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This story is No. 7 in the series "Tales of the LSH (Legion of Sunnydale Heroes)". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: A response to the TTH Challenge 1191: Scooby Vamped

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > General > Alternate UniverseGreywizardFR1816,1244249,25512 Mar 0712 Mar 07Yes
Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to Mutant Enemy and Crack-Head Joss Whedon, although he doesn’t deserve any of them, considering the way he’s destroyed them during the course of the last few seasons. I'm just borrowing them for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine.

Category: YAHF. Yet Another Hell-o-ween Fic.

Summary: This is a response to the TTH Challenge 1191: Scooby Vamped, which reads:

{{ One of the Scoobies becomes a Blakeverse vampire. How do they deal with the change and how does it effect the others? What does the Vampire Council say about it?}}

Time frame: Alternate Buffy-verse, branching off during episode eighteen, 'Halloween.'

Character Bashing: None.

Author’s Note 1: The Vampire Council reaction part of the challenge will not be addressed here since, in my opinion, the Buffy-verse and the Blake-verse are significantly different and cannot conceivably coexist in the same universe without rewriting a significant portion of one or the other's canon.

Author's Notes 2: Thanks to Lori Bush, Tim Joy, Bill Haden and Drake the Archr for beta-ing this story.

{ word } is thoughts

:: word :: is mental communication.

~~~

Ethan's Costume Emporium
October 30, 1997


"I can't believe that little troll had the nerve to draft us for rugrat escort duty on the one night of the year I don't have to worry about the sunlight challenged or any of their buddies trying to wipe out the world!"

Buffy's ranting was loud enough that several of the other customers were giving her wary looks from what they most likely thought were sufficient distances to allow them to avoid her potential wrath, Xander noticed with a small grin.

{ Ah, little do they even begin to appreciate their errors in judgment, should the Buffster ever decide to go postal, } he thought to himself with a smile. { Of course she does look hot when she’s mad… }

"I can certainly understand your feelings about that, Buffy," Willow decided to interrupt the petite blonde's tirade before the shop owner could decide that her diatribe against the Troll was a potential threat to his profits and asked them all to leave, "but right now I'm more concerned with finding a costume that will meet the dress code he set."

"Yeah, Buff," Xander chimed in. "Remember, 'No comic book characters are permitted and the costumes chosen must be recognizable as characters from reputable literary works'," he quoted the principle's edicts.

"How can you possibly expect to find any interesting characters to dress up as with guidelines like that?" he complained with outraged fervor.

"Although, now that I think about it for a moment…" his voice trailed off as possible inspiration stuck him.

"What are you thinking about, Xander?" Willow asked him the least bit hesitantly. After all, having known him since they were both five years old, she'd seen some of the places that his mind could visit in search of inspiration.

And that thought made shivers run down her spine.

"I hope this isn't anything like that idea you had back in third grade for that demonstration for the science fair," she stated warningly.

"Oh, hey, none of that was my fault, at all, Will," the male Scooby declared firmly, waving off the redhead's concerns.

"The cow healed up just fine, and the police and the fire department could never prove anything, anyway, remember?" he reminded her. "And this idea is *way* better than that!"

Upon hearing her best male friend's declaration, Buffy paused in her rather focused examination of the assorted costumes hanging on the various racks and turned to stare at him for a long moment.

Then, after an additional moment spent glancing back and forth between her two friends' faces, she finally declared, "Nope. Definitely not asking any questions, 'cause I'm pretty sure I *really* don’t want to know anything about whatever it is you're talking about, guys.

"And with that thought in mind, I'm also almost afraid to ask what it is you came up with, Xand," she continued.

"Except I'm also sure that it's probably gonna really honk Snyder off, which is something I'm entirely in favor of," she then added with a shark-like smile.

"So, spill!"

"Remember those books I was reading a while back, about the vampire executioner chick?" he grinned down at her. "You know, the Anita Blake series?

"I was thinking we could each go as one of the characters," he explained enthusiastically. "You could go as Anita, Buff, 'cause you're sort of already a vampire executioner, I could go as Edward, the guy all the supernatural critters called 'Death,' 'cause he's just a regular human guy who's good with guns, and Wills could go as Tammy Reynolds, the witch that works for the RPIT group.

"So, what do you think, guys?" he asked with as smile.

"I guess that's okay, Xand," Will nodded her notably unenthusiastic agreement with his suggestion. "What do you think, Buffy?"

"I don’t know," the blonde admitted. "It definitely does have some appeal, because I think it would certainly yank the Troll's chain, ‘cause it’s lit, but not one of the ‘classics’ he’s expecting us to use,” she said, doing some air quotes.

“But it's also Halloween – you know, when you're supposed to come as you aren't, right?" she asked with a bright, if questioning, smile.

"How about we change the character roles around, and make it so everyone is a character who’s the opposite sex than they are in the books?" she offered an alternate idea.

"That way, I could go as a female Edward; someone named Edda, 'cause that name means 'one with clear goals', which Edward most definitely did," Buffy noted parenthetically, "and you could go as a male necromancer, instead, Xand. You could use the name 'Ian', which sounds sort of like a male version of Anita, right?

"And Will could go as…hmmm, let me think about that for a minute… Yes! I know the perfect choice!" she exclaimed with glee after a moment's consideration.

The Slayer's smile was exceedingly evil, Willow decided the moment she saw the tiny blonde look over at her, and she immediately began shaking her head 'No,' even before she heard the name of whatever character Buffy had decided on.

"You could go as a female Jean-Claude, Will! You could call yourself 'Jeanne-Clarice'," Buffy recommended with a brilliant smile. "And you’d look fantastic as a sexy master vampiress! Or, would that be sexy mistress vampire?” she asked, getting slightly off track for a second before smiling again. “Never mind…

"We could get you these white satin pants I saw over in Beauchamp's the other day, which you could still wear afterwards, too," she went on, "and I've got this ivory scoop-neck blouse that would just look superb on you that would go great with it, and Mom's got this dark auburn wig she got a couple years ago that would look perfect on you because of your complexion, so the only other thing we'd really need to get you would be a white three-quarters length jacket and some fangs…"

After first procuring replica pistols for both herself and Xander as part of their costumes, and brushing aside the redhead's wide-eyed negative protests and head shakes and Xander's somewhat acerbic comments about the wisdom of dressing as any kind of vampire at any time in this particular town, Buffy took hold of the hacker's arm and began guiding her to the back of the store, where the better class of costumes were stored, all the while outlining her conception of the redhead's costumed persona.

None of them took any note of the dapper-looking Englishman standing off to one side who had been eavesdropping on their discussion, and who now wore a very self-satisfied smirk on his somewhat smarmy features.

{ Oh, I now have no doubt that tomorrow night will almost certainly be an offering unlike any ever seen before in your honor, My Lord, } he thought to himself as he watched the three adolescents either discussing or, more likely, bickering about the possible merits of some of the various costumes they were examining.

{ Chaos will rule over this ramshackle town and it will all be for your glory! }

