Summary:What If Paige had not been adopted by the Matthews family. What if she had been adopted by the Summers family. And what if she had acquired her powers before season 4 of Charmed. This is the story of the Summers family own Power of Three. Paige (17) the Wiccan Witch, Buffy (16) the Slayer, and Dawn (14) a Wand/Wiccan Witch.

Pairings: Buffy pairing Canon up till BTVS season 7. Her pairing not finalized for the Charmed seasons, Paige and Dawn pairings not finalized either.

Season Outline: BTVS Season 1-7 and then Charmed 4-8.

Disclaimer:I will say this only once as I don't want to repeat myself every time I post a chapter. I do not own either Charmed or Buffy. Joss Whedon owns Buffy. Charmed owned by Constance M. Burge, Paramount/Viacom and AOL Time Warner.

Author's Note: I had a person review and complain that Gypsies are not magic users. If you are a fan of Charmed and/or BTVS you will know that is not true. On both shows Gypsies are indeed magic users. In BTVS Gypsies cursed Angel with his soul. That is a work of powerful magic. In Charmed it is stated that gypsies and witches are sister traditions and it is even shown that Gypsies are indeed magic users when one uses a power and another casts spells.

Chapter 1: Welcome to the Hellmouth

Buffy's eyes fly open.

Even in the light of morning, it was as if the nightmare Buffy had the night before still lingered.

Paige looks at Buffy from her bed, "Bad dream?" she asks her sister.

Buffy sighs and nods, "Yeah."

"Buffy… Paige…" They hear their youngest sister, Dawn, call out. "Better get up mom's gonna be leaving in 30 minutes. Don't want to be late for our first day."

Buffy sighs, "No… wouldn't want that…"

Paige laughs and shakes her head, "No wouldn't want that, would we Buff."

Buffy nods, "Normal routine?"

Paige nods, "Normal routine." She gets up and heads for the bathroom to take her shower.

Buffy gets up and makes Paige's bed and gets their clothes out of the closet. Several minutes later Paige returns and Buffy heads into the bathroom.

Paige makes Buffy's bed before getting dressed and heading downstairs. Buffy enters the room a couple minutes later. She gets dressed before heading downstairs.

Joyce sighs, "Why is it you two are always the last ones up?"

Buffy and Paige simply smile as they all pile into the car.

10 minutes later Joyce pulls the car up outside the school. Buffy, Paige and Dawn get out.

"Now, you three have a good time." Joyce said watching her daughters get out of the car. "I know you'll make friends right away. Think positive. And Buffy, Paige… try not to get kicked out."

Buffy looks at Paige and rolls her eyes. "We promise."

As their mother drove off, Buffy, Paige and Dawn stood for a moment, sizing up their new situation. Sighing, Buffy and Paige started in leaving Dawn standing where she was. Dawn notices a few students look at her as if to ask why she is there. Dawn simply smiles as she knows she is a little young to be in high school. But she blames that on having been allowed to skip grades.

Dawn is about to follow her sisters when she hears someone call out. "Coming through… Coming through… Not certain how to stop…"

He was tall and dark-haired and as he headed toward the entrance, he suddenly spied Paige. Which took his eyes off where he was going as he headed straight for Dawn.

"Hey watch out!" Dawn cried out as the boy knocked her over. Buffy and Paige run back to their sister and help the boy and Dawn up.

"Dawnie you okay?" Paige asks.

Dawn nods, "Yeah I'm good." She looks to Xander, "You should pay more attention to where you're going."

Xander nods in agreement as he looks at Paige.

Paige, Buffy and Dawn turn and head into the school.

A few moments Buffy, Paige and Dawn sat in the principal's office across the desk from Mr. Flutie. As they watched him he pulled Dawn's transcript from a folder. "Interesting, quite interesting. Dawn Summers. Sophmore, late of Hemery High in Los Angeles. Skipped a couple grades, near genius level IQ."

Dawn smiles, "I try, sir."

Mr. Flutie pulls out Paige's transcript from a folder. He looks at it, looks at her. "Paige Summers. Sophomore, also late of Hemery High in Los Angeles. Average student. Interesting record" Paige nods. "And lastly Buffy Summers, Sophmore, also late of Hemery High in Los Angeles. Also an average student. Interesting record again. Quite a career."

Before Paige and Buffy could answer, he smiled and carefully tore up all three transcripts into four pieces each.

"Welcome to Sunnydale," he announced. "A clean slate, that's what you get here. What's past is past. We're not interested in what it says on a piece of paper. Even if it says…" He broke off and looked down again at the ripped pages from Buffy's transcript. Though it could just have easily been Paige's transcripts. Buffy, Paige and Dawn weren't quite sure which. His eyes went wide. "Whoa. At Sunnydale we nurture the whole student. The inner student."

He looks at pieces of both Paige and Dawn's transcripts and sees similar remarks.

Having recovered himself, Mr. Flutie continued to talk while picking up pieces of all three transcripts and arranging them back into their original shape.

"Other schools might look at the incredible decline in grade point average…" His eyes fell on Buffy and Paige "…we look at the struggling young woman with the incredible decline in grade point average. Other schools might look at the reports of gang fights…"

"Mr. Flutie…" Buffy interrupted.

"All the kids here are free to call me Bob…"

"Bob…" Buffy says looking towards her sisters.

"But they don't."

He pulls some tape and began taping the transcripts together again.

"Mr. Flutie. I know our transcripts are a little colorful…" Buffy says.

"Hey, we're not caring about that! Do you think 'colorful' is the word? Not 'dismal'? Just off hand, I'd go with 'dismal.'"

Paige sighs, "It wasn't that bad."

Mr. Flutie looks between Buffy and Paige, "You two burned down the gym."

"They did. They really did." Dawn said. "But you gotta see the big picture. I mean, the gym was full of vamp… uh, asbestos."

"Don't worry. Any other school, they might say 'watch your step', or, 'we'll be watching you' or, 'get within a hundred yards of the gym with a book of matches and you'll grow up in juvie hall' but that's just not the way here. We want to service your needs, and help you to respect our needs. And if your needs and our needs don't mesh…" Mr. Flutie says.

Smiling blandly, he slips the messily mended transcript back into their folder and slams them shut with his hand.

Buffy and Paige still felt depressed as they left Mr. Fluties office. As Paige paused there in the hallway, causing her sisters to stop also, she starts rummaging through her bag. A distracted student bumps into her, sending her stuff flying in all directions. Frustrated Paige knelt down and started scooping everything back up. Dawn and Buffy knelt down to help their sister.

The boy who bumped into Dawn earlier, who was standing close by and had witnessed the whole incident, immediately came over and knelt beside them.

