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

A/N: Once again a huge apology to all my readers who have waited so patiently for this chapter to be finished and posted. And also a huge thank you to everyone who reviewed I know that I have been slack in replying lately, but I do appreciate the time you all take to leave me a review and hopefully I shall be able to get around to reply to your reviews very soon. I just thought that you'd appreciate a chapter more than a review reply by this point. Lol. Anyway please enjoy the chapter and let me know what you think.

CHAPTER 8

A Need For Normalcy

Buffy trudged slowly re-entering the University campus, a frown darkening her brow, her arms crossed over her chest, her hands tucked against her sides. She wasn't paying much attention to her surroundings too focused on the soreness of the disappointment she was feeling. She'd gone over to her family home to visit her mother and to find out if she wanted to do the thanksgiving shopping together, only to find her mother in the midst of packing… her mother wanting to visit her sister for thanksgiving this year. And she understood… really she did. Her mother hadn't managed to see her sister in years… practically since they'd had to move from Los Angeles so that she could go to the closest school in California that would take her. It added guilt to her disappointment, because in a lot of ways it was her fault that her mother hadn't been able to see her sister for so long. The guilt didn't lessen her disappointment though, it felt like her mother had abandoned her… which was ridiculous she knew, but the feeling was there none the less.

On a subconscious instinct Buffy's trudging footsteps stopped in between a thicket of bushes and trees, her eyes focusing on a boy walking over the grass, in a lane that the trees created. Buffy's eyes narrowed on him as he walked, his head turning from left to right scanning the night, searching… personally it looked like he was hunting, but that could just be her inner Slayer talking, not to mention the desire she had to pummel something to help relieve the disappointment and guilt she was feeling. Buffy followed being sure to keep hidden in amongst the trees and shrubbery, she didn't recognise him, but that wasn't unusual, the campus was big and not everyone lived on campus, but just the look of him had her senses on alert, focusing on him and it confirmed her suspicions as her senses tingled with the feel of a young vampire. A twig snapped under her foot and the vampire paused in his stride his posture stiffening slightly, changing from that of the hunter to the hunted as he searched the night with his eyes, this time looking for a pursuer, instead of someone to pursue. Which confirmed her assessment that this was a very young vamp, only the young ones still reacted with human like instincts.

Buffy smiled as she waited, the anticipation of an upcoming fight and staking throbbing through her veins. Quietly she moved making sure to keep hidden until she'd moved ahead of him, stepping out of her hiding place she moved out in front of him, just as the vampire turned back around to keep walking. A startled expression crossing his face to see a petite blond woman standing in front of him. "Oh!" He exclaimed.

Buffy cocked her head slightly to the side as she looked up at him. "Looking for me?" She asked, with a small smile.

The male vampires eyes widened as he realized exactly what she was. "Holy!" He began, before he decided to play it cool. "What do you want?" He asked, trying to sound calm and unaffected. Buffy curled her hand into a fist, pulling her arm back she punched him in the face with enough force to force his head to angle back from the blow. "Uhh!" He groaned, his expression startled, before he let his face shift into the demonic features of the demon as he realized that she wasn't going to buy his act. "Hey!" He growled.

"Look whose home." Buffy quipped as she met the vampires amber eyes.

The vampire sneered at her. "A Slayer! Why don't you just go back where you came from?! Things were great before you came!" He snarled.

Buffy gave him a small careless shrug. "Well, I would, but this place has become like a home away from home. What with the demons and the vampires and the seemingly yearly apocalypse…" Buffy trailed off as she ducked the punch the vampire threw at her. Retaliating with her own, she punched him in the face again, which she quickly followed up with a kick to his side and the vampire fell to the ground. He quickly recovered himself and began to get up, once he'd reached his knees, he backhanded Buffy in the stomach with a closed fist. In swift retaliation she backhanded him across the face sending him falling back to the ground. The vampire swiftly rolled over onto his stomach and scrambled to his feet preparing to run away, instinctively knowing that he couldn't win this fight. Before he could Buffy grabbed him as she pulled her stake out of its hiding place and thrust it smoothly into his back, the tip piercing his un-beating heart, and as she withdrew her stake from the vampire he disintegrated into a pile of dust at her feet.

As she re-hid her stake she became aware of another vampiric presence and she smiled at the intimate familiarity of it as it tingled over her skin and her heart picked up speed. "You know, I kinda wish it had lasted a little longer." Angelus commented as he stepped out of the foliage he had been watching from and Buffy turned to face him.

"How long were you watching?" She asked as Angelus continued to approach her.

Angelus shrugged a half smile curling up his lips. "Long enough to see you land your first punch." He murmured as he came to a stop in front of her.

"And I suppose it didn't occur to you to lend a hand?" Buffy asked as she looked up at him.

"Of course I did, but I knew you could handle him. Plus, I like watching you move." Angelus said his smile widening, flashing some of his pearly whites at her.

Buffy felt herself flush and she smiled. "Ditto." She murmured and Angelus raised an eyebrow at her. Buffy lowered her gaze for a moment as she felt her heart skip a beat, before it speed up a little in her embarrassment. "Uh, well, I mean you. I feel the same way about watching you." Buffy babbled, her tongue tripping over itself in her hurry to correct the misinterpretation her previous words had caused.

Angelus smiled a chuckle rumbling in his chest. "I'll have to keep that in mind."

Buffy smiled up at him toothily, finding herself relaxing despite the red flag of warning the terrified part of her threw up in desperation. She clasped her hands together in an attempt to keep from reaching out and taking his hand in hers. "So, to what do I owe this pleasure?" She asked, as she began walking beside him.

Angelus shrugged. "Do I need a reason to want to see my girl?"

Buffy shook her head, her lips curving up into a smile once again as she took his hand gently into her own, peeking up at him from underneath her lashes to judge his reaction, feeling the slight tenseness in her muscles relax as he squeezed her hand gently in reaction. "Nope. Surprise visits are nice." She confided, feeling her slight depression of earlier fading away under the happiness of knowing that he had wanted to see her enough that he had sought her out.

With an easy movement that he had perfected long before he had become a vampire, he raised their joined hands and easily slid her small hand into the crook of his arm and used his opposite hand to cover hers. He smiled slightly and tucked that tid-bit of information away for future use.

"So, what had you all mopey and slightly depressed before?" Angelus asked, and he couldn't help the smug smirk that curled up his lips at Buffy's surprised expression as she looked up at him. "What?" He asked with an innocent look placed on his face. "I know you. I know that look, that walk, not to mention that wicked angry little right hook."

Buffy's expression turned a little wary, a wariness that she tried to hide, but she had never been very good at it and Angelus could read it clearly over her face. "So, you're back to the old stalking routine." She murmured trying to sound jovial and unconcerned about it, as she turned her gaze back down to her feet, hiding her expression from Angelus' all too observant eyes.

Angelus gently squeezed his hand around her smaller warm one. "Well, not on purpose." Buffy snapped her gaze back up to him, her innocent hazel eyes wide with hopeful curiosity. A hope that was so deep seated inside of her now that it scared her. She was scared of the consequences of trusting him, of hoping that there was a chance for her… for them to be happy together… it seemed so stupid and yet… the more time that past… the more she was beginning to think that it was possible. "I just happened to be walking along, minding my own business, when I saw you. I began following you because I wasn't sure whether you would appreciate company or not." Angelus murmured, forcing away the frown that wanted to darken his face, at the slight annoyance he couldn't help, but feel at having to explain himself, even to her… to his mate.

It was all, his fault that he had to reassure his hopefully soon-to-be mate, and hopefully soon he would regain the trust that he had so brutally and hastily smashed to thousands of tiny pieces. Buffy found herself looking back down at her feet, a small smile curling up her lips as she watched her feet move, her gaze moved towards Angelus feet and for some unexplainable reason her smile grew as she watched his steps, steps that he was shortening for her and her much shorter legs. Raising her free hand she curled it into a loose fist, pressing it gently against her lips as she tried to supress her smile, before she looked back up at him. "Well, FYI," Buffy murmured as she placed her free hand over the hand Angelus had placed over hers, drawing Angelus' gaze back to her. "I'll take company over stalking anytime. Cause stalking… kinda creepy."

"I'll make a note of it." Angelus said with a slightly teasing note to his voice.

Buffy gave a short sage like nod. "Do." She encouraged, she squeezed his hand very slightly, before she slipped her hand from on top of his, a smile brightening her face once again, as she looked around the now familiar landscape that was her University campus.

"So," Angelus began. "Are you going to tell me what had you so down earlier?" He asked as he glanced down at her.

Buffy gave a small shrug and turned her gaze ahead of her. "It's nothing really. I'm probably just overreacting."

"If it's troubling you, it's not nothing." Angelus said softly, not wanting to encourage his mate to keep secrets from him, but rather to share what was bothering her. He couldn't be a proper mate if he couldn't look after his mates needs."

Buffy gave a little shrug. "I guess I'm just a little hurt." She began, only to turn to face Angelus as he gently pulled them to a stop a concern and worried look on his face, and Buffy's expression turned shocked. "Oh, no, Angelus." She hurried to assure him. "It has nothing to do with you… or us." Angelus' expression smoothed over and his lips curled up into a small half smile. "My mum decided that she wants to go visit my Aunt Darlene for Thanksgiving." She mumbled, as she scuffed a small patch of grass with the toe of her boot.

"And this is a bad thing?" Angelus asked, not really seeing a downside to the eldest Summers taking some time away.

Buffy shrugged feeling the guilt all over again. "No! Of course not. I just thought we'd be spending Thanksgiving together, like we always do." She explained.

Angelus was silent as he thought of what to say to that, as he thought he started up a slow steady pace once again, not wanting his girl to thinking that he had to think too hard over what to say to the obvious disappointment she was feeling. "Well, you know…" Angelus began slowly, hoping that he was saying the right thing, not wanting to peak her ire. "There is more than one way to spend Thanksgiving."

Buffy nodded and placed a smile on her face as she squeezed her hand around his arm. "Yeah, I know. It's just… I was sorta looking forward to having some mother/Buffy time. Some normalcy, you know."

"Normal is antiquated." Angelus murmured.

"It's nice sometimes though. No demons to fight, no apocalypses… no hellmouth."

"Just you and Joyce." Angelus added.

Buffy nodded her agreement, before letting out a little sigh. "Yep, not that it is ever likely to happen." Angelus glanced down at her, an idea beginning to form in his sharp mind.

"Well, you never know. You might get what you want this year."

Buffy rolled her eyes in disbelief. "Yeah, and the hellmouth will suddenly start repelling everything that goes bump and grrr in the night." She said sarcastically. Buffy gave her head a shake and smiled up at him, determined to let go of her disappointment. "But you know, you're right, there is plenty of other normal things a girl can do on Thanksgiving."

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

A young male who fashioned his light brownish-blond hair in much the same way that Angelus did, sat on a comfortable lush leather couch in a lavish apartment that had all the props of a bachelor pad, the previous owner lying on a lush rug, puncture wounds decorating the side of his neck, the wounds still slowly oozing blood, that ran in straight gravitational lines across his throat, his lifeless brown eyes staring blanking, the terror he had felt in the brief moments before his death frozen on his lifeless face. Penn payed the dead body no mind as he adjusted his glasses on the bridge of his nose, his eyes focused on the picture he had taken off a local demon. The small blond in the picture staring past the camera, the girl completely unaware that picture was being taken, her expression somewhat solemn.

A small frown darkened his brow as he stared at the picture, he couldn't believe the rumours that his Sire; Angelus The Scourge of Europe had fallen for this little slip of a girl, fallen so hard that it was rumoured amongst the demonic community that she was going to be his mate. Even had a mark on her neck that looked suspiciously like a claiming mark. He'd get to the bottom of it though, he'd meet up with his Sire like was supposed to happen so many years ago, but his Sire had never shown and it had taken him this long to track him down… granted he hadn't put all his effort into it, he'd had plenty of more important things to do then track down a Sire that was probably off having a grand old time and had lost track of time.

Penn dropped the picture back onto the coffee table and relaxed back into the couch, his eyes focusing up on the ceiling and with a sigh, he removed the glasses and tossed them without looking onto the coffee table, they slid over the smooth polished wood coming to rest half on half off the picture of the resident Slayer. His slightly sore eyes beginning to relax immediately now that he had removed the glasses. Getting up with a slight spring in his step, he grabbed his glasses, his gaze sweeping over the face of The Slayer and his Sire's rumoured downfall. Walking towards the door, Penn slid the glasses up his nose and walked out the door, wanting to get the lay of this new town, who knew just how long he would decide to stay. This hellmouth had such a pull, it was addictive. And if he was lucky he'd run into his Sire. Penn smiled broadly at the thought it could be like old times, his smile faded slightly, but first he had to find out about the woman his Sire was set to claim as his own.

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

A woman ran as fast as her legs would carry her as she threw frantic looks over her shoulder, her frail human eyes trying to pierce the darkness that had never seemed more frightening in all her eighteen years. She raced around a corner, putting on a burst of speed hoping to lose the predator that was chasing her with a relentless determination. She bumped into what felt like a solid wall, except that a strong hand clamped around her arm preventing her from falling to the ground like she would have done. A cold sharp metal tip was placed against her lips as she gasped, to terrified to scream as she looked up at the horribly distorted features of her attacker. The sharp tipped metal slid from her lips, the unbelievably sharp tip grazing dangerously over her skin, leaving a fine white line as the tip broke only the first layer of skin. Still she could not find her voice through her terror, and could only gasp as the sharp tip truly broke her skin, causing blood to flow as he etched a mark into her cheek.

She watched with wide terrified eyes as he dipped his head towards her, lunging for her throat, but still she could not manage a scream only a pitiful whimper as he sharp fangs pierced her throat without a hint of mercy. Her thoughts were blank as she felt life slipping from her, it was an odd sensation, but not painful, not anymore, a sort of pleasant numbness had over taken her senses. Leaving her with only a strange pleasant feeling with each pull of his mouth upon her neck.

Angelus dropped her lifeless body to the ground, his eyes staring down at her dispassionately…

Angelus opened his eyes with a small jolt as he sat up in his bed the covers falling from him to reveal his naked chest. He ran a hand through his hair and sighed a smile curling up his lips, he could almost feel and taste the blood of the woman he had killed so long ago… he flicked his tongue over his lips as a frown began to pull down his brow. It hadn't really felt like a dream, it was more real… and felt more than a memory. Throwing the blankets off of himself, he got up off the bed and made his way over to his wardrobe. The frown still darkening his brow as his brain flicked over the dream, wondering why it felt so important. The deed happened over a century ago on a visit to his home country. Where he had met a young boy, that was just making his way into being a man, dealing with the same pressures his old man had been putting him through…

Angelus chuckled softly, Penn was more fun than he had originally anticipated. He'd wanted to know what it was like to Sire a Childe. Penn had proven a very ample student, eager to learn and experience everything that he could of his new vampire senses. It was a pity that the gypsies had interfered with his plans of catching up with him. Shrugging on a shirt, he left it gaping as he pulled on a pair of his leather pants, his mind drifting from the dream, to Buffy as he began wondering what she was doing. If she was still dreaming peacefully with her head still on the pillow as the sun was just beginning to struggle over the horizon, mist and frost still dusting the landscape. Angelus smiled softly, as he turned around as he began doing up the small buttons of his silk shirt. His eyes on his sleep rumpled bed.

He could easily picture his Golden Slayer sleeping there, snuggled up under the plush covers, just waiting for him to snuggle back up with her. Angelus swallowed thickly, as a hot bolt of lust shot through him, landing straight in his groin, causing his cock to swell and harden uncomfortably in the soft leather of his pants. He slowly blew out a breath as he silently asked for the patience and discipline to hold out for as long as it took Buffy to feel comfortable enough with him to get hot naked and sweaty with him again. Tearing his eyes away from the bed and the imagined vision of Buffy sleeping in his bed like it was their bed, like it was supposed to be… the whole mansion was supposed to be theirs…

Angelus shook his head as he tucked his shirt into his pants, before he headed out of the room. 'Patience boyo. Patience! You'll win her hand…' Angelus smirked. 'Well, her throat.' He amended silently, thinking of the mark he would put on her throat when he felt that she was ready to give herself to him completely… like she had done with his pathetic undeserving soul. Grabbing his leather duster from over the bathroom door handle on his way out of the door, making his way towards the front door of the mansion.

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

Angelus strolled through the early morning sun of Sunnydale. He doubted that he would ever fully get used to being able to feel the sun warming his pale skin without it beginning to smoke, before catching fire. His feet taking him in the direction of the University where he imagined Buffy still snuggly tucked under her blankets. He couldn't help smiling at the imaginary image of Buffy, but he couldn't help wishing that he could be snuggling in with her. That he could say with complete confidence that she was his, that he could claim her as his own, like he should have done when he first became free, instead of… Angelus swallowed thickly and forcefully shoved the thought to the back of his mind. There was nothing he could do about the past, all he could do was prove that their future together would be better, if only she would give him the chance… and she was… just slowly, very slowly. Like a frightened colt looking for the smallest excuse to bolt as fast as she could in any direction that was away from him.

He walked past a street the smile still lingering on his face. His steps faltered slightly as his sensitive nose picked up the scent of death and decay, and he took a couple of steps back so that he could look down the alley, with curious eyes, his smile fading completely to be replaced by a frown as the dream he'd had last night came back to him, and something familiar slid over his senses. His eyes searched the street as he began stepping down the street, his senses focused on the stench of decaying human flesh. Turning down a small alley between two brick houses, his steps slowed to a stop as his eyes landed on the dead body of a young woman. A young woman who looked to be the same age as the woman he'd killed in his dream. As he got closer to the body he realized that there was something else familiar about the woman. She bore a striking resemblance to another woman whose death he had witnessed.

The smile returned to his lips as he remembered explaining to his newly risen Childe the joys of killing ones family. Angelus licked his lips the blood of one's former human family was the sweetest… well almost the sweetest a vampire could sink his fangs into. And none had been more satisfying for him, then to end the life of those who had wished to control him, even if it was just the worthless human that had been given the offence. The smile slipped from his lips once again as he reached the body, as the reality of just what this could mean… it hardly seemed possible it had been so long since he had last clamped eyes on his first turned. Angelus frowned as the implication of what this could do to his forward moving plan for Buffy. What he had taught his Childe would not bode well for his budding relationship with Buffy. The tentative bonds that were forming between them were fragile at the very best.

He wasn't sure if the trust that he was determinedly building between them would survive, if Penn's unexpected visit would keep Buffy from his arms and his bed for that much longer. And he may be a patient demon, but there was only so much any demon could take of being kept apart from his mate. Even if it was from acts of stupidity on his part that was the cause. But, it might just be a coincidence… if he was lucky it would only be a coincidence. He really didn't want to find out how Buffy would react to another of his Children making an appearance. Spike and Drusilla hadn't given her a good impression. Angelus raised a booted foot and nudged the corpses head, the tip of his boot digging into the skin of her cheek, forcing her head to roll to the other side, revealing a very familiar thin cut done by a sharp point in the shape of a cross on her cheek.

Angelus swallowed thickly, a tick going off in his jaw for a moment, as he clenched his teeth together as he looked down at the damning mark. Looking up from the body, he quickly scanned the small alley, glad to see that it was empty. The last thing he needed was for the details of the girl's death to reach that ex-Watcher, he was certain that even if he didn't know the significant now, but he'd soon uncover it and put the spotlight on him. And that kind of spotlight was the last thing he needed where Buffy was concerned.

