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Defender of the Night

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Summary: Challenge response- Xander dresses as something inhuman for Halloween

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Cartoons > GargoylesMMcGregorFR1817113,296105101155,13910 Feb 0521 Jul 08Yes
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Part Ten

Defender of the Night Part 10


They were staring down at him as he woke. His animalistic roar of awakening died quickly, and Xander frowned as he patted his chest, feeling his body for injuries. There were none. He inhaled a deep breath, relishing in the sweet filling of his lungs as they extended to their full and inhuman capacity. He exhaled happily.

"Morning," said Buffy. She reached a hand down to him, and his large hand clasped her wrist as she used her Slayer strength to give him a lift to his feet. Her strong tug nearly vaulted him to an upright position, and he extended his wings slightly to balance himself. "Feeling better?"

"Much," Xander said with a grin, his eyes locked on hers. They said nothing for a moment, until both glanced to their hands, Xander still holding her smaller hand in his. Buffy blushed slightly and pulled back, grinning sheepishly.

A hand swatted his shoulder, and he turned to see Cordelia beside him. "Ow?" he said with confusion.

"You broke the window," she said, frowning. Xander raised an eyebrow and glanced at the balcony. Sure enough, the windowed doors had been pretty well demolished. He'd been pretty out of it upon landing last night.

"Sorry, uh, kind of hard to fly when you're about to pass out."

"Yeah, well," Cordelia said, trying to sound upset. "I had to clean it up, but there's no way I'm fixing it."

"Uh, okay. I'll fix it. Or I'll try, anyway."

"Good," she replied in clipped tones. Xander eyed her suspiciously for a moment. She just brushed a strand of hair back behind her ear and turned back to Buffy. "She killed the last assassin, so, you know, everything's cool."

Xander turned to Buffy. "You did?"

The blonde Slayer nodded. "Yeah, only, uh, turns out that girl we fought last night? Not an assassin."

"You're kidding, right? My ribs have a different story to tell."

She shook her head. "'Fraid not. We got a call from one of the Watchers."

"Watchers? What do they have to do with it?"

Her expression darkened, and she shrugged, rubbing her shoulders. "She was a Slayer."

Xander frowned at Buffy, and looked to Cordelia to see if this was some joke. His roommate just nodded seriously.

"How can that be? What about the whole 'one girl in all the world' thing?"

"Oh," Cordelia said, happy to know the answer. She pulled out her notepad and flipped a few pages. "Right, cause um, when one Slayer dies, another one gets called." She held up the page to him, and grinned brightly. "I figured you'd ask that, so I got the scoop from Giles, and oh my god, I can't believe how much that man can talk. Like, hello? All I wanted to know is why there are two Slayers, not the whole history of the freakin' world. I thought they weren't allowed to teach that kind of stuff in school, or is that just in Arkansas?"

Xander wasn't paying much attention to Cordelia, his gaze fixing on Buffy. One Slayer dies and another gets called. It seemed almost obvious now. Buffy had died in the Master's cave. She'd been dead enough to fulfill a prophecy, so it stood to reason that she was dead enough to let a new Slayer be called.

A few days ago, he might not have thought anything about it. After the previous evening, he could see that the revelation was hurting Buffy rather profoundly. She was looking almost as miserable as she had the day before, although now it was more of a dull sickness than a true fear. The urge to pull her to him and hold her was nearly overpowering.

No wonder the fight had been so difficult. He should have realized that the incredibly strong, incredibly fast, incredibly resilient assassin was a Slayer. She was too tough to be anything else.

"So, um, she's on our side then?" he asked, unsure what else to do.

"Who knows?" Cordelia shrugged. "She's little Miss Loner."

"She hasn't contacted us or her Watcher since yesterday," Buffy explained.

"Great. So she's probably still gunning for the big bad demon named Xander," he sighed.

Buffy nodded softly, sadly. He felt a lump forming in his throat, and was glad his new voice didn't have the tendency to crack when he spoke.

"Uh, okay. But, um, you said you got another assassin?"

That made Buffy brighten. "Yeah. The last one."

"Last one? There's a last one? I thought it was a wave-after-wave kind of deal."

