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Collateral Damage

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Summary: Plans go wrong and higher ups have to come up with new plans

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Games > FantasyxxmagexFR13210,740174,4726 Oct 066 Oct 06No

Chapter One

Collateral Damage



Disclaimer: The Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Sandollar, Kuzui, WB and UPN; no copyright infringement is intended, and not one red cent is being earned from this story.
Author's Notes: Thanks to Starway Man for beta'ing this. Thank you very much for all the help.


Collateral Damage
Sunnydale, California. April, 1999

Xander Harris felt pain.

His jaw ached with an intense, throbbing pain. < How did that happen? > he thought to himself vaguely, as he tried to wake up.

Where was he? It felt damp, wherever it was. As the fog cleared from his mind, Harris felt panic setting in.

Faith and Angel, together. Then Angel had punched him. No, wait! < He's gone. Angelus is back... > He had been the one with Faith. Buffy would need to know...

But Angelus had punched Xander so hard, he'd gone down like a sack of potatoes on the street for his trouble. Xander groaned a bit, and tried to sit up.

And instantly, he felt himself pushed right back down.

"Hey, look, our friend is waking up!"

< Oh, shit. Someone's here with me, > he thought. Xander opened his eyes and blinked a few times, trying to get things in focus.

"Sorry. Can't have that!" Xander was punched a few times. "Don't worry, I'll make this quick. And hey, you'll thank me later on!"

Xander felt two sharp pains on his neck. Panic set in completely, as he realized what was going on. His vision, even though blurred, showed a vampire at his neck.

He thrashed out, but the vamp easily deflected his blows. "Knock it off! Don't interrupt me when I'm feeding, you asshole. I might lose my place..."

The fangs plunged into his neck again, almost draining him dry. The vampire then leaned back as he cut his wrist, and held it down to Xander's face. "Here, drink already..."

Harris felt his head being lifted up. He fought it as best as he could, but he was as weak as a kitten by now and tasted the vampire's blood in his mouth.

< Oh God, he's going to turn me... >

"That's right, drink up. Then you'll have a nice little nap. And after that, we'll take care of your friends!"

Xander Harris felt the blackness starting to claim him. < My friends? No. Not Buffy. Not Wills. Not Giles. Not even Cordy! Got to fight for them... >


***
Safely invisible, Whistler watched the pack of vampires as they clustered around Xander.

< This is not good, > the balance demon thought to himself. He had been kinda fond of the boy, as Harris had a great fashion sense for a human. That was mainly why Whistler hated to see it end like this. The youth had deserved better.

"This is unforeseen, and absolutely not as it should be."

Whistler jumped at the voice. Someone had snuck up on him, on him! A balance demon. Who could it have been? He turned around to look at the newcomer, and stifled a gasp.

Next to him stood an elderly, silver-haired male wearing khakis and a tan windbreaker. He had a cigarette in his right hand, as he looked through the warehouse window at the scene unfolding below.

Whistler recognized the newcomer.

This was Yves, the Archangel of Destiny. The first Archangel. What was he doing here?

Yves spoke softly, "You know, this is the second time that something to do with that child has surprised me."

"Sir?" Whistler was very respectful of Yves.

"The prophecy was that the Slayer was to die, when she faced the Master. And that she did. But he refused to accept it. Went charging into the Master's lair with Angel in tow..."

At the mention of Angel, Yves glanced at Whistler. The balance demon reddened; Rat Breath had been his charge, not to mention his failure when Angelus had returned. And no doubt that would be remembered - by those who oversaw the Symphony.

Yves turned his attention back to the scene in the warehouse. "He wouldn't let her die. Messed up a whole lot of destinies in so doing, though. Created *lots* of dissonance in the Symphony." He sighed, "But it was all for the best. He actually made things better. Imagine our surprise..."

Whistler just kept his silence in the presence of an authentic Power, one that the other Powers That Be were in awe of.

"I'm afraid though that the Symphony will be much the poorer for this, now. The long-term consequences are..." he paused for a second. "...disturbing."

"In what way?" Whistler asked. "Bad ways. Dissonance upon dissonance. Others will be affected. The right people not being present at the right time or place...as I said, disturbing."

He took a puff in the cigarette, and pondered for a few seconds. "Perhaps..." Yves murmured to himself. "Yes, that might do. A variant of the theme, but for that to work..."

