hand clutching at his broad shoulder as she did her best to meet his every thrust, but was hampered by the solid stone wall at her back that he was keeping her firmly pinned against as he thrust into her welcoming sheath. Angelus placed heated kisses along the column of her slender neck, his lips brushing over the strong thundering beat of the pulse in her neck. The beating of it drawing his attention as he pressed another kiss to it, enjoying the way her blood jumped under his lips. Sucking the vulnerable flesh into his mouth, he sucked on it in time to the beating of the blood underneath.

Feeling Buffy arch into his touch trustingly, spurring on his desire for her and he hardened his pace inside of her, earning another high pitched keen of pleasure from his girl as her legs tightened about his hips urging him on… deeper as her sheath clenched about him in encouragement, the slick wetness of her sheath allowing him to easily glide in and out of her. As he suckled at her neck, his teeth began to elongate into the sharp fangs, beneath the closed lids, his eyes glowed that demonic amber and he was filled with the desire to bite down deeply, to taste her blood and mark her once again… this time with the mark of a mate; to close the deal. To make Buffy his mate in entirety.

Angelus stayed like that for a moment, his fangs brushing gently against the scar that already rested on her slender neck, his tongue lapping at the raised skin as he fought for control over himself… now was most definitely not the time… Forcing himself to pull back, his face smoothing out and his eyes returning to their dark brown. Buffy's eyes opened, her gaze curious as she wondered why he'd stopped thrusting inside of her, his cock just resting inside of her, unmoving as it pulsed with blood. His gaze met hers unflinchingly, and Buffy gasped heatedly, her legs tightening about his hips in denial as he pulled out of her sheath leaving it feeling empty and aching with need for him. "A-Ange-lus?" She gasped as she fought to catch her breath to be able to speak. Whilst her legs tightened about his narrow hips and rubbed herself wantonly against his still turgid length, trying to seat herself upon his cock once again… to feel him stretching her; filling her as she so fiercely desired.

But Angelus shifted, pulling himself back from her slightly, just enough so that her legs had to release his hips as his hands kept her pressed up against the wall. Buffy met his gaze again, her lips parting to speak once again. "Ang…" But her voice left her as she was pulled away from the wall, a gasp escaping her as Angelus flung her over his shoulder and began walking, going up the stairs, heading towards his room and the bed that waited for them there. "Angelus?" Buffy murmured as she strained to keep her head lifted up, her arousal making her wiggle against his shoulder… wanting to feel him thrusting deep inside her… not carrying her through the mansion. "Is this…" She trailed off. "I want you inside of me." She pleaded as she did her best to look at him from the angle he was carrying her in.

She let out a yip of surprise as her world was suddenly turned around once again as she was moved from Angelus' broad shoulder to be cradled in his chest with one of his arms; hers coming up to circle about his neck to steady herself as he continued to walk as he looked down at her not needing to see to know his way around his mansion. "Patience, Buff." He murmured, his lips curling up into a confident smile. "You'll feel it again soon enough." He promised her as he guided one of her hands down between them so that she could feel just how hard he still was for her. Buffy bit her lower lip wickedly as she pumped her hand up and down the long length of him and she rocked slightly in Angelus' arms as his steps faltered as he gasped.

Angelus carefully extracted his cock from her strong warm hand and Buffy gave him a cheeky unapologetic look as she continued to worry her lower lip with her white teeth. "Enough of that, or we won't reach the bed." He chided her, before he started along the hallway again. He took deep breaths as he fought to regain complete control over his desires. Everything he had worked for these past few months would be for naught if he mated her now… her trust in him was still so fragile… and he wanted her to be fully aware when he marked her as his mate… he wanted her to know exactly what he was doing… and he wanted her to want it just as much as he did. Something he wasn't sure he had achieved just yet in his wooing of his girl.

Angelus kicked the door to his bedroom open and quickly stepped inside as he shifted Buffy in his arms once again, pressing her up against him, causing Buffy to gasp; her hips undulating against him as she felt the firm press of his hard cock against her wet aching pussy. Angelus groaned and quickly manoeuvred them over to the bed; his cock pulsing with unfulfilled need.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"Buffy, where are you?" Willow muttered as she stood in amongst the party, looking around hoping to see the familiar blond head of her best friend… even accompanied by Angelus like she had reluctantly suggested in the hopes of making the prospect of coming with her to the party more enticing for her friend who hadn't seemed all that keen on coming. But she still didn't see the blond that she was waiting for as she stood in amongst the happy party goers… but not one of them as they all were still happy to be ignore her as she stood quiet alone. And she couldn't help, but wonder if Buffy was still planning to come at all; if something else had caught her attention causing her to forget about her and the party she had said she would come to.

Her thoughts were interrupted as she heard the familiar voice of Percy and she turned around to face the source of the noise a smile lighting her face as she took a step towards them, hoping that Percy would keep her company until Buffy could arrive, but her steps stilled almost as soon as they had begun as she heard Laurie's voice clearly despite the noise as she obviously answered a suggestion Percy had made that wasn't well received by her. "Why? So I can watch you flirt with that red head?" Laurie said with a fake pout.

"What, Rosenberg?" Percy replied shocked that Laurie would think that he would flirt with a girl so beneath his social standing. "Yea, right. She's just some egghead who tutored me a little in high school." He assured his girlfriend, turning Willow's happy face to one of sadness and hurt as she couldn't help but listen further as her feet kept her; for the moment, in place. "I mean she's nice, but, come on, Captain of the nerd squad." He quaffed feeling free to speak his mind now that he believed that the girl he spoke of couldn't hear him.

Laurie looked at him with teasing doubt. "Well, I don't know." She murmured as she leaned in towards him slightly, drink in hand. "Maybe you have a thing for geeks."

"No, I like my women hot." Percy assured Laurie with a smile as he chewed the gum he had put in his mouth earlier. "Call me old-fashioned." He said with a shrug. Willow looked from one to the other with wide hurt eyes, before she spun on her heal and hurried away. Forgetting that she was waiting for Buffy as she sought a place to hide herself away as she felt the hot prick of tears pressing painfully against the backs of her eyes as Percy and Laurie kiss deeply both completely unaware that she had heard them.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy let out a wordless cry as her orgasm surged through her. She clung to Angelus as she rode out her orgasm; Angelus still thrusting inside of her as he rode out his own, extending both their pleasure. Buffy stroked her hands up and down Angelus' flesh mindlessly, just wanting to touch him as he continued to lay above her; her afterglow continuing to warm her as she caressed him with affectionate fingers. Her chest heaving with her panted breaths, a sheen of sweet covering her naked flesh, her nerves sending tingles of pleasure shooting through her as Angelus' unneeded breath washing over her skin and his fingers traced little patterns on her skin as he too lay basking in the afterglow of their coupling.

The moment seemed to last longer than it did as they both drifted, riding out the lingering waves of their shared pleasure, but all to soon it seemed to Buffy Angelus regained himself and lifted his weight from her; a weight that she had luxuriated in as she basked. Angelus gave a little groan as he pulled himself reluctantly from Buffy's warm wet depths. His seed immediately beginning to slip down her thighs as he did so, lying down on the mattress beside her. Buffy turned onto her side to face him a happy smile curling up her lips as she rested a warm hand against his chest, her body tingling pleasantly, the nervous energy that had been built up inside her all but spent now; leaving her feeling much better… pleasantly relaxed. "Hhmm," She moaned as her afterglow truly began to leave her, letting more unpleasant thoughts intrude on the quiet moment. "Thanks, I really needed that."

"Any time." Angelus murmured, a large cocky smile curling up his lips as he too turned on his side to face his girl, his eyes travelling to the faint mark that he had placed on her neck… making the scar he had placed there look darker than it had in a long while.

Buffy let out a sigh as she looked up at Angelus. "I should go." She muttered disappointedly, wishing that she didn't have to go, but knowing that Willow was waiting for her.

"Why?" Angelus murmured as he shifted closer to her, his hand reaching out to caress the side of her face. "The nights young. Patrol can wait a few more hours."

"I promised, Willow I'd meet her at a party." Buffy replied as she forced her satisfied and mostly unwilling limbs to move so that she could sit up on the plush mattress. "And I suppose that I should find that time in there somewhere to go back to Giles… I kinda rushed out on him when he was trying to explain something to me." Buff shimmed across the bed and got to her feet, her legs feeling a little wobbly underneath her weight for a moment, before they steadied. She turned to Angelus with a small affectionate smile curling up her lips. "I'll see you later." She said, before turning to go in pursuit of her clothes that were down the stairs somewhere.

"Hang on." Angelus called stopping Buffy in her tracks as she angled herself so that she could look back at him. "You weren't thinking of leaving without giving me a good bye kiss were you?" He asked as he lounged back on his mattress propped up by one of his arms.

Buffy smiled and got back up on the mattress and shuffled over to him on her hands and knees until her face was a mere inch from his. Leaning in to close the distance she pressed her lips to his in a kiss that quickly turned heated once again as Angelus slipped his tongue past her lips one of his hands coming up to cup the side of her face. Sensing were this was once again headed, Buffy forced herself to pull back from him and smiled as Angelus pouted at her. "I'll see you later." She murmured as she clambered back off the bed and swiftly exited the room in search of the clothes she had left in the room she had found him in hours ago. A large bubble of happiness swelling in her chest as her mind went over everything that had happened since she had arrived… it was almost enough to make one believe that the past had been nothing more than a bad dream…

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow opened the door and peered into a dark room, making it extremely difficult to see anything but rough outlines of the things in the room. "Hello?" She called a little timidly into the room, not wanting to interrupt anyone in the middle of something she rather not bear witness to. "Anyone in here?" Not getting any reply Willow breathed a sigh of relief and entered the room, closing the door behind her. Glad that she had finally found a room that was empty. Walking carefully across the room heading towards what she assumed was the outline of a bed. As she drew closer to the bed she stumbled slightly as one of her feet caught on something soft. Reaching down she felt what seemed to be a shirt, untangling her foot from it not really thinking much of it seeing as she had obviously entered someone's dorm room.

Lying down on the bed, turning onto her side so that her back was to the door as she began to softly sniffle a hand coming up to wipe at her eyes, the tears finally beginning to leak from her eyes as Percy's words rang hurtfully around in her brain. His words hurting more than she liked them to. She didn't have the sanctuary of darkness for long as the lights in the dorm suddenly flicked back on as the power came back with a buzz appliances that had been left on flicked back on. Willow didn't pay any attention to that though as she stared wide eyed at her unexpected bed mate… her unexpected obviously dead bed mate as he lay propped up against the pillows on the other side of the bed from her. To shocked to scream, Willow slowly turned away from the body and rolled out of the bed, getting unsteadily to her feet. She backed away from the body that was all too visible with the lights on. Her gaze went from his throat that had been sliced open crudely to land on the symbol that had been carved without any hesitation marks into the guys chest.

Willow stared at it, memorizing what it looked like for Giles and Buffy knowing that they would need to know as much as she could give them, before slowly, trying to keep calm she exited the bedroom to find somebody she could tell that wasn't too drunk to take what she said seriously. Willow looked about the party goers wondering just who she could find in amongst this mess of people who had been partying since early afternoon, before deciding that hysterical was more likely to get more attention than her calmly going up to someone…

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Xander mounted the stairs that led down into the basement that he called home, a pizza box in his hands. His calm expression turning to one of horror as his room came into view. "Oh, no!" He exclaimed as he came off the stairs, his gaze glancing about at what he could see of his basement. "Spike, the place is worse than when I left!" a drop of water hit his cheek and he looked up to see the pipe still leaking water. "You didn't even fix the drip!" He exclaimed in annoyance, sure he hadn't expected Spike to do half of what he'd asked him to do… but he had thought that he would fix the drip!

"Don't turn around." Spike said from where he stood behind Xander, when it looked like the boy was about to turn around, and see his embarrassment.

Xander hesitated. "Spike, what is it what happened?" He asked, the concern in his voice being for the possible damage done to his property.

"Don't look at me." Spike said again as he stood uncomfortably, wishing that there was a space big enough in this basement big enough for him to hide in. Xander ignoring Spike's demands turned around to face the vampire and paused, almost dropping the pizza box he was still carrying as he took in the ridiculous sight of Spike wearing his ill-fitting clothes… something that made the vampire look shorter and far less imposing than his usual black. And he couldn't stop the laughter that burst out of him at the sight.

Spike held up some of his clothes. "I shrunk them." He explained. "Bleeding shirt, trousers…" He said morosely as he looked over the ruined clothes he had laid out on Xander's bed. "I hate this place." He muttered despondently.

