Father Sebastian sat at the desk in the study adjoining his cell.  He stared out the open window that overlooked the courtyard below and Mission beyond, fascinated with the glow from the lights of Reseda and the way it silhouetted the rooftop of the Mission with a pinkish mauve halo against the sparkling black and starlit backdrop of the night sky.

The candles fluttered faintly, blossoming in luminescence with the gentle breeze from the window.  They were an indulgence in nostalgia, one that he allowed himself frequently, as was the mid-nineteenth century copy of the volume laying open on the desk in the glow of the computer, which displayed a corresponding scan of the original ancient text.

Despite the time and efficiency constraints his office demanded, he was still a sensualist, preferring the subtle smell of wax and wick and the touch of the page to the professed convenience of vernacular technology.

He could hear the chanting of the monks and novitiates, late as usual, he
noted, in completion of their evening devotionals, gently echoing up the hallway of the priory and the after curfew conclusion of a game of pick-up by the residents of the Mission, along with all the normal nocturnal sounds of the streets and neighborhoods outside the courtyard walls.

He knew the perpetrator of the knock as much by its timing as by the timbre of hand on wood, confident and firm and at the end of the Mission's day.

"Enter," he said.

It was Francisco as expected.

He came in and stood awaiting, with the respect due his senior and elder, the motion to sit and proceed with the nightly report.

Sebastian motioned for him to sit and turned his attentions briefly to the computer and text on his desk advancing the pages on both before addressing
his adjunct.

"She has arrived."  The elder said.  It was not a question, merely a statement of fact requiring little confirmation.

Cisco long ago ceased wondering if Sebastian possessed vestiges of his own gift, reasoning that he had no more or less than any other of his years and experience.

"Yes," he replied, "...as you said she would."

"Not as I have said," Sebastian countered with mild chastisement in his tone, "...as these say."  He gestured to the tomes displayed on the desk.  Francisco handed him the clipboard that listed all the pertinent facts and statistics, detailing the Mission’s day: beds filled, expected to be filled, meals served, issues pending, staff on duty, etc.  Sebastian glanced at it and laid it on the desk. "And..." was all he said.

Francisco looked at him with feigned confusion as he unceremoniously plopped into the chair.

"They haven't killed each other yet, if that's what you mean," Cisco answered. 

Sebastian chuckled lightly, "…you knew the day would come when The Slayer would show up on our doorstep for one reason or another; it was inevitable."

"I knew, maybe not for the same reasons you did, but I knew she’d come. What I don't know is under what circumstances she will be leaving."

"You weren't able to read her," Sebastian asked with some concern. He felt it crucial to their success that they have at least some understanding of what was going on in the minds of the major participants.

"I haven't met her yet, haven‘t even seen her.  Duncan has been keeping me informed of their…"

"Do I need to add the units on eavesdropping and gossiping to the daily studies again," Sebastian asked.

"No, no, it's not an issue that needs addr..." Cisco began, "… you are joking...aren't you?"

Sebastian raised an eyebrow then turning somber he spoke, "...you will meet her; examine her to ensure her intentions, in all the areas we discussed, are suited to our needs."

"I will… as the opportunity arises."

"Soon," he asked.  It was more of an order than a question.

"Tomorrow actually, I’m curious to see what she's like."

"She seems very much as he said."  Sebastian continued, "…I could see them from the window," he added in response to Francisco's unvoiced query of how he knew.

"Eavesdropping," Cisco asked rhetorically.  "Then you know their…reunion, wasn't completely without incident."

"To be expected, given what he has told us of their history."

"That's what bothers me."

Sebastian looked puzzled at Cisco's last words.

"Their history," he began to clarify, "…it wasn't exactly stellar."

"Such things never are.  You know that."

"There just seem to be too many…variables."

Sebastian's tone turned a little more serious, "whether he goes with her, or he goes after her, it does not matter, just that he goes."

"I know, but," Cisco sighed, "…can't I hope that this proceeds as amicably as possible, for Spike's sake, at least?"

"The fates don't care if it is amicable, does not their ‘history’ prove that already," the elder priest added, knowing it to be true even though it would not ease the younger's concerns.

"Either way it will cause them both pain," Cisco said.

"Pain is part of the vampire's nature, and it is said, a Slayer's strength is forged of pain.”  The elder priest inhaled sharply before he began again.  “I am fond of him as well," Sebastian reassured, "…but you have read them all…" he gestured toward the books that littered his desk and the rest of the study, "… nearly as much as I have.  Do not interfere, Cisco," he added gravely, "… allow the fates to run their course."

"I will," he said. Cisco had personal experience with challenging the fates, he knew the consequences well.  "It's just…things seem to be falling…too…neatly into place."

"Did you doubt that they would," he asked knowing the answer was yes.  "You are forever the skeptic.  The prophecies are in convergence and right on schedule"

"We will be visiting the Watcher, then?"

"Yes, we leave after vespers Sunday.  Is that sufficient time?"

Cisco nodded as he rose, he stopped at the door and turned for permission to exit.

"You may proceed."

"Thank you, Father."

Cisco closed the door as he exited the study.

"You were listening," Sebastian asked as soon as he was certain Francisco was well out of hearing range.

"It is all as it should be," came the answer from outside the open window.

The wake of wings guttered out the candles leaving Sebastian in the dim computer glow.

Spike relieved Brother Duncan at the desk and after many questions and much profuse thanking, he was ready to start.

He checked the status boards, both the Mission’s staff and the residents, it was a full plus house tonight.  He checked the log on the desk computer and the phone for messages.  All was well; all he had to do was man the phones and attend to any emergencies that might occur.

He opened the netbook and started to type but could not keep his mind on the text. He could not stop thinking of her. He was still drowning in her. Yeah, he was going under and he was fairly sure it was for the full count this time.

He'd felt her probably even before the plane had landed over a month ago and now she was here, in his room, in his bed.

He took a long, deep breath, though, for a vampire, that was hard to do.  He looked up at the ceiling of the Mission's lobby as he slowly exhaled it.  It was something that he often did, at least briefly, almost every night that he sat alone at the desk. 

It was high, arched, and painted by some unknown, but not completely untalented artist.  It hadn't been cleaned in over a hundred years.  Cracked and chunked from earthquakes and with paint peeling and flaking, here and there, the center of it always struck him as a bad copy of a Michelangelo masterpiece.  Saints and stags, demons and dragons surrounded it, and warriors and fiery things crept out from its edges.  In the clouds, he could see vestiges of Drusilla's burning cherubim and naughty precocious seraphim, looking hard and jaded, sensuous and seductive, peeking out from layers of grease from the kitchens and dust from a century of feet beneath; but he still liked it.  The sky was just that particular shade of smoky teal, the exact color of Buffy's eyes.

The last of the residents had turned off the TV in the lounge and were heading up the stairs.  It was time to make a round.

The ground floor was quiet, Spike turned out most of the lights as he checked the doors.

