Ch. 60 The One and Only
A/N: Here we go with the emotionally charged season 5.
“Buffy vs. Dracula”
Two and a half weeks later:
Buffy shifted restlessly in bed as her ears perked with an abundance of sounds brushing through the night. As she stared up at the ceiling for several minutes, feeling her mind spinning, her heart beat thundering rapidly behind her rib cage, she gingerly turned on her side to look over Dean, burrowed in the covers beside her, sound asleep. After a brief moment, she carefully slipped out of the bed and gathered her clothes strung along the floor. She dressed quickly and crept toward the door, swiping the extra room key as she put on her coat. She snuck out the door, very gently shutting it behind her without making much disturbance.
A short time later, Buffy flew through the clearing of a cemetery, a feral hunger in her eyes as she chased after a lone vampire, like a lioness after its prey. As the adrenaline raced through her, Buffy bounded off a large headstone and hurled into the air. She clutched her stake tightly as she stamped down onto the vampire, slamming him to the ground. As the vampire fought back for several minutes, she counterattacked stronger, harder, faster, with almost primal aggression. She beat the vampire back into a muddied area of the grass, springing onto him in a flash, driving her stake hard into the vampire’s heart.
Buffy rose to her feet as the vampire wailed and blew into dust. Her heart beat thundered in her throat and blared through her ears as she swung her eyes around the cemetery, looking for more prey.....
When she returned to the motel room, she stripped out of her leather pants and top and gently climbed back into bed. She drew the covers up and curled up next to Dean, who hadn’t changed his position since she had snuck out. As she settled against the line of his body, she heard his soft moan as his arms pulled her closer. Buffy felt the harsh tension in her body rapidly melting away as Dean draped an arm around her waist and buried his face in the crook of her neck. After a very short time, Buffy let out a deep breath and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, the gang met up at the beach for a day of summer fun. As Willow, Xander, Tara and Anya camped out on chairs and towels near a small barbeque while Buffy and Dean were involved in a game of catch. Dean tossed the baseball at Buffy who gracefully caught it in her mitt. She plucked the baseball up and hurled it with Slayer strength, high and far out of Dean’s range. He scowled with annoyance when the baseball hit the water a half a mile down the shore.
“You did that on purpose,” he groaned.
Buffy propped a hand on her sarong draped hip and cracked a smug smile.
“Hey, you were the one who said to stop throwing like a girl,” she pointed.
Dean shook his head and grumbled before he trekked down the beach to collect the baseball. Buffy snickered as she watched Dean trying to catch up with the tide as it pushed the baseball around. After several minutes of chasing the ball, he charged back down the shore and deepened his scowl when he reached Buffy. He wound his arm back and tossed a highball. Buffy skipped a few feet back, gauging her aim as the ball made its descent. She took off in a little sprint as the ball sloped over her head.
Xander heaved a sigh of frustration as he tried for a third time to get a fire lit in the small barbecue. He crumpled up more newspaper and tossed it in, fumbling with the matches for a bit before he glanced at the baseball toss.
“Geez, I feel tired just watching them,” he moaned. “All that running and throwing and splashing. I thought we were supposed to be relaxing so why all the brisk exercise?”
“Yeah, brisk exercise most often guarantees high level of stickiness,” Anya added.
“And that often leads to the painful awareness of smelliness,” Tara said. “It’s best just to sit this one out.”
“Hmm, I think that’s why we’re Wonder Woman and Captain America’s sidekicks,” Willow mused.
Buffy and Dean skipped over to the group, breathing heavily but clearly displaying their enjoyment.
“Did you get bored with the ball toss?” Willow asked.
“No, SOMEONE threw the ball to South America,” Dean moaned.
Willow eyed both mitts and noticed the lack of baseball. Buffy shifted in her stance as she absorbed the stare.
“It’s not my fault SOMEONE can’t catch a ball,” Buffy said defensively.
“It is when SOMEONE is aiming for SOUTH AMERICA,” Dean grunted.
Buffy rolled her eyes as Dean shook his head at her.
“I’m starving, when’s lunch?” she asked as she eyed Xander.
Hearing his stomach grumble upon the mention of food, Dean settled his sights on Xander. He patted his stomach as it growled a second time.
“Yeah, set me up with some flame broiled awesomeness,” he said with a gleeful smile.
Xander gulped as Buffy and Dean stared at the burger less grill.
“Apparently the fire chose today to pitch a fit of uncooperativeness,” Xander lamented. “And the fact that I um, couldn’t get it started.”
“What? But you’re the self-proclaimed griller of burger goodness,” Willow moaned.
Dean stared at the grill and heaved a sigh.
“Dude, I gave you a crash course when we got here, did you not absorb it all?”
“Oh, I was all ears man, I was it just didn’t.....stay absorbed.”
Dean heaved another sigh as he crouched in front of the barbecue and took over.
Xander folded back into his beach chair and sighed in relief.
“I prefer a gas stove anyway, like the burger hut I worked at.”
“Where you lasted one shift,” Anya groaned.
“What an insult,” Xander cracked. “Gee, that wasn’t expected.”
Anya waved a hand dismissively at the group as Dean got a spark lit under the barbecue. As he was about to draw a smile, a harsh sea breeze whipped through the air and stamped his flame out.
“Dammit,” he muttered.
“Well, I don’t feel so useless now,” Xander replied.
“Hey, I’m dealing with the challenges of natural elements here,” Dean reasoned with a scowl.
Willow casually waved her hand and chanted something in Latin. A big ball of fire shot out from under the grill. Dean widened his eyes and stumbled back in surprise as the flames spit through the grates, nearly engulfing his face.
“Woah!” he gasped.
“Wow, look at you Will, a master of the witchy,” Buffy replied with a smile.
“A little word of warning next time Sabrina,” Dean groaned as he checked to see if he still had his eyebrows.
“Well, I’m seriously impressed,” Buffy remarked.
“Oh, it really isn’t a big deal. It’s just a matter of having a real grasp of the elements, applying enough ‘oomph’ to one without disrupting the balance of another....”
Suddenly, the serenity of the bright, sunny sky was invaded by gloomy rain clouds. Thunder clapped the air as a heavy downpour of rain bombarded the gang. Willow widened her eyes as the others hurriedly gathered up their belongings and darted for cover.
“It wasn’t me!” Willow moaned.
As lightning clipped through the dark sky, Willow, Tara, Xander and Anya took refuge in the Harris’ family van. Buffy and Dean raced to the Impala and dove inside as the rain pelted against the glass.
Dean shook his head as he combed a hand through his rain sodden hair and fanned out his damp shirt.
“Jesus, we can’t even have a simple day at the beach without something strange happening,” he moaned.
Buffy shrugged as she watched rivers of water snaking down the windshield of the Impala.
“It was fun up until then,” she noted. “You weren’t really cut out for the whole beach thing anyway.”
“What do you mean?”
Buffy drew an amused smile as her eyes rolled over his typical fashion fare.
“You were kind of over dressed for the occasion.”
“I’m not the Bermuda shorts and funky Hawaiian shirt type,” he said. “Besides, when you mentioned some outdoor play, I figured I would be ‘shirts’ and you’d be ‘skins’.”
Dean raked his eyes over her dark blue bikini top and smirked.
“And I figured right.....although, I’d prefer a little more skin.”
Buffy giggled as Dean warmed up the engine. Xander pulled alongside the Impala and cracked the driver side window just a hair. After mulling over secondary plans, the gang settled on lunch in downtown Sunnydale before dispersing off on their own.
Buffy strolled through the promenade of the mall, peeking into stores, looking for Dean. He had swiftly wandered off after she gleefully lost herself in a boutique having a blow out sale. After covering one side of the mall, she noticed a retro store and swerved over. She eyed the mostly male patrons perusing the aisles of old record albums, VHS movies and concert tee shirts by classic rock bands. Some old song she had heard Dean emphatically singing to in the past was playing through a set of speakers mounted above the register. She spotted Dean at the far end of the record aisle enthusiastically flipping through a bin. He met her eyes before he glanced at the jacket of a record.
“You found me.”
“Yeah, I just followed the smell of ‘old’ stuff,” Buffy cracked.
