Buffy should have known that something was wrong when a scrawny lank haired vampire slid his way up to her and Pam in the reception area of the hotel on their way out, and held out his hand up to shake Pam's.
"Miss de Beaufort," he said, his voice making Buffy wonder whether he had been busy greasing his throat before coming out for the night. Maybe it was like a daily ritual or something for him?
The lobby to the hotel was busier than it had been when they arrived with vampires coming and mainly going as they checked out for the night.
"I'm sorry, do I know you?" Pam said, briefly shaking his hand, before returning it to her side. Buffy tried not to smirk as she noticed Pam discretely wipe her hand down the side of her pants.
"We met in eighty-seven, I believe," he told them, flashing a smile at Buffy, before returning his attentions to Pam.
"My apologies, but it has been a while," Pam said, producing a forced looking smile.
The slimy vampire took a step closer to Buffy, and she only just stopped herself from reacting as she felt one of his oily disgusting hands touch the outside of her left leg.
"I see you have made yourself a new pet," he said, his smile more sneer than charm. Buffy was sorely tempted to see if his nose would look better broken, as his hand slid up the outside of her leg, but held herself still not wanting to create a scene in the busy reception area. She could picture it in her head though: she would hit his nose, it would go pop, and his blood would explode all over his face.
"I would thank you to take your hands off of her," Pam said, enunciating each word precisely.
"Such a shame," he said, placing his hand on Buffy's stomach. Buffy, for her part, was struggling to control herself from going postal on the creep. She didn't want to make trouble for either herself or Pam, but any thought of not creating a scene was rapidly looking more remote as the other vampires in the room seemed to sense the tension brewing, and had stopped what they were doing to watch.
Then he was moving his hand toward her chest, and Buffy brushed his hand away with her own. She would let him touch her; but that didn't mean she was willing to let him cop a feel.
"Hands to yourself, grease boy," Buffy said, her voice dropping dangerously. She watched as he seemed to go through surprise that she had done what she had done, and then anger - whether at her stopping him from groping her, or whether from the name calling, Buffy wasn't sure.
And, sure enough, his angry mood turned into a violent outburst which came at her in the form of a slap. One that was so obvious to Buffy he may as well have made an advance notice and mailed it to her three months earlier.
Buffy caught the slap, and without thinking punched him in the face hard enough to spin him back and send him skidding across the carpet toward the desk.
The thought had occurred to Buffy to go over to him and finish him off, not that it would take much, as he looked to be only half conscious anyway. The trouble was though, she wasn't sure how the other vampires would react to her ending another vampire, and they seemed as tense now as they had been before. And, judging from the expression on Pam's face, Buffy suspected she was about to blow.
"Let's go," Pam said, her voice even more clipped than normal, before turning and marching out of the hotel lobby.
Scuttling along behind her, Buffy got into the truck's cab, and belted herself in without Pam saying anything to her.
It was several minutes, and a good mile, before Pam seemed willing to talk again.
"I should reprimand you for what you did back there," Pam eventually said, her emotionless face directed at watching the road ahead.
"But..." Buffy prompted, sensing that Pam had more to say.
"Calling a vampire a pet is an insult," Pam said, "Pet's are humans who have been glamoured into obedience."
"And you knew this creep how?" Buffy asked, shuddering slightly.
"We met at a gathering," Pam told her, "he was not particularly memorable."
The way Pam said it, Buffy had a suspicion that when she said they 'met', it was for more than a hello... how are you
; and, she had to wonder if she could ever be that casual about meeting
people. Maybe if she didn't have a soul, but Buffy was beginning to think she had been wrong about the whole soul deal all along. When she had been in Sunnydale, Buffy had been convinced the demon rose in the humans place and the soul went puff
. This was more like she was tempted in a major way to go suck face on people, but she still didn't want to kill them and she still knew
that it was wrong. And, if she knew that killing was wrong, she still had to have her soul.
"Have you fought before?" Pam asked, still not taking her eyes off of the road ahead.
"I did like martial arts and worked out and stuff when I was at college," Buffy lied.
"A vampire will often retain skills they had in life," Pam mused.
"So I should be good at fighting?" Buffy asked, already knowing the answer to that question.
"You are already
good at it," Pam said, glancing briefly at Buffy, "Geoff, while without doubt an annoying pervert, has been a vampire for at least half a century. You should not have been able to take him that easily."
