Disclaimers; The Joss Posse at Mutant Enemy own Buffy and crew. Disney has a lock on the Gargoyle characters. Yep, it's the third episode of "Defenders of the Night". Enjoy.

Rating; PG-13. About the same level of action you'd see in a typical episode of either Buffy or Gargoyles.

Archives; Go for it.

Feedback; I'm still here at JDMeans@aol.com

Summary; Buffy meets a new ally and a powerful new enemy while investigating a werewolf-like attack.

Defenders of the Night
By Kirayoshi

(Alyson Hannigan voice-over) "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Defenders of the Night."

"I will only say this once, fiend," the monster said in an almost conversational tone. "You will turn yourself in to the police, confessing to kidnapping charges. You will not argue with the local district attorney over sentencing, and you will remain in prison for the maximum time your human laws allow. If we meet again, under any circumstances..." He didn't say another word. Instead he bared his claws a centimeter away from Webb's face, making his intentions clear most eloquently.

The figure spread his wings wide about him, taking flight in the night winds. Goliath smiled as he flew back to his resting-place. His first efforts in observing and aiding the Slayer were successful. But this was just the first salvo; he knew that much. Soon, he would have to shed his secrecy.

Soon, he would meet the Slayer. And hopefully she would not regard him as the enemy.

He looked forward to the meeting.

--Along Came a Spider

"Dawn," she spoke in an unsettling monotone, "what the hell are you doing out here, alone, at night?"

The Slayer's sister gulped hard, knowing that whatever story she cooked up to explain her presence in the danger-zone wouldn't be acceptable to Buffy. "I-I was out.." she stammered, grasping for some quick, convenient lie to tell Buffy, but one look in her darkening eyes told her that whatever story she had prepared wouldn't work. Defeated, she lowered her eyes and whispered, "I was slaying."

"You've lost your Sunnydale privileges, Spike. Tomorrow's Thursday. I'll give you 'til sunrise on Saturday morning, but I want you out of town. I see you here after Saturday night, ever, under any circumstances-" She let go of Spike's neck, causing the vampire to land on his back, hard on the cold concrete floor of his crypt. "You're the vampire. I'm the vampire slayer. You figure it out."

"You mean, you want to teach me some moves?"

"Why not?" Buffy offered. "I do it for a living at the community center. Look, how about we start next Saturday? I show you some basic moves, nothing too flashy, just some straight defensive stuff. If that works, then we can get to some more serious stuff."

"Wow," Dawn breathed. "Maybe I can join the Scooby Gang."

"Hey, one step at a time, sis,"

She awoke suddenly, her hair matted to her face, slick with sweat. Tara struggled to recite the proper meditations to help still her breathing and slow her heartbeat, as half-remembered shards of her dream made themselves known to her.

She stood at the fall of a kingdom, that much she was certain of. She witnessed a priestess praying to the Goddess for the safety of the king's soul.

She needed to know why she dreamed of this ancient king's fall. Why was the dream so real to her? Why did she feel sorrow at the fall of men dead for longer than a millennium?

And why did the Priestess look so much like Miss Lafayette?

--Her Little Secret

Chapter One;
Lone Wolf

"I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain.
He was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fook's
Going to get himself a big dish of beef chow mein."
--Warren Zevon
"Werewolves of London"

The two figures sat quietly in the cemetery, monitoring a nearby headstone. A young woman named Heather Wilkinson had been buried there that afternoon, after dying in a suspicious accident two days earlier. It was the Slayer's job to keep a vigil over Heather's grave, to insure that, should the recently departed suddenly arise as a vampire, she didn't last long. Giles stuck around as company.

For over five years they had become inseparable parts of each other's lives: Watcher and Slayer, mentor and student. Over that time, he had seen her evolve from a somewhat flighty young girl into the strong and capable woman she was today. Facing adversities both supernatural and all too human, she had truly become a formidable woman.

He found himself musing on certain tribal customs, customs that stated that a child didn't truly reach adulthood until his or her parents died. Under those criteria, Buffy certainly qualified. "Buffy," he asked hesitantly, noticing her tenseness; she never liked cemeteries before, and knowing that her mother's body was under one of these stones hadn't made her a fan. "Are you well?" Buffy glanced at Giles, a quizzical look on her face. "I was just asking, because you seemed somewhat unsettled."