Dean frowned with offense as he put the record back in the bin.
“Still haven’t developed an appreciation for the classics, huh?”
Buffy shrugged as she leaned against the record aisle.
“Maybe when I’m a classic, I’ll reflect upon how much I appreciate.....me.”
Dean paused in his random record flipping as he absorbed the average shelf life of a Slayer. Buffy shifted in her stance, feeling unusually antsy.
“How much longer are you gonna be?”
Dean flashed a look of annoyance.
“Gee, now you know how I feel when I’m forced to go the mall with you.”
“I didn’t force you,” Buffy defended. “I merely ‘asked’ you.”
Dean scoffed as he moved to another bin.
“You ‘asked’ me with a bat of your eye and the promise of a ‘treat’ later, which better not be anything other than what you conjured up in my mind,” he groused lightly.
Dean glanced at the two plastic shopping bags in her hands.
“You satisfy your inner shopping queen?”
Buffy bounced eagerly as she opened one of her bags, starting to take out a top.
“I got the cutest......”
Dean held a hand up in protest.
“Please spare me the ‘show and tell’,” he moaned. “I mean, you know my answer to the whole ‘doesn’t this look cute on me’ question.”
Buffy heaved a sigh and rolled her eyes in acknowledgment. As Dean circled around the aisle, Buffy rummaged through another shopping bag.
“Oh, um, I guess then, you don’t really care to see.....this.....on me....”
Buffy drew close to Dean with a coy expression on her face as she angled the bag for him to take a peek at what was in her hand. Dean glanced inside the bag and suddenly widened his eyes in excitement.
“Or this.....” Buffy added as she clutched another of her purchases.
Dean widened his eyes even more as he broke into a silly smile.
“Geez, what the hell am I doing here when I could be admiring such.....fantastic purchases from my little shopping queen,” he quipped.
Dean bolted off his feet, quickly ushering Buffy out of the store.
As the sun settled into the horizon, Buffy started making the bed while Dean was in the shower. After a few minutes of tucking the sheets neatly under the mattress, she heard the creak of the bathroom door. Buffy patted the corners as Dean shuffled out of the bathroom in a towel and eyed her curiously.
“Why are you making the bed? We’re just gonna mess it up later.”
Buffy smoothed out the creases of the cover and fluffed the pillows, drawing a small smile of satisfaction.
“I don’t know, I guess I wanted to give it.....a woman’s touch.”
“Well, your ‘touch’ is all over those sheets.”
Buffy soaked in his silly smirk before her eyes turned to the messy condition of the room. The table was dressed with an assortment of cleaning tools where Dean usually spent meticulously disassembling his guns to pass the time. The dresser by the door was laden with more weapons and a couple piles of news papers from various cities and the trash can was stacked with takeout containers and empty beer bottles.
“I would have picked up a little around here but um, I think they’re might be something living in the trash can. Don’t you ever let the maids come in to take it out?”
She watched the smirk fade from his face as he shook his head.
“Nope, dad doesn’t trust the maids to keep their nose out of our gear, not to mention, he usually likes to wallpaper the room with potential cases.”
“But your dad isn’t staying in this room, it’s just you and me, and the ‘me’ part likes her trash can critter free,” she whined. “Would it kill you to clean your room every once in awhile?”
Dean heaved a sigh as she flashed a grotesque look at the trash can.
“Sorry, you get used to living on the road in certain conditions, it doesn’t really bother me. Plus, I’m not used to having a chick nag me about picking stuff up.”
Buffy balked as he started getting dressed.
“And you might not have ‘a chick’ to nag you in the future if you keep up that perspective.”
Buffy glanced at the clock on the bedside table and picked up her coat.
“Are you sure you don’t want to go with me to dinner?”
“No, you said your mom’s having a bad case of empty nest syndrome so you should spend some quality time with her on your own.”
“Still, I know she’d be happy to have you, it’d be just like the old days, when I was living there and didn’t know you were secretly in love with me,” Buffy cracked with a teasing smile.
“Oh shut up,” Dean groused as he yanked a tee shirt on. “That was a figment of your
boy crazy imagination.”
Buffy glided over to Dean by the dresser and wrapped her arms around him.
“And yet, here we are, so, unless I’m imagining this, you’ve loved me for a long time,” she said.
Clearly fishing for a confirmation by the breadth of her teasing smile, he playfully smacked her butt and remained casual.
“You’re going to be late for dinner,” he said as he pulled her close and inched his mouth to hers.
Buffy wrapped her arms tight around Dean and locked her lips with his, kissing him deeply. She gently broke away and absorbed the brilliant gleam in his eyes.
“Meet you for patrol later?” she asked with a sweet smile.
“Yeah, I’ll be there with a dinner bell on,” he said.
“That was really yummy mom, thanks,” Buffy said as she pushed her empty plate aside.
“Did you save any room for dessert?” Joyce asked anxiously. “We could go over to that old fashioned shop that has the soda fountains.”
“Mmm, I’d love to but I really need to start patrolling.”
Joyce exuded her deep disappointment.
“But it’s not even nine.”
Buffy bounced in her stance, feeling antsy once again. She picked up some of the dishes and gathered them in her hands.
“Well, vampires start their chow down when the sun sets and shamelessly engorge themselves until dawn, like the blood thirsty beasts they are.”
“Oh right,” Joyce acknowledged. “I guess I’m still adjusting to you leaving again.”
Buffy took her plates to the kitchen as Joyce slowly followed.
“Well, once school picks up, we should make this a weekly thing,” Buffy suggested.
Joyce shined a smile. “Yes, that would be great. And make sure you bring Dean next time, let him know he’s always welcome. He’s been part of our family for awhile.”
Buffy smiled as she kissed her mom on the cheek.
“I will,” she said. “Okay, I gotta scoot. I’m bummed about it.”
A short time later, Buffy met Dean at the foot of the cemetery for patrol. After a short trek through a clearing, Buffy spotted two vampires emerging from the other side. She growled low in her throat as she clutched her stake and charged after the vamps with a primal hunger flaring in her eyes. She pounced over several headstones, barreling into the vampires and tackling them to the ground.
Dean blinked in surprise at Buffy’s abrupt attack before he pushed off into the cemetery. Buffy let out a ferocious roar as she whipped her foot hard into one vamp’s gut while relentlessly punching another in the face.
As Dean reached the fight, Buffy got the upper hand and quickly dusted one of the vamps. When Dean moved in to tag team the last demon, Buffy howled with adrenaline as she cracked the vamp’s arm in half. The vamp wailed as she spun it around, slammed it to the ground and drove her stake into its heart.
Dean blinked rapidly as Buffy wiped her hands and gave a victorious grin.
“Well, NOW I feel useless.”
“You could give me props or something,” she said through a ragged breath.
Dean studied Buffy for a minute, a little taken aback by her unusually ruthless fighting style.
“Well, that was.....different,” he remarked.
Buffy dropped him a casual look as a tall handsome man with long dark hair emerged from the shadows. He was dressed in refined clothes from many centuries ago along with a black cape. He sauntered over to Buffy with a confident yet elegant stature.
Dean swept his eyes to the far end of the clearing before he was drawn to the stranger approaching Buffy with calculating eyes.
He snorted loudly with amusement as Buffy studied the man with wary eyes.
“Wow, you really dressed up for your funeral,” he cracked.
The oddly dressed man ignored Dean, keeping his sights leveled on Buffy.
“Impressive kill,” the man said in a clipped Eastern European accent. “Your power is great....”
Dean blinked as his ears were met with a bad rendition of Bela Lugosi as Dracula. He burst into laughter as he looked over the mysterious man again.
“Okay, okay, it’s obvious you’re really into your character but save us the boring ‘I’m a big bad villain’ speech I know you’ve rehearsed endlessly in front of a mirror.”
Dean let out another chuckle as Buffy twirled her stake and flashed a hard expression at the stranger.
“Yeah, I’m on the clock and I haven’t hit my quota so....”
The mysterious caped stranger showed no fear as he perched by a headstone.
“You will not harm me,” he boasted.
