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Here We Are Now Luv, Entertain Us

Chapter One

The Stranger

It was around five in the afternoon and the rain was pummelling the pavement as Buffy walked, umbrella in hand, down the street leading to her hotel. I totally hate English weather she thought to herself as she pulled her coat closer around her.

She had been visiting Willow and her newly formed coven in the countryside. Willow was now a super witch and people from all around were coming to learn the ways of Wicca from her. Buffy was impressed by her best friend but after days and days of dodging flying objects and spells around Willow's house she had decided to stay in a hotel to avoid being hit by anything nasty.

She had to admit that with its rolling green hills and miles of forests, England was beautiful. It was calm and peaceful there, no need to worry about the impending doom of the Hellmouth. However almost every day for the past two weeks it had been raining and after returning home, soaked to the bone she had realised that it was customary to take a sturdy raincoat and umbrella wherever you go. It was times like this she almost missed Sunnydale with its baking hot summers and dry forecasts. Almost she chuckled to herself.

She hadn't seen a single vamp in weeks and was itching for a good slay. Now that the overall slayer count had gone from two, to nearly two hundred there was less work to do. Faith, Kennedy, Vie and Rhona had been redirected to the Hellmouth in Cleveland and Dawn was off safely studying at some University near Xander. Xander, the last time she had heard anything from him, was doing fine in his new apartment in Tallahassee.

She missed her friends and her sister but she knew that they had their own lives to live now. It had been nearly a year since the Hellmouth was closed and Sunnydale destroyed but it felt like only yesterday to Buffy sometimes. So much had happened since; they had dived right into collecting the new slayers that she hadn't had chance to stop and think for more than a few minutes at a time. She had spent only four months with Faith in Florida training new Slayers before she had been recruited by the reforming watchers council and sent to Cleveland without Buffy.

These last few months in England she had been bliss compared to her life in Sunnydale. It had given her time to rethink her position, work out what she wanted to do with her life. But it had also given her time to think about what she had lost. For seven years it had felt like death and destruction followed her wherever she went. She had lost so many people over her years as the Slayer, her mother, Angel, Riley, Tara, Anya and...

But she wouldn't think about him. Every time she did it felt like someone had a white hot hand clamped around her heart and was squeezing it for all it was worth. She shuck her head, trying to rid the painful thoughts of him from her mind and carried on down the road vaguely aware of heavy footsteps behind her.

Now that winter was approaching it was beginning to get very cold and dark outside. The street lamps shone brightly in the night and the trees on either side of the road began to whisper in the icy wind. As a gust of wind blew past her face she smelled a strange and yet familiar scent in the air. It puzzled her because she knew that she recognised it but could not remember where from.

She turned down a side street and the footsteps behind her increased in speed, following her. Something in her brain clicked into place as she registered the smell. She thought it definitely reminded her of a vamps scent but something was off, it wasn't pure vamp. There was something more to the scent, something she couldn't put her finger on. Her slayers instincts, though less accurate from lack of use, kicked in. She continued to walk as if nothing had changed though her muscles were tensed as if for a fight. She was overly aware of the stake concealed up her sleeve and re-positioned her hand so she could grab it at a moments noticed.

The follower was right behind her now and she sensed a hand extend towards her; it was either be attacked or be the attacker. In one fluid movement she turned and quickly grabbed the strangers arm, flung them to the ground and pinned them down. She noticed how odd it was that they were not struggling, or the fact that they had covered their face in a black scarf. Panic stricken she wondered if she had just tackled a civilian to the ground instead of some sinister demon.

"Who are you?" she asked the stranger in alarm, pressing a stake to their chest. "Why are you following me?" But they did not answer. She noticed the familiar smell again, it was stronger now. She lifted her hand to remove that person's scarf. As she did so they caught her hand and held it tight in their own, preventing her from moving it at all. Taken aback by the sheer strength of the hand now clamped vice-like around hers she pressed the stake harder into the stranger's chest and they groaned pain as a small trickle of blood oozed from beneath the point of her stake. Very slowly the stranger released her hand and gently tugged at the scarf wrapped loosely around their face. As it fell away Buffy let out a strangled cry and jumped to her feet, backing into the ally wall.

"Hello Buffy" said Spike

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