PART FIVE: THE MOMENTS BEFORE THE FIRST STORM

PART FIVE: THE MOMENTS BEFORE THE FIRST STORM

Leijah laid besides Spike. He had a cigarette in his mouth, and an arm wrapped around her. She was laying on his bare chest, trying to ignore the smoke that was filling the room. She sighed loudly.

"Spike, do you mind?"

"Well, sorry pet, but I'm just a bit worried about acting like bait."

"Come on, Spike, it's not that bad." Leijah sat up, "You're going to have us backing you up."

"that's the bloody problem. I don't trust Chris, Buffy, or Anya to do anything. Or that bloody Watcher. They have it out for me. And the Lady won't let me do a bloody thing to them."

"Those were her orders?"

"According to Andy. We can't even touch them."

"Well, she must have her reasons."

"Yeah, and I know what they are."

***

"M'lady?" Xander said as he and Faith entered her room. The Lady sat on the windowsill, looking out the window. She turned to them, and pushed back a strand of long brown hair. She was dressed in dark jeans and a flowered shirt. She smiled.

"Xander. Faith. Hi. Is everything alright?"

"As well as can be expected." Xander shrugged.

"I mean, Andarnis and Spike aren't exactly happy about being handed over to the Power Demon. And B doesn't trust us." Faith added. The Lady looked sad.

"Is Giles..?" she asked sadly.

"He's Watcher guy." Xander grinned, "And Willow's there, with her girlfriend, and my ex is there, but Buffy's boyfriend isn't."

"Of course. It's sad, but, he had…an accident."

"I never liked him, but whatever happened, he probably didn't deserve it." Xander mumbled.

"You'd be surprised." The Lady said, "The Powers That Be said some very interesting things about his death." Faith raised an eyebrow suspiciously.

"Like, a gruesome death? Wicked Cool."

"Well, just make sure they're prepared for the Closing. It'll be hell." The Lady looked pointedly at Xander, "We wouldn't want anyone getting hurt this time."

"Should we call in Deadboy's Gang?" Faith asked, using Xander's nickname for Angel.

"Not yet. No need to bring them in before we really need them." The Lady answered, "Beside, they have Cordelia. When they need to come, they'll be sent a vision."

***

Buffy stood in front of Giles and Chris, sword in hand. She had a huge frown on her face.

"Whatta mean, you don't have time to train, Giles?" she whined, "But-but- we're about to fight a huge demon. I need to be prepared." Giles removed his glasses, sighing.

"Yes, you do Buffy." He nodded, "But I need to look over the Ritual for the Closing, and I need to research this Power Demon. Learn it's weaknesses."

"The other's can do that. Chris can do that."

"I need to get ready to Close the Hellmouth, Slayer." Chris said dully.

"Why don't you to train?" Tara suggested from her seat, "I mean, you're-re both good fighters and all." Buffy looked at Chris, bored.

"Do you know how to use a sword?" Buffy asked. Chris glared at her and answered, "Of course." Buffy tossed him Giles's sword. He caught it with his left hand, but switched it to his right. He examined it, and then glanced over at Buffy's sword. Hers was decorated- into the handle was carved a dragon, eating its own tail. Giles's was bare, and slightly slimmer.

"Are you planning to start anytime soon?" Buffy snapped. Chris smiled.

"Waiting for you, doll, waiting for you." He said cruelly. Buffy narrowed her eyes as she watched him. His eyes were nearly void of any emotion- and what emotion was there, it was disattached amusement.

And then he attacked.

***

Willow knocked on the door to Anya's apartment. She didn't answer. She knocked again. Anya came to the door, a robe on, and her hair was messed up.

"Go away." She said, "I have a guy here." When Willow didn't move she said, "Go away!"

"We were supposed to meet, remember? To get ready to patrol. With Spike and Andy?" Willow said. Anya sighed. She turned her back to Willow.

"We have to patrol tonight!" She shouted, "You didn't tell me there was patrolling!" Willow looked inside, her confusion evident. Andarnis walked up from behind Anya, wearing his jeans. He smiled at Willow.

"We got bored." He explained to her.

"We're patrolling now?" Anya asked, still angry. Andarnis nodded. Anya went back to her room and slammed her door. Andarnis opened the door for Willow so she could walk in. He grabbed his shirt from the couch and pulled it on.

"So, you and Anya?" Willow stuttered, "Together? That's…fast."