Whistler kept silent as Yves puffed on the cigarette. The Archangel started up again, "Can't save everything, not yet. In time, perhaps. But for now, all we can do is save the embers, and allow the fire to be relit later. Others will know what to do, once they're guided properly. She'll save him, even as he saves her."

Yves looked at Whistler. And Whistler had a sinking feeling that something had just majorly changed for him. "Your redemption, little demon. You failed us with Angelus. Don't fail us here." Yves started to walk away.

"What do I need to do?"

"You'll know soon enough. I'll, no - I'm planting the seeds. Cultivate them. Let them grow. Guide them, both of them." Yves looked back at the warehouse. "He will be of the darkness, but you cannot let him be *part* of the darkness. Remember that."

< Both of them? Of the darkness, but not part of it? > Whistler thought to himself. Then he realized why everyone hated it, when he did the whole cryptic thing on them. He now knew how they felt, since it had just been done to him.


***
Xander fought with lessening strength. He fought as best as he could, but the group of vampires around him easily held him down as their leader continued in his grim plan.

The image of the Willow vampire came to Xander's mind. < Oh God, that could be me? I have to stop it, have to stop it- >

It could happen to all of his friends. < Have to stop Angelus and Faith. Can't let them have this happen to them. Oh, Willow, I never even... >

And with that, the blackness engulfed Xander as the soul fled his body.


***
Willow wrung her hands, as she sat in the library while the afternoon sun shone through the windows. "We should have heard something by now!"

The rest of the Scoobies were in the library, sitting around the table. It had been two days, since they'd realized that Xander was missing.

The plan to trick Faith had worked. But in the confusion as the brunette had escaped the mansion, no one had realized that Xander was unaccounted for.

It was the next morning when he hadn't showed up at school, that Buffy had realized that Harris was missing. Contacting Angel had revealed the last place anyone had seen him. Giles had gone to where Angel had last seen Xander, finding nothing.

Calls to his parents, once they had sobered up, had revealed that Xander had not shown up at his house. Efforts to find him had been fruitless, so far.

Oz reached over to reassure Willow. He tried to think of reassuring words, but couldn't think of any. He just hoped that his presence alone would be enough to calm Willow down.

"We have no reason to think that anything bad has happened to him. If a demon or vampire had done something to him, the word would have filtered through to the general populace of the underworld by now," Giles said with some confidence.

Indeed, Buffy had leaned on Willy to see if any of the demon underground had news of Xander. But Willy hadn't heard anything, and Buffy doubted that the snitch had been lying to her; she had been most...persuasive.

Buffy Summers fought back the internal doubts she had, though. Giles sounded confident, but still Buffy wished she had gone to check on Xander after the fight with Faith. "Yeah, Will, he'll turn up before too long - cracking some joke about sleeping in a park somewhere." < And now who's fooling who? > Buffy thought to herself.

"I just don't know, Buffy. This is the longest time I can remember when he hasn't called or got in touch with me. He wouldn't just not call me! Something must be wrong," Willow replied.

"Tell you what, Will. Once the sun goes down I'll go out with Angel and we'll sweep the whole town. We'll probably run into him raiding a doughnut shop, or something."

"Fine, but this time don't let Angel leave him there on the street!" Willow snapped.

Buffy bit back a retort. She had been thinking the same thing all day. So she sighed and turned away, so as not to alarm Willow any more than she already was.

Later that evening all of the Scoobies, minus one, met back at the library. The look on Buffy's face instantly conveyed to the rest that she hadn't been able to find out anything. Buffy dejectedly sat down at the table and muttered, "Nothing. Not a sign of Xander It's all quiet out there. Not even a peep out of Faith..."

"And you'd think she would be in our faces over that right now," Cordelia muttered.

Although the girl was still mad at Xander over the fluke with Willow, she was still worried about her ex. The beauty queen suddenly looked up with a worried face, "Hey, Faith was with Angel when Xander got punched unconscious. You don't suppose that she went back to get him, do you?"

Giles responded, "We've already considered that."

Willow looked up "And?"

"We asked Willy. He swears up and down that the Mayor's people didn't get to Xander. To be honest, I rather suspect that's the truth; if they had, they would have contacted us by now. Either to negotiate, or to taunt us. Faith in particular."

Buffy folded her arms. Her dislike of Faith was magnified by realizing that at some level, the renegade Slayer was responsible for whatever had happened to Xander...and never mind that she, Angel and Giles had come up with that whole idea to 'play' her that way...

At that moment, Angel emerged from the stacks. He walked down the stairs to the table. "I wasn't able to find out anything. No one's heard or seen of him-"

"Since you left him on the street!" Willow snapped at Angel.

