“You okay, B?” Faith asked, semi-concerned about my lack of mobility.
“Just open the door so I can collapse peacefully.”
Faith did as I asked and I stumbled into the apartment and collapsed down onto the couch.
Before I could even say a word, I had four people surrounding me, all asking the same questions, four different ways.
The exceptions being Dawn, who was at her night classes, and Jack, who simply said “I should’ve gone with. Looks like I missed some fun.”
“I’m fine.” I replied to everyone else. “One of the vamps just got a little rough, that’s all.”
“Though, on the opposite side of that, I think they were two of the vamps that B was talking about last night. They were all strong and everything, like new baby vamps usually are.” Faith interjected.
“The more important part that Faith is leaving out is something one of the vamps said. Mentioned something about offerings for his Master.”
I watched as four different faces changed four different colors.
“Okay,” I said, sitting up gingerly. I turned towards the Doctor. “Number one--you can relax. I don’t think it’s the same one as you’re thinking of.”
“How can you be so sure? You haven’t seen him…it was a very, very long time ago that I dealt with him.”
“Gut feeling. We talked about this, remember? Slayer’s instinct always wins out in the end.” I turned towards the gang. “Number two--I don’t think it was, you know, The Master they were referring to. Seeing as how he’s giant piles of dust and everything.”
“Unless…” Giles started.
“Unless what?” Willow, Xander, Faith and Jack all asked in unison.
I sighed. “I really wish that you guys wouldn’t ask that. He’s going to come out with something horrible that I’ll have to defeat. I know it.”
“Unless he’s bled through somehow from an alternate dimension. Doctor, have you felt any dimensional rifts or pulls lately?” Giles asked, ignoring my comment.
The Doctor shook himself out of any thoughts that he had seemed to be lost in. “Oh, um, no. None that I or the TARDIS have felt, no. She’d be the first to know.”
“So I guess that leaves it to be some new Big Bad in town?” Faith asked.
“I guess so.” I said.
“Well, how do you go about finding it?” Jack asked.
I stood up, carefully, as my bones were still aching. “I guess it’s time to hit up some of the demon bars.”
“Buffy, no. You’ve been hurt. You shouldn’t be out patrolling anymore tonight.” the Doctor argued.
“Welllll….if you think I need a protector, you’re more than welcome to come along.” I said, smiling.
He grinned his silly, maniacal grin. “Brillant! I do love to watch you work.”
I turned to Jack. “Want to tag a long? I can’t see you being cooped up here with the books for too much longer.”
“Oh dear God yes.” he said, standing to join us.
“I think I’ll sit this one out, B. I’m thinking it’s a veggin’ kind of night for me.” Faith said.
I nodded. “Okay. We’ll be back.”
My first stop was to my good ol’ reliable snitch, Billy. He owned a small, well hidden demon bar, just a few blocks over. The first time I met him, I was literally dumbfounded by how much he resembled bar-keep Willy.
Then he told me that Willy was his brother and everything slid into place. Well, except for the reason why their mother named them both names that were short for ‘William’.
We entered the bar to find it fairly packed. Some demons I could identify, some I couldn’t. And a whole bunch of vamps.
“Well, well! If it isn’t the Slayer! And friends.” Billy said.
I walked over to the bar and sat down. The Doctor and Jack stood quietly behind me.
“How’s it going, Billy?” I asked, cheerfully.
“Oh you know me. Always staying out of trouble.” he winked.
“Listen, I need some info.” I whispered.
He moved in closer. “Is it payin’?”
“What constitutes the cash?” he asked.
“How useful your information is.” I replied.
He nodded. “Fair enough. What do ya need to know?”
“Have you heard anything on any new Big Bads coming into town? Someone that would use vamps for servants? Maybe mix in with magics?”
He thought for a moment. “No…no can’t say that I have.”
“Billy…” I warned.
“Tellin’ ya the God’s honest truth. Ya think I want a pissed off Slayer in my bar?”
I nodded. “Okay, thanks Billy.” I slipped him a twenty for his troubles.
