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This story is No. 2 in the series "Sunnydale Reloaded". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Second in my ‘Sunnydale Reloaded’ series

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Movies > Matrix, TheGreywizardFR13416,28803421,20626 Oct 041 Feb 11No

Lies And Other Games We Play

Title: Lies and Other Games We Play

Author: Greywizard1235 AKA John


Rating: PG. Definitely nothing worse than the show.

Disclaimer: All of the really good characters belong to Crack-Head Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, etc., I'm just borrowing them for a while. There is no intent to profit from this. Only the story is mine, and even that is negotiable.

Category: C/X-ship and various other relationships and friendships mentioned and noted.

Summary: Second in my ‘Sunnydale Reloaded’ series

Time frame: Completely alternate Buffy-verse, branching off after S2’s Halloween. Follows ‘Enter.. the Hellmouth.’

Character Bashing: None.


Title: Lies and Other Games We Play

Sunnydale Park

The young boy sat near the top of the jungle gym, watching the setting sun begin to dip below the distant horizon as he impatiently surveyed the empty adjacent parking lot.

“C'mon, Mom. She's always late,” he muttered his complaint to himself under his breath.

“Are you lost?”

Turning his head to look over his shoulder, he saw tall, beautiful but pale, brunette woman appearing to be her mid-to-late twenties and dressed in a long, white gown patterned with small flowers slowly walking toward him.

“No. My mom's just supposed to pick me up is all,” he said, as he began climbing out of the gym, a faint feeling of unease prickling along his spine.

“Do you want me to walk you home?” the woman smiled at him, her voice soft and musical to his ears.

“No, thank you,” the boy replied politely, moving to keep the gym structure between himself and the woman.

“My mummy used to sing me to sleep at night,” the woman smiled at him, slowly walking around the gym as she began to softly sing. “ ’Run and catch. The lamb is caught in the blackberry patch...’

“She had the sweetest voice. What will your mummy sing when they find your body, my darling boy?” she asked curiously.

The boy looked at her nervously, now obviously worried about the newcomer’s apparently nonsensical ramblings. “I'm not supposed to talk to people.”

“Oh. Well, I'm not a person, see, so that's just...” the brunette smiled at him, much like a cat looked at a mouse, when a tall, dark-haired man suddenly stepped between the two.

“Run home. Now,” he ordered the boy as he gave him a stern look.

The boy only hesitated for only a moment before turning and running off. The woman watched him run away, her face filled with disappointment. The man took a deep breath before turning around to face the woman.

“My Angel!” the woman beamed at the man.

“Hello, Drusilla.” The expression on the ensouled vampire’s face was a mixture of emotions, pain, regret and sorrow chief among them.

“Do you remember the song mummy used to sing me? Pretty,” the woman asked, a thoughtful expression on her face.

“I remember.”

“Yes, you do,” the brunette agreed, a small smile on her lips.

“Drusilla, leave here. I'm offering you that chance. Take Spike and get out,” Angel told her.

“Or you'll hurt me?” Drusilla asked, her head tilted in curiosity, as Angel looked down at the ground.

“No. No, you can't. Not anymore,” she judged, the ghost of a smile still playing about her lips.

“If you don't leave, it'll go badly. For all of us,” he replied, still unable to look her in the eye.

“My dear boy's gone all away, hasn't he? To her,” the woman said, certainty in her voice, as she looked over the vampire’s shoulder to the roof of a building across the street from the park.

“Who?” Angel asked, puzzled by the woman’s response.

“The girl. The Slayer. Your heart stinks of her,” she said, as she put her hand on his chest a moment before a slight blonde-haired woman appeared at the edge of the building’s roof and looked down on them. “Poor little thing.”

“This can't go on, Drusilla. It's gotta end,” Buffy’s preternatural hearing enabled her to hear Angel say.

Drusilla tilted her head and reached up for a kiss, seeing the Slayer watching them.

“Oh, no, my pet. This is just the beginning,” she answered, pulling away without kissing him while giving him an evil smile. She kept her head turned to him as she slowly walked away.

Buffy swallowed at what she saw, Angel watching Drusilla leave for a moment, before turning to leave also. Buffy stepped back, away from the edge of the roof before she, too, turned to run off.


Sunnydale High School
The next morning

“It's a secret, Rupert!” Jenny Calendar said, as she accompanied Giles down a set of interior stairs.