"But I did," Buffy said, her voice dying on the air.
What Buffy wasn't saying to Pam was that she wondered just exactly how much she had taken from her life to her new vampire existence. Her fighting. Her freaky dreams. Had she even stopped being the slayer with all this?
"Yes," Pam eventually agreed.
"So what's the plan for tonight?" Buffy asked, fidgeting in her seat.
"We will continue to drive to Shreveport, and may stop at a nightclub to feed," Pam informed her.
"You know, I'm not that hungry," Buffy said, thinking of how she had nearly failed to stop herself last time she had fed.
"I know when you are lying," Pam said.
"Okay, so I am
hungry, but I don't want to lose control like that again," Buffy pleaded.
"Starving yourself isn't going to help," Pam stated, then went on to add, "and we will see if you are able to glamour your prey."
"So the glamour thing? Can all vampires do it?" Buffy asked quickly, trying to divert the conversation away from how casually Pam referred to people as their prey
"To some extent," Pam said.
They rode in silence for a while, Pam looking almost like she was dead at the wheel apart from the occasional flick to the steering wheel to keep them in the exact centre of their lane.
"It takes practice, and one has to be careful to not cause harm to humans," Pam said.
"What kind of harm?" Buffy wondered.
"Insanity," Pam told Buffy without any real emotion entering her voice.
"How?" Buffy asked back, a bit annoyed with Pam that she was going to make her dig to find out more.
"Glamour works by forcing a human's mind to make connections and accept truths they otherwise would not," Pam explained, "If the brain can form the connections, then it works. If it cannot, then the person will go mad, or the glamour will fail."
"I think I understand," Buffy said, trying to wrap her head around how that could even work, not entirely sure she had understood what Pam was on about.
They were pulling over, and unless Buffy was very much mistaken this was not a nightclub. No, they were pulling over into a gas station, of all places! Why she should be surprised by that, Buffy didn't know, after all, it wasn't like they had a truck with a bottomless fuel tank.
"Can I go get some stuff?" Buffy asked, glancing at the highly lit and highly deserted shop that sat in front of the pumps.
"Yes; do try not to cause any trouble," Pam said, walking back towards the fuel filler cap at the back of the truck.
"As if?" Buffy said, smirking to herself. She turned and walked toward the shop with a slight spring in her step.
It turned out that the shop wasn't as deserted as Buffy had at first thought. There was a youth in his early twenties who was manning the desk. He was wearing a yellow t-shirt proclaiming that 'N3RDZ RUL3Z' in white writing, and had a mop of curly brown hair. Buffy pretended not to notice him stare at her non-stop as she walked through the doors to the shop, and she wandered along the isles picking up a packet of gum and a bag of Maltesers.
"C-can I help you?" he asked, looking nervous and his eyes constantly darting away to the side.
"Maybe you can," Buffy said smiling, and being careful not to allow her fangs out to scare him. She could smell and almost feel
the blood pulsing below his skin, but she wasn't here to eat him, and wanted to prove to herself that she could keep her hunger under control.
Waving one hand in front of her, Buffy said, "you do not want me to pay for the gum."
The cashier for a moment looked confused, then annoyed Buffy by glancing down and being pretty obvious about checking her out, before returning his gaze to a shelf at one side of her.
"Sorry, but you gotta pay like anyone else," he said, his glance flicking back to Buffy's face, "we're on CCTV, and if you didn't pay, I'd get fired."
"Come on, I haven't got any money; you don't really want to make me unhappy, do you?" Buffy said, catching his eyes in her own. She wasn't going to feel guilty about this. She had to learn somehow, and of all the ways to do it this seemed fairly innocent.
"No, I wouldn't want that," he admitted slowly.
"You really do want to do what I tell you, don't you?" Buffy asked. She felt a weird kind of connection to him staring into his eyes; like she was worming into his mind and planting her own thoughts in there.
"I really do," he said, and he sounded like he meant it.
"It's less than a dollar; I'm sure you could let me off," Buffy suggested, and could sense the thought propagate out in his head.
"I guess that'd be okay," he responded, nodding slightly.
"So what do I call you?" Buffy asked, keeping eye contact with him.
"Stephen," he said, then added, "Stephen Mayer."