Buffy shook her head. "Watcher guy on the phone said they only send three per hit. Giles found some books that confirm it."

"Only three? I thought they never failed. What do they do when three doesn't work?"

Buffy gave him a slight grin. "Three always worked before."

He could hear the hint of pride and gratitude in her voice. They'd dealt with the assassins, or two of them anyway, together. He smiled back at her.

"Someone call Guinness, Buffy broke herself another record."

***

Xander tried not to dwell on the feel of her arms around his neck, or the way her head rested gently against him as they sailed through the sky. He tried not to think about how wonderful she smelled, or how soft her skin was. He definitely didn't think about the feel of her legs and thighs as he cradled her, or how his large hand sometimes brushed against the bare skin of her exposed midriff.

To think of such things was to believe these things meant something, or ever could mean something. To think of such things meant thinking of the night before, when Buffy had kissed him. Kissed him in a way he'd been hoping for for over a year.

The problem was she'd done it in the middle of a vicious battle when she thought he was dead. Extenuating circumstances could definitely mean something there.

At least she wasn't avoiding him. That was a good sign. She'd even asked him personally to come with her to Willy's Alibi, the sleaziest bar in town, and a safe haven for many a demon and vampire.

It was, she'd said, part of her knew resolution to have backup whenever she could.

"And who's better backup than you?" she'd said.

He wasn't about to argue with her.

So they were off to try and gleam any information they could about the whereabouts of the new Slayer. Buffy claimed that "Willy the Snitch" was always a really good source of information. Xander wondered how exactly she'd learned that, but was silent on the matter.

Luckily, the Alibi was a demon bar, which meant he could go in without someone calling the police. He hadn't even known that such a thing as demon bars existed. If it wasn't for the fact that they were all evil, it might be a nice place to hang out when he was bored at night.

Xander let his powerful gargoyle eyes take in the landscape below. They would be there shortly. He glanced to Buffy. She had her eyes closed as she held him, and he held her. He was pretty sure it wasn't out of fear.

Well, not of heights, anyway.

A whispered memory came to him. Buffy's voice, pleading and aching.

"I only feel safe in your arms."

Could that be what she was doing? Could he dare to even think that might be why she held him so tightly? Was she holding him so tightly because she needed to feel safe, and he was that outlet?

He knew what must have been going through her mind. She'd died. She'd lost, and she'd died. When might she lose again? What if she wasn't so lucky the next time?

Xander ached to talk to her. To tell her he'd stay by her side and keep her safe. What else was there for him? He could, and absolutely would spend every waking hour guarding her if she asked him to. All he wanted to do was hold her, protect her, and never let anyone or anything harm her.

The intensity of those feelings were overwhelming sometimes, and he was never sure how much was his own thoughts and just the nature of a gargoyle. Xander had always cared about Buffy before, cared about keeping her safe and above all, alive. But the brilliant need in his mind to *PROTECT* her was stronger than it had ever been.

Was it because he was just in the position of being able to protect her better than he used to? Or was it because he was a gargoyle, and that's what gargoyles did?

Gargoyle instinct, or Xander instinct?

And did it really matter which it was?

They touched down atop a vacated pharmacy. Xander let his wings drape around them, and looked down at her.

"We're here," he said in a low voice.

She looked up at him, and reluctantly nodded at him. Xander let her legs slip from him grasp, and bent down slightly to let her feet touch the top of the roof. Her arms remained held around his neck for a moment, and she stared at his face.

For one wild instant, he was sure she was going to kiss him.

Then her hands slipped away from him. He swallowed and stood up.

"So," Xander said, trying to fill the uncomfortable silence. "This Willy guy, you think he'll know where the Sla-, where that girl is?"

"You can say it. The Slayer."

"Oh, well, yeah. I mean, I didn't mean to..."

Buffy shrugged and gave him a soft, sad smile. "It's okay. Really. I'm fine. So there's another Slayer. It's a good thing, right? I'll have some help. If there's one thing that I'm totally on board with now, it's having help. Otherwise I'd be de-"

She trailed off, closing her mouth. The carefully constructed mask of nonchalance seemed to crack slightly. Xander nodded slowly.