“You’re right, we’re going to KILL you,” Dean clarified sharply.
Buffy snorted in her own bafflement at this oddly dressed man with a boatload of arrogance.
“You do realize I’m the Slayer? What I am?”
The stranger finally broke from his brooding expression and drew a wide smile.
“Ah, yes, but you – do not.”
Buffy and Dean exchanged looks of bewilderment before drawing their sights to the stranger.
“Who the hell are you?” Dean asked with a glare.
The man continued to address Buffy with his eyes.
“Forgive me, I thought you already knew,” he said. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am the one and only Dra-cu-la
Dracula bowed gracefully, his cape falling around him. Buffy and Dean stared at him with complete disbelief for a long minute. Buffy widened her eyes and couldn’t help but be impressed.
“No way!” she roared.
After another long minute of stares, Buffy sucked in a breath, still trying to digest the reality that she was standing in front of the most famous vampire of all time. Dean, however, drew a doubtful frown as Dracula gazed at Buffy.
“No friggin’ way is right,” Dean grunted. “Dracula is just a myth. An iconic monster mocked in hundreds of movies.”
Buffy threw Dracula a scrutinizing glare.
“Yeah, I have to ask, are you really THE Dracula or just really into method acting? Because I’ve come across many fanatical overweight Lestat wannabes with less impressive hair, so pardon me for being on the doubtful train.”
“I am Dracula,” Dracula stated. “There is no doubt in your mind. Just as there is no doubt in my mind that you are the one and only Buffy Summers.”
Dean remained cynical while Buffy felt strangely drawn by Dracula’s lingering gaze. Completely disregarding Dean, Dracula glided closer to Buffy who didn’t back away or lash out defensively. She simply stared at Dracula in great awe.
Dean flashed a pugnacious scowl as Dracula stepped in front of his crossbow without any fear. For some weird reason, as much as his first blaring impulse was to fire off a bolt, he found himself grossly unable to pull the trigger.
“You know who I am,” she said.
“As should be expected for someone like me,” Dracula imparted. “You are world renowned in many circles.”
Buffy opened her mouth in shock. Her cheeks shaded with awe.
“Yes, of course, why would have I traveled so far to a small part of the world? I wanted to come face to face with the killer of my kind.”
Buffy shrouded with offense, drifting out of her state of awe.
“I’m the Slayer, not a killer....that makes me sound so.....”
Dean narrowed his eyes on the Dracula wannabe. He was pretty damn certain the lame dressed vampire was throwing alluring looks at the Slayer.
“Evil,” Buffy clarified. “I play for the good side.”
“Your power was drawn from darkness. It runs through your veins. You feel it, don’t you?”
“All I feel is annoyed,” Dean groaned. “Can we get onto the killing?”
Buffy poised herself for a fight, slipping her game face on.
“Thank god,” Dean sighed.
Buffy and Dean lunged toward Dracula but his form suddenly vanished into thin air. Buffy and Dean bolted to a stop, blinked with confusion before noticing Dracula at the other end of the cemetery. They quickly shifted their weight and took off after him, their weapons raised.
Dracula stood tall, undaunted by the double team. As Buffy and Dean closed in on him, he abruptly shifted into gray mist and floated away. Buffy and Dean halted in the space Dracula had been and looked around the cemetery.
“Hey, no fair using hocus pocus,” Buffy moaned.
Dean looked up to the sky and frowned with frustration.
“Great, didn’t think the legendary Dracula was a COWARD!”
As Xander and Willow strolled over, Dean whipped his eyes around the cemetery where Buffy drew alarm at her tingling instinct.
“Hey guys, how goes patrol?” Xander asked casually.
“You two look flustered,” Willow remarked.
Dean took in Buffy’s grave expression before noticing a cloud of mist pooling behind Willow and Xander.
“Guess he heard me,” Dean muttered.
“You guys need to go!” Buffy hollered.
Xander and Willow shaded their hurt, completely oblivious to Dracula taking form a few feet behind them.
Xander scoffed. “If you two wanted to have whoopee time in the cemetery you should have just said so.”
Dean glared over Xander’s shoulder as Dracula appeared with a more ominous expression than before.
“How rude of you to bail out of our staking party, VLAD,” he barked.
Xander and Willow widened their eyes, now realizing a vampire was right behind them. They both gulped and slowly turned around to see Dracula with a dark expression on his face.
Willow flashed a sheepish look while Xander broke into an amused expression at the vampire’s choice in attire.
“Um, hello,” Willow said meekly.
Willow and Xander backed up a few steps, bravely joining Buffy and Dean for a fight.
“Gee, I wonder who your idol is,” Xander cracked.
Dracula glared at three friends of the Slayer.
“Go away,” he commanded.
Xander shined his awe and amusement when he heard the thick accent.
“We are not going to ‘goh ah-vay’,” he snorted. “You were supposed to base your
Dracula on Bram Stoker’s vision not Sesame Street’s buddy.”
Xander shook his pocket and broke into a silly grin.
“You hear that Count got some shiny coins for you to go ballistic, ‘one shiny coin, two shiny coins! Wah ha ha!.....”
Buffy glanced at Xander as her body tensed another degree.
“Uh Xander, it’s probably not a good idea to antagonize Dracula.”
Xander dropped his jaw in shock as he absorbed Buffy’s deadly serious expression.
Dean waved a hand rapidly to speed the ‘shock and awe’ reaction up.
“Yeah, that’s Dracula in the undead flesh,” he said sharply. “Enjoy the moment cuz we’re
wasting him right about.....”
Dracula ignored the group and turned to Buffy with rueful eyes.
“We will meet again,” he promised. “When you are alone.”
Dracula burst toward Xander and Willow, sailing into the air. Dean finally felt his frozen trigger finger release from its strange hold. He leveled the crossbow as Dracula flew over his head. He fired off the bolt just as Dracula changed form into a bat.
“Damn,” Dean grunted as the bolt barely grazed the bat’s wing. “More stupid parlor tricks.”
The bat circled around, heading toward Buffy. She widened her eyes and darted behind Dean as the bat flew around her head.
“Ugh! Bat! Bat!”
Dean swatted a hand toward the bat. Before his hand made contact, Dracula bat flew away and off into the night. Buffy, still crouched behind Dean, checked her hair before she met his curious eyes.
“Dracula’s not so impressive,” Xander barked softly. “Just cuz he can shape shift into a bat......that was......wow.”
A short time later, Buffy, Dean, Willow and Xander strolled into Giles’ place where Anya and Tara were already settled. For several minutes, Willow and Xander animatedly recalled their encounter with Dracula for Giles, clipping each other’s sentences in excitement. As the recounting went on and on, Dean shook his head as he burrowed his back into the couch. Giles split his attention between Willow, Xander and Buffy as the raving continued.
“.....And did I mention that he came to Sunnydale to see ME? Because I’m like WORLD FAMOUS!” Buffy gushed. “ME! He came here for ME!”
“Yes, yes you did mention it quite a few times,” Giles noted. “I believe this makes twenty.”
Buffy shaded with a remorseful look.
“Oh, sorry I’ve been so repetitive, or braggy, it’s just....gosh, that just really floored me.”
“It’s understandable,” Giles replied. “Although, it would make sense a vampire of that stature would eventually learn of your reputation since you have outlasted most of the Slayer line.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right but the way he went on about it, just.....”
Willow drew a silly grin.
“He made you feel all, you know, tingly inside?”
Dean flashed a disgruntled frown as Buffy cracked her own goofy smile.
“Mmm, maybe just a little,” she admitted. “I mean he started the whole thing with the dark, brooding, mesmerizing gaze and the enchanting accent....”
Tara eyed Willow with a curious look. “Dracula made you feel....tingly inside?”
Willow sighed, widening her grin.
“Yeah.....I mean, no! Not tingly in a ‘good way’ but in ‘you are so, so evil’ way.”
Willow gulped with guilt as Anya cut in.
“Yeah, that’s why he makes you tingly, because of the whole dark and brooding and sexy accent thing, on top of being so, so evil. I can see why you weren’t impressed,” Anya remarked dryly.
As Xander eyed Anya suspiciously, Dean hit his breaking point and finally burst with disgust.
