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Summary: Two months after "Becoming," Buffy experiences a change.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters, etc etc...hope you like it! :)
Author's Notes: This story takes place two months after "Becoming."
Feedback: The author welcomes constructive feedback so don't be shy!:)
"Buffy! You'll be late if you don't hurry!" Joyce Summers called from the kitchen, after popping a couple of slices of toast in the toaster for her daughter.
"And wouldn't that be a shame... " mumbled Buffy, as she bounced lightly down the stairs, greeted by the smell of warm toast. On entering the kitchen, she watched as her mother gave her the usual 'once-over' with her eyes, sighed, and turned away to finish buttering the toast.
"Really, Buffy," Joyce began, handing the bread to the dark-eyed blonde standing behind her, "Aren't you tired of wearing black?! I know you hate me interfering, but... " Her voice trailed off as her eyes met with Buffy's intensely cold gaze. She sighed. It was a gaze she was getting very used to seeing. Joyce wished she knew why, ever since her birthday, Buffy had been different - and after she discovered her daughter's duty as the Slayer six months later, Buffy had suddenly become very distant, very cold, and sometimes, when she didn't know her mother was looking, looked very sad. No matter how much Joyce tried to talk to her, Buffy refused to give a reason. She was the Slayer, and that was as big a detail Buffy let her know.
"Mom, please. Just deal. They're only clothes after all, right?" replied Buffy sharply. Remembering that her mother didn't know about a certain vampire she'd been forced to send to Hell barely two months ago, Buffy took a deep breath, and softened her voice. "I'm... I'm sorry... I'm off - I'll see you tonight, okay?" and with that, she walked quickly out of the house, and headed for Sunnydale High, trying desperately to clear her mind of... him.
"I love you... "
"I love you."
"Close your eyes... "
"Yo! Dream girl!"
Buffy's eyes snapped open, and she glanced wildly around the room.
"Angel?!" she cried out, blinking back tears that threatened to spill over. The library full of chatter immediately fell into silence. This wasn't the first time Buffy had called out his name, but it didn't make it any less uncomfortable. Xander coughed uneasily as Buffy blushed slightly, and quickly reverted back to showing her usual impenetrable gaze.
"Umm... no, Buff, it's just me... umm... have you finished with that... umm... book?" he asked nervously, pointing to the thick volume of pages that had just previously served as a pillow. The look of annoyance Buffy shot at Xander made him step back involuntarily - she was becoming known for having a somewhat unpredictable temper, and he wasn't willing to be her punching bag! Buffy looked away briefly, and sighed.
"Yeah. Here." She handed the demonology volume to Xander, before turning to Rupert Giles, standing close by. "Anything?" she asked tiredly. The librarian shook his head.
"Not one of these... these books have produced any information regarding the... the wall," Giles stated, removing his glasses and rubbing the lenses with a small cloth he's produced from a pocket," Willow, have you found anything?" He looked over at the student tapping furiously away at her laptop keyboard. Willow glanced up momentarily before returning to her attention to the screen.
"No, nothing yet," she replied, frowning slightly, before continuing, "Damn! It's like, everyone that we usually turn to for help has vanished or something... which is really weird, since most of the vampires around Sunnydale have also disappeared into thin... oh my! Giles!! I... I think I've got something!" she announced excitedly.
"Well, read it out!" ordered Cordelia Chase as she emerged from behind a set of book shelves. Giles nodded, and Buffy walked over to Willow as she began to read:
"Beware the invisible wall - purpose: to protect the outside world. Hell is opening, a demon will return, and chaos will reign."
"That's it?!" exclaimed Buffy, leaning down in disbelief to look at the screen. Willow nodded.
"Yep, that's all there is. I guess that kinda explains it, in a way... right, Giles?" asked Willow, turning to face the Watcher, who stood deep in thought.
"Well, what *does* it mean, Giles?" asked Xander, seating himself on top of a nearby desk.
"I... I'm not entirely sure," began the librarian, removing his glasses and cleaning them again, "It would appear that the invisible wall that is rapidly forming around Sunnydale's perimeter has some... some connection with Hell, and the release of a demon. I suspect, with all this commotion, that the demon is not a... a particularly friendly one, either - if "chaos will reign". Which would explain why our... our contacts for information, and most of this town's vampire population, have left town."
"Great, just what we need. A demon from Hell sending the entire society of the undead into Wiggins World!" Buffy said with irritated sarcasm, impatiently tapping her fingers on the desk. "So, Giles, what do we do? If the demon can't be stopped on release, then maybe we can stop the wall from popping up." Giles shook his head.
"I doubt it, Buffy. The wall is probably close to complete, judging from the complete lack of vampire activity over the last week, and I think we will soon see what chaos follows this demon's arrival firsthand. Our... our best strategy, I believe, is to prepare for the demon itself, before the wall becomes fully formed. Otherwise, it may be too late to stop... "
"Uhh, Giles?!" Xander interrupted with a slightly shaky voice, "Take a look skyward." Everyone followed Xander's wide-eyed gaze out the sky-light window in the roof of the library, and gasped as they watched dark clouds race madly across the sky, followed by lightning flashes, deafening thunder, and heavy rain starting to pound the roof.