"Yeah. I understand."

Buffy bit her lip and looked up at him. She rubbed her upper arms softly, and then took a deep breath. "Okay then, helper-guy. When we get inside, just do that whole scary growly thing you do. Willy's pretty easy to crack just on my own, but he should go down like a house of cards when he sees my gargoyle bodyguard."

Xander grinned, liking the title. "Right. Growly and menacing it is."

"Bonus points for eye-glowing," Buffy said as she walked to the edge of the roof, gave Xander a lopsided grin, and casually dropped nearly twenty feet to the sidewalk below, landing with all the grace and agility of a cat. Xander shook his head in amazement and quickly jumped down after her, using his wings to slow his descent, lest he crack the pavement with the force of his impact.

Xander stayed behind Buffy as she kicked in the front door to the bar, sending wafts of smoke and the stale smell of sweat, alcohol, and blood out into the night. He couldn't suppress his grin when a few of the slimier patrons cried out, "Oh shit! The Slayer!" and scrambled for the back exit.

She strode into the center of the room with calm confidence, and turned her gaze over the occupants within.

"So long as you guys stay in your seats and don't do anything stupid, you get a free pass tonight," she warned. Many of the demons and a few vampires nodded earnestly, clutching their tables and wrapping their legs around their chairs.

"Die!" a purplish demon with three arms screamed, kicking his chair away and rushing towards her. Buffy spared a glance at Xander, and he nodded slightly before reaching out to snatch the demon by the neck.

"I think she told you not to do anything stupid," he growled as menacingly as he could. His eyes flared dimly with white light, and he threw the demon out the door. He did his best to quash the giddy grin that threatened to spread onto his face at how "cool" he was allowed to be. It was nice to be the tough guy for once, and not the doormat that got pounded on.

Buffy looked over the rest of the bar. "Anyone else? Good!" she finished brightly.

"Ah jeez," whined the short, sweaty man behind the bar. "You said you was gonna leave me alone after I gave you that tip on the Szweezlatz."

"Oh well I was," Buffy assured him. "But my friend here, he wants to know something, and if I didn't come keep an eye on him," she trailed off, looking back at Xander before giving Willy a serious look. "Let's just say that barbecued bar owners are one of his favorites."

Xander tried not to snicker as the man turned white as a sheet. He crossed his arms and glared at him, growling softly.

"I-I swear," Willy stammered, sweat beading on his forehead. "I didn't have nothin' to do with it. It was that crazy broad! S-she made me do it! I was gonna come tell you straight away, Slayer, honest!"

Buffy frowned. "Tell me what?"

Willy's eyes flicked from Xander to Buffy. "Y-you don't know?"

Her brow furrowed and she leaned over the bar to grab Willy by the collar. Xander's eyes flicked to Buffy's backside for the quickest of moments, appreciating the view.

"Tell me," she ordered, nose to nose with Willy.

"Y-Your man. She's got him."

"Who's got who?"

"Drusilla," Willy admitted. "That crazy broad. She's got- got your man Angel!"

"What?" Buffy's intimidating persona drained from her. "What do you mean, she's got him? When?"

"Day or two ago," he said. "Some wacked out ceremony she's gonna do, said she needed him, needed his soul."

"Needed him? Needed him for what?" She was shaking him now, anger filling her voice.

"Some ceremony!" he screamed. "Him, her new boytoy and the new Slayer!"

"Where are they?" Buffy demanded.

"I don't know, I swear!"

"Where are they!" she screamed, pulling him over the bar and throwing him down to the ground. He groaned and coughed.

"I don't know!" he moaned. "I don't!"

Buffy was breathing with heaving, panting breaths, holding Willy against the floor and scowling at him. Her eyes flicked up to Xander, and he could see the pleading fear in them. He stared back for half a second, and then nodded.

He stepped forward, and reached down to grab Willy by the collar. His huge hand was nearly the size of Willy's head, and the bartender's eyes nearly popped out of their sockets as he opened them wide. Xander lifted him up easily.

"Tell me," he growled. "Where they are."

"Oh god, oh god, oh god," Willy whimpered.

"Now!" Xander roared.