“What kind of a secret?” the Englishman asked, apparently a bit flustered at her statement.

“Uh, the kind that's secret. You know, where I don't actually tell you what it is,” she smiled at him, obviously enjoying his discomfort at her answer.

“I think it's customary that when two people are going out on an evening that they, they both have an idea of where they're going,” he protested weakly.

“Oh, come on! Where is your sense of adventure?” the computer teacher teased.

“Well, I, I... Uh, how will I know what to wear?” the librarian asked.

Looking a bit doubtfully at his tweed suit, Jenny asked, “Do you own anything else?”

“Uh, w-well, not as such, no, um...” was the reply.

< Mmm, > she thought to herself, < going to have to get with Cordelia to help me get him into some more stylish clothes. If she could fix Xander’s wardrobe, she could fix anyone’s. > "Rupert, you're gonna have to trust me," the brunette laughed, putting her hand on his shoulder reassuringly.

“Alright, alright, I p-put myself in your hands.” Giles finally conceded defeat.

“That sounds like fun,” Jenny smiled sexily as she started on her way down the corridor, away from the library. “Okay, tomorrow night, 7:30, right?”

“Yes,” Giles smiled back, a bit uncertainly, watching her closely as she swayed away...

“Hey.” Buffy greeted her Watcher as she came up to him as Jenny left.

“Hello. Um, did we hunt last night?” he asked as the two fell into step heading towards the library.

“I did a couple quick sweeps downtown,” Buffy replied, her face indicating that the majority of her attention was on something other than her report as they entered the library.

“Any encounters?”

“Nothing vampire-y.”

“Uh, I've been researching your friend Spike. Uh, his, uh, his profile is fairly unappetizing. But I-I still haven't got a bead on why he's here,” he confessed as he walked into his office.

“You'll figure it out.”

“Are you alright? You seem a little glum,” he observed as he began his morning ritual of preparing tea.

“I'm fine.”

“Very well. Why don't you take the night off?” the librarian said, obviously not believing his Slayer’s protest.

“Okay. That'd be nice,” the blonde agreed, not nearly as cheered as he had assumed she would be at the reprieve he had given her.

“Yes,” the Englishman nodded. “You could spend some time with Angel.”

“I don't know. He might have other plans,” Buffy replied despondently, as she walked off to class, leaving Giles to wonder what that was all about.


In their European history class, Buffy opened the note Willow had passed to her earlier as they had taken their seats.

{ Do you know who she was? }

“Well, it seems like Louis XVI was just sort of a weak king,” a fellow student was answering the leading question their teacher had thrown out for discussion.

After glancing at her friend, and making sure that Mrs. Kingman wasn’t looking her way, Buffy scribbled her answer.

“That's fair enough. Uh, any other impressions?” the teacher asked of the rest of the class.

From her position sitting in front of Buffy, Cordelia glanced to the side, a small smile on her face. Xander was sitting in the next seat over from her in front of Willow, watching the statuesque brunette with his head propped up on his fist and a matching small smile on his face.

Contrary to what people had come to expect with regard to his fashion sense, the male Scooby Gang member was currently wearing a dark silver-grey dress shirt, black tee-shirt, black jeans and polished black combat boots, all of the clothes appearing to be tailored for him, to reveal a lean and muscular physique that had previously always been concealed by his baggy, shapeless clothing.

“I just don't see why everyone's always picking on Marie Antoinette,” the head cheerleader commented. “It wasn’t as though she was voted in as Queen and she didn’t come through on her campaign promises or anything like that.

“She and Louis were just like every other member of all the other royal families throughout Europe,” the brunette noted offhandedly. “They were all basically inbred to the point of ‘Deliverance;’ none of them ever had any kind of training classes on how to be good rulers, not that they even cared all that much about that, to begin with; all of their advisors were always pushing their own agendas; and absolutely nobody in power really cared about the commoners unless they were all crowded around outside their palaces with pitchforks and torches, screaming for blood or other stuff,” Cordy noted. “So why was anybody so surprised that they didn’t really know what was going on, and how bad things really were for the people of France?

“It’s no wonder the peasants were all depressed...” the brunette beauty declared as she concluded her comments.

