Ado Montres Ta Coeur
By Ashley Amigoni
Title: Ado Montres Ta Coeur
Author: Ashley Amigoni
Feedback: Please! firstname.lastname@example.org
Distribution: Anywhere! Just let me know where it's going.
Timeline: 3rd Season
Summary: Giles has been somehow turned into a young man, w/ no memory, and falls for Buffy. Meanwhile, a new magical vampire is plotting to take over Sunnydale...with Buffy as his queen.
Disclaimer: The mighty Joss owns all, w/ Mutant Enemy, etc
"You know, once in a while I would like it if there WASN'T any murders for a day in Sunnydale...just ONCE! But no, the dead boys never get their beauty sleep." Xander sat down with a sigh. Giles had just gotten through reading an article from the Sunnydale newspaper. Woman found dead. Two punctured holes in neck. Oh, the possibilities.
"Yes, well, they must feed sometime Xander. I imagine that sleep is not their concern, neither is beauty." Giles removed his glasses and began whipping them off. "Speaking of concern, where is Buffy?"
"I was wondering the same thing." Giles and Xander turned as Willow and Oz approached them. "I thought she should be in here already." Willow said, sitting by Xander.
"Yeah, well, you know our Buffster." Xander replied.
"What's that about me?" Buffy entered the library wearing a short black skirt and a purple top that had a v-neck, showing what Xander always enjoyed seeing. Even though dating is a big no for them, he still had a soft spot for her. And her outfits.
"Never mind that Buffy. We have more important issues at hand. There seems to be an enhancement in the vampire population. The obituaries in the newspaper seem rather larger than usual. You should patrol tonight longer and expand your search. Perhaps there is some important happening or some power calling them here." Giles held out the paper to Buffy.
"Wow, your not wasting any time Giles. Straight to the disaster topic. Remember to breathe though next time between sentences." She took the paper from him, glanced at it, and set it down. Vampire deaths never surprised her anymore. Or seemed to be a threat.
"I'm sorry to cut our visit short, but I gotta go. Literature class reading assignment. Loads o' fun. And yes, Giles, I will be careful on my patrol tonight." Giles did a double-take. Buffy smiled. It was always fun to take the words right out of his mouth. Buffy turned and walked out just as Cordelia entered.
"Oh, leaving so soon Buffy? I was hoping you'd stick around, you know, so I can offer some fashion tips?"
"No thanks Cordy. I'm not really into the hooker-thing this season." Buffy smirked at her and left.
"Funny, I was just going to say the same to her. Hey, I need a book for some history project my teacher is forcing me to do. How rude." Cordelia walked to the table and stood impatiently.
"Yes, those horrible, horrible teachers! How dare they make you learn?!" Xander gave her a look.
"Nobody asked your opinion, since it's worthless anyway!" Cordelia returned the look. "So what new world-ending project is Buffy on now? Is it the never-going-to-get-a-boyfriend-with-a-beating-heart mission?"
* * * * *
Whoosh! Dust erupted from the staked vampire. Another charged at Buffy, throwing a punch. She caught it, kicked the vampire in the chest throwing it back, and turned just in time to stake another advancing at her. Buffy flipped onto the vampire she kicked down and drove Mr. Pointy right through his heart.
"Wow, they didn't stand a chance." Oz stood observing from the end of the alley, hands in pockets, head cocked to the side.
"Oz...what are you doing here? Not that I'm not happy to see you, but I never usually see you out." Buffy walked over to him.
"Well, I was just going for a walk. Deep thinking time."
"Mind if I ask what about?"
"No. Well, sort of...come to think about it, I guess not." Buffy smiled at him. Oz could be confusing, but he always had his head on straight. She's never known to see Oz out by himself. Must be something serious he's thinking about, Buffy thought.
"Well, if you want to spill the beans, I'll be here to collect them." Oz smirked. An emotion.