Xander smoothing his features into a serious look, despite the amusement he still felt at seeing Spike wearing his clothes… they really did look ridiculous on the peroxide blond vampire. "You know I'm not any happier about you wearing my stuff than you are."

Spike dropped the shrunk shirt that he had been holding up back onto the bed as he turned his full attention to his unwilling host. "Go out, get me some decent stuff, and I want more blood." He demanded without even so much as a please or a thank you about to pace through his lips.

"No!" Xander said flatly, in no mood to go out again for the demanding layabout that he had the misfortune to be babysitting once again. "You're not a guest!"

Spike scowled at Xander, unable to take the thought of being forced to wear the brats clothes for any longer than he had to. Painfully aware of just how ridiculous he looked in them, there was no way that he'd be able to live it down if his Sire… or anyone for that matter saw him in this… He could only imagine the grief that The Slayer would give him upon seeing him… any all respect she had for his reputation as a big bad would fly out the window never to be seen again! "You want me to tear this place apart, you bloody poof?!" He growled threateningly.

"That's it!" Xander snapped angrily in return as he set down his pizza box on a surface that wasn't wet from the leaky pipe that Spike hadn't bothered to fix. "I am way past due with you. I hate to break it to you, oh impotent one, but you're not the big bad anymore, you're not even the kinda naughty. You're nothing but a waste of space; my space! And as much as I always got a big laugh watching Buffy kick your shiny white bum, as much as I know I can give you a little bum-kicking myself right now, I'm here to tell you something," Xander took a menacing step forward getting splattered by the worst part of the drip coming from the leaky pipe. "You're not even worth it." He said degradingly, making Spike swallow as his words… words that normally wouldn't bother him rattled around in his brain. "I'm out of here." Xander muttered as he turned away from Spike and snatched up the pizza box that was to be his dinner and marched right back out of his damp basement, leaving Spike to stare after him… a disheartened look on his face.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow sat at the bottom of a flight of stairs her chin resting on her fist as she watched the body of the boy she had found being wheeled away by the paramedics. She sat up slightly straighter as she saw Buffy walking into the building just as the body was being wheeled out. Buffy looked after the body for a moment and Willow raised a hand. "Buffy!" She called getting the blonds attention. "Over here."

Buffy quickly made her way over to her distraught looking friend and sat down beside her on the stairs a soft sigh escaping her as all the good feelings she'd had upon leaving Angelus' mansion disappeared. "Wow, I wasn't sure where the party was, and then I saw the flashing lights and the ambulance, and I was like 'right, of course! Death, carnage… it's a Buffy party!'" She murmured as she settled down beside Willow, looking at her friend in concern, not liking how pale she looked. Something that was made to look worse by her bright red hair.

"I'm so glad you're here." Willow mumbled as she rested her head against Buffy's shoulder, glad that her friend had finally made it. Needing the comfort of that right now.

Buffy placed a hand over one of Willow's as looked about what she could see of Porter Dorm, the once happy party goers now sombre and some… those that were closest to the victim crying in small groups. "What happened?" She asked Willow.

"I found him," Willow said quietly as she raised her head from Buffy's shoulder, her hand clasping Buffy's firmly as she looked up at her friend, trying to draw strength from her to keep her fragile composure. "This guy on the bed with me. Dead. Not me dead, he dead." She babbled slightly as an image of his body as she'd found him flashing before her eyes.

"God." Buffy exclaimed softly, not having imagined that Willow would be the one to find the victim… no wonder she was so pale! "Are you ok?" She asked as she gave Willow a searching look as if trying to pry the information from her mind as Willow nodded. Taking a breath and looking around to make sure that nobody was close enough to hear, she leaned in closer to Willow and lowered her voice down to a whisper. "Vampire?" She enquired.

To Buffy's surprise Willow shook her head. "There was so much blood, and there-there was a symbol, and… Percy said I was a nerd!" Willow exclaimed suddenly remembering what had made her seek out solitude in the first place.

"Percy called you a nerd?" Buffy repeated, distracted from the dead boy as outrage filled her for her friend and she looked around the room they were in to see if she could spot Percy amongst those that were still lingering around, her eyes narrowed.

Willow nodded glumly. "I guess we should report to Giles, get with the demon tracking." She muttered, her voice drained as she forced herself to stand up.

Buffy stood up with her and linked her arm in hers as they began making their way out of the building. "Does he even go here?" She asked with a frown as she tried to recall if she'd even seen him around on campus since school had started.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley sat in his room in Lorrell house with Forrest; he stood in front of his door a foam basketball coloured ball in his hand, a ball which he aimed at a small toy hoop that was fastened high up on the door. Throwing the ball at the hoop, he sighed as it once again missed it's intended target.

Forrest caught the foam ball as it came in his direction and turned his gaze to Riley. "Ok, that makes 0 for a billion. You don't got game, son." He teased, taking in the faraway look in his friend's eyes. "What's going on in that head of yours?"

Riley sighed as he looked over at Forrest. "I'm just trying to… make up my mind about something." He said honestly before trailing off, not ready to talk about what he knew about Buffy… not when he hadn't made a decision yet. A decision that was proving far more difficult than it should be. It should be simple! He knew something that was important for The Initiative to know that could help them in their endeavour to capture hostile's… so he should go straight to Professor Walsh and tell all that he knew, but… he wasn't sure that he should… Buffy was taking as much care as The Initiative itself did to retain secrecy… Forrest waited, watching Riley expectantly as he waited for his friend to divulge what was on his mind that was distracting him so. "Buffy," Riley finally said making Forrest sigh in annoyance just at the mention of her name. "She's pretty cool, isn't she?" Riley asked carefully.

Forrest rolled his eyes as he squeezed the foam ball that was in his hand. "Yes, already." He grumbled annoyed. "She's cool, she's hot, she is tepid, she's all temperature Buffy." Forrest said sarcasm entering his tone. "Now can we concentrate on the game here?" He asked with a shake of his head as he aimed the foam ball up at the hoop, shooting the ball up at the hoop just as the door swung open hitting Graham in the head as he entered the doorway. "Good block." Forrest said amused his annoyance at Riley's continued infatuation with Buffy quickly disappearing. "You should use your face more often."

Graham didn't crack the smile that Forrest expected as he looked from one member of their team to the other. "We have an alpha code blue situation." He said seriously, wiping the smirk off Forrest's face and turning Riley's mind from the Buffy situation that he couldn't seem to stop thinking about; as the both of them immediately stood to their feet, their expressions as serious as Grahams.

"One of ours?" Riley asked.

"Negative. Civilian at the Porter Hall party." Graham answered immediately, and Forrest and Riley let out a breath that they had been holding, both glad that it wasn't one of their own that had become a casualty.

"HST attack?" Forrest asked.

"Cannot confirm that." Graham replied. "I couldn't get close without drawing attention to myself." He expanded, feeling the need to explain why he couldn't tell his comrades more about the attack.

"Should we mobilize?" Forrest asked as he turned his gaze to Riley.

Riley thought for a moment before he shook his head. "No, I'll go. Do a little recon. See if it falls in our domain." He said firmly, a part of him hoping that it was a HST attack as more than likely it would mean bumping into Buffy and if he was lucky he would be able to talk to her more about this Slayer thing. "You alert Prof Walsh. Tell her we have a casualty of an indeterminate nature. Let's not make a move until we get the whole story." He decided.

Both Graham and Forrest nodded and moved out of the room, heading off to do as their team leader had commanded of them, whilst Riley tossed on a jacket, before making his way out of the room and heading on his way to Porter Hall.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"It just made me feel like I was right back in high school." Willow finished morosely as she sat in Giles apartment, Xander and Buffy spread out around his living room as the man himself sat at his desk pouring through one of his books.

"Dumb jock!" Xander grumbled with a frown. "If it wasn't for you he still would be." He muttered, thoroughly offended for his friend.

"I mean, I know the Percy thing isn't really important, it's the dead guy on the bed." Willow murmured apologetically as she glanced at the back of Giles head, knowing that she was probably detracting from his concentration with her moaning about being called a nerd.

Xander nodded his agreement. "Yeah, that's bad too."

"Ooh, and something else." Willow exclaimed suddenly remembering. "He, the dead guy, was-was propped up, like whatever killed him wanted to drain the blood out of him… so I'm thinking that the whatever took a bunch of the guy's blood with it." She added hoping that she had added something helpful, before she frowned as something else about what Percy said hit her. "And I haven't been a nerd for a very long time! Hello… dating a guitarist… or I was." She added on her expression falling once again.

"Tell me about this symbol." Buffy requested immediately drawing Willow's attention away from Oz and being called a nerd as the red head reached into her pocket and pulled out a napkin she'd drawn the symbol on whilst sitting on the stairs of Porter Hall as she waited for Buffy. "Right, it was carved into his chest, like a big creepy eye." She explained as she showed the rough drawing she had made to Buffy.

Xander wanting a better look plucked the napkin from her lax fingers and looked at it. "It's kind of the CBS logo. Hey, could this be the handiwork of one Mr. Morley Safer?" He asked teasingly, trying to lighten the mood in the condo and lift Willow's spirits.

Buffy frowned as she tried to think. "I'm telling you I've seen this somewhere before, I just can't remember where!" She muttered frustrated as she tried to remember where she had seen the freaky looking symbol before. "I mean, it's like…"

"It's the end of the world." Giles said as he lowered the book he had been looking at so intently a worried look on his face.

Behind him Buffy, Willow and Xander looked at him for a moment in shock, before the moment passed. "Again?" They exclaimed in unison, none of them wanting to believe that the end of the world was once again upon them.

"It's ah, the earthquake," Giles explained as he looked over the page he was reading once again. "That's symbol… yes." He confirmed as he took off his glasses and turned to look at his charges.

"I told you." Buffy exclaimed and began pacing agitatedly as nerves that Angelus had helped sooth came surging back. "I-I said end of the world and you're all like 'poo-poo Southern California, poo-poo!'" She said accusingly.

"I'm so very sorry." Giles muttered a little sarcastically as he stood from his chair. "My contrition completely dwarfs the impending apocalypse."

Willow shook her head in denial. "No, I-it can't be. We've done this already." She mumbled, her eyes wide, not wanting to have to go up against something like The Mayor again… especially when they had so little time to prepare to stop whatever it was if the ritual was already starting.

"It's the end of the world, everyone dies. It's rather important really." Giles stated, trying to make it since into everyone's head, his gaze going to Buffy who had fallen very silent since her outburst.

"So what do we do?" Willow asked worriedly as she chewed on her lower lip.

Buffy straightened herself up from where she had been leaning against the bench that cut people off from just wandering into the kitchen, walking over to a crossbow she picked it up, her finger caressing the trigger. "I stop it." She said firmly as she hoisted up the crossbow, a determination filling her. There was no way that she was going to let this thing kill not… She'd stop it and continue lapping up the happiness that she had only just started to feel again after years of living a hell! Nothing so small as an apocalypse was going to take that away from her!

Walking over to the napkin, she stared down at it for a long moment, her friends gazes following her example until she picked up the napkin just in case she needed to look at it again. "I'm gonna go see if I can't remember where I've seen this mark before." She told them as she pocketed it. Giles opened his mouth to say something, but Buffy anticipating what was about to come out of her father figure's mouth spoke before him. "Don't worry, I've got a fair idea of where I've seen it before."

Giles nodded his agreement. "Right, well then, we'll continue to research… see if we can't find out more." His words brought a groan from Xander's lips; a groan which was ignored by all present as Buffy headed on her way out the door and Giles went back to his book and Willow picked up a couple handing one to Xander, before she took her seat again.

Xander sighed, his eyes already seeming to hurt, before he'd even flipped to the first page of the book Willow had thrust upon him.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy frowned up at the side of a large crypt as she put the napkin back into her jacket pocket, the triangular symbol with the eye in the middle of it that was carved into the crypt wall matching the one Willow had drawn on the napkin. "I wonder where I've seen this before?" Buffy grumbled to herself as she continued to stare up at the symbol. "Where else? The place I spend most of my waking hours memorizing stuff off the sides of mausoleums," She muttered. "Big freaky cereal boxes of death." She quipped, the moment she'd started making her way to the cemeteries of Sunnydale she seemed to suddenly remember exactly where she'd seen the symbol before.

"Well, I don't think I've ever heard them quiet described like that." Angelus' voice came from behind her.