"Can I have you?" The boy asked, looking at Paige. Then he instantly corrected himself. "Dyeh – can I help you?"

Paige rolls her eyes.

Buffy smiles, "Thanks…"

He started picking up Paige's things and handing them to her.

"I don't know you, do I?" The question was directed at Paige and Buffy and Dawn noticed he was paying absolutely no attention to them.

Dawn rolls her eyes, "Yeah you kind of do. You ran into me this morning while checking my sister out."

The boy blushes.

"We're new. I'm Buffy." Buffy points to Paige. "This is my older sister, Paige." She points to Dawn. "And my younger sister, Dawn."

"Xander. Is me. Hi." Xander's gaze never leaving Paige.

Dawn leans over to Buffy and whispers, "Looks like someone could be crushing on Paige."

Buffy nods.

"Thanks." Paige says.

"Maybe I'll see you around," Xander suggested. "Maybe at school, since we both… go there…"

Buffy sighs, "Great. Nice to meet you." She drags Paige and Dawn away from Xander.

They reach the history classroom a few moments later. "This is where I leave you, stupid AP classes. I would so rather be taking classes with you guys." Dawn said.

Buffy and Paige hug Dawn. "We know the feeling, Dawnie." Paige said. "New school and all we know are each other."

Dawn nods and heads off to her class.

Buffy and Paige sat in the back the history class, earnestly taking notes. The teacher's voice droned on and on while they tried to keep up.

"It's estimated that about 25 million people died in that one four year span. But the fun part of the Black Plague is that it originated in Europe how? As an early form of germ warfare. The plague was first found in Asia, and a Kipchak army actually catapulted plague-infested corpses into a Genoese trading post. Ingenious. If you look at the map on page 63 you can trace the spread of the disease…"

Everyone opened their books. Buffy and Paige didn't have one yet, and as they looked around at the other kids, a girl in the desk next to theirs leaned over.

"Here," the girl said. She moved her book so Buffy and Paige could share it.

Paige moves her desk close to Buffy's so she can look at the girl's book. "Thanks."

"And this popular plague led to what social changes?" The teacher continued. When the bell rang, the girl finally introduced herself.

"Hi, I'm Cordelia."

"I'm Paige and this is my sister Buffy." Paige says.

"If you're looking for textbooks of your very own, there's probably a few in the Library." Cordelia says.

"Oh, great. Thanks. Where would that be?" Buffy asks.

"I'll show you." Cordelia replies.

The girls walked out into the crowded hall and Cordelia glanced at Buffy and Paige with unconcealed interest. "You both transferred from Hemery, right? In L.A.?"

"Yeah. Along with our younger sister, Dawn." Paige says.

"Oh! I would kill to live in L.A. Being that close to that many shoes… Why'd you come here?" Cordelia says.

Buffy looked at Paige as if asking her to answer so she wouldn't to explain about them being expelled.

"Because our Mom moved, is the reason. I mean all of us moved. But our Mom wanted to." Paige said.

"Well, you'll both be okay here," Cordelia assured them. "If you hang with me and mine, you'll be accepted in no time. Of course we do have to test your coolness factor. You're both from L.A., so you can skip the written, but, let's see… Vamp nail polish."

Buffy asked tentatively, "Over?"

"So over," Cordelia replied. "James Spader."

Paige rolls her eyes knowing what Buffy's answer would be.

"He needs to call me." Buffy said.

Paige smiled, yep she had been right.

"Trendy but tasty. John Tesh."

"The Devil?" Buffy says.

Cordelia nodded, "Well, that was pretty much a gimme, but you passed." She looks to Paige. "I won't ask you any. Cause with you being sisters with Buffy here, she would have to have rubbed off, right?"

"Right." Paige says sarcastically.

"Oh, good." Buffy put a hand to her heart in mock relief.

They stopped at the water fountain, where another girl was taking her turn.

"Willow!" Cirdekua raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow. "Nice dress. Good to know you've seen the softer side of Sears."

Buffy looks at Paige seeing a similar reaction to Cordelia's sudden viciousness.

Willow sounded almost apologetic. "Well my Mom picked it out."

"No wonder you're such a guy-magnet." Cordelia's tone was withering. "Are you done?"

"Oh." Willow said softly, instantly vacating the fountain. Cordelia stepped up to it and glanced at Buffy and Paige.

"You both wanna fit in here, the first rule is 'Know your losers'. Once you can identify them all by sight, they're a lot easier to avoid." Cordelia said.

She bends down to drink. Paige and Buffy looked unhappily at the departing Willow, then followed Cordelia on to the library.

"And if you're not too swamped with catching up you should come out to the Bronze tonight." Cordelia suggested.

"The who?" Buffy asked.

"The Bronze. It's the only club worth going to around here. They let anybody in but it's still the scene. It's in the bad part of town." Cordelia replied.

"Where's that?" Paige asked.

"About half a block from the good part of town. We don't have a whole lot of town. You two should show." Cordelia said.

They'd reached the library now. The three of them stopped in front of the door.

Buffy looks at Paige who nods, "Well, we'll try, thanks," Buffy promised.

"Good. I'll see you both at gym and you can tell me absolutely everything there is to know about yourselves." Cordelia turned and went off.

Buffy looks at Paige, "That sounds like fun…"

Paige rolls her eyes as they entered the library, surprised at the elegance of it. A short flight of stairs led up to a second level. There didn't seem to be anyone around. As they paused beside the checkout counter, they happened to notice a folded newspaper lying there, an article on it's first page circled in red. The headline state 'Local Boys Still Missing,' and beside it was a blurry picture of three boys.

"Let's not overreact." Paige says looking over the article.

Buffy nods as they wandered farther in. They peered around a bookcase.

"Hello… Is anybody here?" Buffy asks.

Without warning someone touched Buffy's shoulder, startled she spun to face him as Paige too spun around.

"Can I help you?" the man asked politely.

Buffy and Paige breathed a sigh of relief.

"We were looking for some, well, books. We're new." Buffy says.

"Miss Buffy Summers." The man said before looking at Paige. "And I take it your Miss Paige Summers."

"Good call. I guess we're the only new kids. Well along with our sister, Dawn." Paige says.

"I'm Mr. Giles, the librarian."

Buffy and Paige studied him for an instant.

"Great." Buffy smiled. "So you have, uh…"

"I know what you're both after."

He turned and led them to the checkout desk by the door. They could see his office just behind it, but Mr. Giles obviously hadn't meant to take them there. They watched curiously as he pulled a book out from beneath the counter and slid it toward them. Huge and leather bound, it bore a single word in gilt upon its cover.


Paige looked at Buffy. Buffy had told her briefly about her dream the night before.