The rest of the demon bars we hit had similar responses. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
“This somehow resembles square one.” I said as we walked out of the last haunt.
The Doctor grabbed my hand and intertwined it with his.
“Well, square one …that’s usually the first stop, isn’t it?” he smiled. “You can’t have squares eight, nine and ten without square one.”
I squeezed his hand. “That is an excellent and very valid fact.”
He beamed. “I’m outstanding, remember?”
“How could anyone forget when you say it so often?” Jack smiled.
“Now boys, do I have to separate you?” I teased.
Suddenly, my Slayer senses kicked up on high drive. I stretched them out and quickly found a direction.
“This way.” I said, taking the lead, my hand still intertwined with the Doctor’s.
I was set on a dead run, but the Doctor and Jack kept up easily.
I learned a very long time ago just how great my lover was at running.
The vamp vibes I was getting seemed to be coming from an alley, judging by our new surroundings, but it was completely empty.
“Okay…I was definitely being pulled here.” I stated.
“So why is the alley deserted?” Jack asked.
“I don’t know.” I responded.
“Maybe…whomever we were following…went down under.” the Doctor said, pointing to a manhole.
He pulled his sonic doo-hickey out of his coat pocket and used it to unseal the manhole cover.
Jack pulled it off and tossed it aside.
“Ladies first?” he gestured.
I sighed and jumped down. The Doctor followed and Jack was last.
“Ugh. Why do they always pick the sewers? Okay, I mean, I know why, but is it really that much to ask for a week where I’m not traipsing through…whatever this is that I’m currently traipsing through. I swear if Merrick had mentioned anything about sewers, I would’ve not accepted at all.” I rambled.
“Well, my dear, I’m not entirely sure that you had a choice whether sewers were mentioned or not.” the Doctor answered.
“Merrick?” Jack asked.
“First watcher.” the Doctor and I answered in unison.
I once again stretched out my Slayer senses, as far as I could. I walked a little ahead of the Doctor and Jack. They were using the sonic doo-hickey as a mini flashlight and I just didn’t need that.
“Buffy, do you have any idea where we’re going?” Jack asked after several minutes.
I shushed him and stopped walking.
“My theory is that she’s moved onto the tracker version of herself. The hunter, if you will.” the Doctor answered Jack.
I shushed him, too.
“Oops…sorry.” he whispered.
To my right was another series of tunnels but to my left, there was a boarded up section of wall. It had yellow tape all across it. I figured it had been a part of the old city at one point.
I walked over to it and put my ear to the boards.
I turned and started to walk away; The Doctor and Jack followed.
We walked only a few feet when I motioned for them to stop.
I ran back to the boarded up wall, punched my fist through and pulled out a vamp.
The Doctor and Jack came running.
The vamp recovered from his shock and jumped at me with a series of punches. I blocked them all. Unfortunately, while I was busy blocking his punches, he sent a hard kick into my already injured ribs. I stumbled backwards a bit from the pain, but regained my composure, quickly, blocking his next few punches.
I ducked down and swept his legs out from under him. As soon as he hit the ground, I grabbed him by the throat, picked him up and slammed him against the wall.
“I know you’re the one that led us down here. So here’s how this going to work. I ask, you answer. Understand?”
“Why should I answer anything? You’re just going to stake me in the end.”
“Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on how good your information database is. Oh God. I really just said that, didn’t I?”
The vamp seemed to be in thought.
“I’m waiting…” I said after a long few minutes.
“Master is in town…siring new recruits.”
“Who is ‘Master’? Recruits? Like for an army?”
The Doctor answered instead of the vamp. “Not an army…no. There’s not been enough people taken. It’s something else…”
“Correct. Not an army. Just enough for you to notice.”
“Me?” I questioned.
“You are the Slayer.”
Slayer. Not the
Slayer. Not anymore.”
“Yes, but you are the one he has sent for. The one he has been searching for.”
For some reason, those words rang some fierce déjà vu inside of me.
“Why? What does he want from me?”