"It's just that, well, ever since the Xander and Willow incident, Willow just seems to be treating Xander like he has burning skin. No touching of any kind. Makes me feel bad. I don't want their relationship to be affected. I can understand why, but you know, still feel bad."
"Oz, it's not your fault. Willow just cares a lot about you. She doesn't want to hurt you again, or make you think that there's any serious loving between them. You should talk to her. Let her know its ok for contact with Xander. Just not in the...intimate sort of way."
"I already know." Willow had somehow snuck upon them while they were walking through the alley ways. Oz turned toward Willow and looked down.
"Hey." Oz said softly.
"Hey." Willow held her hands together and walked towards Oz. "I never knew you felt that way. It's not your fault Oz. I just, well, you know, want you to see that I'm an Oz-only kind of girl."
"I know. Just want you and Xander to be like you were and not so distant."
"We are working on it." Willow gave him a reassuring smile.
Buffy drew in a breath and pushed them away. "I'd hate to interrupt your moment, but...duty calls!" Vampires ran towards them. Or was it vampires? A black triangle tattoo was in the middle of the brow of the vampires advancing, and rectangular shapes under the eyes. One of them swung a sword at Buffy's head. She ducked, pulled a stake from her pocket, and drove it into the heart. Dust bunnies now. Yep, they were vampires. After the battle, Buffy was surrounded by dust. Willow and Oz had already taken off. Wait till Giles hears about this.
* * * * *
"Giles!!" Buffy hollered as she entered the library. Giles head popped above a stack of books on the table.
"Buffy! What's wrong? Are you alright?"
"Peachy. Was just on patrol, and you'll never guess what. Vampires with tattoos on their faces. And swords."
"Good heavens. Perhaps that's why there is an increase in vampires. A gang of some sort must have come to the Hellmouth. Did you happen to see what the tattoos were of?" He walked over to Buffy at the end of the table and grabbed a piece of paper and pen. Buffy grabbed the pen from him and drew the tattoos.
"Any ideas?" Buffy asked. Giles continued to stare at the paper. Deep in thought as always. "Giles..."
"Hmm? Oh, right." Pause. "No, I'm afraid I don't know what it could be. I imagine I have a book though that could provide a suggestion as to what this group could be."
"I'll call the Scooby Gang for deep research mode." Buffy hopped off the table and headed to the phone.
"Is that necessary? I'm sure it's not required for everybody to come." Giles looked at her as almost begging. That's weird, Buffy thought.
"Naw, it's ok. This is our favorite part Giles!" Buffy started to dial Xander's number. No answer. Odd, he's usually home. Buffy tried Willow's. Then Oz's. No answer at either house.
"Giles, their not home. Nobody is! Do you think that they're ok?"
"I'm sure they are, Buffy. I found it anyways." He walked over to her holding a book open. As he set it down in front of Buffy, her eyes fell on a picture of a vampire with the exact same markings she saw. Underneath the picture said "Kouzlo worshiper".
"Apparently these vampires are initiated into this society of worshipers for an extraordinary vampire named Kouzlo with these tattoos. Kouzlo is a vampire with significant talents. He can morph into a human being, is immune to the natural ways of killing a vampire, and posses a great deal of magic. Vampires who work for him will do anything that Kouzlo tells them too. He makes false promises of rewards for their exertion, such as magic abilities much like the kind he owns." Giles sighed. He knew how powerful this vampire was. Buffy could seriously get hurt fighting this demon, he thought. If only I could help her, fight with her. But he knew that Buffy wouldn't hear of such a thing. If only I was back to my youth. Giles looked down with his final thought.
"I'll finish up my patrolling for tonight, see if I can find any more of these Kouzlo vampire worshippers. Maybe lessen the odds." She closed the book and started for the doors.
"Buffy, I...I really think I should go and help you. These vampires aren't like other ones. They are smarter and will do anything to see to your death."