Buffy spun around on heel to face the direct the voice had come from. "Oh hey, later came about a bit quicker than I expected." She mumbled with a slightly embarrassed smile, not having expected anyone to be around to hear her little rant. "So, whatcha doing around these parts?" Buffy asked.

"Well, I heard a little rumour that something was going down tonight… something that would usher in the next apocalypse." Angelus replied with a shrug as he walked over to Buffy.

Buffy looked up at him faintly surprised at just how good his Intel was. "You know, one of these days you're going to have to tell me who your contacts are. I think they'd have Giles' drooling in envy."

"I don't know, Buff. My contacts prefer to remain off The Slayer's radar… they don't like being on mine as it is." Angelus murmured as he stared up at the symbol he had been told about.

"Then why'd they help." Buffy asked as she looked about the quiet cemetery, something not sitting quiet right with her senses, but she couldn't see anything disrupting the night.

Angelus shrugged as turned his gaze to Buffy. "They find it better for their health if they just co-operate. It's not like they don't get anything from it though as long as they give me information, I put them under my protection."

Buffy was about to say something in response when she heard a dull scrapping sound of stone shifting against stone, distracting her from their conversation. Moving around the crypt she came up to the door that was already open. Walking quietly towards the entrance she paused in the doorway as she looked down at a large green skinned demon that had slicked back horns covering its head, which was more like hair than a weapon. She watched for a moment as the demon; completely unaware of her presence for the moment, stuffed bones from the tomb it had opened into a burlap sack. "Door was open." Buffy said, drawing the demons attention from its task to her. The moment it set eyes on her it let out a bellowing growl. Buffy who'd already aimed her crossbow squeezed the trigger, firing the bolt at it. The bolt embedded itself deeply in the demons shoulder and it growled again and began moving towards her.

Knowing that she wouldn't have time to reload the crossbow, she threw the weapon at the demon. The demon batted it aside like it was nothing another roaring growl coming from it as it charged at her, Buffy flipped over its head, landing neatly behind the demon who had stopped in its sudden charge. Without hesitation, Buffy began pounding the broad expanse of the demons back, landing solid blows with her fists. The demon roared again as it spun around it's arm flying wildly at her, forcing back to take a couple of quick steps back to avoid the blow, it's nasty looking claws that tipped it's large ugly hands barely missing her face. The demon bellowed its roar at her again as it punched at her again, this time managing to her, the force of the large demons blow sending her to the ground.

Buffy gave her head a shake as she looked up at the demon that was wasting no time in retreating with its sack of goodies as it began its way up the stairs, where Angelus stood waiting, his arms crossed over his chest as he leaned against the crypts doorframe; obviously content for the moment to just enjoy the show. Buffy scrambled up to her feet and ran after the demon, the demon hearing her less than stealthy approached swung around, swinging the sack filled with the bones of the child's tomb he had raided. Buffy dodged back to avoid being hit by the sack, having to keep doing so as the demon swung it at her again and again. Buffy turned her gaze up to Angelus who was still watching the action. "Feel free to lend a hand at any time the feeling grabs you." She grumbled just before she dodged back from the swinging sack once again.

"But it looks like you've got everything under control." Angelus commented as Buffy ducked under the sack and stepped forward, making the sack useless as a weapon as she punched the demon in the face again and again, forcing it back towards the tomb, before it finally fell against it, the bones in the sack making a crunching noise as the demon pushed himself up from the tomb, the bag still firmly clasped in its hand.

Buffy struggled to get the sack from the demon for a moment, before the demon roared once again and used its free hand to back hand Buffy with a fierce blow that had her falling back, blood filling her mouth as she fell to the ground with an 'oof'. "But if you insist." Angelus added as he saw Buffy go down once again the faint scent of her blood filling the musty crypt, tickling her nose. Angelus hurried down the steps and swiftly engaged the demon in a fight, distracting it from finishing off Buffy as the two traded blows and dodged around each other. The bigger demon trying to make his way out of the door.

Buffy sat up and gave her pounding head a small shake as she tried to get rid of the slight ringing in her ears. She spat out a small bit off blood that had pooled in her mouth from a cut her own teeth had sliced into her cheek during the blow before it healed. She wiped her mouth with the back of her sleeve as she watched Angelus beat the demon back with a few blows, before the demon did its loud roar and swung violently at Angelus, landing a solid blow to his face and chest, before it raced for the stairs. Buffy scrambled up to her feet and chased after the fleeing demon; Angelus watched her for a short moment before running after her, taking the steps two at a time to reach the outside where Buffy and the large boorish demon already were, the sounds of a fight already reaching his ears.

Making it out of the crypt he came to a stop as he appreciated the way Buffy's lithe body moved as for the moment she dominated the fight with the large demon. Buffy kicked the demon in the face solidly, landing lightly on her feet she swiftly followed through with a punch to the demons chest and then a roundhouse kick to the demons side. The demon growled loudly, Buffy unfazed by the sound moved into attack again, only for the demon to crush her against it with its large arms. The demon lifted her off the ground and moved forward a few steps with her, before slamming her down against a tombstone. The demon having successful created a moment for himself snatched up the bag of bones he had dropped and moved to make a quick escape only for Angelus to be in his way, the demon roared again getting frustrated with all the attempts to get in his way began the attack this time.

Buffy groaned and gave a little cough as she tried to get her wind back, her back twinging painfully where it had made contact with the tombstone. She allowed herself to lay there for a long moment as she heard the sounds of Angelus battling the demon. Her reprieve didn't last long as a shadow fell over her and immediately her body tensed and she effortlessly flipped up to her feet and spun about her fist swinging at the new possible threat. Riley just caught her swiftly moving fist, the palm of his hand throbbing from the power behind the blow. "Wow, that flippy thing you did," Riley began as Buffy looked at him confused wondering why he was here.

"What are you doing here?" She asked with a frown as she glanced over at Angelus to make sure that he was doing ok with the demon.

"Well, I kinda hoped that I might run into you here. 'She who hangs out a lot in cemeteries.'" He said a little sheepishly, quoting what she had told him in her dorm room.

"Well, I don't have time to deal with this right now." Buffy said dismissively as she turned back to the fight, intending to join Angelus in his fight against the large demon.

"Wait," Riley called as he reached out and grasped her arm. Buffy looked back at him with a frown darkening her brow as she waited impatiently for Riley to say what he had stopped her for, but his gaze had focused properly on Angelus for the first time since arriving on the scene to see Buffy being slammed down against a tombstone. "Wow," He muttered as he watched Angelus spar one on one with the demon without any trouble at all. "So, what is he? Like The Slayer's side kick or something?" He asked, his voice slightly awed as he watched Angelus land a blow that knocked the demon back a couple of steps before it roared loudly and swung wildly at him.

Riley's eyes widened further as Angelus took a blow that would knock unconscious any one of his team; a blow which Angelus seemed to just shrug off as he dodge another blow and blocked another.

Buffy watched Angelus for a moment finding herself appreciating the way his body moved as he fought the demon. "Uh, yeah… you could say that." She replied to Riley's question awkwardly, believing that it wouldn't be a good idea for Riley to find out that Angelus was a vampire. 'Don't let his face shift!' Buffy thought, not even wanting to imagine how Riley would react to her boyfriend being a vampire; not when he'd been trained by some Government military to seek and capture all demons and preform experiments on them.

Buffy watched as Angelus took a solid blow under the chin sending him to the ground with a thud. The demon roared again and took off towards the woods, Buffy shook off Riley's hand and moved after it. Riley stood frozen his eyes focused on Angelus, he could have sworn that he saw the man's face turn into the hard ridges that normally signified a vampire, but it was only for a moment as he blinked in shock and when he'd opened them again the hard ridges where gone and the familiar face of Buffy's boyfriend had reappeared, making it seem like the whole thing had just been a trick of the light. Angelus stared at Riley for a brief moment his eyes meeting the boys who was looking at him like he could he'd seen a ghost, but wasn't sure if it was real or not. Angelus spun away from him quickly and raced in the direction Buffy had taken off in leaving Riley standing alone still shocked and somewhat unable to move his legs as he tried to make sense of what he had seen.

Finally shaking his head, telling himself that it had to be a trick of the poorly lit cemetery, he reached for his radio and began speaking into it to call in the demon as was protocol. "Base One, this is Lilac One." He spoke into the receiver. "Confirmed sighting of an unidentified Sub-T. Mobilize patrol team for debriefing at 0800 hours."

"Copy that." A voice buzzed through the radio, confirming Riley's orders. Riley releasing his radio, looked in amazement in the direction he had seen Buffy and Angelus go; chasing after a demon with no weapons and no back up aside from each other… "The Slayer…" He murmured to himself as he stared for a moment longer, trying to imagine what it would be like going up against one of those demons by himself with nothing but his fists and an unarmed man as back up… shaking his head at the idea Riley turned and slowly made his way out of the cemetery, his mind still whirling around his slightly broader idea of what The Slayer was.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy came to a stop breathing hard as she looked around the wooded area she had chased the demon into. "You know, for its size it can sure make a dash for it when it needs to." She panted.

Angelus who had come to a stop beside her, also looked around the woods trying to spot a sign of the blundering demon, but it seemed like the demon had slipped through a crack to lose them. "You wouldn't think a demon of that size would be so cowardly." Angelus muttered as Buffy straightened up as she got her breathing under control.

"I don't think that's it." Buffy murmured as she did a small half turn to survey a different part of the woods. "It had another agenda in mind. I mean what's the point of taking the time to kill us when you're about to end the world."

Angelus nodded as he walked over to a patch of disturbed dirt. "I think it went this way." He said softly as he pointed ahead of him. "But it'll be a hard thing to track it through those trees." He muttered as he stood back to his full height his gaze focused on the trees that were thickening in the direction the demon seemed to have gone.

Buffy sighed as she came to stand beside Angelus once again, looking at the same patch of trees. "It'll take too long to try and work our way through that. We'd spend all our time tracking him and not enough trying to stop the world from ending." Angelus nodded his silent agreement as he turned his gaze from the woods, his gaze landing on Buffy as she moved away from him starting back the way they had come. "I should head back to Giles'. See if he's found anything new that could help." Buffy glanced over her shoulder at him. "Are you coming or… do you want to poke around here a bit longer?" She asked as she looked at him curiously.

"I'll come." Angelus murmured as he stepped towards her and they began walking back through the woods. "I think that I need to know a bit more about what's going." He admitted with a small frown darkening his brow. His concern not only for what the demons were planning to end the world; his contacts not being able to give him too much… just enough basic information that allowed him to find his way to the cemetery and crypt where he had found Buffy looking up at the same mark he had been looking for… but also for what the boy Riley may have seen… human eyes were weak though and the boy had seen him out and about in the sun… so he probably had nothing to worry about on that front. Humans always found ways of explaining that which they could not understand… and from the look he'd seen on Riley's face he definitely didn't understand what it was he had seen… and human nature determined that he would more than likely dismiss it…

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"A Vahrall demon." Giles said triumphantly as he looked up from the book he'd been looking through to find the demon Buffy had described when she had come through the door Angelus not too far behind her.

Willow leaned over towards Giles from where she sat beside him. "Eew!" She said disgustedly her nose wrinkled in distaste as she looked down at the drawing of the demon that took up a small corner of the page.

"I second that revulsion." Xander said with an almost identical look of disgust on his face as he leaned in towards the book on Giles other side.

Angelus uncrossed his arms from over his chest as he moved a little closer to the group from where he had been standing apart, having no desire to become friendly with the entire group, nor wishing to become accepted as part of them as the soul had desired… his only interest in being here at all was to help him understand what the demon was planning… and to keep a close eye on Buffy… remember all too well how she had died the last time an apocalypse had been accompanied by an earthquake… and suddenly her edginess and distraction earlier that day became all too clear… she'd sensed something wrong happening the moment the earthquake had hit.

"Yes." Giles murmured agreeing with their assessment of the demon shown in the picture. "Slick like gold and gird in moonlight, father of Portents and brother to Blight." He read from the book.

"Limbs with talons," Buffy read as she leaned over Giles shoulder. "Eyes like knives, bane to the blameless, thief of lives." She murmured, before straightening up, her gaze going to Angelus as she saw him move out of the corner of her eye. Her gaze met his and she found herself slightly surprised by the sudden intensity in them as he stared at her. The intensity had heat rising in her cheeks and after a moment she had to look away, her attention going back to her friends who were still pouring over the book. Still highly aware of Angelus' unwavering gaze on her.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Riley stood in front of his patrol team, his hands clasped behind his back as he stood ramrod straight as he had been trained as he debriefed his team. "Three metres tall, approximately 100-120 kilograms, based off my visual analysis."