The basement was quiet as well, kitchen and dining areas in order, the small dormitory marked 'keep out' was quiet also, all of its residents out for the night except for the Navoxnova who was pupating in the corner.  The room's outside door was ajar, propped open with a brick, as usual.  He locked the inside door
and slid the steel bar in to place on his way back up to the main floor.

Two and a half stories of rooms and dormitories and two minor incidents among the residents later, he was back in the lobby.  He was not ready to work on the dissertation.

Normally, he did not check the staff quarters at all, but tonight he would . Stopping in front of his door, he closed his eyes for a moment.   He did not open the door; just put his hands on it to feel her sleep.  After a few minutes, he went back out to the main desk.

Spike motioned for her to follow and they headed down one of the corridors spurring off the main lobby.  They passed what looked to Buffy to be mostly utility and storage areas stopping in front of a door marked 'Staff Quarters'.  He pulled an ID card wrapped in a lanyard out of his back pocket.

"Wow, a name tag and a badge."  She said.

"Yeah, not sure if it still works," he swiped it once through the mechanism, it did not.  He wiped the magnetic strip on the leg of his jeans and tried it again, this time it worked. The door clicked and Spike cracked it open, then shut it and tried it again to make sure it would continue to work then handed the badge to her.  "I usually just key it in.  Use the badge if you want to leave staff quarters or the Mission tonight, the outside doors lock in about an hour."

Buffy looked at the badge as she took it.  "Good picture," she said, it never ceased to amaze her that for creatures that didn't have a reflection, vampires were very photogenic.

There was a very brightly lit common area just inside the door that unexpectedly narrowed into a darker corridor, beyond that it appeared to be lit only with emergency lights, or possibly candles, Buffy could not tell which.

"Come on, then, it's easy to find, last one on the right, only one without a crucifix, or other…thingy, above the door."

She noticed as they walked down the corridor that the décor changed abruptly once past the common area, moving from postmodern to post monastery.  The doors to the rooms were very close together and each seemed to have some kind of religious symbol or emblem above the mantle, apparently the Mission was highly multi-denominational.  What she had thought were candles earlier turned out to be those flickery electric candelabra type things masking industrial style emergency lights beneath, the effect was very convincing.

These are cells, she realized,like…monk's cells.

"Don't get spooked, Pet," Spike said, as if sensing her thoughts, "…it doesn't… no, actually it does look this dreary in the daylight."

They stopped at the last door at the end of the corridor; it too had a nametag: 'Spike'.

"The doors don't lock, but the neighbors do respect privacy and sorry Love, the room's a mess."  He opened the door and got the lights.  "Bit of a cramped coffin, but its home."

It was just as narrow as she had imagined, but longer with higher ceilings and not at all as plain as she was expecting.  The brick walls were painted a lush mossy green and most of the furniture had that look of old polished wood except where functionality dictated something more modern; not much floor space but lots of shelves and drawers.

Spike quickly dumped the ashtray and opened the window by the bed for a
little more airflow, then got out of her way.

"There's…really nothing in the fridge… blood and beer… you're welcome to
the beer," he said checking the refrigerator at the foot of the bed.

"Any water," she asked.

"I got that."  He handed her a cold bottle.  "You, uh, need to call the Niblet?"

"Yeah," she smiled at his use of Dawn's old nickname, she hadn't heard it in years and didn't realize how much she'd missed it, "…probably should"

He handed her the phone.  "I'll, uh, go get some food…stock the fridge."  He left the door ajar.

Buffy looked around the room for a moment noting the three transom windows high up along the outer wall; they had been painted over to keep out the light and the one by the bed had a low awning outside for the same purpose.  They were all open; the high ones just a little, to let the air in.  She could faintly hear street sounds in the distance.

She saw the paintings, also high up, above the shelves and wardrobe that flanked the door.  Two were groupings, one of her, Joyce and Dawn; the other, of Dru, Angel and Darla, the likenesses were very good.  The third, in the center above the door, was a portrait of a woman she did not recognize. Wow, she thought, that must be his mom.  It was still hard for her to imagine that vampires had mothers even though she knew that they had too, once.  She looks like the woman in the pictures…only older.

The bed was unmade and tussled.  It smelled good, like Spike, only…coconut-tier.  She snuffled a little as she flipped open the phone and entered the number.

She continued looking around the room as the phone began to ring.  There was a stack of magazines on the shelf across from the bed.  She riffled through them, strangely comforted by the small stash of porn in the center of the stack, mild stuff she noted.

She thought the call was going to go to voicemail when it finally connected.

"Dawn, it’s me…no, I'm okay…I'm sorry…I know, I know, I should have
called sooner…I'm in Reseda, I think…yeah, I found him…I'm sitting on his
bed…no!…he's not here now…out getting me some food, then he has to go to
work…yeah…I don't know, exactly...here, it’s some kind of a Mission, like a
shelter, maybe…a few hours ago…no, mostly we just fought…no, just with
words…huh, everything…so hot I can't stand it…his hair's different…still blonde, but…it’s in dreds…I don't know, yeah…very…hope so…how is everybody…she's there? Is she okay… yeah…no word on school yet…no, no I don't know when I'll get there, I'm not leaving here yet…I know…I will…yeah…I'll call…I don't know, in a few days… love you too…bye."

She lay part way down on the bed.  The pillow smelled so good.

"Hey, Pet, room service," Spike only peaked in the door a little warily.

"Spike, it's your room, you don't have to knock," she said sitting up on the bed.

He came in carrying a tray.  "Uh, food," he announced, "…in hot, well lukewarm…we've got roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy…and something green, supposed to be that way though, and in cold…sandwich, also roast beef…sorry," he apologized, "…it's a bit late for variety… also various condiments, a prepackaged salad…," he checked the container, "…ranch…uh, some fruit and some cheese, the plastic wrapped kind, not the chunk, sorry," he added again. "…and, we have …more water, milk, assorted juice, and …Tab."

"Wow, hard to find," she said, impressed with the selection.

"No trouble, Love.  What's your poison?"

"Uh, warm and milk, please."

Spike brought them over and set them on the shelf across from where she sat then went back to the fridge and unpacked the rest.

"Oh," he added, "…and assorted snacky stuff, chips, Cheetos."

"Well stocked," she commented already opening and arranging the containers.

"Is that warm enough, got a microwave, can heat it up?"

"It's fine."

"Bon appetite …uh, you want coffee?  I can go get some," he offered.

"No, not this late.  Thanks, and thanks," she handed him the phone.

"Chargers, uh," he gestured past her elbow, "…if you would." Buffy found it and plugged the phone in.

"I gotta get some stuff and get out there; Duncan will be falling out of the chair asleep."  He opened a drawer and rummaged through it pulling out a pager.  He checked it and put it in a back pocket.

"It's good," Buffy said after the first bite of roast beef.

"Yeah, kitchen here is not bad; you should taste it when it's not day old."  He opened another drawer and swapped out his pack of cigarettes for a fresh one then he opened the laptop on the counter and opened a file.  He pulled the netbook off the shelf above it and quickly keyed a few things into it.  The laptop beeped and the netbook beeped and with some satisfaction, he closed them both and set the netbook on the end of the shelf by the door.  He was

"Buffy, so it won't be a surprise when you find out," he began as he turned to the door, "…the monks that run this place, they're from the Order of Dagon."