“I think you mean 'oppressed',” Xander corrected her

“That, too,” Cordelia agreed. “Anyway, the people had good reason to be cranky. Wouldn’t you be, if some airhead offered you a piece of cake when you were complaining that your family was starving because there wasn’t any food around to eat? And when you add in what kind of clothing they had to wear back then, I don’t blame them for revolting!”

“Yes, well, that's a very interesting perspective,” Mrs. Kingman remarked, obviously taken aback by the cheerleader’s relatively insightful, yet still uniquely Cordelia-esque analysis of the socioeconomic situation in Renaissance France.

“I see that Trinity’s fascination with medieval Europe certainly came in handy,” Xander said in a low voice as he smiled at Cordelia, his eyes focused on the brunette.

“A little extra knowledge never hurt anyone,” Cordelia conceded. “You seem to be doing a bit better in your classes, too,” she observed with a smile.

“Well, I consider Neo’s coming from a family that was actually literate to be an unfair advantage in the development of his attitude towards education as compared to mine,” Xander confided to the head cheerleader with his typical grin.

“I think Willow initially took your sudden reversal in both your attitude about education and your GPA as proof that you’d been possessed,” Cordy teased her boyfriend.

“And I’m relatively certain that Harmony and the other harpies probably felt the same way when we began dating publicly,” he replied.

“Well, telling them that changing your tastes in clothes was a challenge to my esthetic sensibilities *was* most definitely the easiest reason that they could accept for my allowing myself to be seen in public with you,” Cordy informed him with a twinkle in her eyes.

“The fact that they realized just what a hunk you were after I started dressing you just made me look even better in their eyes,” she finished with a triumphant smirk.

“Actually, I like your *un*-dressing me even better, babe,” he smiled back at her, knowing how much she enjoyed teasing him about the student body’s general reaction to their initial revelation that they were a couple, and about the Cordettes’ reaction in particular.

“Well, of course you do, dweeb-boy,” Cordy declared. “You think that that’s a surprise? You’re male; therefore, you’re always interested in getting naked with pretty much any woman around.

“The fact that it’s me you get naked with just means you’re lucky beyond belief,” she smiled at him, knowing that he knew she was merely teasing.

“I already know that, darling,” Xander replied, the intensity in his eyes as he looked at her making the same familiar quiver run down Cordy’s spine.

As their friend spoke to the head cheerleader, Buffy finished her answer to Willow's note after a moment’s reflection.

{ No. Dark hair. Old dress. Pretty. }

Buffy folded the note and passed it back to Willow, who read it and immediately scribbled a question before returning it.

Willow took advantage of their teacher’s distraction as someone in the front of the class dropped a book to hand Buffy the note again.

{ Vampire? }

The bell rung at that point and there was an immediate mass exodus out of the classroom.

“I don't know. I don't think so. They seemed pretty friendly,” Buffy observed, continuing their discussion as she and the hacker merged with the crowd of students funneling out of the classroom.

“Who's friendly?” Xander asked as he and Cordelia walked over and joined the two Scoobies in the hallway as they headed down the corridor.

“No one,” the Slayer immediately responded.

“Angel and a girl,” Willow answered.

“Willow, do we have to be in total share mode?” the blonde threw a mild glare at her friend.

“Well, it’s not like there’s a huge crowd of people interested in your completely dismal and pretty much non-existent social life.” Cordelia’s normal, candid comment was ignored by the other three.

“Hey, it's me,” Xander smiled at the petite blonde, slipping into his typical joker persona. “If Angel's doing somethin' wrong, I wanna know.

“ 'Cause it gives me a happy!” he declared as they turned into the lounge.

“That’s the only kind of happy you’re going to be getting if you keep ignoring me,” Cordy growled to the tall brunet, clearly not pleased at not being the center of the brunet’s attention.

“Mm, I'm glad someone has a happy,” Buffy said glumly.

“Aw, you just need cheering up. And I know just the thing!” Xander told her as he turned and grabbed hold of Cordy, spinning them around in a wild dance move that threatened to send the two of them through the nearest window. “Crazed dance party at the Bronze!”

“I dunno,” Buffy said as she crossed her arms, obviously depressed, and dropped back onto one of the couches scattered throughout the room.

“Okay, very calm dance party at the Bronze?”

Buffy gave him a glum look.

“Moping at the Bronze?” he suggested, with a hopeful grin.