"Will..." Buffy started, only to be interrupted.

"Oh come on, Buffy. Whatever happened, happened - because of that whole stupid plan of yours!" Cordelia snapped.

"Hey!" the Chosen One growled.

"She's right."

Buffy instantly couldn't believe it, when she saw Willow glaring at her. Giles took his glasses off to clean them, thus being able to avoid looking at Willow. Angel and Buffy both shifted uncomfortably...

"You could have told us, you know. Could have warned us, or at the very least made up some story to have all of us out of harm's way! But no, you didn't think of that - did you? All you thought about was..." the redhead trailed off.

Angel took a few tentative steps forward towards her. "Willow, please believe me when-"

But he was interrupted by the shattering of the skylight above the table, as a figure jumped through it. The person who had come through landed on his feet on the table, as agile as a cat.

He immediately attacked Angel. And Angel was caught completely off- guard. His attacker was incredibly strong and quick, smashing Angel's nose and ears during the fight so that his sense of smell and hearing was completely shot. The ensouled vamp quickly found himself pinned to the ground...

"Angel!" Buffy leapt to go to Angel's aid. But she stopped when she heard the attacker talk, well growl, at Angel. And he said:

"You move one inch - and I'll stake you in the balls before I dust you, Deadboy."

It was Xander's voice. Buffy peered at the attacker, and realized it truly was Xander. The other Scoobies realized it also, at the same time. "Xander, is that you?" Willow asked.

"Yeah. You all right, Will?" was the response.

"Yeah, but what about you, we thought - you've been gone, no word from you, couldn't find you..." She was babbling now. Oz moved up besides her.

"I know, and Deadboy here has lost his soul again!" Xander slammed him against the ground for emphasis. "He was with Faith. Looks like she's turned to the dark side. They're probably planning to attack us from within. A regular third column-"

"Fifth column," Willow corrected Xander automatically. "It's fifth column..."

Buffy moved next to Xander. "Xander, it's all right. Angel really hasn't lost his soul. We were just playing a trick on Faith..."

Xander turned to Buffy, and she noticed he was still wearing the same clothes he'd had the night he had vanished. "What the hell do you mean? I saw them together. He hit me. Knocked me out cold. Left me on the street as a free meal, for anything that came along!"

Angel answered that one, still pinned underneath Xander. "We were, uh, running a sting operation to find out what Faith was up to. The demon they were using to steal my soul had warned us...we just sort of turned the whole thing on them-"

Buffy laid a hand on Xander's arm. "I'm sorry if you were hurt, but we couldn't risk anyone finding out and blowing the whole thing. Look - me, Giles and Angel kept it secret from everyone. We had to make Faith think Angel was on their side, so he had to knock you out so that she wouldn't suspect-"

"And he just left me there." It was more a statement than a question. Harris then shifted his arm, so that Buffy's hand fell off it.

"He had to! If Angel had done anything different, she would have known something was up. Anyway, the plan worked great. We learned everything Faith knew! The Mayor is doing something called the Ascension on Graduation day. We're going to stop him..." Buffy took a breath. "And now that you're back, everything will be all right-"

Xander thought for a second, then he stood up and let Angel off the ground. The vampire held his hand up for help, to get up from the ground.

Xander just ignored it, taking several steps back. He just closed his eyes and spoke, "All right, Buffy? I don't think so. Nothing will ever be all right again."

Buffy stared at him, with a puzzled look on her face. "What do you mean?"

Xander looked at her, as his face morphed into that of a vampire's. "Well, let's just say everything changed that night, and not for the good either!"


***
Buffy Summers felt herself go cold, as she saw Xander's face shift into a vampiric visage. < Oh God, no - this can't be true. This must be some kind of sick joke! Xander's mad at us for leaving him on the street like that, and-and this is just his way of getting back at us! > Buffy desperately thought to herself.

But if so, how had he been able to throw down with Angel like that? Buffy's denials fell down one by one in light of what she had seen, and what she suddenly realized her Slayer senses were telling her.

This was Xander Harris, and he was now a teenage vampire.

Willow stifled a gasp and a sob, as she saw Xander's face. < Oh, no...oh my God- >

Harris turned away from her, "Don't look at me, Will, I don't want you to see me like..." It was almost as if Harris was struggling to not sob himself. "...this."

With that Xander turned from the Scoobies, without a word, and ran, almost bounding out of the door of the library out into the hallway. The entire gang just stood there dumbfounded, as they watched him disappear.

