Sophie listened the voices of her salvation. Her suffering would soon end. William would kill her to protect his mate. His mate was a stunning surprise. The opposite of Drusilla in every way, she radiated power and life. It was overwhelming. She turned her head and watched as the pair argued in hisses and emphatic gestures. Their love was so obvious. It was beautiful. She was saved from tears only by her dehydrated state.

"The bagged stuff will do her no good, Love. She can only drink from family. Even killing her loopy sire wouldn't free her. He made damn sure of it, bloody wanker." William sighed. "I can't feed her because I'm not an Aurelian anymore. It's mercy."

"How do we make her ours?" The diminutive slayer looked toward her with soft eyes. "Then we could feed her and even lift the curse."

"You want a minion? Buffy, have you lost your mind? You are a vampire slayer. Being the head of an order might be a bit of an issue." William tossed his hands in the air.

"You love her. I can see it. You want to help her, and I don't want a minion. Can't she be just a member?"

"No, I will not entertain this crazed notion. Yes, I would love to find a way to save her. I want to help her. So, what if I do? It makes no difference. All I can offer her is a quick and painless death. She belongs to them, whether she wants to or not."

"Why can't she be ours? She said she would fight with us and you believe her." The slayer stood arms akimbo and snarled at one of the most fearsome creatures on the planet, the killer of her kind. This slip of a girl, this slayer was fighting for her, to claim her. It was beyond belief and yet she was watching it.

"She is not a bloody kitten you rescued from a tree and brought home. She is an Aurelian family member. Have you forgotten what that means? She has killed humans. She wasn't always cursed."

"No power on earth could make me do it again, William." Sophie said. Both blondes turned toward her with astonished expressions plastered on their faces. "The curse and Penn's education have freed me from the burden of bloodlust. I'd walk into the sun first if I could."

Spike turned toward her with narrowed eyes. His disbelief was palpable. She wanted to laugh at the sheer idiocy of this moment, but her body failed her. The slayer came toward her again. The heat of her body was soothing. Sophie reached out to her and Spike's mate clasped her hand gently.

"End me. I can't be saved. If I was allowed I would walk into the sun, but Penn bound me too tightly. Give me what you have to give. Oblivion." Sophie looked up into the tender face of the blonde slayer and was shocked to see tears glistening in her eyes. "William is a lucky man to have found you. Keep him safe from them."

"Get Giles, Spike. He might know how to lift her curse." Buffy said. Her lovely green eyes never wavered from Sophie's.

"You have lost it, Slayer. Lifting her curse is not a good idea. You can't start collecting vamps. We aren't puppies that need a little love and care. we are monsters. Removing her curse would free her to kill, to feed, to return to what she was before it. Your tears won't move us all, and you know it." Spike looked at them both with panic in his eyes.

"You are my mate. You are my monster and my man. I see all of you, and don't you forget it. You are not evil, not anymore. You loved her like a sister or something. You still do. I can feel it. We have been killing off your family because they give us no choice, but this is different. I know it." The slayer's voice was low and sweet, changed with her tears. Sophie looked at her and took a deep breath. Drawing their precious scents into her lungs so she could speak.

"On the blood we have shared, I vow to cause your beloved mate no harm." Sophie looked over at William. "If her life is threatened mine will be given to save hers."

"A blood oath means very little when you've no blood to offer, Sophie." William looked at her sadly. "This woman is my world, her kith and kin are my clan now. I must protect them."

"Get Giles, or I am opening a vein and seeing if slayer blood is covered by her curse." Buffy looked at William with tears in her eyes and Sophie watched him crumple.

"I'll get the watcher, but you stay clear of sharp things. Do you hear me, Love?" William said with a sharp edge to his words.

"Fine." Buffy looked at her mate and nodded. Sophie could smell the sweet rush of affection and desire between the pair. She heard the door open and close. The slayer sighed.

"You should stake me and be done with it. I have gone to every witch I could find. I summoned several different vengeance demons. I tried everything. The curse still stands."

"You never went to a slayer." Buffy said quietly.

"No, I am not allowed to court my own death." Sophie tried to smile. "William was the only one in the family that didn't look at me and see weakness. Even at his wildest, he held onto some decency. They punished him for it. He was forced to exile Penn, knowing it would mean my leaving as well. Angelus didn't like to have many independent males about. I hated leaving him in their world. He is my family."

"He needs family too. He's lost everything for me. I need you to try to survive and be good." The slayer's green gaze glowed for a moment and she wiped at her tears with one dainty finger. Then suddenly the finger was in her mouth and liquid sun was boiling on her tongue. "I hope this works."

The world spun about her madly. It was sweet agony. Something in her snapped and broke free. She felt the fire of life in every part of her as her gaze locked with the slip of a girl holding her to this reality.