"Uh-oh... " Buffy mumbled, glancing at the rest of the pale-faced group. She looked at Giles, and raised a knowing eyebrow. He nodded slowly, and quietly confirmed her suggestion.
"Yes... I think... I think the wall is complete. I... I think we are about to receive a visitor."
"I don't understand it!" Buffy complained to Giles and her slayerette friends, who had all assembled in the library after dinner to discuss the recent events surrounding the invisible wall - the wall that had now disappeared. "I mean, what was that storm all about? No demon has showed up since it happened three days ago," she added, confused. Giles shook his head, and shrugged.
"I'm as confused as you are, Buffy. Such an unusual event was evidently of some importance."
"Maybe we misinterpreted the poem, Giles - could it mean something else?" enquired Willow, who was seated in front of her laptop again."
"It... it's possible, Willow. Perhaps we should examine it further," replied Giles, reaching for the printed copy on his desk. Buffy sighed impatiently, jumped off her chair, and headed for the door, saying:
"Study, schmudy. I'm tired of waiting for... whatever it is to come to us. It's time we went in search of... whatever it is that has popped up from Hell to pay us a visit, and do some serious slayage!"
"Buffy!" Giles called warningly. Buffy hesitated just inside the doors, stopping long enough to turn and face him with an annoyed glare, and hear what he had to say. He was used to this Buffy, and returned the glare, forcing Buffy to soften up a little. "Don't get into anything you can't handle, Buffy. Be sensible! You don't have your usual back-up anymore - Angel can't save you this time... " He stopped, silently cursing himself for letting his anger get the better of him. Bringing Angel into the conversation was the easiest way to unsettle the Slayer... everyone watched as the familiar wave of sadness rushed over Buffy's countenance, followed by a shot of anger in Xander's direction, and finally settling back to her usual indifference. She hated to show her true emotions, even though she was burning with pain inside, and desperate to collapse into the arms of the one person that could fully understand and comfort her. Buffy's anger at Xander for him keeping the knowledge from her that the Curse of Restoration was being tried again had slowly begun to disappear over the last couple of months, but whenever Angel came up in the conversation in the group - which wasn't very often - she always felt bitter towards her friend. As long as Angel was gone, Buffy felt she could never fully forgive Xander.
"Buffy?" A shy voice broke through Buffy's reverie, and she looked up at its owner. Willow smiled slightly. "Just be careful, okay?" Buffy sighed and nodded, turning away to hide the sad, faraway look in her eyes.
"I'm sorry... I'm just... sorry." muttered Buffy quietly, before dashing out of the library, and running out of the school into the cool night air.
Buffy sat on a park bench, humming quietly to herself, and lightly tapping a wooden stake on the palm of her hand. Vampire activity had hardly increased since the storm, and most of the vamps around were found at the park. She let her concentration wane, and began thinking back over her life in Sunnydale - more particularly, her life with Angel. Buffy sighed sadly, as she pictured the slight smile he so often flashed at her on his pale face; the intense, loving look in his penetrating brown eyes, and that distinctly possessive, powerful presence he had about him whenever he was with her. Buffy glanced down at her claddaugh ring dejectedly, before leaning back and closing her eyes. She remembered the feel of his gentle, cold fingers as they brushed her cheek, his strong arms as they held her, and the deep, passionate kisses he had so frequently bestowed on her before his transformation. A tear slid slowly down Buffy's already wet cheek as she recalled the night of passion that was shared with Angel - how wonderful it had felt! Like coming home. Images of the evil Angelus and his taunting words flashed through her mind, followed by the memory of a sword being stabbed through Angel's souled body. Buffy shook her head, vigorously trying to rid her mind of such images, although knowing only too well that they would haunt her forever.
Suddenly, Buffy heard the snap of a twig a few metres behind her. Her eyes snapped open, and she hastily wiped her face wit the sleeve of her jacket. Angel's leather jacket... Buffy struggled to regain her concentration. She jumped to attention, spinning around and adopting her fighting stance. Glancing around, Buffy saw no-one, but felt an increasing presence... a presence she had not felt for...
"Ooof!" A hard kick to her back sent Buffy sprawling on the ground. She scrambled to her feet, turning quickly to face her attacker. Buffy shook her head at the vampire before her. "Don't you guys ever learn anything?!" she retorted, a slight smile playing about her lips. The snarling creature smile.
"We learn more than you think, Slayer. The last two months have been valuable in discovering your biggest flaw!" it replied, smirking. Buffy raised an eyebrow.
"And what would that be, Slayee?" she asked, playing along. The vampire growled and attempted to kick and punch her in the face, but Buffy defended both moves with ease, concluding with a well-placed kick of her own. The vampire stumbled back, but soon regained his balance, before smiling at Buffy again evilly.