“He wasn’t that big of a friggin’ deal!” he moaned. “Just because he has a bigger reputation in the grand scheme of all things evil doesn’t mean we need to treat him any differently than your average demon of the week. You can bleach his hair, strap him with a soul but when it all comes down to it, he’s still just a douche bag with fangs. So we need to quit all the fanfare and get our Van Helsing on cuz I’m sick of hearing about him.”
“He didn’t impress you?” Buffy asked in awe.
Dean deepened his frown of disgust.
“Not one bit,” he replied sharply. “He’s just a bigger fish to fry.”
“Not even with his whole bat thingy?” Willow asked. “You have to admit that was amazing! And when he did that, my first thought was, I need to ask Giles how that’s possible, cuz he would know. Giles is THE one to know.”
Willow over exaggerated an appreciative look at Giles. Giles gulped with a sheepish look as the gang glanced at him.
“So Giles, how did he do that?” Willow posed.
Giles shifted in his arm chair. As he was about to impart his wisdom, Dean shot to his feet and steered the attention away from the legendary vampire.
“Who the hell cares,” Dean grunted. “All we should care about is rounding up as many stakes as possible, then we hunt him down, drag him out of his dusty coffin and waste his ass so bad it’ll be ‘world famous’.”
“I don’t know, I mean, this is Dracula, maybe we should do some serious research cramming,” Buffy lamented. “He said he was going to see me again when we could be alone and I’d prefer to have some more knowledge about him under my belt before that happens.”
Dean studied Buffy for a minute and noted the flare of anxiety in her eyes. He ripped out a stake from one of the pockets in his jacket and gripped it firmly in his hand.
“We need to make damn sure you’re not alone,” he said brusquely.
“Buffy has a point,” Anya replied. “Dracula is pretty sly. He’s not your usual brand of
Dean rolled his eyes. “No, apparently he’s the biggest dick of ‘em all. If a stake to the heart doesn’t kill him, then we cut his damn head off. If that doesn’t work, then we’ll stuff his throat full of garlic, if that doesn’t work.....”
Buffy heaved a sigh and abruptly stopped his tangent.
“We all agree then, no dusting Dracula until we’re a hundred percent certain we know everything about him.”
Dean huffed as he scrutinized Buffy with his eyes.
“Are you giving him a pass because of his ‘mesmerizing’ gaze?” he asked gruffly.
Buffy scoffed until she detected the heavy flare of dread in his eyes.
“That’s not what this is,” she stressed. “I just want to know my enemy.”
“Yeah, just like he wants to ‘know’ you,” Dean said derisively. “Dracula Shmacula.”
Dean muttered incessantly under his breath as he trekked into Giles’ kitchen. As an awkward silence hit the air, Giles rose to his feet and cleared his throat.
“Let’s proceed swiftly,” Giles requested. “I shall refer to the library. Willow and Tara, please gather everything you can find on the true history of Vlad the Impaler.”
“We’ll all meet back here first thing tomorrow morning, okay?” Buffy said.
The gang all nodded while Dean paced back and forth in the kitchen. Buffy drifted over to Dean as the gang began to disperse through the front door.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
Dean flashed a sarcastic smile.
“Oh yeah, I’m fine, the Dark Douche Bag comes to town and everyone’s gushing over him like he’s Elvis instead of realizing....HE’S A VAMPIRE!!!”
Buffy released a deep breath when she absorbed all the knots of tension in his face.
“You’re right, he’s a vampire,” Buffy acceded. “But he’s one of the trickiest ones. That’s why we need to be as prepared as possible.”
“And then we dust him?”
“Yeah, like always.”
Buffy watched Dean as he heaved a sigh of relief.
“Drop me off at my mom’s?” she asked as they walked to the car.
Dean paused on the sidewalk and eyed her with concern.
“You’re not rooming with me tonight?”
“I’m pretty beat from my tangle with the count,” she said. “Plus, critter in your trash can.”
“Well, I’m not leaving you alone, so off to mom’s house we go.”
After arriving at the Summers’ residence, Dean checked the window in Buffy’s room as she dressed for bed. Joyce perched under the doorway and drew a curious look as Dean camped out in a chair, just beside the window. He extracted a cross, a stake and a bottle of holy water which he placed on the sill.
“Are you sure I can’t get you a pillow or something?” Joyce asked.
Dean settled into his chair and shook his head.
“I’m keeping watch, not sleeping, but thank you.”
Joyce flashed a maternal smile.
“Well, how about coffee then?”
Dean lit up with a smile. “Yes, please. Thanks.”
“Fresh pot coming up,” Joyce said.
Joyce moved down the hall as Buffy climbed into her bed.
“You don’t have to keep watch,” Buffy replied.
“Are you kidding? Have you seen his movies? He always comes to your bedroom when you’re sleeping, you’re alone and vulnerable, it’s the perfect time for him to fly in or ‘mist’ in and work more of that ‘mesmerizing’ gaze on you.”
Buffy opened her mouth to respond, then closed it. Dean was obviously too pumped up on his own paranoid scenarios to reason with him. As her exhaustion tugged at her bones, she gave a resounding sigh and slumped down onto the mattress.
After several hours, Dean shifted in the chair and glanced back at Buffy, sound asleep in her bed. He knocked back his third cup of coffee and picked up his stake, twirling it in his hand. He scoped the room a few more times before the call of nature couldn’t be ignored anymore. He crept out of the bedroom and returned a short minute later. He let out a breath of relief as he settled back into his chair.
As he focused on the quiet night, his ears perked at the sound of soft footsteps coming down the hall. Dean shifted his sights behind him to see Joyce gently peeking through the door.
“Mrs. Summers, you’re still up?”
“My TV is on the fritz. Do you think you could take a look at it?”
Dean glanced at his watch and drew an incredulous look as he got up from his chair and stepped into the hallway.
“Uh, you want me to look at it now? At two in the morning?”
Joyce drew a remorseful look. “I know it’s rather late but with Buffy not being around lately, I’ve had some trouble sleeping and TV seems to be the only thing that helps me.”
Dean spied a look back into the bedroom before shifting his eyes back on Joyce.
“I’m not much of fixit person and I’m sure it’s something easy to take care of for such a skilled young man like you. So, could I trouble you for a minute?”
After taking a moment to absorb all the years of gracious hospitality Joyce displayed to him and his brother, Dean felt obligated to reciprocate her kindness. He caved under the weight of her deeply maternal smile.
“Uh, sure, of course.”
Dean shifted toward the stairs when he noticed Joyce shaking her head.
“It’s the unit in my bedroom.”
Dean shot a sidelong glance into Buffy’s bedroom before he followed Joyce down the hall.
A half second later, an eerie mist pooled through the crack of Buffy’s bedroom window and snaked across the floor. Buffy shifted slightly in bed as a breeze whirled in her room, slithering along the covers....
“So what’s wrong with the TV?”
“It just doesn’t do anything when I turn it on.”
Dean ambled over and glanced over the set, flipping the on switch. When nothing happened he scoped the back of the unit.
“Uh, I think this is the problem.”
Dean plucked up the electrical cord and stuck it in the outlet.
“Oh my goodness,” Joyce gasped. “I’m so embarrassed. I guess I....I guess I’m just getting loopy in my old age.”
Normally, Dean would have jumped all over a crack about senility but this was Buffy’s mom and his own mother’s acquaintance and he would never toss out disrespectful comments. He drew an earnest smile and waved a hand dismissively.
“You’re not loopy Mrs. Summers, you’re aging very gracefully,” he said.
“Aw Dean, you are a sweetheart, I just knew you were the right guy for my daughter.”
Buffy sprung her eyes open when she felt her instinct blasting through her. She bolted upright as Dracula took form at the foot of her bed. As her mouth opened to respond, Dracula hitched a finger to his mouth. Buffy felt her mouth flop shut as Dracula locked her eyes in a hypnotic gaze.
“I should get back,” Dean said. “I hope you can get some sleep now.”
Joyce gently clapped a hand over his arm and flashed maternal concern.
“How are you doing Dean? I haven’t had a chance to really talk to you.”