"The factory! The old factory up on the hill!"

Buffy wasted not another word, and was out the door in an instant. Xander growled at Willy, who squeaked frightfully. Then he dropped the bartender on the floor, and quickly bounded out after Buffy.

She was moving at top speed, and he was forced to drop to all fours in an animalistic run as he followed after her. His powerful arms propelled him forward far faster than any human could move, but Buffy was still out-distancing him. Without thinking, he leaped at a telephone pole, claws digging deep into it before he jumped again, springing to the top of a building. He raced along the top and dove off, letting his body plummet until it had nearly struck the ground, then snapped his wings open and glided mere feet above the earth.

He swooped down behind her, his airborne velocity overtaking her running speed, and she cried out as he scooped her up beneath her arms. Her feet flailed for a moment before she looked up at him.

"Xander? What?"

"Faster to fly," he said, using his might to swing her around in midair, and catching her about the middle. Her held her tightly, and she clutched his neck.

"As fast as you can," she whispered, pleadingly.

He nodded, and Buffy held herself tightly against him as he dove down once again, picking up speed. Whether she stayed so close out of a need for comfort or a desire for less wind resistance, he wasn't sure. All he knew was that for Buffy's sake, he was going to fly faster than he ever had before.

He just hoped he didn't slam them into the pavement in the process.

***

"Drusilla," Angel gasped, blood trickling down his bare chest. "Don't do this. Please."

Drusilla smiled dreamily at him, lowering the cat o' nine tails she'd been using to have fun with him. Angel hung from the ceiling by his wrists, sharp manacles digging into him. He was weakened from his torture, and hung limply. Iron bands that were welded into the floor secured his ankles. He was trapped and at her mercy.

As was the girl. The girl whom Drusilla called the Slayer.

Which couldn't be, of course. There was only one Slayer, and it was Buffy. Drusilla was crazy.

Or she wasn't, which meant Buffy was dead. He refused to believe that.

The girl had been spared any torture, but was held in much the same position he was. Drusilla kept her drugged half the time, and seemed to be exhibiting a form of mesmerization on her at other times.

Drusilla was not one of the strongest vampires he'd ever met, nor even sired. Physically, she was only slightly above the average vampire.

What she was, was the most dangerous vampire Angel had ever met. She was wildly unpredictable, owing both to her own insanity and her natural talent to catch glimpses of the future. While other vampires could be stronger, colder, and more calculated, none could match Drusilla in the art of death. She saw true beauty in it. It made her happy.

Unlike many vampires, himself included, Drusilla had mastered the art of twisting the minds of others. Perhaps it was because hers had been twisted so thoroughly by Angelus himself. But where he had twisted her mind through sick games and horrible tortures, Drusilla could do it with a look, a command, and a waving of her fingers.

The few times the dark skinned girl was allowed to waken, Drusilla would stand directly before her, and stare into her eyes. Before long, they would sway together, as one. The girl was in a complete trance on top of the drugs that kept her groggy and confused.

"Please," Drusilla whispered excitedly. "Please. Please no! Please stop! Ooh. Delicious pleases, they're so pleasing. Please me again, Daddy." She grinned and hissed a sharp breath inward, closing her eyes in pleasure and anticipation. "I love it when they say please."

Then her smiling expression vanished, and she stepped closer to him. "They said please. Mummy and Little Anne. They said please and you were not a gentleman." She swiped her claws across his chest, and Angel cried out at the burning pain of it. "Did they please you with their please and pleas?"

"I'm sorry," he whispered. And he was. For everything he'd done to her.

"Wah wah wah," came another voice. The boy, the one with the bleached hair like Spike, walked up beside Drusilla. He put his arms around her waist and hugged her from behind, kissing her neck. She cooed happily. The boy looked up at Angel. "I can't believe this guy was a legend. He can't even play the hero. You're supposed to say that we won't get away with this."

"You won't," Angel gasped. "Buffy will stop you."

The boy smiled. "There you go! And then I say, 'She doesn't even know there's anything to stop.'"

Angel snarled at him and tried to break free of his bonds, but the chains were thick, and he was very weak. The boy laughed and swayed from side to side with Drusilla.