"The ones that…" she started to ask.

"…made Dawn," he finished, "…yes.  It's okay…they're okay, and Duncan has had some… experiences with our old friend preacher man."

"Caleb," she said with some alarm.

"Yeah.  He was at Gilroy when Andrew and I went up there."

"Alright,” she said, "…anything else?"

"Cellar dwellers in the basement, no big."


"I'll be out at the main desk if you…" he trailed off, "… finish dinner and get some rest."  He grabbed the netbook and started out the door.

"Spike, about the Immortal…"she began.

He stopped, hand on the door handle, and turned around.

"…building didn't fall down," she finished softly.

He chuckled quietly, almost to himself, shaking his head and said, "…get
some sleep, I'll see you in the morning."

Two puffs later, the vaccuumy swoosh of Buffy's soda bottle opening punctuated the evening air.  The bottle was wet and its contents all too fizzy in her mouth.

"So...what we gonna do about this," Spike asked, just as she started to drink.

"Can we..." she had to stop talking, finish swallowing, and get the fizziness out of her mouth before she could go on, "...start over?  I mean, not 'Hello, my name is Buffy' over, but maybe just start fresh?"

"No..." he started to say.

"No? What," she asked in amazement.  "What do you mean no?"

"I mean...no," he said.

"Oh!  Now you learn the meaning of the word?"

"Hgmh," he scoffed, "we're not going to go there, yet!"

"Huh, if you think..." if looks could stake, hers would.

"Oh, no...no, no…Love, we are gonna go there," Spike said,"…just not yet...and that's what I mean..." he scoffed and shook his head.  "God…so much easier when I just wanted to kill her," he said quietly through gritted teeth.

 "No! Really can't just start fresh, Pet."

"Argh! Knew I shoulda brought a stake!" she countered back at him.

Spike reached into his boot, scoffing at her, and pulled one out.  He handed it to her with a glare.  "Comfy now, Slayer?"

Buffy grabbed it, rotated it into the proper position in her hand, and held on to it tightly; she started to speak, but Spike stopped her.

"Not giving up the podium yet, Lamb," he said.  "What was this," he gestured   between the two of them, "...to you?"  He scoffed. "What was it ever to you? Chalk on a slate, just wipe it clean and start over?  Maybe you can, I can't."  He scoffed again quietly, "you still don't get that, do you?  No, Love, can't 'start fresh', there's a lot we got to chat out!”

"Oh! Okay, lets chat!" she said sarcastically.

"Yeah, let’s.  You gonna be all...all chosen and alone and un-talky about it or what?"

"Oh, I'll be...talky," she said angrily, "...it's just...I'm not good at it," she continued half under her breath.

"Never noticed," it was his turn to be sarcastic.  "Need to be straight up too!"

"Yeah...agreed," she said, loosening her grip on the stake, "...you too," she added.

"Yeah," he nodded.  He looked at the filter of the cigarette he was holding, it had burned out.  He stared at it for a moment before he tossed it into the grate, then he turned his gaze to her.  "So, am I gonna be rebound boy or just... convenient?"

Okay...ow...that stings.
"You're being pretty inconvenient right now, Spike, but...I'll admit it. I deserve that one...and more," she sighed with a little anger and a fair amount of hurt.

Spike couldn't help it, but his stare wavered momentarily.  Exposed nerves, all around, were getting all achy and throbby.

"Okay, look…I'm sorry, it was just… convenientfor you to be convenient …and you weren't exactly protesting at the time as I recall, so, okay, my bad, but I wasn't completely the one at fault there…and no, no rebound boy.  Definitely no rebound boy, I haven't…"  Buffy let out a long scoffing sigh.  "Why am I doing this?  I don't know why I’m doing this…I just want…"

"Now that's the crux of it, in' it, Love…it's not always entirely about what you want," Spike truly wished he hadn't said it before it even came out, but it just kept coming, "…you still don't even know what it is you do want." He sighed deeply, "… and that's really not…how…I…wanted…to say that…bad move."  He shifted his stare from her to the sky, shaking his head. "I can't do this." He closed his eyes for a moment, then opened them again to the heavens, "….you found my perfect damnation," he whispered, "…kudos."

"And who are you whispering to?  You're not..." she scoffed, "God!  Spike!"

"…doesn't listen anyway," he continued quietly.  By the time he looked back down, she had slid off the hood and came around to stand facing him alongside the station wagon.  "…and," he had to find her, "…and you, Love, you are my perfect damnation."

"I'm a damnation…I'm a damnation now.  You're impossible, Spike, incorrigible…"

"Well, yes…I am, still.  Why are you here, Pet.?  What, you just come to see how big a masochist Spike is.  I don't mind a little pain, but I don't want the hurt, had enough of it.  It's bad enough that you are the one thing that…"

"I'm the one thing that what?"

"Drives me stark raving…"  Spike leapt off the station wagon to face her directly. "…turns me into a soddin' cormorant, no, no a bleeding lemming, a moth to the flame, might as well throw my own toasties in the fire."

"I just thought we…"

"Right,” he scoffed, “…'we', and this from the person who said 'there is no we'."

"That was before…"

"Before?  Before what, Love, before the soul?  I fell in love with you before the soul, and in all honesty, Pet, it didn't make one bit of difference, did it?"  Spike put one hand on the roof of the station wagon just above her shoulder, it landed with a thud putting a dent in the old metal.

Buffy looked at his hand and the dent as she spoke. "You angry much?"

 She turned to slide out from between Spike and the station wagon when the other hand landed on the roof.

"Much," he said with that look that always both frightened and excited her.

"Let me go," she said, pushing against his chest with both hands. He wasn't budging without full Slayer strength and she was not ready to use it.  Her eyes narrowed at him in determination.  They stood staring; eyes locked in combat, until Spike released his hold on the roof with a scoff and stepped back from her, turning to avoid her steely gaze.

"Go," he said half under his breath.

"I should leave.  I don't know why I came here," she said regaining her composure.

"I said 'go'," he shouted, "...leave...move on." He whirled around to face her livid.

She scoffed, turned, and started to storm away abruptly stopping a few yards away. She took a few deep breaths then turned and stormed back.

"No,” she said with conviction.  “I’m not going anywhere. I told you I wasn't ready for you not to be there, I'm still not...and I’m not going anywhere until this is settled between us.

They both stood, arms crossed, leaning on the station wagon in silence for some time.

 "It's your fault," she finally said after the anger had time to dissipate in them

"What," he said in disbelief.  "What's my fault?"

"You said it once; I'd crave you like you crave blood."

He remembered.

"You were right," she said calmly, "took a while, but you were right."

He did not reply.  He shuffled still pensive.

She smiled, a little, when she looked at him and chuckled.  "When I thought you…" she shook her head, "...I didn’t think I ..." she laughed again, "even that ..."

"Oh, right," he scoffed half-heartedly, "...when I saw you in Italy, snoggin it up with that bleeding Immortal, sorry to say Pet, but it didn't exactly look like you were mournin' the fallen champion."