"That is why you should stay here. They could kill you if you got in their way to get me. I won't let you get hurt." Buffy made her serious "listen to me" face.
"I won't get hurt. If anything I will be a benefit." Giles went to the weapon closet.
"No offense Giles, but your not young enough to keep up with those vampires." With that Buffy turned and left before Giles could say anything else. Giles stood in astonishment of what Buffy just said, his mouth hanging open. In his Ripper days, he was stronger than any of his friends. Probably still is. He would give anything to return to those days. Anything.
* * * * *
The moon hung in the sky and bathed the earth in its light. Candles flickered across spider webs that hung on the crumbling walls of a dark crypt. Marked vampires walked across the earth and entered the crypt, pushing the heavy door open. As they walked inside, they smiled in anticipation of seeing their Lord, their Master. One vampire approached Kouzlo seated in an ancient brass chair, raised above the floor. He wore a black negligee, lined with blood-red satin. He looked no more than his late twenties. The vampire kneeled before Kouzlo, shaking in fear of not knowing how Kouzlo would react.
"My Lord Kouzlo, we recoil in your greatness. If your will allows me, I wish to speak of news we bring you." Kouzlo didn't even glance towards the vampire. "Proceed." Kouzlo's voice was deep, almost quiet.
"On our duty to bring you a human to feed upon, a girl killed five of our men. We believe she could be a slayer. Our apologies for failing you, but we trust it was vital to bring you this information." The vampire closed his eyes, mostly expecting Kouzlo to explode on him and send him off to be chained to a post on a hill and wait for dawn. But Kouzlo just sat there and continued acting like he didn't hear anything. A smile started to form, baring his fangs. He chuckled. A slayer, in Sunnydale. What could be better for his plan?
"This is most...pleasing. A vampire slayer in the very town I wish to destroy and make my own. Well, if she wants vampires...then vampires she shall get." He stood and started walking through the parting vampires. He raised his voice, making the walls echo. "We will continue with the transformation. Leave the slayer for me." He stopped and stared into the eyes of his worshippers. "Her blood will run through me and all will die."
* * * * *
Sunnydale High School. What better place for a school than on the Hellmouth. Many of the Scooby Gang adventures took place in those very halls. Students seemed oblivious to all hell-happenings. They stood outside and laughed and talked to themselves as if life couldn't get any better. Buffy sat outside on a bench and waited. And waited. Where are you guys? She wondered. Buffy didn't get a hold of anybody last night. When she finally got home from an eventless patrol, she tried their numbers again with still no answers. As she tried to get some sleep, all her thoughts were of her friends, and those marked vampires, and what those marked vampires could have done to her friends.
Buffy snapped out of her thoughts and sighed with relief as she saw Xander walking up to her.
"Is that a look of excitement for a fun, fun, fun day of school or are you just happy to see me?" Buffy jumped up and hugged Xander then slapped him on the arm. Xander laughed, and then whimpered with pain.
"Ow...apparently not door number 2." He rubbed his arm where a bruise was starting to form.
"Where were you guys last night? We have a brand new vampire gang in town and you guys just had to pick that night to not be home, didn't you?"
"I'm sorry that I don't stick around at home just for your calls. A man my age needs to get out more, don't you think?"
"Knock it off Xander, I was really worried. At least one of you guys is home at night. We needed our research team. I...I thought something bad happened."
"I'm sorry Buff, I didn't know. Look, we just decided to have a Bronze night. That's all. Next time we'll check in ok?"
"No, don't be sorry. I shouldn't jump to conclusions. We better go see if Giles has any more updates." They headed off towards the library as Buffy filled Xander in with all the new slayer happenings.
"Now you both understand that Buffy can't know any of this. If she knew it could....could throw her off balance. She wouldn't concentrate on her slayer duties." Giles paced back and forth in the library as he spoke quietly to Willow and Oz.
"Of course we won't say anything. We'll be two good little hush-puppies."