Real concern flooded Paige and Buffy's faces – and with it, a look of wary understanding. They stepped back from the desk, but their gaze remained on the library.

"That's not what we're looking for." Buffy told him her voice going tight.

"Are you sure?" Giles asked.

Paige nods, "We're way sure."

Mr. Giles hesitated… gave an almost imperceptible nod. "My mistake."

He replaced the book under the counter.

"So," he continued softly. "what is it you said –"

He stared out into the empty room.

Buffy and Paige had gone.

Willow carefully sorted through her packed lunch. She was so involved that she didn't notice anyone approaching until a voice spoke behind her.

"Uh, hi," the voice said. "Willow, right?"

Willow started and turned around. "Why?" she asked suspiciously, and then, seeing who it was, "I mean, hi. Did you want me to move?"

"Why don't we start with hi, I'm Buffy and this is my sister Paige," Buffy suggested, as she and Paige sat down beside her. "And then let's segue directly into me asking you for a favor. It doesn't involve moving, but it does involve you hanging out with me for a while."

Willow's expression was doubtful. "But aren't you two… hanging with Cordelia?"

"We can't do both?" Paige asks.

"Not legally." Willow replies.

"Look, I really want to get by here," Buffy explained. "New school… Cordelia's been really nice – to us, anyway – but I have this burning desire not to flunk all my classes, and I heard a rumor that you were the person to talk to if I wanted to get caught up."

Willow brightened. "Oh, I could totally help you out! But how come your sister, Dawn right, isn't helping?"

Paige smiles, "Dawn will have her hands full helping me out."

"Well then if you have sixth period free we could meet in the library…" Willow said.

"Or not." Buffy declined at once as she glanced towards her sister. "Or, you know, we could meet somewhere quieter. Louder. That place kind of gives me a wiggins."

Paige nods in agreement.

"It has that effect on most kids. I love it, though. It's a great collection, and the new librarian's really cool." Willow said.

"He's new?" Paige asks.

"Yeah, he just started. He was a curator of some British Museum. Or the British museum, I'm not sure. But he knows everything and he brought all these historical volumes and biographies and am I the single dullest person alive?" Willow says.

"Not at all!" Buffy insisted.

The girls looked up as Xander sauntered over with Jesse.

"Hey. Are you guys busy?" Xander greeted them. "Can we interrupt? We're interrupting."

"Hey," Paige smiled.

Dawn walks over and sits next to Paige. "Hey."

Paige smiles and ruffles Dawn's hair, "Hey Dawnie."

"Paige!" Dawn exclaimed. "How many times do I have to ask not to mess with my hair?"

Paige smiles, "Once more like usual."

"Hey there." Jesse answered.

"Paige, Buffy, Dawn; this is Jesse." Willow mad the introductions. "And that's Xander."

"Oh, me, Paige, Buffy, and Dawn go way back," Xander said casually. "Old friends, very close. Then there was that period of estrangement, I think we were all changing as people, but here we are and it's like old times, I'm quite moved."

Paige, Buffy and Dawn stared at him half amused, half amazed.

"Is it me?" Jesse asked him. "Or are you turning into a babbling idiot?"

Paige smiles, "It's not you. You should have seen him this morning. He came to help me pick up my things after some kid knocked them out of my hands. The first thing out of his mouth was can I have you. Of course he quickly backpedaled."

Jesse laughs as Xander hangs his head in shame.

"It's nice to meeting you guys," Buffy said. "I think."

"Well, we wanted to welcome you, make you feel at home." Jesse replied gallantly. "Unless you have a scary home."

"And to return this." Xander add. He produced the stake that had fallen earlier from Paige's bag. "The only thing I can figure is that you're building a really little fence."

Buffy glared at Paige as she took it and stuck it back in her bag.

"Oh. No." Buffy's mind worked swiftly. "That was for self-defense. Everyone has them in L.A. Pepper spray is so passé."

Paige looks at Buffy as if to say thank you. Buffy nods her head.

Xander nodded, as though not quite convinced. "So. What do you guys like, what do you do for fun, and what do you look for in a man… Let's hear it." Xander says.

"If you have any dark, painful secrets that we could publish…" Jesse suggested.

"Gee," Dawn's tone was mildly sarcastic. "Everybody wants to know about us. How keen."

"Well, not a lot happens in a one-Starbucks town like Sunnydale." Xander confessed. "You three are big news."

Paige shakes her head as she looks to Buffy. She wonders if their new friends suspect the Summers family secret. "We're not. Really."

"Are these people bothering you?" Cordelia suddenly appeared behind Jesse, a look of pure disdain on her face.

Buffy and Paige glance around in surprise. "Oh! No."

Paige shakes her head, "Nope."

Dawn looks between her sisters as if to ask what's wrong?, "No."

"They're not hanging out with us." Willow hastened to explain, while Jesse only looked smitten at the sight of Cordelia.

"Hey, Cordelia." Jesse said.

"Oh, please." Cordelia dismissed him in disgust, turning her attention to Buffy, Paige and Dawn. "I don't want to interrupt your downward mobility. I just thought I'd tell you guys that you won't be meeting Coach Foster, the woman with chest hair, because gym has been canceled due to the extreme dead guy in the locker."

Buffy stared at her. "What?"

"What are you talking about?" Willow straightened, looking alarmed.

"Some guy was stuffed in Aura's locker." Cordelia explained.

"Dead?" Paige said.

"Way dead." Cordelia confirmed.

"So not just a little dead then," Xander added.

Cordelia gave him one of her looks. "Don't you have elsewhere to be?"

"If you need a shoulder to cry on," Jesse offered. "Or just to nibble on –"

"How did he die?" Dawn broke in, her gaze going from her sisters to Cordelia.

"I don't know…"

"Well, were there any marks?" Buffy asked.

"Morbid much?" Cordelia was eyeing the sister though they were some kind of alien. "I didn't ask!"

Abruptly Buffy, Paige and Dawn stood up. "Uh, look, we gotta book. We'll see you guys later."

Buffy, Paige and Dawn went quickly around the side of the gym. Once out of sight they stopped in the shadows. "Paige," Buffy said.

Paige nods and looks around as she grasps Dawn and Buffy's hands and orbs into the locker room.

They saw the body at once, lying on the floor stretched out beneath a blanket. Hesitantly Buffy approached it, feeling certain she wasn't going to be at all pleased with what she found. Slowly she folded the blanked down from the corpse's head and shoulders.

Grim frustration flooded Buffy's face. Share stared down at the body, nearly seething as she sees he has two big ol' bite marks in his neck. She shows the bite marks to Dawn and Paige.

"Oh, great!" They say in unison.

Moments later, an exasperated Buffy, Dawn and Paige strode into the library.

"Okay, what's the sitch?" Buffy demanded.

