Author's Note: Art by Methos on Twisting the Hellmouth. Thank you, Methos!
Perhaps it was because he was pleasantly talking to a vampire. Perhaps it was because that extra Slayer sense was going crazy inside her head. Or perhaps it was just because she knew that normal people from the 90's didn't wear brown pinstripe suits with red trainers. But one thing was clear: the moment she saw him, Buffy knew she had to kill him.
He was in the cemetery, at night — always a bad sign, in Buffy's book — in a dark, ill-lit mausoleum, chatting, rather amiably, with a vampire. Buffy was on patrol, as usual. The night was cold and biting, the leaves slick beneath her feet. Buffy gripped her stake a little more tightly, prowling through the fallen leaves and moist grass without a sound, as she snuck ever closer to them. She could see their faces illuminated by candlelight, their shadows dancing on the nearby walls.
"Well, yeah, I suppose you could do that," said the strangely-dressed man. British accent — bit more lively than Giles. What was up with the Brits and vampire-demons?
"Course, bit thick, isn't it?" continued the man. "Actively calling attention to yourself by butchering a bunch of humans — not really a smart move, in my book. They tend to get a bit upset about that."
"Not my problem," said the vampire.
The Slayer senses were really strong, now. Buffy had never felt them this strong before. It wasn't a tingle or an itch the way it usually was. No, this was like a light in her head had just gone, ding! And every step she took towards the pair, the feeling got stronger and stronger. Right, Buffy knew the drill. First, get rid of the vampire — might as well, while she was at it. Then came the witty one-liner. Then the slaying.
"Well, see, it sort of is, if you think about it," said the man. "Because those humans, when you get them angry, they can be pretty hard to stop. You ever been to a Wal-Mart on Black Friday? Blimey, worse than Salem, I'll tell you that."
The vampire scoffed.
Buffy was right outside the door. She was pretty sure neither the demon nor the vampire had heard her. She was about to go in for the kill, when suddenly, she paused, and looked around. That was weird. She could have sworn she'd seen something, out of the corner of her eye, but there was nothing. She concentrated, but beyond the chattering of the Britishy guy and the vampire, there was only the faint whistle of wind and… was that a soft shuffling sound? Or was that just the wind in the leaves?
Not important. Back to the vamp and the demon.
"Oh, come on," the strangely-dressed man was saying to the vampire, looking a bit more exasperated with every word. "I know you might not have full control of your anterior prefrontal cortex, but surely you must have something of a brain. Use it!"
"And why should I listen to a word you say, Time Lord?" snarled the vampire. "I know what your people will do to this planet if you report back to them. Why shouldn't I just suck you dry right now?"
The man's amiability washed away, suddenly, and there was a powerful anger radiating from him. "You know what I am," said the man. "Question is, do you know who I am?"
The vampire's eyes went wide, his hands trembling. "The Oncoming Storm…" he muttered.
"Oh, yes," said the man. "And let me tell you this. Every horror story you've heard, every nightmare you've had, every rumor you've been told about me… they're all true. Which means the question you have to ask yourself is this: is it worth it? Is it really worth it?"
The vampire was now truly terrified. Buffy was trying to jot down mental notes for when she told Giles about this the next day. She wasn't sure what kind of demon the man was (a Time What?) but with lines like that, he'd probably try to end the world by at least Thursday. Which was annoying, because Buffy had a test on Thursday, and she didn't really need the distraction.
Better hurry this up.
Buffy took careful aim, then hurled the stake she was carrying at the vampire so that it would go right through his heart. The man looked up, suddenly, as if he'd heard her (but she'd been completely silent, she knew that) and then shouted, "No!" He threw the vampire out of the way of the stake, the sharpened piece of wood sailing through the tips of the man's spiky brown hair as he and the vampire toppled to the ground.
The vampire, noticing the near miss with the stake, scrambled to his feet, and began running for the door. What a moron of a vampire. As the vamp ran, he accidentally pushed over the tall candlestick holder, extinguishing the candle in a second. It was now pitch black in the mausoleum. Well, that worked to Buffy's advantage, anyways. She knew perfectly well how to fight in the dark. As the vamp ran through the door, Buffy staked him easily. He crumbled, then turned into dust and vanished. Buffy posed in the door.
"Well, he might not think it's worth it," said Buffy. "But I'm game if you are."
The man turned and gave her an icy glare. It was clear that he could only see her contour in the doorframe, but his eyes still managed to seek hers out through the darkness.
"You didn't have to do that," said the man. "He was a living being!"
"No pulse, no breath, no heartbeat, came out of a grave," said Buffy, stepping into the mausoleum. "Pretty sure that counts as dead in my book." Buffy grabbed another stake from her pocket, being careful to tread softly and keep to the shadows. "I wouldn't get too worked up about it. You're the one I'm going to kill, demon-boy."
The man got to his feet. He was standing right in front of the door, the only illuminated section of the mausoleum. It was clear that he couldn't quite see her, that he was trying to follow her movements by sound alone. Considering the echo in the mausoleum, it was a noble but inevitably fruitless idea. Only the seriously well trained, like Buffy, could manage something like that.
"How many?" the man demanded. "How many victims have you slaughtered here?"
"Anything that comes through here without a soul," said Buffy, circling the man so that he wouldn't be able to tell where she was.
"Including me," said the man, flatly.
"Not human, no soul, pretty much business as usual," said Buffy.
