Disclaimer: All characters and other recognizable things are property of Mutant Enemy, ADV films, and whoever else wants to lay claim to them. Everything that I thought up is made using their property so I won't claim that either.
Feedback: Be critical, and my writing improves. Praise me, and I will feel good. A combination of these is my favorite.
My thanks go to Era and The Unicorn, for their help in ensuring that this story makes sense and is readable.
Background: During Halloween Dawn was possessed by the assassin Kirika from the anime series Noir. Afterwards she kept the memories, and personalities, from Kirika. For more details it's best to read the other stories.
Author's note: Posted under non-crossovers despite the hints of Noir because they are only hints.The Slayer
Spitting out the coppery-tasting blood, Buffy had only one thought in her head: life sucked. There was no other way she could describe her feelings. Not even staking what remained of the vampire before her helped to improve her mood. The vampire had been good, having been some kind of martial arts type of person before he had encountered the vampire he couldn't beat, but the main reason he'd survived for several minutes against her was because she'd allowed it.
Why did it have to happen? Why did her whole world need to be turned upside down? She only just turned 17! It wasn't fair! It was thoughts like these that had distracted her during the fight; thereby allowing the vampire to get in several good shots, and stopping her from being able to finish the fight quickly.
She only just turned 17! Closing her eyes in despair at the recurring thought, Buffy rested her back against the cold wall of the tomb she just passed. Cold. Just like he had been. But not hot, like he had become during what at first had appeared to be the best night of her life.
Maybe if she hadn't pushed him into it... no, it had been mutual. There was no reason to put the blame on herself. At least not concerning this. There were enough other things she could blame herself for. Stifling a sob, Buffy opened her eyes again. She hadn't sensed anything, but a cemetery wasn't the place to feel sorry for herself. Especially not a cemetery where she'd already encountered one vampire.
He might be near.
She hoped he wasn't - although at the same time she did. Seeing his handsome face was something she longed for, but how the man she loved was no longer inhabiting his own body was not something she wished to be reminded of.
Kill him: that's what she needed to do. Intellectually she knew that was the mission she should set herself, but knowing something and actually being able to do it were two completely different matters. She loved him: how could she stake him?
No! He was no longer the man she loved. The creature now wearing his face was pure evil: one of the worst vampires to have emerged in the last couple of centuries. He was hundreds of years old! And - even worse - he knew how she thought, how she fought, and how she worked.
Even if she could bring herself to kill him, how could she overcome those problems? Destroy the man bearing the face of the love of her life.
She was supposed to save the people she cared about, not to destroy them!
Would he go after her friends? So far he'd left them alone, but how long would that last? Could she count on it that she'd be able to prevent him from going after her friends forever? Was she willing to risk the lives of her friends in that way?
No, she wasn't willing to risk her friends. Not even for the man she loved. Especially when that man was dead. Willow, Xander, even Cordelia, were all at risk. There was something worse though: the risk to her friends was nothing compared to her greatest vulnerability.
Dawn. Her little sister knew about the existence of vampires, but she knew only a few tiny details. She had the kind of knowledge that could get her killed even without Ang- Even without him running around.
Gods, how bad was it that she couldn't even think his name?
Taking a deep calming breath, she continued her patrol through the cemetery. Most likely the vampire had been alone, so with a bit of luck she wouldn't encounter him here, but that didn't mean she shouldn't pay at least some attention to her surroundings. Walking through the cemetery, with her eyes jumping from suspicious shadow to suspicious shadow, Buffy couldn't resist imagining each and every worst-case scenario.
Would he have told all the other vampires about how she fought? How she would react to a certain move? She knew how her love had fought, but the demon would undoubtedly be different. Which meant another advantage to him.
She shook her head at those negative thoughts. No, she couldn't give up like this. Not before she had even tried to stake him. Tried to release his body from the hold of the demon. Dawn and her mother were both at risk from the vampire. She couldn't just give up!
Gritting her teeth in an attempt to make herself feel angry Buffy tried to muster her courage for the fight that was sure to come. A fight that could only end one way. If she lost, he would kill her family: her mother and her little brat of a sister. Her friends would be killed as well, but they at least understood the danger they would face. Not that that was necessarily a good thing.