Giles was standing on the second level, completely engrossed in a book. He looked down as the sisters started up toward him.

"Sorry?" he asked.

"You heard about the dead guy, right?" Paige retorted. "The dead guy in the locker?"


"Well, it's the weirdest thing. He's got two little holes in his neck and all his blood's been drained. Isn't that bizarre? Aren't you just going, 'Ooooh…'" Buffy said.

Giles let out a sigh. "I was afraid of this."

"Well, we weren't." Dawn said.

Buffy nods, "I was afraid that I'd be behind in all the classes."

"I wouldn't make any friends." Paige said.

Buffy nods, "I'd have last month's hair." Dawn giggled. "We didn't think there would be vampires on campus. And we don't care."

Paige and Dawn nod in agreement.

"Then why are you three here?" Giles asks. He was aware of Paige and Dawn's abilities and that against Merrick's advice they had helped Buffy repeatedly during her patrols.

"To tell you that we don't care," Buffy stammered. "Which we don't, and… have now told you. So bye."

Buffy, Paige and Dawn retreated and started for the door, feeling a little let down by their undignified exit.

"Will he rise again?" Giles asked.

The sisters stopped midstride. "Who?" Paige asked.

"The boy."

"No, he's just dead." Buffy said.

"Can you be sure?"

Dawn nods, "To make you a vampire they have to drink your blood and then you have to drink theirs. Mostly they'll just take all your blood and then you just die – why are we still talking to you?"

"You three have no idea what's going on, do you?" Giles challenged them, his words tightly controlled. "Do you think it's a coincidence, you three came here? That boy was just the beginning."

Buffy, Paige and Dawn turned back and looked up at him. "Oh, why can't you leave us alone?" Buffy asks.

Paige and Dawn nod in agreement.

"Because you are the Slayer, Buffy. And the only reason I am going to allow Paige and Dawn to help you is because of their abilities."

Buffy, Paige and Dawn froze. They watched as Giles came down the stairs, his gaze very solemn.

"Into every generation a slayer is born," Giles intoned. One girl, in all the world, a Chosen One. One born with the…"

Buffy joined him then and the two of them speaking together. "…the strength and skill to hunt the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness…"

Until Giles broke off, letting Buffy, or so he thought, finish the words alone. Instead it was Paige who finished. "To stop the spread of their evil blah blah we've heard it, okay?"

Giles looked troubled. "I don't understand this attitude, coming from any of you. Buffy, you've accepted your duty; you've slain vampires before…"

"Well, I have both been there and done that. And I am moving on. We're moving on." Buffy said.

Giles considered this a moment, then asked, "What do you know about this town?"

"It's two hours on the freeway from Neiman Marcus." Buffy said.

Motioning them to wait for him, Giles disappeared into a back room and continued to talk.

"Dig a bit in the history of this place and you'll find there has been a steady stream of fairly odd occurrences. I believe this area is a center of mystical energy. Things gravitate toward it that you might not find elsewhere."

He reappeared with a stack of books.

"Like vampires." Dawn concluded.

Buffy, Paige and Dawn tried to move past him, but he pulled a book from the pile and handed it to Buffy. It resembled the vampire book he had shown Buffy and Paige earlier and while the sisters stared down at it, he continued to heap more books into Buffy's arms.

"Like werewolves," Giles went on quickly. "Zombies. Succubi, incubi…" He leaned in close to the sisters faces. "Everything you ever dreaded under your bed and told yourselves couldn't be by the light of day."

"What, did you send away for the Time Life series?" Paige asks.

Giles actually looked a bit sheepish. "Uh, yes."

"Did you get the free phone?" Buffy asked.

Paige and Dawn laugh.

"The calendar."

"Cool." Then, remembering their agenda, Buffy stated, Okay, first of all, I'm a vampire slayer," transferring the books back into his arms. "And secondly, my sisters and I are retired. Hey, I know! Why don't you kill them?"

Giles's smile seemed rather surprised. "I'm a watcher. I haven't the skill."

"Oh, come on. Stake through the heart, a little sunlight – it's like falling off a log." Paige says. "If I can do it, you can do it."

"The Slayer slays," Giles explained patiently. The Watcher…"

Dawn giggles, "Watches?"

Buffy and Paige laugh.

"Yes. No!" Giles recovered himself. "He – he – trains her, he prepares her…"

"Prepares me for what?" Buffy was really angry now. And Paige and Dawn weren't very far behind. "For getting kicked out of school? Losing all my friends? Having to force my sisters and my mom move to a new town because no other school in L.A. would accept me or Paige. Having to spend all my time fighting for my life and never getting to tell anyone except Paige and Dawn because it might 'endanger' them?" Her gaze was challenging. "Go ahead. Prepare me."

Paige, Buffy and Dawn turned on their heels and left. Giles went out after them. He continued to follow them through the hallway as it began filling with students once again.

"It's getting worse." Giles called after them.

Buffy, Paige and Dawn stopped and whirled to face him. All too conscious of the crowds around them, they tried not to sigh too loudly. "What's getting worse?" Buffy asks.

Paige rolls her eyes, "Come on Buffy, forget him."

"The influx of the undead," Giles murmured, moving them over against the wall. "The supernatural occurrences. It's been building for years and now… There's a reason why you're here, and there's a reason why it's now." Giles says.

"Because now is the time our mom moved here." Dawn said.

"Something is coming," he insisted. "Something is going to happen here soon."

Buffy pulled his arm down. "Gee, can you vague that up for us…?"

But Giles voice had dropped even more. Buffy, Paige and Dawn had to strain to hear.

"As far as I can tell," he explained, "the signs point to a crucial mystical upheaval very soon – days, possibly less."

Paige gave him a narrow stare. "Come on. This is Sunnydale," she reminded him. "How bad an evil can there be here?" Paige says.

Buffy stood in front of hers and Paige's bedroom mirror, agonizing over her fashion statement of the evening. Holding up an outfit that was shockingly scanty, she spoke aloud to her reflection.

"Hi! I'm an enormous slut!"

Somehow it wasn't quite right. She replaced it with the second outfit, this one a much plainer version, and took another careful look at herself.

"Hi! Would you like a copy of the Watchtower?"

Still not right. Frustreated Buffy threw them both down.

"I used to be so good at this…" Buffy said looking in the mirror at her sisters.

Paige laughs from where she sits on her bed. It's obvious she has been dressed and ready for a while.

Dawn stands watching her older sisters from the door, "I wish I could go with you."

It was just then that their mother came into the room.

"Are you and Paige going out tonight, honey?" Joyce asked Buffy and Paige.

"Yeah, Mom. We're going to a club." Buffy said.

"Will there be boys there?" Joyce asked with a touch of motherly concern.

