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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 > GargoylesMMcGregorFR1817113,296107102162,04610 Feb 0521 Jul 08Yes
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Part Four

Defender of the Night Part Four

***

The Chase estate was by far the largest private residence in Sunnydale, which was good, because Xander found it just a little difficult to navigate from several hundred feet over the town. There was no mistaking the huge mansion, acres of carefully maintained grass and gardens, or the myriad of marble statues dotting the entire area.

Xander circled the area once; just to be sure he didn't see anything out of place. Whether it was Goliath's instinct or his own, it felt only natural to do a quick sweep of the area before touching down.

Landing was easier than he expected, and Xander swooped down smoothly beside the large Olympic sized swimming pool, his powerful legs absorbing the impact without sound. His wings flapped faintly as he let them relax, cloaking his body. To his right was the poolhouse, remembered dimly from Xander's childhood memory of Cordelia's entire second-grade class getting invited to her birthday party.

He frowned, looking at his arms. Little Xander Harris who ate three helpings of chocolate cake and got sick in the pool was long gone. He was a new Xander now. It was strange that it took him being transformed into a monster to actually be invited back to Cordelia's.

His ears perked up, and he heard the sound of movement inside the poolhouse. It was as he remembered it, a large two-story affair that was a good deal bigger than his parent's house. He shook his head at the incredible opulence surrounding him. Mr. Chase must be an incredible businessman to be able to afford all of this.

The movement inside was probably Cordelia, who said she was heading back to set things up for him. Once again he found himself wondering just what Cordelia was up to. They shared, at best, an antagonistic relationship, and at worst they hated each other. He was, after all a member-in-good-standing of the "We Hate Cordelia" club.

But right now he needed all the help he could get, and Cordelia had extended the olive branch. He was wary of her motives, but for now he didn't have too many other options. It wasn't like he could go back to his house looking like this. Assuming his parents didn't think he was some kind of hallucination, he'd probably get Tony Harris's shotgun shoved in his face. Or more likely shot in his face.

Sighing, Xander approached the front door to the house and knocked lightly. A few seconds later he heard rustling, then the click of the locks. The door opened to reveal Cordelia standing there in a simple white t-shirt and sweatpants.

"What took you so long?" she demanded.

"I had to make like I was at Kitty Hawk," Xander snapped back. He extended his wings behind him. "These take some getting used to."

"You flew?"

"Can't really take a cab."

"Guess not." She sighed and shifted her weight to one foot before stepping outside. "Come on, we have to get my stuff." She brushed past him and began walking towards the path that led to her main house.

"Your stuff? What stuff?"

"My stuff. The things I own? The things I live with? You're a big strong monster-thing, so you can carry the heavy stuff."

"Wait," Xander said, although he had no real trouble in keeping up with her. He walked beside her, looking down as she strode towards the house. "Why do you need your stuff? I have my own stuff."

She rolled her eyes like he was an idiot. "Because, doofus, I have to stay in the poolhouse too now."

"You do? Why?"

"Otherwise someone might notice that there's been someone living in there and get suspicious. I phoned Daddy and told him that I decided I don't like the way the sun hits my room in the morning, and I'm moving into the poolhouse. Nobody will bother us there, and I told Daddy the maid was giving me dirty looks and I didn't want her coming anywhere near the poolhouse."

"Oh," Xander said, blinking dumbly. "Uh, that's good thinking, I guess."

Cordelia's stuff was more than just stuff. For the next hour Xander got his first real test of his gargoyle strength as he carried armoires, mattresses, desks, and other heavy furniture from the main house to the poolhouse. He found that it was nearly effortless to carry them, which made him feel a little better about his transformation. Strength meant he could help in the Slaying.

"So," Xander said once he'd finally finished helping Cordelia move in, not to mention shift furniture around for ten minutes before she had everything where she wanted it. "This is your room."

"Oh," Cordelia said, clasping her arms behind her back and turning to smile at him. "Do you want to see yours?"

"Sure," he replied. She spun on her heels and motion for him to follow her out the door. He ducked down cautiously on his way out, having already hit his head twice on the low doorway. From now on he'd have to be very careful about fitting through things and not smacking his head on low hanging objects.

He followed Cordelia out the hall and to the eastern side of the house. They came to a large set of double doors.