"No relationship. I told you, we both were bored. So I came back to her apartment." He looked towards the bedroom door to make sure it was closed before continuing, "Besides, she has a very…Rachel like quality that I can't put my finger on. It's too weird to work. How did Xander deal with her, anyway? She's all, you have to come to bed every two seconds."

"Hey, she's my friend. I'm not allowed to talk about that." Willow reminded him. Andarnis shrugged. He sat down on the couch and looked at Willow as they realized that they had an uncomfortable silence thing going on. Willow picked up a copy of Teen magazine on the table and started to flip through it.

"What's taking her so long?" Andarnis asked, slightly annoyed. Willow shrugged.

Anya finally came out of her room, dressed in bellbottoms and a blue long-sleeved shirt.

"Ready!"

***

"Do you have to leave now, Spike?" Leijah said.

"I have to go on bloody patrol." He growled, hurriedly putting on his boots. Leijah smiled.

"Be nice to Willow and Anya."

"I don't have a problem with Red. It's the ex-demon I have problem with." He snapped, "Where the bloody 'ell are my cigarettes?" Leijah lifted the pack of cigarettes off the floor and handed them to him.

"You definitely need to quit for good." Leijah noted, "I mean, all a demon would have to do is wave them in your face and you would crumble." Spike glared at her. Leijah raised an eyebrow. Spike stood up, pulling his shirt over his head. Then he grabbed his duster from over one of his chairs.

"I'm gone." He said.

"Bye. Be careful." Leijah said sincerely. He glance back at her, before going over to give her a soft kiss on the lips.

"Later, pet." He said. She smiled. He walked out the room, closing the door behind him. She sat on the bed, sighing.

"Please be careful."

***

The Lady turned to look out the window again as Xander and Faith left. She let out a long breath, and glanced down at a picture in her hands.

It was a crumpled picture of Buffy's Watcher. Giles had a soft smile curling his lips, and his eyes looked happy. She missed him so much. She only put the picture down when she realized that her tears were starting to hit the picture.

She stood, stretching, and then walked over to her mirror. Her dark brown eyes looked tired, and her pale skin did not help to disagree with them. Goddess, she was so tired. How long had it been since she had slept soundly? She couldn't remember. But it was all right. Because she was protecting her 'Children'.

But she knew that soon, her sleep would get worse. That soon she would have to see Giles again. And what would happen then? She knew that he had a girlfriend after her. She didn't know if they were still together or not. But it didn't matter to her. She just needed to see him. To give him this last gift. So she could finally sleep in peace.

For the last time.

***

Chris's sword clashed with Buffy's for what seemed like the millionth time. His eyes never stopped staring at hers, and she felt it was unnerving to watch as he never even looked at her sword, but still managed to dodge every attack she made. He was good. Too good. Buffy felt as if she was fighting Angelus all over again, and not just because of the skill. Something about the look in his eyes told her that this wasn't just practice to him. This was a fight- a competetion- and he wasn't going to stop. So she was going to keep protecting herself.

Simple as that

Chris felt her alarm inside his mind. This was good. He could feel the demon in him rising, pushing every part of him to the limit of his fighting ability. It was more of a rush than fighting the demons the other day. He was having a blast.

And he wanted to see how far she was going to let him take this.

Simple as that.

***

Anya trailed after Andarnis and Willow. She was upset- Andarnis had been pretty good in bed, and he was ignoring her. He and Willow seemed to get along well. They were exchanging Xander stories. And laughing their heads off.

"Oooo…" Willow was saying, "And this one time, he tried to fix this tazer, and got all electrocuted…"

"There was the time that he tried to flirt with Leijah, and he was dragged by his legs out of the room by Faith and Spike…"

"Or him making all the girls in Sunnydale fall in love with him…"

"Him and Spike singing highlights from 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show'…" They fell in a fit of laughter from that image. Anya made a sound of annoyance. They turned to her, as if they had forgotten she was there. Which they had. Her glare was enough to silence them.

"Patrolling." She reminded them, "If you're not going to talk to me, stop talking." Andarnis turned to Willow, shrugging. Willow sighed, tapping her stake against the palm of her hand.

"Where's Spike?" she asked.

"He's on his way, I guess." Andarnis said.

He just prayed that Spike was letting someone else drive.

***

Spike had the cigarette in his left hand, and his right hand on the wheel. A stupid thought crossed his mind: He was going really fast. It wasn't that he cared about the speed, about the fact that if he kept going as fast as he was and he hit someone, not even the fact that he was a vampire was going to save him.

