Prologue

Lost before the dawn

At first she thought it was just a dream.

The mass of swirling shapes and colours flickering before her eyelids, teasing her with the sense of familiarity but never taking solid form. The blonde groaned in her sleep, unconsciously reaching out a hand to try and reach the objects that danced just beyond her grasp.

"It is time"

The softly spoken words barely even registered to the girl, too intent on catching the achingly familiar items.

The first thing that slowly reached her was scent. The lavender smell wrapped around her and filled her up as she breathed in delighted breaths. The scent sent a cherished sensation of safety and security coursing through her body, a feeling that had often eluded her since she had turned fifteen. Her hand dropped from it's out stretched position to grab a fistful of blankets as she buried herself into her bed, desperate to cling to the feeling.

"Lose yourself child"

The voice made her delve deeper into the covers. Only a few blonde strands were left visible to anyone who might have walked in at that point, as the girl's senses suddenly became overwhelmed by objects and sensations that had seemed to solidify out of nowhere around her.

A mahogany dresser, its surfaces still smelling of varnish and covered in photos of a woman gliding on ice. Giant stuffed animals, staring up at her, goofy plastic grins sewn tightly onto their pink fur and the most delicious sensation of sinking into a bed several sizes too big. A slow smile spread across the child's face as the soft sheets seemed to envelop her, encase her in a world where everybody smiled and everybody laughed.

But with the delightful scents and objects also came other sensations that shouldn't have been so familiar to the small girl that now laid trembling in the covers.

Harsh voices seemed to tear through the wooden door and whipped around the room, stealing the warmth that had, until moments ago, cloaked the room. The sharp crack of flesh hitting flesh soon followed making the girl gasp and tears instantly spring to green eyes. She tried to hold back the sobs that threatened to spill over, the effort making her tiny frame shake.

She laid there for what seemed like hours, now wanting the dream to end as much as she had wanted to cling to it's presence at the start. Small whimpers forced themselves from out her throat, as she continued to relive the horror of her parent's arguments.

After some while though the inevitable happened. It ended how it had always ended.

The front door slammed, shaking the glass from inside it's frame and soon after the sound of her mom's sobs began to echo around the now quiet house.

The girl wanted to get up then. To run to her mummy and receive comfort she so desperately craved as well as give it. But she remained rooted to the spot, knowing that her mum would be more distressed with the knowledge that her little girl had heard the disturbance.. And so she held herself still, her body now rigid with the force of trying to keep herself quiet.

After some time the girl heard her mum's sobs slow to hiccups and soon after, the soft padded steps of her mum's slippers against the thick carpet that covered the hallway outside her room. The sound stopped just outside, making the girl close her eyes and force her breathing into what she hoped was a sleeping pattern. The ritual was now nearly over.

The door never opened. It never did, and soon she heard the footsteps retreating back down the hall and then the small almost inaudible click of her parent's door closing behind her mother. She let out the small sigh of breathe she hadn't realised she had been holding. Another night had past, the darkness bringing out the true nature of her family. In the morning her father would be back and they could all go through the motions of being a happy family living in the sunshine state of California.

The girl settled back into her covers, sleepiness now seeping through her limbs as the tense atmosphere of moments before slipped away. Eyes began to flicker closed but just before sleep claimed the girl a movement in the corner of her room caught her attention. Slowly she began to sit up, wariness in her movements as she eyed the TV set that sat upon a little desk on the opposite side of her room.

The enticing show of black and white dots that danced upon the screen beckoned to the girl, hypnotising her, despite her wariness, to crawl slowly out of her warm and safe covers and edge her way cautiously closer to the set. Her bare feet made no noise on the thick carpet, in unison with the eerily quiet atmosphere that had suddenly captured the house. Even the motorway sounds a short distance away seemed muffled and far away to the girl whose wide green eyes were fixed on the small screen. Finally she reached the TV, an arm unconsciously reaching out to touch the small display. A shot of static ripped through her making her jerked backwards and the TV short circuit. A blank screen now stared back at the girl showing her, her own frightened expression in reflection.

A frown formed on her forehead as her breathing hitched, turning to hyperventilation. She whipped round, the sensation of someone watching her completely taking her over. Darkness greeted the girl, the shadowy substance seeming to take a life of it's own as it sucked at the small glow of the streetlight that made it inside her room.

"Mummy" she whimpered, small sobs beginning to shake her body. Her eyes jerked around the room as she tried to find the source of the fear now coursing through her veins.

Whipping her body around again, her frightened state heightened as she caught a glimpse of a figure staring at her from the bedroom window.

A gasp was torn from her lips and she stumbled backwards. The faceless man stared back at her, not moving a muscle as he stood on the slanted roof that resided just outside her window.