"This used to be like the solarium. Mom had the whole place renovated a couple of years ago when she was in her outdoorsy phase. You need lots of sun during the day, right?"

"That's what Willow says."

She grinned and swung open the doors. Xander gasped in awe. The room was surrounded by glass, making the whole thing feel open and airy. It was a very large room, and Xander could tell it wasn't originally meant to be a bedroom. It was built into two levels, with a spiral staircase at one end and a simpler set of stairs on the other. He knew right away he'd never be able to fit in the spiral one.

The lower level featured a sunken Jacuzzi built into the floor, as well as some gym equipment, weights, treadmills, and other such things. Light strips were built into the Plexiglas that seemed to make up most of the room, giving the whole room a strange luminescent quality to it. The upper level had an ornate balcony, and sure enough there were two stone gargoyles at either side, although both were about half Xander's new size.

"There's a big bed in the master bedroom we could move in, if you want one. Do you think you'll still need a bed?"

Xander shrugged. "I don't really know." He slept as a stone statue, would he ever have need of a mattress again?

Beds weren't just for sleeping, not that he'd ever had any experience in their other use. If he thought having sex was a remote possibility when he was regular old Xander, sex as a giant monster was deep-space excursion possibility.

Xander looked around the upper level. A large screen television was on the wall connected to the rest of the house, the only wall that wasn't clear. Several very comfortable looking sofas and reclining chairs were spread around it, and a very large library of movies was lined up beside them. Xander frowned at them, noticing most of the movies had never even been taken out of their original packaging.

There was also a large ornate writing desk, two chests of drawers, and a large walk-in closet. For a "not a bedroom" it was the nicest bedroom Xander had ever seen.

There was even a refrigerator and small kitchenette. Part of Cordelia's mom's "cooking phase."

"Your mom goes through a lot of phases," Xander remarked as they finished the tour.

"Not like she has anything better to do."

"This is way too nice," he said, eyes roaming over the room. "Only uh, do you think it's a good idea for me to be in a completely see-through room? Kind of on the screaming side of conspicuous."

Cordelia shook her head. "They're one way mirrors," she explained. "You can see out, but other people can't see in. Do you need like UV rays or anything? Cause they kind of block those."

"I don't know," Xander said again. "I guess I could always go on the balcony in the morning until I find out."

They stood there in silence for a while as Xander took in his new home. It was almost as unbelievable as his transformation. He frowned then, and turned to Cordelia.

"So come on," he said. "What's the catch? Are you going to use me as a moving man all the time or something?" That wouldn't be too bad. At least he'd be doing something to earn his new home.

She stared at him, her expression turning dark. "I'm not evil, you know."

"Okay, you know that having people move furniture for you isn't generally considered evil, right? Tacky, maybe, but not evil."

Cordelia scowled. "There's no catch."

"Then why? Why are you doing this? I haven't been to your house in almost ten years, Cordelia. I get turned into a giant smurf with wings and suddenly it's 'Mi casa es su casa?'"

"You're unbelievable," she snapped, turning to go. Xander reached forward, grabbing her arm gently.

"Cordy, look. I'm sorry; I just don't understand this, okay? You don't like me, and now I'm living in your house."

"I never said I don't like you," she muttered.

"You said it six times yesterday."

She threw up her hands. "Fine! If you're going to get technical about it."

"See, I don't get this. Why are you the one getting mad?"

"Because! You and me...You know, we have a thing."

"We do?" Xander asked incredulously.

"Yeah. A whole fighting thing. It's what we do," she frowned, looking down for a moment. "And then- then you get changed into this Goliath guy, and suddenly you get all mad when I try to talk to you, and not mad like usual, like really mad, and I'm only trying to make you feel better!"

"You...You were trying to make me feel better by insulting me?"

"It's not an insult, stupid!" she snapped. "It's...I dunno. Teasing."

Xander blinked. Could there be some truth to that? Cordelia and he had a bickering rapport that, well yeah, it could be fun sometimes. Even cheer him up when he was having a bad day. Coming up with retorts to her sharp tongue-lashings kept him on his toes.

"I'm not evil," she said again. "I know you're really upset, okay? You don't deserve this, no matter how big a dork you are. So stop acting so surprised that I'm trying to help!"

Xander frowned and looked down. Cordelia stood there with her arms crossed, glaring at him with a strange expression on her face. An expression of anger and...Concern? It was hard to believe this was actually Cordelia.