"Yeah." Oz agreed. Xander and Buffy walked in causing a silence to fall. Buffy stopped and made a confused face.
"Buffy...hi! We were, um, we were just talking about that new vampire-thing going on, you know. Those...nasty vampires you fight, as you know." Willow gave a nervous smile.
"Yeah, I know. I just wish it would all go away and I could relax." Buffy's eyes widened when everybody looked down.
* * * * *
"Now, as you all know Edgar Allen Poe was a great poet, and his work continues to be a success even today. But what you don't know is how his work came to be. Some say he was mad...but the real creativity all started with dark, disturbing dreams he had." The literature teacher continued to pace the room as she lectured the oh-so-interested students. Buffy's eyes grew heavier and heavier until her head fell to the desk and she slept...
The Library doors squeaked open, fluttering slowly, as if waving Buffy inside. "Giles..." she called softly out. Buffy walked in, calling out his name. Finally she saw him by a bookcase. "Buffy." He whispered, dropping a book. The book fell with a loud boom. A strong wind whipped around them, sending the pages flying by, stopping on a page finally. Buffy kneeled in front of the book and looked at the page. It was the picture of the Kouzlo vampire worshiper, only this time he was holding what looked like to be a broken-off handle to a teacup. Buffy gasped as she stood up and started to back away. The book slammed shut. "Buffy? What's wrong?" Giles took off his glasses and they fell to the ground, shattering...
The halls echoed with the sound of Buffy's shoes as she ran. She turned the corner, knocking into a little boy and falling. The book from the library was held tight in the boy's hands. He walked over to her, leaning over and speaking in a whisper. "Youth watches your heart, Buffy." He said, reaching out to her. Buffy's brow drew together in confusion, and then rose as Giles's screams rang in her ears...
Buffy snapped awake, breathing hard. The classroom was empty.
* * * * *
"I have to find Giles." Buffy said to herself. She turned the corner and stormed into the library, and walked straight to his office.
"Giles?" The office was empty. "Giles?" She called again, searching the library.
"Buffy?" Willow walked out from the rows of bookcases. "What's the matter?"
"Had a bad dream. Literature class sort of got boring. Where is Giles, I need to talk to him."
"He was just here a minute ago. I was helping him look up ways to fight that new baddie." Buffy turned to leave the library, her worry following her. "I'll tell him you're looking for him if he comes back!" Willow called after her.
* * * * *
Buffy had no idea what that dream could mean. Youth watches me? She thought. Only Giles could figure out something that bizarre. Buffy's dreams usually seem to always predict something. That something usually is bad. And what is up with everybody disappearing on me?
Giles door appeared before her. Her fist balled up and she pounded on the door. No answer. She tried again. Forget this. She turned the knob, opening the door slowly, and stuck her head in. Every light was off, and only the sunlight pouring through the windows lit the room. Buffy slowly walked in, looking around. A tea cup sat on Giles's end table. She stuck her finger in it. Cold.
"Giles?" she called out. Only her echo answered. Anger, frustration, and fear welled up in her and she ran out of the house. Where can he be? Buffy running slowed to a power-walk as she went down the sidewalk, not knowing where to go. Finally she stopped. This is it. I'm on my own. She didn't like that feeling at all.
* * * * *
A fist cracked the vampire's nose, throwing it off balance. The vampire shook it off and charged again, only being knocked down with a kick to the chest. Another vampire advanced and bared it's fangs. A stake was thrust into it's un-beating heart and it cried out, exploding into dust. The other two vampires left after seeing their opponent's power. A chuckle was heard as the vampires ran through the cemetery to get away. The chuckler walked away, trench coat flying behind in the wind. The streetlamp's light shone over onto the stranger's face. It was Giles.