Drusilla gasped suddenly, pressing her fingers into her sides. "Oh! It's time." Her gaze slid upwards to the ceiling, and she smiled dreamily.

"It's a done deal, Angie," Ford mocked. "The moon is up, the planets are aligned. When we're done, we'll be even stronger than before."

"You mean Drusilla will be."

Ford grinned at him. "As long as I'm on the winning team. I'm willing to work my way up. I think I've proved that I can get the job done. I got you, didn't I? And you know why? Because I'm a thinker. I know what it takes to be a supervillain."

"This isn't a game," Angel spat. "These are real people's lives."

Laughing, Ford released Drusilla and strode up to Angel. His fanged smile was wide and sinister. "I know. That's the best part. I'm living the dream, man."

He slapped Angel's chest lightly. "You should be happy. When we're done, you'll be your old self."

Angel's eyes went wide. "What?"

"Naughty boy," Drusilla moaned. "Are you telling secrets?"

"Just a little one."

Drusilla snarled and suddenly surged towards Ford, gripping his neck. He let out a strangled gasp, and for a moment seemed utterly frightened. Then Drusilla pressed her lips to his mouth, kissing him deeply. Blood trickled down between them where she bit his lip savagely. When they broke apart, she licked the trail.

"Mummy's naughty boy," she whispered hotly. She turned her face to look at Angel. "You ruined the surprise."

Angel shook his head. "You can't. There's no way."

"Can't ruin you?" Drusilla asked, remarkably lucid. "Can't eviscerate your hope?" She smiled wickedly. "Dirty boys shan't have dirty souls, no no. We'll cast them out and lock the doors, never to return again."

"No," he pleaded. "You can't."

"Can," she shot back, giddy as a child. "Souls and Slayers for my Spike, and Daddy will be ever so pleased. Won't you Daddy?"

She trailed her fingers across his ravaged chest. "Yes. I can hear him. He's very cross with you."

Angel fixed his eyes on Ford. "You're dead," he promised. "Angelus will kill you."

"Me? The guy who got rid of his soul for him? Somehow I doubt it."

Shaking his head, Angel struggled to gather the energy to break free. It was useless. "No. You don't know what you're getting into. You don't know what I'm like."

"You're a puss," Ford scoffed. "I mean, look at you."

"As opposed to you? Some Spike clone? What do you think's going to happen to you when Drusilla's got the real deal back?"

"I'm her special boy," Ford said with all the confidence of the supremely naive.

"You're a fool."

"Shh!" Drusilla hissed. "No talking."

To emphasize her rule, she slashed Angel's face with her claws. He managed to hold his cry of pain and fury.

"Everyone must be in their place," Drusilla explained, leading Ford between Angel and the unconscious girl. The fledgling vampire stood there happily, smiling expectantly. Drusilla walked before the three of them. With a snap of her fingers, five vampires in dark, hooded robes slowly filed into the room, each chanting a slow, melodious series of ancient words.

"Five are without breath," Drusilla intoned.

"Yet they live," the five echoed.

"Five are without sun."

"Yet they live.

"Five are without time."

"Yet they live."

The five vampires, each a loyal and enthralled minion of Drusilla, slowly formed a pentagon around Angel, the girl, and Ford. Their heads remained forever bowed, and they spoke in a clear monotonous voice when prompted.

"Five are without soul."

"Yet they live."

Drusilla looked up at Angel, smiling brilliantly. "One is death to bring death. One is death to insure life. One is abomination and miracle. One is miracle and abomination. Vampire with soul and demonic protector."

She pointed to Angel. "The sire of the sire, blemished by soul."

She pointed to Ford. "The twin of the dead, childe of the sire."

She pointed to the girl. "The demon savior, born of shadow and eating shadow."

"Drusilla," Angel pleaded. "Please."

Her wicked grin was his only response, and her hand gestured to him again. A dark sense of foreboding filled the room, wind whipping about them. A low, unearthly scream seemed to emanate from all around them.

"The soul!" Drusilla cried over the sound. "The soul cleanses the twin!"

With an almighty crack, Angel's body went rigid, and a bright burst of pure white light erupted from his chest. He screamed in agony, barely aware as the light slammed into Ford's body. His scream joined Angel's, and he fell to his knees.