Spinning the voluptuous brunette he was still holding in his arms, he smiled at her and was rewarded with the faintest lightening of the annoyed look Cordy was currently sending his way.

“Hey, I’m helping cheer up a friend, that’s all,” he informed the head cheerleader in a quieter voice as he pulled her stiff, but unresisting form closer to him.

“She’s like my little sister,” he murmured into her ear as he sat down on a nearby couch and pulled her down into his lap, to wrap his arms around her waist. “Very irritating and annoying at times, but someone you still care about, anyway.

“You should know you don’t have anything to worry about, babe,” he assured her in a low, throaty voice, smiling as he saw the involuntary shiver that went down the brunette’s spine as he stroked his hand along her lower back. “I don’t have any romantic feelings for Buffy any more. I thought you knew that, by now. Especially after that lapdance she hit me with at the beginning of the year,” he reminded her.

“You’re the only one I want. Now and forever,” he announced, his words eliciting a brilliant smile on the face of the girl seated in his lap.

When she heard her childhood friend’s declaration as she eavesdropped on their conversation, Willow’s face took on a mixed look of hurt and disappointment, and she immediately turned away, almost running into the guy who had walked in behind the four of them.

“If you’re trying to cheer her up, I'd suggest a box of Oreos dunked in apple juice,” he said, a wide grin on his face as he looked down at the petite, currently frowning blonde. “But then again, maybe she's over that phase.”

Hearing the voice behind her, Buffy uncrossed her arms and turned her head.


“Hey, Summers!” the brunet grinned as the Slayer practically rocketed to her feet and embraced him. “How ya been?”

“Oh, my God! What are you doing here?” Buffy demanded as they let go, but still held hands.

“Uh, matriculating?”


“I'm finishing out my senior year at Sunnydale High. Dad got transferred,” the youth explained

“This is great!”

“I'm glad you think so,” he continued smiling at the petite blonde, not releasing her hand. “I didn't think you'd remember me.”

“Remember you? Duh! We only went to school together for seven years. You were my giant fifth grade crush, remember?”

The Slayer’s mood had lightened considerably, Xander noticed, as he and the two girls watched the couple with considerable interest.

“So!” he interjected as Buffy and her companion stood there staring at each other for a moment. “I guess you two know each other, huh?”

“Oh! I'm sorry, guys,” the blonde apologized. “Um, this is Ford! Uh, Billy Fordham, this is Xander, Willow and Cordelia!” she said as she pulled the smiling brunet down to sit beside her.

“Hi,” Xander was giving the guy an appraising look as he stretched out his hand towards the newcomer.

Cordelia and Willow were looking him over, too, Xander noticed, but with a much different perspective than his, he was quite certain.

< Ah, body heat! A positive first step, > he thought to himself as they shook hands.

“Hey,” Ford nodded a greeting as he turned to smile at the girls.

“Nice to meet you!” Willow semi-goggled at the unexpected visitor from the Slayer’s past.

“Hi,” Cordelia deigned to smile at Ford, as she settled herself more comfortably in Xander’s lap, actually putting her arm around his shoulders, her actions announcing quite clearly her claim on the brunet whose lap she was currently occupying.

“Uh, Ford and I went to Hemery together in L.A.,” Buffy confessed.

“And now you're here. For real?” she asked, turning back to Ford with a questioning tone in her voice.

“Dad got the transfer, and boom, he just dragged me outta Hemery and dropped me down here,” he replied.

“This is great!” Buffy declared, a smile lightening up her face. “Well, I mean, it's hard, sudden move, all your friends, delicate time, very emotional, but let's talk about me!” she said, apparently channeling Cordelia for a moment as she put her hand on his knee. “I think this is great!”

“So, you two were sweeties in fifth grade?” Willow inquired curiously, obviously interested in more details of their relationship.

“Not even,” Buffy shook her head in negation. “Ford wouldn't give me the time of day.”

“Well, I was a manly sixth-grader,” Ford protested with a grin. “I couldn't bother with someone that young.”

“It was terrible. I moped over you for months,” Buffy complained. “Sitting in my room listening to that Divinyl’s song, 'I Touch Myself.’

As she realized how what she had just said could be taken, Buffy cast a nervous look at her schoolmates, to find Xander grinning cheek to cheek and opening his mouth, an obvious one-liner about to zing out.