"Me, unsettled?" Buffy asked innocently. "I'm fine. Just another fun-filled night with the dead guys." Giles gave Buffy a raised eyebrow, which Buffy knew meant 'You Can't Fool Your Watcher', and Buffy sighed lightly. "Okay, maybe just a little bit down."

"Understandable," Giles mused. "A little melancholy is to be expected here."

"It's not that," Buffy defended herself. "Well, not entirely that. It's just that, well, Dawn and I were talking the other day. She said that while I was, uh, out," Nice euphemism, Summers, she berated herself mentally. "She said that you were considering leaving for England."

Giles pursed his lips softly, and considered her statement. "Yes, there was an offer from the Watcher's Council, for a position in London. I had considered it after being awarded custody of Dawn, but now I'm not so sure."

"Really," Buffy mused. "Kinda surprised. I thought you missed the fog and muggy weather, having to sacrifice that damp chill for the California sun for five years."

Giles gave Buffy a hard stare, but couldn't hide the amusement behind his eyes. "Yes, trading Earl Grey for Starbucks. Quite a sacrifice, yes." Buffy stifled a chuckle and glanced back at the grave. Still no sign of Heather. "I admit that I do miss England, but I've gained so much from my experiences here. I had considered making the move, partly for Dawn's benefit. When we thought we had lost you forever, Dawn wanted so terribly to be away from here."

"Can't say I blame her," Buffy admitted. Giles nodded solemnly. "I wasn't certain that uprooting her was the right thing to do. Now that you've returned, I guess that it's academic."

"You still thinking about returning to England?" Buffy asked slowly, and Giles could hear the tension in her voice.

"Not at this time, Buffy," Giles assured the anxious Slayer. "I feel that I still have some work to do here." Buffy smiled warmly, glad that she wouldn't lose her father figure just yet. She might be officially an adult, but it was good to know that her family was still there for her.

"This is nice," Buffy commented. "I mean, this is the first time since my 'return' that we've had a chance to talk. Y'know, Slayer to Watcher. I like this."

Giles shook his head, chuckling. "We're more than merely that, Buffy. I'm not sure when it happened, but you and I have gone far beyond any mere 'student-mentor' relationship. This past year, with all that you've gone through... Buffy, I feel sometimes as though I'm just meeting you for the first time. Not as a child, but as a young woman. A very exceptional young woman at that."

Buffy scowled at the compliment. "I hope you're not thinking of asking me out, Giles. I mean, no offense, but EEWWW!"

Giles smirked briefly, then continued, "No, not in that manner, Buffy. I tend to prefer women closer to my age. And not ten times stronger than I am." Buffy laughed out loud at his observation. "It's that I simply can't look at you as that same young girl who lived for her next date or her next essay quiz. You have a home, a job, a young girl to look after. And after all that has happened to you, you've managed to hang on to who and what you are." He swallowed for a moment, maintaining his British fa‡ade of 'stiff upper lipped' cool over the emotions he felt at this moment.

"Buffy," Giles started, "do you know the greatest reward of being a teacher? It is when he finds himself learning from his students. And I have learned from you, Buffy Summers. I learned that it is good to say 'no' when those in charge are patently wrong. I learned to stand up for what I know is right, and, when necessary, throw away the rule book." He closed his eyes for a moment. "I am very proud to know you, Buffy Summers."

Buffy looked at her surrogate father figure for the longest time before she was aware of her vision blurring with a faint sheen of tears. She never realized before it was nearly too late how important this stuffy, tweed-fancying, technophobe Englishman was to her. Especially after she learned that Giles had defended Dawn from their father, who evidently had wanted to loot the trust fund that her mother had established for Dawn before she died. He always looked out for her and Dawn. And she loved him like a father for that.

Giles absently handed Buffy a tissue to wipe her eyes, which Buffy accepted gratefully. As she dabbed at her eyes, she became aware of a familiar sensation at the edge of her consciousness. Her 'Slayer-sense' had been triggered.

Her head snapped up suddenly, gaining Giles' attention. "Is something the matter, Buffy? Is it Heather?"

Buffy stared at the grave for a second, and shook her head. "No, nothing like that, I don't think she'll be getting up anytime soon. No vamps involved in her death. But something's happening. Something's out there." No sooner had Buffy finished her sentence, than they heard a bellowing roar, followed by a loud "Zoinks!"