Moments ticked by, each second lengthening to impossibly long minutes as girl and man stared at each other, neither moving, fear paralysing one and patience the other. Eventually her body began to relax, tense muscles loosening up as child's curiosity took over. Creeping warily forward, one foot being placed carefully on the floor before she took another step, she made her way over to her window. The man made no other movement except to tilt his head down slowly as she made her approach and again, made braver by the man's lack of movement, the child found her arm reaching out as if to touch the suited leg of the man.

A loud bang had her retracting her arm quickly back inside her window just before she could make contact and surprised she took a hasty step back as the source of the noise dropped down in front of her.

The faceless man was gone.

In his place crouched the pale form of another man, this one smaller and a scowl adoring his face.

"Bugger, almost had him" the male voice rumbled out, almost too low for the blonde to catch the words.

She stared at the newcomer, fear subsiding as she took on the appearance of the man before her. White blonde hair and too pale skin stood out in sharp contrast to the black leather draped around his shoulders. Seemingly oblivious to her presence the man fumbled in his coat pocket, eventually pulling out a cigarette and silver lighter and quickly lighting up. The flare from the cigarette briefly lit up the man's face giving her a view of sharp blue eyes that suddenly turned their gaze onto her.

"Should be in bed pet" he drawled. "All safe and sound wrapped up in your covers" another puff on the cigarette, but she could have sworn she heard a low growl sound from the man. Unconsciously a shiver ran through her, body screaming danger.

She took a step forward, her body now pressed against the windowsill again. "Mister? You shouldn't smoke those. They're bad for you" she spoke confidently, her body's instinct to run being overrun by childish confidence. Briefly she saw surprise flicker across the man's face before a smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth.

Casually he flicked the almost spent cigarette away and she felt her eyes drawn to the path of light that it created in the darkness. A low rumble brought her attention back to the man, finding him now standing up, shadows masking him from her so it was impossible to tell what emotion was passing across his face.

"Is that right pet" another rumbled sounded from the man. A sound she was quickly beginning to take as the man's chuckle.

She only nodded staring up at the man in interest. "You're shorter than the other one" she remarked.

The man's chuckle stopped abruptly. If she could see his face she knew the smirk that had appeared earlier would have been wiped off at her remark. He was silent for a long time, so long she began to wonder if he had heard her at all. "Miste…" she began but was suddenly forced backwards as the man appeared crouched down in front of her window, blue eyes gazing at her, piecing her with their seriousness.

Another tremble swept through her body. "M…mister?" she tried again.

"Did you see him? The man, before? In the suit?" The questions came out in a rush, impatience lacing his tone. Slowly she nodded, lower lip trembling as she took another step backwards.

A definite growl was ripped from the man this time as he stood up just as suddenly as he had appeared. "Bollocks" he muttered. As he started to pace along the roof, she backed up several steps, legs nearly buckling as they hit the foot of her bed. Silent tremors shook her body as fearful green eyes kept track of the man's movements. He was beginning to scare her, the danger vibe that had been squashed by curiosity returning in full force.

Abruptly he stopped, swirling around, eyes searching for hers. Blue eyes boring into green.

"Stay away from him" he said before sweeping around and jumping off her roof, leaving nothing but the faint smell of cigarette smoke behind.

She stood paralysed for several moments, nails biting into the wood behind her and breathe coming in ragged gasps. The night had elicited many surprises for the young girl. A safe world suddenly being revealed to hold something more. Something dangerous.

Another tremor ran the length of her body before she slowly shook herself out of the paralysing fear she had been in. Making her way back over to the window, she scanned the landscape quickly before slamming the window shut. The look revealed no more than the normal suburban California night but she moved quickly back to her bed locking her covers tightly around her. Fearful eyes gazed out from behind the comforter, gaze sweeping her bedroom, locking onto shadows determining them safe before moving onto the next corner. The night revealed no more surprise visitors however and soon the events caught up with the child whose eyes began to droop shut. A tiny fist closed around the comforter before she finally fell oblivious to the world and the pale face that appeared in the corner.

Gasping awake, she abruptly sat up, sweat clinging to her body and tremors shaking her form.

"B..Buffy?" the sleepy voice sounded from the bed next to her. Willow slowly sat up turning on the sidelight while rubbing sleep from her eyes. "Buffy?" she repeated.

Slowly she turned to look at her friend, forcing a smile on her face. "Just a bad dream, Will. Go back to sleep."

The red head continued to look at her strangely for a few seconds but decided it could wait until morning. The light turned off as Willow's head hit the pillow, sleep already again claiming the girl. Buffy stared into the darkness. Distant music could be heard from the dorms above but she paid no heed, the dream still fresh in her mind.

"Just a dream" she murmured. No, she shook her head. A memory.


So this is just a preview, the rest of the story won't be uploaded for a good while yet. Beta now found so hopefully chapters will come a bit faster :D

Hoped you enjoyed

SophH