"Well, Stephen, that's a lot more friendly now," Buffy said smiling at him, "how about you tell me all about where you live."
To Buffy's surprise, he did, and also she wheedled out of him what his phone number was and that he was currently single and had a crush on a girl he knew from high school who was called Shannon and that she had improbably large feet.
Her impromptu interrogation of the cashier was interrupted by Pam coming in, presumably, after she had finished filling the gas tank on the truck.
"Really, I can't leave you alone for five minutes," Pam said, though there wasn't any real anger in her voice.
"Say hello, Stephen," Buffy said, smiling at the clerk.
"Hello Stephen," he repeated monotonously.
"He's a comedian," Buffy said as an aside to Pam.
"You managed to glamour him," Pam noted, and for a moment, Buffy thought she sounded surprised.
"I think he wanted it," Buffy said, almost embarrassed at how easy it had actually been. If this was what it was like being a vampire, then she could see why some of them went bad; it was like being in a candy store when the shop keeper was away.
"You'd better let him go," Pam said gently.
Even though she didn't tell her how to do it, Buffy instinctively knew how to cut her ties to Stephen and let him have control of his own thoughts again. She could see as he regained control of himself and looked confused before starting to look frightened.
"You'd better ring it up," Buffy said, indicating with a nod of her head towards the truck.
His shaking hands operated the till. Buffy felt as guilty as hell that she had done this. She didn't want to be the thing that people were frightened of.
"Th-that'll be th-thirty-six eighty," he half mumbled, looking down at the cash till rather than meeting Buffy's or Pam's eyes.
"There's forty," Pam said, putting the cash on the counter, "keep the change."
Pam turned and left Buffy standing by the desk.
"For what it's worth, I never meant you any harm," Buffy told him, and started to turn to leave.
"I know," he said quietly.
They drove out of the petrol station in silence, and stayed that way for some time. The early evening roads still had quite a few cars on them, but were not busy enough to slow them down.
It occurred to Buffy that she was not only getting closer to where Pam lived, Shreveport, but that she was getting ever further from Sunnydale and her friends. It was strange, she was angry and disappointed in what they did to her, but they were still her friends after all that. Faith was a worry: Giles had been pretty clear, in her dream at least, that the slayers death had closed the hell-mouth.
But, if the hell-mouth was closed, then Buffy knew she wasn't needed there. At least, not for now. And if she could keep from completely screwing up this new start might be just what she needed. If she could just keep from screwing up.
"I shouldn't have used the glamour thing on him," Buffy admitted, looking down at her hands that had worked themselves into a knot.
Pam made a non-committal noise, but didn't respond in any other way. Buffy suspected if she hadn't been a vampire and had hearing as sensitive as hers had become, she wouldn't have even heard her make the sound.
"You can use glamour to make people to forget," Pam eventually said more quietly.
"Okay, are we talking short term or long term here," Buffy asked; disconcerted by even the thought of having the ability to effectively erase parts of somebody's mind.
"Short term is easier," Pam said, "and all that we usually need to hide our presence."
"But long term is possible? You can do that?" Buffy asked, sounding more than a little worried.
"Possible, yes; likely, no," Pam told her, sparing her a glance from the road that she seemed to find so interesting, "Changing long term memories is difficult, and the chance of success, even for a vampire such as I, would be slim."
"Good," Buffy said, "I mean, it shouldn't be that easy to just mess around with someone's life like that."
The clock on the trucks dash said it was ten to midnight before they finally pulled onto the lot to the side of the nightclub Pam had mentioned to Buffy, and that was located just out of Las Cruces.
"That's original," Buffy commented, pointing towards the sign with the clubs name. The club was rather inventively called Club
Pam didn't comment, but got out the cab; and Buffy taking the hint followed close behind. The music from the club was audible across the parking lot, and was getting louder as they got closer.
It occurred to Buffy that she should start charging guys to ogle at her in the ridiculous shorts and top that Pam had given her to wear. The security guys on the door were the latest two guys whose eyes were wandering her torso. After a couple of moments of 'assessing' whether Pam and Buffy were fit to enter, one of the stocky security men waved them in.
Going into the club was like hitting all her senses at once for Buffy. The music was loud, really deafeningly loud. The smell of all those people, all that blood, was almost too much. She could almost taste the people thrumming around her.