* * * * *
"Nothing! Absolutely nothing but cold tea. Will, I don't know what's going on. It's kind of freaking me out." Buffy was sprawled across her bed, phone against ear, eager to hear comforting words. After leaving Giles's house earlier that night, she walked around town, not even concentrating on the un-dead. All she could think about was Giles. Did the vampires somehow find out that I was the slayer, and Giles is my watcher? They could be using him as bait. She pushed the negative thoughts out of her head. Maybe Willow knows something. Her feet picked up pace and carried her home. Buffy needed her best friend to tell her everything is alright. She hurriedly dialed Willow's number, and explained everything in a sudden rush, that Willow had to calm her down, just so she could process what Buffy was trying to tell her.
"Maybe he's on official Watcher business of some kind, and just didn't have the chance to tell you about it. You know Giles wouldn't leave you without saying something. He must have a good reason." Truth was, Willow wasn't as confident as her words sounded. Giles has never left all of a sudden before without letting them know. It's very un-British.
"Yeah...maybe you're right. I have been over-reacting lately. I'll just try and talk to him tomorrow. Chances are he'll tell me I'm being childish about this whole thing."
* * * * *
A tired and beaten-up Giles staggered across the threshold of his apartment. He set his tool bag down by his couch and sighed. He hadn't fought in a battle that fierce for a long time, and it sure did take its toll. His forehead sparkled with beads of sweat that he whipped off with his handkerchief. Joints ached as he moved slowly up his steps. Usually he wouldn't feel this bad, but he fought long and hard. If Buffy wouldn't let him patrol with her, then he'd to it himself, he thought before he'd left that night. He patrolled and fought till dawn, determined to prove her wrong. His breath was worn out by the time he reached his bedroom. Not even bothering to change into his nightwear, Giles sat slowly on his bed, and then lay down softly.
Bloody hell, he thought, what happened to you old man? He sat puzzling his bizarre actions that night. Why had he taken off? Why was it so important to him to help Buffy that he had to risk his own life? He took off his glasses and set them on his nightstand. A bright star caught his eye out his window. It shone brightly, almost putting him into a trance. Once again, his joints ached, like a constant reminder.
Reminders of how I can never be young again, always feeling this pain. The star blinked at him, almost denying his thought. For a moment, Giles couldn't look away, the star held his gaze. He seemed to be there staring at the star for hours.
As if struck by a lightning bolt, his muscles tensed suddenly, his eyes widening as he gasped for breath. The clock fell to the floor as Giles scrambled out of bed, clutching his stomach, making rugged sounds, trying to take air in. Finally he fell to the floor, breathing deep as his lungs relaxed with air. Oh dear God, Giles thought, what is happening to me? His thoughts shattered away as his neck snapped back all of a sudden. A white light flashed through his eyes, his features distorting, shifting around. He cried out in agony, and shivered at the new, fresh sound of his voice. His muscles rippled and moved around. The rug ripped as his nails dug into it with pain.
Suddenly he fell into a heap on the floor. His breathing was loud, as if he would never breathe again. He laid there for a moment in shock. Giles slowly pulled himself up with the bed sheets. Where am I? Giles stood up, shaking as if he were walking for the first time. His shaky feet led him to the bathroom. The tile floor felt cool against his blazing skin. As almost afraid of what he'd see, he slowly looked into the mirror.
All he saw was a young man.
* * * * *
The Bronze, the only happening club in Sunnydale, was unusually crowded tonight. Teenagers and young adults hung around outside the club, laughing and talking in the alley. Some hid behind crates or trash bins, making out. Dead bodies were found in those areas all the time. The Bronze was the best place for vampires to feed. Loud music and tight crowds allowed them to steal away their victims, to seduce them, without the slightest glance of curiosity. It was also Buffy's favorite patrol area. Not only can she keep Giles happy by honing out the vamps and protect innocent civilians, she can keep her regular teenage life by hanging out with her friends. She sat now at a dimly lit table, sipping a soda with Willow, who was also sipping a soda while staring adoringly to her guitar-playing boyfriend. Oz jammed onstage to a fast rock song with his band "Dingo's Ate My Baby." The lead singer held to the microphone and belted out lyrics as if this was their last gig. The crowd pulsated to the music. Oz looked up and caught Willow's gaze, giving her a "hey, you" smile.