Paige rolls her eyes, "No, Mom; it's a nun club."

Their mother ignored the mild sarcasm. "Well, just be careful."

"We will. Right, Paige?" Buffy said as she, Paige and Dawn could sense the conversation easing into serious territory.

Paige nods, "Yep."

"I think we can make it work here," Joyce insisted. "I've got my positive energy flowing. I'm gonna get the gallery on its feet – we may already have found a space."

Dawn smiles, "That's great, mom."

"And that school is a very nurturing environment, which is what you all need." Joyce said.

"Mom…" Buffy said.

"Oh, not too nurturing. I know. Dawn's fourteen, you're sixteen and Paige is seventeen. I read all about the dangers of over nurturing." Joyce hesitated, then added truthfully, "It's hard. New town and all. For me, too. I'm trying to make it work. I'm going to make it work."

Paige smiles, "We know."

"You're all good girls." Joyce looks at Paige and Buffy, "You two just fell in with the wrong crowd. But that's all behind us now."

"It is," Buffy assured her. "From now on, we're only hanging out with the living. I – I mean, the lively… people."

Their mother looked relieved. "Okay. You two have fun." She looked towards her youngest daughter. "How about some pizza and a movie tonight?"

Dawn smiles, "I'd like that, mom."

Buffy decided on the tight slacks, the powder blue shirt, and the knit tank top to go under it. She then decided to put her hair up on top of her head.

And then instead of orbing to the Bronze, Buffy and Paige had decided to walk.

As they left the safe lights of the suburbs behind, they found themselves entering the deserted city streets on the edge of town.

The sidewalk stretched endlessly before them, camouflaged in shadows, and their footsteps echoed hollowly in the dark. They continued along the pavement until slowly it began to don on them that they weren't alone.

There was another sound of footsteps now.

Footsteps behind them… footsteps walking where they had walked.

Buffy and Paige whirled around.

They could see a figure standing there, shrouded in blackness. Just far enough away so that they didn't feel quite comfortable confronting it.

The figured didn't move.

And then they couldn't actually see its face, they had the distinct unsettling impression that it was looking straight at them.

Turning quickly, Buffy and Paige went on.

The figure followed.

"Be prepared to orb." Buffy said looking briefly at her sister.

Buffy and Paige picked up speed. They could hear the footsteps again, sure and measured behind them, taking their time. Buffy and Paige picked up the pace and turned the next courner and went even faster.

The figure kept coming. Not hurrying at all… keeping a discreet distance.

Buffy and Paige duck into an alleyway, quickly assessing their surroundings. Paige spots a large pipe spanned the enclosure some teen feet above them. A cluster of garbage cans blocked the other end.

"I have an idea…" Paige said looking up at the pipe.

Buffy followed her sister's gaze up and then smiled. With one smooth movement, Buffy swung herself up onto the pip, her body poised in a handstand. Paige moved behind the trashcans and out of sight of the end of the alleyway. They waited for the figure to turn into the alleyway and then Buffy dropped don on him without warning, her legs locked over his neck. Throwing herself back, Buffy tipped him over, then rolled and slammed his body onto the ground.

Paige comes out from hiding and makes her way to stand next to Buffy.

The man is on his feet instantly, but Buffy grabbed him and threw him up against the wall. As she and Paige close in, they suddenly realized he was making no move to attack them. Instead he put up his hands.

"Is there a problem, ma'am?" the young man asked.

He seemed faintly amused at the situation. Buffy and Paige eyed him suspiciously, getting a good look at him for the first time.

"There's a problem," Buffy shot back. "Why are you following us?"

His voice was calm. Matter of fact. "I know what you're both thinking, but don't worry. I don't bite."

It was at all what Buffy or Paige expected to hear. They took a step back from him, their faces perplexed.

"Truth is, I thought you'd be taller," the young man went on as he addressed Buffy. "Or bigger, muscles and all that. You're pretty spry, though."

Buffy rolls her eyes and looks at Paige, "Really someone is always making fun of my height."

"What do you want?" Paige demanded.

"Same thing you two do."

"Okay, what do we want?" Buffy asks.

The amusement left his face.

"To kill 'em. To kill 'em all."

Buffy and Paige both felt a split second of surprise. "Sorry!" Buffy announced, doing her best impression of a game-show host. "That's incorrect but you do get this lovely watch and a year's worth of Turtle Wax what we want… is to be left alone."

Paige nods, "Yeah."

He gazed at Buffy and Paige steadily. "Do either of you really think that's an option anymore? You're standing at the mouth of Hell. And it's about to open."

Slowly he reached into his coat. When he withdrew his hand again, he was holding what appeared to be three small fort of jewelry boxes.

"Don't turn your back on this," he warned, throwing one box to Paige and the other two to Buffy. "You've got to be ready."

Buffy's chin lifted defiantly, "What for?"

"For the Harvest."

He turned from them then and started back the way he'd come. Paige called out after him.

"Who are you?"

"Let's just say I'm a friend." He said quietly.

"Well, maybe we don't want a friend." Buffy answered, exasperated.

His smiled was strangely secretive. "I didn't say I was either of yours…"

Buffy and Paige watched him go. They saw his shadow fade into all the other shadows, and then they carefully opened the boxes.

There were three crosses one in each box. One each for Buffy, Paige and Dawn.

Buffy rolls her eyes as she fingers the Carolingian cross around her neck, the symbol of her and her sisters.

A good size crowd milled aimlessly around the Bronze.

Paige and Buffy moved their way up the line, scanning about for a familiar face. There was no one here they recognized. Inside, the place was dark and noisy and absolutely packed.

Buffy and Paige pushed their way through, still looking around for someone they knew. They were relieved when they finally spotted Willow at the bar. The girl was shyly ordering a soda, and Buffy and Paige hurried over to join her.

"Hi!" Buffy smiled.

"Oh, hi!" Willow locked surprised and pleased at the same time. And very out of place in her Peter Pan collar and sweater. "Hi."

"Are you here with someone?" Paige asks.

"No, I'm just here. I thought Xander was gonna show up…" Willow replied

"Oh, are you guys going out?" Buffy asked.

"No. We're just friends." Willow thought a moment, then added, "We used to go out, but we broke up."

"How come?" Paige asks.

"He stole my Barbie." As Buffy and Paige gave her a strange look, Willow explained, "We were five."

"Oh." Buffy and Paige say.

"I don't actually date a whole lot… lately." Willow said.

"Why not?" Buffy asks.

"Well, when I'm with a boy I like, it's hard for me to say anything cool, or witty, or at all… I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away."

Buffy couldn't help laughing. "It's not that bad."

"It is. I think boys are more interested in a girl who can talk."