Protecting her mother and sister had to come first though. The first step was easy: when Dawn got back from her stay with their father Buffy would just order her to stay inside while it was dark outside. Dawn knew enough about what had happened to understand he was now dangerous, and maybe the brat would even listen to her.
At least that was something good that had come out of the whole thing with Xander and Jane. Apart from Xander saving somebody's life of course, because people being saved was always very much of the good.
What she was really happy about though was how the event had influenced both Dawn's idea of what vampires and demons actually meant, and - more importantly - how her mom and the parents of Dawn's friends friends had reacted. The three of them were no longer allowed to go out alone during the night; at least not until those 'muggers' were caught. Which would never happen of course as they were already piles of dust.
Of course, that meant that when Dawn left after dinner to visit their father it had been Buffy who had to escort her to the bus. That was the downside of the thing, but also showed that with a bit of luck Dawn wouldn't be allowed to go out again until she was thirty-five or so. Still, during the walk to the bus station Buffy had almost been scared of an attack. It hadn't come this time, but who knew what might happen in the future?
He was smart and, even in the unlikely case Dawn would do as she was told, would probably find a way around that. For all Buffy knew he could just decide to take Drusilla, and Spike - if that bastard was able to walk again - and attack Dawn and whoever was with her at the time. Even she might not be able to protect her sister from an attack like that. So, she couldn't let that happen.
But why couldn't Buffy feel the anger she needed to kill him?
A cramp in her jaw told Buffy she should stop trying to punish her teeth for her own mistakes. It wasn't as if the grinding was doing her any good anyway: she still felt numb. Numb to such an extent that she doubted she'd ever feel anything again. A distraction was needed, but this cemetery was dead. Literally dead.
She needed to go somewhere else, but first... something different. She had recieved several hits during the fight, but as usual she hadn't really noticed it. Adrenaline: that's what she knew the reason was. The question she now asked herself was something else though: without adrenaline coursing through her body, would the pain of a wound be able to mute the pain of her heart? She decided to see if physical pain would be more powerful than the one in her heart when she wasn't focused - yeah right - on fighting for her life.
Her walk had returned her to the tomb that had reminded her of his cool body, and this she felt would be a suitable place to carry out her experiment. With all the strength in her body, Buffy punched the solid wall. It hurt; it hurt so bad that for a moment she feared she might have broken something, but it also hurt for only a short time as the pain quickly faded away.
For a while she simply stared at the traitorous hand that showed so clearly how much better than her soul her body was at handling pain. In a way she felt like she'd been betrayed, no matter how twisted that sounded. The moment her hand crashed into the wall it had hurt so bad Buffy thought it might have crippled her, but it was only a matter moments before the pain had faded to a dull ache, and after not much longer even that had disappeared.
The durability of a Slayer. Wasn't it wonderful?
Why was this only for the physical stuff? Couldn't the same be done for the pain in her heart?
Not that that made any sense, after all she had been hurt in a fight often enough to know that as the Slayer she could ignore pain with the best of them, but even so... She wasn't ignoring the pain right now: apart from the brief flare of pain as her hand crashed into the rough stone, she simply didn't notice she was hurt.
This wasn't a good thing, and she really hoped it would be gone soon enough. She couldn't deal with this! Hadn't she proved that already? She might have destroyed the Judge with the rocket launcher, but she still hadn't been able to kill him.
Suddenly noticing that the blood on her hands had dried up while she was musing to herself, she once again turned around and walked out of the cemetery. This was her world: she was the ultimate creature of the night, and nobody should be able to take that away from her.
Deciding a shortcut through the park was in order, something she'd started to do more often since she'd found out about Xander's rescue of Dawn's friend, she turned left as she slipped out of the gate. Maybe something would show up there. All she wanted right now was to pummel something and then go home to cry herself to sleep.
No! Not cry! She was strong and could handle this. She was the Slayer, and the Slayer was a super-human being. Like in the cartoons and stuff. Of course, how often were the heroes in those cartoons forced to kill the one they loved?
Not again! If Buffy had been able to feel the emotion she was sure she'd be exasperated by herself. Everything seemed to be coming back to him, whereas he was only one of the many possible causes for a quick death in Sunnydale. Okay, that sounded far too morbid even when considering how she felt at the moment.