After what seemed a lifetime, but was actually only about a minute, Willow walked up and faced Angel. < This is all your fault... >

The undead Champion looked at her, and he could tell she was holding back tears. "Willow, I'm-"

He never got to finish that sentence, as Willow slapped him hard across the face. "Damn you! Damn you to Hell, where you belong!"

"Willow..." Giles started.

"Don't even say it! Or I'll turn you into a toad!" she snarled back at him. "You and your stupid games did this. His blood is on your hands!"

Miss Rosenberg looked at Giles, Angel and Buffy all in turn. "*All* of your hands! You're just as guilty of getting him killed, as the vampire that did that to him. And I hope you all burn for that!"

She stormed out of the library, with Oz close behind her.

Cordelia did the same thing. But before she left, she just said cuttingly to the trio, "You know, I really hope you three are proud of yourselves. And the next time someone needs CPR in the Master's cave, or to be rescued at Angel's mansion, or to be stopped from killing someone at the hospital? Well. Good luck finding someone else to be there, for your pathetic asses!"


***
Whistler watched Xander, as the youth drank the blood that he had gotten from the local butcher shop.

The problem with vampires is that they have to feed, the need for blood eventually becomes overwhelming. And a new vamp wasn't picky. Whistler was just personally surprised, that the kid hadn't broken down yet and attacked a human to drink them...

But in the few days since it had all happened, the former Scooby had not even looked cross-eyed at anyone's neck. It was most un-vampire of him.

Harris had been drinking rats and cats, mostly, before he'd wised up a bit. He reminded Whistler of how Angel had been, when they had first met. Of course, that had been after the former Irishman had been in the possession of his soul for almost a hundred years...

And Xander was acting that way, less than a week into his tenure as a vampire?

At first, Whistler thought that somehow Xander still possessed his soul. But this had quickly been proven wrong; when Whistler had gotten close enough to Xander to sense a soul, there had been nothing there to detect.

And yet, the undead teen acted as if he had a conscience and wouldn't cross the line. Whistler suspected that this was somehow Yves' doing...

Still, if Xander didn't feed, he would cross the line and become just like the rest of them in his behavior. So he'd gotten blood, to try and stop this from happening.

Harris had also come around here, when he saw a wanted poster for one of the cats he had drained. It had seemed to disturb him. And then he'd met Whistler, and an 'interesting' conversation had taken place.

< Talk about your odd couple, > Whistler thought, as he handed the boy a blood bag. "Be careful, kid, that blood is like ice cream. Drink it too quick, and you'll get a really bad headache..." Whistler commented, as Xander tore into the packet.

The vampire just looked up at him, and then went back to devouring the contents of the packet. "Hey, don't say I didn't warn you!" the balance demon said, shortly before Xander dropped the packet he was draining and gripped his head.

"Kid, I told ya! I swear, you're going to have to slow down. You've been a vampire..." Whistler stopped, as Xander glared at him with an intensity that scared him. Whistler rephrased what he had been saying, "You've been...in this shape, for barely a week. There are things you have to learn, so you can survive."

"Why?"

"Why what?" Whistler asked.

"Survive. Why should I want to survive?"

Whistler thought frantically, < Ah, crap. What do I tell the kid, 'cause I can't tell him much... >

Of course, that was because Whistler didn't know much himself. One thing he had learned from his time doing this was that you always had to let the people you were dealing with believe that you knew more than what you were saying, otherwise they started to ignore what you told them. That was one of the reasons for the whole cryptic thing that he did.

"'Cause you have to," the demon said with a calculated shrug.

"Says who?" Xander growled back at him.

"Says me!" Whistler responded, then continued at the look on Xander's face. "And a lot of others. Plans are being made by the major players up there, kiddo. The balance must be maintained. There are greater things going on here than you know-"

Xander turned away from Whistler. "I've been told about you, *Whistler*. Being all with the cryptic, and not really giving any details..."

< Oh. Double crap! > It must have been Buffy Summers who had told the kid who he was. Since the time the agent of balance had been watching over the new vampire, he had yet to mention the names of any of the Scoobies.

"You just really basically annoy people, and don't add anything to the situation at all - right?"

Whistler cursed mentally, this wasn't part of the job description. Walking a newly-created vampire through his first days. Even if anyone had any experience with this, it was him - Whistler suspected that this was going to turn out to be a very atypical experience for him.