He wanted to have some fun before his suicide mission, afterall.

After searching the radio for a good song for a solid fifteen minutes, he shut it off angrily. Bloody 'ell/ He really didn't want this ride to end. As he thought about it, he could keep driving, passing the sign to Sunnydale- carefully avoiding the Welcome sign. It would be him, on his own.

But then Spike started to really think. As much as the whole good guy thing annoyed him, he kind of enjoyed what he was doing now. Mocking Chris and Xander was a lot of fun. And Andarnis had known Angelus- they insulted him a lot. And for the first time since Drusilla left him- or he left her, whichever way you wanted to look at it- he wasn't thinking of her constantly. He had Leijah now, and she was all Dru was to him…and she was sane, which happened to be a major bonus in the relationship.

He cursed loudly as he started to drive in the direction of the cemetery. He was stuck with them now, because of the simple fact that this was where he belonged right now.

Bloody hell, he really hated life sometimes.

***

"Xander?"

"What's the up, Faith?" Xander answered her as he put a loving arm around her shoulder. Faith looked down.

:Do you think that maybe I should have stayed in New York? You know, with Maria and the others?" Xander looked at her, shocked that she could think something like that. Shocked that his Faith, the most important person in his life, was suggesting that maybe she shouldn't be with him then.

"No, of course not, why the hell would you think that?" he asked as Faith shrugged.

"Because everytime B looks at me, or Willow does, or Giles- or even Tara looks, it hurts. Geez, it's been years. Nearly four years since I left. It shouldn't still hurt. I've done what I was supposed to didn't I? I'm one of the white hats, I've turned my back on the dark side- I'm even helping B out. What else is there, Xander? What else am I supposed to do?"

"I'm not the one to ask." Xander admitted, "But if you want to know what I think, I think it's always gonna hurt- that's just the way we work and junk. It sucks, but I would get worried if seeing them didn't hurt." Faith leaned on Xander. She hated the truth, she really did. It was so much easier when she had been evil- when she had been able to just be blind to the truth. When she didn't have to admit to herself that she was scared. She guessed it was partly Xander's fault. He had an annoying ability to make people realize things- whether it be that they needed a laugh, or that they needed to step back and look at themselves. But that was why she needed him. He brought out all the feelings she had hidden from herself.

"I hate you when you tell me the truth." She told him, a pout on her face.

"That's what I'm here for."

"I know, Xand. I know."

***

Buffy was getting tired. She wasn't quite sure how long she and Chris had been fighting anymore, and personally, she didn't care. She could see that he was enjoying himself- and as much as she hated to admit it, so was she. A practice match between her and Giles would have ended to quickly. But Chris, he was a challenge. He was equal to her in strength, speed, and skill.

But that did not mean she didn't want to stop the fight immediately.

"Chris-" she gasped. They both continued to fight. They were aware that Tara, Rachel and Giles were watching them in awe at this point.

"Yup?" Chris panted. He was starting to get tired also.

"Ready to stop?"

"You quitting?"

"I am not quitting. It's just this is pointless because we both are dead even. We can stop, have a soda, and get back to this later when I can beat you without worrying about not being able to close the Hellmouth." They both stopped, at the exact same time. Chris and Buffy were both sweating and breathing hard. Buffy tried not to notice the fact that his grey T-shirt was completely soaked through with sweat, and she could see his muscles clearly. It wasn't that she was attracted to him- but, she reasoned, when something that looks that… well, good is in front of you, it's hard not to pay attention.

Chris grinned, trying to ignore two things. First of all, Buffy's thoughts were floating into his head, and he was trying to act as if he didn't know that she was checking him out.

Also, he didn't want to realize that he was checking her out as well.

"So then," Chris said, a smile on his face, "You really think that you're going to beat me next time?"

"Of course." Buffy said, forcing herself to look away from his chest and into his face, "I think that's pretty obvious. After all, I am the Slayer."

"And you are so full of yourself." Chris snapped. Buffy feigned hurt.

"Oh, and you aren't?" she retorted. Giles quickly stepped in between the two, holding his hands up to stop them from fighting anymore. They had already broken one lamp- Giles wanted to keep the rest of his house intact.

"That will be enough." Giles looked at Buffy, "I assume that you are satisfied with your training session?" Buffy looked annoyed for a moment- did she really want to give Chris the satisfaction of telling him that she enjoyed the session? No, she really didn't.

