Xander raised his crossbow, aiming into the crowd of vampires. Drusilla smiled serenely at Buffy. “Ah now, sweetheart...even you can't fight us all...” She gestured to the crowd of vampires behind her, at least fifteen strong.
“You've been busy,” Buffy remarked coolly. “But, what else are you going to do, now that you don't have Spike to kick around anymore...” She gave a sweet smile.
“You'll feel differently when you are dancing with us,” Drusilla promised. “And it won't hurt a bit.”
Frasier had not turned to face Buffy, but instead kept his face hidden as he struggled to control his vampiric urges. Nor was he eager to let Buffy see his blood-covered face; no doubt she would assume the worst.
From the doorway, Niles peeked in. He caught Willow's nervous glance, who smiled and gave him a little wave. She seemed to be the only one not carrying a weapon, and that made Niles worry for her safety.
Drusilla looked around at her vampire companions. “Well, what are you waiting for, dearies? It's my favorite part of the party...game time!”
The vampires behind Drusilla roared. Buffy cast a quick look to Willow. “Will, now!”
“Oh, right!” Willow brought her hands before her and began a swift, low chant. The vampires surged toward them. Xander raised his crossbow a bit high and fired it into the throng. One vampire exploded into ashes as Buffy darted forward into the teeming crowd of undead, her stake raised.
“Better duck and cover, Doc!” Xander yelled, reloading his crossbow with a precision that suggested a long familiarity with the weapon. Frasier finally looked over his shoulder at them, saw Willow casting her spell, and hastened to dodge out of the way.
Fearless, Buffy rushed forward into the oncoming wave of vampires. From long habit, she slipped into the full Slayer personality. The first vampire that she faced took a swing at her, but Buffy was quick to duck under his fist and came up with a hard punch to his face. From the side, another vamp tried to grab her, only to receive a high kick to the jaw before she spun around and slammed her stake into the first vampire. “Like riding a bike,” Buffy muttered, flipping her stake over and thrusting it into the chest of the second vamp. As she fell deeper into the Slayer persona, the vamps and the fighting began to blur into a constant stream of motion and violence. One vamp attempted a flying tackle but Buffy dropped low to sweep yet another vampire from his feet, keeping her balance. Out of the corner of her eye, the Slayer noticed that Drusilla was slowly backing away through the crowd. Experienced as she was, Dru knew enough to worry more about the witch than the Slayer or Xander.
Xander noticed Drusilla as well, and he reloaded his crossbow, taking careful aim at the insane creature. She was still backing away, her gaze locked on Willow, when Xander pulled the trigger and let the crossbow bolt fly.
Quicker than any human, Drusilla's hand snapped upward and snatched the bolt from the air. Her dark liquid gaze met Xander's for a brief moment, and she smirked before whirling to sprint towards the back of the warehouse.
Willow's spell went off, and a small ball of light appeared at her fingertips, dancing gaily at first. Will concentrated, and the ball steadied itself, then flew swiftly to the center of the vampiric crowd. Drusilla disappeared through a back door just as Willow cried, “Aduro!”
The ball of light seemed to explode outward, as bright as the sun. Those unfortunate vamps caught in its immediate vicinity burst into flames, then into dust, but the range of the light was not vast. Still, most of the vampires did at least take damage from the sunlight, and when the spell's effect faded, only four vampires remained, not counting Drusilla or Frasier, who was frantically beating at the flames that ate at his suit jacket. From the door, Niles noted his brother's predicament and hurried over to aid him.
The four remaining vampires looked around at each other, and then at Buffy, apparently trying to decide whether or not they should continue fighting her. Just as they made the decision to rush her again, a crossbow bolt dived into the chest of the left-most vampire, a brunette girl, and she exploded into dust.
Xander calmly loaded another bolt.
The three vamps rushed Buffy, fangs bared. The Slayer exploded into action, punching, kicking and stabbing with her stake. In a few seconds, another vampire burst into ashes.
Willow, her casting done for the moment, scooted past Xander and joined Niles and Frasier where they sat against a wall. Frasier had just used one of Niles' silk kerchiefs to get the worst of the blood from his face, and he winced as he noticed Willow settling down to kneel beside him. “Are you alright?” she asked gently.
Niles smiled hugely at her. “Oh yes, I'm fine. For a while there it was touch and go, but I think we made a good showing...”
“Niles, she's talking to me!” Frasier snapped. He looked at Willow, and self-consciously tried to rub his face a bit more with the kerchief. “I do seem to be going through these suits of mine, don't I?” Frasier said weakly. Willow smiled, and took the cloth from his hand before methodically wiping away the last traces of blood. “Willow, how can you even look at me, after what I did to you,” Frasier mourned.
Willow folded the kerchief, her gaze dropping from Frasier's. “Well, y-yeah, you did go all growly for a minute in the hotel room...”
Niles looked from one to the other. “I beg your pardons? What did my brother do to you, monster that he is?”
“N-nothing!” Willow said quickly, pressing the bloodied handkerchief into Niles' hand. This effectively distracted him; he immediately dropped it, took out a fresh kerchief, and began fastidiously wiping his fingers clean.
Frasier shook his head, refusing to be consoled. “I could have killed you,” he insisted to Willow, who smiled again and shook her head too.
“You couldn't have, and you didn't. You scared me out of there so you wouldn't. Look, I know what it's like to be caught up in evil,”Willow assured him. “There are urges, and impulses. You touch something powerful, or something powerful touches you. Either way, it's hard to control.”