~~~

A wave of arcane energy roared through the town, carrying away with it the consciousness of everyone who had purchased their costumes from the outwardly genteel Englishman's shop, leaving behind and in control of their body the personality the costume’s wearer had sought to emulate.

~~~

Edda blinked and reflexively pulled her Beretta from her belt as she looked around, evaluating her surroundings.

{ What the hell's going on? } she asked herself.

A moment ago, she was in a vamp bar across the river from the Arch in East St. Louis, mixing with the other tourists, having followed her latest assignment there in the course of determining their usual routine, and then the next, she found herself stumbling around the front yard of a house that seemed to simply scream 'Suburbia,' while scores of elementary school children and – other things – were running around wildly in clear confusion and bewilderment.

“Way too clean to be East St. Louis…” she murmured to herself as she checked out the area.

Seeing nothing that looked as though it could pose any sort of immediate threat to her, she tucked her pistol back into the holster concealed under her tailored jacket and began heading towards what seemed to be the center of town, ignoring the chaotic hordes around her, all of whom gave her a wide berth as she walked by, clearly sensing the predator concealed beneath the cute and ostensibly harmless façade of the tiny blonde.

The center of town was the likeliest place for her to find out what was going on, and she needed to find out where she was first, before she could figure out how to get back to St. Louis.

“I hate magic.”

~~~

Jeanne-Clarice stared in disbelief as she recognized the pattern of energy permeating the area around her, the almost unbelievable density of the mystical power hammering at her senses.

She was on a Hellmouth! How in the name of all that was holy or unholy had she gotten here?