Willow took some time away from staring at Oz to notice Buffy oddly paying way too much attention to her soda. She waved a hand in front of Buffy.
"Hello...am I that boring that Mr. Soda deserves all your attention?" Willow smiled when Buffy finally looked up.
"What? Oh, I'm sorry Will. I was just thinking about Giles." She pushed the soda away to the middle of the table.
"It's ok. I guess I wasn't talking either. It's just that Oz is really rocking tonight." She glanced towards the stage again, but then turned back before she got caught again. A sigh released as she sympathized with Buffy. "Don't worry about Giles, Buffy. I'm sure that he is fine. We came here to take you out of the worry-wart funk."
"Yeah. It's just that...oh forget it. You're right. It's time for fun." Buffy smiled to show she meant it. "Didn't you call Xander to invite him after we hung-up?" She raised an eyebrow to go with her question.
"I did. He should be here any min..."
"There he is!" Buffy cut her off, pointing towards the door. Xander stood in front of the Bronze's entrance, scanning the crowd to locate them. He paused and smiled when he saw his two favorite girls waving him over.
"Hey ladies! My, my, my...you two are sizzling tonight!" He gave a full-body check to each of them, and stamping the seal of approval with a smile.
"You sure have a way with the ladies." Buffy said. Xander sat down in between them and shrugged his shoulders.
"What can I say? I'm gifted. So, what's the occasion?"
"Buffy went over to Giles's house earlier. He wasn't there and she kind of got spooked, with an evil vampire gang in town and all. So it's cheer up time." Willow smiled.
"Don't sweat it Buff. G-Man could have just gotten a life and decided to live it. He does need more action." Xander, along with Willow and Buffy, jumped as a huge crash erupted from the doors. The music stopped and screams rang through the Bronze. The tattooed vamps entered, running their tongues over their fangs.
"Um...I didn't mean WE needed more action." Xander stood up, backing further from the door. Willow joined him.
"QUIET!" boomed a vamp. "There's no need to be afraid. We come in the name of Kouzlo, who ordered us to bless you all with eternal life." The vamps behind him smiled and slowly moved toward the crowd.
"Something you all won't have when I'm through with you." Buffy strolled in front of them, putting her hands on her hips. "Sorry, you can tell Kazoo, or whatever his name is, that he shouldn't have chosen a town with a slayer in it."
She pulled a stake out of her pocket before the vampires had a chance to react to her puns. Buffy hopped onto a chair and leaped off, landing on the vampire who spoke. They tumbled on the floor and she drove a fist into his face. He heaved his arms into her, sending her flying into other marked vampires. Before they could grab a hold of her, she elbowed one in the face and flipped the other over her right shoulder, then staked him.
"Don't say I didn't warn you." She said before he exploded. Buffy met the floor as a vamp jumped onto her back. He hissed and pulled her head back with her hair. Summoning all her strength, she pushed against the floor, and the vamp was forced to release her hair as he fell of. Before she could get all the way up, four vampires, one a girl, grabbed a hold of her. One got a hold of her fist, squeezing the stake from it. Buffy made a sound as the pressure crushed her hand, forcing the stake to clatter to the floor.
"Looks like you can tell your pretty little message to Kouzlo yourself." The girl vampire hissed in her ear. They struggled to steer her out of The Bronze. The tattooed vampires followed them out.
"Don't go anywhere. We aren't finished with you all. The blessing is still to come." The leader vampire laughed at all the horrified faces and turned to leave, shoving open the door. He strolled into the night with the rest of Kouzlo's followers, bringing their master a new toy.