“How could you possibly know what it's like?” Frasier asked in disbelief.
“Let's just say I've had my own struggles with the darker side of my nature,” Willow replied, and her smile took on a hint of sadness.
Xander's cheer of victory drew the trio's attention, and they looked over to see Buffy and Xander walking towards them. No vampires were in sight. Willow shared a look with Frasier, then got to her feet and hurried to join her two best friends. Niles turned to give Frasier a hard look. “Just what did happen between you two?” he asked, frowning.
Frasier sighed. “I kissed her. Then I tried to rip her throat out.” He looked ashamed. Niles simply gaped at him.
Willow, Buffy and Xander reached them. Buffy glanced around, then canted her head slightly to study Frasier. “Well, Doc....I'm gonna want the whole story of what happened here tonight,” she said with a slight smile.
“Yeah, you didn't happen to kidnap your brother and bring him here to sacrifice to Drusilla, did ya?” Xander asked. “'Cause we kinda frown on that sort of thing.”
“I most certainly did not!” Frasier said indignantly, getting to his feet. “If you must know, I came here to confront the creature that turned me into this....monstrosity!”
“That wasn't very smart, Doc,” Buffy said seriously. “You could have gotten Niles killed.”
Niles scrambled to his feet as well, brushing himself off as he did so.” For your information, I came well-prepared. Why, my pepper spray saved my life!”
“Pepper spray?” Xander repeated, his expression incredulous, and then he burst into laughter.
“Mock me if you must, but from now on, I am carrying this with me everywhere I go!” Niles insisted, brandishing the can of pepper spray.
“I didn't want to bring Niles with me,” Frasier said quietly to Buffy. “He insisted on coming. And I did keep him safe.”
Buffy sighed. “Well, it's over now. We should get back to the hotel and compare stories. Then maybe we can finally get around to having Will re-ensoul you.”
“Yes, well, I did want to discuss that with you,” Frasier said hastily as Buffy turned away and headed for the exit. “I mean, what exactly is involved with this....re-ensouling process? Will it hurt?”
Buffy rolled her eyes as Frasier continued to ply her with questions. Xander, Willow and Niles trailed along behind them, wisely choosing to keep quiet.
“No, Giles, I promise, everything's fine here,” Buffy said into the phone for the third time. “It's been a couple of days since the big fight in that warehouse, and there's been no sign of Drusilla since then. Frasier's trying to get Willow to explain every bit of the re-ensouling spell to him, but that's the only thing slowing us down.”
“He's reluctant to be re-ensouled?” Giles asked, and Buffy could hear the frown in his voice.
“No, it's not that, it's just that he wants to understand everything. He's big on that, it's kind of his thing,” Buffy replied.
“I don't think it's a good idea for you to let him stall the re-ensouling, Buffy,” Giles said seriously. “There's no telling when he will lose control of his...his baser urges, and you know as well as I do that he will never have full control of it until his soul is restored.”
“I know, Giles,” Buffy said with a sigh. “But after this last big fight, he seems to be handling the whole thing much better. He hasn't lost control once.”
“But he will, Buffy. It's only a matter of time,” Giles' voice was tinged with worry.
“I'll keep an eye on him until he gets his soul back. Really, I'm on it,” Buffy assured her Watcher.
Later, Buffy, Xander and Willow sat in Buffy's hotel room, discussing Buffy's call with Giles. Buffy and Will sat on the bed while Xander relaxed in an armchair.
“I gotta say, I'm with the G-man on this one,” Xander said, adjusting his eye patch.
“There's a big surprise,” Willow said, rolling her eyes.
“Come on, he almost snacked on his own brother!” Xander pointed out. “Last time I checked, brothers are for snacking with, not on.”
“But he didn't,” Willow argued. “Snack on his brother, I mean. He fought the urge off and even saved Niles!”
“He could just as easily have gone the other way, Will,” Xander insisted. “As long as he doesn't have a soul, he's dangerous.”
Willow started to protest again, but Buffy shook her head. “Xander's right, Will. We have to stick a soul in him.”
“Well, that's kind of the problem,” Willow said, dropping her gaze from her two best friends. “He doesn't think he needs a soul. He thinks that it's an-an exercise in discipline, he said....for him to learn to control himself without one.”
Buffy frowned in annoyance. “Did you explain the part where it isn't his choice?” she asked sternly.
“Oh, I totally did,” Will nodded quickly. “But he, uh, kinda disagrees with us.”
“That's it,” Xander said, getting up from his chair. “Where's the stake?”
“Xander, wait, slow down. We don't just kill people when they disagree with us,” Buffy waved a dismissive hand at him.
“He's not a people, Buff, he's a monster. Why can't you and Will see that?” Xander began to pace in his frustration.
Buffy and Willow looked at each other. Willow's cheeks colored; she still hadn't told Buffy or Xander about the kiss she'd shared with Frasier. Buffy's look turned curious. She was tempted to ask Will about whatever she was hiding, but the Slayer sensed that now wasn't the time. Instead, she shrugged and turned back to Xander. “You know my reasoning on it,” she replied.
Xander threw his hands in the air in resignation. “Fine, we'll do it your way. As usual.”
Buffy beamed a smile at him. “Good! Glad that's settled. Now, let's go talk to the doc.”