Angelus bent down to the corpse with a sneer curling his lips as he growled under his breath as he took hold of the dead woman's upper arms. It was bad enough that he still hadn't figured out what Spike was up to… hadn't seen hide or hair of him yet, and that wasn't like his impatient rash Childe. Now he had to deal with Penn and whatever it was that had brought him to the Sunnydale hellmouth.

He dragged the body along the ground, heading towards a man hole that was located in the middle of the road. Stopping by the exit of the small alley, he glanced around, his keen eyes searching every nook and cranny wanting to be sure that no one was around to see him with the body. And he was suddenly more than glad that it was early in the morning, giving him less chance of being spotted by prying eyes as most would be still asleep. His eyes searching the windows for any human like shapes in them, not seeing any peering out the windows, he quickly dragged the corpse over to the man hole, flipping the lid off the manhole he tumbled the body in without ceremony. He glanced around once again just to be certain that no one had come to the windows within the last minute. Not seeing anyone once again, he mounted the ladder and stepped down a few steps, grabbing the lid, he slid it back over the hole and sprang down the rest of the ladder. His feet barely missing the crumpled dead body. Grasping one of the woman's arms once again, he began dragging the corpse behind him, not wanting for a city worker to just open the manhole and come across the body.

A few minutes later Angelus came to a stop, releasing the arm that he was holding, he glanced down at the body, his eyes landing on the damning crossed shaped cut on her cheek for a small moment, before he kicked her into the filthy water. He watched her float for a moment, before the body began to sink in the filthy water. Turning he walked further into the sewer tunnel and turned a corner, swiftly leaving his worries about the body being discovered far behind.

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

Buffy stood behind a line of yellow tape, set up to keep onlookers from getting too close to the dig sight, her arms crossed over her chest as she watched the Dean of the University as he talked from the podium that had been set up for the speech he was making. She forced herself to keep from switching from foot to foot, not out of cold as some others were doing, but out of slight impatience at having to be here. She'd only come to support Xander in his new job and because Willow had wanted to check it out, almost as much as Anya did. Of course their motives were polar opposites. She supposed that in a way this was interesting, but why did it have to be held so early in the morning… so early that frost still crunched under your feet as you shifted on the green grass. It was a time that she was usually still snuggled up in bed… when she didn't have a ridiculously early morning class.

Buffy's eyes focused more on the wooden podium as Dean Guerrero stepped up to the podium, he shuffled a few small square pieces of paper in his hands and Buffy's eyes narrowed for a moment trying to make out just how many pieces there were. The Dean cleared his throat, the sound echoing through the microphone, before he began his speech. "Of all the duties of a Dean, one of the most pleasant is to see a colleague realize a dream. Ladies and Gentlemen, student, I present to you Professor Gerhardt of the anthropology department." Buffy gave a little sigh of relief as the Dean stepped aside, glad that there hadn't been a long winded speech by the Dean, it was going to be bad enough having to listen to the long winded speech that Professor Gerhardt was going to give.

Beside her Anya sighed with in patience as the female Professor took the Dean's place on the podium. Willow glanced over at the ex-vengeance demon with a slight scowl of annoyance darkening her features, she wanted to be able to focus on the Professor's speech, to hear just what kind of bull she was going to spout, not be distracted by Anya's in patient annoyance that had nothing to do with the real problem. "When I first realized we were outgrowing our current cultural centre, I was concerned." Gerhardt began, as she leaned in towards the microphone. "Then I realized. It was like seeing one's child grow up and move on to better things. In this case, a spacious new facility to be built on this site…"

Anya sighed again, her attention on Xander as he stood on the site, holding a shovel, but not using it as he waited for the speech to be over so that he could begin his work. "Look at him." She sighed dreamily. "Have you ever seen anything so masculine?" She asked as she shifted yet again, this time trying to alleviate the ache that was beginning to form inside her centre.

"You mean, Guerrero or his wife?" Buffy asked, having been paying attention to the speech that the professor was giving and not Anya.

Willow's lips twitched up for a moment, before she smothered it, telling herself that it was rude to laugh at their Deans physical appearance. "I think she means…" Willow trailed off as she gestured towards Xander as he stood in his construction gear which much to Anya's delight showed off his arms.

"Oh." Buffy murmured her gaze turning to Xander. "Very manly." She agreed. "Not at all village people." She lied through her teeth, hoping that it wasn't noticeable in her tone. "So much sexier than his last job." She added wanting to tack on a bit of truth… practically anything would be sexier than the uniform his last job required him to wear.

"Oh, I miss the free hot dogs on sticks." Willow piped in getting a little distracted from the speech that was being given as she remembered that she hadn't taken the time to have breakfast before getting hurried down here by Anya who'd been in a hurry to get here to watch Xander, not having realized that there would be speeches before the construction work would be allowed to begin.

"I'm imagining having sex with him right now." Anya admitted in a breathy voice as she continued to watch Xander, completely unaware of the slightly uncomfortable glances Buffy and Willow gave her neither of them wanting to know about Xander's sex life imaginary or otherwise.

Buffy gave herself a mental shake, trying to rid the image of Xander and Anya together in that way from her minds eye as she turned her attention back to Gerhardt as she continued her speech.

"And that's why it's appropriate that the ground-breaking for the UC Sunnydale cultural partnership centre is taking place so soon before Thanksgiving. Because that's what the melting pot is about; contributions from all cultures, making our culture stronger."

Buffy began to clap with everyone else, but stopped immediately as Willow made a huffing noise. "What a load of horse hooey." The red head muttered with a frown darkening her brow.

"We have a counterpoint?" She asked as she lowered her arms back down to her sides.

"Yeah. Thanksgiving isn't about a blending of 2 cultures. It's about one culture wiping out another. And then they make animated specials about the where, with the maize and big, big belt buckles. They don't show you the next scene, where all the bison die and Squanto takes a musket ball in the stomach."

"Ok. Now, for some of that you were channelling your mother?" Buffy enquired, a slightly bemused expression on her face. She'd never thought that she would see the day that Willow would sound like her mother.

Willow shrugged a little embarrassedly. "Well, yeah, sort of." She mumbled before firming her resolve. "That's why she doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving or Columbus day. You know, the destruction of the indigenous peoples. I know it sounds a little overwrought, but really, she's… She's right."

Buffy turned her gaze from Willow turning it back towards the podium a thoughtful expression on her face. "Yeah. I guess, I never really thought about it that way. With mom at Aunt Darlene's this year, I'm not getting a thanksgiving. Maybe it's just as well." She said with a little shrug, trying to hide that it upset her from Willow.

"Well, I think that's a shame. I love ritual sacrifice." Anya said calmly, her eyes still focused on Xander.

"It's not really one of those." Buffy said.

"To commemorate a past event, you kill and eat an animal. It's a ritual sacrifice with pie." Anya explained. Buffy gave a slight nod of understanding, but didn't voice a reply, her gaze drifting from the podium a movement that caught the attention of the corner of her eye causing her to turn her attention to it and her heart leapt in her chest as she saw Angelus leaning against a tree, her lips curved up in a small smile as he smiled at her as his gaze met hers. She held his gaze for a moment, before she reluctantly tore her gaze from him back to the podium, her feet shifting once again, not from the cold, but from the sudden desire she had to walk over to Angelus, but she stayed put as she worried her lower lip gently with her teeth as much as she wanted to go over to him, she still couldn't bring herself to place all her trust in him, the past still very much a dark cloud over her heart making the still bruised and battered muscle tremble terrified of being shattered by the dark demon once again.

"And thus, a symbolic beginning." Professor Gerhardt finished her speech just as Buffy pulled herself out of her thoughts. She watched distracted her eyes wanting to travel back to Angelus as he stood in front of the tree the sun washing over him in a way that never failed to aw her senses. The Professor took the shovel offered to her and gingerly stuck it in the dirt, pulling up only a shallow amount of dirt, but it was enough to make Anya scowl darkly as she crossed her arms over her chest. "What's she doing?" She demanded to know crossly. "Xander said he was going to dig. I want to see Xander dig." She said a little petulantly.

"That parts just ceremonial." Buffy said in an attempt to reassure the ex-vengeance demon.

"Well, it bites. She's not rippling at all." Her expression brightened as she saw Xander finally plunge his shovel into the dirt. "Oh. Look, there he goes." Her arms uncrossing so that she could clasp her hands in front of her. "Look at him." She sighed dreamily.

"Very… diggy." Willow said uncomfortably, making a conscious effort to not pay too much attention to Xander as he rippled under the Californian sun. not wanting to chance the reoccurrence of past a past mistake that had made her feel like the worst kind of human being.

"Soon he'll be sweating. I'm imagining having sex with him again." Anya admitted breathily, her expression wistful.

"Imaginary Xander is quite the machine." Buffy observed as she watched Xander get into a rhythm with the shovel. She shifted her feet as her head turned, her eyes seeking out Angelus to see if he was still there, her eyes landed on him, her eyes meeting his for the briefest of moments before she turned her gaze away once again a feeling of embarrassment filling her for a moment at being caught looking, before she swallowed as she glanced over at her friends. "Uh, I'll be back in a minute." She murmured drawing both their gazes.

"Ok." Willow said easily.

"What could she possibly have to do that's better than watching Xander dig? I mean look at the way the sun catches on his rippling muscles."

"Well, he does do the diggy thing very well." Willow said, hoping that the wariness that she was feeling about hearing how sexy Anya found Xander wasn't evident in her tone.

"Hey, what brings you here? I didn't think that a university cultural centre thingy would be your thing." Buffy greeted as she came abreast of Angelus.

Angelus shrugged a smile curling up his lips as he watched the sun dance on Buffy's golden haired head. It was a sight the soul had dreamt of seeing and one that affected him more than he thought it could, but then being allowed back in the sunlight after so long was something he was still luxuriating in. "That'd be why I wasn't actually coming to see this."

"Oh really?" Buffy said, her voice slightly teasing as she smiled up at him.

Angelus inclined his head slightly. "I was actually on my way to see a pretty blond, who I actually imagined would still be sleeping."

"Oh, I wish." Buffy sighed, her eyes feeling tired once again at the reminder of the early hour. "But, Anya really wanted to see Xander dig, and Willow thought that it might be interesting to watch the ground breaking ceremony of the new Cultural Centre."

"And you?" Angelus asked genuinely curious about how his soon to be mate felt.

"I thought that it would be nice to support my friends. Of course when I agreed I didn't realize that another early morning would be involved especially on a day I actually get a sleep in." Buffy blinked trying to get rid of the tiredness that was making her eyelids feel heavy with the need for sleep. "So was there a reason behind the early morning visit you were planning?"

Angelus smirked. "Does seeing you all cute and bed rumpled count as a reason?"

"No, not really?" Buffy said with a slightly cheeky smile curling up her own lips in response to his.

"Then no, no real reason." He murmured.

Buffy couldn't supress the smile or the warm glow of the happiness that she was feeling in that moment. She was about to say something, but it never got past being a thought in her mind as the earth underneath their feet shook and there was gasps and screams coming from the crowd drawing Buffy's attention away from him, her happiness turning to worry, causing Angelus to frown in annoyance, unable to help hating all the interruptions, it seemed like all events where conspiring against him for the longest time now. "Xander." Buffy murmured worriedly, before rushing back towards Willow and Anya.

Angelus crossed his arms over his chest once again the frown still darkening his face as he watched Buffy hover behind the tape, her entire body speaking of her anxiety for the annoying boy she happened to call friend. "Would it be too much to ask that the fall snapped his pathetic little neck." He muttered a little sarcastically, knowing that the way his luck was lately that it wouldn't be. Giving his girl one last look he turned and began slowly walking away, knowing that she wouldn't be giving him any more attention whilst the simpering fool was stuck down in the hole he'd fallen in.

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

Xander groaned in pain as he slowly tried to sit himself up. "Uhh, ow!" He groaned. He could hear voice calling down to him and looking up with a wince he saw people… his work buddies peering down anxiously. "I'm ok!" he shouted up at them, before lowering his head back to a more normal angle that didn't hurt as much. "I'm, uh… "I'm ok." He assured himself as he ran his hands over his sore body to make sure everything was still where it was supposed to be. "Where am I ok?" He asked, his eyes skirting around the dark cavern he'd fallen into, not noticing a green mist that rose into the air ominously making a direct beeline for him.

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

Buffy stared out the window of her and Willow's dorm room, her eyes searching the darkness an unsettled feeling in her stomach making her feel as if there was something out there in the darkness on the campus. But there was a small chance that her angsty feeling was due to the disappointment she'd felt at finding that Angelus had disappeared sometime during the commotion caused by Xander's plummet through the earth, but she doubted that that was the case. The feeling was the tingling sensation of her senses when they picked up a demonic presence close by. Unaware of her friends distraction Willow continued talking away happily. "While they were pulling, Xander out, I heard a couple of the anthro professors talking about it. Man, were they excited. It's the old Sunnydale mission, which everyone thought was lost."

"Huh?" Buffy questioned dumbly, only just really becoming aware that Willow had been talking to her, and felt embarrassed by her distraction.

"The old lost Sunnydale mission…" Willow turned her gaze to Buffy to see her friend still staring out the window into the night. "Is there something out there?" She asked a little worriedly.

"Hmm?" Buffy murmured, before she put the pieces together and tore her gaze from the college campus below her window, a slight blush colouring her cheeks. "Oh. No." She lied, not wanting to worry her friend, not when she couldn't be positive of what she was feeling when she was in a dorm room and whatever it was she was feeling was out there. "I'm sorry. A lost mission. I mean, a hairbrush I can understand. And by the way, I will find that and get that back to you." She promised sheepily. "But how do you lose a mission?" She asked, not really expecting an answer, but wasn't surprised when Willow gave her a factual one.

"Huge earthquake in 1812. Everyone just assumed the mission was levelled. Instead they built right over it. It's like what happened in the thirties with that church The Master was in." She commented missing the slight flinch of pain that flickered across Buffy's face as she couldn't help, but remember the brief moments, before her death at The Masters hand. "Doesn't it make you wonder what else is there, like, right under our feet?"

Buffy forced herself to move away from the window, stepping towards Willow. "Mostly, I've just found sewers full of demons… and other unmentionables."

"Unmentionables? What could be more unmentionable then demons in the sewers?" Willow asked curiously.

"The stuff that's supposed to be in the sewers." Buffy replied with a smile, causing Willow to give a small laugh.

"Oh, right. Those are unmentionables." She agreed a smile still tugging at her lips. Their attention was diverted by the sound of student hurrying down the hallway with heavy steps and loud voices filled with excitement. "Man, it's crazy out there."

"Mm-hmm." Buffy agreed with a nod of her head. "Post midterm frenzy. And the holiday. Everyone's going home."

"It looks like a lot of lucky moms are gonna be getting brimming baskets of dirty laundry." Willow observed.

"It's so not fair." Buffy said with a small pout, momentarily forgetting about her tingling senses in favour of her disappointment of not being able to spend Thanksgiving with her mom like she'd done every year as far back as she could remember. "I mean, they all get a family holiday just because they can go home to their families."

"Hmm, it's a turvy-topsy world." Willow said, not catching the disappointment behind Buffy's tone, as she didn't feel any such connection to the holiday.

"You know what?" Buffy asked, hit by a sudden epiphany. "I should have my own thanksgiving. I can cook the meal, just like my mom does, have all you guys over. It'll be great." She promised excitedly, a happy light dancing in her eyes.

Willow frowned slightly at Buffy sudden turn about. "Buffy, earlier you agreed with me about Thanksgiving. It's a sham. It's all about death." She reminded her blond friend, with a pointed stare.

Buffy gave a sheepish shrug, knowing that she had been caught out. "It's a sham," She agreed. "But it's a sham with yams. It's a yam sham." She quipped, with a small smile.

Willow only frowned further though. "You're not gonna jokey-rhyme your way out of this one." She warned.

"I know…" Buffy said apologetically as she sat herself down beside her red headed friend. "But I want it." She said a slight pleading note to her voice. "It's like professor Walsh was saying about sense memory. I smell a roasting turkey, and I'm 8 years old. I liked having that to look forward to. Everything's different now." Buffy said sadly.

Willow squirmed under Buffy's sad pleading gaze. "Well, I suppose there could be slight yams." She yielded.

"I mean, we could definitely use a little comfort food. I bet Giles doesn't have any plans. And Xander always tries to avoid all of his family gatherings." Buffy went on enthusiastically.

"Ooh. We could not invite, Anya." Willow suggested hopefully.

"I don't know." Buffy said a little uncertainly, she knew that Anya could be a little overwhelming, but that wasn't a reason to not invite her. "She and Xander seem pretty tight lately." She reminded Willow, who looked down at the carpeted floor of their dorm room. "Look, pilgrims aside, isn't it that the whole point of Thanksgiving? Everybody has a place to go?" Buffy asked her friend.

Willow looked up from the floor and nodded grudgingly. "I suppose your right. It's just that she's so… so…"

"Cordelia-esk? Only to a much more vocal degree?" Buffy suggested.

Willow nodded in agreement. "Exactly!" She paused and gave Buffy a startled look. "You're not inviting Cordelia are you?"

Buffy gave a slightly guilty shrug. "I was thinking about it." She admitted. "She was… is a friend… sort of, and she did… you know… sort of become part of the gang. I thought it would be nice to at least invite her. It's highly doubtful she'll come. She's probably far too busy becoming a star to come back to Sunnydale."

"You're probably right." Willow said a little grudgingly, things between her and Cordelia had still be strained when the brunette had left for L.A with the hopes of making it big like she had always wanted.

Buffy stood once again, stretching her arms up above her head, before wandering over to her bed and pulling the bag out from underneath her bed with a solid tug, and pulled open the zipper revealing the weapons inside to her gaze. Reaching in she pulled out her stake. "Going patrolling?" Willow asked as she watched her blond friend hide the weapon expertly on her body, before pulling out another and doing the same thing.

Buffy nodded as she stood and nudged the bag back under the bed. "Yeah, just a quick one. I'll probably just do a sweep of the campus unless there's an overabundance of demony happenings."

"Well good luck." Willow offered. Buffy smiled her appreciation, before walking out of their dorm room and closing the door quietly behind her.

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

Buffy walked through the dark campus grounds, her eyes searching for the demon or vampire that was making her senses tingle. She'd started at the spot she had been looking out over from her dorm room window, but there had been nothing there, not that she expected anything thing to hang around waiting for her to find it, but she'd hoped that there'd be some trace of it. So now she was walking the campus grounds, hunting for the demon she was sensing. The feeling felt rather familiar… but at the same time it didn't fit any vampire or demon she'd come across in all her years of Slaying the nasties of the night.

She paused in her steps, her eyes scanning the grounds, her Slayer enhanced eyes piercing the dark better than that of a humans as she spotted a couple making out heatedly and without her bidding a sad sigh escaped her as she couldn't help remember all those times she'd made out with Angel just as heatedly whilst out on patrol. Buffy turned her gaze away from the couple and began walking again, a sudden desire burning in her heart to abandon her patrol to go in search of Angelus and discover why he had left in such a hurry this morning and perhaps steal a few kisses from him… or perhaps she wouldn't… Buffy sighed feeling rather put out by her conflicted emotions where the dark vampire was concerned. She wasn't used to feeling a fear so deep that it made her cautious to even trust again let alone open her heart once again. She just wanted everything to be good again… she wanted her heart to stop hurting.