Joyce shifted anxiously in her stance.
“Is something wrong Mrs. Summers?”
“Call me Joyce,” Joyce stressed. “And no, nothing is really wrong, it’s just.....well, I guess I’m eager to talk to people. I can’t remember the last time Buffy came over for more than just a meal.”
Dean shaded with a sheepish expression as he took in the sorrow in her eyes. She sat down on the edge of her bed as Dean leaned against the dresser.
“I’m probably to blame for that, sorry,” he said sincerely. “I want her to spend time with you.”
“Well, I know how much she loves spending time with you.”
“But you’re her mom and she’s always gonna need you.”
Joyce flashed an appreciative smile as she drew some more conversation out of Dean.
Dean drifted down the hall a few minutes later and crept back into Buffy’s room. She turned on her side and let out a very soft moan. Dean swept his eyes around the room several times. Nothing had been disturbed in the time he had been away. He settled back in his chair, picked up his stake and went back to his watch.
As soon as the sun peeked over the horizon, Dean let out a yawn as he got to his feet. Buffy groaned softly as she stirred slightly in bed. Dean stocked his weapons back in his pockets and slipped his jacket on. Hearing the faint shuffling, Buffy let her eyelids flutter open and yawned.
“Morning,” she said wearily.
Dean ambled over to her bed as she let out another yawn.
“Where are you off to?”
“There’s something I need to look into,” Dean answered. “Go back to sleep. You got another couple of hours before the meet up at Giles’.”
“Will you be back?”
“Yeah, I’ll swing by when I’m done with this.”
Buffy drew a dreamy smile as she faded back to sleep.
After a short trek through the cemetery, Dean cruised into Spike’s crypt and intentionally stomped on the stone ground. He uncapped a bottle of holy water and ambled over to the makeshift bed where Spike was sleeping.
“Wake up Sunshine!” Dean grunted as he splashed the holy water over Spike.
Spike roared in agony as the holy water hit his face. He bolted forward and slapped his hands on his face as his eyes snapped open to see Dean chuckling hysterically.
“I oughta skin you alive!” Spike growled.
“Well then, you’d be in for a hell of a lot more pain then that little sprinkle, right Chip Head?”
Dean flashed a smug smile as Spike frowned acrimoniously.
“What do you want?”
“Information and I’m not paying you a dime,” Dean barked.
Spike balked as the sting in his face dissipated.
“Look at you, venturing out without the little blonde to protect you,” he snorted snidely.
Dean threw an icy glare at Spike. “I didn’t come here to trade insults with you. I want information.”
“Well, you know, it’s me slumber time and I find I am a bit disagreeable if I don’t get me sleep. Get the crankies. Perhaps you have something that would ease my.....”
Dean flicked his hand and threw another dose of holy water at Spike. Spike wailed as he flashed his vamp face. He snarled and lunged toward Dean but quickly recoiled as the searing pain assailed his head. The crypt echoed with his anguished roars as Dean blew out an impatient breath.
“You’re only hurting yourself,” he remarked. “And as much fun as this is, you’re wasting my time. So either straight shoot with me or it’s a holy water shower for you.”
Dean extracted several bottles of holy water and waved them at Spike. Spike shook off his vamp face and sighed.
“Oh fine,” he groaned.
“Damn, I was secretly hoping you’d resist a couple minutes more, just for the sake of seeing you squirm.”
Spike flashed his abhorrence as Dean wandered around the crypt.
“Tell me where to find your top douche bag daddy, Dracula.”
Spike scoffed with a contemptuous frown.
“That ‘ol bugger? Gladly, and make you sure you get me the eleven pounds he’s owed me for centuries.”
Spike fished out a cigarette and lit it up.
“You evil blood sucking bastards all frequent the same circles, so, where’s his haunt?”
Spike snorted as he took a tug on his cigarette.
“Try Transylvannia, or do you not read?”
Dean threw an icy glare in response to Spike’s snide comment.
“Somebody’s aching for a ‘refreshing’ shower huh?”
Spike heaved a reluctant sigh.
“What’s it to you? You haven’t had your fill hassling all the vampires in this town with your nitwit sarcasms? Old Drac-ey is more of an enemy to vampires than the Slayer is. Every bloke that sees his movies knows our secrets, damn cheeky bastard,” he grumbled.
“Spare me the details of your personal beef,” Dean groaned. “Your pappy’s come to town and he’s shacked up somewhere. Since I don’t want to spend hours cramped up behind a computer gathering a handful of possibilities, you’re gonna tell me all about him, debunk the myths, confirm what flavor of vamp chick he prefers.”
Spike shined a smug smile.
“Well, well, so Drac came all the way to Sunnydale – must’ve heard I was here, wanted to settle his business wit me.”
“He’s not here for you,” Dean grunted. “He’s gunning for an ACTUAL threat in the demon world.”
Dean cracked his own smug smile before shifting into his hard glare. Spike drew a long drag from his cigarette and then brightened with amusement.
“Well, the Count intends to take your Mina, eh Harker? I should have known this wasn’t an act of selfless heroism,” he cracked with a snide smile.
Dean gripped the bottle of holy water and wound his arm back to throw it hard at Spike.
“Alright, alright!” Spike moaned. “You won’t find him in a fancy crypt. He is a snotty bugger with his refined fashion and his luxury pads, only the best for the ‘Prince of Darkness’.”
Spike shook his head in repugnance.
“Great, another vampire in a damn mansion,” Dean grumbled.
Dean started to retreat out of the crypt when Spike snorted loudly.
“You’re going to take on Dracula, alone? You really are thick.”
Dean bolted to a stop by the crypt door and swung around.
“Well, if you want to help, I can drag you with me,” he barked. “It’s nice and SUNNY outside and you could use some TOASTY color.”
Dean drew a wide smirk as Spike frowned with repulsion. He charged over to Dean with deep animosity.
“When I get this chip out of me head, I’ll be coming after you,” Spike spat.
Dean edged closer to Spike, going nose to nose with him.
“Oh, I’ll count on that,” Dean taunted with a stony glare. “I’m looking forward to that day when you’re an evil sonofabitch again, not the pathetic, neutered scrap of a demon you are now. The only reason I haven’t dusted your ass is because, you’re miserable this way – and that’s damn hilarious.”
Dean shifted toward the door as Spike fumed.
“I’ll tear you up! I swear!” Spike warned. “You’ll see.”
“I hope I do, because then you and I can finally settle our business,” Dean snapped.
After a long moment of stares, Dean cracked a smile and exited the crypt.
A little while later, Buffy and Dean strolled into Giles place where the rest of the gang were settled in the living room with various books in their lap. Dean dropped a carton of doughnuts, to which he had already helped himself to, on the coffee table. Buffy folded herself onto the couch, slightly out of it as the chatter continued around her.
“Oh breakfast!” Xander roared gleefully.
Xander bounced excitedly as he dug into the carton. Dean stuffed a doughnut in his mouth and eyed Buffy curiously.
“You’re usually calling dibs by now,” he assessed. “Not hungry?”
Buffy glanced at the carton, her eyes honing in on the red jelly oozing out of the doughnuts. She looked up at Dean and noticed the corner of his mouth smudged with red jelly. She gulped as a feeling of nausea overwhelmed her.
“Um, yeah, I’m not hungry,” she said softly.
“More for me!” Xander cheered as he stacked his hand with doughnuts.
After dispersing the sugary treats, Willow shared her research findings.
“Most of this is the usual lore we already know, dislikes crosses, wood, fire, etc. Likes elegant things, loyal servants, deep, lingering bites that make you feel all tingly......”
Willow drew a goofy smile as her mind drifted back to her Dracula encounter. Dean flashed a look of dismay and cut in.
“The Royal Bat-ness has a thing for swanky digs, so it’s a good bet he’s lurking in a mansion......gee, who does THAT remind you of?”
Xander squirmed in his stance but tried to look casual.
“Oh, but that would be too obvious wouldn’t it? I mean, he expects us to find him there and since he’s brilliant, he would be low key and live in squalor.”
Willow shook her head.
“No, from what I’ve gathered, Dean’s right on about the digs. He wouldn’t be low key about his presence in town.”