"You saw me in Italy," she began, "...when were you in Ita... you were with Angel, that... family...hat...head...thing.   I am gonna kill Andrew, the little..."

“It’s not about Andrew,” he said quietly.   “Buffy, it’s about you and it’s about me,” he looked away and scoffed. “Don’t my feelings count in this at all?” 

He’d hit a nerve, again, she hated that, it was one of those think nerves too.  
my fault...Buffy thought , I’m the one standing here with every last one of them all exposed….and what, I didn’t expect a few of them to get wailed on…. She scuffed at her own stupidity sometimes, usually the wrong times …like right now

Spike chose that exact moment to turn and look at her, and...of course…she thought, he took the scoff personally.

“Oh, oh, I get it…” he began, actually faking a deep wrenching breathe for added effect, “…cause I don’t feel, do I?”

Where the hell did he learn to be such a drama queen, Juilliard?

“Sorry Pet, I forgot,” he scoffed exaggeratedly, “… my feelings aren’t real to you.” 

She had to choke back a laugh at his performance…Oscar material for sure…Buffy Anne Summers,  she chided herself silently …you should not be so harsh! He deserves this tirade and you know it …

“Dead things don’t feel,” he then said absently to himself.  He was silent for a moment, “...but you still don’t get that do you?  God, Buffy,” he said exasperated, “...am I still just dead to you? I thought we’d worked past that, and what the bleedin' hell is with Angel and this damn 'cookie dough' thing anyway?  He gets cookies and what about me, I’m stuck lickin’ up crumbs.”  He suddenly got a mental picture of that metaphor and his face showed it.

She had to laugh, she couldn’t resist.“Well, “ she managed to get out between the barely stifled giggles that threatened to become howls, nearly doubling her over, “… you once asked me to throw you a few…can’t help it if you catch like a…gurr…vampire.”  What little composure she had maintained broke; she laughed uncontrollably, hard and until it hurt. Spike just looked at her not knowing what to do until he had to start laughing too. 

"Are we done venting yet," she asked when she could talk again.

"Doubt it," he replied.

"This isn't going to be easy, is it?"

"No, no, Love, it's not…but I think it'll be worth it."

"Ya think?"

"Yeah.  You got a place to stay tonight?"

She shook her head.

"Got stuff?"

"Yeah, in the car."

"Where's that at?"

"Uh, about…two and a half hours that way, no, maybe that way." 

"Uh huh, we'll worry about it later them.  Come on."  Spike jumped down from the hood of the station wagon.

"Spike?  Can I touch the hair?"

He smiled, "…touch anything you like, Love."  They walked over to the steps of the Mission.


"A little."

"I'll get you something once we get you settled.  I've…uh, got the desk til morning, you can stay in my room."

"It's just…not fair," Dawn said, straightening the sheets on Rose's bed.

"You know they do make them for regular beds too," Willow said distracted by the lumps in her daughter's pillow.  She reached into the pillowcase and pulled out a handful of fluff, it almost looked like a nest.  She took the pillow out of the case and examined it but found no holes.  She dismissed the ball of fluff making a mental note to herself to check all of Rose's stuffed animals for tears later and threw it in the trash.

"What," Dawn asked puzzled at the ease with which Willow was distracted these days; motherhood really must addle your brain.  "Oh, no…not the sheets, they are cute…I meant Buffy.  She knows where we are.  Why doesn't she call?”

"She's still in L.A.," Willow said a little surprised that it came out more of a question than the reassurance she had intended it to be.

"I know," Dawn went on, "…but she could at least call, you know, let us know she's okay."

"I'm sure she's alright, Dawn…" Willow stopped short; she had almost called her 'Dawnie' as she used too in the old days. God, I am starting to feel old, she thought as she realized how much Dawn had matured while she was in Europe. Dawn was almost twenty-three, nearly a year older than Buffy was when they closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. She was almost model tall, having taken after Joyce where Buffy favored their father in height and her hair, while still incredibly long was lighter now than Buffy’s had ever been, almost closer to…

Willow could plainly see where Buffy got the ‘Donatella’ taunt that she often overheard between the two sisters from time to time over the speaker phone.  She has grown up, that’s for sure…it made her think of how fast Rose was growing, it would all too soon be the day when she wouldn't want the cute bed sheets either.

"It's been almost five weeks, and she hasn't checked-in in over three."

"She's always been that way, you know that."

"Hey…choir here…it's just, she could be getting herself into real trouble this time."


Short and sweet. Willow has a daughter, Tara Rose Rosenburg.  I know lame name, not really, a lot of meaning in it, and cool initials: T.R. Rosenburg.

How'd that happen? Is she still...? What can I say Willow is Willow and needs no other labels. Tara Rose is a bit of a mystery to everybody, even Kennedy who is her other legal parent No matter, Kennedy isn't really around anyway and what's in a name, really?

Next Up; Just a matter of convenience.

Chapter One:

Brother Duncan had never seen The Slayer, but he knew this was her.

She was smaller than he expected, tiny, in fact, and older than the others who stalked the demons.

This was not a girl, not a child.  This was a woman.  She looked tired, as if she had been traveling for quite some time, as if she'd been - hunting.  She was petite and pretty, yet still looked lethal.

There were three clients in line for in-processing, counting the one at the desk. Duncan was assisting a young mother and her children with the forms, they were not printed in Ma’di and his command of African dialects was better than Spike's.

Spike's words caught in his throat when he saw her. The client took the clipboard from him and went to the couch in the lobby to fill out the forms.

The vampire's eyes locked with those of The Slayer, whether their gaze lasted for a split second or for eternity was moot, the impact was absolute, and it was not lost on Duncan.

His first instinct was panic: Slayer, vampire, small-enclosed space...but no, panic quickly gave way to many years of studied observations.

Nothing demony in those looks, he thought, damn dangerous though.

Duncan left Mrs. Abaku to fill out the packet of forms as best she could and stepped over to the desk before it became apparent to anyone that his co-worker had gone catatonic.

Buffy turned to the doors when she saw Spike at the desk.  She needed air.  She needed to breathe.  She'd been holding her breath since she'd started up the steps of the Mission, and seeing...she needed air.

She had been searching, stalking the alleyways and tunnels, looking for him since she had gotten back to California.  Dawn had gone on ahead to the Slayer compound, but she'd stayed here, huntingShe started in what was left of the rubble of what was once the L.A. branch of Wolfram and Hart, nearly five weeks ago, and circled out from there.  Greater Los Angeles was a big area to cover.

The bartender, last night, at the demon bar, said to try here, at the Mission. The description she had given him wasn't an exact match.  It had been over seven years since she'd seen Spike, not that she could forget, he had been burned into her soul, but it was a long time.

 Things change.

Yeah, they do.  Things, people...and well, hell, he was sorta disintegrating in a pillar of fire last ime I saw him,
she thought.

The thing about thinking, you never know where you're going to go:

Sunnydale: The Hellmouth, seven years, three months ago:

Spike shouts to her, "Go on then!"