Only a moment ago she had been sitting in her office at 'Guilty Pleasures,' discussing the recent proposed increase in prices they'd been notified of by several of their suppliers with Jacinda, and discussing who they might consider as alternatives when suddenly, here she was, standing in the middle of some suburban block of residential houses that smelled suspiciously like the West Coast, surrounded by scores of screaming children and misshapen creatures that looked to be simple caricatures of the more mythical creatures spoken of by the humans in their legends.

Was this the first step in some elaborate design by Belle-Morte or others of the Vampire Council to destroy her and everything she had been laboring the past two hundred years of her unlife to build, or was it the first step in someone else's Machiavellian scheme to supplant her as the Mistress of the City?

Either way, she would not stand idly by and allow anyone to move against her without suffering retribution in one way or another!

Focusing her concentration, she reached out mentally, searching the area and was somewhat reassured when she finally felt the unmistakable presences of both Ian and Rikki.

:: Mes cheres, are you all right?:: she called out to them.

:: I'm fine, babe. Just a touch occupied at the moment. How about you guys? Are both of you all right? :: she 'heard' Ian ask her and Rikki as he felt the touch of her mind upon theirs.

:: I am physically fine, :: she reassured her partners. :: Although the presence of this Hellmouth near us is definitely somewhat – disconcerting, :: she admitted , loath to show any weakness.

:: Only because you haven't been able to figure out how to best incorporate it into one of your schemes yet, :: she heard their third member comment in her typically insightful and somewhat acerbic manner.

:: Oui, my dear one, :: she mentally nodded her agreement.

:: And you say that like it's a bad thing, :: she joked, trying to imitate Ian's admittedly at-times-sophomoric humor.

:: Okay, guys, I've kinda got a minor situation here, :: Ian noted. :: Let me get back to you in a couple minutes, okay? ::

:: Very well, my darling. I will be with both of you momentarily, :: she said as she lifted up into the air and began flying towards Rikki, since she was the closer of her two bondmates. :: Then we will find out what is going on, who is behind this and how to stop it. ::

:: And how we can best turn it to our benefit. ::

~~~

{ What in the name of God is going on? } Ian asked himself as he looked around the middle-class suburban neighborhood that had replaced the urban Italian area of St. Louis known as ‘The Hill.’ { Great, just what I wanted, } he thought, { danger and confusion instead of the toasted ravioli at Rigazzi's that I was enjoying. }

Dozens of children and adults around him were running around willy-nilly in confused panic and terrified screams filled the air as he tried to figure out exactly where he was and just what was going on.

"Well now, look at who have here, boys. It's one of the Slayer's lackeys – the lapdog, if I'm not mistaken."

He turned to see who it was who had spoken, and was somewhat surprised to find himself confronting a rather scruffy looking group of what appeared, at first glance, to be zombies, who were all staring at him and grinning as though they had just heard one of Dana Carvey's Ross Perot presidential candidate shticks.

He also took note of the – unusual – aura surrounding each of them; being dead meant that they certainly weren't human, and their absence of any sign of a soul instantly marked them as most definitely non-vampiric, although the lack of any visible sign of a summoning circle and the way they were behaving indicated that they were certainly something other than your standard run of the mill zombie.

They also didn't feel anything like those poor, damned ensouled perversions Dominga Salvador had created, he noted curiously.

Stretching out his mystical sense, he noted what he could only describe as an 'otherworldly' and bitter tinge to their auras, as though something were possessing them.

{ Maybe a demon is providing some kind of a motive force, possibly? } he wondered to himself, his professional curiosity and interest coming to the fore at the thought of discovering a new variety of undead.

"I think the little prat's too scared to even run," a bleached blond zombie wearing a black leather duster snickered as he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and put one in his mouth.

"Which is a real shame. Them running in terror usually gives them a nice bit of flavor," he added, his words making his companions chuckle as though he had said something extraordinarily witty.

"Why would I want to run?" Ian asked the blond zombie, curious as to how it would react to his questions. Was it actually self-directed, or was it being manipulated from another location by someone or something currently unseen?

"That would indicate that I thought that there was actually a possibility that you might be able to hurt me," he continued, seeing the flare of annoyance his words generated in the apparent leader.

"Well now, I guess we'll just have to show you that that's not just a possibility, it's a certainty, Whelp," the blond sneered, as he began leading the group towards him.

“You obviously don’t know who I am, but I’ll give you a hint… I’m not the judge or the jury… What’s that leave, dead man?”

“You, bleeding out on the ground, wanker,” was his only response,

Since he clearly didn't have any chickens available to use, Ian pulled out his Buck folding knife from his back pocket and used it to open up a small cut on his left palm as he began gathering his power and tying it to his blood to shape it to his will.

He focused and reached out and the zombies suddenly began moving as though they were walking through quicksand, their every motion impeded and slowed to a fraction of their normal speed.

The bleached-blond one seemed to realize what was going on first, as he immediately looked at Ian, an expression of concern on his face and shouted, "Hey now! What the hell's going on, you bloody bastard?"

It was at that particular moment, of course, that Jeanne-Clarice chose to contact him and Rikki, momentarily distracting him.