Buffy was pulled out of her thoughts by a rustling in the bushes to her right and she silently cursed herself for being so distracted by her thoughts whilst patrolling for a demon. Slowly her hand went to her lower back where one of her stakes were concealed. Her fingertips where only just brushing the smoothed wood when a cute rabbit hopped out of the bushes, the rabbits beady eyes looked at her and its nose twitched in the way their pink little noses do, before deciding that she was a threat and hopping off in a hurried manner. Buffy let out a sigh and shook her head at the surprise her own folly had caused her. Lowering her hand from her concealed stake she began to move on, but paused as something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. Walking back towards the bush that the rabbit had hopped out of.

Making her way around the bush she frowned, her breath hitching in her throat as she laid eyes on the body of a young boy. A boy that would only be in perhaps his second year of Junior high. Her eyes took in the thin cross shaped cut on his cheek and she stared down at the boy with sad eyes. She forced herself to keep looking at the poor boy, or at least the cut that had been so carefully carved into his cheek, by a fine pointed instrument. Sensing a presence tingling up her spine in an unpleasant way she whirled around her hand automatically reaching for her stake and bringing it out into the open, before she had even come to a complete stop. Her eyes landing on a male vampire that was looking at her with calculating eyes, and she found herself slightly surprised at just how much he looked like Angelus, not physically, but in his sense of style. His hair spiked up with gel and his clothes, but his face thou handsome was nothing compared to Angelus'.

Penn stared at the petite woman that his senses told him was The Slayer and her sent intermingled with his Sires on her body answering the rumours that had brought his search for his Sire to this Hellmouth. "So, I take it that this is your handy work?" Buffy said in a calm voice that belied the feeling of grief she felt at knowing that the boy was dead. Dead before he'd really had a chance to live.

"Well, he reminded me of a boy I once knew. And I couldn't help reminiscing." Penn said, a dark half smirk curling up his lips. He cocked his head to the side slightly as he looked her over with annoyed eyes. "And I take it that you're The Slayer that turned my Sire's head."

Buffy frowned staring at him, his words ringing unpleasantly in her ears. "Angelus." She murmured softly, not sure that she wanted to believe it. Her eyes met his for the briefest moment, before the supposed Childe of Angelus moved to attack her.

Buffy ducked under the arm that had struck out at her and on light feet she swivelled so that she was behind him, before rising back up to her full height forcing him to turn around to face her. As he did, she took the opportunity to throw her own punch, hoping to knock him off balance whilst his feet were moving. Penn saw the small fist coming and angled his head back trying to avoid the blow, but the edge of her fist still managed to catch him. The power behind even the glancing blow surprised him though, causing him to stumble a little. Buffy pressed her advantage as she followed through with a kick to the male vampires side, the force behind it sending him to the side and to the ground.

Penn gave his head a shake a growl rumbling in his chest as his face shifted in his anger as he looked up at the petite blond Slayer as she advanced on his, her arm going behind her back only for her to quickly in a fluid motion bring her arm back around in front of her a wooden stake fisted in her hand. Penn scrambled to his feet with another growl, his eyes going from the stake to her angrily flashing hazel eyes, trying to anticipate her next move. Buffy shifted her balance as she aimed a roundhouse kick to his head, only for the vampire to block the blow. She swivelled on her still grounded foot, using her momentum to turn, the hand clutching her stake shifting coming up level with where she knew the vampires un-beating heart rested. Pivoting on her foot she planted the one that she had kicked at him with to give her thrusting arm more power as she moved to slam her stake into the vampire's chest. Her thrusting motion was stopped though by his arm blocking it, before his hand closed around her arm, using his free hand he slapped her hand, knocking the stake from her hand sending it flying.

Buffy sucked in a sharp breath as the vampire yanked her forward, but not against his body, but towards the solid trunk of a tree that was beside the shrubbery that the boy's body was hiding in. her head connected solidly with the tree dazing her. And as he released her, she stumbled back her head spinning a little. Before she could steady herself she tripped over the foot Penn had extended and she fell back, her body slamming into the unforgiving ground and she winced, her breath escaping her in a whoosh leaving her winded. Penn stepped up to her, raising a foot he lowered it down on her throat. With a swift movement as her head cleared of the cobwebs, she grasped the foot that was threating her air supply, her eyes peering up at him through the darkness. "What does Angelus see in you?" He asked with a scowl. Buffy scowled back not appreciating the barb. With an effort she pushed his foot away from her throat forcing him to stumble back from her to keep his footing.

She was going to jump to her feet with a strong push of her hands on the soft grass that she was laying on, but the vampire jerked his head to the right, his head cocking as if he was listening and then with a last look at her that warned her that this wasn't over he ran off, disappearing quickly into the darkness. Buffy sat herself up her eyes focused on the spot the vampire had disappeared. Her gaze was drawn from the spot though as the reason for his sudden disappearing act became apparent as a group of three college boys came into view. They slid their gaze carefully over her and continued on walking and Buffy pulled herself to her feet, blinking as she felt something warm and sticky run from a spot that was throbbing on her forehead. Buffy sighed to herself as she wiped at it and her fingers came away with blood just as she knew they would. Pulling out a cloth she wiped the blood from her fingers, before dabbing it at her forehead where she could feel the healing cut throbbing as blood oozed out from the small thin cut.

Bringing the cloth away when the angry throbbing stopped in her forehead she glanced at the blood staining it and sighed softly, hoping that if the cut wasn't gone by the morning that makeup would easily hide it, she didn't feel like having to explain away a cut. Not when all she really wanted was a little bit of normalcy. It was a wish that seemed to be fading before her eyes though, having to deal with the unexpected appearance of another of Angelus' Children. Spike floating in and out of town was bad enough, she doubted that she would get much normal girl time… even less then she did now if another one decided to join the mix.

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

In a forested area at the edge of a cemetery Spike trudged miserably as he huddled in blanket as his body shook with minor trembles that he was sure would get worse the longer that he didn't… couldn't feed. And he was sure now that he couldn't! Couldn't bite the neck of even an old hag that was about to croak. Spike pulled the blanket tighter around him, hoping that keeping himself warm would ease the shakes that he was experiencing. Never had he felt the effects of weather before, but now… now a cold was seeping in on him, clutching at him and he knew that it was a bad sign considering that he hadn't been able feed in over a week! He had to find a way to fix it! A vampire who couldn't even harm a hair on a humans head let alone feed on one would be more of a laughing stock then even his Sire when he'd been cursed with his soul! Spike growled lowly as that thought crossed his mind, his growl turned into a dry haggard cough.

Spike paused in his steps a hand coming up to clutch at his throat. "Damn it!" He groaned angrily, before continuing on his way, not wanting to be caught again. He knew that the commando wackos were out there looking for him… and the way he was now, he couldn't even defend himself let alone kill them like they deserved!

Riley walked with Graham and Forrest in the forest that they had swept twice already, much to his companions annoyance, not that he blamed them, it being thanksgiving, but with a hostile on the loose it had to take precedence over their personal desires. "Man, I'm beat." Forrest groaned pointedly as they paused and he adjusted the strap of his military approved gun on his shoulder.

"We'll do one more sweep, then cash it in." Riley promised as he began walking once again, his eyes scanning for the peroxide blond hostile.

Forrest sighed quietly trying not to let his friend and commanding officer know that he was over being out here hunting for a thing that couldn't hurt a hair on a human head. "I gotta pack tonight." He said hoping that Riley would get the hint. "You got a flight?"

"Wednesday night. Professor Walsh wants me here for the debriefing." Riley explained, without a hint of resentment.

"That's a pretty short thanksgiving." Forrest said surprised, glancing over at the quiet Graham who was diligently scanning the area for hostile 17.

"Hey, with a hostile on the loose, we're lucky to be going home at all." Riley defended Walsh unwaveringly.

Forrest rolled his eyes, his gaze focusing on Riley. "It's neutered. The implant works great. He can't hurt a single living thing."

"As long as he knows about the initiative, he's a threat. We do this the Professor's way." Riley said as he stepped over a root that was sticking out of the ground.

Forrest shifted his gun once again and raised a hand to his mouth his fingers curled to make a loose fist. "Mama's boy." He coughed into the hand.

"That's a nasty cough." Riley said with a false joviality. "You might need to spend the weekend in quarantine."

Forrest swallowed not wanting to have his Thanksgiving ruined by a stay in the quarantine facility. "Oh, no. I'm done coughing." He promised.

Riley smiled. "I just don't want anyone getting sick." He said, patting Forrest on his broad shoulder, and couldn't help a chuckle as Forrest walked ahead, his head turning from left to right as he scanned. He shared a look with Graham and they smiled at each other.

Graham clapped a hand on Riley's shoulder. "Come on, some of us have a Thanksgiving plane to catch tonight." He said and the two of them moved after Forrest, neither of them wanting to stay out longer than they had to.

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

Buffy stepped into the mansion through the side entrance that was only covered by the thick black curtain, running one of her hands up and down her opposite arm as she looked around the mansion, nervousness coursing through her as she slowly walked towards the dark fire place that only had the cold black embers from the last time Angelus had lit the fire for warmth, which would have been months ago. She looked at the black coals, she could feel Angelus in the mansion and could feel him coming closer. Knowing that he was coming just because he felt her made a small smile curl up her lips, despite the reason why she had come to see him. It was nice knowing that he wasn't going to make her search for him all through the mansion like he used to.

Buffy shivered as she forced back old memories that refused to stop haunting her, and tormenting her despite how often she told… or tried to tell herself that it was all in the past. She felt Angelus coming closer and she fought to turn her full attention to the matter at hand. She wasn't here to hash over old issues. She couldn't stop another shiver that ran down her back, before she could stop it. "Are you cold? I could get the minions to get the fire started." Angelus offered, his keen eyes taking note of her shiver as he continued to walk towards her.

Buffy turned around a little surprised, she hadn't expected him to get here so soon. "Ah, no. That's ok. I'm not staying long."

Angelus curled his lips up into a half smile as he came closer. "That's disappointing. Are you sure that I can't persuade you to stay… longer…" His voice trailed off as his dark eyes caught sight of the healing cut on her forehead that was scabbing over, but still there, a small amount of dried blood clinging to the skin around the wound. "What happened?" He asked with concern. It wasn't very often that his Slayer came home with bruises and cuts from a fight and with Penn in town…

Buffy raised a hand to her cut, but didn't touch it, before she lowered her hand again feeling a little self-conscious about what she had to bring up. "That's kinda why I'm here." Buffy murmured softly. "The vampire that attacked me tonight… said a few things…" Buffy said a little uncomfortably.

Angelus frowned a little, instinctively knowing that it had to have been Penn. What other vampire could say things that would bring her running here. "What things?" Angelus asked, silently hoping that whatever was said wouldn't be anything that would harm the fragile trust and caring that she was beginning to show him.

Buffy forced herself to meet his eyes, she had nothing to feel uncomfortable about! That vampire had not only killed a boy, but had taken the time to etch a cross into his young cheek. "He said that you were his Sire. And uh, the boy he killed had a cross cut into his cheek. And I'm talking a real cross, not just a little stick figure-y one." Buffy explained hoping that the extra information would help identify which Childe of his had once again come town.

Angelus raised a hand gently touching her hair. "And he's the one who did this to you?" He asked, needing to know. Needing to know if his Childe had dared to try and hurt the woman that would one day be his mate.

Buffy gave a little shrug, not knowing how much more serious the idea of his Childe hurting her was to Angelus. "Well, there were certain blows exchanged… and certain tree trunks." Buffy mumbled. "Tree trunks are not head friendly by the way."

Angelus couldn't stop the smile, his hand running down her hair. "I don't suppose they would be."

Buffy leaned her head into his touch a soft sigh of pleasure escaping her, before she pulled herself together. "So, uh, do you know him?" Buffy asked. Angelus lowered his hand from her silky hair, his body stiffening as he felt the presence of a vampire he hadn't felt in a long time enter his home.

"He should do. He made me." Penn said as he walked further away from the curtained entrance of the mansion. He moved his gaze from one to the other before settling it on his Sire. "Angelus, it's been a long time."

Angelus frowned at his Childe a low growl rumbling in his chest as he stared at Penn. "Penn." Behind him he felt Buffy shift into a defensive stance, glancing behind him, Angelus caught a glimpse of her stake and he felt a dread well up inside of him, feeling torn between his family and the woman he claimed as his. Buffy shifted, her eyes focused on Penn as she stepped around Angelus, her hand tightened around her stake, more than willing to put a stop to Penn's murderous rampage now.

Buffy went to swiftly move to attack Angelus' Childe only for strong familiar arms to halt her progress before she could even get started. "Angelus! What are you doing?" Buffy demanded as she struggled against his hold. Angelus grunted as he fought to keep her strength contained in his arms. Her arm flung back catching him in the face making him growl, before he caught her arm. He tried to make his grip as gentle as possible without releasing her, not wanting to hurt her any more than this already would. "What are you doing?!" Buffy demanded again, flashes of past experiences making her struggle harder and the hot prick of tears stab at the backs of her eyes, but she forced them back, it wasn't the time to focus on that! It was past! It was supposed to be in the past!

"I'm sorry." Angelus murmured softly, so softly that only Buffy's ears could pick it up, not wanting Penn to hear. It wouldn't do for Penn to know that there was trouble between them. He grunted as Buffy's elbow jabbed him in the gut. He turned angry eyes to Penn. "You should go. Go now!" Angelus growled as he felt the arm holding Buffy against him starting to give way against her strength. When Penn didn't move he snarled his face shifting angrily. "I said go!" He snarled. "I'll deal with you later." He promised darkly.

Penn shrugged not overly concerned. "I'm sure you'll know how to find me." He smirked, before turning and walking out of the mansion the way that he came in.

Angelus watched him go not losing his grip on Buffy for a few moments not wanting her to be able to go after his Childe. Buffy pulled away from him with a violent movement putting distance between them as her chest heaved with her every breath, before she pivoted on her heal one small hand already clenched in a tight fist, before she had even stopped moving she pulled her arm back and snapped it forward with all the power and speed of The Slayer landing a solid blow to his cheek just above his jaw bone, forcing his head to snap to the side. Angelus kept his head angled back for a moment as he rotated his jaw hearing it click a little once or twice, before the slight damage healed. With a slow movement he turned his head back to face her angry face. "Buffy." He said softly, with a tone that he hoped would at least calm her a little.

"What where you doing, Angelus?!" Buffy demanded, her voice almost a shout as she glared at him with flashing angry eyes.

"I couldn't just allow you to kill him." Angelus murmured, his voice still soothing, wanting to stroke down her ruffled feathers. "He is my Childe." He added in explanation, not wanting Penn to become yet another barrier between him and his mate, it was hard enough with everything that already lay between them and their road to happiness.

"And for that reason he should be allowed to kill and whatever else he wants in my town!" Buffy asked incredulously, anger still colouring her voice, her emotions so high that mere words were not enough that she had to use her arms to emphasis her words. "Just because you did an exchange of blood however many centuries ago?!"

Angelus took a small step towards her. "He is part of my family, Buff. My saving him from your stake had nothing to do with you."

Buffy gave him an incredulous look, her eyes searching his face. "Nothing to do with me?! I'm The Slayer! So, it has everything…" Buffy trailed off with an angry shake of her head, before she whirled around on her heal and stormed with angry strides out of the mansion, not bothering to look for Penn as he was not even the slightest blip on her senses.

Angelus hesitated a long moment as he paced in a small circle, his pride warring with the worry that was curling in his stomach at the idea of another barrier between them, all because she didn't understand… with a soft snarl Angelus hurried after his future mate, her small figure still visible to his keen eyes as she descended the hill heading towards the street. Catching her before she could reach the main street, Angelus caught her arm, bringing her to a stop. "Buffy." He called as she jerked her arm from his grip.

Buffy took a deep breath to try and steady herself, before she turned around to face him. "What?" Buffy demanded, her voice breaking slightly.

Angelus blew out a sighing breath. "He is my family, and I may have staid your hand for that reason, but if he was to ever to dare to attack you again, I'll kill him myself." He promised.

Buffy stared at him for a long moment not sure what she should say in response to such a promise. On one hand it made her feel special, made her feel as if she truly did mean something to him, but on the other hand, she was The Slayer she didn't have the luxury of thinking only of herself, she had to think of the town. Buffy lowered her gaze to the grass beneath her feet, resisting the urge to shuffle them over the grass. Her heart was beating uncomfortably in her chest. Her mouth opened slightly to speak before she snapped it shut again. With a last look at him Buffy turned and continued on her way, forcing herself to not look back at the vampire she loved.

Angelus watched her walk away from him, her shoulders slumped making her determined walk away from him look like a miserable trudge. He swallowed thickly, before sighing a low growl of frustration escaping him, the world was being rather cruel towards him, but it wasn't going to hold him back, he wouldn't allow anything to get in the way… especially not his Childe Penn… family or not… and he'd be sure to let his first Childe know it.

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

Xander groaned as he painstakingly did up the buttons to the shirt he wore for his construction job. His skin was sweaty and pallid, each breath he took felt painful and his muscles ached all over each movement he made to get dressed and ready for work had been a torturous chore, but he couldn't afford to not go, no matter how bad he felt. Anya walked down the steps to the basement a put up frown marring her brow as she descended the steps into the basement, her eyes landing on Xander as he finished doing up the last button of his work shirt. "Xander, what are you doing?" Anya asked as she walked towards him. "You're supposed to be digging." She said with a pout. "I went to watch you digging, and you weren't there doing it."

"I'm going now." Xander said a little weakly. "Just… kinda tough getting going today."

Anya frowned in concern as she eyed his pallid colour, reaching out she touched his forehead. "Your head is moist." She said matter-of-factly. "Oh! You're sick." She exclaimed with sudden clarity. "Well, you can't go to work."

Anya pushed him back onto his bed. "Uh. Oh. Anya?" Xander said weakly, as the sudden movement made his head spin and his stomach roll with nausea.

"You're pasty and wet and disgusting. They can dig without you." She said determinedly.

Xander groaned unhappily as his body trembled. "Look… I don't really feel that bad." He tried half-heartedly.

Anya crossed her arms over her chest. "I inflicted a lot of putrefying diseases on men when I was an avenging demon, and you look like you're getting all of them."

Xander's stomach rolled very unhappily and so he gave in, he didn't really feel like going anyway. "Ok. I'll stay. But you should go. You could catch it." He muttered despondently.

Anya smiled happiness bubbling up inside of her at his show of concern. "We'll die together. It's romantic." She said with a little dreamy sigh. "Let me get your trousers off." She beamed, her hands gripping his pants as they began diligently working on getting his pants off him when he didn't want to move to help her at all.

"You're a strange girlfriend." Xander mumbled, his eyes half closed, but his gaze still focusing on her.

Anya paused in her struggle with his pants, a happy smile curling up her lips. "I'm a girlfriend?" She asked happily, not having expected to hear that from him.

"Uh…" Xander said as he tried to get his foggy brain to think, he'd been thinking that she was his girlfriend, but he hadn't been ready to take that step with her… "There's a chance I'm delirious." He muttered stuffily.

Anya nodded, agreeing to the logic of that. "Ah, yes. Well, whatever it is that's making you sick, so far, I like it." She said perkily as she went back to herself imposed task of removing his pants.