* * * * *
The crypt echoed as Buffy was led to where Kouzlo sat. He was on his throne, swirling deep, red blood in a silver goblet. He lifted it to his lips and drank heavily. His lips were crimson red, and so was his tongue when he licked the remains off his face. Kouzlo's attention turned to his minions, bringing a struggling blond-haired girl toward him. He set the goblet down and rose.
"Ah, I take it you are the Slayer."
"The one and only. I'm guessing you're the famous Kouzlo. For a powerful vampire, you are pretty dumb to attack a town with me in it." Buffy turned toward the girl vampire. "There, I told him. Happy now?" She freed and arm and smacked the girl down.
"Enough." Kouzlo said simply. He walked down the steps and stood inches from Buffy. He grabbed her arm and stared into her eyes. "Your attack is with me, if you even dare to attack." Buffy starred into his cold eyes. She suddenly felt like she didn't need to fight.
"That is right. I am the power here. Try to change that, and this innocent will face death at your fault.." He extended his arm toward his left where a marked vamp held a boy about her age. His gentle face was streaked with tears that have fallen recently. The vamp hissed into the boys brown hair, lowering towards his neck.
"No!" Buffy shouted. Kouzlo flicked his hand and the vampire raised his head back.
"Now, we can get down to business." Kouzlo turned and walked back up, sitting in his chair. "I know of you, slayer. My children inform me of your power. I applaud you for managing to kill my own. I know it is your destiny to destroy us. But let me tell you something; you will not fulfill your destiny. It ends here. Sunnydale will be my own, as shall you.
"I have lived longer than you can fathom. I have killed many of your kind. Your blood is our life beyond death. Your fears are our desires. Your nightmares are our realities. Soon it will be your reality, and everybody else's. I can do that, slayer. I can make that happen." Kouzlo picked up a dagger. The handle was caked in blood. Out the end protruded a cross, choked by a serpent. Kouzlo held tight the cross. He smiled and pointed the dagger toward Buffy. "Want to see?" He asked.
Buffy closed her eyes and opened them. "No, not really." She turned sideways and threw a kick to the nearest vampire. Running, she picked up a torch out of it's holder and turned sharply, igniting the nearest vamp. Kouzlo watched, smiling. This is going to be easier than I thought.
Vampires ignited, one by one. Still, more and more followers of Kouzlo came. Buffy turned and saw the guy's shiny, tear filled green eyes begging at her. The torch dropped from her hand, and she took off running towards him. She kicked a vamp away, leaped onto the back of a fallen vampire, and flipped into the air, landing behind the vampire holding him. The vamp turned and back-handed Buffy across her cheek. He threw the guy down and got into fighting position. Buffy directed a kick to his leg, only to be stopped by his hand. He caught her ankle and pushed it back. Buffy stumbled and fell onto the cobblestone floor. The vamp growled and jumped over her. Buffy's leg swung up and knocked the vampire off her. She broke off a leg to a table that had bones on it. The bones tumbled to the floor at her feet. Buffy cart wheeled, kicking the vampire, and staked him before he could counter-attack. She turned and helped the guy to his feet.
"C-mon!" She held onto him and ran behind the pillars off to the side, out the crypt's door and through the night. After they got far enough, they stopped and sat down, letting the guy catch his breath.
"Are you okay?" Buffy put her hand on his shoulder and looked at him. A gash over his left eye bled, dripping down the side of his head. Bruises colored his chin and arms, and he winced with pain. What looked like remains of a trench coat hung around him.
"As ok I can be after that." His voice was soft with an accent. His had rubbed his neck where the vamp held him moments before.
"How did you get into that mess?" A pained look came over his eyes. He looked down at his feet resting in a gutter.
"I...I'm not sure actually. I don't remember much of anything. I was just walking, trying to find something...or someone, when a girl approached me, asked me my name, and when I couldn't tell her, her face changed and she knocked me out. Next thing I know I'm in some dark place and got brought out and saw you." He looked up and met Buffy's eyes. He quickly looked down again.