~~~

Rikki snarled in mixed concern and confusion as she looked around her in bewilderment. Just what the hell was going on here?

Only a moment ago she had been at the front of her classroom, copying a list of questions that might be on her midterm exam onto the blackboard for the children in her second afternoon class to review, and the next, she was standing in the middle of what looked, at first glance, like St. Charles county or some other suburb sometime after dusk had fallen, with dozens of elementary and middle school children running around in panic.

The easily heard scuff of feet on asphalt and a rage-filled roar from her rear alerted her to the presence of another predator, and she spun around to see something that was vaguely Sasquatch-shaped and that looked like it should be starring in something featured on the Science-Fiction Channel chasing after a group of terrified children.

Her normal maternal instincts to protect the young instantly aroused, she snarled a warning at the pseudo-Wookie as she instantly shifted to her hybrid form, leapt ahead and took up position between it and the screaming children, the unmistakable fury in her voice triggering some deep buried survival instinct in her opponent, and it instantly turned on its heel and headed off in search of easier prey.

Taking a moment to shift back to her human visage, so as not to further terrify the cowering children any more than they already were, Rikki noticed the leather cat suit she was wearing, and idly wondered where she had gotten it, since it didn't look like anything she would normally wear, before shrugging off the question as unimportant at the moment.

Pasting a reassuring smile on her face, she turned to the frightened children behind her.

"Hi, guys! My name's Rikki. Want to tell me what happened and where the adults who were with you went?"

A minute later, as she was leading the children back to their school. she heard Jeanne-Clarice calling to her and Ian.

~~~

Returning his attention to the possibly demon-possessed bodies before him, Ian noted in passing that the apparent leader had allowed himself to drop back to the rear of the group that was heading towards him.

Pulling out his Browning as he took several steps back from the approaching band, he carefully took aim and fired at the closest creature and a pleased smile crossed his face as his target's head seemed to explode as the silver-alloyed hollow-point expanded upon entry and tore through the back of the skull.

Surprisingly, though, the creature's body and possessions seemed to instantly turn to dust with their destruction, as though some form of accelerated decomposition was occurring, the analytical part of his mind noted.

Having satisfied himself that whatever these things might be, they were still vulnerable to standard anti-supernatural weaponry, Ian quickly repeated his actions and removed most of the remaining members of the group as any form of threat to the general public.

Opting to refrain from destroying the last three members of the group, including the loudmouth who had been leading them, so as to examine them in greater detail at a more convenient time and wanting to reunite with his bond mates, Ian refocused his power and seized complete control of all the corpses.

He then headed down the street towards the area where he could feel Rikki and Jeanne-Clarice, his new 'acquisitions' preceding him as though they were a somewhat abbreviated honor guard.

~~~

Sunnydale High School library
November 1, 1997
8:15 AM


"Hello? Giles? Anybody here? Giles, we need to talk to you!"

The Watcher/librarian emerged from his office in response to Xander's call, his customary day-to-day tweed dress jacket having been replaced by a thick cable-knit sweater over his usual blue oxford-cloth dress shirt on this gloriously cool morning, carrying what was clearly a venerable, ancient text bound in unfamiliar bronze-colored leather in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, to find two of his usual charges waiting for him in the company of yet another of the school's students, a rather pretty dark-honey-blonde-haired young woman.

"Eh, is there some kind of problem, Xander?" he asked, a puzzled expression on his face as he looked first at the young man, then at Willow and finally at the young woman he vaguely recognized as one of the 'Cordettes,' as he had once heard Xander dub the Chase girl's pseudo-disciples.