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

Professor Gerhardt paced back and forth excitedly around her office as she spoke into the phone. "It's a very exciting opportunity. I can't wait to go down there myself. It's just… Well, it means we're going to have to start looking for a new location." She paused as she listened to the other person talking. "No, it's really up to the dean. I just hope this doesn't cost us another year…" She paused again listening and nodded in understanding, before remembering that she was on the phone. "Ok. Talk to you later.

The professor hung up the phone as a green smoke, the same green smoke that had risen up when Xander had fallen into the lost mission, materialized once again around an ancient knife. The professor turned around, her eyes landing on the knife and she frowned in confusion at seeing the green smoke that was surrounding the knife. Walking over to it she looked at it, blinking her eyes trying to clear them to see if she was seeing things. Slowly reaching into the glass case to pull it out of the glass, she let out a surprised cry of shock and fear as a hand fisted itself in her hair and an arm reached in and grabbed the knife. She looked as best she could at her attacker her eyes wide as she took in the ancient Native American garb he was wearing, the paint on his face and the colour of his skin. She let out a cry that was cut short by the sharp old blade of the knife being expertly wielded by the man being brought against her throat, the sharp edge easily slicing through the delicate skin, making blood gush from her throat in a rush as she quickly died the light fading from her eyes as the Indian let her go and she dropped lifelessly to the ground.

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

Buffy stood with Willow in professor Gerhardt's office looking around the scene now that the cops had left allowing them to sneak their way into the building. "I'll never get used to this." Willow said sadly. "One day, she's at the friendship ceremony. The next day, she's on the news." Buffy nodded a little distractedly, she was trying to focus her thoughts, but she was finding it hard, she couldn't keep Angelus out of her head, what he'd said, his expression… what she'd said… and now she couldn't stop the niggling feeling in her stomach… a niggly feeling she was all too familiar with… one that she had hoped to not feel again… at least not for a very long time. "The coroner's office said that she was missing an ear. So, I'm thinking… maybe we're looking for a witch. There's some spells that work much better with an ear in the mix." She explained

"That's one fun little hobby you've got there, Will." Buffy commented with a slight crinkling of her nose at the idea of cutting off someone's ear to put in a witch's brew.

"Or… or maybe an ear harvesting demon that… it's like, building another demon completely out of ears. Or… Ooh, thought. We're just assuming someone else cut off the ear." Willow said excitedly, causing Buffy to raise an eyebrow at her. "What if its self-inflicted, like Van Gogh?"

"So…" Buffy said slowly as she pretended to think it through. "She brutally stabs herself, dumped the body, then cut off her own ear?"

"No. She cut off her own ear, then killed herself, then dumped the body…" Willow trailed off as she thought more about what exactly what she was saying. "I'm really off my game, aren't I?"

Buffy nodded with a smile curling up her lips. "Yeah." She murmured, before turning her gaze back to the office, her eyes going to a long glass case in front of her and she frowned as she saw a small wooden stand that was empty. "Wait. Something's missing from this case." Bending down a little to read the inscription beneath the empty stand. "Early 1800 Chumash Knife. There's a picture."

"What's it look like?" Willow asked curiously as she walked over to Buffy to take a look herself.

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

"Pretty darn scary. It's more like a riot than a ralph's." Buffy said as she set out what she had bought from the store on Giles kitchen table. "I thought I was going to have to use Slayer moves on this one woman who was completely hoarding the pumpkin pie filling." Buffy babbled to Giles, her eyes flicking over what she had set out with a critical eye, mentally running through everything she had seen her mom doing to make Thanksgiving dinner for them.

"And at some point, you are going to tell me about the murder?" Giles inquired, his tone rather pointed as he watched Buffy in his kitchen as she began looking through his cupboards.

Buffy glanced up at him, before closing the cupboard door and straightening. "Oh right. The knife was some sort of Indian artefact. Chumash, I think." Buffy said with a slight frown trying to remember the name she had read and the way Willow had pronounced it at the office. "That's all we got." Buffy said as she went to another cupboard and opened it, her gaze searching, as she tried to keep her mind distracted with thoughts of the normal dinner she was preparing for her friends and family.

"Oh, Chumash Indians. They were indigenous to this whole area." Giles explained, his tone filled with interest.

"That's interesting." Buffy said distractedly as she closed that cupboard a frown creasing her brow at her lack in luck at finding what she was looking for.

Giles took off his glasses. "Then of course , the murder weapon might have just been a convenient choice." He observed, cleaning the frame with the end of his shirt for a moment, before placing them back over his eyes.

"Uh-uh." Buffy disagreed with a shake of her head as she turned to look at Giles. "There was a big ol' scissors lying right there. That knife was picked for a reason." Buffy turned her gaze about Giles kitchen before she turned it back to Giles a small worried frown creasing her brow. "Do you even own a turkey pan?"

"Tell me again why we're not doing this at your house?" Giles asked.

"Giles, if you would like to get by in American society, then you are going to have to follow our traditions. You're the patriarch. You have to host the festivities, or it's all meaningless." Buffy assured him as she walked past Giles and into the living area.

Giles followed her. "And this is in no way an elaborate scheme to stick me with the clean up?" He asked.

"How about that ceremonial knife, huh?" Buffy said hoping that she sounded and looked more convincing then she felt. "Pretty juicy piece of clueage, don't you think?" She said with a winning smile.

Giles smiled slightly not at all convinced, but caved not really minding at all. "Yes, all right, I'll look into the Chumash connection and see if there's any ritual significance to the ear removal.

"Thank you." Buffy said, before she paused her eyes loosing focus.

"You all right?" Giles asked in concern.

Buffy focused her eyes back on Giles. "Yeah. Uh… I still need to pick up a few things, so I'll check in." Buffy moved towards the door, but paused and whirled around to face Giles a serious expression on her face. "And keep your hands off the food." She ordered.

"Oh, I'll try and restrain myself from eating uncooked potatoes and cranberries." Giles said sarcastically as Buffy walked out his front door, closing the door quietly behind her.

Buffy sighed as she walked out of the courtyard of the condos, all she'd wanted was a nice normal holiday, no slayage, no murders, no vampires Angelus had Sired… just friends and family, but with each passing hour it seemed less and less likely, but despite everything she still wanted to try to have Thanksgiving. She probably should have told Giles about Penn, but she couldn't bring herself to. Couldn't bring herself to say 'hey another Childe of Angelus' has come to town and seems intent on making mayhem. Oh and Angelus doesn't want him killed.' Buffy shook her head, she'd figure something out, she always did… and Angelus…

Buffy's lower lip started to tremble, she didn't want to lose him! Things were finally starting to look up for her… for them. He'd been being so understanding, so caring, and she'd been starting to feel cautiously happy, and hopeful for a happy future… but… there was so many things that stood between them… and she was beginning to see that it wasn't just their past…

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

Buffy entered the dorm room she shared with Willow, closing it softly behind her, her eyes landing on the red head as she looked up from the course book she had opened on her lap as she sat on her bed. Willow gave Buffy a slightly guilty smile as she closed the book, it was a smile that Buffy weakly returned, not quiet able to muster a genuine one for her friend, not with the way she was feeling at the moment. "Couldn't help yourself, huh?" She commented.

Willow gave a little shrug as she got up, the closed book in her hands. "Well, you know… I just wanted to make sure I had a few things down for when classes started back up again."

"Nerd." Buffy said fondly as Willow set the book down on her desk.

"Beer-aholic." Willow said just as playfully.

"Ooh, foamy!" Buffy said playing along making Willow laugh, and Buffy felt a more natural smile curl up her lips. The first one since she'd visited Angelus earlier that night.

Before either of them could say anything else the phone rang, drawing their attention away from each other. Buffy moved towards the phone and picked the phone up from the cradle. "Hello?" She spoke into the phone, before she fell silent as she listened to the familiar voice on the other end. A voice that was more full of life and happier than it had been it had been the last time she had heard it. Buffy leaned against the bed stand as she listened to the speaker, nodding pointlessly at appropriate intervals, knowing that she wouldn't get a word in edge wise. Her gaze landed on Willow who gave her a knowing look, remembering that look being on Buffy's face before when dealing with a certain tall brunette. After a long moment Buffy finally spoke, having been allowed to get a word in. "No, I understand. Good luck at your audition gala thingy." Buffy winced as she copped an earful. "Uh, right… break a leg…" Buffy lowered the receiver from her ear with a sigh.

"So, I take it, Cordelia can't make it for thanksgiving." Willow stated, unable to help feeling more than just a little happy that the catty brunette wouldn't be coming.

"Nope. She's got some sorta high roller gala event to go to that is pretty much the most important audition of her life."

"Sounds like something, Cordelia would do." Willow murmured.

Buffy nodded her agreement. "She did always want to be the start of the show. You never know, one day we may see Cordelia's name up in lights."

"Oh, I hope not! She's got a big enough head as it is." Willow said seriously. "If she gets her name up in lights, she'll be more insufferable then she is now."

"Well, I hope that she does." Buffy murmured. "One of us should at least be able to get our dreams."

"What do you mean by that?" Willow asked, taking a step towards her friend.

Buffy's eyes widened and she shook her head. "Not that you won't get your dreams, Will. I was just… uh, you know never mind. I was just having a Buffy blah moment." She babbled self-consciously.

Willow would have pressed further, but their dorm room phone rang once again and Buffy jumped to answer it, glad for the distraction from the conversation at hand. "Hello?" She spoke into the phone once again…

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

"But you have whipped cream." Willow pointed out as she walked alongside Buffy down a still very busy street, as people hurried to get last minute things for Thanksgiving themselves. "I saw it in Giles' fridge."

"But that's whipped cream in a canister." Buffy said as if it should be obvious and received a look from Willow. "Look, it's only right if you whip it yourself."

"Hey, and then later, we can churn our own butter and make sweaters out of sheep." Willow said sarcastically.

Buffy's expression turned a little sheepish. "Ok." She conceded. "It's the last thing. I promise." Buffy said a little apologetically, her shoulders slumping slightly, not being able to help feeling a little guilty. Here she was trying to put together a normal nice Thanksgiving dinner, when there was something out there slicing throats and taking ears… and Angelus' Childe in town… perhaps she shouldn't be throwing Thanksgiving… but everything had been so shaky lately, it'd be good for everyone to have something nice and normal to look forward to. 'Besides' she thought. 'There's no reason why she couldn't take down the ear snatching monster, Angelus' Childe and throw Thanksgiving dinner!' She thought determinedly, giving herself a small determined nod that had Willow giving her a curious look, as the red head wondered what her friend was thinking. Willow's mouth twisted a little in wirily amusement. 'Probably something to do with the dinner.'

Catching Willow's bemused gaze, Buffy pulled herself out of her thoughts and cleared her throat. "Besides, I have an appointment with that priest that, Giles called about. He thinks he might have some information."

The sound of hurried footsteps coming towards them made Buffy's muscles tense in preparation of an attack, only for her to relax a moment later as a familiar voice called out to them… well her. "Buffy!" Riley shouted causing both Willow and Buffy to stop in their tracks and turn to face him. "Hey, Buffy." Riley greeted brightly, his voice slightly puffed from his run.

"Riley." Buffy said a little surprised. "Where'd you come from? I didn't see you at all." She enquired, keeping her voice polite and her expression friendly as she stared up at him.

Riley had the grace to look a little sheepish, knowing that he shouldn't have chased after her when he'd seen her walking and talking with Willow, but he might not get the chance to see her again before he left for Iowa. "Oh, just across the street… and a couple of blocks down." He admitted, he turned his gaze to Willow and gave her a friendly smile. "Hey, Willow."

"Hi." Willow greeted in return, her gaze going to briefly to Buffy as she stood beside her, she took her lower lip between her teeth, gently nibbling it nervously. She knew that she had agreed that Riley was undoubtedly better for Buffy then Angelus, but it didn't stop her from feeling a little guilty about the whole thing. She had never really been good at espionage or keeping secrets… She turned her gaze to Riley who gave her an encouraging smile as she pondered whether to leave and give the two of them some privacy. With a last look at Buffy she gathered her courage and smiled brightly. "Oh, look, they're serving coffee in the coffee shop. Yum." She exclaimed, before quickly darting into the shop.

"Uh, ok…" Buffy said surprised at her friends sudden desire for coffee, an uncomfortable feeling settling in her gut as she turned her gaze back to Riley and she gave him a polite smile. "So, uh…"

"Any Thanksgiving plans?" Riley asked accidentally cutting Buffy off, in his anxiousness to sound interested in her and what she was doing.

"Well, uh… actually. I'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my friends and family. It's kinda a last minute thing, which is why the last minute shoppage. It'll be just like when I was a kid." Buffy said with a fond smile inspired by her memories of past Thanksgivings. "Only without me building a fort out of my mashed potatoes."

Riley smiled, quiet easily imagining a young Buffy moulding her mashed potatoes into a mini fort instead of eating them like she was supposed to. "Sounds like fun." Riley said sincerely.

"It will be." Buffy agreed, determined that her first Thanksgiving she was throwing would be a success.

"Is uh," Riley swallowed not sure he should ask, but wanting to know. "Is your boyfriend going?" he asked nervously.

Buffy looked down at her feet at the question and Riley immediately felt bad for asking. "Uh, no…" Buffy said softly as she brought her gaze back up to Riley. "Angelus, isn't really one for family gatherings." She said evasively. "But what about you? You have to have some Thanksgiving plans." She asked to change the subject from her 'boyfriend'.

"Uh," Riley stuttered the change in subject throwing him for a moment, his mind still focused on the fact that she was still with the tall dark man he had seen only twice. He'd hoped with what Willow had told him about things between them being strained and complicated that they'd be over soon… he'd never found himself in a position where he'd had to woo a girl that was already taken by another man… he never thought he'd want to. He'd thought that he had more honour than that, but he guessed he was wrong because he couldn't stop himself from wanting to call her his own. His biggest problem though, was that he had no idea how to proceed… how to drive a wedge between Buffy and Angelus. "Yeah, uh, I'm outa here tonight. Managed to catch a last minute flight back to Iowa."

"Iowa." Buffy murmured contemplatively. "That's one of the ones in the middle, right?"

Riley nodded a little eagerly. "My folks are there. We always do thanksgiving at my grandparents' house. A little farm outside Huxley."

"Sounds nice." Buffy murmured, liking the nice normal sound of Riley's thanksgiving festivities… something that she hadn't had in a long while… so long it was getting hard for her to remember just what it felt like to have a normal holiday.

"It is." Riley enthused. "After dinner, we all go for a walk down by the river with the dogs. There's trees and… And I know what you're thinking. It's like I grew up in a grant wood painting."

"Exactly." Buffy readily agreed with a small nod. "If I knew who that was." She tacked on with a sheepish shrug.

Riley shrugged as well, a small blush colouring his cheeks at just how nerdy he had just sounded in front of the girl he liked. "Just a guy who painted stuff that looked like where I grew up."

Buffy nodded and shifted on her feet, her gaze going to the coffee shop to see if Willow was coming out of the café yet, not seeing the familiar red of her hair anywhere she frowned a little. She didn't have all night to trade pleasantries with one of the UC Sunnydale TA's. She had to get the last of the supplies for Thanksgiving dinner and visit a priest. "Well, have fun at the homestead." She said, as a way of bringing the conversation to an end.

"Always do." Riley told her. "What's the line? Home's the place that, when you have to go there…"

"They have to take you in." Buffy finished for him. "Um, I should go, and make sure, Willow's alright… her and coffee don't normal mix all that well."

Riley nodded, sensing the conversation was coming to an end. "Yeah, and I should get going… I've gotta finish packing a few things for my flight." Buffy nodded, before glancing towards the café once again. "But I'll see you when class starts back."

Buffy nodded again. "Yeah, have a good thanksgiving."

"You too." Riley told her, he gave her an awkward wave, when really he wanted to hug her, before he reluctantly began on his way. Buffy immediately turned and headed into the coffee shop, much to Riley's disappointment when he looked back to see her disappearing into the coffee shop without a backwards glance. Riley sighed and gave a shake of his head, he had a bag to pack and a plane to catch. He'd worry about winning Buffy Summers when he came back.

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

Harmony hummed softly to herself as she looked around the crypt she had taken complete control over since Spike had abruptly left and never come back, a poster of another unicorn in her hands, this one in a meadow with other unicorn's in the background and a baby one by the main unicorn. She heard a movement from behind her and she whirled around, her eyes widening happily at seeing her 'blondie bear' before they narrowed in anger as she remembered all that she had read and been telling herself since Spike had left. "Get out." She demanded as she crossed her arms over her chest, the poster having slipped from her fingers to the floor.

Spike leaned rather weakly against the wall close to the entrance he had just made it through. "But, baby, this is where I belong." Spike cajoled with the sexiest smirk that he could muster.

"Out!" Harmony demanded again, adding emphasis by pointing her finger at the exit. "I mean it. I've been doing a lot of reading, and I'm in control of my own power now, so we're through." Harmony recited, trying to sound firm and confident, but only managing to sound she was trying to convince herself.

Despite her attempt to be firm and determined she found herself backing up slowly as Spike advanced on her. When he was close enough, Spike grabbed her before she could step out of his reach, bringing her up against him he began kissing her shoulder, pulling the material of her shirt sleeve out of his way. "You don't mean that." He murmured.

Harmony couldn't stop her hands from coming up to clutch at him, her unneeded breaths coming heavier. "Yes, I do. I… I do." Harmony denied with an unconvincing stutter as Spike picked her up into his arms and with determined strides carried her over to the bed. "I mean it a lot." She added as she dumped onto the bed, with Spike following her down.

"See?" Spike murmured huskily. I knew that you'd end up welcoming me back." He continued as he began stroking the soft skin of her legs. "With open… arms." He said with a little smile as he leaned down to kiss her lips.

Harmony frowned and pulled herself together. "No." She said more firmly than ever, before pushing him away from her, a feat that was easier then it usually would have been. Rolling off the bed she came to her feet with a determined frown. "I'm powerful, and I'm beautiful, and I don't need you to complete me." As she spoke she walked around the bed, lifting the mattress she revealed the stake she had hidden there for her protection. Grabbing it she whirled around to face him. "And you're mean." "She whined a she waved the stake threateningly at Spike.

Spike reeled back in shock and fear, he reeled back so far that he fell off the bed with a crash and a cry of surprise. "You had that in your bed?!" He asked incredulously as he scrambled to his feet. "Do you know how dangerous that is?"

"Let's find out." Harmony growled as she stalked towards him, the stake held in a position to strike Spike down.

"You wouldn't do it." He said uncertainly as he stumbled back from her.

"You did it to me, remember?" Harmony growled, a growl that reflected just how much that knowledge still hurt.

"All right, all right," Spike said holding his hands up as he hurried backwards. "I'll go, Just…" Spike fell over a cabinet that was in his way.

"What?" Harmony asked angrily, but also a small amount of hopefulness.

"Can I have someone to eat?" Spike asked piteously. Harmony growled her hopefulness disappearing as fast as it had come and she raised the stake to attack him. Spike made a surprised sound, knocking the cabinet over completely as he turned and hurried out of the crypt that he had been sure would be his safe haven. "BLOODY GIRL POWER BOOKS!" He yelled as he ran almost tripping over his own two feet in his haste.

Back in the crypt Harmony sank down on the bed with a huff, her eyes focusing on the stake in her hand. With a sigh she fell back on the bed, holding the stake up in front of her face, she scowled at it before throwing it away. A place in her heart, despite her strong words, a place in her heart felt empty and alone now that she had chased Spike away… her one true love… Harmony gave her head a shake once again, all the books said that she should feel sorry for herself, that she should feel powerful… maybe she did it wrong? Harmony sat up with a pout. "Oh, why couldn't I have been born smarter?" She muttered whiney.