He took a deep breath, and let his wings extend slightly. Then he looked her in the eyes.

"Sorry. I know you're...You're not, uh...*all* bad."

"Gee thanks," she said sullenly.

"No, I mean. I like to, you know. Tease with you. I just never really thought about it before."

She shrugged. "Things are different now."

He nodded sadly. "Yeah. But maybe that doesn't have to be so terrible for us. Maybe uh, maybe we could be nice to each other sometimes too, besides just the teasing."

"I won't tease you about the gargoyle thing," she assured him.

He smiled softly and shook his head. "Come on, Cordy. You know you're dying to. And you know what? I think maybe I'd feel better if you did. Things are different, but that doesn't mean everything has to be."

"You're not a giant smurf," she said seriously.

Xander grinned. "You're upset you didn't think of it first, aren't you?"

She smirked at him. "No," she lied.

Xander took a tentative step forward. "Seriously though. Thanks, Cordy. This means a lot to me." Then he reached forward with a hand. Cordelia stared up at him with an odd look in her face, and then held her hand out. Xander took it, and pulled her close, giving her a big hug.

"This is so weird," she muttered against him. "I'm gonna die if someone finds out I hugged you." But she closed her eyes and put her head against his chest, hugging him tight.

"Willow's going to revoke my membership," Xander joked.

***

The music was so beautiful. She swayed to the melody, eyes closed and arms up. His voice brought a smile to her face.

"How's my princess?"

"The stars are singing to me," she told him. "They say you'll never leave me."

"Never," Spike assured her. He stroked the side of her cheek softly, and she was almost able to feel it. "I'd never leave my Dru."

"Oh my Spike," she whispered, swaying back and forth. "I had a terrible nightmare."

"Tell me about it."

"There was a fiercesome monster," she told him in hushed whispers. "He was magnificent, Spike, with a terrible roar and eyes that burned with fire. I like monsters."

"I know, pet. I'm your monster. You made me."

She smiled wistfully, then shuddered and frowned. "He's not a proper monster. He hardly ever frightens children, and never eats them. And...He tried to take my Spike away."

"It wasn't a dream, pet. He did take me away. I'm gone."

Drusilla looked into Spike's eyes, tears filling them. "No! You're with me!"

"I'm not. But I can be. You can bring me back to you, Dru. You're my creator. You're my everything. You're my princess."

"Mmm," she moaned, crossing her arms over her chest. "You'll come back to me."

"On the right night. You can do it, luv. The stars will tell you how."

Drusilla gasped and looked up. The stars whispered their secrets, and she smiled.

***

"He even knows about me being the Slayer!" Buffy said happily the next evening. She, Xander and Giles were in the library, and she was telling Xander of the events of her day. Specifically her old friend Ford, who had just moved to Sunnydale. "He said he found out right after I left. Isn't that cool?"

She smiled happily at Xander, who didn't look too happy about the idea. She covered her mouth with her hand. "Oh, Xander. I'm so sorry. I didn't even think about..."

"About what?" he frowned.

"About, you know. You can't be there with us during the day anymore, and now suddenly there's Ford who can. You know I'd rather have you there then Ford, right? He's so not a replacement for Xander."

He smiled sadly. "Thanks, Buff."

"Good," she said, still watching him for some sign that he was upset. "Cause Angel was so riding the jealousy train when I told him about Ford."

"I'm not Angel," Xander said quietly.

"Yeah," she replied. "I guess you're not."

"All right," Giles said. "Are you both ready to begin?" He gestured to the training mats he'd placed on the floor.

"Are you sure this is a good idea?" Xander asked as he stepped onto the mats. Buffy followed after him, rolling her shoulders and stretching her arms.

"I'm afraid there's no other practical way to gauge your abilities," Giles said. "You and Buffy both seem capable of lifting weights beyond what we can test with the weight machines in the gym. Testing against Buffy personally seems the best way to do it."

"Don't worry, Xander, I'll be careful," she said, grinning up at the huge form that was Xander. She always got a secret thrill from intimidating people and creatures much bigger than her. And Xander was definitely much bigger than her. He had nearly two feet in height over her.

"Now, both of you stand as steadily as possible," Giles instructed. Buffy shifted her feet so they were planted firmly apart, having done exercises like this before. Xander moved a little more awkwardly, shifting his weight several times before he seemed to get comfortable. "Now place the palms of your right hands together."