Still, it held a kernel of truth. From the average vampire that might take advantage of her situation, to the next big demon to come along, all the way up to that big mystery none of them had any clue about. The big scary green lady. The one Xander had heard those vampires talk about. The vampires he killed in this very park to save someone he didn't even know.
Once again the tiniest bit of emotion rushed through her body: a strange mixture of love, pride, fear, and even anger. Love because he was one of her best friends, and she loved all her friends; pride because he had been able to save someone all on his own; fear because he might try again and not succeed; and anger at the world that made it necessary for her friends to put themselves in danger.
This fleeting mixture of emotions was gone almost as soon as she noticed it, but at least it served to tell Buffy she wasn't totally gone yet. There was still hope for her.
Back to the green one though. She had interrogated a couple of vampires, demons, and even once visited Willy's to see if he knew anything about this green lady. Or was it Green Lady, with capitals? That was the way Xander said the vamps had spoken about her.
Oh, who cares?
With or without capitals, the green lady was a danger. And what was with the name anyway? Why lady, and not woman, girl, or even chick? Had the green lady decided on the name because of how it sounded? All classy and powerful?
Well, she couldn't be all classy because, if what they suspected was right, she had been pretty messy when it came to killing Ethan Rayne. And probably that vampire during Halloween too. If she hadn't been so numb, remembering how those two victims of this lady had looked would have made her react. She wouldn't have thrown up, she hadn't done that at the time either, but she would have felt something.
How could any sane person torture someone to death? That just wasn't done.
On the other hand, the lady's victims had all been bad guys. Even if one of them had been human and therefore shouldn't be killed unless it was as a last resort. Which definitely hadn't been the case with Ethan.
Of course, ever since hearing about the lady Buffy had been anxious to find her because of the one crime she'd dreamed about. A dream that had put the lady at the top of Buffy's list of evil people.
A crime that in the end hadn't been committed by the lady, but instead by Buffy herself. All the dreams she'd had warning her about what was going to happen, how the green light would take her love away from her, and how she would just stand there to watch it happen. She'd fought hard to prevent it from happening, but in the end all her fighting hadn't mattered: she'd still gone into it with both her eyes, and legs, wide open.
Yes, there was only one person responsible for the death of her love: Buffy Anne Summers, the failed Slayer.
Failed Slayer perhaps, but Slayer nonetheless, Buffy mentally berated herself.
Which meant she really ought to clean up her own mess sooner or later. Yes, she had killed the one she loved, and when she'd done that a monster came back to torture her for that awful deed. Yes, that's it. That was how she should think about it. The one walking around now was a monster who had come to punish her for her crimes. A monster like that wasn't out of the ordinary and she could easily take care of it.
Yes! Nodding her head in elation she was almost happy she'd managed to convince herself of a way to kill hi-, the monster who had come to avenge him. Alright, she was willing to admit the monster might have something of a right to hurt her, but it was going too far. Innocents in this matter were off limits, and that was exactly who the monster was going after.
She was the Slayer, wasn't that exactly what she'd been telling herself? And the Slayer was the queen of the night.
Wow, melodramatic much? For a moment she stopped and blinked; when did she start channeling Cordelia? No matter, Buffy quickly focused back on her thoughts. What was important was that she could deal with this. It might not be easy, and she would probably feel miserable for a long time, but she could deal with it.
Something was off.
Halting in her tracks, Buffy let out all her senses in an attempt to find out what was wrong. The fresh smell of the trees caused by the rain earlier in the evening assaulted her sense of smell, as did some of the less pleasant things. There was a reason she disliked using her nose to its fullest extent in the park, and it wasn't just because people walked their dogs here.
Her nose didn't tell her much, but that didn't matter as it was only a part of her arsenal. She was the Slayer - why did she have to keep reminding herself of that? - and she could use even the air flowing over her bare skin to determine whether or not something was around. Nothing from that either though, nor did she hear anything.
She couldn't see it because she was facing away from the danger, something she was informed of by her spider-sense. Something was watching her, trusting in the environment to mask its tracks. Her heart sped up: she knew exactly who was watching her. Maybe going through the park hadn't been such a good idea after all.
As her mouth dried up, Buffy tightened the grip on her stake and prepared to fight the battle of her life. This was what she'd convinced herself she could do, and she still held the advantage: he didn't know she knew where he was. The feeling of vampire was approaching her, and she let out a deep breath while still keeping her back to him. Thirty feet, twenty-five, twenty, and suddenly he was rushing her.