"It hurts!" he screamed.

"Yes," Drusilla whispered. "Birth is always painful."

She stepped up to the dais and brushed the girl's hair to one side. "The blood of the Slayer calls back the one who has tasted of it. I call you, my Spike. My William. Return to me."

Her fangs bit into the girl's neck, and she took a large, deep swallow. Then she stepped to Ford, still screaming, and pulled a small wooden stake from within her dress. Her blood soaked tongue ran along its edge, and with a hideous smile, she plunged it into Ford's back.

"No!" he cried, his body exploding into dust. The white light flared, acting as a kind of net for each particle, and suddenly the low screaming sound was unbearable, the sound of hell itself.

"Soul, Slayer and Twin! These I give to you! Return to me! Return to me!"

The light began to implode, slowly coalescing into itself. As it grew smaller, it grew brighter, a focused point of light that was nearly impossible to look upon. Then, with a cracking explosion, and the five vampires around them swirled into dust, forming a vortex around them. Another crack, and they too imploded into nothingness.

The room plunged into darkness so absolute that not even a vampire could see. In the space of a heartbeat that only one present possessed, the room was was inky blackness.

Then the candles flickered back to life, and Drusilla smiled, staring down. A figure lay before her, curled up in the fetal position and shivering slightly. His shock of platinum blond hair made him nearly unmistakable.

"Spike?" she whispered.

A low growl. Animalistic and deranged. Drusilla cooed at the sound.

"Are you hungry, my Spike?"

The man, the beast uncurled, slowly rising to his feet. His eyes were gold and his brow deformed. He turned to the Slayer, unconscious and dying in her chains. He grinned.

"Drink, my Spike," Drusilla whispered, encouraging him. "Drink her, and grow strong."

William the Bloody took a deep, unnecessary breath, and released it. With blinding speed, he grabbed the girl's neck and inhaled her scent.

"Slayer," he rasped.

"Yes."

He grinned, extended his fangs, and lowered his head to her neck.

A fist connected with his face, and Spike fell sprawling back to the ground.

"Ah ah ah," a teasing voice spoke. "You know I always get first dibs, Willy."

With that, Angelus plunged his fangs into the Vampire Slayer's neck, and drank deeply. He smacked his lips, and smiled as Spike rose.

"Ahh. It's good to be back."

***

The tip of her tongue poked out of the side of Jenny Calendar's mouth as she considered the paper before her. With a slight frown, she uncapped her red pen and made a circle. She sighed and leaned back in her chair, rolling her shoulders and groaning. Another night spent at home grading papers instead of fighting for her life alongside Rupert and the others.

It surprised her how much she missed that, even though she still carried resentment over the incident with Eyghon. That Rupert could have kept something like that from her hurt more than she would have thought.

Of course, it wasn't just Rupert she was mad at. She was mad at Jenny Calendar too. Or more precisely, Janna of the Kalderash clan. Rupert's secret had hurt so much because she housed a secret of her own.

She wasn't in Sunnydale of her own free will. She was there as the watchman of vengeance, vengeance that had been wrought for nearly a hundred years. It was her job to make sure it lasted at least a hundred more.

Keep the Slayer away from the vampire. Those were her orders. It was easier said than done. After all, Angel, the vampire, was directly responsible for saving Jenny from Eyghon. Buffy had seemed so drawn to him, and obviously cared a great deal for the vampire with a soul. A soul that her gypsy ancestors had inflicted upon Angelus.

She found there was very little she was able to do that got between Angel and Buffy. At best all she'd been able to do was arouse a little suspicion about Angel's motives when they'd learned about Drusilla.

It was Xander that had done what Jenny could not. Jenny was a skilled observer, and she'd seen the chances in Buffy since Xander's transformation. The Slayer was building something with Xander, something that seemed to Jenny to be just as strong, if not stronger than what she'd had with Angel. Where Buffy's relationship with Angel was built on mystery, passion, and the unknown, Buffy's relationship with Xander was built on trust, friendship, and deep understanding.