She had to reach up slightly in order to do so, and Xander bent down just a bit. She grinned at him when they touched, feeling cocky.

"Then on the count of three, you'll both push. Start slowly, we don't want any injuries, but do your best to push the other back."

Buffy flexed her toes, eager to begin as she looked up at Xander. That part of her that was the Slayer couldn't wait to prove her superiority. That part of her that was Buffy was just eager to help Xander in his tests with Giles.

And perhaps there was a part - a small part - that was just a little excited about being so close to Xander. Having her tiny hand dwarfed in his sent a secret thrill through her. There was power in that hand, and yet looking up at Xander, all she could see was a gentle nervousness. She almost felt bad about her plan to "accidentally" push a little too hard at the beginning and send him on his butt, but she was in a pretty good mood, and a little good-natured showing off never hurt anyone.

"Ready?" Giles asked.

"If I say no, can we never do this ever?"

"I'm afraid not, Xander. This is part of what you agreed to."

"Then I guess I'm ready."

"Me too," Buffy said, settling in her stance.

"Very well. On three. One. Two. Three!"

Buffy's entire arm tensed up and she pressed forward with a surge of strength; enough force to send even Xander's heavy frame tumbling against the mats. Her arm extended and then...

It stopped, wrenching against the immovable wall. It was like pressing against solid stone. Xander's thick arm bulged with powerful muscle. Buffy grunted and pushed harder, gritting her teeth. Her feet pressed deep into the mat below as she realized that Xander wasn't pushing back. He was just keeping his arm steady.

Buffy's brow furrowed and she pushed even harder, reaching down into the depths of her reserves and giving it everything she had. A part of her stared in astonishment at the thick cords of muscle in Xander's arm. It was unreal.

Then all at once there was a terrible ripping sound, and Buffy found herself falling forward. Her hands shot out and she caught herself, springing back up just in time to see Xander thud face forward into the floor. Beneath them the training mats had torn apart, sending them both sprawling. Buffy groaned and rubbed her shoulder, which ached from the strain. Xander groaned from his position on the floor.

"Great test, Giles."

"At least we found out I've still got better reflexes," Buffy said with a slight grin.

Further testing revealed that she was right. While Xander's strength seemed inhuman (which technically it was,) his reflexes weren't quite as quick as Buffy's were. She could move far more gracefully than he could, although Xander was above human levels in just about every physical category. Being faster than a human and being faster than a Slayer were two entirely different things.

She had him beat out in speed, agility, and reaction time, but Xander seemed unreal in his strength and endurance. When Giles chastised him for not giving it his all during his oh-so-scientific "arm wrestling" test, Xander finally tried to win instead of just letting Buffy push against him. He slammed her arm down so fast and so hard that the table now sported a Xanderfist sized hole in it. Xander hadn't stopped apologizing for it since, and wouldn't listen to Buffy when she assured him she was fine. Getting her fist put through a wooden table wasn't really the kind of thing that could hurt her. She'd punched through harder things.

Although not like Xander. Xander could actually claw his fingers through solid stone, and was quite capable of seriously damaging steel if he put his mind to it. Considering his fingers had a vaguely tapered talon-like appearance, but were in fact flesh and bone, she couldn't imagine how durable his skin must be. Xander told her about an episode where Goliath had caught a sword in his bare hand, and received only a superficial cut to his hand for his trouble.

The most fun for Buffy ended up being towards the end of their testing session, when Giles had them spar. If Xander was going to go on patrol with her in the future, he'd need to know how to fight, and Giles wanted to know to what extent Xander's Goliath memories would assist him in that. If he could hold his own against Buffy, he should be able to handle vampires.

Once Giles had replaced the torn training mat, he had Buffy and Xander step onto them again. This time Xander didn't look so much nervous as he looked completely petrified.

Okay, maybe petrified was a bad term for a guy who turned to stone during the day. He seemed frightened.

"It's just a spar," she reminded him. "You'll be okay." She wouldn't be playing any tricks this time around. They'd start off slow. Pushing Xander onto the mats as a joke was one thing, but playing around during a spar was deadly serious when a Slayer was involved. Even when she joked around with Giles during their training sessions, she always maintained a careful control. One overpowered strike could cripple a normal human, maybe even kill them.