Twirling around so fast any ordinary human would have fallen to the ground from the sudden disorientation, Buffy shoved the stake right where she knew his heart to be. Only then, as the vampire's expression turned to surprise did she notice it wasn't him after all. It wasn't anyone she recognized, although it was obvious this vampire had barely crawled out of its grave.
The vampire exploded into dust just as it was supposed to, and for a moment Buffy wondered how she could possibly have mistaken this weakling for him. Why had her senses told her she was in real danger from a vampire she defeated in a split second?
Not that it really mattered, as it had been a useful fight. It had shown she was willing to do what needed to be done where it concerned him.
Yes! Once again a short burst of mixed feelings burst through the numbness enveloping her mind. She could do it! Even if it hadn't actually been him, she hadn't hesitated when she thought it was.
No. Wait. There was still something wrong.
He was here, she was sure of it. Undoubtedly he'd only sent this one to see how she'd react, and with that realization Buffy knew she'd never been in any danger. No, that wasn't entirely true either. The vampire could have killed her, but the chances of that happening had been very slim. He wanted to play with her after all.
Peering into the darkness she tried to find where he was hiding. He was here. So she would find him, and then she'd kill him. For real this time. She wouldn't let him get away again.
There! She found the spot where the shadows seemed just a bit darker than the surrounding ones. As soon as Buffy was focused on that area she could hear clapping coming from it.
"Well, well, lover. I'm impressed: you didn't hesitate at all. Did you think it was me? Did you truly believe I would be so stupid to approach you in such a clumsy way? I had hoped you wouldn't think so lightly of me." He stepped out of the shadows, and once again she was faced with the handsome face she saw in each of her dreams and nightmares.
"Yes well, maybe if you'd shown different I wouldn't have believed that," Buffy answered lamely. Okay, her puns weren't working very well right now. Never a good sign. No! Stay focused, he's dangerous.
"Ouch," he smiled, "you wound me deeply. How could you say something like that to me? Don't you love me anymore?"
"Shut up! You're not him. I will kill you."
"You look a bit angry lover. Maybe you need to get laid? That sort of thing does wonders for you. It can be a truly liberating experience. Trust me, I speak from experience."
He kept pushing her buttons, didn't he? Well she'd show him she was capable of doing what needed to be done. "Maybe you should start praying, oh wait. You don't want to go to heaven after I stake you, do you?"
"Lover, lover, lover," he said while shaking his head in a condescending manner. "You still don't get it, do you? You're not good enough to stake me. You're only a second rate Slayer who likes to sleep with the enemy."
"I didn't sleep with the enemy, but with the man I love."
That annoying smug look appeared on his face again as he spread his arms wide. "And look what you did to him! You set him free to enjoy the world. Have I thanked you for that yet? No? Oh well, let me think of a good way to do that then."
"You won't have a chance to thank me, because in a couple of minutes you'll be nothing but dust in the wind."
"Dust in the wind, how quaint. Did you come up with that yourself or did you take it from some second-rate movie?" Once again he smiled that mocking smile of his. Damn him! Damn him to hell! "Ah! I've figured out a way to thank you. I should liberate your family like you liberated me. Your sister is still a bit young for my tastes, although Dru likes them that way, but your mother should be excellent. Ah, I can already hear how they'll scream in pleasure. Or is it pain?"
As her vision turned red, Buffy could only see the creature before her. The one who was laughing about hurting her mother and little sister. Doing things to them no sane person would be capable of doing.
She moved. Not bothering to hide her intention she ran at him and as soon as she was within reach she swung her arm in a move that would have almost taken his head off if it had connected.
"Gets them every time," she could hear him brag from where she was lying on the grass. She could feel the texture of it on her hands, but wasn't at first sure how she'd gotten there. He'd known what she'd been about to do. Well, she'd teach him about predicting her moves. "Don't you get it yet Slayer? I'm better than you, and if you're angry it only makes it easier for me."
'Keep bragging,' Buffy furiously thought, 'keep bragging and I'll show your ashes what your mistake was.' Lying still she waited until he dropped his guard a little more and took that last step towards her she needed him to take.