Buffy and Giles exchanged a quick glance as they recognized the voice. "Xander!" Buffy became a blur of motion as she ran toward the sound of the altercation, and Giles followed after her at a slower pace. Xander had agreed to hang back in one of the better-lit sections of the graveyard, on the off chance that Vamp-Heather had made it past either Buffy or Giles. They trusted him to take a newbie vamp easily. Apparently something tougher than a newbie had found him.

When Buffy made the clearing, she sized up the situation instantly. Xander, on the ground, his flannel shirt ripped slightly but no other noticeable damage, facing a tall figure in the shadows. Buffy could see two pale yellow eyes shining out at Xander, canine eyes filled with rage. "Whoa," Buffy quipped, "who let the dogs out?"

The monster snarled as he charged Buffy. His dark brown furry snout and muzzle was highlighted by longer hair and a beard of silver, looking like a strange hybrid of human and werewolf. "Slayer," the beast roared. "I knew you'd come to rescue your friend."

"Am I that predictable?" Buffy asked nonchalantly as the monster's arm came crashing down toward her. Fortunately the blow was slow enough for Buffy to dodge easily. "Not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?"

The wolfen creature hissed and growled some more, charging toward Buffy in blind rage. This time his speed was sufficient to collide hard with Buffy, knocking her down hard. Although winded, she wasn't knocked out, or seriously injured. "Okay, penalty on the play, Gretsky," Buffy complained as she scrambled to her feet, "no body-checking the Slayer."

The creature bayed loudly, pointing a claw at Buffy. "You're friend's not doing so well," the lupine figure grunted. "Your choice, Slayer; chase me or tend to him!" With a powerful bound, he disappeared into the blackness of the cemetery.

Buffy wasted a half-second in anger at the monster, then stooped beside her friend. "You okay, Xander?" she asked as she lifted him to his feet.

"Not too bad," Xander admitted, wincing slightly as he stood. "One small gash on the side. Don't worry, I think Anya likes to rub salve into my cuts."

"Please, Xander," Giles announced, slightly out of breath as he rushed to the site of altercation. "Spare us the details." Observing the cuts on Xander's face, he added, "What attacked you?"

"Looked like a werewolf," Xander answered, brushing twigs and dust off of his sweater. Buffy nodded in agreement.

"Werewolf?" Giles asked. "What was a werewolf doing here?"

Xander glared at Giles sardonically. "Drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic's," he quipped, "and his hair was perfect. What the hell do you think he was doing? He was attacking me!"

"But this wolf was different," Buffy added hastily. "He talked. Werewolves don't talk, do they? I know Oz never talked as a wolf."

"He tended to be the quiet type as a human," Xander observed.

Giles looked at the night sky, then stated, "Whatever attacked you, Xander, it wasn't a werewolf." Xander and Buffy glanced quizzically at their mentor for a second. "Look up there," he added, pointing over their heads.

Buffy looked over her shoulder and saw a crescent moon hanging in the sky overhead. "It couldn't have been a true werewolf, not without a full moon."

The three friends stood quietly, considering what had happened. One thing was certain. They had a new mystery on their hands.

She sat alone at a corner booth, her head stooped over an open book, her right hand randomly scribbling notes, recording specific passages for future reference. From the perspective of the other students at the Berkeley campus library, Tara McClay looked engrossed in her studies, cramming for her next essay test in her World Lit class.

They would be partly right. She was studying intently, but not for any of her classes.

Last night, she awoke in a cold sweat, her heart hammering in her chest. For the third night in a row, she dreamt of a terrible battle, a slain king and a mourning priestess. With each dream, more pieces were added to the puzzle, but the complete solution was kept maddeningly out of reach.

If she were anyone else, she might dismiss her dreams, or equate them to some past trauma or event making itself known to her subconscious. But she wasn't just anyone else. She was a witch, and a former member of Buffy Summers' inner circle, the Scooby Gang.

Over a year ago, Willow had told her about the bizarre dream she had, about the Primal Slayer, and how she knew that the dream was a portent to future events. While Tara had been amused by certain elements of the dream (going so far as to offer to reenact the 'back-painting' scene with her lover), she was also intrigued by the Primal Slayer elements.

Willow had held Buffy's soul; that was what the Primal Slayer had shown her. Indeed, when Willow and the others had uncovered the Initiative's mad scheme to resurrect Buffy, Willow learned from a new dream that she still carried Buffy's soul. A soul that, once integrated with the rest of what was Buffy, somehow brought her fully to life.