“Then we shall check the upper class residential areas,” Giles advised. “Buffy, do you agree?”
All eyes turned to Buffy who was staring blankly off, lost in her own thoughts. After a long minute, she finally drifted out of her daze and took notice of the stares.
“Are we boring you?” Giles asked.
Buffy shaded with embarrassment. “Uh, sorry, I got distracted. What are we all talking about?”
“A little home invasion in the gold district,” Dean imparted.
“Right, yeah, okay.”
Dean studied Buffy’s odd behavior as Giles encouraged Willow to continue with her findings.
“In terms of motives, Dracula is your standard ‘kill ‘em and eat ‘em’ vampire. But what sets him apart is that he prefers to have that ‘special bond’ with those he’s chosen. He nabs his victims with an abundance of really powerful mental mojo to compel their will. He can manipulate and read minds and make cameo appearances in your dreams.”
Buffy fidgeted in her seat as she absorbed Willow’s revelations. She very subtly adjusted the scarf on her neck and veiled her uneasiness.
“.....which explains the whole hypnotic eyes thing, I mean, when he looks at you, it’s like he’s looking right into your mind and soul. Didn’t you get that feeling Buffy?”
All eyes shifted to Buffy as she gulped. She feigned a casual look and scratched the back of her head.
“Um, no, not really,” she lied.
“Well, if Buffy wasn’t effected by this silly ‘mojo’ stuff, then maybe you’re all really reaching,” Xander stated with a forced smile.
Xander took notice of a big spider crawling along the edge of Giles’ desk.
“No matter what method he uses to compel his victims, we must remember the reason why,” Giles noted. “He wants to turn his victims.”
Xander discreetly scooped up the spider in his hand.
“Wow, that’s some gift he’s dishing to the ladies, blood of a count huh?”
Giles flashed a bewildered look at Xander before he continued.
“I believe it’s more than just a connection to his victim,” Giles imparted. “He is not satisfied with simply turning her, he wants her to desire being turned by him, he wants her to desire him, to crave him.....”
Dean narrowed his eyes on Buffy, having observed her for several minutes. When she flinched very subtly during Giles’ assessment about Dracula’s motives, he developed a very unsettling notion in his mind.
Buffy shot to her feet, trying to mask her heavy agitation.
“Uh, how interesting,” she blurted. “I think I should get out there and start looking.”
As Buffy made a beeline for the door, Dean abruptly spoke up.
“Not so fast Slayer,” he said. “I think you need to cool your heels for awhile, let the rest of us scope out the sneaky fang first.”
Buffy turned around and gulped when Dean settled a suspicious gaze upon her. She feigned a confident look as the gang looked on.
“No need, I’m good,” she stammered.
“Yeah, Buffy, maybe you should stay behind,” Willow added. “Dracula is definitely a formidable opponent.”
Buffy forced a hand bat through the air.
“Seriously guys, he’s not all that,” she said.
Buffy yanked the door open and hurriedly ambled out. Before she even took three steps into the courtyard, Dean was on her heels. He swiftly gripped the crook of her arm as he pulled her aside.
“Okay, what the hell is going on with you?” he asked flatly.
Buffy absorbed his brusque look and feigned cluelessness.
“What do you mean? There’s nothing wrong with me.”
Dean heaved a sigh of annoyance and shook his head.
“Come on Summers, I KNOW you,” he affirmed sharply. “You passed on the sugar loaded breakfast, you barely chirped two words during the meeting and you’re wearing a neck warmer in eighty degree weather. Are you honestly gonna tell me ‘nothing’ is going on with you?”
Dean stared down at her for a long and tense minute until Buffy cracked with a forced look of denial.
“I just didn’t feel like eating AND I didn’t have much to say during the meeting, I didn’t want to interrupt,” she said evasively. “And as to my scarf, my neck was cold but the rest of me is fine.”
Dean gazed at her in disbelief that this girl he had known his entire life was trying to feed him lies by the heaping spoonful.
“Now I really should go find us a hoity toity vamp,” she said.
Dean released his grip on her arm as she turned toward the courtyard. As she pushed off, Dean latched onto her scarf and yanked it off. Buffy froze with horror as Dean circled around and looked her over. His eyes widened when he saw the fresh fang marks on her neck.
“Dammit,” he barked. “He got to you. He got to you and worked his mind mojo. That’s why you’re acting so strange.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Buffy said sharply. “You’re being ridiculous.”
Giles, Willow and the rest of the gang filed out into the courtyard after hearing the echoes of heated voices. Dean sucked in a breath as he tried to keep his fury in check. He flashed a bewildered look as the gang gathered around.
“When did this happen? I kept watch over you all night. The only time I ever left you alone was when your mom.......”
Dean paused when something registered in his mind.
“When your mom ‘conveniently’ distracted me with an unplugged TV,” he finished.
Dean blew out another breath as a more pieces of the puzzle stitched together.
“He worked his mojo on your mom,” he deducted. “Got her to distract me long enough to get to you.”
Buffy gasped softly as she settled into a garden chair, completely reeling with dread.
Giles noticed the bite mark and drew a look of deep concern.
“Buffy, when, how......why didn’t you tell us?”
Xander exaggerated a calm look. “Because she’s the Slayer, she’s taken harder hits before. And that thing is, well, it’s barely a nick. Not worth mentioning.”
Willow examined the bite marks.
“Right, two very deep nicks with bloody scabs, not worth mentioning,” she remarked.
Buffy sighed in surrender as she flashed a sheepish expression under the weight of collective stares.
“Okay, I covered it up,” she moaned. “I don’t know why I did. I just.....did it. It was like I heard a little voice in my head told me to.”
Willow widened her eyes.
“He used his mind control ability on you!”
Xander scoffed. “Oh come on Will, that isn’t from research, that’s movie lore. He can’t do that.”
Buffy gulped as she absorbed the breadth of Dracula’s powers.
“I did feel an odd sense invading my mind, like he was trying to take over.”
“He bent your will!” Willow gasped.
“Not entirely,” Buffy said. “I was trying to resist him.”
Dean threw a cynical frown at her.
“Oh really? How hard did you try? Because that’s some love bite you got there,” he grunted.
Buffy tapped into the bitterness of his tone and heaved a breath, seeing a familiar flare burning in his eyes.
“Don’t even go there,” she snapped. “This isn’t about....”
“A brooding, cocky vampire lurking around a mansion trying to compel you to ‘crave’ him through his ‘mesmerizing’ gaze? It’s pretty damn close, TOO close for my tastes,” he vexed.
Buffy glanced at the awkward looks from the gang before she rose and tugged Dean aside.
“It doesn’t matter,” Buffy stated firmly. “I’m not ‘craving’ him, nor will I ever. YOU’RE my guy. You’re the only one I want.”
After a long minute of silence to absorb the sincerity in her eyes, Dean shot out a deep breath and got back on topic.
“Alright, the sneaky sonofabitch used his mind mojo to get close to you once, he’s not getting that close to you again,” Dean warned. “You need to lay low somewhere until we sniff out the Count and torch his ass.”
“I must concede with Dean,” Giles stated grimly. “Dracula has targeted you so it is imperative the rest of swiftly move to find him.”
Buffy slowly nodded.
“Well, I’m not safe at my mom’s house.”
Xander eagerly stepped forward.
“You can hang out with me, I’m sure that’s the last place he’d ever think to find you.”
Xander forced out an awkward laugh.
“Excellent,” Giles replied. “I will go with Dean to find Dracula’s residence. Willow, would you and Tara please perform a ward on Buffy’s house in the event he shows up there again?”
Willow and Tara nodded as they departed from the courtyard. Dean ambled over to Xander who was practically hovering over Buffy.
“Take these,” Dean said as he removed a large cross from his pocket and a couple
bottles of holy water. “If he swoops in, throw everything you got at him and run. He’s crafty so don’t let him get a word or a gaze at you.”
Xander took the items and held his nose up.
“Oh no worries man, Dracula can’t fool me into doing anything.”
Dean and Giles wended along a winding driveway, each carrying heavy looks of frustration. Giles adjusted the weapons bag on his shoulder as Dean glanced over a detailed map he had obtained from City Hall.