She hesitates, shakes her head, "No, you've done enough, you could still..."

"No, you beat them back, now it's time for me to do the clean-up," he said, "Gotta move Lamb.  Think it's fair to say school’s out for bloody summer."

"Spike!" she yells.

"I mean it, I gotta do this," he answers.

The beam shot out of the amulet, out of Spike, even brighter.

Hands interlocked in flame.

Her thoughts raced back another year...

"I touch the fire, and it freezes me..."

Then another, she sees the image of the first Slayer through the flames. “You are full of love...it's brighter than the fire...love, give, forgive, risk the pain, it is
your nature

Forward again, flames, intertwined fingers, her own voice, "...I love you."

Then his, "…no you don't, but thanks for saying it."

The Hellmouth was imploding, collapsing in on them.  She felt the jolt, he pushed away, broke the hold.

God!  Air! Breathe!

She tilted her head back and took a deep breath.

The bartender did not recognize Spike from her description, but said there was a demon, maybe a vampire; he wasn't sure, never ordered blood, just bourbon, who worked at the Mission.  He was a loner, didn't come to the bar often, had a presence that made the other patrons back off; not so much with the black clothes, or leather coat, British accent though and blonde hair, bleach blonde, parts of it anyway, platinum speckled blonde dredlocks to his shoulders.

Things can change.

Buffy tried to wrap her mind's eye around that, platinum dreds.  Couldn't quite do it until she saw him there in the flesh.

God! She needed air.

Spike's eyes followed Buffy as she turned and went out the door.  She stood just outside on the landing.  Brother Duncan reached for Spike's cigarettes and lighter and put them in front of him on the desk.


"What," Spike said, startled back from elsewhere.  He turned toward the monk.

"Go," Duncan said again, nodding after her.

Spike took the cigarettes and the monk's nudge, cracked his neck, and headed for the doors.

The August air just after dark was hot and Buffy felt the only wisp of breeze to pass by in what seemed like forever.  Every nerve was twitching and more than a few forgotten muscles were telling her what she'd come here for.

She heard the door open behind her.

"Spike," she asked.

"Buffy," he answered.

She turned...Oh yeah...matty, dredy Spike was hot!


"You look..." they both started.

"...good," Spike said.

"...different,” she chortled,“...and good."

"We need to talk," their voices overlapped on the words.

"Well, that's different," said Spike.

"Yeah," she admitted with a little visible guilt.

"Where do you want to begin, Love?"

"You have a name tag!  Staff! Spike!"

"Uh, yeah..."       

"You didn't burn up in a pillar of fire."

"Actually...did...for a while...guess I got...stuck...in the amulet. Next thing I knew, I was standing in the middle of a desk in some bloody evil law firm..."

"You were stuck in the amulet?"

Spike shrugged, "dunno how."

"How long," Buffy asked.

"Two, three weeks...dunno exactly," he answered, "...came back as a ghost, a disembodied spirit, incorporeal..."

The impulse was too strong, Buffy reached out and lightly touched Spike's chest to make sure she was talking to flesh. "Solid through," she whispered.

"I got re...cor...pori...ated..." he paused, trying to figure if that was a real word, deciding it didn't matter, "...a couple of months later."

"I didn't know you, uh," she said drawing back her hand.  "It was two years before Andrew...let it slip."

Spike looked into her eyes, "I didn't know what to say, how to..." he sighed, "...explain it.  I, uh...I wanted to find you, Buffy...I tried...but I couldn't...literally...kept popping back to Wolfram and bloody Hart.  After I re...got my body back, Angel he..." Spike trailed off.  He averted his gaze, it was acutely uncomfortable to look at her standing there, so near, after so long; seven years had turned woman-child to woman-grown and it looked good on her, and he thought it might be wiser to avoid the subject of Angel altogether.

"How's Dawnie," he asked as he started down the steps gesturing with a nod for her to follow.

"She's good, finished school in Italy...high school and some college. She's trying for late admission for her masters to U.C. Berkley, Cal State, or Stanford.  They might not accept all her credits though," Buffy said as they walked down the steps.

Spike slid up onto the hood of the Mission's old station wagon, as he often did during smoke breaks, and lit up a cigarette.

Buffy looked at the hood of the prehistoric SUV then up to Spike.

"Oh..." he realized that she didn't quite know how to get up there, "...uh, turn around and lean up to it, put your foot on the bumper and push. I'll help."  He reached out for her arm.  His touch was cool and tingly on her skin.

Gingerly, Buffy tried it, and with the arm up from Spike, slid onto the hood. She did not know what to do with her legs and felt like she was sliding off.

"Windshield makes a good backrest," Spike said, already leaning back on it, one leg dangling off the side.

She looked back over her shoulder at him and almost slid off.

"Just…uh…scooch," he suppressed a chuckle, "...up, Love." He stretched out an arm in assistance once again.  Buffy took hold, grabbing just below his elbow...yep, still tingly...and scooched.

"And you," Spike asked once she had gotten up there and stopped slipping.

Buffy glanced at him as if she'd missed something in the conversation with all the sliding and scooching.

"How are you," he clarified, slightly amused by the look on her face.

"Huh, oh, fine.  Need to check in with the troops, in person for a change...some issues...get Dawn settled," she paused, "I was looking for..."

"He's not here...Hawaii or Guam, or somewhere," Spike said flicking the cigarette butt into the sewer grate alongside the curb.  He turned to stare at the building.

"I wasn't looking for Angel," she said.  You really think I'm here looking for Angel... your still a dope!

"Who then," before he got the question all the way out, a tonal 'Rock the Kasbah' was chiming from his back pocket.  Spike pulled out the phone and checked the number.

"Gotta get this, Love...sorry," he said, then answered the call.

"Yeah...you need me in there? Uh, yeah...thanks...no, they said 9:15, 9:30, means closer to ten, 10:30...Yeah...five, two adults, three kids...three, five and nine, girl, boy, girl...no...no...yeah...no...and, uh, Rudy and friends are just turning the corner now, the usual, looks like...you sure you don't need me in there?   Uh, I dunno yet...no...No!  I will take care of that...owe you one...okay, two, thanks...I'll need it. Call me if I'm
not back in by then...thanks...yeah."

"Sorry, Pet, work.  You, uh, need a drink," he said, glancing at the vending machine, "...a soda pop?"  He was already off the hood of the station wagon and slipping the phone back into his pocket.

Avoidyness can be good, she thought.


"No," he said consolingly, "...not in the machine.  Uh, diet coke?"

She nodded.

"Be right back."

She watched him walk over to the vending machines, always a favorite pastime, watching him walk.  She tried the dangly leg thing, but the antenna got in the way, so she shifted position.  Oh, better view!  Don't let him see me watching him on the way back...my turn to stare at the building...how's he get up here so fast?

"I was looking for you, Spike," she said.

Their eyes met, briefly, when he asked, "...why?"  He tried, but could not hold the gaze and busied himself with opening his mountain dew bottle.

"Do you really have to ask that," it came out harsher than she had intended and she was instantly sorry that it had.  She looked at him being all avoidy again.  "Guess maybe you do...I missed you."