"Drink?" Pam said loudly to Buffy over the music.
"Yes please," Buffy said; instinctively her fangs coming to join the party.
Buffy found herself slammed against a wall, and Pam was looking really angry.
"Get yourself under control," Pam said in her ear, before releasing her.
Blinking a couple of times, Buffy started to reel her sense back under her control, her fangs retracted, and she walked slowly towards the bar where Pam had already moved off to.
"Sorry," Buffy said, having positioned herself next to Pam.
"You would have been," Pam said, "now drink this."
Buffy looked down at the clear liquid in the glass, and she didn't need a college degree to work out that it was alcoholic.
"I don't really get on with liquor," Buffy said, leaning towards the side of Pam's head so her maker could hear her better.
"You'll be fine," Pam said back, nodding her head as if to try and reassure her.
Grumbling to herself about 'stupid vampires', Buffy took a sip of her drink. And, didn't pass out, grow horns, or turn into cave Buffy.
"Hey!" Someone, a guy, said from the other side causing Buffy to turn. Buffy forced herself to smile, not that she felt it. He was kind of lanky and had blonde hair with a rugged looking face.
"Can I get you a drink?" he shouted, a little too loud despite the music.
Buffy smiled and nodded.
"What do you want?" he asked.
Buffy leaned in, closer to his ear, which also happened to be close to his neck. "Surprise me," she said, before pulling back away from him.
He ordered something from the bar that came out green and had ice in it. In Buffy's opinion, it tasted a lot better than it looked.
"So, do you come here often?" He asked, leaning in to Buffy so as she could hear him. She was just about to answer, when Pam cut in between them.
"Come with me," Pam said, staring into his eyes, and flicking a glance in Buffy's direction added, "you too."
Trying not to get pissed with her maker, Buffy tagged along past the dancing people, out of the club and around the side of the building where it was not lit up like the front.
"You seemed to be getting on," Pam observed, the man stood there almost trance like. If Buffy was honest, she'd say it was almost scary how easily and how quickly Pam had put him under her glamour.
"He was trying to pick me up," Buffy said.
"I did notice," Pam said, "Lesson number two in feeding. You decide how your prey feels. You want them to hurt; they'll hurt. You want them to like it; they will like it."
"I got it," Buffy said, a little too quickly.
"Make sure you do," Pam said, and with a gesture with her right hand prompted Buffy to, "go on."
"Fine," Buffy grumbled, and took a step towards him.
The man was rocking slightly, and she could feel his pulse beating slowly below his skin. He smelt of alcohol and aftershave. Buffy could have done without the perfume.
Buffy's fangs came out without any real thought, and taking a step closer she angled his head slightly to expose his neck. Being as gentle as she could, Buffy bit in and let his blood flow into her of its own accord. Unlike last time, she didn't suck on him like a blood bag, but let his heart to the work for her.
With a little effort, Buffy kept herself focussed on not making him feel anything from her feeding off of him. Her being attached to his neck was like wearing a scarf or a tie; it didn't mean anything.
As his pulse began to slow, Buffy withdrew from him, licking around her mouth to clear any remaining blood that may have escaped. The wound on his neck was still raw, and he was visibly rocking now as he stood. It was amazing how even what had to be a small amount of blood made Buffy feel absolutely wired.
"Bite your tongue, and seal them," Pam said, indicating to the neck wounds, and bringing Buffy back from her happy place.
Running her tongue along one of her fangs, Buffy could feel a sharp pain as she pierced her tongue and made it bleed. She took a step back towards the man, and licked his neck. His neck wound almost miraculously closed up when she applied a little blood.
"Good," Pam said, taking a step forward and standing next to Buffy, "no wounds equals much harder to find."
"Makes sense," Buffy agreed.
Pam got closer still to the man, and stared into his eyes, "You came to the club, tried to hit on a pretty blonde, and she rejected you. You went home, and called it a night. Got it?"
He nodded mutely.
"Good, now go home," Pam told him.
Apparently, he didn't need telling twice and he made tracks; even if there were erratic tracks, like he'd drunk an entire bottle of scotch.
"Come on," Pam said, as she started to walk back toward the club's entrance doors.
"Does it always feel this... good?" Buffy asked.
"Every single time," Pam said.