She would have to do her best to fan those flames. Despite her personal feelings, the vampire was not to be allowed to live a normal life. He had to pay for what he'd done to their clan.

Didn't he?

Sometimes she wasn't so sure. Often, it was only her duty that allowed her to continue in her quest. To hide something so profound from her friends and allies hurt her deeply. It was her duty.

It was why she was so glad to be able to focus on helping Xander and Buffy forge something new, rather than break apart Buffy and Angel. If Buffy simply grew towards Xander instead of Angel, that would be the ideal solution. She didn't want to be forced to step between them, to make sure Angelus suffered.

Her stomach clenched. It made her sick, sometimes. Jenny didn't want to be someone who inflicted suffering.

There came a loud, insisted knock upon the door. Jenny frowned and looked up, running her fingers through her hair. She wasn't expecting anyone. Plucking a simple protection charm from her desk, she grabbed a vial of holy water and crept towards the door. She peeked out the peephole, and was surprised at what she saw.

"Uncle?" she asked, swinging open the door. "What are you doing here?"

Enyos of the Kalderash clan barged into her apartment, dispelling any fear she might have about him being a vampire. He was a sour looking man, dressed in clothes that seemed to hang off of his thin form. His face sagged, giving him the sad appearance of a bloodhound. When he spoke, it was a thick accent and a dull monotone.

"You have not written."

She shrugged. "Yeah, well I've been busy."

"Busy?" he scoffed. "Too busy to adhere to the responsibility to your people?"

She shrugged defensively. Uncle Enyos always treated her as a child. "Well, I've been busy-"

"The elder woman has been reading the signs," he said, cutting her off. "Great change is upon us."

Jenny shook her head. "Nothing's changed. The curse still holds. His pain continues."

Enyos nodded slowly. "True and yet untrue. You have adhered to your orders? Kept the Slayer from the vampire?"

"Yeah. Mostly."

"Mostly?"

"Well, okay, I mean they were sort of going out for a little while, but I think that's kind of in limbo now. She's kind of interested in someone else."

"I care not who the Slayer is interested in, only as it pertains to the vampire. He is denied the happiness he craves?"

Jenny flushed angrily. Angel wasn't some villain, not some fiend who deserved no chance at happiness. Her duty remained clear.

"Yes, Uncle. I promise you, the vampire still stuffers. And he makes amends for his crimes. He even saved my life."

Enyos whirled on her, anger in his voice. "So you just forget that he destroyed the most beloved daughter of your tribe? That he *killed* every man, woman, and child that touched her life? Vengeance demands that his pain be eternal as ours is! If this girl-"

"There's no more girl," she whispered.

He frowned. "What?"

"They're drifting," she said. "She bonds with another, a relationship formed on trust."

Enyos glared at her. "You are certain of this? They are finished?"

She shrugged. "Not certain. They're kind of in limbo."

"What do you know?" Enyos demanded.

Jenny frowned, wondering why he was so interested. "She's been spending a lot of time with someone else. I saw them hugging each other the other day for a very long time. They didn't even notice I was there. She clings to him, uses him for support even as she supports him. It strengthens them both."

Enyos shook his head. "I don't care of the Slayer's relationships. Only the vampire. He is no longer her lover?"

"I don't know," she admitted. "But I don't think she's seen him for a few days. She's with Xander instead."

"Then how?" he muttered to himself, scowling as he strode to the window. "I do not understand."

"Understand what, Uncle?"

"The elder woman is never wrong. Her vision shows the end of our vengeance. It has been stripped from us, never to again be regained."

Jenny frowned. "What? What are you talking about?"

He turned slowly. "The curse is lifted, Janna. Eradicated by dark forces beyond those we know."

Her breathing quickened. "You mean, his soul..."

"Is gone."

"Gone? Gone where?"

"The afterlife. Eternal reward. And thus the demon suffers no longer!"

Jenny wasn't sure what to think. Part of her was almost happy. Angel, or at least Angel's soul, was no longer trapped in his hellish existence, doomed to eternal suffering. Yet now, now the demon, the mocking copy that was not truly Angel was free again. Free to kill. She had to warn the others.

"We have to do something!" she exclaimed. "Cast the spell again!"