He took a drink of the mountain dew like it was one of those single malts that he and Giles were so fond of, as if it would fortify him, then looked at her.

"I love you, Buffy.  You know it," he paused, "...always will."  Although it seemed like he had more to say, he went back to fussing with the bottle cap, almost losing it.

The silence that followed did not last as long as either anticipated.

"I don't know if...I can...love you.  I want to...,” she said. That got his full attention and the look on his face made her smile.  "...and...I don't know, maybe I do..." she sighed, "...all I know for sure is," she paused and shook her head, "...I really need to find out."

Spike digested that for a moment.  He stopped fussing with the soda bottle and fussed with his cigarette pack instead, getting one out along with his lighter.

"Fair enough, Slayer," he said.  He lit the cigarette, "...fair enough."

That was actually a few sections, but they pretty much need to be read in one clip so there they are.

A Note: Duncan was the priest in the Gilroy mission who watched Calab/The First kill all the other bretheren, the one that Andrew was being "bad cop" to Spike's "good cop" with after Giles had sent them both there to get them out of the way back in Sunny D during season seven.
.Prologue The Second: January, the Slayer Compound:

"Angel, who did this to you," Willow asked, cautiously pulling back the cloth of his shirt now pasted to flesh by dried blackened blood and pus.  She winced as her ministrations allowed the wound to open.  It began to ooze and bleed and smoke.  It did not smell that well either.

Andrew skidded, overshooting the foyer archway. "I got it!" he said, panting from the scramble for the first aid kit.  He fumbled with the case's latch, opening it and putting it on the floor next to them."It was wedged in beside the refrigerator by a bent fork," he explained.  "Oh, and I found all the lost silverware there too!  Uh, they're a little bit furry."

"This is serious, Andrew," Willow snapped with a scowl.  She unwound some gauze as she quickly rummaged through the kit.  "This is not enough; we need the surgical kit from the infirmary."

"I'll get it," Andrew volunteered. The sight and smell of the oozing wound made him queasy and Willow noted the muffled retching and gagging sounds that followed him out the door.

"Here, Angel, put some pressure on this," she said, packing the wound with loose gauze.

Her hand accidentally brushed across the red and black jagged circle barely an inch from the wound, directly over his heart.  She thought it was a tattoo, he had several, though she didn't remember him having one there; but tattoos don't bite.  This one bit her like a spider startled by her hand.  She jerked it away.  The circle glowed with the incandescence of a coal starting to catch flame.  The flesh beneath and skin along its edges began to smolder.

"No!  Don't!" Angel rasped, his hand abruptly halting the gentle pressure.

The muscles in his jaw and neck involuntarily contracted as the gauze snagged on the rough edges surrounding the wound tearing them anew.

"No!  No pressure...it's splintered...all directions...can't get it out..." he said, his voice faltering as it failed him.

Willow grabbed a pre-packaged gauze pad.  "Oh no, no pressure," she repeated in quiet alarm, ripping open the gauze and putting it over the kindling circle not
knowing whether it would ignite or quench it.

The loose gauze in the wound was saturated and fresh blood and ooze began to trickle down Angel's chest leaving seared steaming rivulets in his flesh.

Willow was, as a rule, steady in these situations, she'd seen Angel hurt before, Spike as well, and injured vampires-just not as big a deal in the triage area as mortals, but she had never seen this.

Angel's skin, always pale, was chalky and looked very dry and ashen.  She knew that vampires didn't, under normal circumstances, breathe, at least not often, but he was breathing, hard and labored, and if she was not mistaken, each exhale held a little more faint smoke than the last, and that smell...vampires usually smelled, well, good to her. Occasionally she'd come across one that was a little ripe or just plain unhygienic.  Angel always smelled like cedar and spearmint mixed with leather and sorta licoricey.  This smelled like dry-scorched death.  Willow felt the panic escalate.

"Right, no pressure," she whispered.  "I need help."  She hit the intercom by the door.  "Giles! Hurry!" she yelled.

She and Giles were working in the study when the security monitor beeped
indicating someone at the main gate, someone who couldn't pass without
intercession through the mystic locks and who didn't have a current access code
for the physical ones.

She wasn't overly concerned when there was no answer to her salutatory inquiries. The intercom at the gate was garbled, at best, since the Lei-Ach incident last fall.  The main console would give a visual and she offered to go check it, needing a break from the routine research.

She checked the main security panel in the common living area pulling up video for the gate.  There was no vehicle in the drive.  She sighed heavily as she switched to the camera in the walk-up alcove, it was still spattered with exploded Lei-Ach, but she could see it was Angel.  She wondered why he was here.  He usually called first.  He didn't look well.  Something was wrong.

Willow began the incantation that would allow him to pass through the gate, hoping that enough of it made it through the intercom system to let him know when the mystic locks would allow him in.

It was apparent from the look on Angel's face that her words did not transfer through the Lei-Ach clogged speakers.  Luckily, the click of the electronic door lock did the trick.  He was in the compound, but he was not moving very well.  I might have to go get him, she thought.

Willow hurriedly recited the spell to allow him into the main house as she headed to the foyer.

“Are we having company," Andrew asked, coming out of the kitchen, a large sandwich in hand.  He’d overheard her invocations.

"It's Angel," Willow said, "he's here, coming from the gate, Andrew, he doesn't really look too good, can you go check and see if he needs help?"

"Yeah," he said, "just don't eat my sandwich," setting the plate down on the bookcase.  He turned and opened the door.  Angel was already there, in an upright slump against the barrier.  Willow realized Andrew had interrupted her incantation before she’d spoken the last two crucial words.

"Come in," they both chimed.  The barrier fell away and Angel fell with it, hard across the threshold taking Andrew down with him.  Willow attempted to break their fall and went down as well, leaving them all in a heap just inside the doorway.

Andrew squirmed trying to get out from underneath, as Willow propped Angel up against the doorframe.  She knew Andrew was all right by his wriggling and fussing, but Angel was hurt. There was a large oozing hole in his chest, gashes in an arm and a leg and a deep slash alongside his face from temple to jaw line.

"We need the first aid kit," she exclaimed, glancing at Andrew as she spoke, "...it's in the kitchen."  Andrew scurried leaving her to attend to Angel.

"What happened," she asked, moving the lapel of his coat away for a better look at the wound, "Angel, who did this to you?"

"Willow!  What," it was Giles dashing into the far end of the hall. "...Angel?"

"Giles, he's hurt bad," her voice telling fear and concern.

Giles quickly assessed Angel's wounds.  Willow was not wrong, he was hurt - bad.

Xander arrived panting at the door.  "I thought I saw..." he said catching his breath, "...I did!" He was never pleased to see Angel.

"He's been staked," Willow said, "and there's splinters."

"We need to move him," Giles said upon assessment of his wounds, "...somewhere with more light.  Uh...the kitchen.  Xander, let's see if we can get him up and get him in there."