"Yeah, Giles, we're pretty sure there is," the dark-haired youth nodded his agreement with the other's question even as the Englishman regarded all three with some concern.

"Oh, and Giles, this is Aphrodisia Parkinson," he added, indicating their companion, who flashed him a nervous smile. "She's kind of involved in the weirdness, too."

There was some vague sense of…difference…some undefined semi-oddity about all three young people, he decided as he looked the trio over.

The jeans, blue button-down shirt and black leather jacket Xander was still wearing, which he recognized as the same clothing the young man had donned as part of his Halloween costume the previous night, appeared the least bit tousled, as though the man wearing them had been involved in some sort of scuffle or brawl, perhaps.

Willow, too, was still dressed in the white clothing and auburn-haired wig of her chosen character from the previous night, some sort of literary vampire figure, if he recalled correctly, and she appeared even paler than she normally did, he observed with gradually increasing unease.

And the young woman, Aphrodisia, was wearing some type of expensive black leather body suit, something that was certainly appeared completely out of character if she was, indeed, the same individual he remembered as being a member of the upper tier in the school's social hierarchy.

"What exactly seems to be the problem, Xander?" he asked, not noticing any obvious injuries that any of them might have sustained. "What, uhm, weirdness are you speaking of?"

Glancing over at Willow, the dark-haired youth nodded at the now auburn-haired young woman, as though encouraging her.

"Well, Giles," Willow answered him, speaking more slowly and carefully than normal. And she seemed to possess some sort of faint accent, he noted with a small frown.

"It's like this," she went on, as she opened her mouth slightly and smiled at him, revealing a set of petite fangs at the same time that she lifted up into the air and floated a good two feet above the library's floor.

"It seems like all three of us got changed into our costumes last night.

"And we haven't changed back yet."

***

A quick call to the Summers residence had summoned a grumpy and not-at-all-pleased-to-be-awoken-at-this-hour Slayer, who had appeared at the library in a satisfyingly short period of time, a semi-frown marring her beautiful features as she entered, clearly alert and concerned as her eyes carefully searched the library's premises for any indication of the unfamiliar supernatural presence that her Slayer sense was screaming at her was somewhere in the area.

"Guys, not to be rude or anything, but I think you should all leave, right now," she announced upon seeing her friends gathered around the table at which they normally did their research.

"I'm sensing a couple of vamps, possibly Master-level powerful, and something else definitely not of the normal around here, and I don't think you should be just sitting around until Giles can help me figure out what it is that's giving me the wiggins," she advised, her worry about their safety distracting her slightly from her search for whatever it was she could sense.

"Uh, hey, Buffy," Willow gave her friend a weak smile as she wiggled her fingers in an uncertain 'hello.'

"Maybe you should, uh, sit down and we could, uhm, talk about stuff that, uh, might have happened to, ah, various people last night, maybe?" she suggested while maintaining her distance from the Chosen One.

"What kind of stuff that happened last night?" the diminutive blonde demanded, her forehead furrowing with a mixture of emotions the two younger Scoobies couldn't quite make out. "And who'd it happen to?"

"Wills, I don’t think the slow and gradual approach is gonna work. You're just gonna have to show her before something happens to freak her out and things go down the tubes," Xander commented as he stood up and raised his hands in a calming manner towards the blonde.

"Buffy, you need to stay calm and listen to what we have to tell you," he added, moving to take up a position between the Slayer and the Scooby Gang's resident hacker.

“Everything’s still of the good, but we have some stuff we need to talk to you about,” he announced, smiling reassuringly at her.

Aphrodisia, too, stood up and moved so that she was standing between Willow and Buffy as she addressed the petite demon-slayer, who noticed how all three exchanged glances as though they were somehow communicating wordlessly with each other.

"What kind of stuff are we talking about?" Buffy repeated her question, a look of concern crossing her face as her glance moved back and forth among the three teens.

"Buffy, some weird stuff happened to all three of us last night, and that's why we asked Giles to call and have you come in," the dark-honey-blonde beauty stated quietly. "I'm gonna show you and Giles exactly what happened to me, now, so please don't freak out and try to attack me, okay?

"I promise, I'm not gonna hurt anyone, so just be cool, okay?" she added one last warning.

Watching the other girl vigilantly while throwing a puzzled frown at her two fellow Scoobies, Buffy nodded her hesitant agreement.