"That's easy, Slayer. Angel." He grinned broadly as Buffy was instantly caught off-guard by such a comment. Taking full advantage of her lack of attention, the vampire flew at her with a powerful kick to the head, sending her flying backwards. He stood over her, holding her down and madly punching her with his free hand. Buffy winced with each blow that connected, trying to block as many of the hits as she could. A harsh knock to the stomach left her gasping for breath, silently cursing herself for her weakness, and wondering when vampires became so intelligent. The vampire snarled, grinning successfully.
"I told you we could learn!" he growled, and prepared to sink his teeth into Buffy's exposed neck. Weak and suddenly very tired, Buffy sighed, knowing her downfall to be near. The strange part was that she didn't care. She didn't want to fight. Her body and, most of all, her mind had dealt with more pain and guilt than most people experienced in a lifetime. And Buffy was ready to leave all of it behind, to be happy at last. She closed her eyes, wincing briefly as fangs pierced her skin. She smiled as the growling vamp proceeded to fully sink his teeth into her neck, slowly draining the blood within - her once strong heart helping to pump the last of her life into his mouth. She thought about how wonderful it would be to end all the pain, anger and sadness she had felt since she lost Angel.
Angel. Buffy's smile widened as she felt her life slipping away... she would be with her Angel again at last.
Buffy moaned quietly, wincing as a bolt of pain shot through her body as she tried to sit up on the bed. She rubbed her neck, suddenly aware of the characteristic bite mark.
"Giles! She's awake!" a voice shrieked happily. Buffy blinked hard and looked around. Her stomach rumbled hungrily, as Buffy realised she was on a make-shift bed in the cage in the Sunnydale High Library, and was being looked at anxiously by Giles and the rest of the gang.
"Buffy? Are you... feeling okay? You had quite an experience out there... " mumbled Giles nervously, as he tried to move casually towards the cage door. It had to be shut before she realised...
Buffy narrowed her eyes, quickly assessing the situation. Her eyes flickered briefly towards the open cage door that Giles was so obviously aiming for. Buffy returned her attention to the curious eyes peering at her from the other side of the cage wall, and smiled wickedly as she felt a tremendous desire to... rip their throats open...
Buffy leapt off the bed with lightning speed, raced out the door before Giles could get to it, and grabbed a screaming Willow around the neck, and faced the shocked slayerettes, snarling. Giles shook his head, angry at himself for not shutting the door earlier. He wondered if his decision to not tell the gang that Buffy had been changed was so wise after all...
"Oh my God," muttered Xander, horrifed, as his fear-filled eyes met the cold, evil glare of a fully-vamped out Slayer.
Buffy laughed vindictively, taking pure delight in seeing how she excited such horror and alarm in her 'friends'. Willow's eyes were white with fear.
"Buffy! Don't!" Xander cried hopelessly, wide-eyed. Buffy laughed.
"Don't what? Kill her? Why not?! She's worth nothing to me. And she always was a bit of soft cookie - so annoyingly sweet!" Buffy shook her head in disgust, as tears continued to fall down Willow's cheeks. Buffy used her free hand to slap Willow across the face. "Oh, for goodness sake! Stop sobbing! You're such a baby... " She tightened her grip around Willow's neck, causing the frightened girl to choke on her sobs and gasp for air. "Just try it, Giles, and the computer nerd is gone," Buffy threatened, as she caught sight of Giles reaching for a large crucifix lying nearby. Giles hesitated instantly, looking up to stare into the eyes he used to know so well. But these eyes were different - dark, cold, full of hatred. He knew she would kill Willow given half an excuse. Sighing, Giles moved back away from the slaying equipment. His mind raced as he searched desperately for a means of helping Willow. All he could think about was that he had failed in his duty as Buffy's Watcher. I should've taken more care! With Angel gone, and Buffy so obviously affected... A shriek from Willow brought his attention back to the problem at hand. Buffy was playfully tormenting the poor girl by running a sharp nail down the side of her face, drawing blood out to the surface. Buffy chuckled, and glanced at Giles.
"You always were a sucker for the simple crucifix, weren't you, Giles?!" she retorted, smiling cruelly as Willow's blood slowly trickled down the side of her neck, "Well, either way, this 'net girl is gonna die, 'cause a vamps gotta feed when a vamp's gotta feed, ya know?!" she added, smiling coldly at the frozen slayerettes. And, while everyone watched, powerless to intervene, Buffy proceeded to sink her fangs into the neck of a shrieking Willow.
Buffy stopped feeding and lifted her head to see the newcomer. She smiled. Everyone turned towards the owner of the voice. Loud gasps echoed throughout the library, and a loud thump spoke the dropping of Willow's weakened body onto the hard wooden floor.
Buffy stepped forward, still breathless with excitement, her eyes shining evilly as she whispered his name:
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