"You really haven't been dating lately." Paige said.

"It's probably easy for you two."

"Oh, yeah," Buffy nodded a little forlornly. "Real easy."

Paige rolls her eyes, "Says the person who had Pike fawning over her."

"I mean, you two don't seem too shy." Willow said.

Buffy glares at Paige, "Pike doesn't count and you know it. He was just a friend." She looks back at Willow. "Well, my philosophy is –" She broke off. "Do you wanna hear my philosophy?"

"I do," Willow said eagerly.

"Life is short."

Willow fixed the sisters with a steady gaze. "Life is short."

"Not original, I'll grant you," Buffy shrugged. "But it's true. Why waste time being all shy? Why worry about some guy and if he's gonna laugh at you? You know? Seize the moment. 'Cause tomorrow you might be dead."

Paige rolls her eyes.

"Oh…" Willow said. "That's nice… Hey do you guys mind if I ask you something?"

Paige nods, "Shoot."

"You guys are sisters, right. You don't look much alike though." Willow says.

Paige sighs, "That's because I'm adopted. I was born 7 months before Buffy."

Buffy's glance went quickly around the crowds. As she spotted someone moving about on the balcony above them, her brow creased in a frown. She nudges Paige who follows her gaze. Paige nods indicating she's seen him.

"Uh, we'll be back in a minute." Buffy promised.

"That's okay," Willow assured them. "You don't have to come back."

Smiling at their friends self-effacing attitude, Buffy said again, more firmly this time, "We'll be back in a minute."

It didn't take Buffy and Paige long to find the stairs. They pushed their way up and onto the balcony, then managed at last to squeeze next to the railing that overlooked the stage. Buffy and Paige leaned there on either side of him trying to appear casual, not even looking at Giles, who came to stand just as casually between them.

"So, you like to party with the students?" Buffy teased him. "Isn't that kind of skanky?"

Giles's tone was withering. "Right. This is me having fun." He continued to gaze down upon the stage. "Watching clown-hair prance about is hardly my idea of a party. I'd much prefer to be home with a cup of bovril and a good book."

Paige rolled her eyes, "You need a personality, stat."

"This is a perfect breeding ground for vampire activity," Giles admonished them. "Dark, crowded… Besides, I knew you both were likely to show up. And I have to make you understand…"

"That the Harvest is coming, we know, your friend told us." Buffy says.

Giles seemed completely thrown off by this remark. He shot Buffy an anxious glance. "What did you say?"

"The… Harvest," Buffy said carefully. "That means something to you? 'Cause I'm drawing a blank. What about you Paige?"

Paige nods, "Drawing a blank also. Probably need to get Dawn researching it."

"I'm not sure… Who told you this?" Giles said.

"This guy." Buffy could still see him in her mind, could still recall their confrontation in the alley. "Dark, gorgeous in an annoying sort of way. I figured you were buds."

"No…" Giles mumbled, frowning. "The Harvest… Did he say anything else?"

"Something about the mouth of Hell." Paige replies.

Buffy nods, "I really didn't like him."

All three of them were staring out over the floor now at the kids dancing and parying to the loud rhythm of the band.

"Look at them," Giles tone bordered on annoyance. "Throwing themselves about…. Completely unaware of the danger that surrounds them."

"Lucky them…" Paige and Buffy say.

"Or perhaps you're both right," Giles conceded. "Perhaps there is no trouble coming. The signs could be wrong. It's not as though you're having the nightmares…"

Buffy looks at Paige, her eyes wide. She had told no one other than Paige about the dreams. Not even, Dawn. She says nothing, as she looks back down at the dancing kids.

"I didn't say I'd never slay another vampire," Buffy tried to rationalize. "I'm just not gonna get way extracurricular with it. If I run into one, sure…"

Paige nods in agreement, "Ditto."

"But will you be ready?" Giles asks earnestly. "Especially with your sisters helping you, will you be ready in time to protect them? There's so much you don't know, about them and about your own powers. A vampire appears to be a normal person, until the feed is upon them. Only then do they reveal their true demonic visage."

"You're like a textbook with arms!" Buffy exploded. "I know this!"

Giles chose to ignore Buffy's outburst. "The point is, a Slayer should be able to see them anyway. Without looking, without thinking. Can you tell me if there's a vampire in this building?"

Buffy looks at Paige and sighs, "Maybe?"

"You should know! Even through this mass and this din you should be able to sense them." Giles drew a breath, his voice encouraging. "Try. Reach out with your mind."

Buffy and Paige looked down at the mass of swinging, swaying bodies. Slowly they furrowed their brow.

"You have to hone your senses," Giles instructed Buffy. "Focus until the energy washes over you, till you can feel every particle of…"

"There's one." Buffy said quickly.

Paige follows Buffy's gaze and nods. "Yep there's one."

Giles stopped. He peered down over the railing completely nonplussed. "What? Where?"

Pointing, Buffy tried to show him. "Down there. Talking to that girl."

In one far corner stood a good-looking young man. He was talking to a girl, but from where they were standing, neither Giles nor Buffy and Paige could really get a good look at her.

Giles casts a doubtful look at Buffy then Paige. "But you don't know…" he began, while Buffy vehemently interrupted.

"Oh, please. Look at his jacket. He's got the sleeves rolled up. And the shirt… Deal with that outfit for a moment. Even Paige here could tell you he's a vampire."

Giles looks to Paige who nods in agreement. He looks back to Buffy, "It's dated?"

"It's carbon dated! Trust me: only someone who's been living underground for ten years would think that was the look." Buffy said.

Paige nods, "Yeah I would say that look went out of style at least 20 years ago."

"But… you didn't hone…"

Buffy and scarcely heard him. She leaned farther out over the balcony and murmured, "Oh, no… Paige!"

Paige follows Buffy's gaze back to the vampire and sees the girl.

The vampire was still chatting with the girl in the corner. Only new he was motioning her to come with him, and as she finally stepped into view, a sick feeling of dread rose in the of Buffy and Paige's stomachs.

"Isn't that…" Giles began.

"Willow." Buffy and Paige say.

"What is she doing?"

"Taking Buffy's advice. Seizing the moment." Paige threw back at him as she and Buffy started for the stairs.

For one brief instant Buffy and Paige caught a glimpse of them – the vampire and Willow – moving toward the back door near the stage. They fought their way down the steps and through the mobs across the floor, but when they looked again, Willow had disappeared. Worried, Buffy and Paige scanned the room. Buffy looked to Paige, "Where?"

Paige looks around and then, guessing correctly, "Backstage?"

They then head for the backstage door.

The closer they got to the stage, the more crowded it seemed to grow. In frustration, they finally managed to wrestle through the rest of the way and shove open the door.