"Look, kid, bottom line is things are set up to happen in certain ways. And if they don't happen those ways, bad things will happen."

"You mean, like me getting turned into a soulless monster?"

< Lets See, Whistler... > the demon thought to himself. < This is going to be harder than you first thought... >


***
Willy held an icepack up to his cheek, and moaned in pain. "Now why did you go and do that, Slayer?" he asked Buffy, who was standing over him.

Angel hovered around behind her. The bar was empty, as all the patrons had cleared out when Buffy and Angel had arrived with blood in their eyes.

"'Cause you told us that no one had done anything to Xander. I don't like it when I'm lied to, particularly about something that important!"

"What? Nothing's happened to the kid-" Buffy hit Willy at once. "Hey, I'm telling the truth!"

Buffy leaned down and almost snarled into Willy's face, "No you're not. 'Cause, we saw Xander a couple of hours ago."

"Well, good for you-" Willy tried to interrupt, but Buffy kept on talking. "Only thing was, he's now a member of the undead fraternity. Bumpy face, and all. So someone had to make him that way, right?"

Willy looked up in panic. "Uh, I-I-I didn't know..."

He then looked at Angel standing behind Buffy, with panic in his eyes. "Come on, Angel, you know that if someone had bagged one of the Slayer's friends then they woulda been in here - bragging it up, for the whole world to hear! But no one, and I mean NO ONE, has said anything in here about doing something to that kid. I swear..."

Angel stepped forward and put a hand on Buffy's shoulder. "He's right. Normally, something like this would travel at the speed of light on the demon information highway. And I'd have heard about it, long before now."

Buffy leaned back, still scowling at Willy. "All right, let's look at this from another viewpoint..." She reached down, and grabbed the front of Willy's shirt. "What's happened recently that seems strange? Something that's changed its habits. Gathering its forces. The Mayor up to funny business..."

Willy shook his head. "No, nothing like that. Everything's..." His voice suddenly trailed off. "Wait up. There was that gang..."

"What gang?" Buffy and Angel both demanded at the same time.

"Uh, there was a gang of biker vampires in here a while ago. Making a bunch of noise. From Texas, or something. Asking questions about you, and everyone else-"

"And you told them!?" Buffy almost shouted as she pulled Willy up to his feet, the ice bag being dropped behind him.

"NO! NO! Come on, you know I know better than that!" Willy stammered out in blind panic. "I didn't give up anything. Well, other than that you were dangerous and not to be messed with..." the bartender whimpered, as Buffy glared at him.

"So then they asked all the bar patrons what was the what. Made some noise about how they had taken out a Slayer already, and were looking to make it a second in as many decades..."

"And?" Buffy prompted him.

"They up and vanished about two days ago. No one's seen hide or hair of them since."

"That's when Xander..." Angel whispered, finishing the sentence silently, < ...was left to die on the street. By me. >

"Where?" Buffy was short and to the point.

Willy reached over, and scribbled an address on the piece of paper he grabbed from the bar. "Here, this is where their nest is. Was. Whatever..."

Buffy took the paper. She pushed Willy back against the wall, and started to walk away. But when the Slayer got halfway to the door she stopped, even if she didn't turn around. "If I find out you gave them any information, which led to what happened? I'll come back for you. And the only way you're leaving this bar, is in a body bag..."

With that, Buffy started walking again and out the door of the bar. Angel just sent Willy a look, before following her.


***
The door of the warehouse burst open and flew across the big room, narrowly missing the motorcycles that were parked inside. The sole vampire in the room looked up in panic, from the cycle he had been readying. He looked lost, surrounded by the other motorcycles.

Buffy walked through the open doorway.

The vampire actually seemed to relax just a little bit, when he saw who it was.

Buffy approached him, and glanced at his motorcycle. A bag was strapped to the back of it. "Going somewhere?" she asked.

He eyed the Slayer warily. "Yeah, nothing keeping me here anymore. Thought I'd blow town..." he said with fake bluster.

Buffy could almost smell the fear off him, yet she got the hint that he was actually more scared of something else. < What's up with that? >

"Why even come, if you have nothing to tie you down here?"

The vampire jumped at the sound of Angel's voice. He hadn't noticed the other vamp come into the warehouse from the sewer entrance. He stammered out a reply, "Hey, just seeing the good ol' USA..."

He turned back to Buffy, only to meet head-on her incoming fist. He was knocked over one of the nearby motorcycles.

Buffy advanced on his prone form. "Lot of motorcycles here, just for one rider."