"Special hazards?" Graham asked, a pen poised over a pad he was holding in the palm of his hand as he looked up at his team leader expectantly.

"Unknown. Probably nothing we haven't handled before. There is no pattern we can discern yet, so we got to assume that it is on a basic kill-crush-destroy." Riley informed his team and watched as they scribbled notes in their pads.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"This thing isn't digging up the bones of a child for fun." Buffy said with a thoughtful frown, her gaze sweeping about Giles living room.

"Well, a demon's got some pretty hilarious idea about fun." Xander quipped, his gaze shooting over to Angelus accusingly. "Like say torturing and maiming."

Angelus sneered at the boy, his hands curling into fists as he fought the urge to wrapping them about the boys neck and just squeeze to the life went out of his eyes. "Don't tempt me boyo." He said lowly, his tone full of warning that had Xander gulping, but not backing down as he continued to glare at Angelus, confident that Buffy wouldn't let the vampire hurt him.

Buffy stepped between the two as she shot disapproving looks at the both of them. "Play nice, the both of you." She said, a warning in her tone as she pointed at both Xander and Angelus. Xander had the grace to look a little sheepish as he turned his gaze to Buffy. He hadn't meant to let the words slip out, but Angelus had a way of getting under his skin by just being around… the same way Angel had. Buffy nodded as she sensed the tension in the living room ebb away. "Good, bigger picture everyone." She murmured her arms lowering to her sides.

"Bones of a child though." Willow murmured, something about it ringing a bell in her mind. "I saw that!" She exclaimed as she pulled a book that was resting on the table before her and flipped through the pages until she found the one she was looking for. "An ancient ritual…" She mumbled as she ran a finger over the page until she re-found the information she needed. "Uses the blood of a man, the bones of a child and… something called the Word of Valios?" She read, a small frown darkening her brow as she wondered what the Word of Valios could be. "I-It's all part of a sacrifice… The Sacrifice of Three." She named it as she read the name the book gave it.

"Let me guess… ends the world." Buffy muttered as she stepped towards Willow to get a better look at the book she was reading from.

"Well, yeah." Willow confirmed. "I-It's not big with the details, though. It doesn't say how the world ends or what the ritual entails exactly."

"The Sacrifice of Three…" Xander repeated. "Three people are going to die?" He questioned horror struck by the thought.

"Oh, excellently deduced." Angelus complemented Xander mockingly, unable to keep himself from needling the boy he found so annoying. "Did you work that out all by yourself or did the Wiccan give you a cheat sheet?"

"Enough!" Buffy growled as she rubbed at her eyes for a moment, her hazel eyes glaring at Angelus. "Stop it, Angelus." She demanded of her lover as she rested her hands on her hips as she turned fully to face him.

"He started it." Angelus accused as he pointed at Xander, the action childish, but in that moment he didn't care as he met Buffy's glaring gaze.

Buffy scowled at him. "I don't care who started it! I'm finishing it! Or I'll put you in the hospital! Stopping the world from ending is a slightly bigger problem than your ego." She growled at him. There was silence in Giles apartment after Buffy's outburst and slowly Angelus held up his hands a small smirk curling up his lips as he mockingly held up his arms in surrender. Buffy nodded, her anger with him easing despite herself as she took in the bright light in his dark eyes as he stared out her… thoroughly un-cowed by her outburst as he smiled at her. Turning away from Angelus, her gaze settling on Xander for a moment who was looking at with a nervous expression as if scared that he was going to be facing the full brunt of her ire next. Satisfied that neither of them would be interrupting them again with their egos, Buffy relaxed completely. "So, where were we?" She asked brightly as if she hadn't been angry as hell just moments before.

Willow swallowed a little thickly, still finding herself somewhat amazed just how scary Buffy could be when she was mad. "Uh, three people dying for the sacrifice…" She prompted.

"No, there won't be." Buffy said firmly. "Because claw boy is not getting all of his ingredients. We have to find the third one, The Word of Valios, keep him from getting it."

"If he doesn't already have it. I mean who knows where he's been?" Willow murmured a little down heartedly.

"Not helping here, Wills." Buffy told her with a pointed look.

"Oh, right." Willow murmured as she slapped a bright smile on her face. "We'll totally find The Word of Valios before he does."

Angelus shook his head slightly as he looked around at the small group that Buffy called her closest friends… still finding himself surprised half the time that the ragtag group managed to get as much as they did done.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"Here is one for the good guys." Riley said, pleased to be finally be able to tell his men something that would actually help them in their new mission. "This thing has a pheromone signature a mile wide." He gestured over to Forrest who was sitting beside Graham. "Agent Gates has been working with the detection system the lab's developing."

Forrest stood up to address the men, being able to know that he had been mentioned. "Can't tell where it's going, but I've got a bead on where it's been." He stepped over to Riley so that he was standing beside him to easier face the ground and feel like he was on the same level as the team leader. "Residual traces showing up in populated areas. The things not shy."

"We're going out in civies, day clothes only guys." Riley ordered turning the men's attention back to him. "Weapons stowed in packs, keep 'em out of sight til the town quietens down. Remember this isn't a capture it's a kill."

"Get your quadrant assignments from me." Forrest said as the team began standing. "We'll blanket the town."

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

"Angelus and I'll check the magic shop, see if they've heard of a book called The Word of Valios." Buffy said as she pulled on the coat she had taken off; not needing it in the warmth of Giles condo. "Willow, Xander, how about the book archives at the museum?"

They both nodded their agreement. "We'll stop at my place on the way, get some weapons, and I'll change into something that isn't quite as anchovy scented." Xander informed Buffy, causing Willow to give him a grateful smile, not having been sure how much longer she could have put up with the smell.

"You guys," Buffy called after them as the two stood up to take their leave. "This thing takes wicked very seriously. Be careful. I couldn't stand anybody getting hurt." The two nodded and gave small little waves as they headed for the door. Whilst Angelus had to bite his tongue quiet firmly between his teeth to keep himself from making a last wise crack at the boy before he left.

"You'll be right here by yourself?" Buffy asked Giles, not wanting to leave him alone without making sure.

"I'm a grown man I'm sure that I'll be quiet safe alone in my apartment. I promise not to burn the house down." Giles said with sarcasm. Buffy nodded, not bothering to mention it further as she headed towards the door Angelus falling into step beside her.

As the door closed behind them and they began on their way, Buffy leaned in towards him. "You don't happen to know anything about this Word of Valios thing-e-ma, do you?" She asked hopefully.

Angelus shook his head as he slipped his hand into hers and giving it a reassuring squeeze; trying to tell her without words that he wouldn't let anything happen to her and that he'd kill anything that tried to take her from him before her time. "Nope. Never heard of it before."

"Great," Buffy exclaimed with false brightness. "Wild goose chase here we come."

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Spike stood on his red leather chair that he had dragged over to the table he had clamped a stake to. "Goodbye, Dru." He said solemnly as he looked up at the ceiling trying to envision her likeness in his minds-eye. "See you in hell." He finished turning his gaze down to the stake he spread his arms out wide, before allowing himself to fall forward. he is distracted though as he heard someone walk off the stair and into the basement. He turned in mid-air to see who had interrupted his suicide attempt, his eyes landing on a shocked looking Willow and Xander just before he crashed into the table, breaking it and missing the stake that he had so carefully set up to be able to end his own life.

"What are you doing?" Willow asked, her voice more high-pitched in her shock as she stared at Spike's fallen form.

Spike picked himself up off the ground, brushing down the ridiculous clothes he'd been forced to wear since accidentally shrinking his own. "Bloody rot." He said with a dark scowl he aimed in Willow and Xander's direction. "Can't a person knock?" He grumbled.

"What were you doing?" Willow asked again.

Xander who had been looking down at the mess Spike had made of his table answered her. " You were trying to stake yourself!" He exclaimed in outrage as he pointed to the undamaged stake that was lying in amongst the broken mess.

"Fag off!" Spike growled self-consciously as he crossed his arms over his chest as he continued to glare at the two that had intruded on and ruined his attempt to take his own miserable unlife. "It's no concern of yours."

"Is to!" Xander declared, surprising both Spike and Willow for a moment until he continued. "For one thing, that's my shirt you're about to dust. For another, we've shared a lot here. You should have trusted me enough to do it for you."

"Xander!" Willow exclaimed as she hit Xander's arm, turning shocked eyes towards her friend.

"What?" Xander asked confused as he looked down at Willow. "He wants to die, I want to help." He explained simply as he gestured between the two of them. More than happy to be rid of one vampire that was a constant presence in his life right now.

Willow frowned up at him. "It's ooky." She murmured as she turned her gaze to the miserable looking peroxide vampire. "We know him, we can't just let him poof himself!"

"Oh, but you can." Spike said as Xander moved away from Willow slightly as he began unbuttoning the shirt he'd worn for work. "You know I'd drain you drier than the Sahara if I had half a chance. And besides, I'm beyond pathetic. Stuck in this basement washing skivvies for a blighter I wouldn't have bothered to bite a few months ago."

"Hey!" Xander exclaimed affronted, as he glared over at Spike for a moment before he went back to changing his clothes.

Spike rolled his eyes at Xander before focusing his full attention on Willow who was still looking at him with sympathy in her gaze. "I mean, am I even remotely scary anymore?" He asked. "Tell me the truth." He told her.

Willow looked at him not sure what to say… the truth not really seeming appropriate right about now; what with the peroxide vampire being so down in the dumps. Spike jumped at her, his hand curling into a mockery of claws as he advanced towards her, an expression on his face that she found hard to contain her amusement at. "Well, the shirt is kinda… not very threatening… and the short pants, but you know it could also be because I know you can't bite, which I guess isn't really what you need to hear right now, is it?"

Xander snorted. "Oh please, Angelus is scarier than you and he hasn't made a move to hurt any of us in months."

Willow shot Xander an annoyed look for his blatantly truthful words at this moment in time when Spike was in such a fragile state.

"Yeah, well that's only 'cause he's so bloody busy wooing the damned Slayer. He's not gonna risk all his hard work just to take a bite out of someone as unappetising as you." Spike grumbled as he crossed his arms over his chest. Willow opened her mouth to say something that she hoped would do something to cheer him up, but Spike spoke again before she could get a word out not wanting to hear anymore of her platitudes. "Stop, please, just clear out." He grumbled, his voice more pleading than he liked it to be.

"Fine." Xander grumbled as he turned around making his way back over to Willow having finished changing. "But you break anything else while we're gone and you'll be sleeping in the garage, buster."

"We can't leave him like this." Willow exclaimed bringing Xander up short. "We'll have to take him with us to the museum." She urged, much to Xander's horror.

"Oh, you go on. I won't do anything. I feel much better now, promise." Spike assured them in a not very convincing manner.

Xander sighed as he gave into Willow's puppy dog eyes and stepped over to Spike who was reluctantly walking towards them, knowing that Willow wasn't about to give up by the look in her eyes. Throwing his arm around Spike's shoulders as they began walking together towards the steps that led up to the main house. "Think of the happy. If we don't find what we're looking for, we face an apocalypse."

Spike's expression turned hopeful as Willow mounted the stairs ahead of them. "Really? You're not just saying that?"

Xander clapped Spike's should before releasing him. "Would I just say something to make you happy?"

"Good point." Spike agreed as he mounted the steps after Xander suddenly starting to feel a bit better now that he knew that an apocalypse was coming.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy walked down a still busy main street with Angelus beside her as they made their way towards the magic shop that she was hoping would have what they were looking for. Her eyes landed on Riley who was walking on the other side of the street to them heading in the opposite direction, his gaze focused on a small little handheld device that looked a lot like an oddly shaped Gameboy. Buffy hesitated in her stride as she had the sudden desire to talk to him… to try and talk some sense into him… tell him that he should find a better job… a safer one that didn't involve him putting his life at risk every single night of his life, but Angelus who had noticed her hesitation as well as the boy walking on the other side of the street who had yet to notice them, to intent on the device he was staring at with such intensity gently touched her arm, drawing her gaze up to him. "We have to hurry. We don't know how much time we have left."

Buffy nodded as she looked up at her lover and smiled as she picked up her pace again. "Yeah, you're right, besides… he looks busy." She mumbled as they continued on down the street together.

Angelus glanced back at the boy as he continued at a much slower pace than them as he looked down at his device that was obviously telling him something of some importance. "I'd prefer it if you kept your distance from that guy." Angelus grumbled as he turned his gaze down to Buffy.