“Not a word!” Cordelia warned as she came to the Slayer’s rescue by clapping her hand over his mouth. “Any thoughts you’ve got like that better be about me,” she informed him, before pausing as she realized how her words could be taken.

“Of course, I had no idea what it was about,” the Slayer quickly interjected.

Seeing the glazed and happy look on Xander’s face as he considered Cordy’s words, Buffy took full advantage of his momentary distraction to try change the subject of conversation, as Ford nervously scratched his temple with his finger.

“Hey, are you busy tonight?” she asked. “We're going to the Bronze, it's the local club, and you have to come,” she insisted.

“I'd love to! But if you guys already had plans... Would I be imposing?”

“No, only in the literal sense of the word,” Xander stated with a straight face as he watched Buffy’s reaction.

“But, if you’ve got any dirt or really embarrassing stories about the Buffster’s life pre-Sunnydale, you’re more than welcome,” he added with a grin as he watched a look of alarm cross the Slayer’s face.

“Okay, then, sounds like a plan!” Ford declared as he got to his feet. “I, I gotta find the admissions office, and uh, get my papers in order.”

“Well, you know what?” Buffy stated as she rose to her feet. “I'll take you there, and I'll see you guys in French!”

“It was good to meet you,” Ford said, as Buffy practically dragged him out of the lounge.

Xander smiled after them, while Willow still had a thoughtful look on her face.

“Looks like Deadboy’s got some competition,” he observed. “Seems like it’s gonna be a real good day,” he declared happily as he tightened his arm a bit around Cordelia’s waist and looked into the brunette’s face.

“Oh, that's what that song is about?!” Willow said as she seemed to come back into reality, only to be again distracted by the sudden vision of the head cheerleader doing just that.

Coming back to herself, seeing Xander and Cordy sitting there, gazing into each other’s eyes, Willow shook her head mournfully and made her way out into the hallway.


The Bronze
Late that night

Xander, Willow and Ford were busy playing pool while Cordelia was seated off to one side, apparently in some deep discussion concerning color coordination with the Cordettes. Ford sunk his shot and was setting up for another as Buffy arrived at the table.

“So, looks like you made it,” she smiled at him, casually leaning against the table near him as he missed a bank shot against the three ball.

“Wasn't hard to find. It’s pretty much the only club around,” he said, turning to look at the seemingly-delicate blonde.

“Buffy, Ford was just telling us about the ninth grade beauty contest, and the, uh, swimsuit competition,” Willow informed her friend.

“Oh, my God, Ford, stop that! The more people you tell, the more people I have to kill,” she complained, a mock-frown on her face.

“You can't touch me, Summers. I know all your darkest secrets,” Ford sassed her.

“Care to make a small wager on that?” Xander asked, his perpetual grin on his face, as he sank the two and six balls with a three-cushion shot and noted the look that Buffy gave him, unseen by Ford, at his comment.

“I'm gonna go get a drink,” Buffy announced. “Ford, try not to talk.”

Once she arrived at the bar, she discovered Angel skulking in the shadows.

“Hi,” she greeted him noncommittally.

“Hey! I was hoping you'd show.”

“You drink!” Buffy exclaimed, upon seeing the glass of soda before him. “I mean, drinks. Non-blood drinks.”

“There's a lot about me you don't know,” the ensouled vampire replied vaguely.

“I believe that,” Buffy agreed.


Over at the pool table, Ford looked around casually, checking out the club and its patrons, and saw Buffy with Angel.

Following the direction of his stare, Willow looked over saw the vampire. “Oh, that's Angel.”

“Yeah, one of Buffy’s special friends,” Xander noted, the sarcasm in his voice clearly evident to the newest addition to Sunnydale High School.

“He's not in school, right?” Ford inquired. “He looks older than her.”

“Well, you're definitely not wrong about that,” was Xander’s only comment, sarcasm lacing his words.


“So. What'd you do last night?” Buffy asked, seemingly casually.

“Nothing,” Angel told her.

“Nothing at all. You ceased to exist?” she asked.

“No, I mean I stayed in, read,” he elaborated.

“Oh,” was Buffy’s only comment before turning around and heading back to the pool table without another word, her drink forgotten, contemplating Angle’s lie. Angel stood there, staring after her for a moment, a confused expression on his face, then followed her.

“Didn't want that soda after all?” Ford asked as the small blonde rejoined her friends.