"It'll do." She sighed. Chris snorted as he put the sword on the table. Buffy did the same, and then sat on Giles's desk. That was when she realized that she was sitting where his lamp used to be. She frowned awkwardly at Giles.

"Sorry, Giles." She apologized. Giles nodded. Then everyone turned to Chris, waiting for his apology. He looked back at them, his face as innocent as a sadistic killer's face could get (which, amazingly, is pretty innocent sometimes).

"What do ya want me to say?" he asked. Buffy threw up her hands in defeat.

God, Chris was impossible.

***

Andarnis heard the engine of Spike's car about a block before it got close to them. So when Spike walked into the cemetery, cigarette in hand, he and Willow were already hiding behind a crypt. Anya was somewhere else in the graveyard- she had walked off in a huff after seeing that she wasn't really being paid attention to. Andarnis almost felt sorry for her- she was one of those people who obviously craved attention. He knew a few like that. Of course, most of the people he knew that wanted attention reverted to ripping people's heads off- like Chris and Spike.

"Where the bloody 'ell are they?" Spike mumbled to himself angrily. Andarnis looked at Willow and grinned.

"At the count of three, you're gonna scream your head off, 'kay?" Andarnis whispered to her. Willow nodded, realizing that they were about to play a prank on Spike.

"One…" Andarnis whispered in her ear, "two…three." Andarnis jumped back as Willow screamed at the top of her lungs. Which was pretty loud.

"Help!" she yelled, trying hard not to laugh. They watched as Spike jumped. He looked completely freaked out.

"That was Red…" Spike groaned, "Xander's gonna have my bloody hesd..!" He looked around, trying to figure out where the screams were coming from. He ran towards the crypt where Andarnis and Willow were hiding.

Of course, when he got there, the two pranksters fell into a fit of hysterical laughter at Spike's expression. He was quickly getting pissed. His fists were clenched at his sides and he had a steady growl going.

"Andy, I'm going to kill you. I am going to chop off your head and then throw you out into the bloody sun." he said through clenched teeth. Andarnis finally stopped laughing enough to talk to Spike.

"What's the problem? It was funny." He said. Willow nodded, still laughing. Spike glared at her.

"Now, when you're really in trouble, and I don't come, you won't bloody need to wonder why."

"I'm sorry, Spike. It was Andy's idea." Willow apologized.

"I know." Spike responded.

"I'm not sorry." Andarnis said happily. Spike rolled his eyes as he said, "Don't worry, I'll get you back. In the meantime, let's patrol." Willow and Andarnis nodded in agreement. They walked around the graveyard slowly, Andarnis and Willow looking for vamps, and Spike muttering angrily to himself. Willow grinned slightly as she listened to him.

It was actually quite amusing.

***

Xander was lying down on the couch, watching repeats of old Saturday Night Lives when Christopher entered the factory where they were all staying. Chris dropped himself into a chair and leaned back. Xander looked at him, eyebrow raised. Something was bothering him.

"What's up, Chris. Been fighting?" Xander asked.

"Yup. The Slayer." Chris stated, and then turned to face the TV.

"I hate her." He stated.

"Who? Rosie O'Donnel? I admit, she's not the funniest person out there, but she doesn't deserve all that…"

"No, stupid. I'm talking about the Slayer."

"Buffy?" Xander asked sitting up, "What did you two do?"

"Nothing, just a training fight. But she thinks she's so superior to everyone…I swear, I'm going to kill her one of these days."

"Look, she's just not used to the way things work now. She thinks of slaying as nothing but a job, something that she just as to deal with. She's not used to it being looked at like a game, and it makes her uneasy. Last time she knew someone who thought of it as 'fun', it was Faith." Xander explained, "She's had bad experiences with Faith and Spike, and I guess I put her through some junk too, when I first left. And the fact that you've made it balatantly obvious that you enjoy the kill doesn't help."

"She needs to loosen up." Chris stated. Xander smirked and leaned back on the couch, putting his arms behind his head casually.

"Maybe you're right. I can't remember having ever really played any practical jokes on her, and I'm the only one who would have ever done anything like that to her. Ever." Chris raised an eyebrow.

"Are you proposing that we loosen her up?"

"With the help of Andy, of course."

"But of course. Have to let Andy in on it. He would kill us if we didn't." Chris stated, "Would she appreciate being soaked in water?" Xander frowned.

"Chris, get real. Water? Come on, we need something slightly funnier than water." They sat in silence for a minute. Chris's eyes lit up.

"I got it." He said, and Xander leaned in closer, "So here's what we're gonna do…"