“Everything. You spurned him. He offered you the world and you killed him. It’s taken him these last five years to recover. And now he wants to make you pay.” The vamp laughed.
“Who is he?” the Doctor sneered, coming closer.
“I will tell you. But it will be too late. Tonight, he’s sent for her. Your ultimate price. Tonight, he gains the asset that will destroy you, Slayer.”
“I’m getting really
sick of the cryptic. Spill it, bumpy. Who is he? What asset?”
“The Master. The Count. Dracula.”
I don’t know if my jaw physically or mentally dropped. Everything suddenly sank in.
The Doctor and I exchanged the same glance.
“Dawn.” I whispered.
The vamp started to laugh. I quickly dusted him and started to run back the way we came, with the Doctor and Jack close behind me.
I quickly scaled the ladder, making it up in three easy steps.
Dawn’s university wasn’t far, but it felt like it was light years away as we ran.
I checked the time on my watch. 9:20pm
Dawn’s last class would just be letting out.
We raced across campus, searching frantically.
“There! I see her! Over there!” Jack yelled.
Sure enough, Dawn was absentmindedly walking down the path, thumbing through her bag.
There was at least ten vamps starting to swirl around her, attempting to herd her in.
I ran as fast as I could.
I pulled my stake out and managed to take two vamps by surprise. Jack jumped in the fray, taking out another two vamps as well. The Doctor even staked himself a vamp.
I was in the midst of fighting off three vamps when I heard Dawn’s scream.
I turned to see her being held, by the neck, by a large vamp.
“Slayer, put down your stake or else I’ll squeeze the life out of her right now.”
The Doctor and I immediately dropped our stakes. I nodded to Jack, who dropped his as well.
“Let her go.” the Doctor ordered.
“Dracula wants me. So go on, take me instead. I’m standing here right now.” I begged.
“Buffy! No!” Dawn yelled.
“Quiet girl!” The vamp squeezed her tighter.
“I’m offering him the trade. Me for her.” I repeated.
“I do not just want you. I want to watch you suffer first. Suffer until no end. Suffer until you think you might die. Then you will hand yourself over to me.”
The Count himself walked--well, glided--out from behind the large vamp.
The Doctor pulled out his specs and stepped up closer to examine Dracula.
“Wow…I mean really…just wow. This is absolutely brilliant. Count Dracula. Vlad the Impaler. In the flesh. I mean…just brilliant.”
The Doctor glanced at me. “Oh, right. Sorry. Just not every day you meet a legend.”
“Get away from me, alien. You do not interest me.”
“Yeah, well, you see, here’s the thing. I wish I could back away, however, you’ve chosen to get yourself involved with a woman that I love. And I just don’t think it’s really going to work out the way you plan.”
Dracula turned to face the Doctor. I slowly motioned to Dawn to stay as still as possible. Jack quietly edged his way around, moving towards Dawn.
“I wonder how you will react when she hands herself over to me…over her own free will? How will you react when I drain the life out of her?”
“The last time I checked, mind control didn’t count for free will.” the Doctor countered.
I motioned for Jack to keep moving towards Dawn. Instead, he stepped on a twig.
Dracula spun around.
“I would not try to be the hero, immortal one.”
He walked (glided) over and grabbed Dawn from the large vamp, dismissing him.
I took a few steps forward.
“Stop Slayer. I’ll snap her neck.”
“Well, isn’t that what you want? You’re going to kill her anyway. Why drag it out?” I fumed.
He smiled that insanely evil smile that only he could.
“It’s better for me to…drag it out, as you say. To let it sink into your head how much you failed your only living family blood.”
With that, he and Dawn disappeared into the night.
I turned to Jack. “Go. Tell the others.”
He nodded and ran off back to the apartment.
After he was out of sight, I sunk down to ground and burst into tears.
The Doctor was right there, holding me in his arms.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” he said, gently.
I looked up at him. He reached his hands over and wiped the tears from my eyes.
“Don’t be. He’s the one that’s going to be sorry. He’s going to wish that he never came back.” I growled.