As soon as she could feel he was within range, her right foot shot out and hit him in the shin. It wasn't the knee as she'd hoped to hit, but it was good enough. Immediately following through on the move she jumped to her feet in order to continue the fight. But seeing him bent over to hold his sore leg, Buffy couldn't resist her own smug smile. "Now who's stupid?" Not waiting for a reply she kicked him in the head. Or at least, she would have if he hadn't been able to bring up an arm to ward off the blow.
"It won't be that easy lover."
"Don't. Call. Me. That," Buffy punctuated her words while launching another kick, and another, and another, and another, until he was backed against a tree.
"You're too easy lover, I wonder if your sister will be the same," he still dared to smile. Calm be damned! She didn't need to be calm to shut him up forever. There was no way she'd let him do anything to Dawn. Nor to her mother or friends.
She tried to punch him in the face, but as he ducked just in time she hit the tree instead. The tree splintered where she hit it, but she didn't get of lightly herself either: her hand hurt. It hurt pretty bad actually. Why did it have to do so now, when it didn't earlier? She didn't have time to think about pain though as the monster made his first true offensive move at the same moment.
Air exploded from her mouth as his knee hit her stomach, and she stumbled back from him. No! This opponent was too dangerous to allow herself time to heal. Suppressing the pain, Buffy stood straight again and kicked at his torso. Once again his arm was there barely in time, and he turned his block into a straight punch.
This time Buffy was ready, and harmlessly deflected his attack to the side. That opened up an opportunity for her and, although she'd berated Cordelia for doing the same to Xander during Halloween, she had no intention of passing up on it. Her foot shot out and hit the monster where it hurt the most.
Of course, she told herself as she watched him go cross-eyed and drop keening to his knees, it also ensured he wouldn't try to rape her sister or mother. "Gets them every time," she panted.
Raising his head, he glared at how she threw his own words back in his face. "Bitch."
"What? You're not calling me lover anymore?" Buffy mocked while taking hold of Mr. Pointy and preparing herself to do what needed to be done. Despite her words, her heart was racing and she was aware he knew that. But how couldn't she be nervous about this? He was her soul-mate. The love of her life. The first man she'd made love to. Earlier it had been self-defense, but killing him while he was sitting so vulnerable in front of her?
Blinking away the tears, Buffy wondered when she'd started crying. No matter. She could do this. She was strong enough to stake the monster before her. He might look like the man she loved, but he wasn't. Taking a deep, calming, breath to slow her thundering heart she looked at him again. He looked so much like the one she loved, but he wasn't.
If she allowed him to live, this monster would kill dozens, if not hundreds, of people before she'd have another shot at him. Willow. Xander. Giles. Dawn. Her mother. She saw their faces in her mind, first how they looked now, and then how they would look once he was done with them. Yes, she had to do it now. After all, nobody had ever said saving the world wouldn't come with a price.
The internal debate had lasted only seconds, which meant he was still kneeling on the ground although he was now looking at the ground instead of her. Good, that would only make it easier.
Not taking any chances she kicked him full in the face, making him topple over, and continuing her move she drove Mr. Pointy at his heart.
"Buffy?" she suddenly heard him whisper in a tone that made her hand freeze.
That voice, the way he said her name. It seemed as if her heart could burst from happiness, and she halted her hand moments before the stake would have pierced his heart. Hoping beyond hope, Buffy raised her eyes to his face in an attempt to discover if he was once more the one she loved. "Angel?"
"What's going on?"
He looked so confused it made her cry. Had her wildest hope come true? The confusion in his eyes helped a lot in convincing her it was indeed her love. "Oh, Angel. I've missed you so much."
Using both hands to wipe the tears of happiness away, she wanted to say more when her legs were suddenly kicked away from under her. "I've missed you too lover, but I really have to go now."
NO! He'd fooled her. From where she was lying on the ground, Buffy watched the monster hobble away. It hadn't been him after all. Angel's soul hadn't magically reappeared, and now she had allowed the demon who'd taken over his body to get away.
Buffy knew she should go after him, but she simply didn't have the strength. The emotional roller-coaster she'd gone through tonight had worn her out. Next time though she would kill him. Next time she wouldn't hesitate. Next time she wouldn't fail her duty.
Of course, she'd told herself that very same thing every night during the past week.