Buffy looked up at him surprised as they turned a corner onto the street the magic shop was on. "You wouldn't be jealous, would you?" She teased.

Angelus snorted derisively. "As if I'd feel jealous over a guy that's duller than cardboard." He muttered. "You don't know anything about the guy or the military he belongs to… I have a bad feeling about them." He told her, wanting to warn her, but not going into any further details just yet; not when he wasn't one hundred precent sure it was who he thought it was… but he was getting pretty damn confident… he didn't think that there was many organisations that hunted demons.

Buffy looked up at him, sensing his unease, she took his hand in her small warm one and gave him a smile. "I'm sure that it'll all work out, Angelus." She murmured reassuringly. Angelus glanced down at her and gave her a small confident smirk, not wanting to concern her with it just yet… not when she was already worried about the end of the world and fearing her possible death being heralded by the first earthquake she'd experienced since the one that had been the beginning of the prophecy of her death.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow, Xander and Spike walked down a paved path out the front of the Historical Museum of Sunnydale as they retreated from the large building. Willow and Xander's shoulders slummed as Spike walked talk almost whistling a happy little tune; his world starting to look up for the first time since having been neutered by the chip in his brain. "Great." Willow muttered disheartened. "No word of Valios."

"Not even a syllable of Valios." Xander muttered as he trudged beside Willow.

"Which means I'm one step closer to melting in a sea of molten hellfire, yeah?" Spike said a little gleefully for either of Willow's and Xander's moods as they shot annoyed looks at his back as he strutted on ahead of them.

"You shouldn't talk like that." Willow scolded. "Yeah, ok, so you can't kill anymore, but there are other fun things you can do. You'll adjust." She murmured, trying to be reassuring.

Spike stopped and turned around forcing his two companions to stop with him as he levelled a less than friendly look on them. "Adjust? And what? End up like the two of you? No thank you." He grumbled.

"Here it goes." Xander grumbled as he turned his gaze on Willow. "We can't just leave him here to stake himself!" He mimicked her, raising his voice to a higher pitch to mimic a woman's voice. "It's not right." Willow looked down at her feet sheepishly, beginning to regret her decision to bring him along.

"I should think you would be glad to greet the end of days." Spike said, his tone serious, giving no hint as of yet to the mockery he was feeling. "I mean, neither of you is making much of a go at it." He gestured to Xander. "You, kids your age are going off to University, you've made it as far as the basement. And Red here," Gesturing to Willow. "You couldn't even keep dog-boy happy. You can take the loser out of high school, but…"

"I see what you're doing." Willow interrupted Spike's hurtful monologue as she stared him down bravely. "You're trying to get us to dust you."

"Am not!" Spike vehemently denied. "I just don't want pity from geeks more useless than I am." He said cuttingly, the look of hurt on Willow's face making it all worth it.

"We're not useless!" Willow retorted, her voice wavering slightly, something that didn't escape Spike's notice. "We-We help people. We fight the forces of evil!" She exclaimed whilst Xander nodded his agreement.

Spike shook his head, giving them a look. "Buffy, fights the forces of evil. You're her groupies. She'd do just as well without you… better I'd wager, since she wouldn't have to go about saving your hides all the time."

Xander scowled and took a step towards him. "That's not true!" He denied, his hands clenching into fists. "We're part of the team. She needs us." He said with conviction.

Spike snorted in disbelief. "Or you're just the same tenth grade losers you've always been, and she's too much of a softy to cut you lose." Spike looked at them for a moment waiting for a brief moment to see if they were going to say anything else in their defence that he could swat down. Receiving nothing but stunned hurt silence from the two he had been forced to tag along with, he turned around a satisfied grin curling up his lips as he began walking once again.

Xander blinked as he regained himself a little after the talking down to Spike had given them. "You know… I never thought that'd actually say this… but I think I'm suddenly on team Angelus." He muttered to Willow, who gave him a surprised slightly confused look. "I mean I think I actually prefer Angelus' company to his." Willow nodded, agreeing with him. Xander wrinkled his nose as he gave his head a shake. "And I can't believe those words ever left my mouth. Please let's forget this ever happened." He pleaded of his best friend.

Willow nodded. "Of course. I will forget about it completely, unless I feel the need to take it out and beat you over the head with it." She said pleasantly enough as she began walking after Spike who had gotten a slight lead on them now.

Xander gaped after Willow. "What do you mean 'take it out and beat me over the head with it.'?" He demanded to know as he hurriedly caught up with Willow.

"You'll just have to wait and see." Willow sing-song-ed a little skip to her step, focusing her mind on gently teasing Xander instead of the hurtful words Spike had lashed her with. Determined not to take him seriously in during his mid-un-life crisis he was going through at the moment.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Giles sat at his desk pouring through yet another book, flipping through the pages with a frown of concentration pulling down his brow. He flipped past a page before flipping back as a picture that seemed familiar caught his eyes… a picture that jogged his memory. He looked at the picture of the talisman his heart sinking in his chest as it all came back to him, his fingers running over the large words that confirmed what the talisman was. 'The Word Of Valios' the words were bold and seemed to accuse him for not remembering sooner. "Oh… as usual… dear." Giles muttered as he looked at the image of the 15th century talisman.

Swiftly getting to his feet he walked over to his chest, shoving off the odd bits and bobs that had been placed on top of it, before he opened it and dug through the contents. Unearthing a small box. Closing the chest, he rested the box on top of it as he opened it. Looking down at the various magical bits and bobs he had garnered over the years to keep safely tucked away. Shifting through it, he picked up the small talisman that was shaped in a 'W'. He looked at it in wonder for a moment, before a moment behind him made his turn around and a cry escaped him as one of three demons that all looked pretty much alike growled as it swiftly attacked him, not giving him enough time to get his bearings and defend himself.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy's steps faltered as she entered Giles living room to see him seated on his couch next to Xander bloody cuts and bruises on his face. "What happened?" She asked as she hurried over to him her expression concerned as Angelus lagged behind as he eyed the beaten up ex-Watcher who was definitely looking worse for wear.

"It's my fault." Giles gasped out, his chest aching with every breath he took. "I should have known." He muttered miserably.

Buffy squatted down in front of him. "Giles…" She began, wanting to sooth his wounded pride, but Giles' continued on.

"The Word of Valios… is the name of a talisman… not a book. I blame myself entirely. I had it here."

"You had it here?" Xander muttered feeling a little put out at being sent across town for a book when Giles had had it all along. "Ok, first I thought you were being too hard on yourself, but…" He trailed off at the look Buffy gave him. Willow walked back into the living room from the kitchen, a dish towel wrapped around some ice clutched in her hands, as she handed it to Giles; who pressed it to his face.

"Oh, thank you." He said gratefully the coolness feeling great against the throbbing bump on the top of his head.

Across the room Angelus growled darkly drawing everyone's gaze for a moment, before they followed the line of his gaze to see him glaring darkly at Spike who'd entered the living room a steaming mug of blood in his hand. "What are you doing here?" He snarled, still not having completely forgiven his Childe for touching his mate… spell or no spell. The broken jaw he had given him doing little sooth that fact that his sent had covered his mate… momentarily dwarfing his own.

Spike swallowed thickly at the dark and dangerous look his Sire was giving him and the hand that was holding the mug of steaming hot blood shook slightly, before he stifled the movement as he did his best to look unaffected by the dark menacing stare of his Sire. "Uh, it's uh, my fault." Willow interjected a little nervously; swallowing thickly as Angelus' dark gaze shifted to her. "Uh, you see. Spike was going to make himself go poof… and so I thought it wouldn't be a good idea for him to be alone."

Angelus gave a little stiff noise as he turned his gaze back to Spike who was now glaring angrily at Willow for telling his moment of severe weakness to his Sire… who would no doubt hold it over his head for the rest of his un-life… for however long that may be. Angelus' expression lightened slightly as he smirked coldly at Spike. "Well at least you know just how pathetic you are." He mocked cruelly, before turning his gaze away from his Childe.

Spike forced back a threatening growl, knowing that he couldn't back up any threats he made, and with his Sire you had to be able to back up whatever boast you made. Taking a deep swallow of his blood to distract himself from his desire to tear into his Sire. Giles cleared his throat bringing the attention of the room back to him as he continued to hold the makeshift ice pack to his head, water from the melting ice beginning to run down the side of his face. "I bought the talisman at a sorcerer's estate sale." He explained, wincing as his head throbbed horribly and he shifted the pack on his head. "I really only glanced at it once. I thought it was a knock off." He muttered, hoping that his explanation would excuse why he had forgotten that he had had it all along.

"Well, they have it." Buffy stated as she stood back up. "And they probably have their sacrifices by now, too."

Giles nodded and immediately regretted it as the movement sent a powerful throbbing pain pounding around his abused skull. "They're on their way to perform the sacrifice now."

"On their way where?" Buffy wondered, a hopeful question in her tone as she looked at Giles hopefully. "You found out what the ritual is for?"

Giles nodded again and bit back a groan. "The Hellmouth. They are going to open the Hellmouth… The one in the library." Giles bit out between clenched teeth.

Buffy sighed as her expression darkened slightly as she exchanged glasses with her friends. "Looks like we're going back to high school… something I never wanted to do again… just for the record."

Xander nodded as he got up from his seat. "Yeah, especially after the whole The Mayer tried to eat us thing…"

Willow shrugged. "I liked high school."

Xander slung an arm around her shoulders. "And that's why we love you so much, Wills. You made it possible for us," He gestured to Buffy and himself. "To Graduate."

Willow's shoulders slumped. "Yeah, that's me. Biggest self-confessed nerd this side of California."

Xander exchanged a concerned look with Buffy not having meant his comment to be taken badly, before he clapped her gently on the shoulder. "Come on, times a wasting. Big bad apocalyptic stuff going down as we speak."

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Spike kept to the back of the group he was reluctantly trailing after. Being sure to keep his distance from his Sire as they walked up the steps to the ruins of what used to be the only high school in Sunnydale, his Sire's mood swings were mercurial and he wanted to be out of the way if he suddenly decided that he would beat the snot out of him for kissing his mate. 'Bloody tossa.' Spike thought irritated; why couldn't he take his ire out on the red headed novice Wiccan who was really the one to blame for it. But Angelus for the moment seemed content to ignore him as he walked beside Buffy at the front of the small group.

"Be careful you guys." Buffy cautioned as they entered the hall, her nose screwing up in distaste as she took in the ruin it was inside… a rank smell accompanying it, that hadn't been noticeable outside the building. "The place doesn't look to stable." She murmured as she picked her way carefully around some debris that had settled in the middle of the hallway that seemed far more narrow than she remember of the entrance hall of the school.

"Fine by me." Spike muttered. "I hope we all go under." He grumbled, his uplifted mood having left him once again.

Buffy's shoulders tensed in annoyance as she glared over at Spike. "Why is he even here?" She asked her friends, her annoyance clear in her tone. "It's not like he can fight!" Her comment making Spike glare at her a sneer of hatred curling his lips.

Willow gave Buffy an apologetic look. "If we leave him alone, he'll stake himself.

"And that's bad because…?" She asked sarcastically, before she glanced over at Angelus, who wasn't looking at her, but straight ahead of him, her keen eyes taking in the smallest of ticks in his jaw… the only sign he was willing to give that despite all the bad blood between them, he did care about the fate of his youngest Childe. "Fine." Buffy hurried on, quickening her pace that had slowed almost to a stop. "Whatever, just keep him out of the way, I don't have time to babysit a fangless vampire."

"Hey!" Spike exclaimed affronted. "Watch your mouth!" He growled, his tongue running over his blunt human teeth. He was not fangless!

Buffy sighed ignoring Spike's outburst completely. "Ok, when we get to the library keep a look out for victims they're keeping a live for the sacrifice. Getting them out alive is the first priority." She said, needing to set her friends priorities so that she knew what they were doing as she took care of the demons… who wouldn't be too happy when they crashed their party.

"Will do." Willow said agreeably, just the sound of a dull wack sounded from behind her and they all heard Spike let out a small sound of pain as Angelus had deliberately fallen behind and had delivered a solid blow to the back of his impertinent Childes head.

Buffy took a deep breath and instantly regretted it as her mouth filled with the taste of the rancid air and suddenly she was really envious of Angelus' ability to not have to breathe when he didn't want to. "Ok, you guys ready?" She asked.