Willow, Giles and Xander help Angel rise to his feet, halfway up a violent coughing fit abruptly halts their progress.  Angel, nearly doubling over, expelling smoke and dust with each labored hack.  He gestured for a little less assistance and grabbed the doorframe in effort to pull himself upright.

"Uh, gently," Giles offered belatedly, attempting to stabilize him. Braced by Giles on one side and Xander on the other, they began to trudge slowly to the kitchen, steadied by Willow from behind.

"What happened," Giles asked.

"It was Spike," Angel said, stopping mid-step to cough up more dust and smoke.

"Spike did this," Willow asked, supporting all of them through the coughing spell.

"We fought..." Angel continued, gasping for enough air to form the words.

"About what," Xander asked.

"Do we need a reason," Angel said with more force than he was able to triggering another coughing jag.  His tone, more Angelus than Angel, making Xander promptly drop the questioning.

"How long ago, uh...where," Giles continued trying to get as much preliminary information as he could before they started the physical probing.

"The Mission, about eight, ten days ago...I don't re..." Angel's voice failed him.

Willow almost asked, what mission, but she caught enough of the recognition in Giles' eyes to know he knew exactly where.  Her mouth opened in query but no words came out.  Giles knows where Spike is, she thought, that opens up a whole  new...she felt Angel flinch precursive to a cough...but this is not the

 She concentrated on steadying them into the kitchen.

Andrew burst in from behind them offering the surgical kit as Giles asked, "You've been...like this, for ten days?"

Angel nodded, "It took that long to get here," he stopped to inhale sharply, "I can't get them out...they've been festering..." he gasped for enough air to continue, setting off further coughing, "...have to deconsecrate...splinters..."

"Deconsecrate," Willow asked, "Why?"

"Andrew, help us get him up on the table," Giles instructed.

"We..." Angel strained, "...knocked over a cross...a reliquary crucifix.  It shattered."

"A reliquary?  How old," Giles asked, removing Angel's jacket and shirt.  He rolled them up as a headrest and eased Angel down onto the table.

"Fifteen..." Angel winced, "...fifteen hundred..."

"From the fifteen hundreds, then it can't be that..." Giles began.

"No, not 1500's...it's fifteen hundred years old...six...sixth century," Angel corrected.

"Oh!" Giles said in that tone that was usually proceeded by a 'Dear Lord' and a vigorous cleaning of his glasses.  It was presently followed by the removal of the saturated gauze packing the wound and then by a heartfelt 'Dear Lord' as sinuses were offended and eyes watered all around the room.

"Sorry," Angel managed meekly.

"Camphor," Andrew interjected helpfully, holding out the small jar from the surgical kit.  He was already sporting a generous moustache of it.  Xander reached for it, gagging, then passed it to Willow who obliged a grateful Giles first then herself.  She offered some to Angel whose face turned even paler.

"Wooden, I take it," Giles asked opening a bottle of saline to flush the debris from the main wound.

"H-harp wood," Angel managed to answer.

"Ash," Willow clarified.

 He nodded.

"The reliquary, what was in it," Giles asked, dabbing gingerly at the wound.

"Two, two vials..." Angel began.

"Blood," Giles asked hastily with alarm.

"No...o-oil...and three...pigeon feathers.  The vials...broke, saturated everything..."  Angel winced in pain.

"This cross, did it have a name?"

"Cloves...Clover...Cloven..."  Angel tried, but could not remember.

"Cross of Clovis," Giles inquired.

Angel nodded, unable to vocalize further.

"Holy Ampoulla, lovely," Giles sighed.

"Rollicksome wrecked reliquary, Batman," Xander chimed. Giles, Willow and
Angel all glared at him.  Sobering, he asked, "If this cross is...how could Spike, I mean...he's not exactly..."

"...an altar boy," Giles finished for him.

"No, not yet," Angel said weakly, pacing his words with measured breaths. "He's been hanging around those robed types too long."  He glanced at the wound in his chest, took a long labored breath and addressed Giles specifically, "...his weapon of choice of late..." then he wasn't able to say anymore.

Giles turned his attention to the small gauze pad, which was starting to char. He lifted it revealing an angry molten circle sinking into Angel's chest.  He quickly replaced the gauze, dousing it with saline to keep it from bursting into flame.

"The Black Thorn," he whispered, barely audible.

"The tattoo," Willow asked.

"It's not a tattoo," he paused, "...it's a brand."  He didn’t add anything more, it would not be helpful, and Willow, wisely, did not inquire further.

Giles studied the selection of scalpels in the roll pack of the surgical kit; none were adequate to the task.

"Uh, Giles..." Andrew said, "...sparklage."

"Giles!" Xander added.

Rupert looked up, "you've all seen vampires dust before,” he said calmly.

"Just not in slow motion," Willow realized.

"It has to come out, now!" he said, putting down the roll of scalpels.

"Hold him, all of you," he said grabbing the longest butcher knife out of the wooden block on the counter.  With both hands and all the power he could muster, he plunged it directly into Angel's heart.

Willow and Xander both flinched as the knife penetrated flesh, bracing for a squirting spatter of blood that was not to come.

Andrew fainted, fortunately slumping over Angel's legs, his body weight
serving to hold him in place on the table.

Angel screamed, then spasmed and gasped, slipping into unconsciousness.

Willow was certain she heard the tip of the knife hit the table and she winced as she heard ribs and sternum crack as Giles pulled the knife steadily towards him with all the force he had, leaving a gaping hole.

Xander lunged for the sink and heaved, wet then dry.

Giles reached into the newly enlarged chest chasm and with no small effort, extricated the glistening splinter of ashwoodash wood from Angel's pericardium.  He grabbed the flashlight from the surgical kit and rapidly inspected the wound, which was already beginning to seal, then the splinter.  It had come out intact after ten days of sawing away at the membrane surrounding Angel's heart.

"Willow..." he said, examining the splinter more thoroughly, fascinated by its auto-restorative and self-cleansing properties, its tiny barbed projections now adhering smoothly to its pearly iridescent surface, like a living thing, now in repose.  "What do we have in the vaults to deconsecrate the wounds?"

"Huh, oh...Breken's bile," she answered unsure if that was the best choice.

Giles nodded, "that should do it."

"Andrew," Giles said, "...Andrew!" he said louder, rousing him.  "Andrew, the Hadean leaches you've been breeding, are they ready to feed?"

"Uh, leaches?  Yeah, they're old enough."

"Good, after Willow deconsecrates Angel's wounds, let them feed.  They can eat away the damaged tissue.  Oh!  Don't let them eat too much, we don't want them to develop a taste for living...or, uh, un-living flesh, just the corrupted areas, and see if you can get some of the girls to get the guest room ready and to help getting him up there when you’re done."

 “I'll have them bring a gurney," Andrew said before heading out to the dormitories to collect the needed extra hands.

"I'll get the Breken's bile," Willow began, "...Giles, there are a few different spells I could use, any suggestions as to which one, I mean, how much, how...deeply, do I have to deconsecrate..." she looked toward Angel stirring
slightly on the table.

"Oh, uh, as you see fit.  Willow, if he is conscience, let him tell you, he should know when it's enough.  He should be able to feel it," Giles said, "...as should you."