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

Buffy walked around the large church of Sunnydale, a place she hadn't bothered to visit before tonight, she walked alone Willow having gone back to Giles with the cream leaving her to talk to the priest alone. "Father Gabriel? Father Gabriel?" She called as she made her way over to a set of open double doors. "Father? Are you out here?" She called again as she walked through the door. Buffy froze as she walked in on a natively dressed Indian slicing the priest throat. "God." She gasped in shock.

She quickly snapped out of it though and hurriedly ran the rest of the way towards them, swiftly punching the Indian in the stomach. Grabbing him with rough hands she threw him away from the hanging priest. The Indian rolled back up to his feet and slipped into a defensive crouch, the bloody knife that he had stolen from the museum clutched in his hand, his entire body prepared to attack the intruder that had dared to interrupt. "You can't stop me." The Indian said darkly.

"You're very wrong about that." Buffy said furiously, her hazel eyes narrowed on him. The Indian rushed her, but Buffy side stepped and swinging around so that she could grab him and slammed him into a low hung bell causing it to ring dully as the brass swung back and forth from the impact. The Indian fell back, stumbling as he tried to clear his head, getting up quickly he rushed at Buffy again, this time swinging the old knife at her, trying to slice her with the wickedly sharp blade.

Buffy leapt back out of the way of the slashing knife. Determined to not give up the Indian threw a punch at her, which Buffy dodged with a smooth motion, her movement making the murdering Indian to slam into an ornamental stand, knocking it over he took Buffy with him though as he fell, landing on top of her. "Yaugh!" The Indian cried as he wielded the knife into the air. "I am vengeance. I am my peoples cry. They call for, Hus, for the avenging spirit to carve out justice.

"They tell you to start an ear collection?" She quipped, before kicking with her legs, kicking the angry spirit off her, flipping up to her feet at the same time Hus did. Punching him to disorientate him, before she slammed his knife wielding hand into the tree they had fought their way over to. Hus didn't relinquish his hold on his knife though, with his free arm he punched Buffy, making her head angle back for a moment, but Buffy soon straightened and kicked out with one of her legs, sweeping it out under Hus' feet, shifting as he fell, she grabbed him, forcing him to his knees whilst angling the arm she still had hold of against his throat, pressing the sharp blade of his knife against his throat.

Hus glared up at her. "You slaughter my people." He spat, unable to help expressing the anger of all his people as he waited for his enemy's warrior to kill him. "Now you kill their spirit. This is a great day for you." Buffy hesitated, his words giving her pause in her determination to stop Hus from killing more people. Moving his hand away from his throat she shoved him away from her so that he fell harshly to the ground. Hus picked himself up, his eyes glaring at her. Buffy watched him warily, she knew that she probably shouldn't have let him go… but she couldn't help but feel at least a little bad for him… in a way. Buffy's mouth dropped a little as Hus turned into a group of bats and with a quick fluttering of their wings he flew off.

Buffy watched him go with mixed feelings until the bats flew out of sight. Buffy felt her senses come alive with the same feeling she had got on the college campus when she found the boy on the campus. "Who knew that a Slayer could show mercy." Penn's voice came from behind her.

Buffy turned around to face him. "I was wondering when you would turn up." She muttered grimly.

"Oh, really?" Penn asked with a raised brow.

"In my experience, demons don't leave a person they want dead alone, until their dead. And considering, Angelus' personality… it wasn't too hard to realize that you'd be coming around again." Buffy shifted her stance. "So shall we get this underway. I don't have all night."

Penn smirked. "Good, neither do I." Penn rushed her, with preternatural speed, making Buffy have to quickly side step to avoid the hands that would have clamped around her if she hadn't. Buffy didn't waste any time in punching Penn in the side as hard and as viciously as she could. Penn cried out in pain and he swung his arm out in her direction, Buffy ducked barely missing the arm that had swung at her head, punching his side again swiftly making Penn growl in anger, before she took a couple of swift steps back wanting a little more distance between them to better avoid any blows Angelus' Childe would send her way.

Buffy ducked and weaved the couple of punches Penn sent her way, before retaliating with a sequence of punches of kicked that were equally blocked as they connected. Buffy grunted as Penn landed his first blow across her face, his fist connecting brutally. Buffy retaliated with a power kick aimed at Penn's stomach, only for Penn to block it, before backhanding her across the face with a force that sent her crashing to the ground as she lost her balance. Buffy quickly rolled onto her back and flipped up onto her feet with a gracefully, powerful movement. Immediately she attacked again, her arm being blocked by Penn's who growled as she blocked his own punch. Penn grasped Buffy's small fist as she aimed it at it his face. "To think that, Angelus chose you to be his mate."

Buffy blinked in surprise. "Huh, his mate?!" Buffy scowled darkly up at him. "And just what's so wrong with me?" She demanded to know.

Penn gave her a 'duh' look. "You are The Slayer." He said simply. Buffy flew back into action using the hold he had on her hand to help balance her as she planted her feet on his chest for a brief moment before using one to kick him viciously under the chin, forcing him to let her go as her momentum caused her to do a neat summersault in the air to land firmly on her feet, as Penn fell with painful thud as he landed on the ground. Penn scrambled to his feet with a growl, his face shifting in anger, his amber eyes flashing murderously at her. Buffy rushed towards him as he rushed towards her, only for her to slow and stop as she felt a demonic presence that she knew better than any other, her slowing saved her from a collision as Angelus jumping from the roof of the church they were battling beside to land in front of her, and with a move that even with her preternaturally enhanced sight couldn't see properly he stopped Penn in his tracks, by grabbing the arm that he had raised to attack her with.

Penn blinked coming back slightly from his rage to realize that Angelus had unexpectedly joined them. "Angelus." He muttered, his face shifting back to his human features, his eyes widening slightly in fear at the murderous look in his eyes. He'd never seen his Sire this angry.

"I thought I gave you clear warning, Penn." Angelus said, his voice low, but no less deadly if he had shouted. Buffy looked from Angelus' broad back to Penn, her eyes wide as she looked at them. Her heart beat a little uncomfortably in her chest, uncertain as to what was about to happen between Sire and Childe, in fact… at this point in time she wasn't sure what she wanted to happen… his words about family tormenting her as she watched the two, she couldn't imagine allowing someone or actually killing a member of her own family herself. And telling herself that it didn't count because they were vampires, because what did she know about the relationships between Sire's and their Children? She'd just been taught how to kick their asses, not given a run down on their family ties.

Buffy quickly turned her gaze away as she saw Angelus' head begin to turn in her direction. Not wanting to see the look in his eyes. The confused jumble of emotions that had her brain whirling and her stomach churning uncomfortably had her turning away from them and quickly walking back the way she had come in. There was no point staying, the priest she had been sent to see was dead and… she didn't trust herself to stick around whilst Angelus confronted Penn, fearful that Angelus wouldn't kill him like he promised and that if he did she would regret not doing something… something that she wasn't supposed to do as The Slayer, at least not for a vampire like Penn.

Angelus' gaze followed Buffy's form as she left without a backward glance. He could sense turmoil in her, it was so strong that it was as close as emotions could get to being visible. With a snarl Angelus turned his attention back to his disobedient Childe, fisting a hand in Penn's shirt, he threw Penn into the tree that Buffy had attempted to disarm Hus. Swiftly following after him, he pulled Penn up by the lapels of his shirt before slamming him once again against the tree. "You have some nerve, Penn!" Angelus growled. "I should have just let, Buff kill you. In fact I should have killed you for attacking her the first time!"

"Now, hold on, Angelus." Penn said, trying to sound repentant, but the huge smile on his face ruined any effect. "Who would have thought it, Angelus getting all worked up over a woman. A Slayer no less."

Angelus growled and threw Penn away from him and the tree and followed him. "Hang on, Angelus!" Penn said his voice becoming slightly panicked. "I wasn't gunning for your girl. I was just testing her."

Angelus snarled. "That isn't your place, Penn. My choice in a mate has nothing to do with you."

"You can't really blame me, Angelus." Angelus kicked him hard in the ribs sending his Childe rolling over the grass. "Or maybe you can." He groaned.

Angelus bent down, closing his hand around his Childe's throat, using his grip on Penn's throat to lift him back up to his feet. "You don't attack my future mate without attacking me. Something you should have learned over the centuries since I turned you, but then you never were very bright." Penn gave him a confused look. "You think I don't know what you're doing? Trying to recreate the killing of your family. I thought I made it clear, that its only that good the once, there's nothing that can compare, except…"

"Finding your mate." Penn finished. "I'm pretty sure you left that part out, when you were giving me your lesson."

Angelus growled again, his hands tightening in his Childe's shirt, before he threw him to the ground once again. Walking over to him, he placed a foot harshly against his Childe's throat. "Now, Penn. You are going to leave town and never come back. You've done enough damage already."

Penn eyes widened surprised that Angelus, his Sire would toss him aside over something so small as testing the strength of The Slayer that had captured his attention. "And if I were to refuse?"

"I'll peg you down for the sun to find you. Without a second thought, you being my Childe will only get you so far, and you've run your rope to the end, one more tug and it'll snap." Angelus promised darkly, placing his foot down more firmly against his Childe's throat to get his point across.

Penn slowly nodded his agreement, not being able to help the feeling of rejection, not only had his Sire failed to meet him, but he was now tossing him out in favour of a woman that wasn't even family… not yet anyway. "When did you want me to be gone?"

"Tonight." Angelus said firmly as he lifted his foot away.

"Tonight? That's impossible, I've got things to pack…"

Angelus growled. "Tonight, Penn. No longer. I won't have you hanging around. Be out tonight, Penn or I'll see that your dust by dawn." He promised darkly. "I won't have my own family threatening the safety of my Slayer, enough demons do that already."

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

Buffy stood in front of Giles stove checking the setting wanting to be sure that the food would be cooked perfectly, just the way her mother did it. Of course it was also a way to keep her mind off Angelus and Penn and what had been the outcome after she had chosen to leave rather than stand witness to what was about to occur between Sire and Childe. "It's clear we're dealing with a spirit of some kind." Giles said thoughtfully as he continued to dutifully peel the vegetables Buffy had given him strict orders to peel. "It's very common for Indian spirits to change to animal form."

Giles explanation drew Buffy out of her thoughts, that she realized had drifted once again towards Angelus and his Childe. "It's plenty uncommon for me to freeze up during a fight. I mean I had the guy, I was ready for the take down, and I stopped. And native American." She tacked on at the end.

"Sorry?" Giles asked confused, which wasn't an uncommon thing when talking with Buffy.

"We don't say 'Indian'." She corrected as she turned away from the stove, now satisfied that it was at the correct settings.

Giles shifted the glasses on the bridge of his nose. "Oh, right. Yes, yes. Um, always behind on the terms. Still trying not to refer to you lot as 'bloody colonials'." Giles muttered as he continued to peel.

"And the thing is. I like my evil how I like my men… evil. You know, 'straight up, black hat, tied to the train tracks, soon my electro-ray will destroy metropolis' bad. Not all mixed up with guilt and the destruction of an Indigenous culture." Buffy said with a small frown pulling down her brow as she remembered letting Hus go out of guilt over what had happened to his people.

Giles turned to face her having finished his task. "This spirit warrior… Hus, you called him. Has killed innocent people."

"Ok. You know what?" Buffy said, and Giles gave her a hopeful look. "We need to boil those and put them through the ricer." She finished, dashing Giles hopes and he gave a little sigh of disappointment.

"I don't have a ricer." He told her, drawing Buffy's gaze from the peeled potatoes to him.

"You don't have a ricer?" She asked incredulously. "What do you mean? How could someone not have a ricer?"

"Well, do you have one at home?" Giles asked reasonably.

Buffy paused as she thought about it. "I don't know. What's a ricer?" She asked.

Giles sighed softly. "We'll mash them with forks, much like the pilgrims must have." He said decisively, with that out of the way he steered the conversation back to what he considered a much more important matter. "Did you catch the part about the innocent people?" He asked.

"Yes." Buffy nodded. "Ok? And I do want to stop him. I'd just like to find a non-slayee way to do it." There was a knock on the door interrupting their conversation and Buffy smiled in relief as she walked over to it. Opening the door Buffy's smile grew bigger at seeing the person she'd hoped. "Hey." She greeted.

"Hey." Willow returned, with a smile of her own as she stood with a huge pile of books in her arms.

"Peas?" Buffy questioned expectantly, not seeing the peas she had requested Willow bring with her today, only the huge pile of books.

Willow shifted the books a little awkwardly as she reached into her bag and pulled out a box. "Peas." She replied as she handed them over to Buffy.

Buffy's smile faded as she looked at the box of peas as she stepped aside to let Willow walk into the condo. "These are frozen." She stated disappointedly.

"What's all that?" Giles asked as Willow set the books down on his desk that he usually sat at to do his research.

"Atrocities. I got the full scoop on the Chumash Indians and our fabulous buried mission." Willow said with a dark frown, the things she had read still fresh in her mind.

"You said you were going to get fresh ones." Buffy said, interrupting the flow of conversation, not having followed it, her mind still being stuck on the fact that she held a box of frozen peas instead of a basket of freshly podded ones.

Willow gave her a confused look, not having heard her friends previous comment, having been to focused on her anger over what she had read about the fate of the Chumah Indians. "Atrocities?"

"Peas." Buffy corrected. "They come in little pods. You were going to shell them." Buffy said pointedly.

"I didn't have time. I was busy reading about the Chumash war." Willow explained as Buffy continued to look moodily down at the box of peas she'd been given.

"The Chumash were peaceful." Giles inserted, not being able to help his curiosity.

Willow nodded. "Oh, they were peaceful alright. They were fluffy indigenous kittens, till we came along."

"They're gonna be mushy." Buffy muttered disappointedly as she lifted her gaze from the box.

"They won't be mushy." Willow assured her friend distractedly.

"I like mushy peas." Giles added, hoping to make Buffy feel better.

Buffy gave Giles a look. "You're the reason we had to have pilgrims in the first place." She quipped, before turning her gaze back to Willow and her attention to the matter at hand. "So, what happened to the Chumash?"

"How about imprisonment, forced labour, herded like animals into a mission full of bad European diseases." Willow said disgustedly.

"Boy. Cultural Partnership Centre really didn't stress any of that stuff." Buffy said, feeling a little uncomfortable at Willow's strong feelings on the matter. Not sure how her red headed friend would take it if worse came to worse and she had to use a slayee way to take care of the Chumashian Spirit. As much as she sympathized, her job was to protect the innocents of today, not indulge an ancient Chumash Spirit.

"Not even a diorama." Willow agreed readily. "And it gets better. The few Chumash that tried to rebel were hanged. And when a group was accused of stealing cattle, they were killed. Men, women and children. And for proof to bring back to their accusers…"

"They cut off their ears?" Giles cut in, putting the pieces together as Willow nodded in confirmation.

"So, Hus wasn't kidding about the rightful vengeance routine." Buffy murmured.

"He's recreating all the wrongs done to his people. And it's up to us to stop him." Giles said, causing both Buffy and Willow to look at him at the last part.

"Yes," Buffy agreed causing Willow to glance at her slightly hurt. "But after dinner, right?"

Willow turned her gaze back to Giles, her arms crossed over her chest. "Are you sure we shouldn't be helping him?" She asked.

"No, I think perhaps we won't help the angry spirit with his rape and pillage and murder." Giles said, feeling a sense of tiredness threatening to consume him as he sensed that Willow was going to have a hard time of this one and give them all grief over the matter, no matter what he said.

"Well, ok, no," Willow agreed. "But we should be helping him redress his wrongs. Bring the atrocities to light." She suggested.

Giles took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes. "If the history books are full of them, I'd say they already are."

"Giving his land back." Willow suggested again, without even a small pause to think, her mind having already gone over all the things they could do to help the spirit.

"It's not exactly ours to give." Giles tried to reason, as he lowered his hand from his eyes.

Willow scowled at him. "I don't think you wanna help. I think you just wanna slay the demon, then go… la lala." She said hurtfully, not wanting to listen to reason that wasn't going to help her at least right some of the wrongs done to the Chumash tribe.

Giles placed his glasses back over his eyes. "And I think your sympathy for his plight has blinded you to certain urgent facts. We have to stop this thing."

Willow gave him a glare. "Ok, unfeeling guy." She muttered.

"Willow, that's not fair." Giles said, keeping his voice level as his gaze along with Willow's rested on Buffy, both of them looking for her to side with their point of view.

Buffy looked from one to the other as she bit her lower lip. "I have to baste." She blurted out, before hurrying into the kitchen to escape their looks.

The two stood uncomfortably carefully avoiding eye contact as they listened to Buffy bustling about in the kitchen. The silence between them dragged on until a knock sounded at the door and Giles cleared his throat and moved to answer the door grateful for the distraction. Opening the door he revealed Xander and Anya. "Happy thanksgiving." Xander greeted, whilst he tried to stop the shivering of his body.

"Xander. You look like death." Giles observed in concern as Willow came up behind him.

Willow looked at Xander in surprise she'd known that he had called to say that he was sick, but she had never imagined that it was this bad. "Are you alright?" She asked, her indignation forgotten for the moment.

"You didn't bring rolls?" Buffy asked as she came out of kitchen a bowl and wooden spoon in her hands as she stirred the mixture she was mixing.

Willow and Giles stepped out of the way to let Xander and Anya into the condo. Xander immediately made his way towards the comfiest couch, his body really beginning to ach now, not to mention the cold sweats and shivering were getting to him, making wish that he had felt up to putting more clothes on before leaving for the doctors. "The doctors couldn't figure out what was up with me." Xander muttered as he lay himself down on the couch, Anya immediately coming to sit on what was left of the couch. "He said that I had a lot of symptoms that didn't connect."

Buffy frowned. "I think they do connect." She murmured, remembering what Willow had said about 'a lot of nasty European diseases'.

Xander turned his gaze to Buffy as she sat on the edge of another couch, her hand busily mixing the baste. "What, to this Chumash spirit vengeance guy?" He questioned, his gaze flicking from Buffy to Giles and Willow searching for an answer.

Buffy nodded and turned her gaze to Willow. "Didn't you say the Chumash got all diseased when they were all holed up in the mission?"

Willow nodded and grabbed one of the books from the pile she had set down earilier. "Yeah." She said as she opened the book and quickly flicked through the pages until she reached the page she had read earlier. "This has a better account of everything. It lists the various…"

"Various?!" Xander cut in slightly panicked. "As in…"

"Well," Willow said uncomfortably as she looked over the list again. "The important thing is not to panic." She tried to sooth.

Xander sat up a little, brushing away Anya's concerned hands as she tried to push him back down. "You just recited the mystical panic-causing incantation, so little hope there. Let's talk about the various." He demanded.

"Well, they did suffer from malaria, some smallpox…" Willow murmured, her voice trailing in her reluctance to divulge the last disease the Chumash had been plagued with.

"I was gonna say smallpox." Anya said a little to enthusiastically for the situation.

"You know, syphilis," Willow continued in a mumble hoping that Xander wouldn't hear it, or if he did, it being said so softly would mean that he wouldn't freak out. "But basically…"

"Syphilis?" Xander said in shock, dashing Willow's hopes of not panicking her best friend.