The man scanned the area with his eyes, hoping to find her in the darkness. "And what gives you the right to decide who lives and who dies?" demanded the man. "Where does it stop? Those without souls? Because there are plenty of humans who are evil, despicable, and soulless. You planning to murder them in cold blood as well?"
Buffy kept circling, keeping to the shadows. Funny thing was, she couldn't work out where this demon's heart was. So she wasn't sure how to stake him. She put the stake away, and reached for the sword she kept at her waist instead.
"I don't kill humans," said Buffy. "That's your job."
There was a sudden sad look in the man's eyes, something that made Buffy hesitate. It was almost like… remorse? Which would mean that he had a soul. But she'd heard what he'd said to the vampire. If that wasn't demony, Buffy didn't know what was. In an instant, the sadness was gone, and the coldness was back in his eyes. Buffy wondered if she'd been imagining things. She was getting way too worked up about Angel. She had to keep reminding herself that other demons weren't like that.
"Who are you?" asked the man.
"I'm the Slayer," said Buffy. "You know? In every generation there is a chosen one, a girl who will stand alone against the vampires, demons, forces of darkness, yada yada yada. Look, I know this is your big moment and everything, but could we cut out the talking and just skip right to the killing? I've got tests to study for." And, without waiting for an answer, Buffy unsheathed her sword and pounced on him.
The man wasn't even facing her, kept scanning the surrounding area trying to follow her voice, but he still managed to dart out of the way just in time. Buffy got to her feet in seconds, lunging at the man, but he was nearly as fast as she was, ducking down so abruptly that Buffy toppled across his back and landed on the floor a little ways away. She hopped back to her feet. Okay. Not a pushover, then. Focus, Buffy. You can do this.
"Slayer?" said the man. "You wear that title with honor, then?"
"I get by," said Buffy. She began moving faster, relying on her training, her quick reflexes, and the advantage of the darkness to try to fake him out. She lashed out at him again, but at the last second, he picked up the candlestick holder and blocked her move. Buffy retreated. No, that was impossible. How could he block her if he couldn't even see her? But he'd blocked her perfectly, as if he'd known. As if he could see.
Which he couldn't. Buffy knew he couldn't. The man was still scanning the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of her.
Buffy lunged out again, and again, a perfect block. Just in time, too. He wasn't even looking her direction this time, instead peering somewhere off to the right, where the sound of her footsteps was echoing. He was… listening, Buffy realized. Listening for her footsteps. He was using the rhythm of her footwork to predict her actions.
Okay, he was definitely smart for a demon, she'd give him that.
"There a lot of people in Sunnydale who wander around in the dark carrying swords and attacking innocent civilians, or is it just you?" asked the man, with that same sort of lightness that only the really twisted villains used when they were threatening to destroy the Earth (not that he was actually threatening to destroy the Earth at this moment, but whatever. Slay now, think later).
Buffy charged at the man, hoping the sound of his talking would muddle out the echo of her footsteps. The man blocked Buffy's next three advances, then skirted out of the way of a swipe.
"See, I wouldn't ask, but I have this friend," said the man, as he continued to avoid her attacks expertly. "Well, I say friend. Actually, last time she saw me, she said she wished she'd never met me. But, thing is, I'm a bit worried about her. There's this bomb, a temporal explosive device, and if it were to detonate, the effects on the timeline would be…"
This time, Buffy did the footwork for a left lunge, but gave a right lunge instead, hoping it would catch him off guard. It did. She managed to get in a good slash across his right cheek. The man gave a small yelp, and stumbled back, dropping the candlestick holder. Buffy took the opportunity to strike out, hoping to sever his head from his shoulders, but he moved at the last moment, causing only a gash on his forehead.
"Oi!" said the man. "Watch where you're pointing that thing!"
"Less talking, more dying," said Buffy. She hurtled towards him, trying the same trick again, but before she could get to him, she found he was beside her, twisting the sword out of her hand.
Without even a second glance at the sword, he tossed it over his shoulder, and smiled at her. Buffy could hear it thud into the dirt outside the mausoleum.
"Now, I think we got off on the wrong foot," said the man. "I'm the—"
Buffy leapt forward, hitting the side of his face with her chunky black boot. He went down under the impact, and Buffy ran off to retrieve the sword. By the time that Buffy had snatched up the sword and turned around, the guy was already on his feet and talking.
"Bit rude, that," he said, walking towards the door of the mausoleum. "Even by my standards." Buffy could see him now, in the doorway. "Look, if you're going to insist on killing me, at least let me find… my… friend…"
The man trailed off, as his eyes landed on Buffy. He stopped, a few steps outside the mausoleum door, just staring at her. Buffy sighed. This was so typical. He was probably going to say something about how he expected someone taller or more impressive looking to be the Slayer. Men — even evil demon men — were always weird about stuff like that.
"If your friend's been living here, she's probably already dead," said Buffy. "I don't like leaving demons and vampires unstaked."
He still said nothing. Wow, this guy couldn't shut up a few seconds ago, and now he was just gaping like a fish. Well, whatever. She had the sword again, she figured it was time to get this over with.
Buffy wielded the sword and leapt at him, and was actually surprised when he didn't dart out of the way. She held him against the outer wall of the mausoleum, pinning him in place, so he couldn't move if he wanted to. Except he wasn't trying to move. He was just looking at her as if he couldn't believe his eyes. What was he staring at her like that for? She held the sword's edge against his throat, waiting for him to put in some last plea or challenge, but he just kept staring, silently.
It was unnerving.
"What, no final words?" she asked.
The man blinked. "Elizabeth?"