The shock of the the darkness took Buffy and Paige by surprise, but only for a second. It was empty backstage, cool and strangely muffled. There was no one about, and Buffy and Paige moved slowly, caustiously, along the postered brick walls, ready for anything. They passed an old chair propped in a chorner and on impulse, Buffy snapped off one of its legs, holding it close to her like a makeshift stake.

Paige rolls her eyes, "I had a stake, Buffy."

Buffy looks back at her sister and shrugs.

After the noise and crush of bodies inside the club, the place seemed vast and mysterious. At last they found the exit door. It opened into an alley, but this, too was deserted, and with a growing sense of danger Buffy and Paige headed back for the main door.

They didn't expect him to be there as they turned the corner.

With lightning speed Buffy grabbed the shadowy figure, threw him up against the wall, then held him there, two feet of the ground.

Paige stared fiercely into the vampire's face… And realized the person wasn't a vampire. "Buffy! It's Cordelia."

"Excuse me… could you be any weirder?" Cordelia bursts out. "Is there a more weirdness that you could have?"

Sheepishly, Buffy let the girl down and lowered the stake discreetly to her side.

"God," Cordelia sneered. "What is your childhood trauma?"

Buffy tried to recover herself. She faked a cheerful expression and asked brightly, "Did you guys see Willow? Did she come by here?"

"Why?" Cordelia shot back. "Did you need to attack her with a stick?"

With a red face and shaken nerves, Buffy quickly retreated. Paige smiles at Cordelia and then follows after Buffy.

Buffy and Paige hurried back to the stage door and let themselves into the club. They spotted Giles at once, waiting for them at the foor of the stairs, and they went over to join him.

"That was fast." Giles looked relieved. "Well done. I'd best go to the library. This 'Harvest' is…"

"We didn't find them." Buffy said, hers and Paige's frustrated glances going around the room.

Giles stared at the sisters as though he'd misunderstood. "The vampire's not dead?"

"No, but our social life is on the critical list." Buffy said.

"What do we do?" Giles asks.

"You go on. We'll take care of it." Paige said.

"I should come with you, no?" Giles offered, but Buffy and Paige shook their heads at him and started off again through the crowds.

"Don't worry," Buffy said. "One vampire I can handle. Besides I have Paige with me. She's the only backup I need."

Buffy and Paige couldn't find Willow anywhere.

With growing anxiety, they hurried around from the back of the club and saw Xander coming down the sidewalk, his skateboard tucked under one arm.

"You're leaving already?" Xander asked, but neither Buffy nor Paige was in the mood for chatting.

"Xander, have you seen Willow?" Paige asks.

"Not tonight."

"We need to find her. She left with a guy." Buffy said.

"We are talking about Willow, right?" Xander sounded impressed. "Scoring at the Bronze. Work it, girlfriend."

Buffy and Paige was oblivious to his humor. "Where would they go?" Paige asked.

"Why, you know something about Mr. Goodbar that she doesn't?" Xander pretendend to have a sudden brainstorm and rubbed his hands together. "Oh! Hey. I hope he's not a vampire. 'Cause then Buffy'd have to slay him."

This time he got Buffy and Paige's full attention. With a look of surprise – and undisguised annoyance – they turned back to stare at him.

"Was there a school bulletin? Was it in the news? Is there anybody in this town who doesn't know I'm a Slayer?" Buffy said.

"I only know that you think you're a Slayer, and I only know that because I was in the library today."

"Whatever." Buffy was as well as Paige was painfully aware of the passing of time. "Just tell us where Willow would go."

"You're serious." Xander said.

"We don't find her, there's gonna be another dead body in the morning." Paige said.

Xander hesitated, studying Buffy and Paige's solemn expressions. It dawned on him they weren't kidding. That they were, in fact, very dead serious. "Come on."

Paige shakes her head, "I have a quicker way. Just tell me where."

Xander shakes his head, "Not without me."

Paige sighs and looks at Buffy.

"We don't have time, Paige." Buffy says. "Xander you have to promise what you're about to see you will not tell anyone."

Xander frowns, "Why?" Paige and Buffy glare at him. "Alright, I promise." He tells them where Willow is likely to go.

Paige grabs Buffy and Xander's hands. She makes sure no one is watching and she orbs.

Willow stumbled into a mausoleum, terrified. She couldn't see a thing and she blinked rapidly, trying to adjust her eyes to the dark. After several agonizing seconds, she was able to make out a small room with carved stone walls. A huge tomb took up most of the center.

Willow spun around. She could see her date now, his silhouette filling the entrance to the mausoleum, blocking her escape. Her heart thudded frantically in her ears.

"That wasn't funny." Willow tried to sound calm and in control, but her voice was dangerously close to tears.

The boy didn't respond. Instead he stepped closer, his bathed in shadows. Willow circled away from him, trying to get closer to the door.

"I think I'm gonna go," Willow told him.

"Is that what you think?"

There was no playfulness in his voice. Willow heard the danger there and instinctively took a step back, and then another. And then she turned and squaled as she ran straight into Darla.

Darla seemed to be appraising the situation. She looked first at Willow and then at Willow's date.

"Is this the best you could do?" Darla asked him.

The boy's voice sounded slightly defensive. "She's fresh."

"Hardly enough to share." Darla returned, walking casually down the steps and across the floor.

"Why didn't you bring your own?"

"I did."

Darla indicated the doorway just behind her. As Willow watched in fearful confusion, a very dazed Jesse stumbled in.

"Hey, wait up…" Jesse called to Darla.

"Jesse!" Willow hurried over to him, relieved. He was clutching his neck and looked slightly feverish. In truth, he didn't seem particularly aware that Willow was even there.

"I think you gave me a hickey…" Again he spoke to Darla, who pointedly ignored him.

Willow watched as Jesses took his hand from his neck. She could see blood on his fingers, blood on his through. She gazed at him for a moment in disbelief, then looked at the other two figured behind her, her eyes going wide.

"I got hungry on the way." Darla shrugged.

Willow took hold of Jesse, pulling desperately on his arms. "Jesse, let's get out of here."

"You're not going anywhere." Darla informed Willow.

"Leave us alone." Willow tried to sound forceful, but Darla advanced on her so swiftly that she didn't even have time to back away.

"You're not going anywhere," Darla muttered, "until we've FED!"

As she spat out the last word, she thrust her face right into Willow's. And before Willow's horrified eyes, Darla's face began to change – to shift and slither into something grotesque – rotting skin, teeth gleaming razor sharp, a grin that was as ravenous as it was evil –

Willow screamed. She stumbled backward and fell. Through a haze of terror she could see her date laughing now, circling her slowly, his predator's face every bit as hideous and repulsive as the girl's had been.