“That’s the last swanky estate on this side,” he noted. “So out of those eight we’ve searched so far we’ve got.....bupkus.”
Giles eyed the low hanging sun and frowned peevishly.
“And it’s nearly sunset. Dracula will be rising soon and we still haven’t a solid lead on his whereabouts.”
Dean scratched off a note on the side of the map.
“Well, we still haven’t the three thousand block,” Dean replied. “Or this batch of private properties. But we need to haul ass before the old man wakes up for his cup of bloody Ovaltine.”
Dean pushed off at a quicker pace with Giles following behind him.
A few minutes after darkness blanketed the sky, Dean and Giles spilled out of the woods and perched at the bottom of a dirt road. As they caught their breaths, their eyes scaled up a huge, jagged cliff before settling on the exorbitant but sinister looking castle.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Dean groaned as his eyes widened at the sight.
Giles simply stared up in awe as he wheezed loudly.
“I have trekked through those woods hundreds of times, but not once did I ever think to venture passed the great beyond,” Dean remarked.
“Yes, it seems checking out a vast amount of unmarked property just outside the woods proved very fruitful,” Giles said through several gasps of air.
Dean shined a smirk.
“Oh, so you’re saying now that I was right?”
Giles absorbed Dean’s smug smile before acceding with a nod.
“Um, yes, apparently.”
“Oh, so almost having a heart attack was worth it, now huh Giles?”
Dean chuckled softly as Giles finally steadied his breathing. As they made their up the steep driveway, Giles flashed a delayed frown of resentment.
“I did not appreciate you barking at me like a rabid drill sergeant,” he moaned.
“I wasn’t barking at you Giles, I was....motivating you to be ‘less slow’.”
After practically walking right through an unguarded and unlocked main door, Dean and Giles perched at the foot of the foyer. Dean glanced down at the immaculate gold marble floors before he scoped out the mouth of a hallway that split in two directions.
“Alright, I’ll take this yellow brick road,” Dean offered. “You take that one.”
Giles nodded and pivoted toward the corridor leading to the right. Dean crept down the opposite corridor, straining his hearing for any odd sounds. As he rounded a corner, Xander emerged from a darkened room and blocked his path.
Dean bolted to a stop and eyed Xander in surprise.
“Xander? What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be keeping watch.”
Xander glared at Dean with evil eyes as he stood tall with defiance.
“I do not serve you!” he snapped. “I serve only the great Count, my Prince of Darkness, my brilliant, EVIL master.”
Dean waited for Xander to crack with amusement. When he was met with Xander’s fighting stance and taunting glare, Dean shook his head with disbelief.
“He made you his whipping boy, huh?”
Xander scoffed deeply. “I am his loyal servant who shall be rewarded with eternal life.”
“Uh huh, in vamp speak that means ‘dead’,” Dean said with an impatient frown. “I’m assuming you delivered the Slayer in a nice little takeout box huh? Where well the hell is your master?”
“I’m not telling you anything! You go after him, you’re going after me,” Xander said. “I will protect my master with my life!”
Xander nosed up to Dean with his fists, daring him to fight.
“Come on, I dare you to hit me oh lowly human who does not serve the master!”
Dean lingered with hesitation as he watched his friend under Dracula’s compulsion.
“So be it,” he sighed.
Dean reluctantly wound his fist back and slammed it in Xander’s face. Xander crumbled to the ground and moaned as he passed out. Dean stepped over Xander with a remorseful look.
After bounding down a maze of corridors without much luck, Dean made a pass to the opposite end of the estate. As he maneuvered through another corridor, he peeked through each door he came across. When his sights were draped with complete darkness, he flicked his flashlight on and swept the beam around to see nothing but walls. As he took a step further inside the room, he widened his eyes when he felt his right foot hit the air.
Dean quickly plucked his hands out and gripped firmly on the edge of a wall. He sighed in relief as he pushed himself upright again and stepped back into the hall. When he heard the faint echoes of a cry, he popped his head through the door and aimed his flashlight into the dark abyss.
“Hello?” someone called softly.
Dean narrowed his eyes into the barren pit and saw a man being pinned to the ground by three scantily clad vixens in their vamp faces. Dean blinked rapidly in mass disbelief.
“Giles? What are you.....”
Giles stared up at Dean.
“Help,” he cried meekly.
Dean watched for a minute as one vixen licked the inside of Giles’ ear, another combed the hair on his exposed chest and the third nibbled on his lower lip.
“Hehl....hee hee....hee hee....hee hee.,.” Giles snickered with a silly smile.
After digesting a mixture of awe and disgust, Dean found himself adding to the laughter in the air. Though the vamps had pinned Giles to the floor, he made no attempt to fight them off. When his laughter settled, Dean fished out some bottles of holy water and uncapped them. He hurled the bottles into the pit, taking aim at the foot of each vamp chick.
As glass exploded and the water spouted out, the vixens snarled and jumped away. Giles remained flat against the floor, still in a daze. Dean eyed the three hissing vamp chicks and shifted into his game face.
“Get up old man!” he barked. “Come on!”
After a second, Giles slowly folded forward with a hazy look and shook his head.
“Move your ass!”
Giles stumbled to his feet as Dean threw another batch of holy water at the vamp chicks lingering in a corner of the pit. As Giles padded toward door, Dean threw a wooden cross down to him. Giles caught the cross and fumbled with it as the vamp chicks started to approach him again.
Dean dropped his bag and fished out a coil of rope. He quickly tossed one end of the rope down into the pit while looping the other around himself.
Giles snatched the rope as Dean started lifting him up along the wall.
“Oh thank goodness you found me,” Giles gasped. “I was trapped, couldn’t escape no matter what....it was futile.....”
When Giles reached the tip of the wall, Dean latched onto Giles and pulled him the rest of the way. Giles eyed his right shoe down in the pit as he was almost over the edge.
“Oh wait, my shoe....drop me down will you and I shall collect...”
Dean snorted with amusement as Giles squirmed within his hold.
“Sorry Giles, that’s enough evil whore lair for you. Come on.”
Dean helped a still hazy Giles get to his feet before retreating back through the corridor.
Dean flew down a section of the hall when his ears perked with the sounds of a major scuffle. As he reached the foot of a grand chamber room, he watched in awe as Buffy was back to her kick ass mode, slamming Dracula into the floor with a fierce glare. When Dean blinked, Buffy was sailing across the chamber room as Dracula encroached upon her.
Dean charged toward Dracula as Buffy slumped against a wall. Dracula threw his hand out toward Dean.
“Stay,” he commanded.
“Oh bite me,” Dean barked as he lunged at Dracula.
Dracula settled his penetrating glare on Dean.
“Stop,” he demanded.
Dean bolted to a stop and remained still.
Dracula advanced on Buffy as she glanced at Dean while rising to her feet. She veiled her relief when he threw her a very brief wink as Dracula closed in on her. Buffy snatched a lit torch off the wall and swung it like a bat as Dracula bolted to a stop.
“You’re either bold or stupid having torches in your place,” she said snidely.
Buffy took a swing at Dracula with the lit torch but the vampire morphed into mist.
“That trick is getting old!” she barked.
Buffy swept her eyes around the chamber room, looking out for a pool of mist. A blink later, she noticed a curl of mist snaking toward a long, ornate dining table.
As Dracula morphed into form at the foot of the dining table, he stumbled forward as Dean kicked him in the back.
“I’m nobody’s bitch!” Dean snapped.
Dracula glanced at Dean before his sights settled on Buffy as she landed on the dining table.
“Want a piece of my ‘darkness’ now?” she taunted with a fierce glare.
Buffy delivered a brutal spin kick to Dracula’s face. Dean threw a hard hook at Dracula as the vampire staggered back from the table. Buffy jumped off the table and pummeled Dracula in the face again. Dean came at Dracula from the right, Buffy on the left. For over a minute, the two got their shots in before Buffy hurled Dracula across the table. As he rolled over the table, Buffy pounced in front of him and slammed her stake into his heart. His eyes widened as he tumbled off the table. His body began disintegrating as it rolled down the staircase until it was completely obliterated into dust.