"Well, this is probably mystical," She said hurrying to continue, wanting to calm him down. "And it'll all go away as soon as…"

"As soon as what?" Xander cut in, too anxious to hear the cure for his current condition to wait for her to continue, as his red headed friend trailed off.

Willow shifted a little uncomfortably under Xander's panicked gaze. "We still don't know what we're gonna do." Xander's gaze turned wide. "Well," Willow said hurriedly as she went back to the books. "Maybe I can find something. Let's give him some land." She suggested again hopefully.

"I'm sure that'll clear everything right up." Giles said sarcastically and a roll of his eyes.

Willow shot him an annoyed look, her feelings from right after their disagreement rushing back to the forefront. "Sarcasm accomplishes nothing, Giles." She replied sternly.

"It's sort of an end in itself." Giles muttered with a small shrug.

"Can we come rocketing back to the part about me and my new syphilis?" Xander asked, annoyance and panic colouring his tone.

Anya stroked Xander's forehead affectionately. "It'll make you blind and insane, but it won't kill you. The smallpox will." She said far to brightly, and Xander whom she had been trying to comfort became more panicked.

Willow sent an unnoticed glare at Anya, not appreciating Anya making everything so much harder with her thoughtless remarks. "Maybe there's a Wiccan spell that can cure it. something regular medicine doesn't know." She placed down the first books and sorted through pile as she searched for another. "Ooh, there was a potion." Flipping quickly through the book she had picked up and pulled out the piece of paper she had read the potion. "Sage, salt… onion?" She read out with a small frown of confusion.

"That's the stuffing." Buffy corrected as she continued to busily mix the baste.

"Oh, God." Xander groaned as he leaned back against the seat once again.

Anya picked up the open book Willow had placed down, her eyes scanning the page. "Uh, you're gonna get vesicles and pustules. They have pictures." She informed him as she tried to show him the pictures of the infected indigenous people.

Xander turned his head away from the book, his stomach churning faster than it was before. "I hate this guy." He muttered vehemently, as he squeezed his eyes tightly shut in an attempt to help still his stomach. On top of everything else he didn't want to puke as well.

"He's just doing what was done to him." Willow defended Hus, a little sulkily.

Xander's eyes snapped open and he sat up under his own power once again. "I didn't give him syphilis." He exclaimed.

"No," Giles agreed, before Willow could say something else in Hus' defence like she was about to. "But you freed his spirit, and after a century of unrest, he saw you as one of his oppressors."

"What?" Xander grumbled wrapping his blanket about himself tighter. "So, he rises up and infects the first guy he sees? That's no fair."

"Like you've never woken up cranky." Willow defended again her arms crossed over her chest, as she wondered why nobody else seemed to care about what had been done to the Chumash.

"But why the others?" Giles questioned, ignoring Willow's comment. "Why them particularly?"

"So, we take this guy out." Xander said hopefully, his gaze settling on Buffy whose head was bent of her task a frown of concentration pulling down her brow as she carefully stirred. "Buffy, it is for the slaying sometime soon, yeah?"

Buffy looked up from her stirring, but didn't stop the motion of her arm as she met Xander's gaze. "That's sort of the question before the court." Her gaze glancing quickly between Giles and Willow, before turning her gaze back to her baste, wanting to make sure it was perfect.

"Question?" Xander questioned a little hysterically.

"There are two sides to it." Willow said defensively, refusing to back down, even with Xander being sick.

"Slaying him?" Xander questioned and Willow nodded her confirmation. "The representative from syphilis votes, yea."

"It's not that simple." Willow said a little pleadingly, wanting her friends to understand her point of view.

"He's a vengeance demon. You don't talk to vengeance demons. You kill them." Xander said in frustration.

Anya pulled back from him as if stung, her gaze hurt as she stared at him. "I didn't know you felt that way.

Xander turned a confused gaze to his girlfriend. "What?" He asked, not sure what he had done or said wrong.

"Anyway, he's a spirit, not a demon." Willow corrected.

Giles nodded. "Yes, and we've never faced this sort of spirit before. We really don't know what will kill it."

Willow's relieved expression turned aggravated. "Again with the killing." She grumbled.

"Figuratively speaking." Giles amended for Willow's sake. "Or bind it or whatever." Willow opened her mouth, but Giles cut her off. "Yes, Willow, we all appreciate your perspective." He assured her.

"Sometimes vengeance is justified." Anya grumbled with a frown, feeling very uncomfortable in the room now that Xander had made his feelings known.

Xander turned his gaze to his girlfriend and sudden understanding took him, and he reached for her and took her hand. "You know that I didn't mean you." He assured her, causing Anya to give him a small smile.

"I don't think anyone appreciates the truth of the situation." Willow said, becoming exasperatedly, growing more than a little annoyed with all the talk of just getting rid of the spirit, without trying to do anything to make amends.

"Oh, I think we do." Giles said becoming equally exasperatedly.

Buffy abruptly jumped to her feet the bowl clutched tightly in her arms. "This is no good!" She said loudly, drawing everyone's attention. "It needs more condensed milk." She explained a little embarrassedly, before quickly disappearing into the kitchen.

"Buffy," Giles said as he watched Buffy set the bowl down onto the kitchen bench to grab the condensed milk. "Xander's in real danger. Are you sure the solution is pie?" He enquired, not sure why this thanksgiving dinner seemed to be so important to her, when there was much more important things to worry about.

Buffy poured in a certain amount of condensed milk not wanting to flood her baste. "Over bickering and confusion, I'll take pie." She told him, before making her way back out of the kitchen bringing the bowl and mixing spoon with her. "We will find a solution. And we will have a nice dinner, ok? Both." She said firmly, in a tone that Giles knew would broke no arguments. "End of story. I'm having thanksgiving, and it'll be perfect."

"Hus won't stop." Giles said as Buffy came back into the living room. "Vengeance is never sated, Buffy. Hatred is a cycle. All he will do is kill."

Buffy opened her mouth to answer, but another knock on Giles front door distracted her, setting down her baste, she walked over to the door, wondering who else would be knocking on Giles door. Everyone that they were expecting were already here. Her heart skipped a beat as she wondered if perhaps it was Angelus coming to talk. Opening the door, her expression flattened in annoyance at seeing an all too familiar peroxide blond vampire, who was cowering under a blanket to keep from combusting under the bright rays of the midday sun, but despite the blanket smoke rose up from his leather jacket just from the indirect sunlight.

"Help me." Spike pleaded and stepped forward to enter the condo, with a quick move Buffy pushed him back almost knocking the weakened Spike to the ground and exposing him completely to the sunlight, but he managed to keep his feet. "Ooh!" He cried. "What part of help me do you not understand?" He growled annoyed.

Buffy frowned at him. "The part where I help you." She said as she stared at him coldly.

"Come on," Spike pleaded, not believing just how low he was sinking at coming here for help, but he'd rather come here than go to his smug assed Sire. There was no way that Angelus would let him live this down… plus Angelus wouldn't be all that happy to see him… after all he'd made it clear that he was to blow town and not come back this time. At least with The Slayer he had a chance at receiving mercy. "I'm parboiling out here!"

Buffy glanced to the side as she heard Giles coming up to her, glancing down at the stake he was offering her, she grasped it and turned her full attention back to Spike. "Want me to help make it quicker?" She asked sweetly.

"Invite me in." Spike demanded, hating the pleading that was in his tone.

"No. it's fairly unlikely." Giles said calmly, not at all phased by Spike appearance at his door, especially when he looked as pathetic as he did with the blanket the only thing keeping him from roasting under the sun.

"Oh, damn it!" Spike growled as more smoke rose up from under his jacket, the heat of the sun making him feel even more uncomfortable then his blood deprived body already did. "Look, I'm safe. I can't bite anyone." He gritted out, having to swallow his pride to admit it, especially to The Slayer who was also his Sire's intended mate. His eyes moved past Buffy to rest on Willow who was watching from her spot in the living room. "Willow, tell 'em what I did." He pleaded.

Willow frowned slightly. "You said you were gonna kill me, then, Buffy."

Spike rolled his eyes. "Yes, bad, but let's skip that part and get to the part where I couldn't bite you." His eyes pleading with her.

"It's true." Willow admitted reluctantly as she met Buffy's gaze as her blond friend had turned slightly to face her. "He had trouble performing."

Spike nodded wincing as his blanket shifted and a small bit of sun hit him directly and he shifted the blanket back to its original position. "Yeah, well, it looks like they've done me for good." He admitted despondently. "Um," He began about to ask about being let in again, only for Buffy to cut him off.

"What are you saying?" She asked with a frown, an uncomfortable feeling settling in her stomach. Spike was also Angelus Childe… would he be angry if she staked Spike? Buffy gave her head a mental shake. She knew that Angelus didn't care much for Spike… but then… he'd never actually killed him… she didn't even know if he had killed Penn for attacking her a second time like he promised he would.

"I'm saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore. I can't bite anything. I can't even hit people." He said despairingly.

"So, you haven't murdered anybody lately? Let's be best pals." Buffy said sarcastically, her fingers stroking her stake, determined that she wouldn't show Spike anything of her currently conflicted emotions.

"Well, aren't you dating that ponce, Angelus?" Spike snarked, the scowl that darkened buffy's face made him wish that he hadn't spoken, especially when she shifted her grip on her stake as if getting ready to use it. "I've got information." He said quickly, and as he predicted her stake lowered once more, and his unneeded breath came easier. "About the solider boys you were fighting. Got the inside scoop." He continued when she didn't do anything else to indicate that she was even considering letting him in. "Come on, what have you got to be afraid of?" He said pleadingly, if she didn't, he had nothing left to give in exchange for the help he needed.

Buffy sighed softly and she turned her gaze to Giles who was still standing close behind her. Giles hesitated a moment longer, before giving his own sigh. "I can't believe I'm saying this." He muttered. "Come in, Spike."

Spike didn't wait a second longer than he had to after the invitation was given to rush inside and out of the sunlight. "Shut the door!" He demanded. "And the bleeding curtains." Buffy silently shut the door and gave Willow a small nod, before the red head began going about and shut the curtains to block out more sunlight.

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

Hus moved about the lost mission, his voice ringing about it as he performed a ritual to summon the warrior spirits of the Chumash. "First people who dwell in mishupashup, hear me and descend. Walk with me upon itiashup again. Hear me also nunashush. Spirits from below… Creatures of the night… Take human form and join the battle. Bring me my revenge." As Hus spoke the last word a large green smoke cloud rose up, hovering in the air for a moment, before separating and forming into a dozen warriors.

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

Buffy jerked the last knot tight, making the now bound Spike snarl. "Grrr. Bloody hell, woman. You're cutting off my circulation." He growled.

Buffy gave him a look, tempted to tip over the chair he was now securely bound to, but refrained. "You don't have any circulation." She pointed out.

"We'll, it pinches." Spike grumbled with a glare.

"Get used to it. I have more important things to worry about." Buffy said as she straightened up.

"I came to you in friendship." Spike said, and Buffy gives him an incredulous look. "Well, alright, seething hatred." He conceded. "But I've got useful information, and I feel I'm being mistreated."

Buffy rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest as she glared down at Spike, all the reasons why she hated him being remembered in sudden clarity with each passing moment he sat in the chair. "So tell me everything you know." She demanded.

"I'm too hungry to remember everything." Spike said loftily.

"Then sit." Buffy muttered, not intending to play his game. She wasn't going to bargain with him for his information.

"Uh, how much butter goes in with these?" Anya called from the kitchen where she was stirring the contents of a pot.

Buffy's attention was immediately diverted. "About half a stick of butter and a quarter of a cup of brandy." Buffy turned her gaze to Giles as he sat looking through one of the books Willow had brought with her. "You do have brandy, don't you?"

"What?" Giles asked, as he looked up from the book he had been concentrating on. "Oh, yes. Um, on the bookcase." He said pointing towards it, before lowering his head back down with a frown to the book.

Spike who's interest had been peeked by the mention of brandy licked his lips. "I wouldn't say no to a brandy." He said hopefully.

"What's wrong?" Buffy asked Giles, ignoring Spike's request for a brandy.

Giles looked up from his book and took off his glasses. "The victims. Apart from Xander, Hus has targeted authority figures. Father Gabriel, The Curator of The Cultural Centre. Who else fits the pattern?"

"Just a small brandy." Spike pleaded, not taking being ignored as the no the entire group meant it to be.

Buffy's frown of concentration disappeared as it came to her. "The Dean. Dean Guerrero, he's like the kind of is, and he was at the ceremony."

Giles nodded approvingly. "Likely candidate. We should warn him."

Buffy nodded her agreement and turned her gaze to Willow who was looking sullenly into a book. "Will, anything in those books about how to stop a native American spirit guy?" Buffy swallowed at the look Willow directed at her. "Some nice, non-judgemental way to, you know, kill him?" She hastened to add, but her effort was wasted as her words only made Willow's look darken further.

"I'm not gonna help you kill him. I'm not on board." She said stubbornly.

Buffy let out a small breath and gave Willow a helpless shrug. "What choice do we have?"

"Buffy, this isn't a Western." Willow said stubbornly. "We're not a fort… Giles with the cavalry coming to save us. It's just one lonely. Oppressed warrior guy who's just trying to…"

"Kill a lot of people?" Buffy cut her off with a raised eyebrow.

"I didn't say he was right." Willow muttered quietly, her gaze slightly down caste.

Buffy gave Willow a sympathetic look, it wasn't as if she didn't understand, she did, but Hus was killing innocents. "Will, you know how bad I feel about this. It's eating me up…"

Willow crossed her arms over her chest. "Oh please, Buffy. I don't see you putting, Angelus to death. And he's killed more people then Hus has."

The entire room went silent for a moment as everyone in the living room looked at Buffy, except for Buffy who was looking at Willow shocked. Whilst Willow looked at Buffy with wide shocked eyes of her own as her own words fully registered. "Ooh, burn. Baby Wiccan's got claws." Spike crowed, more than just a little amused.

"Buf…" Willow began, but was cut off by Anya.

"How much brandy am I putting in again?" The ex-vengeance demon called.

Buffy turned her gaze away from Willow with a thick swallow as she fought back tears that were pricking hotly at the backs of her eyes. "Uh, ¼ cup of brandy and uh, let it simmer." She instructed, fighting to keep her voice steady, her enthusiasm for her normal thanksgiving dinner waning as her heavy heart sunk further. Forcing herself to bring her gaze back to Willow. "Look, I know that this is hard, but we have to end this. Yes, he's been wronged. And I personally would be ready to apologize…" Buffy said, trying to swallow her bitter sadness and anger, trying to tell herself that it wasn't personal that Willow was just frustrated… but it was hard… her words touched on one of the many sore points that lay between herself and Angelus.

"Oh, someone put a stake in me." Spike groaned with a roll of his eyes.

"You got a lot of volunteers in here." Xander spoke up helpfully, making Spike glare at him. Buffy glanced up at Giles as he stepped towards her eyes sad and nervous not knowing what to expect. She was relieved though when he gave her a small smile and lay a hand briefly over her shoulder giving it a comforting squeeze.

"I just can't take all this mamby-pamby boo-hooing about the bloody Indians." Spike said interrupting the moment between Buffy and Giles.

Buffy turned her gaze to him. "Uh, the preferred term…"

"You won. All right?" Spike said exasperatedly, cutting Buffy off. "You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, 'I came, I conquered, but I felt really bad about it'." He said sarcastically, a remark that would have made Willow glare at him, but she was too busy glancing at Buffy guiltily, but her blond friend was steadily avoiding her gaze. "The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story."

"Well, I think the Spaniards actually did a lot of…" Buffy trailed off as she glanced around, her gaze skirting quickly over Willow. "Not that I don't like Spaniards." She finished lamely, realizing that she was treading on waters that would just make things worse.

Spike shook his head. "Listen to you. How are you gonna fight anyone with that attitude?"

Willow frowned at him. "We don't want to fight anyone."

"I just wanted to have a normal thanksgiving." Buffy muttered disheartened, causing Willow to glance at her apologetically, but the look went unnoticed as Buffy was still steadily avoiding looking in Willow's direction as much as she could, not wanting to see the look in her eyes.

"Heheh." Spike laughed. "Yeah… Good luck." He snorted. "Slayers don't do normal."

"If we could just talk to him…" Willow began, certain that communicating would help make Hus understand.

Spike rolled his eyes again, not quite sure how anyone could be that stupidly naïve. "You exterminated his race. What could you possibly say that would make him feel better? It's kill or be killed here. Take your bloody pick."

Xander looked around a little nervously, he could still feel the tension in the room and although a large part of him agreed with her, he had sort of gotten used to the idea it had been hard, but he had started to… under Willow's advice. "Maybe it's the syphilis talking, but… some of that made sense." His eyes going anxiously to Willow not wanting to agitate his red headed friend any further.

Giles rolled his eyes in exasperation. "I made all these points earlier, but fine, no one listens to me." He said loftily, his blue eyes sweeping about the room to see if they had any effect and to his disappointment, but not surprise it had gone unnoticed.

"Fine, ok? But someone still has to go warn the Dean." Buffy said pointedly.

Willow jumped eagerly off her chair. "I'll go. I need the air."

Buffy forced herself to look at Willow. "Not alone." She said firmly, no matter her feelings at the current moment, she'd never wish harm upon her friend. Willow gave her a little smile at her show of concern, and got a strained one in return.

"I'll go." Anya offered, sick of standing over the stove.

"Me too." Xander offered.

Buffy turned her gaze to him. "Sure you're up to it?" She asked concernedly.

"Oh, leave that one." Spike urged as he licked his lips hungrily. "He looks like he's ready to drop any minute, and I think I can eat someone if he's already dead."

Xander shot to his feet faster than he thought possible in his current state. "I'm up to it." He said firmly as he eyed Spike distrustfully, if he was going to die, he was determined that he wouldn't become Spike's next munchible blood donor!

"I'll keep looking for a solution." Giles said as he once again sat back down, feeling the tension that had built up after Willow's callous explosion beginning to melt away as plans were being laid down and actions beginning to be taken.

"Guys, the Dean's house is up past the gym." She told them, receiving a nod from Willow. "And hurry. Dinner's in an hour!" She called after them as the door opened and they began to exit, the door shutting behind them.

"Hey, when do I get fed?" Spike asked indignantly as Buffy was just about to make a move towards the kitchen in order to check on the food, and give her a chance to pull herself together in sort of privacy. Not wanting to burst into tears, especially not in front of Spike!

Buffy turned a glare on him, quiet tempted to tell him 'never', but instead went with, "Later. I hope the others are ok." She murmured.

"Do you know what happens to vampires who don't get to feed?" Spike asked.

Giles looked up from the book he was studying, his genuine curiosity making him give his full attention to Spike. "I always wondered about that actually." Giles murmured, silently hoping that the peroxide blond would keep talking. It would probably be the first and last time he'd wish that about Spike.

"Giles, plates?" Buffy asked, and Giles pointed to a cupboard close to the kitchen, his blue eyes still staring at Spike, hoping for an answer still.

"Living skeletons, mate." Spike said as Buffy opened the cupboard and began pulling out plates. "Like famine pictures from those dusty countries, only not half as funny."

Buffy turned around all the plates she needed held effortlessly in her arms. "You can have gravy." She said decisively. "That has blood in it, right?"

Spike scowled at her. "Do you know what else has blood in it? Blood!" He grumbled, wanting to feel the taste of that thick rich liquid running down his throat… not watered down mush that tasted nothing like it.

"Well, you can deal with it or go hungry. 'Cause I'm not gonna go all the way to the butcher for you." Buffy said snarkily.