Willow knew she was going to die. She watched as the creatures closed in on her, knifelike fingernails reaching out, mouths drooiling, eyes glistening hungrily. When the voice suddenly spoke out behind them, she thought at first that it wasn't – couldn't possibly be – real.

"Well, this is nice." The voice said pleasantly.

Buffy stepped into the room with Xander and Paige following.

Everybody froze.

"A little bare," Buffy observed, running one hand across the dusty tomb, "but a dash of paint, a few throw pillows – call it home."

"Who the hell are you?" Darla growled.

Buffy looks at Paige, "Wow, there's actually somebody around here who doesn't know already."

Paige smiles, "That's a relief."

Buffy nods, "I'm telling you, having a secret identity in this town is a job of work."

"Yeah it is." Paige says.

As Buffy and Paige held their attention, Xander moved in between the two vampires. Nothing had quite prepared the creatures for this unexpected turn of events, and they slowly loosened their grips on Willow and Jesse.

"Buffy, Paige, we bail now, right?" Xander prompted but Willow's date had manage to recover himself a little.

"Not yet," he snarled.

"Okay, first of all, what's with this outfit?" Buffy baited him. "Live in the now, okay? You look like DeBarge." Then turning to Darla, she added, completely unperturbed, "Now, we can do this the hard way, or… well, actually, there's just the hard way."

Darla stood her ground. "Fine with me."

Paige smirks, "You sure? It's not gonna be pretty."

Buffy nods in agreement, "We're talking violence, strong language, adult content."

Even as Buffy and Paige spoke, Willow's date rushed them from behind, charing with lighning speed. With one graceful motion, Buffy whipped a stake out from beneath her jacket and stuck it out behind her. There was a dull puncture sound as the creature impaled himself. He stopped, eyes round with surprise, and then he thudded to the floor.

Buffy and Paige never even looked at him.

As he hit the ground, his body crumbled to dust.

"See what happens when you roughhouse?" Buffy told Darla. "Paige get them out of here."

Xander and Willow are speechless. All they could do was stare at the cold, empty floor where a body had lain only seconds ago. Paige nods and orbs to the other side of the room next to Xander, Willow and Jesse.

Darla was wide eyed and wary, but definitely not cowed. She moved slowly around Buffy, preparing to fight the girl herself.

"He was young," Darla said in disgust. "And stupid."

"Paige, go!" Buffy ordered.

"Don't go far." Darla echoed.

Without warning she lunged at Buffy. Buffy met her head-on parrying Darla's blows with martial arts precision.

Paige looks at Xander, "Grab Willow's and my hand. I've got Jessie's hand." Xander does as he is told as Paige grabs Jessie's hand and orbs them out.

As Buffy got in another effective blow, Darla hit the ground painfully.

"You know; Paige, Dawn and I just wanted to start over," Buffy said peevishly, planting one foot on Darla's chest. "Be like everybody else. Have some friends, maybe a dog… But no. You had to come here. You couldn't go suck on some other town."

"Who are you?" Darla glared up at her, fury in her eyes.

"Don't you know?"

But before Buffy could go on, a pair of hands suddenly grabbed her by the throat and lifted her bodily from the ground.

"I don't care," Luke said slowly.

Buffy hadn't sensed him behind her. As Luke stepped from the shadows. Luke tossed her into the air with no effort at all, hurling her a good fifteen feet. She landed badly and hit the wall with her face.

Luke turned on Darla, who was struggling to get up.

"You were supposed to be bringing an offering for the Master," he berated her. "We're almost at Harvest and you dally with this child?"

"We had someone." Frightened now, Darla tried to defend herself. "But she came and… she killed Thomas… Luke, she's strong."

Luke fixed her with a contemptuous stare. "You go. I'll see if I can handle the little girl."

Buffy was trying to lift herself off the floor when Luke closed in and grabbed her. She knocked his arms away, then kicked him smartly in the face. It sent him back just a little but he receoverdd himself almost instantly, landing a solid punch to her jaw.

"You are strong." Luke muttered. He slammed her back to the ground and gave a throaty laugh. "I'm stronger."

But Buffy had no intention of giving up. Wrestling away from him at last, she got to her feet and circled slowly around the tomb, keeping it safely between her and Luke.

"You're wasting my time," Luke said calmly

"Hey," Buffy retorted, "I had other plans, too, okay?"

Luke shoved at the lid of the tomb. As the heavy stone slap flew straight at her, Buffy leaped over it and jumped on top. With one swift movement, she flipped over and planted both feet solidly on Luke's chest. The momentum caused both of them to fall, but Buffy managed to get up first, pulling out her stake and driving it toward his chest. Luke's hand shot out and grabbed it just before it made contact.

"You think you can stop me?" Luke's face was twisted with rage. "Stop us?"

He squeezed his fist. The stake splintered like a matchstick in his powerful grip and he punched Buffy violently knighting her squeezes – and the stake splinters in his powerful grip. He PUNCHES Buffy, knocks her back.

"You have no idea what you're dealing with," he snarled.

Victorious now, he stood over her. His voice lowered, and he began to intone a sacred text.

"And like a plague of boils, the race of Man covered the earth. But on the third day of the newest light will come over the Harvest when the blood of men will flow as wine. When the Master will walk among them once more, and the world will belong to the Old Ones…" Luke recited.

Outside in the forest Paige, Jesse, Willow and Xander orb in. "Will you guys be alright to make it on your own?"

"We'll get the police," Willow gasped. "It's just a few blocks up…"

Paige nods, "I'm going back to get Buffy." She orbs out. If Paige had waited just a moment longer she would have noticed the three vamps circling around Willow, Jesse and Xander.

Inside the mausoleum Buffy forced her eyes open. She got unsteadily to her feet, all the while keeping her wary gaze on Luke.

"…and hell itself will come to town." Luke finished at last.

Buffy tried to move sideways, to get away from him – but he struck her with savage force. Helplessly she flew backward and landed inside the tomb. She could tell she was badly hurt. She couldn't see Luke anymore, couldn't see anything but the damp, moldy walls of the tomb, though she strained her eyes desperately through the darkness.

Slowly, achingly, she lifted her head. She was really frightened now – more frightened than she'd ever been in her life. Very cautiously she peered over one side of the tomb.


Only silence.

With her heart wildly hammering, Buffy tried to look over the opposite edge.

Luke jumped out of nowhere, roaring triumphantly, filling her vision, filling the room, throwing himself into the crypt on top of her.

She tried to frantically fight him off, but he pinned her with no effort at all. And then he simply stared down at her. Contemplating her with gleeful animal hunger.

His teeth dropped a thick string of spittle. She could feel it sliding over her cheek.

"Amen," Luke grins.

And then he bore down on her.