The vampire scrambled to try and get away from her. "Hey, so I like a wide selection!"

Buffy glanced at Angel, who grabbed the vampire and held him in place. The Summers girl towered over him and snarled, "I think you're lying..." She took the cross necklace from around her neck, leaned over and pressed it down on the vampire's cheek. He cried out in pain. "And I don't like liars."

"Okay, enough! What do you wanna know?" the vampire cried out.

"Let's try, telling us why you're leaving?" Buffy removed the cross from the vampire's cheek.

The vampire looked around in panic. Buffy leaned back in, waving the cross at him. The undead biker held up his hands and waved them. "NO, NO! I'll tell you what you want to know!"

The vampire paused for a second, then continued. "I'm just afraid he'll come back..."

"Who?" Angel pushed down, and put on his game face.

"That friend of yours, of course! You know, the one you punched unconscious a few nights back? We saw ya do it! Hit him hard too, went down like a sack of rocks thrown over a cliff. Ray recognized him. Knew he was close to the Slayer..."

"Who's Ray?"

"Ray is, uh, *was* our leader. Bad hombre. He killed that Slayer a few years back, in Canada? He came here 'cause..." The vampire stared at Buffy for a second, "...well, 'cause he wanted to kill another Slayer..."

"And?" Buffy prompted, barely restraining the urge to stake him.

"Ray said it was like a gift from Heaven. Having someone close to you just dropped into our laps like that! He joked that we'd have to write you all a thank-you note..."

Angel looked away in shame.

"...so we grabbed the kid, and brought him back here."

Buffy looked around, and saw a long table over in the corner. She felt sick, when she realized that it was most likely where Harris had died. < Oh God, Xander, I'm so sorry... >

The vampire continued on, "Kid put up a fight when he woke up. Never had a chance, of course, he was still too groggy to really do anything when Ray turned him. Because the boss wanted him to get close to you and start turning all of that gang you hang out with, ya know? By the time you'd have noticed anything, it woulda been too late - as your undead pals would have come after you. After all, you didn't even come looking for the kid till the next day..."

Buffy almost vomited when she fully processed the vampire' swords. She barely managed to croak out her next question. "So what happened? Why are you all Lone Ranger here now?"

"Kid woke up, as planned. Ray had some blood he'd snatched from the local blood bank. Fed the new recruit, same as he'd done a hundred times before. Ray then started talking about the plan - you know, telling the kid how he was going to kill and turn the others. But when Ray mentioned the witch, the kid stopped drinking, glared at him and..."

"Go on!" Angel prompted him.

"The newbie glared at Ray for a few seconds, threw down the packet and then grabbed the boss. Damn freak had this majorly feral look! Ray was completely surprised. So was everyone else, when the kid ripped Ray's head off-"

"What?" Angel demanded. "How did he do that? A fledgling can't possibly-"

"I'm just telling you what's what. Head came off! Clean off. I mean, Ray had about 6 inches and a hundred pounds on the kid - and that guy just tore his head off! He then looked at the rest of us. Had that same feral look. Freaking blood was dripping from his chin, man! Game face on, but worse than any other vampire I've ever seen. He..."

The biker vampire faltered for a second. "There were fourteen of us, well - thirteen after Ray got all dusty. I was the only one to get out. And that's only because the freak got tripped up on one of the hogs! I able to get out through the sewer, while he was dealing with the others..."

The vampire looked around at Buffy and Angel. "That's all I know. So what now?"

"How did your sire know who Xander was?" Buffy asked.

"Uh, Ray had been watching your house for several nights. He saw all of your friends go in and out of there. Look, you going to let me go? Because hey, I told you what you wanted to know!"

Buffy sighed. "Yeah, you did. I wished you hadn't, but you did." The vampire looked hopeful for a second, till he saw the stake in Buffy's hands. "Still, you have to pay for what happened. Just like the rest of 'em..."

"No!" the vampire cried, as he exploded into dust from the stake sticking out of his chest.

Buffy stood up, staggered over and leaned over on one of the motorcycles. Then she started vomiting.

After a few seconds, she wiped her mouth with her arm. The Chosen One stood still for a while, then she started to sob. Angel hurried over to comfort her...

Buffy Summers, Slayer, hero and champion, flung Angel's arms off of her like they were the tentacles of the Hellmouth demon itself. "Don't touch me. Don't touch me!"

She started to walk numbly out of the warehouse, and headed for home. Things would never be the same again...

to be continued
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