“Not thirsty,” she replied as she looked the table over, a non-expression on her face.

“Hey, Angel,” Willow smiled at the vampire as he walked up.

“Hi,” Ford nodded a greeting at the new guy.

“This is Ford,” Buffy introduced her old schoolmate to Angel. “We went to school together in L.A.”

“Nice to meet you,” Angle nodded as he reached out to shake Ford's hand.

“Whoa! Cold hands!” Ford noted, a bit surprised.

“You're not wrong, there,” Xander acknowledged, as Buffy gave him another ‘look.’

< Two ‘looks’ in less than five minutes, > the brunet noted to himself. < I might be establishing a new personal best tonight. >

“So, you're here visiting Buffy?” Angel asked Ford, trying to make small talk.

“No, I'm actually here to stay. Just moved down.”

“Hey, Angel? Do you wanna play?” Willow suggested, trying to sidetrack any impending confrontation.

“Y'know, it's getting really crowded in here tonight. Um... I'm a little hot,” Buffy observed. “You wanna take a walk?” she asked Ford.

“Um, sure! That'd be nice,” Ford quickly agreed.

“Okay, then, um... I'll see ya tomorrow,” Buffy nodded a goodbye to the others, as she lead Ford out past Angel.

“Good night,” Angle nodded back.

“Take care,” Ford said, following the Slayer.

“Okay,” Xander chimed in, looking around, “once more, with tension.”

“He just moved here?” Angel asked as he watched Buffy and Ford walk out.

“Yeah,” Xander agreed, a faint grin on his lips. “And, boy, does he move fast,” he added. After all, any chance to needle Buffy’s undead paramour was something to be cherished and taken advantage of to the male Scooby’s way of thinking. Deadboy’s family had caused him too much pain for him to ever like the brooding vampire.

“Well, Angel, we could still play,” Willow said, as she carefully moved the racked balls into position. When she looked back up, Angel was gone.

“See, you made him do that thing where he's gone,” she semi-complained to their resident jokester.

“And the problem with that would be what?” the taller dark-attired brunet asked, as he got ready to break again after counting his winnings.


“So, that was your boyfriend?” Ford asked as the two slowly strolled along the street.

“No. Uh, yeah…Maybe,” Buffy reluctantly replied, looking down at the sidewalk. “Could we lay off the tough questions for a while?”

“Sorry. So! What else do you do for fun around here?” he asked in a rather obvious attempt to change the subject.

Hearing some noises coming from around the corner, and suspecting a vampire, Buffy tried to think of some way to get Ford away from there.

“Um, my purse. I-I…I left my purse at the Bronze,” she said, acting as if she had just realized it. “Uh, could you get it for me?”

“Uh, okay,” Ford agreed, a bit uncertain, before heading back towards the dance club.

“Good. Run! Thanks!” Buffy called after him, as he started to jog. A second later, she took off in the opposite direction and around the corner.

Ford looked back and stopped when he saw that Buffy was gone. Hearing what sounded like a woman crying, he headed back towards the spot he had left Buffy, only to be almost run over by a woman who came dashing around the corner past him.

Continuing on, he was startled by a metal trashcan flying through the air in front of him and into a stack of crates, followed by, first, the sounds of a fight and then the sounds of someone of hitting a wall. Very solidly.

Carefully peeking around the corner, he caught sight of Buffy pounding a vampire unmercifully before finally driving a stake through his heart and causing him to explode into a cloud of ashes.

“What's goin' on here, Buffy?” Ford asked the Slayer, who quickly spun around, surprise evident on her face upon seeing him.

“Um... uh, there was a, a cat. A cat here, and, um, then there was a-another cat... and they fought. The cats. And... then they left. After fighting,” she said.

Buffy listened to the words spilling her out of her mouth and winced inwardly.

< Cats fighting? Oh god, how lame is that? He’s gonna think I’m an idiot like Harmony! > she thought to herself.

“Oh. Ooooo-kay,” Ford calmly nodded acknowledgement of her explanation. “It just looked to me like you were slaying a vampire.”

“What? I was what-ing a what?” Buffy gaped, her eyes wide open.

“I know, Buffy. You don't have to lie to me. I-I've been trying to figure out the right time to, to tell you,” he told her in a calm and composed voice. “I know you're the Slayer.”

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