"If you're prepared, I think Buffy should strike first," Giles said.

Xander whimpered, which looked very odd coming from his intimidating form. "Just don't slay me, okay Buffy?"

"Deal," she said, nodding in mock-seriousness. She made a checkmark in the air. "No slaying Xander."

"I'm serious. I've seen you slay stuff bigger than me."

"Well I am pretty good," she grinned, circling him. Xander swallowed and matched her movements.

"Any time," Giles reminded them.

"You ready?" Buffy asked.

"No, but the vampires won't ask me, so we should just do it."

She shrugged and turned to look at Giles, shifting swiftly to spring back at him, her first launching at his face. Xander yelped in surprise and lurched to one side, his large hand coming up to bat her fist away. Buffy spun with the blocking strike and allowed her momentum to carry her around, swinging her left leg up and around towards Xander's midsection.

Xander brought his arm up against his side and absorbed her hit, which made him grunt slightly. She quickly danced back.

"Too hard?" she asked with concern.

Xander stared blankly at her for a moment, and then he shook his head slowly. "No, just, uh, a little surprised." He rubbed his arm. "More like a lot surprised."

"That's the idea, right?"

He nodded. "Yeah."

"Good, cause you never know when- ha!" she leaped forward with a double kick. Xander blocked the first kick and snatched her leg as she tried for the other. She shrieked as he pulled his hand back, and suddenly she was hanging upside down, her leg held tightly in his powerful grip. He grinned at her.

"Surprise."

"Very funny," she said. "You know in a real fight I'd totally have you at my mercy right now."

"Is that so?" Xander asked, shaking her up and down slightly. She screamed again, but there was laughter in her voice.

"Xander! Sto-o-op!" she yelled haltingly as she bounced up and down. "I'm going to be sick!"

"Oh yeah," Xander said, grinning over at Giles. "You should write this down, Giles. Slayers are very susceptible to being held upside down. Kind of like putting a turtle on its back."

"I'm not a turtle!"

Xander cocked his head to the side, continuing to hold her at arm's length by her leg. "Maybe a possum?"

"Put me down! All the blood is rushing to my head."

"Not until you admit that I, Xander the gargoyle, have bested the Slayer in unarmed combat."

Her expression darkened. "You've got three seconds."

"What do you think, Giles?"

"I think you're about to look very foolish."

"Oh come on," Xander said. "We're just messing around, right Bu-ahh!"

"Three!" Buffy cried suddenly doubling over and gripping his forearm with her much smaller hands. She used the grip for the leverage needed to pull her leg free of his grip. She wrapped her leg around his still outstretched arm, moving with a speed that was unparalleled by anything human or non-human alike. Then she spun herself around his arm, swinging down and towards him, kicking Xander in the chest. He let out an oof and stumbled backwards as Buffy landed on the palms of her hands, using them to spring backwards to her feet. Then she raced forward, leaping at Xander as he flailed his arms, trying to regain his balance. His tail pushed back against the floor and he righted himself just in time for Buffy to tackle him. Her tiny form moved with such power and speed that he was knocked onto his back.

Blinking, Xander stared up at Buffy who straddled his chest, holding a stake over his heart. She grinned at him and ran her free hand through her hair, which had become very messy after hanging upside down.

"Poof," she said.

"I'm not a vampire. Or are you just calling me a poof?"

She giggled and flipped the stake in her hands; turning it away from him and making it seem to vanish.

"You should do magic tricks with that thing," Xander said, making no move to get up. "I didn't even see you reach for it."

"I told you you were at my mercy," she gloated, smiling broadly. "Didn't I tell him, Giles?"

Giles sighed at their antics. "I do recall you saying something like that."

"Can I get up now?" Xander asked.

"Not until you admit that I, Buffy Summers the Slayer, have bested the gargoyle in unarmed combat."

"You've got three seconds," Xander said knowingly. Buffy smirked at him.

"Don't try and bluff me. They call me Bluffy the vampire Slayer."

"Who does?"

"Nobody, but you can't teach punning like that."

He rolled his eyes. "I'm warning you."

"Do your worst."

"Okay," he shrugged. Then he waggled his fingers at her. Buffy paled.

"You wouldn't."

"Oh I would. You see, the thing about Xander the gargoyle?" Buffy's eyes went wide and she tensed up. "He fights dirty."