Her dreams told her this. Dreams had power. That much Tara knew to be true.

She knew that the dream she experienced the last three nights running had power. It was always the same. She found herself fighting her way through a clash of medieval soldiers, to the body of a fallen king, and the priestess who tended to his body. The priestess, in every one of her dreams without exception, resembled the head of her Wiccan group, Miss Lafayette.

Her dream last night was especially vivid. She could smell the stink of blood and dying men, hear the din of sword against armor, and taste the salt sweat from her brow as she struggled to make her way back to the priestess. She recalled most vividly the mantle and shield that the priestess placed over the fallen king, with a reverence that was both spiritual and sisterly. She had lost not only her Lord and Master, but one who was dear to her heart. Tara didn't know how she knew this, but she didn't question its truth.

After her classes that morning, she holed herself up in the library, pouring over every book she could find about medieval times and customs. The half-remembered details of her dream led her to investigate the British Isles during the Early Dark Ages. She recalled that the priestess spoke in stilted medieval English, but also recited prayers in Celtic and Gaelic tongues. Part of her suspected that was simply because Tara herself dreamed in English, but if that were so, why weren't her dreams in a modern dialect? One particular book, entitled 'The Isles of Britain, After The Empire', was lavishly illustrated, with images of knights and soldiers, and their armor was a close enough match to what she saw in her dream to convince her that she was on the right track. She concentrated her studies on this book, sensing that the key to unlock her dreams was in here.

She turned the page, coming across a beautiful full-color plate, a painting from a forgotten artist, depicting the fall of Camelot. She paused to look at the painting briefly, when she saw it.

She didn't know exactly what 'it' was, but she knew it was there. The landscape, the fallen trees and smoke from battlements and castles put to the torch. It was her dream. This portrait was her dream.

Toward the center of the painting was the fallen king, identified by the editor's notation as Arthur himself. The shield and mantle placed reverently over his body was of the same pattern and standard; a dragon carrying the cross of Christ. The Pendragon.

And wailing over his body was the priestess, Miss Lafayette's twin.

Morgaine LeFay was "gloating over the fallen form of her brother, lover and enemy King Arthur", according to the notation. But Tara knew better. The priestess Morgaine was not celebrating, she was mourning. She chided the long-dead critic who saw the figure in this painting as appearing victorious over Arthur, when it was clear to even a casual observer that she was heartbroken. She did not call out with a battle cry, but a keening wail.

Tara closed the book slowly, and returned it to the book cart. A thousand forms and images flashed in front of her mind's eye, each one more incredulous than the previous. Each one leading in circles that Tara couldn't navigate let alone credence.

As she left the library, she came to the inescapable conclusion that she had only one course of action. She had to see Miss Lafayette.

And find out who she really was.

For the tenth time in as many minutes, Buffy's opponent charged her. And for the tenth time, Buffy was able to throw off her attacker, who landed gracelessly on the floor in front of her. Buffy puffed with relief, and smiled serenely at her would-be assailant. "Okay, Dawn, let's call it a day."

Buffy offered a hand to Dawn, and was refused. "I can get up myself, Buffy," Dawn complained as she hoisted herself off the practice mat in the back room of the Magic Box. "Man, I must have broken my personal best record for landing on my butt."

"And you'll still be a distant second behind my record, sis," Buffy added as she grabbed a small terry cloth and started to towel her face. "My first training session with Giles wasn't exactly a boost to my ego."

"I don't get it," Dawn commented as she grabbed her towel. "Here I am, all sweaty and sticky, while you're not even winded."

"That's because you did all the work," Buffy observed as she opened the nearby mini-fridge and pulled out two Gatorades. "That was a demonstration of Aikido, or what Giles calls 'the art of passive resistance'. Or as Xander calls it, 'the art of creative ducking'. Basically I let your momentum carry you as I dodged your attacks."

"In other words, let them do the grunt work," Dawn said, accepting the Gatorade Buffy had offered her, "and they end up looking like dorks."

"Exactly. Next week, we can start showing you some moves, and hopefully in a couple of months, you'll be able to handle yourself around much larger opponents."

"Sounds good," Dawn nodded. "Is this what you teach your classes at the community center?"