"Let's rock and roll." Xander said seriously as he steeled himself for what they would soon be facing once they'd made it down a couple more ruined corridors.

"Let's rock and roll." Spike repeated, his tone mocking Xander, but found himself ignored as he walked now beside Angelus… something he found unnerving, but at the same time also soothing… if it wasn't for the fact that they were trying to stop an oncoming apocalypse he could almost swear that it was almost like old times… times when they'd still been on good terms… Before Angelus had gotten a little possessive of Dru the moment he had admitted to loving her with all his black heart… Unable to help himself he extended his leg and tripped Xander up slightly, making the boy glare over his should at it for a moment, before he continued on.

They turned into an extremely burnt and tattered hallway. Xander looked around the walls, hardly being able to believe the difference some like an explosion had had on them. "Sunnydale High. These walls… if they were still walls what stories they could tell." His small walk down memory lane was put to a halt as his foot stepped in something that made a sickening squish sound beneath his sneaker clad foot. "Eww!" He yipped as he immediately lifted his foot up again and looked down to see what it was that he had stepped on, bile rising in his throat as he saw what it was. Looking back up at his friend who had all stopped in their tracks to look at him; his expression turned sheepish, not having meant to startle them all. "Mayor meat… extra crispy." He explained and the girls wrinkled their noses at that, before everyone turned and continued on the hall.

"I think we're near the library." Willow murmured feeling the need to be quiet as they got closer to their destinations. And she was right, as they turned down another corner, carefully stepping around a large hole in the floor, the ruin of what used to be the doors to the high school library came into view at the end of the hall.

Moving as swiftly as they could down the hall as they carefully picked their way down it, not wanting to put a foot through the floor that creaked suspiciously underneath their feet in some spots. They stepped over the ruins of the doors, that had been blown into many small pieces, the sounds of low growls reaching their ears as they moved further into the destroyed library.

"Whoa." Willow exclaimed quietly as they came to ledge that led to a sudden drop to a much lower level where they could see the three Vahral demons gathered around a large fissure that had opened up in the ground. "Check out the new floor plan."

"Three of them." Buffy murmured, almost to herself as she frowned in determination as she sized them up with her eyes, glancing to her left as Angelus moved up beside her, his gaze focused on the three large demons as they chanted with guttural growls.

"I don't see any sacrifice people." Willow muttered as she looked around the pit the library had become after the large explosion they had set off just last year.

"They must be around somewhere. The ritual is not finished. And it's not gonna be." Buffy said determinedly, before with a graceful jump she leapt down into the pit, immediately drawing the demons attention.

"That's right," Buffy murmured as she advanced forward, the demons growling at her; clearly not pleased by her unwelcome interruption. "Party's over." Just before she hit one solidly in the face, before fisting her hands in the vest it was wearing and threw it away from the hole, the urn filled with the boys blood slipping from its hands as it did so, Xander seeing it leapt down into the fray and hurried across the open expanse of the put and snatched it up. "The blood!" He cried as he held it with tight hands, as he looked around at the fray, his eyes going over Angelus who was at the moment busy fending off two of the demons, using his agility to dodge and weave under the attacks they sent at him and throwing in his own. "Get the talisman." He called to whoever could hear him amidst the growls and sounds of fists and feet meeting flesh filled the pit. "They can't do the ritual."

Angelus blocked a blow from one of demons and ducked low under another one thrown by the second demon, before delivering a kick to the demons chest. The demon growled and gasped as it staggered back, his hand releasing the bag of bones it had been carrying. The bag flying through the air for a moment, before it landed on the ground, sliding across it before coming to a complete stop. Seeing the bag of bones lying unattended Willow jumped down into the pit and hurried across the pit towards it, her eyes skittering around to see if any of the demons were coming at her now that she had entered the war zone. The demon who had lost the bag of bones, glanced over and saw her picking up the bag and snarled, turning his gaze back to the vampire that was so determined to way lay them he charged at him with a loud growl, catching the vampire around the stomach slamming him against the wall of the pit.

There was a shake above them and both Angelus and the demon looked up to see a beam beginning to fall, the knock against the wall having knocked it free of its precarious position above them. The demon delivered another punch before jumping back out of the way, leaving Angelus no time to get out of the way as the beam came crashing down on him. Buffy looked over at the sound of the beam crashing down and an all too familiar growl. Her eyes widened as she saw Angelus lying underneath a large beam. Without pausing to think about it she made to rush over to help him, only for the demon she'd been wailing on to jump her from behind, its arms locking around her in what was meant to be a choke hold. On instinct Buffy slammed her arm back into the demons gut and felt his arms loosen considerably. Reaching up and behind her, Buffy grabbed the demons arm and pulled, her body shifting with her as she threw the demon up over her shoulder, slamming him into the ground.

Considering him dealt with for the moment she made once again to hurry over to help Angelus out from beneath the beam, only for the demon to catch her by the ankle as she moved past him, causing her to fall to the ground with an 'oof'. "I've got the bones!" Willow cried triumphantly as she made her way over to Xander who was standing holding the urn full of blood. Hearing a growl coming up behind her she swallowed thickly as she saw the two demons that had been attacking Angelus stalking towards them, growls rumbling up from their chests. "Here!" She called to Xander as she tossed the bag to him. Xander caught it awkwardly with one hand as Willow ducked under the demon who had almost been completely on her. Her eyes landing on Angelus as he lay sprawled under the beam.

She spun back around in time to catch the bag of bones once again as Xander threw it back to her as one of the two demons came at him, causing him to drop the urn of blood that he hadn't had time to put down yet. Willow looked down at the bag that was in her hands, feeling the bones that were inside, before her gaze slid over to Angelus who was struggling to get out from under the beam. Seeing the third demon coming at her she dodge around trying to avoid him for a moment as she desperately tried to think of what she could do, before her gaze landed on Spike who was calmly sitting on a ledge that was protruding out of the wall of the pit, watching the fight unfold around him, wishing that he could also take part. "Spike!" Willow shouted catching his attention, just before she threw the bag at him. Spike caught it and looked down at it with a frown as Willow dodged away.

Looking up again Spike swallowed as he began getting up as he saw an angry demon that had been chasing Willow now coming at him and he swallowed thickly, knowing that there wasn't much he could without causing himself severe pain. "Right, perfect." He muttered as he tried to quickly get to his feet as the demon came at him. Willow who had successfully lost the demon that had been after her, hurried across the pit, her gaze sliding over Buffy who nodded at her gratefully as she turned over onto her back and kicked up at the demon who had gotten to his feet before her, fending him off for just long enough for her to be able to jump back up to her feet. Willow turned her gaze back to the fallen Angelus and swallowed thickly as she approached him, coming into his view. "Buffy?" Angelus asked the red head the moment he saw Willow peering down at him a nervous expression on her face.

Willow looked over at her blond haired friend, watching for a short moment as she landed a solid kick to the demons side, before following through with a punch to its ugly face. "Dominating." Willow assured him. She wrung her hands as she glanced about nervously to see all the demons occupied and paying her no attention. "Uh, do you think you'll be able to push this thing off if I help?" She asked.

Angelus nodded immediately, it irking him that he needed the novice Wiccan's help to shift the beam, but the damned thing had winded him for the moment and he could swallow his pride for the moment if it got him back up and helping Buffy again the sooner… he was just grateful that it wasn't Xander that had come over… he doubted he could have stomached that…

"You've got the wrong man, dude." Xander managed to say as the demon that had come at him, continued to punch him in the stomach with strong blows that sent him up against the wall they were standing in front of. "I've had a lot of practise with my lunch money." He grunted, the whole really feeling like he was back in one of the many hallways of the school, one of the bullies beating the crap out of him for more money to spend on food. Spike snarled in growing anger as the demon after the bag of bones pounded on him relentlessly as he was helpless to do anything against it… the pain that would rocket through his head if he fought back far worse compared to the pain the demon was dishing out.

A small tremor went through the earth under their feet and the demon pounding on Xander looked towards the fissure before releasing him. Snatching the urn up from where it had fallen it growled as it made a mad dash for the fissure and without hesitation jumped inside the fissure and down into the depths of the hellmouth. "Ok," Xander said puzzled. "I guess I won." He murmured, just before the earth gave a tremendous shake almost knocking him off his feet and his gaze went to Buffy who was still fighting the demon. "The demons! They are the sacrifice!" He shouted loud enough for everyone in the pit to hear.

Spike didn't hear him though too busy getting beaten up on by the demon wanting the bones back. The demon hit him again making Spike stumble back a step, but it was one hit too many as Spike snarled, his face the hard ridges of the demon, before he hauled an arm back a scream tearing from his throat as he braced himself for the pain that he was about to feel, before he punched the demon with as much force as he could muster. His hand immediately went to his forehead in anticipation of the pain that should be rocketing through his head. Only for a surprised look to come over his face as he lowered his hand slowly. "No pain!" He said in wonder as his gaze went to the demon that scrambling back up to its feet, only for Spike to hit him again a large smile curving up his lips as once again no pain rocketed through his head. "I can hurt a demon!" He growled in astonishment.

He growled loudly, before throwing himself at the large demon, relishing in every punch and kick he delivered, enjoying the violence like he hadn't been able to in to long! All thoughts of ending his unlife leaving him as he made up for all the time he'd lost not being able to terrorise and brutalize. Unfurling his fury on the poor unsuspecting demon that had happened to have the misfortune of being in charge of the bones. It didn't take long for the demon to drop to the ground and not get back up. "That's right." Spike hooted. "I'm back. And I'm a BLOODY ANIMAL! YEAH!" He crowed relishing in the feel of the tingle running over his hands, from all the blows he had delivered, it was a sensation he hadn't felt in all too long. Bending down he picked up the demon just as the demons clawed hand closed around the bag that Spike had dropped whilst he'd been pounded on. Spike held the demon suspended over his head preparing to throw him.

"No!" Xander shouted drawing Willow's gaze from where she was holding the beam with some difficulty now that Angelus had released it as he slide out from under it.

"Spike, not in the hole!" Willow cried dropping just as Angelus slide his foot out of the way and got to his feet.

Spike ignoring their cries tossed the demon headlong into the open fissure of the hellmouth and a moment later another tremor stronger than the first rocked the ground beneath them. Looking around at the pale angry faces that were staring at him Spike gave them a confused look. "What? I was helping!"

"Yeah, the apocalypse!" Xander grumbled.

Buffy delivered another blow to the demon sending it stumbling back as it fought to keep its balance, she looked up at the roof above them, seeing it tremble and bits of debris beginning to fall down. "Get out of here!" She shouted to her friends. "The buildings going to come down!" She warned just as a second beam dropped and hit Spike over the head, knocking him to the ground. Running over Xander helped him up just as Willow joined them and began helping the slightly disorientated Spike out of the hole, more debris beginning to drop down around them.

Angelus glanced over at his Childe for a moment, seeing that he was climbing up out of the pit with Buffy's friends, he turned his full attention to Buffy who was hurriedly now, beating up on the demon. Doing her best to end it quickly. Watching for a moment longer as she dropped down to pick up a bit of wood that had fallen from above and slam it in the demon, attempting to kill it only for the bit of wood to only enrage the demon instead of maiming it like Buffy had intended. With a roar it backhanded her viciously sending her to the ground and immediately Angelus moved into prevent the demon from finishing off his girl. Only to pause again in surprise as seemingly out of nowhere Riley grasped the demons arm from behind preventing it from delivering another blow. Angelus snarled angrily definitely not liking the fact that the boy had shown up… the last thing Buffy needed was another distraction, it was bad enough with her little friends running around beneath her feet, forcing her to keep an eye on them; knowing that if they got into trouble that they would need her, but now she had 'him' as well… a guy she didn't really know to deal with… something that could be more hindrance than help on the battlefield… if you couldn't trust that they could hold their own…

Buffy stared at Riley somewhat surprised; wondering how he had known to come here. "Don't let it jump in the hellmouth." She told him as she sat for a moment longer on the ground catching her breath slightly. Her words ending just as the demon grabbed Riley and throws him unceremoniously across the pit. Buffy winced as Riley landed and quickly jumped up to her feet once again. Her gaze going to Angelus as he made it over to her. "Get out of here." She told him as the demon kicked Riley harshly in the stomach dropping him back down to the ground, just a moment after he had managed to stand back up.

Angelus shook his head at her firmly. "Not unless you are." He said flatly as he watched completely unconcerned for the boy as the demon continued to pound on Riley. Buffy stared at Angelus for a moment, not sure whether to be annoyed or touched that he refused to leave without her. Another beam fell behind them and Buffy turned her gaze from her love, as much as she wanted to know that he was safe and out of harms way, she didn't have time to stand around and argue the point with him.