“Okay,” she said. “But don’t do anything wiggins-worthy, okay? Or I might end up doing something none of us would end up liking,” she cautioned.

“Okay,” Aphrodisia nodded her own agreement. “Here I go.”

With that final warning, she immediately began transforming, her skull reshaping itself as her nose and jaw began pushing forward, the hair on her head beginning to shorten even as thick fur began sprouting over her body. Her arms and legs shifted, and claws replaced the nails on her fingers, while her ears rounded and shifted to a slightly higher position on her skull.

While her overall body mass didn’t change, the proportions of various parts did, and Buffy watched with semi-horrified fascination as her classmate transformed into a hybrid human-puma before her eyes.

"Xand, Will, what's going on?" Buffy asked, not taking her eyes off Aphrodisia for a split-second as she spoke. The petite blonde's posture indicated that she was ready to take immediate action, should it become necessary, but her still-calm question conveyed her willingness to talk at present and not immediately resort to violence, as was her usual wont.

"Uh, Buffy, remember how we all agreed to go as characters from that Anita Blake vampire series for Halloween?" Willow reminded her friend. "Well, for some reason we don’t understand yet, the three of us didn't change back after the spell wore off last night, and we're all still connected."

"What do you mean, Will?" Buffy asked, although the tone of her voice indicated that it was more of a rhetorical, as opposed to a real, question.

"She means that the three of us – her, Aphrodisia and me – are still all mystically bound to each other, Buff," Xander answered her. "Just like in the books.

"We're a triumvirate," he said, as he reached out, took hold of one of Willow's and Aphrodisia's hands and the eyes of all three of them glowed with a pale golden light.

“Well, that’s definitely not something you see everyday.”

~~~

"So you're saying that you guys have all the powers that the characters your costumes were based on had in that series, Will?" Buffy asked curiously as the five of them sat around the research table drinking the tea Giles had brewed for them.

"Uh, well, yeah, it certainly seems like that, Buffy," Willow half-smiled at her friend. "I'm powerful enough that I don't have to sleep during the day if I don't want to, like Jean-Claude could, and Xand appears to be just as powerful as Anita was in the series, and Aphrodisia is definitely an Alpha shifter, except that she's a were-puma, not a werewolf like Richard was."

"And all three of us are bound to each other," Aphrodisia added, joining in the conversation. "From what we can piece together from the memories we still have, we think we were probably one of the most powerful triumvirates in recent history, at least as far as the book-verse goes. And since neither Will nor Xander can sense any other vamps of Will's type within their range, which we think probably encompasses most of the way to L.A., we might also be one of the most powerful ones in this world, too."

Seeing the uncertain look on Buffy's face as to what Aphrodisia meant with regard to her two friends, Willow hastened to explain.

"What that means is that we can basically all share each other's power to a certain degree, Buff, and we can talk to each other mentally," she noted. "We help ground each other."

Buffy eyed the former Cordette the least bit dubiously while listening to her best female friend explain the three's new relationship. Unlike her two newly transformed friends, the honey-blonde was a virtual stranger, the Slayer knowing practically nothing about her aside from the fact that she had hung around Cordelia and several others who had considered themselves to be among the elite of the school's social hierarchy.

However, since Xand and Wills appeared to trust her (and why not, since they seemed to have a direct line to her brain, she reminded herself), she was willing to give the other the benefit of any doubt and take her at face value.

"So, from what I can remember about the books and what Xand was telling us the other day, your type of lycanthrope is in complete control when you change, huh?" she asked Aphrodisia, curious to verify the differences between the weres of the fictional universe and their own.

"Well, not initially, we're not," Aphrodisia corrected her. "But when most shifters change for the first time – if they're aware they've been infected, that is – we try to arrange for them to change in the presence of other members of their pack, and that helps keep things under control.

"Mostly, anyway," she admitted with a small frown.

"How about you, Xand?" Buffy turned her attention to her best guy friend with a curious expression on her face. "Can you do everything that the Anita character could do in the stories?"

"I'm not really sure, Buffster," Xander smiled at the petite blonde.

"Based on some of the stuff that happened last night, I know I can command and control the local version of the undead, but aside from that, I haven't wanted to try anything without having backup handy, in case things should get out of hand," he told her.

"What kind of things happened last night, Xand?" she immediately asked, clearly concerned about him. "Are you okay? You didn't get hurt , did you?"

"Nah, I'm fine, Buff," he waved off her alarm. "I just ran into Spike and some of his minions wandering around town, and I found out that I can make them do pretty much whatever I want them to do, that's all," he informed her with a wide smile.

"In fact, I brought you back a present," he added with an even wider grin. "I've got it hidden in one of the closets down in the basement, so no one can accidentally stumble across it and spoil the surprise. Want to come pick it up?"