"Did you not hear me? Our vengeance is stolen from us, Janna! The soul is beyond our grasp now! Beyond any's grasp!"

"No, that can't be."

"It is," Enyos spat. "Thus we are finished with the vampire. You are called home."

"What?" she scoffed. "No way! We're just going to let Angelus run free again?"

"It is not our place to hunt the dark."

"Like hell it isn't," she snarled at him, turning away and grabbing her jacket. "If you won't do something, I will."

"Janna!" he barked. "You will obey your elders."

She glared at him. "The vampire saved my life, Uncle. He's saved your life too, you just don't know it. We punished the soul for what the demon did. If what you say is true, if his soul is truly gone, then he deserves to not have his face commit any further atrocities. I owe him his death. *We* owe him that."

"We do not pass judgment," Enyos argued.

"What do you think we've done for the past one hundred years?"

"Had our vengeance!" he roared. "A hundred years of pain for the death of our own. It was insufficient, but it is all there was. We are tied to him no longer."

"Maybe you're not," Jenny said, pulling on her jacket. "But I am."

"Janna," Enyos warned. "You have a duty to your clan."

Jenny stood in the doorway, and glared at him. "I have a duty to my real clan," she told him. Then she turned to leave.

"And my name is Jenny!" she called back as she strode away. Her decision was made. She was Jenny Calendar.

Of clan Scooby.

***

"End of the hall!" Buffy cried over the sounds of battle. She sent a double fisted blow across a vampire's jaw, sending it careening into two of its brethren. A quick snap kick sent another doubling over, and she vaulted over its back to shoulder-block another.

Xander leaned back, a swiping claw barely missing his throat, and retaliated by grabbing the wrist of the vampire, yanking him backwards and into another. He roared and extended his wings as he turned in the wide hallway, freeing himself from a throng of Drusilla's mindless minions.

He looked up, and saw what Buffy was talking about. There were blood trails leading down the hall, into a set of large double doors. It was likely where Angel and the new Slayer were being held.

The problem was the mass of vampires between them and the doors. Drusilla had obviously been very busy in building herself a vampire army, and the two warriors were having a hard time holding their own, let alone breaking through the dozens in their way.

Then, all at once, inky blackness washed over them. Even with his keen gargoyle eyes, Xander was unable to see a thing in the utter darkness. He swung randomly at the vampires that continued to blindly strike at him. A moment later, the light returned.

"They're doing something!" Buffy grunted, punching a vampire in the face and elbowing another that came close. "The ceremony! We have to get in there!"

"Working on it!" Xander called, uppercutting a vampire and swinging his tail into another. One snarled at him and leaped forward. Xander caught its head in his large talon-like fingers and threw him like a baseball into three others.

He roared when a claw sliced his shoulder, and sunk his fist into the offender's stomach before backhanding it away.

"We're never going to get through in time!" Buffy shouted, and Xander could hear the panic in her voice. He could recognize that sound. Recognize that feeling. He'd felt it for her often enough.

He made the decision without worry or remorse. With a ear-splitting roar, Xander brought his wings close to his body and barreled through at least a dozen vampires, charging towards Buffy. She circle-kicked a vampire across the face and almost followed through by punching Xander in the chest as he threw a vampire away from her.

"Xander? What?"

Without a word, he grabbed her wrist.

"Good luck," he said.

"What are you-"

He put his other arm around her waist, holding her firmly. He spread his wings out like a shield behind him, and gave her a serious look. Her eyes went wide.

"Wait, Xander, n-"

Before she had a chance to tell him no, he gave a mighty yell, and heaved her over the crowd, sending her flying like a bullet over their heads and towards the double door. He smiled as she gave him one incredulous look before moving into a graceful dive, Slayer reflexes taking over. She landed smoothly and professionally, somersaulting directly in front of the double doors.

"Xander!" she called back at him.

"Go!" he yelled, swinging his fist mightily as he fought off the pressing crowd.

Her eyes lingered on him for a moment, and from across the mass of vampires, he thought he could feel something profound happening. She nodded slowly, and she could see the whispered "thank you" on her lips.

Then he lost sight of her as the vampires pressed around him.
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