"What should I do," Xander asked, wiping his face with a wet towel and dabbing off the rest of the greasy camphor.

"Just keep him from rolling off the table, keep him still if he wakes up before we get back, oh, and uh, see if you can find the ammonia sticks in the kits, in case he doesn't," Willow instructed.

Xander nodded, "and I'll put these," he motioned to the now disheveled
first aid kits"...back together."

"Thanks," Willow smiled at him.

Giles was leaving the kitchen, taking the splinter back to the study to be tagged with all the appropriate log entries.

"Giles wait," she said after him, catching up in the hallway. "That tat...the brand...what was…is, it?  Angel didn't have it before, and I thought, vampires couldn't...shouldn't it have healed," she asked, hoping that he could decipher her questions.

"Circle of the Black Thorn," he said, "and it will never heal," he sighed.

Damn, she thought, he really has gotten good at this over the years.

"It's a leftover, I believe, from his association with Wolfram and Hart, by the hand of the senior partners."

"It's evil," she asked already knowing the answer.

"Um hum," he nodded.

"But, it seemed," she continued, "...was it..."

"The only thing keeping him from dusting...yes, I believe that would be an accurate assessment,"  he said studying the splinter and marveling, once more, this time at the smell it was now emitting... incense.

"It just seems so wrong," she went on, "to have to deconsecrate the wounds, to allow them to heal."

"It is, but, it's what we have to do," he said, "...or they won't."

"Isn't that what we, all of us, Angel too, are supposed to be fighting?"

He nodded.

"Giles are we winning," she asked as he continued down the hall, her voice sounding small and tiny.

There was no answer he could give.

This was  the first thing I wrote when I started this story, this one first then the Cave Demon one. The first prolog is very pertainant to the story overall, this second one has a lot of little stuff that ties in with the story to come, and we will get back to the storyline introduced here at some point in the future - but for now it's the little stuff that's important. 

Chapter one Section one is next.
Have I mentioned that I really hate the left justified blog format. I write with indented paragraphs and have to reformat evething because it uploads this dumb left justified format. As I said on the home page, I plan on putting the file on the site in it's proper format eventually but for now all you are going to get is the quickie fix-it-so-its-readable fix.

Prologue The First: Africa, eight years, three months ago:

He had many names: Asphyx, Cave Demon, Daemon of the Waters of the Earth, Archangel, Keeper of Souls, Paradoxium, Demon's Folly, Todd...but to him, he was just himself.

He had been here since there was a here to be, and now this task, at
least, was done.

There had been many, often even more than one per millennia, as time is
reckoned now in this the rising of man, and they had been-entertaining.

As he had been told the proof would come, in truth, would be compelled to
do so.

And so it did.

And, as he had been told, he would doubt the proof that it might be

And doubt he did.

This could not be proof of the paradox.  It was too small; larger than the
scarab, yes, but they were many and it was but one and alone; smaller in mass
and in muscle than the other trials by far.

And fragile, not even true daemon stood before him but mortal born.

Indeed, the trials themselves seemed set, as set they were, against this one, against its kind in particular.

Hmm, the Archangel thought, perhaps then this be telling true, and I should not doubt, but doubt he had to.

No, it was too young, not yet two centuries, a mere portion of a blink of
an eye, far too young to be proof.

Yet it bore the mark and by measure of its kind could not be marked.

The Archangel thought the motive selfish; it sounded so, but if proved
true as stated would be thus pure and that truth be in the Trial not in the

The other requirements are they met?

The Archangel probed as he spoke to it; his words meant naught, the
probing all.

Does it know or is it ignorant?

It did not know specifically, but by nature and in general-yes and specific awareness was never stipulated.

Does it fear or has it courage?

It had feared once and often and if it survived was certain would again;
although for now, the metal was tempered well.  And courage; courage and foolhardiness, they are often one.  It would not leave without what it came for or it would not leave.  It was here all the same.

Has it strength or is it weak?

No it did not have the strength, in that it would fail.  It had not fed; in truth, it hadn't fed well in a long time. It would fail, but neither quickly nor quietly. 
It would fight and it would struggle until it won or was no more.

Hmm, is that perhaps enough?

"Do your worst," it said, "...but when I win, I want what I came here for."

The Archangel chuckled to himself, 'When,' ha, yes, determined it is nonetheless.

Lastly, that to be restored must at once be given and freely.  Yes,
yes that was already so.

the Archangel thought, let the proof be proven, then.

Thus the Trial began and in its due was done.

Afterward the Archangel mused aloud to that which Be:

                                              "I should tidy up.


                                     True, time will attend to it.

                                             There is yet time."

And in after thought he asked, "May I watch?"

Answer was given.

The Archangel smiled as he unfurled his wings and he set with them upon
the heavens and the stars heard the peal of his laughter.


Asphyx, the Archangel,  will be showing up in various places through out the story, but beware, he may not be what you think he is and you may think you're reading about him when you are not- how's that for cryptic- I like to keep you guessing.

Prolog Two is next.
I always loved the intro to the show, especially once Anthony Head started doing it. And I wanted to have something similar as part of the introduction to the book, so the regular type is mine, the italics is however not the introduction to the show, it is a paraphrase with a few lines from the first episode thrown in for good measure. I think  the two  sound good together.

A Legacy… 
                          Into every generation

is a hard thing to live up to… 
                          There is a chosen one

and an even harder burden to bare...
                          One girl in all the world

when it is come upon at a tender age… 
                         One born with the strength and skill

and everything… 
                         To stop the spread of Evil

literally depends on it… 
                       She alone will stand against the vampires

what then the end of innocence…
                       the demons and the Forces of Darkness… 

when even evil is no longer pure…
                       She is the Slayer.

Another thing I always loved was when anybody said the sentences I am using in the second part of the intro, when you heard them you knew that you were in for something more than just a one episode story, sort of a mini arc. I never did count how many times these lines were used in the series, I think its at least four in some form or another and they were never spoken by the same person twice. Except for Gile's line, I hope to make thier individual arcs match what they are saying-not going to easy, but I am going to try.

Willow speaks:"You think you know,"
Followed by Spike: "What you are,"        
Then Buffy: "What is to come,"     
Dawn: "You haven't even begun,"
And Giles: "The world is doomed."

Next Post will be the first prolog.
I was playing around one day about a year or so ago and made this up, I just thought it looked cool, so I kept it.
    The Legacy continues


    Hi, rranne here.
    This is the new site!

    It's  best  read starting with the bottom blog and reading up to the current one. The sections stay in some semblance of order that way.

    Once your caught up, feel free to jump in where you left off at.

    To start at the very beginning, go to the bottom of the page and hit the previous button.

    This is un-beta-ed, any blaring errors, please let me know so I can fix'em.

    Blank spaces in the text depend on your browser, I have tried, but some of them just won't fix. The only thing I can suggest is try a different browser, IE seems to be the worst for this issue, Foxfire and chrome are better.

    You are now entering


    August 2011
    July 2011

    Bot in Blue


    Chap One