"That and basic self-defense," Buffy said plainly. "I'm not teaching anyone how to fight, just how to get out of a bad spot. In your case, I may be a little tougher, but that's because we both know what's out there, and I don't want you hurt. Okay?"

"Better than okay," Dawn agreed whole-heartedly. "But I gotta get home and hit the showers."

"You need a lift?"

"It's walking distance, Buffy," Dawn insisted. "I'm good."

"Okay," Buffy said. "Oh, and Dawn," she turned to her sister suddenly. "The first rule of slaying is?"

"Don't die!" the two sisters shouted in unison. As Buffy tossed on her blue hoodie, they heard the front door chime jangle. Anya, who had been inventorying a new shipment of wicca books, poked her head from the shelves to greet potential customers.

"Now, did this wolf look anything like, uh..." Willow started as she, Giles and Xander entered the shop, but couldn't quite finish her question.

Xander understood well enough. "Don't think it was Oz, Willow. He was too big for one thing, and he stood upright. Oz tended to stoop in wolf mode, if I remember right."

"I'm telling you, Xander," Giles tried explaining to the young man, "what attacked you last night was not a true werewolf."

"Maybe not a normal werewolf," Xander argued, "but all I'm saying is that, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and tries to bamboozle Elmer Fudd into shooting Bugs Bunny, I have to go with 'duck' on this one."

"Werewolf?" Dawn asked, suddenly interested.

Xander looked at Dawn quizically, then pointed over her shoulder. "There wolf." He then pointed to his side, adding, "There castle." Buffy, Willow and Giles blinked at Xander, who looked at his friends amazed. "I refuse to accept that I'm the only person in this room who ever saw 'Young Frankenstein'."

Dawn smiled suddenly, calmly saying to Xander, "That's 'Frahnk-en-steen'."

Xander grinned hugely. "I was going to make espresso!" This got Dawn laughing loudly, until she threw her arms into the air, shouting gleefully, "HE VAS MY BOYFRIEND!"

"Okay, Frau Blucher," Buffy mock-scolded her sister. "Weren't you heading home to hit the showers?"

"Later guys," Dawn chirped as she ducked out the door. As the door chime jingled at her departure, Buffy raised an eyebrow toward her friends. "So, we still talking about last night's run-in?"

Buffy took her regular chair at the main table, with Xander, Willow and Anya close at hand. It was time to brainstorm. "Okay guys, we need ideas. Anyone want to start?"

Giles ducked behind his private bookshelf, emerging ten seconds later with a large dusty tome. He brought the book to the table, and cracked it open. "If we're dealing with a werewolf, he is in possession of some sort of powerful magic, or other assistance. Some manner of maintaining his lupine form at will, at any time."

"Kinda like the Gem of Ammara?" Buffy asked. The others remembered when Spike got his hands on the Gem, using its power to ward off the light of day.

"Maybe he's somehow learned to control the transformation," Willow offered. "When Oz was here last time, he said he learned how to tame the wolf from a Tibetan monk. Maybe this guy learned how to unleash the wolf at will."

"Or," Xander mused softly, "we're dealing with some kind of man-made werewolf." The others looked at him, hoping he would elaborate. "I mean like some sort of mutation or augmentation process, kinda like the Initiative's super-soldiers programs."

"All of this speculation is well and good," Giles answered as he scanned the tome in his hands, "but without evidence, it doesn't do us much good. I'll start by going over my old lore about werewolves, hopefully find some sort of connection to our hirsute friend from last night."

Willow pulled her ever-present laptop computer out of her gym bag and plugged it into a nearby phone jack. "I'll go online and see if there have been any werewolf attacks in or around Sunnydale recently."

Xander made for the door, saying, "I'll be back in ten with the donuts."

"And I'll man the cash-register," Anya said as Xander left. When Giles shot her a sardonic look, she added, "Well, someone has to at least look like we're making money here."

Giles smirked slightly as he observed Anya at the cash register. "I would advise extra caution," Giles said to Buffy as the research party commenced. "Until we know what we're dealing with, at any rate. If our friend is immune to the phases of the moon, he may also be immune to silver blades and bullets."

"And on that cheery note," Buffy quipped, as she stood up from her seat, "I have to head out. My self-defense classes drew more students than the community center originally thought, so I agreed to give a Saturday class for the next six weeks also."

"Good for you," Anya chirped from behind the cash register. "More money for you."