"I bet you would have done it for, Angel." Spike grumbled, hating the fact that it sounded a little like a whine. It had been so long since he'd tasted blood that even that bloody pigs blood that the soulful ponce used to drink would have tasted like a sweet virgin.

Buffy glared at him. "Yeah, well your no, Angel." She said snidely.

"I wouldn't drink that crap anyway." Spike grumbled, lying through his teeth.

Buffy gritted her teeth as she set the plates down on Giles dining table, before whirling back around to face Spike. "Do I have to gag you? Because I am not gonna listen to you whine all the way through my dinner. It's gonna be a nice, quiet, civilized…" the smashing sound of a window breaking drew their attention as an arrow whizzed into the room and implanted itself with a thunk in the decorative scarecrow that had been placed on the dinner table. Giles and Buffy's gaze went to the window their eyes landing on Hus who was perched on the window bow and arrow in hand. "You. Listen." Buffy said quickly as she watched Hus reloading. "Maybe I wasn't clear before about how terrible we all feel. 'Cause we're trying to help." She said, wanting to try Willow's way first, wanting to be able to tell her friend that she had tried talking.

"What's going on?!" Spike demanded to know as she squirmed in his chair trying to see what the crashing sound hand been.

"It isn't working." Giles exclaimed as more of his windows broke and more warriors appeared at his windows.

"Uh," Buffy said thinking of what else she could say and coming up mostly blank. "You can have casinos now."

Giles saw the Indian drawing back their arrows. "Get down!" He cried, his hand clamping on her shoulder as he ducked down behind the dining table even though Buffy was already moving to duck out of the sharp projectiles. Their heads had barely cleared under the safety of the table when the arrows came soaring into the room.

"What about me?!" Spike cried as he was left, forgotten and helplessly bound to the chair and directly in the line of fire. "You gonna leave me here like this?!" He growled, just as an arrow pierced his chest deeply, just a few inches to the right of his heart, making Spike look down in surprise and fear waiting to see if he'd go dust for a moment, before realising that the wooden arrow had missed. Looking up indignantly in the direction the arrow had been fired from. "Hey! Watch the heart!" He growled at the angry Indians, who paid him absolutely no mind as another volley rained into the condo.

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

"Well, that was a waste of time." Anya muttered as she walked beside Xander, her eyes skirting to him to make sure that he was still alright.

Xander nodded his agreement. "I think he thought we were crazy."

"Maybe if, Anya hadn't opened the conversation with, 'everybody got both ears?'." Willow said pointedly.

"I liked his wife. She gave me pie." Anya commented, not getting the hint in Willow's tone.

"So, what do we do now?" Willow asked as they continued to walk away from the Dean's house.

"We could stay here and stand watch, or I just don't…" Xander trailed off as he spotted Angelus who had started towards them upon sensing their presence. The whole group came to a stop as they all noticed him, each of them swallowing nervously as they watched him approach. "Angelus." Xander muttered.

"What are you doing here? And where's, Buffy?" He demanded, his dark gaze flashing angrily, his un-beating heart clenching in worry at the idea of Buffy alone with the angry Chumash warrior spirits after her.

"What does it matter why where here?" Xander grumbled, not appreciating the demeaning, demanding tone Angelus had used. "And it's not our job to keep you in the know where Buffy's concerned. If she wanted you to know, she'd tell you. Perhaps the real question should be, is why are you here?" Xander grumbled

Angelus growled his hands clenching into fists a sneer pulling up his lips as he fought the urge to snap the boys neck. Knowing that it would cause him more pain in the long run, then the momentary pleasure would compensate for. The look on Angelus' face made Xander take a step back and had Anya clutching at his arm worried for him. "Rumours of a Chumashian avenging spirit."

Willow looked at him suddenly curious. "What about him? Why would Hus concern you?" She asked drawing Angelus' angry gaze from Xander who breathed a sigh of relief.

"Because I've just come from the Chumash exhibit at the cultural centre." Angelus began.

"Why would you go there?" Willow interrupted without thinking.

"A hunch." Angelus rumbled in annoyance. "And all the Chumash weapons were stolen. So again I ask, where is Buffy?"

"She's still at, Giles." Willow admitted, not likely the look he was giving her. Angelus would probably always give her the wiggins, another reason why Buffy would be better off with a nicer guy… like Riley.

"She sent us to check out the Dean." Anya explained, her gaze going to Xander as he weakly squeezed her arm and she gave him a 'what?' look at the frown he was giving her.

"Why the dean?" Angelus asked, the expression on his face making Willow hurriedly speak up.

"We think he's going after someone in charge. A l-leader." She stuttered at the end as Angelus' look turned darker, making her heartbeat race.

"How stupid could you be?!" Angelus snarled.

"Hey," Xander started in defence of his friend only for the look Angelus shot him to shut him up.

"He's a warrior, and to a warrior, the only leader that matters is the strongest fighters. And that's no bloody dean of a university. He's formed a raiding party and the only person she's got to help her is that stuffy ex-Watcher."

"Buffy." Willow murmured in concern. Angelus snarled and turned on his heel and took off without a backwards glance, heading towards Giles condo as fast as his preternatural speed could take him.

Willow, Xander and Anya exchanged looks. "Well, he could have been lying." Xander suggested.

Anya shook her head. "No, when it comes to Buffy, I doubt very much that he'd lie. And beside from everything I've heard about Angelus… he doesn't lie… he prefers the truth. It's a good strategy really. Truth hurts a lot more than a thousand lies." Anya murmured

Silence rained for an extended moment before Willow gave herself a shake. "Come on, we gotta hurry and get back." She exclaimed, before taking off leaving the others to follow. Xander did his best to hurry after his best friend, despite Anya's protests that he was too sick to over tax himself like this and that Buffy was a Slayer and was more than capable of taking care of herself.

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

"Would one of you get me out of this chair!" Spike howled as another arrow pierced his chest once again the arrow missing his heart by a matter of inches, the shaft joining the scattering of the others that perilously circled his heart. "Or at least move my chair out of the way of your ruddy battle."

Spike was ignored totally and utterly by Giles and Buffy as they peered over the edge of the table only to duck again as another volley of arrows flew at them. "Uh, we need a plan." Giles said, for what to Buffy felt like the hundredth time.

"Yes, let's talk about it some more." She grumbled sarcastically as she looked around, before turning her gaze back to Giles. "Where's your weapons chest?" She asked urgently.

"Over there." Giles answered, with a gesture of his arm across the room.

Buffy turned her gaze to the chest Giles indicated, glancing up towards the window, listening as best she could with her other senses seeing as she couldn't actually see the window from her position. With a calculated movement Buffy sidled over to the chest reaching out for it. "Ooh!" She exclaimed in pain as an arrow pierced her arm with a painful thud that had her pulling her arm back to cradle it against her chest for a moment.

"Buffy!" Giles cried in concern as he moved to go to her, only to be stopped by an arrow whizzing past his head to clatter to his floor the pointed tip chipping a tile.

Spike tugged agitatedly at his restraints as a few more arrows thudded into his chest making the merry ring of arrows sticking out of his chest around his heart complete. "Remember that conquering thing? Forget it. Apologize." He demanded.

"Shut up, Spike." Buffy growled through gritted teeth as she grasped the arrow and pulled it out of her arm with a smooth tug.

"Fine, I'll do it myself." Spike shouted at her, his eyes turning to the windows, leaning slightly in his chair in an attempt to see the attacking Chumash spirits. "Hey, sorry! Sorry about that, Chief."

"How many?" Buffy asked as she got the chest open.

"Uh," Giles stalled as he looked around trying to find them all. "The leader upstairs. Two by the living room windows. Uh, one through the window by the door." He rattled off as he continued to look.

Buffy shook her head as she pulled out a crossbow. "It's too many. We need help." She cried.

Spike rocked back and forth in his chair determined to not die in the middle of his worst enemies battle with an angry vengeful spirit. Especially not whilst helplessly bound by a chair. "Ok, one, two, three. Ow!" He shouted angrily as another arrow pierced his chest, this one thankfully not piercing anywhere near his heart. "Bloody hell." He cursed angrily.

Buffy aimed her crossbow at Hus who had entered the condo and descended down the stairs his knife raised in front of him. Lining up her shot she fired the bolt landing with deadly accuracy in his chest, but the blow didn't stop him, only made him stumble for a moment, and give her an angry look. "Giles." Buffy called a little hysterically. "These guys… they don't die."

Giles gasped raggedly as he struggled with another Indian warrior that had clambered through one of the windows and had grasped him unaware from behind. "Bit busy over here." He called out as he struggled with the spirit who was endeavouring to kill him.

His leg kicked out and hit Spike's chair, knocking it off balance, tumbling the chair over, taking Spike with it. "Hey!" Spike cried in annoyance, only to be grateful a moment later as an arrow whizzed by where he had once been.

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

Angelus snarled as he finally made it to Giles condo, jumping down the steps into the courtyard, rushing to the Indian that was about to jump into the condo to join the fray where he could sense his girl. Grabbing the Indian from behind he pulled him away from the window, his gaze landing on Buffy through the open window, to see her running towards one of the Indian's her eyes determined. Reluctantly turning his gaze away he snapped the Indian's neck with a smooth twisting motion and let him go, and the Indian fell to the ground. Turning away from the downed Indian he turned his attention to another Indian that had turned his attention to him as soon as he had entered the fray, leaving those inside to those already in there.

Angelus snarled at him, his ears twitching as he heard a car pull up outside, and his ears picked up the annoying sound of their voices reaching his sensitive ears as the one he believed was called Anya argued briefly with what must be a taxi driver over the cost of the cab ride. Angelus snarled, focusing his attention on the Indian that was coming towards him with a war cry that was as irritating as it was loud. He grabbed the Indian's arm as it reached him, stopping it from stabbing him with short spear that he was using. He sensed movement behind him and his eyes widened to see the Indian who's neck he had broken coming towards him with hurried steps, murder in his dark eyes. He moved to kick the oncoming Indian only for the Indian to go crashing to the ground, his eyes landed on Willow who was wielding a now folded up chair. His eyes narrowed on her in surprise for a moment, before he turned his full attention back to the Indian at hand, and with a snarl he punched him, letting the spirit go so that the spirit could stumble back, giving him room to land a punishing kick to the spirits stomach.

Behind him Anya had also taken up a chair and had now joined Willow in taking turns in whacking the vengeful spirit over it back each and every time it tried to stand up. "Why…" Willow grunted as she wacked the spirits back, before Anya took her turn. "Don't…" She said again as she brought her chair once again. "You… Die?!" She finished in frustration as once again as she lowered her chair and prepared to heave it up again as Anya whacked him again as the spirit tried to stand once again.

Angelus growled as he was grabbed from behind, the arms of another Chumash warrior closing around his throat bringing him up against his chest, the spirit trying to hold him still for the other spirit to finish off. Angelus spun around forcing the Indian trying to restrain him to kick his own tribesman in the head. His eyes landed on Xander who was just standing there, leaning against the wall, watching them all fight, and he growled angrily, his hatred for the boy growing as he just stood their whilst his future mate was stuck inside with a Watcher that got knocked unconscious more often than not! Leaving his girl on his own… even if the Watcher did manage to stay conscious, it wasn't as if the old man had much fighting finesse.

Xander jumped slightly, coming out of his sickness induced stupor, and gave a small nod before he even knew that he had given it to the one demon that he hated above all others, upon realising it he hesitated a second longer, not wanting to jump to do Angelus' orders, but forced himself to put it behind him… Buffy was more important than his hatred for Angelus… she had to be, or what kind of person could he really be?

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

Buffy blocked a punch from Hus and threw one of her own, which was also blocked by Hus using his knife bearing arm. With a swift movement, Buffy grabbed the knife and used her free arm to punch his arm close to his wrist, forcing Hus to release the knife. Not pausing for even a moment, Buffy shifted her grip on the knife and wielded it with a smooth slicing motion towards Hus, who raised his arm to block, the blade of the knife piercing the flesh of his arm, a thin cut appearing on his arm to both of their surprise. Buffy turned her gaze up to Hus from the cut she had created an excited gleam shining from her hazel eyes as she felt the thrill of triumph. "Your knife can kill you." Hus glared at her, before taking a small step back, before morphing his form, turning into a large black bear.

"A bear!" Buffy shouted in surprise her wide hazel eyes reflecting the feeling as she took a large shocked step back, not having expected to be confronted with a bear just when she had been about to win the day.

Spike stared up at the bear with wide rather scared eyes from his position trapped on the floor, tugging his arms and legs trying to break free of the restraints that The Slayer had put on him, but with no luck. "Y-You made a bear!" Spike said, his entire body frozen in surprise and fear as the bear let out an angry growl.

"I didn't mean to!" Buffy wailed as she stared at the bear wondering just how she could take on the angry bear, that looked like it was gearing up for an attack.

"Undo it! Undo it!" Spike shouted frantically as his body unfroze as his survival instincts kicked in he began struggling against his bonds, wanting to be able to escape out the front door, now believing that it had been a bad idea to come here in the first place… especially now that he could sense his Sire close by… he'd never be able to live it down if he saw him like this!

"Hey, gentle Ben!" Xander's voice rang out drawing Buffy's gaze to him. "Over here." He shouted as he grabbed up a few pieces of fruit from a fruit bowl sitting on a ledge near him, throwing the fruit, hitting the bears back and forearms. "That's for giving me syphilis." He shouted as the bear turned to face him with a roar that had Xander stumbling back his heart racing in his chest. Buffy moved forward with a determined stride, the knife she had taken from Hus clutched firmly in her hand, raising it she brought it down stabbing it into the bears back in the general area she believed his heart would be, her Slayer instincts making it almost impossible to not aim for the spot she knew was fatal to most demons. The bear gave a final roar as Buffy pulled the old Chumash knife out of the bears back, before it disappeared in a cloud of green smoke before it evaporated entirely along with every other Chumash warrior that Hus had called to him, causing Anya and Willow to breathe a sigh of relief as they lowered the chairs, letting them drop to the ground their arms aching and their chests heaving from the exertion.

Spike twisted his head from side to side trying to see from his position on the floor. His ears not picking up the sounds of battle anymore. "What happened? Did we win?" He asked, looking at Buffy, his neck straining. Buffy turned her gaze to the peroxide blond for a moment before turning it away without saying a word she turned away from him, her shoulders slumping slightly as she sighed softly, suddenly feeling really rather drained… now that everything had finally died down. Walking towards the front door she placed the knife down on the ledge that the fruit bowl was set on. "Uh, Buff… is everything ok?" Xander asked.

Buffy attempted to give Xander a small smile. "I'm fine… just a little drained…" She placed a hand on his shoulder. "Enjoy dinner." She murmured, before moving on… Xander opened his mouth to question her further only to be interrupted by Spike's angry bellow.

"Would someone set me up right!" He snarled as he rocked from side to side in his chair. "These arrows don't tickle, you know!"

Buffy made it outside Giles condo and took a deep breath as she paused just outside the door, her senses drawing her attention as her relaxing body became in aware of the familiar tingling that was spreading out from the base of her spine. Immediately her eyes went to Angelus who was still standing in the courtyard. Her eyes met his for a moment, before she turned them away, she went to hurry on, only to stop in her tracks at becoming aware of Anya and Willow who were close to the door having been making their way there after the Indian's sudden disappearance. "Buffy," Willow began. "So, I guess we won," She mumbled, feeling a little awkward, highly aware that her outburst earlier hadn't been officially forgiven by her blond friend.

"Uh, yeah." Buffy said with a nod. "I'll, uh, see you at school." She murmured a little self-consciously, before once again moving to leave, wanting to get out of here and allow herself the opportunity to break down like she felt she needed to.

"Uh, where are you going?" Willow asked, causing Buffy to pause once again.

"Uh…" Buffy hedged trying to think of an excuse, not wanting to admit just how emotionally fraught she felt. "To lie down. I'm feeling kinda beat." She lied, her feet shifting nervously, knowing that she wasn't a very accomplished liar.

"Oh," Willow murmured disappointedly, she had been hoping that dinner would be the opportunity she needed to clear the air between them. "But what about dinner? It would be a bit of a bummer if you didn't at least get to eat a few bites of it. After all the work you put into it." She urged hopefully.

"I'm sure there'll be left overs." Buffy muttered disheartened, really not feeling up to having the dinner now… the entire night hadn't been anything like she had been hoping… nothing about it had been normal. Not one little thing. "But there's no reason you guys shouldn't enjoy it. The roast should be ready by now." Buffy attempted another smile, before moving off, her steps somewhat hurried not wanting to be stalled again… not wanting to be talked into staying… she didn't really feel like sitting through the dinner now… she didn't know how much longer she would last… and with Spike there ready and willing to push her buttons till she broke… she couldn't risk it… and all she wanted to do was collapse in private.

Willow watched her go with concerned eyes, whilst Anya watched with annoyed ones. "You know, you'd think she'd show just a little gratitude after all the trouble we went through." She muttered. Angelus followed Buffy with his eyes for a moment, before turning his gaze back to the condo, looking in through the window, his eyes landing on Spike as Giles pulled out one of the arrows imbedded in his chest, causing his ungrateful brat of a Childe to snarl and spout off at the ex-Watcher, who rebutted with a sarcastic retort that had his Childe glaring at him sullenly, before once again demanding a brandy, which Giles heartily ignored as he took hold of another arrow. Angelus frowned at the scene, wondering what Spike was doing in The ex-Watcher's home, he knew his Childe was stupid, but he hadn't thought he was stupid enough to allow himself to get captured… Angelus smirked a little in amusement; actually it was a shock that he was smart enough to convince Buffy not to stake him on sight.

Turning away from the scene, despite how amusing he found Spike's antics, he'd find out later, right now he had more important things to do, and he didn't think his Childe would be going anywhere soon, which meant that he wouldn't be causing him or his mate any further trouble… which was more than fine with him. It was one less thing for him to worry about in wooing his mate's tender affections back. Walking after Buffy, her small frame long gone from sight, but her scent still remaining strong in the air, leaving a trail for him to follow until he once again grew close enough to sense her. Willow watched Angelus go, an anxious feeling growing in her stomach as she saw him disappear around the hedge just as Buffy had. "Willow, come on." Anya said impatiently as she held the door open. "The foods ready, and I'm not waiting for you any longer. I'm hungry." She said in her usual self-centred manner, giving the red head a final look before disappearing inside, but graciously left the door open for her.

Willow stared at the now empty exit to the courtyard that Giles shared with the other occupants of the condos that neighboured Giles'. Giving her head a small shake as she turned away the noise of her friends inside drawing her attention and she smiled a little smile as she heard snatches of the lively conversation and she stepped inside shutting the door behind her. She would catch up with Buffy tomorrow and everything would be fine. It was more than likely that Buffy was just feeling drained from the battle she had fought… and she swore that she saw blood staining Buffy's jacket… so everything would be fine. She thought with a determined nod, before joining the others as a clean-up was underway as Giles pulled out the last of the arrows from Spike's chest.

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

Buffy grimaced as she pulled her jacket off, the arm that had been struck by that arrow twinging angrily at having the material rub over the wound. Throwing her jacket down carelessly; the once loved jacket ruined by the gaping arrow hole in the arm, not to mention the blood that was now staining it. Moving over to her old vanity she sat down with a sigh as she picked up the rolled up bandage she had placed there earlier. Unravelling it she began wrapping it around her arm with a practiced ease.