"No!" she squealed as Xander Harris the gargoyle began to tickle her mercilessly.

***


It was the night after his first full day staying at Cordelia's. He felt refreshed after sleeping on the balcony during the day, but awoke to find himself alone in the house. He'd puttered around for a bit before deciding to head to the library and see if there was any evil afoot.

His mood darkened when he arrived to find no one there. He remembered that Jenny was taking Giles out to some surprise that evening. Buffy was of course spending her time showing her old friend Ford around Sunnydale, and Willow had probably gone with them, because she wasn't home either. Even Cordelia, who had admitted to a kind of tentative friendship with him, was gone. She had her many social responsibilities to attend to, after all. She was probably at the Bronze with her Cordettes making someone's life miserable.

That's when the brooding threatened to sneak up on him. Everyone else was out living their lives. By the time he was in the middle of his day, most of his friends would be asleep. Even Buffy didn't stay out until dawn. He would be alone. A lot.

How bad did that suck?

He tried to think of how Goliath handled it. He closed his eyes, remembering memories of experiences that never really happened.

Goliath hadn't handled it. He had his clan with him, other gargoyles that he could spend time with. He had Elisa, the police detective who worked the night shift, and thus was up until dawn just like he was. He had an entire city of people to watch over, to protect.

No, his situation wasn't like Goliath's. Xander was the only one of his kind. His life was forever altered from the lives of his friends. He wasn't even as lucky as Angel, who could at least be with people in public and not get the National Guard called on his behalf.

Xander shook his head. He wasn't going to do this. Let Angel be the broodmaster general, he was going to force himself to look on the bright side of his new dark life. At least his friends were up pretty late every night. Buffy was frequently out on patrol until well after midnight, and Giles often spent long nights in the library as well. He was lucky for that. What if he was just some normal guy, with friends who didn't lead such time-consuming nightlives?

He sighed and wandered through the room, finding himself in front of one of the many bookcases. There was a strange feeling of comfort in being in a library, something that clearly came from Goliath. The gargoyle had spent many a night reading in the library beneath the clocktower he lived in.

So he reached out and pulled a book at random. It was old and had a musty smell to it. Though the moon cast the only light into the dark library, Xander could read the cover perfectly. Macbeth.

He chuckled wryly to himself, remembering Goliath reading this very play by moonlight after an encounter with the real Macbeth.

Only he wasn't the real Macbeth. Not to Xander. He shook his head, clearing the cobwebs. It was confusing to have memories made up of fiction. Sometimes he forgot that the things he remembered as Goliath weren't actually real. Macbeth was not an immortal bound via magic to Demona, Goliath's former lover. He was just a character in a Shakespeare play, and maybe some guy named Macbeth had existed a zillion years ago that Shakespeare based his own character on.

He took the book over to the stepladder and sat atop it, opening the worn book to the first page.

When his newly improved sense of hearing alerted him to voices, he realized he was more than halfway through the old book. He'd spent a long time sitting in the darkened library. It both comforted and troubled him. The reading itself was a peaceful and comforting experience. But another thought assailed him. Was this a habit of Goliath's that he was picking up? If so, would he be picking up others? It made him wonder just how much he'd been altered by the spell.

He closed the book quietly and looked up. Buffy strode into the library, flanked by Giles and Jenny.

"Sorry to beep you guys in the middle of...stuff, but it seemed really weird," Buffy said.

"No, you did the right thing," Giles assured her.

"You hated it that much?" Jenny asked, putting her hands on her hips.

"No," Giles said quickly. "But, uh, vampires on the campus is- could have implications. Very, very grave-"

"You coulda just said something."

"Vampires?" Xander asked.

"Holy jeez!" Buffy cried as Giles clutched his chest and Jenny let out a little shriek of surprise. "Xander? What are you doing sitting in the dark?"

He held up the book. "Reading."

"In the dark?"

"I have good eyes," he shrugged. "So, vampires?"

Buffy sighed. "I was showing Ford around, so of course I just *had* to run into some. On the plus side, Ford actually dusted one himself."

"Hooray for Ford," Xander said glumly. He stretched his arms, wings, and tail, and then tossed the book onto the table as he got up. At the same time, Giles sat at the table, moving a few books over to get at a particular volume. Buffy frowned and reached out, picking up an old picture.