Buffy grinned at Xander's fianc‚e; listening to Anya talk about money, she started to wonder if she preferred it when she only talked about sex. "Later, all. If I see tall, dark and lupine tonight, I'll be on the defense." She waved a goodbye to her friends, and headed out to the community center.

The sun was setting over Wetherly Park, and the wiser Sunnydale citizens were heading for their homes, before the local nightlife arose. Those who were still about at night had their reasons to remain out in the darkness and danger of a Sunnydale night.

He had his reasons.

He hated his current employer, and knew that she hated him. However, he was a professional merc, and her money spent just as well as anyone's. When she hired him to track and eliminate a woman named Buffy Summers, also known as the Slayer, he accepted the assignment without any qualms. A job was a job.

He hid in shadows, blending with his surroundings like the predatory mammal with whom he shared his name. He sniffed and listened, constantly seeking his prey. He knew she would be here; his quarry was predictable.

When he was hired to kill the Slayer, he started by observing her in secret. Given his physical appearance, spying was difficult, but he was able to watch her from a distance. Within a week, he was able to ascertain her habits, her routines; driving her sister to school, visiting a local magic shop, then her job at the Community Center, then home. He made his first contact with his prey last night, to test her, to get a feel for what she was capable of as a fighter. She was good; he gave her that. But he was better.

He knew her strength, he knew her tendency to favor her right side, and he knew her habits. After dark, she would go on her nightly patrols. She would start with Whetherly Park, then move one of the local cemeteries.

His incisors itched, extending in anticipation. The sun was down, and his quarry would be coming soon.

And if there was one thing that Wolf prided himself on, it was the fact that he never left a job unfinished.

"Hey, Buffy," Willow's voice bubbled happily over Buffy's cellular, "any signs of that new werewolf yet?"

"None yet," Buffy answered. "All's quiet on the Sunnydale front. How's Dawn?"

"We just spent ten minutes negotiating for math homework time. When I hang up, I'm gonna check up on her."

Buffy chuckled briefly. "Remind her that her continued self-defense classes depend on her maintaining her grade point average."

"Will do, Slayer," Willow answered. "Take care of yourself."

"I always do, Willow. Buffy out." Pocketing off her cel-phone, Buffy found herself smiling as her mind again wandered to thoughts of her Wiccan best friend. Her sparkling emerald eyes, her sweet smile, the soft red hair that practically begged for a hand to run through it...

She halted that line of thought quickly, and with no small amount of effort. Bad Buffy, bad, bad Buffy!

Bad, hopelessly in love with my best friend Buffy!

Buffy shook her head vigorously, forcing her increasingly heated imaginings out of her head. She was not going to stand between Willow and Tara, no matter what she felt for Willow. She had no intentions of risking the best thing that had ever happened to her, for a moment's lust. Willow was her friend, her companion, her partner in Slaying, her moral compass. That was enough.

It had to be.

A sudden snap of a twig behind her was all the warning she had, but it was enough. She spun on her left heel, her right leg kicking forward, connecting hard with the charging figure behind her. The beast flew backward, landing hard on his rump, but rolled with the impact and rose quickly to his feet. Buffy now saw her adversary more clearly. It was the werewolf from last night. He hissed his anger at Buffy, a mace clutched menacingly in his right hand. "Slayer," he snarled. "You still owe me a dance from last night!"

Buffy took her preferred fighting stance; legs apart, knees bent, arms loose and raised at her sides. "I'll lead," she announced.

Her attacker howled, gesturing with his mace, beckoning Buffy forward. "Bring it on, little girl."

Buffy said nothing as she circled her opponent. He was large, strong and angry; he had rage and speed on his side. She paced around him, her eyes level and icy as she read her opponent, her arms up and in front of her, ready to defend herself. She waited for him to make the first move.

He obliged her, charging forward with a deafening roar, his weapon raised over his head. Despite his speed, Buffy was able to evade his attack with ease. He swung the mace wide and down swiftly, ramming it into the sidewalk where Buffy had stood. "Yoo hoo," Buffy cajoled in a mocking tone. "Over here, Shaggy!"

The wolf spun around, charging toward Buffy again. This time, Buffy stood her ground as the beast bared down on her. As the mace hurtled toward her, she dodged to her right and grabbed the wolf's arm, dragging him off his balance. As he started to fall forward, Buffy spun around, pinned the wolf's arm over her shoulder and bent forward, throwing him over her shoulder and onto the ground in front of her, hard.