Outside Angelus looked up at Buffy's mothers house, his eyes focused on Buffy's old bedroom window where he had seen her small form just a few moments ago. He loitered for a moment wondering whether he should go up to her or to leave her be for now… before walking towards the house with a determined stride, needing to get the added tension he could feel between himself and his mate resolved, hating the twisting knots it was making his insides; it was a feeling that was happening all too often lately.

Inside her old room Buffy finished wrapping the bandage about her injured arm, and secured it in place with the small hooked fastener. The familiar tingling over her senses growing stronger and she sighed not knowing whether she was glad that he was coming to her or if she wished that he had decided to leave her to moping. Sometimes a girl needed a good mope. Turning in her chair when she felt him about to enter her room. "I was wondering if you were going to come up." She murmured, her eyes not quiet looking at him as she felt a sudden burst of awkwardness settle over her.

"And I was wondering if you'd want me too." Angelus murmured, skipping over the sarcastic remark that had come to mind, not wanting to make the situation worse.

Buffy lowered her gaze to the safety of the carpet and gave a helpless little shrug, not really knowing what to say… not knowing herself what she had wanted. Steeling herself, she lifted her gaze back up to him. "So… what happened?" Buffy forced herself to ask as she met his dark gaze.

Angelus stepped fully into the room his arms uncrossing from his chest, not needing a further explanation to know what she was referring to. "I let him go." Angelus murmured, carefully eyeing the way she was perched on the chair positioned in front of her vanity. "But before you go all postal Slayer on me…"

Buffy shook her head rapidly as she chewed on her lower lip. "No, it's ok…" Buffy swallowed. "I mean… it's not ok-ok…" She frowned. "What I'm trying to say, is that I get it… he's family… your family…" She babbled self-consciously, her feet shuffling back and forth over the carpet, before not being able to sit there anymore she jumped to her feet, the urge to pace back and forth to dispense with some of the anxious energy that she was feeling, an energy that only seemed to grow as she felt Angelus' gaze focused on her.

Her pacing was brought to a halt by Angelus' strong gentle hands clasping her shoulders and her gaze automatically went up to his. Angelus gave her a smile. He could feel her strong muscles trembling beneath his hands, due to her anxiety and nervousness. "I chased him out of town." He assured her. "I doubt that he'll be coming back anytime soon."

"Oh… well, that's good." Buffy murmured attempting a smile, not quite sure if what she was hearing was real… it seemed so… un-mix-y in the world of Buffy Summers, it was supposed to be painful… it was supposed to end with him stalking out in anger… that was the usual flow of the world of Buffy. Things started to look good… and then it all went to hell in a hand basket.

"It's more than good, Buff." Angelus murmured, a smile pulling up his lips at the cute wide eyed look she was giving that was accompanied by a smile that lit up her eyes brightly.

Buffy let out a breath, her body relaxing somewhat, feeling reassured by his presence and the expression on his face, and almost against her will her shoulders slumped, the weight that she had felt settling in on her from the moment she had found out that Angelus' Childe had come to town lifting from her relief replacing it. "Oh God." She muttered, in relief pressing herself against his strong masculine body.

Angelus shifted his hands from her slender arms so that he could wrap his arms around her back, holding her against him. "Hey." He murmured, not sure exactly what to say in that moment, he wasn't used to comforting people… but all he could think of to do was hold her… despite the fact that he wanted to say something. "It's alright." He murmured, feeling awkward at just how lame it sounded. He was a notorious smooth talker could talk his way into the pants of any woman he wanted… and yet he couldn't think of the words that would bring his girl… his future mate comfort in her time of need.

Buffy curled her fingers into his silk shirt as she worked up the nerve to lift her head from the comfort of his strong chest. "You have no idea how scared I was,"

"Scared?" Angelus asked, as his hand stroked up her back.

"That I'd lose you." Buffy forced herself to finish, wanting to get it all out, since she had decided to be honest… to bare her heart and soul, and it caused her heart to beat faster as she waited for his response.

"Lose me?" Angelus said surprised. "Buff, why would you think that?" He asked a frown of confusion pulling down his brow.

Buffy shook her head and chewed gently on her lower lip once again. "It's just crazy insecure girl stuff."

Angelus sighed quietly to himself, his hands still stroking up and down her back. "If there's one thing that you should have learned about me by now, is that I'm not so easily chased off. If you wanted to do that, you'd have to try a lot harder." Angelus smirked. "A stake through the heart ought to do it." He said teasingly, earning a smile from his girl.

"Well, I don't think you'll have to worry about that. I'm kinda starting to like having you around." Buffy murmured.

Angelus smiled, flashing his pearly whites for a brief moment. "Only like?"

"Haha, don't push it." Buffy teased mirthfully, forcing herself to ignore the twinge of fear that her happiness wouldn't last. That it would once again be crush cruelly under his care.

Angelus dipped down, his eyes carefully watching her expression, not seeing any sign of rejection he took her lips in his, his tongue flicking out to taste her lips, causing Buffy to gasp. And like any other self-respecting red blooded man he used the opening to push his tongue past her lips to taste her mouth for the first time in what felt like months.

Buffy moaned deeply her hands tugging on his shirt in passion as her tongue battled with his in a passionate dance. Angelus hands tightened around her for a long moment, holding her closer against him, before he forced himself to pull back despite his aching hunger for her. "Perhaps I should go." He murmured huskily, the before 'I can't' was silent, but audible none the less in the air between them. He pulled back further, releasing her from his arms.

Buffy licked her lips tasting him on them, tasting him in her mouth to. Reached out almost automatically she grasped him by the sleeve halting his retreat, causing him to look back at her surprised, but also hopeful… it had been so long… and he missed her… in more ways than he could have possibly imagined a few years ago. Buffy swallowed thickly, trying to find her voice through the desire she was feeling rushing through her veins. "No, don't." She mumbled thickly, her hazel eyes wide and dark with her lust for him.

Angelus turned back to face her fully, forcing himself to move slow and be gentle despite the excitement that was coursing through him at the possible prospect of taking his future mate to bed for the first time in over a month… and for all intents and purposes for the first time when they both wanted it without ulterior motives or magic clouding the issue. Raising a hand he brushed it down the side of her face, feeling the softness of her warm skin and the coolness of the length of her soft blond hair. "Are you sure?"

Buffy stepped closer to him releasing her hold of his sleeve, to hook her thumbs in the waist of his leather pants. "I'm not a tease."

Angelus chuckled. "Actually, I'd say you are a tease… most of the time without even realizing it." Angelus murmured, his eyes looking her over appreciatively, her deceptively powerful body so close to his it would be touching his completely if she just leaned towards him even just a millimetre.

Buffy smiled a smile that turned into an elated gasp as Angelus scooped her up into his arms and her arms settled around his neck, the smile still curling up her lips, lighting up her face as he walked them to her bed. He set her down on the soft mattress, watching for a moment as his girl scooted up the mattress with her arms, as she kicked off her shoes with her feet letting them fall off the bed, her hungry hazel eyes watching him, watching him as he watched her. Slipping off his own shoes, he kneeled onto the bed and crawled over her, his eyes meeting hers once again. His hands came to rest on either side of her head on the pillow. "You have no idea how many times I imagined taking you on this bed." He murmured, his voice husky with his need, his head dipping down to catch her lips with his.

Buffy moaned as his lips caressed hers. "I-I don't… know if I want to know what you were imagining." She murmured around his lips.

Angelus pulled back a little. "It wasn't all bad…" He murmured carefully. "Which… made it worse." He admitted.

Buffy stilled underneath him. "And now?" She murmured, her eyes searching his.

"And now," Angelus murmured. "You're my girl." He said truthfully, biting back the 'my mate' that wanted to spill out to, not wanting to scare her off… not now that things were finally moving forward. To his relief Buffy smiled, before leaning up off the pillow to kiss him once again. He groaned deep in his throat one of his hands slipping beneath her shirt to caress and tease the skin underneath, causing Buffy to gasp against his lips, her own hands moving over him, working over his clothes tugging at them, pulling at his jacket and obligingly removed his jacket, letting his drop to the floor. Immediately Buffy's hands went to the buttons on his silk shirt undoing them, her hands luxuriating in the feel of his cool skin against hers.

Angelus pulled her shirt over her head and threw it to the floor, his eyes roaming hungrily over her golden skin.

She let out a mewling sound as Angelus' lips brushed over her breasts, causing her to gasp, her back arching up off the bed and her hands to fist in his thick soft hair. Angelus kissed and nipped his way down her breast, his teeth gently nipping at her pebbled nipple through the lacy material of her bra causing another mewl to come from Buffy her hands tugging at his hair, before she released his hair to slide them under the back of his shirt, forcing the silky material to slide down his arms until the still done up buttons of his shirt stopped the removal of his shirt. Angelus undid the last couple of buttons that Buffy had forgotten in the wave of lust that had hit her due to his ministrations. Buffy hands slide his shirt off the rest of his shoulders and moaned in denial when his hands and mouth left her as he sat up slightly to remove his shirt completely.

Buffy forced herself to sit up slightly after a short moment, her hands reaching back for the clasp of her bra, a satisfied breath escaping her as she felt the catch unclasp and her bra loosened and without a second thought she pulled it off her and threw it in amongst the muddled amount of clothes that where already on the floor. Angelus growled lustily, before lowering himself back down to his girl, his mouth hungrily tasting her skin, enjoying the lusty sound of appreciation escaping her lips. His hands went to the buttons on her jeans, expertly getting them undone and began pulling them down her legs. Buffy helped him as she lifted her hips off the mattress, her body trembling with her need for him as she moaned as his mouth continued to worship her skin, making her body ache deep inside, her body wanting him closer, wanting to feel him inside her… deep inside of her… like she hadn't in what at this moment felt too long. "Angelus, please… I –I need you." Buffy pleaded as Angelus threw her pants away from him.

Angelus hands fell to his own pants, undoing the belt, before working on the buttons that fastened the soft leather pants closed. Buffy sat up once again, sliding her body up against his, her mouth tasting the skin of his shoulder as she nipped then licked the cool flesh, the responding groan Angelus emitted making her feel powerful and sexy. "You're wearing too many clothes." She told him as she looked up at him a lusty expression on her face as she smiled up at him cheekily.

Angelus rid himself of his pants in a practised flourish of motion, before grabbing her pulling her up tighter against him, pressing his heavy erection against her, lifting her a little bit more so that it was nestled between the soft, hot, wet folds of her sex making her gasp heatedly her hazel eyes darkening further as she looked up at him from beneath heavy lashes. "Not anymore." He rumbled huskily, his hands roaming over her earning pleasant little sighs and mewls from her parted lips as she breathed heavily, her hands clutching at him, caressing him, worshiping him as he was worshipping her golden body.

With a swift movement Angelus laid her back down on the bed swiftly following her down, the ache in his body increasing as he looked down at her body, that was telling him silently just how much she wanted him… just like the scent of her of arousal filling his nose was telling him the exact same thing. Kissing her deeply and hotly his tongue massaging hers, her hands clutching at his shoulders as her legs slid up the bed, her feet caressing his legs, before she wrapped her legs around his hips, pressing him against herself intimately as she rubbed herself wantonly against him. "Ready for me, lover?" Angelus murmured heatedly against her ear, before nipping her earlobe.

Buffy moaned her hips jerking up against him urgently. "Please, Angelus… I need you." She pleaded.

Angelus groaned her words sending a wave of lust through him that went straight to his groin. Beyond pleased that she had said the words that he had so desperately wanted to hear from her. "Shh. You know that I'll look after you." He murmured reassuringly through the husk of his arousal.

Reaching in between them, he positioned himself at her wet and welcoming entrance and with a smooth movement of his hips he seated himself deeply inside of her, his body stilling on top of her as he tried to keep control of himself, the feel of her tight hot walls after so long of not being able to touch her, feel her had him grappling for control over himself. Buffy squeezed her legs about him impatiently, as her body that had felt a jolt of arousal at his entering her settled into a urgent pulsing need inside of her that continued to torment her as he remained still inside of her. She ran her hands up his back, bracing herself against him as she began rocking herself against him, squeezing her legs about him with each thrust that brought him back deep inside her. Angelus groaned, his own hips beginning to move at a less then relaxed pace, Buffy impatient thrusts not allowing him to find the self-control he had been aiming for.

They rocked together, their bodies in tune with each as their hands and mouths roamed. The sounds of their pleasure and their bodies slapping together with each powerful thrust filled the room. Buffy rolled her head from the side her eyes opening to stare up at Angelus to find that he was staring down at her with an intensity that had her cheeks flushing darker in increased pleasure, a loud keen escaping her as he continued to thrust into her. Angelus dipped his head down capturing her lips in a heated kiss, which Buffy returned with rapture, her hands sliding up from his back to bury themselves in his hair as her legs squeezed around him she could feel her orgasm beginning to build inside of her getting closure with each thrust of his hips, and she squeezed her legs around his hips tighter, her hands fisting in his hair as she arched up off the bed as her climax over took her body making all her muscles quiver at once as her sheath spasmed about his cock as he continued to thrust inside of her.

Angelus groaned his hands coming to rest on her hips as he thrust inside his mate harder, all semblance of control leaving him as his balls tightened painfully as Buffy's sheath continued to squeeze about his shaft in an all too enticing way. With a few more urgent needy thrusts Angelus' body arched his mouth leaving Buffy's as his body drove into hers one last time, before his seed shot from him up into Buffy's body and into her waiting womb. After a drawn out moment, Angelus collapsed on top of her, one of his hands stroking her hair as he luxuriated in the feel of her hot luscious body under his and the feel of her soft hair against the skin of his palm.

Buffy sighed shakily, her body trembling from the aftershock she was experiencing. She stroked her hands up and down his back her eyes closed as she breathed deeply taking in all the emotions that were coursing through her and the pleasure that was still tingling through her body.

She groaned regretfully as Angelus shifted, slipping his softening member from her tight depths as he rolled onto the bed beside her. With more than effort that she would normally exert she rolled over onto her side with a contented sigh as she snuggled up against Angelus' chest, her head resting against his chest, her arm resting beside it, her fingers idly caressing the soft cool skin of his collar bone as she continued to drift and bask in the feelings of her afterglow and the feel of his familiar body. After a moment she shifted pressing a kiss against his skin enjoying the silence that was actually comfortable as Angelus gently stroked her back in a tender caress that had her smiling warmly. After a moment more though she lifted her head off his chest her expression curious as she looked up at him meeting his warm brown eyes.

The warmth in his eyes had another reserved part of her easing… warming, a part of her having been nervous that she would be greeted with the same cold brown mocking eyes she had been greeted with when she had finally run into Angelus in Angel's apartment after their first and only time together, but his eyes look nothing like the ones she had been greeted with that night. "So, why were you at, Giles' tonight?" She asked, as Angelus' hand stroked over her hair, making her eyes slide closed for a moment in pleasure his touch aroused in her.

"I was there to protect you." Angelus murmured as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

Buffy smiled happy at his statement, before a small frown creased her brow. "How did you even kno…"

"Demons, Buff." Angelus cut her off. "They talk… and none of us like vengeful spirits. They aren't picky about who they reap vengeance on. I was coming back from making sure that Penn had done what I'd told him when I came across a couple of demons talking about vengeful spirits and I just happened to remember the death of that priest…"

"So, you just put the pieces together." Buffy murmured as she stroked her fingers over his chest, her eyes lowering from his for a moment, before she raised them to meet Angelus' once again.

Angelus gave a small shrug. "I'm a clever guy." He murmured with a smile.

"So I've noticed." Buffy replied as she lowered her head back down to his chest. "I'm glad you were there." She admitted, as she settled back down.

"So am I." Angelus told her, his hand settling on her back, after a moment he looked down at her. "Was it just me, or was there some tension between you and red tonight? She was acting all guilty."

Buffy frowned for a moment, before she gave her head a small shake, before snuggling in closer against Angelus. "It's nothing… It was just a high stress situation…" Buffy muttered with a small shrug. "I mean things were said, but I know that she didn't mean them… not really…" Angelus' hand stilled for a moment on Buffy's back a dark frown pulling down his brow as he held back the growl that wanted to rumble angrily from his chest as he wondered just what the novice Wiccan had dared say to his girl that would make her feel guilty and his Buffy feel upset. "And she's still missing Oz. She's trying to hide it, but I can tell, we can all tell. I mean her reaction to the whole vengeful spirit thingy is more than enough to let us know that she's still suffering." Buffy sighed and shivered a little as the cool air of the room began to affect her sweat covered body as her body cooled down. "I'm sure that we'll work things out tomorrow or something." She assured herself.

Angelus remained quiet for a moment, the fact that she had failed to mention just what Willow had said that had hurt her not going unnoticed by him, which would mean without a shadow of a doubt that what had been said would be about him. It made him want to tear the witches throat out and leave her to bleed out and her dead carcass for the rats to get fat on. But he knew better, he couldn't harm her annoying friends no matter how much he wanted to reap vengeance for her… a vengeance that he knew Buffy was to kind hearted and forgiving to dish out. But he'd remain hopeful that one day, no matter how far away from now. Her annoying snot nosed little friend would reap their just rewards… "I'm sure you will." He forced himself to say and was rewarded by a soft kiss to his chest.

"You're staying the night, right?" Buffy asked, lifting her head once again off his chest to look at him with wide innocent eyes.

Angelus met her gaze unwaveringly, seeing the fear and uncertainty hovering in the backs of her eyes behind the hope that she was showing him. "I'm not going anywhere." He assured her.

Buffy smiled and rested her head against his chest again, only to give a small murmur of surprise as Angelus shifted them, shifting them just enough to get the blankets out from under them and draping them over their naked bodies not wanting Buffy to catch a cold from the chilled air in her old room. Buffy smiled again as she settled herself comfortably against Angelus' masculine frame her eyes closing as she felt his arms wrapping around her small frame, holding her against him like he wasn't planning to let her go throughout the entire night. It made her feel safe and more importantly loved. After they'd made love the thought had struck her… what if he was gone when she woke up… what if she woke up to find herself alone once again… it wasn't something that she wanted to have to face… not after she had finally found it in herself to hope. And for better or for worse she found that she believed him… that he would be there, that she would wake up with him lying their beside her, his arms holding her.

"I love you." Buffy murmured softly the smile still curling up her lips. Angelus pressed a kiss to the top of her head in response, making Buffy smile in appreciation as she drifted towards sleep, Angelus' hand stroking soothingly up and down her back once again as he allowed his own eyes to close. Elation running through him at the huge amount of progress that he had made with his future mate tonight, it was a great turnaround from believing that Penn had set him back a few steps with his actions… not to mention telling her what his plans were her for. That alone had made him worried that she would pull back from him. After all she was unsure of even dating him, opening herself up to him again let alone a permanent unbreakable binding relationship such as 'Mating'. His ears picked up the slowing rhythm of her heart as Buffy drifted completely to sleep in his arms, the scent of their sex and just how relaxed and happy she was.

Pressing another kiss into her hair, he held her tighter against him enjoying the feel of her sleeping beside him. It was such a completing feeling holding her in his arms as she slept, trusting him with her fragile life completely for the first time since he had broken her heart with a deliberate cruelty.

A/N: Ok, that's chapter 8 at last. Please be kind and let me know what you think, all your opinions are greatly appreciated especially this time as I'm not all that sure I'm happy with how this chapter turned out, but I wanted to get it out to you after all this time. And once again please forgive the extreme lateness of this chapter.