“Rot in Hell Your Grand Ass Ship,” Dean grunted.
Dean heaved a breath as his eyes shifted to Buffy. She was breathing heavily from her
fight but as usual and she barely had any scratches. But it was the eyes that said it all. Dean drew a satisfied grin.
“Back to vamp hating,” he assessed.
Buffy hopped off the table and nodded.
“Yep, I’m overdosing on it right about now,” she acceded.
As they descended the staircase toward the lower level, Giles appeared in the doorway of the chamber room. Giles shined his surprise when he saw Buffy.
“Buffy. Are you okay?”
“Yep, old Vlad had me going there for awhile but in the end, I slam dunked him and his stupid compulsion gag.”
Giles shined a proud smile.
“Good. Although, I must say I am somewhat disappointed I did not encounter him.”
Xander burst into the chamber room, clutching a lit torch in his hand. He glared furiously around the room, waving his torch.
“Where’d he go?! Where is that decrepit, smarmy fluffy shirt wearing fangy jerk who made me his bug munching whipping boy?! I’m gonna send a fireball up his ass!” Xander growled.
“We tagged him,” Dean imparted.
Xander fumed with disappointment.
Xander huffed deeply as his face knitted with resentment.
“Okay, I’ve had it!” he barked. “I have had enough of always being the designated eater of bugs and freaky syphilis! It stops right now! I’m no one’s man bitch!”
Buffy, Dean and Giles shined their amazement at Xander’s uncharacteristic display of anger.
“Right,” Buffy said breaking the silence, “You’re not the man bitch any more.”
“I hear ya man,” Dean added. “It sucks that you got duped into feasting on insects while
Giles was being feasted on by three lusty vampire babes.”
Dean broke into a silly grin as Xander widened his eyes in shock while Giles tried to veil his humiliation.
“Really? You were spelled by vamp babes?” Xander gasped.
Giles gulped as Buffy and Xander stared at him.
“No, I was not ‘spelled’. I stumbled into their lair and was about to attack when they.....”
“Attacked you, well, your ear, your lip, your chest,” Dean clarified, widening his amused smirk.
Giles balked with appall as the stares from Buffy and Xander lingered. He held his head up high in protest.
“They happened to have used unconventional methods to.....distract me......I was in the midst of fighting them off when.....”
“You started giggling like a girl at the vamp tongue in your ear,” Dean added, this time bursting into laughter.
Giles balked again as he moved into the hallway with the group.
“I was playing along until the proper moment to strike,” he reasoned.
“Right, so your strategy was to let those vamp tramps have their way with you,” Dean teased, ripping into a second bout of laughter.
Giles opened his mouth to respond in protest but after a minute, closed it in defeat.
A few minutes later, a curl of mist snaked along the bottom of the stairwell and coalesced into the form of Dracula. He grunted as he rose to his feet. He gasped as a stake slammed into his chest again. As he plummeted to the ground, starting to disintegrate for the second time, Dean stood over him with a disgruntled frown. Buffy simply rolled her eyes at the notorious vampire.
“Have you not seen your own damn movies? We KNOW you come back you stupid sonofabitch,” Dean groaned.
Dracula groaned in agony as he obliterated back into dust.
One minute later, another curl of mist appeared at the bottom of the stairwell. Dean pushed off the banister and shook his head.
“Dude, we’re still here,” he grunted.
The mist quickly dissipated with the faintest sound of a sigh. Dean shook his head as he ambled out of the chamber room with Buffy. Dean perched under doorway and stared at the foot of the staircase.
“If you know what’s good for you Count Barfula, you’ll crawl back into your grave and STAY there.”
Later at the motel, Buffy emerged from the bathroom with a contented smile as she observed Dean settled against the headboard singing softly along to Aerosmith’s “Dream On”. Buffy climbed onto the bed and snuggled up to Dean as he turned the volume of the radio down. With just the soft light of the bedside lamp spilling into the room, Buffy marveled in the bright gleam of his eyes as he pulled her body against his.
“Thanks for cleaning the room and making it critter free,” she said softly as she gave him a kiss of appreciation.
Buffy inched away and traced a finger along his jaw line.
“Mmm, I figured there’d be some sort of incentive,” Dean remarked with a sly smile.
He tucked her deeper in his arms, hiking her bare leg over his hip and drawing her mouth back for a kiss.
“I just need a little motivation sometimes,” he said as he locked his mouth over hers.
Buffy let out a soft moan as her body flashed hot. As her mind spilled with the past few nights, she gently parted from Dean and shifted out of her smile.
“Dean, I need to tell you something,” she confessed.
“We interrupt this sexy program for a word from our champion,” he said with a small curl of a smile.
He laughed briefly until Buffy shaded with a remorseful look. He settled his amusement and drew a look of concern.
“What’s on your mind?”
“These past couple of nights,” Buffy started. “After we’ve gone to sleep, well, I um, I haven’t stayed....asleep. I’ve um.....”
Buffy dropped her eyes as her guilt of withholding the truth from Dean settled deeper.
“I’ve been going out, pretty much every night.”
Dean hitched an eyebrow up in surprise.
“You have? I’m usually a light sleeper, although, you have exhausted me since I’ve been here,” he replied with a smile.
As he absorbed her apologetic expression, he refrained from painting his responses with humor.
“So, where have you been going?”
“Hunting,” Buffy answered.
Buffy drew in a breath before she imparted the details of her late night hunting episodes, gripped by a strange compulsion and other instincts she didn’t understand. After about fifteen minutes of lamenting, she sucked in another breath.
“I don’t know what to do,” she moaned.
“Have you talked to Giles about any of this?”
“Um, no, not really, I was trying to figure this out on my own but....I’m realizing I.........can’t.”
“Okay, so what’s the problem then? Giles may not be your watcher anymore but he’s the best resource in helping you figure all of this out. That’s what separates you from that freaky, cave girl Slayer. You want help, you want guidance and Giles is the man.”
“Are you saying I should ask him to be my watcher again?”
“Did he ever really stop? I mean, even if he isn’t a card carrier anymore, he’s always been willing to help you whenever you need it. He’s always giving his two cents....or pounds about the latest evil of the week or doomsday scenario.”
Buffy heaved a breath and nodded. “Yeah, you’re right.”
“Of course I am.”
Buffy took in his silly smirk and giggled.
“So you’re not mad that I was sneaking out on you?”
Dean let out a sigh as he played with her hair.
“I guess I’d rather have you sneak out to waste vampires instead of......”
Dean let the remainder of his statement taper off but Buffy caught a flare of dread in his eyes that had finished it for her.
She clasped his hand firmly in hers.
“I came back to you,” she stressed. “Just like you came back to me.”
Buffy leaned in and gave him a loving kiss that lingered for a minute before they stamped out the bedside lamp and pushed their clothes off.
Later the next afternoon, Buffy poked her head in her mom’s room.
“Okay, Dean’s gonna be here any minute and then we’re going out for awhile.”
“Alright sweetie, have fun.”
Buffy wandered into her room to snag her jacket and frowned with annoyance.
Joyce shook her head and sighed when she strolled passed Buffy’s room.
“Hey, what are you doing in my room?”
Joyce paused in the hallway and poked her head inside.
“Honey, since you’re going out with Dean, why not take Dawn along too?”
Joyce drew a fond smile.
“It’ll be just like old times.”
Buffy and Dawn frowned and protested in unison.
A minute later, Joyce opened the door and smiled at Dean. She widened the door for him to enter. As he swept into the foyer, he heard the echoes of an argument upstairs. He eyed Joyce with a curious expression. Joyce returned with an apologetic expression.
“Buffy will be down in a moment, she’s having a bit of a difference of opinion with her sister.”
Dean snorted with amusement. “Oh, so in other words, I should take a seat cuz it’s gonna be awhile right?”
Joyce flashed another apologetic expression as she pivoted toward the kitchen.
“I made popcorn treats, can I offer you some?”
Dean glanced up the stairs as the heated argument continued.
“May as well,” he sighed as he followed Joyce into the kitchen.
TO BE CONTINUED