She ran over to Riley, distracting the demon who was about to deliver another kick to his downed form. She slugged him harshly in the face and ducked swiftly as it retaliated, narrowly missing being sliced with its claws. The demon growled as if in pain and she looked up to see that Angelus was standing close behind her, his arm swiftly lowering from the blow it had delivered. Smiling despite herself, Buffy rose to her full height as she began fighting beside Angelus, the both of them beating up on the demon in tandem… and it felt so right… just as it had done when she had been fighting alongside Angel… fighting a demon together… anticipating its moves and theirs… moving around each other with an ease that seemed so natural.

Riley spat blood on the pit floor, his gaze going to Buffy and her boyfriend a small scowl darkening his brow as he watched them both move in a way that he doubted that he ever could. It was so graceful and powerful… almost seemingly like a dance… a deadly dance… Struggling up to his feet, his body aching from the hits it had taken. He watched as Buffy took a blow to the face and fell back for a moment and Angelus seemed to move in, taking up the slack as he delivered an uppercut, whilst Buffy got back to her feet, shaking the blow off like it was nothing special and got right back into the fray… they been at it for far longer than him tonight and had to have taken more damage than him… and yet he was the one that was aching all over whilst they still looked fresh if not slightly dusty and sweaty.

Buffy delivered a solid kick that sent the demon flying back across the pit. He heard something crack above him and he looked up his eyes widening and a cry escaping him as a beam dropped down, landing on him. His cry distracting both Buffy and Angelus as they turned in the direction of the nose. Angelus rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, his gaze following Buffy as she hurried over to help Riley throw the beam off of him. Behind them noticed for now the last Vahrall demon grasped the 'Word of Valios' picking it up from where it had fallen on the ground, before crawling over to the fissure sliding in head first, his feet disappearing just as everyone turned their attention back to it. Buffy's eyes narrowed and immediately stepped forward, determination in her stride… even as she swallowed thickly not really ready to say goodbye to the life that had only really just started to get good. "I'm going in." She said solemnly as she reached Angelus' side, forcing herself to not hesitate or even look at him… knowing that if she did she'd lose her nerve and not want to do what she knew she must.

She was waylaid however as a strong hand grasped her arm bringing her up short. She looked up at Angelus question and regret in her eyes. "I'm not letting you die." Angelus growled determinedly. Pressing a quick hard kiss to her lips, Angelus released her and to Buffy's complete surprise darted forward himself a loud cry of pain and panic escaping her as she watched the love her life dive in… doing what she was supposed to. She moved to race towards the fissure only for another hand to grasp her other arm and she looked up at Riley who was looking at the fissure as the ground began to shake under them angrily once again.

Up on the ledge Spike swore softly. "Bloody hell." He muttered. "I never thought I'd see the day, that old poof would care about someone else more than himself." He grumbled, his words met by silence as Willow and Xander stared at the fissure in the ground Angelus had disappeared through shocked.

Angelus squinted as hot wind swept passed him, his eyes focusing on the demon that was free falling his hand still grasping the talisman tightly. Angelus gritted his teeth, determined to survive this. He wasn't ready to leave, Buffy… but nor was he ready to let her leave him… self-sacrifice was in her nature… sure she'd stop the world from ending, but she'd let herself die in the process… believing that that was the only way… or some such rot! Angelus' hand snagged the demon by the leg and it growled looking up at him. Angelus paid the demon no attention as he looked around the hole that was large than he expected. Seeing a large rock protruding from one side of the rounded hole he reached out intending to grasp it.

In the pit Buffy shoved Riley off her, her heart pounding heavily in her chest, tears pricking at the back of her eyes as she rushed over to the ledge and peered down into the fissure. Her eyes searching desperately for any sign of Angelus. Her heart skipped a beat seizing in her chest for a moment as her eyes caught sight of a small speck far down the hole, squinting at it she smiled in relief tears of relief filling her eyes as she recognised Angelus through the haze of heat that was being admitted from the fissure. Taking a few steps back she moved to dive into the fissure herself… her ears picking up soft cries of surprise coming from Willow and Xander as the continued to watch… anxiously waiting for their friend to make it to safety as well.

She was halted once again by Riley grasping her arm and she frowned at him in annoyance more than ready to throw him off of her so that she could go down and attempt to save the love of her life and the world as he clung for dear life to the side of the opening. "I'm going in there." She growled angrily, getting ready to wrench her arm free of Riley's grip.

But she paused as Riley nodded his understanding. "You're coming back out." He said as he lifted his free hand up so that she could see a hook attached to a cable that he was holding. Buffy nodded as Riley released her arm and quickly fastened the hook to her belt, before stepping back quickly, Buffy following him for a few short steps as Riley backed up further putting a sufficient amount of distance between him and the hole, not wanting to be accidently tugged into the hole after her… not much point to the cable then…

Buffy didn't waste another moment as she took a few quick steps towards the fissure and jumped head first into it, her eyes focusing on Angelus as she free fell for a long moment, her eyes squinting against the rush of hot air, the sound of it roaring in her ears as she gathered speed. Getting closer to Angelus she reached out, clawing at the wall with her hands, needing to slow herself down. She grimaced as her fingers scrapped over the rocky surface for a long moment, hurting her fingers as they scraped over the rock. But she slowed and eventually stop just above where Angelus hung on to the rock with one hand. "What are you doing?" Angelus growled, sweat beading on his brow from the heat of hell… memories beginning to resurface at the feel of the uncomfortable heat… the heat was nothing compared to the hell dimension he'd been in before, but it was still uncomfortable…

"Saving your ass." Buffy quipped as she awkwardly climbed down to cling to the wall beside him. "See, cable." She said taking one of her hands off the wall to point up at the cable that was above her.

Angelus smirked. "Well, I guess that military brat came in handy after all." He grunted.

Buffy rolled her eyes, an amused smile curling up her lips as she reached out a hand towards him. "Come on, let's get out of this hellhole." She shouted as a sudden hotter burst of air burst up around them as the hellmouth roared, hungry for the last of the ritual to be performed. Angelus nodded and released the wall, falling again for only a short moment as his hand grasped Buffy's firmly. Buffy swallowed as she clung to the wall one handed, the strain of it making her tremble as she held up not just her weight but Angelus' and the demons. Releasing the wall after a moment she sent them plummeting again, reaching for the cable she grasped it firmly…

Riley felt the cable begin to move again this time with a hell of a lot more weight and he grunted as he began to slide forward. He dug in his toes as he swiftly wrapped the cable around a piece of rebar that was sticking out of a chunk of risen up concrete. He felt the cable jerk under his hands, as someone tugged at it, and immediately he locked the cable, preventing it from sliding out any further jerking the people on the other end to a sudden halt as he began pulling them back up, sweat beading on his brow as he braced himself against the concrete as he forced himself to keep going, to keep drawing Buffy up to the surface… determined not to see her die. A few damnably long moments for Riley he saw an arm come rise up out of the fissure and a moment later Buffy came into view as she tried to pull herself up by one hand. Riley hurried forward, his arms grasping her as he began helping pull her up. "Buffy." He said in relief, before his gaze went past her to see Angelus hanging off her other arm and the demon hanging from his. He gave his head a small shake, amazed that she was managing to hold that much weight with just the one arm. "Hang on." He urged as he groaned as he began help Buffy crawl out taking as much of her weight as he could without tumbling down into the fissure.

Buffy breathed heavily as she climbed completely out of the pit dragging Angelus up as much as could with her arm, a sound of effort escaping her as she tugged with all her remaining strength. She felt Angelus let go and her still pounding heart skipped a beat, before she saw him clinging to the dirty pit floor, shifting around so that she could help him, she pulled him the rest of the way out of the pit, whilst Angelus tugged up the demon that was still handing heavily from his other arm. Making it out safely Buffy collapsed down beside him breathing heavily a hand on her chest as she eyed the demon waiting to see if it was going to try jumping into the fissure again, but the demon shifted only slightly…looking at the fissure for a short moment, before it slumped against the pit floor, breathing its last breath as the earth shook around them heavily for a long moment more before it fell quiet… the moment that the ritual could be completed passing causing the hellmouth to fall restlessly quiet as it always was… drawing unsuspecting demons into it clutches in an attempt to be opened allowed to boil freely as it had once been able to long, long ago.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow and Xander sighed in relief as Buffy walked out into the hall they had retreated to once the shaking had threatened to toss them all down into the pit where rubble had been falling all over the place. They didn't get a chance to say anything though as Riley who hadn't been expecting to see them immediately began talking nervously, trying to explain his presence. "Well, hey! Willow… and Xander, right?" He said loudly drawing their gaze as they looked him over as he stood before him decked out in his military uniform. "Jeez, what are the chances, huh?" He asked nervously as he glanced over at Buffy, hoping for help in covering up why he was here. But Buffy wasn't really looking at him as she stood with a hand over her chest. "Yeah, I was just passing by when I thought I heard people inside." He said, hoping that it sounded plausible.

"Passing by in your GI Joe outfit?" Willow murmured with a knowing raised eyebrow.

Riley looked down at himself having forgotten that he'd been wearing it, before looking to Buffy for help, only to find that she still wasn't paying all that much attention to him… if any at all. "Oh, uh… But… uh, it's… Paintball!" He exclaimed seizing on the first idea that came to him. "Yeah, I was playing paintball. And then the aftershocks…"

"So," Xander began cutting off Riley mid ramble. "You're one of the commando guys, huh?"

"Oh, no, no, no, no." He denied hurriedly his heart beating uncomfortably in his chest as he tried to search his mind for a believable response only for his brain to have gone completely blank in the process. "Commando? No, I mean…" He floundered before trailing off as his gaze landed on Spike who was watching him with a vaguely amused expression on his face; a face that seemed vaguely familiar. "Don't I know you?" He asked, completely giving up on trying to explain himself.

"Me?" Spike said a little nervously, before he cleared his throat affecting a Texan accent, that when he spoke did sound near as good as he'd been hoping. "No. No, sir. I'm just an old pal of, Xander's, here." Spike said as he clapped the boy he could hardly stand on the shoulder; picking out of all of them simply because he was closest to him.

"Oh." Riley murmured little doubtfully before shrugging it off he was a friend of Xander's it was possible that he'd seen him about campus when Xander had visited Buffy. "That's nice." The moment he turned his gaze away Spike took his hand off Xander and Xander took a small step away from the vampire.

Xander moved so that he stood on the other side of Willow who gave him a small amused smile as she imagined just what thoughts were running through her best friends mind at having Spike declare him an old friend and put a familiar hand on his shoulder… the thought almost enough to make her laugh, but she managed to keep her composure. Xander's arm brushed gently against the ruined wall of the hall they were standing in, the sleeve of his shirt brushing up against something that was stuck to the wall. The light touch of his shirt made something come loose and it fell, landing on his shoulder with a squelching sound. The extra unfamiliar weight drawing his attention, the moment his eyes landed on the piece of flayed meat that had fallen from the wall and had found a new home on his shoulder making his face twist into an expression of disgust and horror, before he let out a sound that was very much like a squeal; something that he would feel deep embarrassment about later. "Ooh, God… get it off!" He cried as he spun around his hand reaching up trying to touch it, before he took off down the hall, the feel of it seeping through shirt to be felt most keenly against his skin.

Willow, who had jumped at the sudden sound, couldn't help her laughter at her friends reaction, before she took off after him, struggling to keep up as she fought down her laughter. Spike didn't hesitate in following himself, planning on taking great pleasure in mocking the boy who was at this moment running like a mad thing through-out the unstable school. His shrieks still being heard further up the hall.

Riley turned away from the scene, unsure what to make of it and wondering why Buffy let her friends take part in their mission when they didn't seem so cut out for it. Angelus shook his head. "Nerves of steel." He muttered as he stood with his arms crossed, his amusement only visible through the dark twinkle in his deep brown eyes.

"Don't be too hard on him." Buffy mumbled as she looked in the direction her friends had raced off in, sounds of them still in the school still reaching her keen ears. "I don't think I'd be too happy about having a piece of flayed Mayor fall on me either."

Riley looked from one to the other, not sure what to say, but wanting to say something, but everything he had in mind, didn't seem to suit the tension he could begin to fill in the hallway as he stood looking at Buffy and Angelus who didn't even really seem to be fully aware that he was still standing there. "Uh, I guess I'll see you around at school." He finally managed lamely, before he turned to walk away, silently scolding himself for not coming up with anything better. He shot them a last look and saw that they were still standing silently… waiting… waiting for him to leave he guessed, with a soft sigh Riley continued on his way, silently vowing that he'd talk to Buffy later about this.