"Who's this?" she asked, showing it to Giles.

"Um, she's called Drusilla," Giles told her. "A sometime paramour of Spike's. She was killed by an angry mob in Prague. I meant to file it in my archives now that Spike's been killed."

"Well they don't make angry mobs like they used to," Buffy said. "Cause this girl's alive. I saw her with Angel."

"With Angel?" Xander rumbled.

"Isn't he supposed to be a good guy?" Jenny asked. Xander pointed at her, nodding.

"Good point. What's all this consorting with the enemy? Might suspicious, if you ask me."

"He is a good guy," Buffy said adamantly. "He's wasn't 'with her' with her. He was just with her. As in nearby."

"A likely story."

Buffy groaned and rolled her eyes. "Whatever."

"Maybe we should read up on this lady," Jenny suggested. Giles nodded, getting to his feet. He walked over to his office.

"Well, some of my new volumes may be more helpful. Uh, my own research is-"

He was cut off as a blonde vampire body blocked him out of the way. Giles cried out, sprawling to the floor, taking Buffy with him. The vampire snarled, clutching a book to her hand as she jumped onto the table, but froze in shock when she saw Xander.

"Do you have a library card?" he asked.

The vampire's eyes went wide, and tried to jump over the railing to the mezzanine level to escape out the back through the stacks. Xander roared, his eyes glowing white as he grabbed at her. His powerful talon-like fingers closed around her ankle and he slammed her back down to the ground.

Moving swiftly, he yanked her back up, holding her upside down much as he had with Buffy the night before. With his free hand he plucked the book free from her grip, then violently slammed her against the floor again, knocking her senseless.

"Got a stake?" he asked, holding the limp form of the vampire at arm's length. Buffy blinked, then reached into her back pocket and pulled out a stake, tossing it to him. "What do you think, stake or question?"

Giles got to his feet slowly. "Um, questioning may be the best idea. We can lock her in the weapons cage. I can't believe it tried to take one of my books!"

Xander held the vampire warily as Buffy quickly cleaned the cage out of weapons. Then he tossed the vampire into the cage, slamming the door shut behind her. When he turned to Buffy, he noticed she was staring at the vampire with an odd expression.

"Everything okay?" he asked, looking down at her.

"He said he killed it," Buffy whispered.

"Who said?"

"Ford. This is the vampire he said he killed."

The vampire groaned and began to stir.

"Buffy?" Xander said.

"Yeah?"

"I think he lied."

She nodded sadly. "Yeah."

***

Her bird wasn't singing to her anymore, but that was okay. The stars sang to Drusilla. Glorious melodies of her Spike's rebirth. All she had to do was listen to the stars and listen to her Spike, and all would be well.

"They didn't get the book," Spike said to her, wrapping his arms around her from behind. "The monster killed your servants."

"I'm very cross with him," Drusilla pouted, turning in Spike's ethereal grip.

"Of course you are, luv. And you'll get your revenge on him. Revenge for killing me. Won't that be nice?"

She smiled dreamily. "I want to taste him."

"You will. But first you need the book so you can bring me back."

She frowned at him. "You're here."

He shook his head. "No, Dru. I'm not real. You're crazy, you know."

"Daddy taught me," she said, grinning happily. She danced around him, whirling her tattered red dress all about him.

"The book, Dru. You'll need it to learn the proper rites."

Drusilla sighed and picked up one of her dolls. Then she looked up and grinned at Spike. "I know just what to do!"

"What's that?"

She turned, just in time to see the young man walk tentatively into the room. "I'll send him."

Ford stared in awe. "This is so cool! I would totally live here."

Drusilla shook her head sadly. "Nothing lives here."

He grinned at her. "Yeah. That's so awesome!"

Drusilla stalked towards him, staring into his eyes. "Ooh," she smiled, inhaling his scent. "You're death." She turned to Spike. "I wish I had a perfume like his."

Ford frowned. "Who are you talking to?"

"Get on with it, Dru. Tell him you'll give him what he wants if he does something for you."

"He wants to be with me," Drusilla said coyly, looking at Ford. "Forever and ever."

"You know," Ford said in complete awe. "I want to be one of you. One of the dark ones."

She stepped up to him, caressing the side of his cheek. "Will you bring me a present?"

Ford swallowed, and nodded slowly.
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