Buffy stood over her fallen foe, watching for signs of movement. The lupine figure lay motionless, eyes closed, and breath shallow and steady. Confident that he was unconscious, Buffy pulled out her cellular, and started to dial Giles' number. She hoped he could help her prepare a vacant crypt, or garage, or somewhere to imprison the beast before he awakened.

Turning away for the briefest of moments, she didn't see him roll onto his back, tuck his legs up to his chest, and suddenly thrust his legs forward. The impact of his heels against her chin sent her reeling, unprepared for his next maneuver. A clawed hand raked her cheek, blinding her with lancing pain. "I'd warn you to keep your guard up next time, Slayer," the beast growled, "but you've just run out of next times."

"Say that about yourself, Wolf!"

The voice boomed out of the night air, reverberating around the two combatants. Buffy glanced up, her vision still red-misted with pain from the cuts on her cheek. Even if her sight weren't clouded by pain she wouldn't have credited what she saw.

A dark shape dropped down on her attacker, bat-like wings spread wide, obscuring the moon overhead. The figure landed hard on the wolf, grabbed his arms, then tumbled forward, taking the wolf with him. The monster then threw the wolf against a nearby tree.

As the wolf scrambled to his feet, the monster addressed him in a roar; "You've lost this battle before it began, Wolf! Buffy Summers and those close to her are under my protection! Tell your mistress that I will consider any attack on them an attack on myself, and respond accordingly!"

Wolf stood up on shaky legs, his yellow eyes red-rimmed with hatred. "You can only protect her at night, Goliath! And the one you have pledged to protect needs medical attention! Your choice; chase me, or save her!" He turned away and ran swiftly from the monster, in a strange loping gait.

The monster then turned to Buffy, silently muttering "No choice at all, Wolf." Buffy blinked as the pain receded, and for the first time was able to see her rescuer clearly. He stood nearly seven feet tall, with a muscular frame covered in a leathery, dark lavender hide, covered only by a leather loincloth, cinched by a wide belt. His legs resembled a dog's hindquarters, and terminated in huge clawed feet. His wings draped over his shoulders and down his sides like a cloak, and a wide tail waived behind him. Long black hair framed a strong face, his eyes' yellow glow fading to reveal sharp blue irises.

He approached Buffy slowly, seeing the hesitance in her face. Withdrawing a pouch that hung from his belt, he said in the softest tones he possessed, "Do not fear, Buffy Summers. I am no enemy."

Buffy regarded the monster with cautious eyes. He opened the pouch, and took out a small container. "This is an antibiotic, for those cuts on your face. They don't look very deep, and the bleeding seems to have stopped. Wolf's claws are painful, but the cut doesn't look infected." Opening the container, he scooped a fingerful of the ointment, and looked again at Buffy. "Do you trust me?"

Buffy looked at the figure that stooped beside her for a moment before nodding once. As he applied the antibiotic to her face, Buffy said, "Okay, you're the first thing I've seen around the Hellmouth with wings. Who, or what, are you?"

"I am called Goliath."

Buffy appraised Goliath briefly, then allowed a slight smile to escape her face. "I can see why. So, what brings you to Sunnydale, Home of the Big Brewin' Evil?"

"I came to protect you," Goliath answered, as he finished applying the ointment. "And to warn you. A powerful enemy has come here, one who seeks the destruction of all humanity. What she seeks is here, near the Hellmouth. And she will come for you, soon."

"And you're here to help me?" Buffy asked. "Forgive me, but I don't get a lot of help from demons. Why do you want to help me?"

Goliath smirked slightly as he rose to his feet. "Young lady," he spoke, somewhat louder than before, "I am no demon, I am a Gargoyle. And a Gargoyle's nature is to protect." Aiding Buffy to her feet, he continued; "The antibiotic will allow your cuts to heal quickly, without scarring. I must leave soon, for I have much to do before the sunrise." He pulled a business card out of the pouch, and handed it gravely to Buffy. "Please meet me at this address tomorrow. I will explain everything then." His wings unfolded, spreading wide about him. He turned and bounded away at a fast running pace. Ten steps away, he leapt, allowing his wings to catch the breeze and carry him aloft.

Buffy watched the diminishing form of the soaring Gargoyle, and scratched her head. "You see something new everyday here, dontcha?"