Buffy heard Riley leave, and she turned her gaze to Angelus, her hand that hadn't left her chest fell from it; her heart still beating a wild tattoo in her chest as she looked up at him, knowing that she could have lost him tonight… lost him to a cause that she had dragged him into, simply because she was The Slayer and he didn't want anything to happen to her. Tears that she had been holding back threatening to well in her eyes as she stalked towards him, as soon as she reached him she shoved him up against the wall. "Don't you ever do that to me again!" She demanded as she punched his chest, with what classified as girlie punches, but still had a bite to them, that had Angelus wanting to groan with each blow she landed to his chest. "I thought I'd lost you!" She cried, her hot tears beginning to spill down her cheeks as she delivered a couple more punches to his chest.

Angelus caught Buffy's hands by her wrists, stopping her from continuing her assault. "I know," He murmured sincerely, knowing exactly what she was feeling; having felt it himself when he realized that she was planning to jump in herself. "But… but I couldn't bear the thought of losing you… not so soon after winning you back."

Buffy swallowed thickly, her heart swelling at his words, even as it continued to beat harshly in her chest; the image of him disappearing into the fissure in the floor of what used to be the Sunnydale High library, still haunting her, making her heart clench. "You couldn't bear it?" She murmured her voice cracking slightly as she pulled one of her hands free of Angelus' to wipe at her eyes. "How do you think I would feel?! To lose you! To lose you again!" Angelus winced, before he brought the hand he still had a grasp on up to his lips and pressed an affectionate kiss to the palm of her hand, before wrapping his arms around her and pressing her against his chest, seeking to comfort her, whilst being silently thrilled by her reaction. Buffy pressed her face against Angelus chest, falling silent as she breathed in the spicy scent that he favoured, letting the fact that he had survived… that they had survived sink in, that an earthquake had come and gone and her life hadn't been taken. Taking a breath she looked up at him. "Just don't do that again." She muttered, her voice softer than before, but no less serious.

Angelus smirked. "I think I can safely promise that." He said agreeably. "If you promise to never jump into another hell dimension."

Buffy couldn't help, but smile in return, her heart finally beginning to relax in her chest, soothed by the strong feel of his familiar arms around her holding her against his chest. "I believe I can do that. Jumping into hell holes isn't something I'm looking to repeat… ever." She assured him.

Angelus smiled down at her and slid his arms from around her, feeling satisfied with her promise. She wasn't the type to break them… and neither was he… A crashing sound came from the library, drawing their gaze in that direction for a moment. "Come on, let's get out of here, before the whole place comes crashing down around us."

Buffy gave a small nod. "We should find the others."

Angelus pouted immediately. "Do we have to?" He asked drawing Buffy's gaze up to him again. "I mean… there's only so much I can stand of that little… Xander," Angelus said after deciding to edit what he had been originally going to say. "Before I want to just wring his… well you get the picture."

"He's my friend, Angelus." Buffy said pointedly before moving off down the hall leaving it for Angelus to decide whether or not he wanted to follow her or not.

Angelus sighed deeply in an attempt to brace himself for the annoyance he was sure to feel the moment he clamped eyes on the obnoxious little brat, before he followed after Buffy, quickly catching her up. "Yeah, but why does he have to be so annoying?"

Buffy looked over at him, her gaze slightly curious. "What is it about him that annoys you so much?"

Angelus gave a shrug and remained silent for a moment as all the reason for disliking the boy came to mind… and all of them he was sure wouldn't sit well with her at this moment in time, so he merely smirked down at her. "There's too many for me to be bothered to name." He murmured cheekily.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Xander shuddered as Willow finally managed to get the bit of Mayor off his shoulder. "Why does The Mayor meat, have to fall on me." He grumbled as he looked at the stain on his shirt.

Willow gave him a sympathetic shrug, the funny having finally worn off after all the chasing she had been forced to do to just get the bit of extra crispy meat off him. "Maybe it senses that you're the weakest link. I mean The Mayor did die a demon, right? Demons have a thing for going after the weak. The scream so easily." Spike mocked, a smirk curling up his lips as he imagined all the fun he would be having with the boy tonight. Suddenly being strapped to the sodden sleeping chair, that he claimed as his, didn't seem so bad. Walking passed the two heading towards the door he began whistling a happy little tune.

Willow gave Xander's hand a comforting squeeze trying to make him feel better, before they began reluctantly following Spike towards the exit of the closed down High school, hoping that they would run into Buffy along the way.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy hesitated a moment as she stood outside the door that she had been told belonged to Riley where he was inside at this moment… throwing something at the door from what she could hear… Angelus wouldn't be happy about her being here… she could imagine the dark scowl that would darken his brow at the very idea of it, but… as much as she appreciated his warning, she still wanted to talk to Riley… she wasn't sure how well the conversation would go over, but she felt that she at least had to try…

Raising a hand she knocked on the door a moment later she heard his voice through the door allowing her entrance. Opening the door, Buffy looked around a little curiously, before she closed the door behind her as she stepped completely into the room. "Buffy?" Riley said surprised, throwing the ball he had been holding in the rough direction of where he kept them.

"Uh, hey." Buffy said a little awkwardly as she rested her gaze on Riley. "I'm sorry for just dropping by…"

"No, not at all…" Riley said hurriedly, feeling flustered by her sudden unexpected visit. "I'm glad that you came." A moment of silence stretched between them, a silence that Riley swiftly broke. "That was quiet some ride last night huh."

"That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about." Buffy said as she shifted her feet, stepping away from the door a little more.

"Oh?" Riley questioned as he straightened up a little, one of his hands coming up to scratch at the bandage that was still over his nose.

"It's dangerous, what I do… what you do." She added a little begrudgingly. "It's not something that I would choose for anybody."

"Buffy," Riley cut in. "I love my work. It's more than I could have ever dreamed of when I was a boy growing up. And I go into work every day excited to see what will happen today. How many people can truthfully say that they have fun…"

"Fun!" Buffy cut him off, her voice getting a hint of anger to it. "I know a person who is in a coma for the rest of her life, because she had so much fun on the job!" She took a breath. "What I do isn't for amateurs."

"Amateur?" Riley interrupted, affronted by the term. "I'm highly trained."

"Yeah, I'm sure you are… trained by a bunch of military GI Joes that haven't got a clue what it's really like out there."

"You don't know what you're talking about!" Riley denied firmly, his belief in what he did not wavering.

"No, Riley I do know what I'm talking about… I know it better than you could ever possibly hope to understand… Look, I'm not trying to insult you or belittle what you do… but I think that you should get out… get out whilst you still have your life… whilst you still have a chance at that shiny speck that is a normal life."

Riley sank down on the foot of his bed and Buffy moved towards him concerned at how pale his face suddenly looked. "Are you alright?" She asked.

"Oh, I'm fine." He muttered as he looked down at the carpet he could see between his spread knees. "Apart from the fact that I'm a dead man… secret. Highly… or it's supposed to be. And then… you find out; ok, I can deal. You're special. But last night with your friends… that was a disaster." He said a little thickly as he looked up at Buffy again. "I mean, could I've been less convincing? I was trained to be sneaky and stuff and I'm like… 'Hi! Paintball… just passing by!' I should have just given them my security code and rank!" Riley blurted out in his rant.

"You have a security code and rank?" Buffy asked curiously, momentarily about what she had been about to say before he'd said that.

Riley gave her a pained look. "No… did I just say…?" He sighed a scrubbed a hand roughly through his short brown hair. "This is so not good. Everybody knows about me… I'm finished… It's the end of the world."

Buffy laughed she couldn't help herself, earning another pained look from Riley. "No, it's not." She assured him. "Last night… that was the end of the world… or it would have been if we hadn't stopped it…" Riley's pained looked turned to one of surprise, not having expected what he had seen last night to be anything as serious as all that. "As for Willow and Xander knowing about…"

"Let's not forget your super-powered sidekick," It was Buffy's turned to give Riley a slightly confused look. "Angelus." He elaborated. "And that peroxide hair guy."

"I don't think he'd like being called a side-kick." Buffy murmured a little pensively as she imagined the look that would darken Angelus face if he ever heard anyone talk about him like that… and the thrashing he would dish out to the speaker. Before she gave her head a small shake as she turned her mind back to the matter at hand. "Don't worry about that… they are all very good at keeping secrets… they've been keeping mine for years ya know." She assured him with a small smile.

"And you also tell me that I should give up my job for some boring 9-5 gig." Riley added on.

Buffy shrugged a slightly pained look crossing her face for a moment. "Some of us would give almost anything for a normal 9-5 job." She muttered, before giving a little sigh. "Look, I'm not telling you that you have to quit, but that I think that you should. People in this line of work don't tend to live long… take it from someone who knows." Buffy turned away from him and began to head for the door, having said what she had wanted to say; there was nothing more she could really do aside from let him mull it over and come to his own decision.

Riley stood and stepped after her. "Wait." He called and Buffy paused in her stride as she turned to face him. "Meet them… the people I work with." Riley said, surprising Buffy, an emotion that showed clearly on her expressive face as she continued to stare at him. "I'm sure that all this will be so much easier to explain if I have you there… I mean you know a lot more about what went down and… what you are… then I do…" Riley began trailing off as he began to feel more and more uncomfortable under Buffy's unblinking surprised stare.

Buffy swallowed as a small thoughtful frown pulled down her brow as she considered what she should do… Angelus' warning ringing around her ears as she thought about what Riley was offering… a chance to get intimate inside knowledge of the military group he worked for…

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Willow and Xander sat curled up comfortably on a couch in Xander's basement their eyes glued to the TV as they ate popcorn from a bowl sat between them. Spike who had been pacing around impatiently, his blood still up from earlier walked in front of the TV his body blocking their view of the screen, without a word the two merely shifted as they tried to see around him. "What's this? Sitting around watching telly while there's evil still afoot." Spike said as he looked down at the moving figures on the screen, not in the least bit interested in what they were watching, reaching down he switched off the TV. "That's not very industrious of you." He turned around to face Willow and Xander who were staring up at him with frowns of annoyance at his interruption… as well as slight bemusement.

"I say we go out there," Rubbing his hands together in glee at the thought of going out and causing more pain; even if it was the blood of other demons, he'd been cooped up to long unable to hurt anything, that he didn't give damn. "And kick a little demon ass!" He crowed one of his hands curled up in a fist pumped the air. A fist which he lowered as Willow and Xander merely continued to stare at him… their annoyed expression having turned to ones of blank shock. "What, can't go without your Buffy, is that it?" He asked. "To chicken? Let's find her!" He urged, willing to put up with her if it meant that he could go out and spread some serious pain. "She is the Chosen One after all." Spike's expression turned slightly exasperated as he still got no reaction from the two sitting on the couch before him… looking as if they weren't going to move anytime soon. "Come on! Vampires! Grrr!" He curled his hands into claws at them trying to encourage them into action. "Nasty! Let's annihilate them. For justice," He added willing to say anything to get them up off the couch and out the door. "And for the safety of puppies… and Christmas, right?" He floundered as he tried to think of the things that goodie-goodie two-shoes fought for. "Let's fight that evil! Let's kill something!" He urged, trying to get them pumped and receiving nothing, but looks that had changed now to slightly concerned. "Oh, come on!" Spike growled growing frustrated.

Willow leaned in towards Xander her voice low, her gaze never leaving Spike who was still staring down at them. "Do you think we should call, Buffy?"

"For what standing in front of the TV?" He mumbled back, his eyes too glued on Spike.

"Well, she'd at least be able to move him." Willow muttered, as she wondered just what was happening in the movie right now, whilst Spike was blocking the TV.

"Yeah, do that." Spike said a little too eagerly. "Call up The Slayer, get her lazy ass over here."

"Ok, now he's entered full creepy mode." Xander said.

"Do you think perhaps, that conk to the head mighta broke something in his brain?" Willow asked, her voice a little concerned.

Spike scowled at them both. "Hey, my brain is just fine… aside from the chip in my brain…" Willow and Xander looked up at him doubtfully. "Oh come on! I wanna kill something!" Spike yelled, almost pleaded with them.

A/N: Well I hope you all enjoyed what I've done with chapter 11. Please let me know what you thought of it :) Your opinions help keep the muse motivated ;p