~~~

"Here you are, Buff," Xander smirked as he swung open the door to reveal the 'surprise' he had said he had gotten her.

"I know that you're too old to be interested in Barbie dolls, but I figured maybe you'd want the pleasure of dusting these two yourself," he said as they all looked at the insensible forms of Spike and Drusilla lying on the floor of the storeroom.

"Wow! Gotta say, Xand, that's definitely not anything like I was expecting to get when you said you’d gotten me something," Buffy told him. It was evident from the expression on the tiny blonde's face that her Slayer senses had allowed her to ascertain what was concealed behind the door before he had opened it.

"I was hoping for at least a Prada purse or maybe some jewelry," she semi-complained with a smirk. “C’mon, say it with me, Xand…Diamonds.”

"Good Lord, Xander!" Giles exclaimed as he saw the two apparently sleeping vampires lying motionless on the floor.

"Have you taken complete leave of your senses, allowing two master vampires to remain here unguarded? Did you even consider the possible magnitude of disaster that could have ensued if either one of them had awoken and decided to run amok in the school, even half-deserted as it is?" he half-shouted as he turned to address the smirking young man standing beside him.

Willow and Aphrodisia, standing off to the side slightly, both frowned and took a step forward upon hearing the Watcher's tirade, but stopped and remained where they were at a glance and a head shake from their bondmate.

"I have everything completely under control, Giles," Xander assured the Englishman with a degree of confidence that Giles couldn't recall ever having seen in the youth before this time.

"This," he indicated the two somnolent vamps with a casual wave of his hand, "is just an example of what I can do now.

"Seriously now, I wasn't joking when I told you earlier that I could make Spike do pretty much anything I wanted him to do," he explained more fully.

"When he and a bunch of his minions tried to attack me last night, I made them stop dead in their tracks, so to speak," here Willow, Aphrodisia and Buffy all groaned at their bondmate's/ friend's rather obvious play on words, while Giles merely shook his head and sighed, "and after I shot a couple of them, to see if my standard pistol loads would have the expected effect on them, I had Spike lead me back to their nest, so I could pick up Drusilla. Then I had the rest of his minions all dust each other until there was only one left, and him, I shot," Xander informed the others.

"So, what do you intend to do with this, this pair here, now, Xander?" Giles asked, his curiosity piqued at the possibilities this demonstration of power implied.

"Just what I said before," the brunet replied. "I brought them by to show you what I'm capable of doing, now. If Buffy doesn’t want the privilege of dusting them, I'll do it, because I'm not going to take any chances and allow something as vicious as these two monsters to hang around and maybe find an opportunity to hurt the people I care about.

"So, Buff, you want to do the honors, so to speak?" he asked, glancing over at the petite blonde with an uplifted eyebrow.

"Yeah, why not, Xand," she agreed with a shrug. "It does go with the job description."

So saying, she produced a Model 84FS Cheetah Beretta from behind her back and with two quick shots, reduced two of the three surviving Scourge of Europe pack members to handfuls of dust, forever removing any potential future threats to humanity.

"What?" she asked with a puzzled frown as she re-holstered her pistol at the base of her spine and then looked up to see her friends staring at her in wide-eyed shock and astonishment.

"Uh, Buffy," Willow hesitantly asked, as the others continued to stare at her in stunned disbelief, "when did you start using guns to kill vamps?"

"About fifteen years ago," Buffy answered casually, as she adjusted the way the back of her blouse hung, before suddenly stopping and turning a pair of equally shocked eyes to her friends as her words reverberated in her own ears

"I guess, we weren’t the only ones to keep something from our costumes last night," Aphrodisia observed as the five of them stood there unmoving.

"Which makes me wonder, who or what else was left over in town?" Xander posed the question uppermost in everyone's mind.

~~~

FIN

The End

You have reached the end of "Innocent Pleasures". This story is complete.

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