"So...you don't know who you are?" Buffy touched his arm again.
"N-no. I don't know anything."
"Maybe you just lost your memory when you got knocked out. I can't let you go like this. You can come home with me until you feel better, or remember something." Buffy stood and helped him up. He winced with pain again, smiled at Buffy, and walked with her back to her place.
"Do you mind if I just call you Tony for now?"
* * * * *
Buffy slipped her black Gucci sunglasses over her eyes, blocking out the hot California sun that beat down from high in the blue sky. She turned and looked at Tony. He was walking regretfully with her to school. He still was unsure of himself, and sneaking threw Buffy's window last night. Buffy wouldn't take no for answer. She wouldn't let him stay at her house while she suffered through another day of school. Buffy figured Giles could somehow help him out. Tony wore the same outfit he was found in, only cleaned and un-professionally stitched up thanks to the handy work of Buffy.
She placed a hand on his back and led him into the school. "Don't worry. This school has seen a lot more scarier things than your clothes." Tony gave a half-way comforted smile.
"I just have a bad feeling about your school. Kind of like there's more to it than meets the eye." He glanced around the halls as if looking for something to prove his theory. Buffy waved what he said away.
"Nothing I can't handle." They stopped in front of the double doors leading to the musty library. Buffy leaned toward him. "Now, these are my friends. They know all about me and the vampires. They are completely cool, you'll love them." She smiled and stopped again before entering. "They don't bite."
Buffy shoved through the doors and walked in smiling. Willow and Xander looked up and them from the table. Tony was standing shyly by Buffy. Buffy sighed and rolled her eyes and brought him over to the table.
"About time you showed up Buffy. I almost thought you actually decided to go to class today." Xander said. His brow drew together as he pointed at the stranger by Buffy. "Who's that?"
"Guys, this is Tony. He was a vampire hostage last night. He kind of doesn't know who he is."
"So, where did the name Tony come from?" Willow asked. She closed the book she was looking at.
"Me." Buffy sat down at the table and placed her purple silky purse on the table. Tony sat down beside her, sighed, and pinched his nose bridge. Buffy curiously looked at him. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing, it's just a headache."
Xander's eyes widened.
"You're British? Is England not the homey place for your people anymore?" Willow slapped Xander in the arm.
"Be nice Xander."
"Is Giles here?" Buffy asked. A little hope rose up in her.
"Sorry. He hasn't come in at all. We asked if he called in, but they haven't heard from him at all." Willow could see the disappointment fall over Buffy.
"I...I guess he really is on Watcher business. Well, I guess we have to get working. Will, I was thinking that you could do a 'missing people' search. Maybe somebody placed a report on our friend Tony here." Buffy smiled at Tony again, who stilled looked pained from his headache. Her smile disappeared. "Are you sure you're going to be ok?"
Tony smiled weakly and placed his hand on her arm. "I'm fine, Buffy. You can stop worrying. I'm sure you have more important things to deal with than me." Buffy looked at him strangely. She blinked and then concentrated on Willow again. Willow was already typing at the computer.
"So Buff, how was the slayer business last night? Any customers?" Xander sat back and propped his legs on the table, folding his hands together.
"Yeah, one real grouchy one. I found Kouzlo. Well, actually, they found me and took me there, but what's the difference. It was weird. I broke free and dusted some of his followers, but Kouzlo just stood there and let me slay. It was like he wanted me to. He rambled on about 'changing Sunnydale' and some stuff about nightmares. He doesn't really like to fight, I'm guessing."
"Maybe he knows you can kick his dead butt."
"I heard some things when I was being held there." Tony got their attention. They were surprised to hear him talking. He looked taken-back a bit, but continued. "They said something about dominating finally after all these years. Also, they said that Kouzlo would finally have his queen."
"His queen? Don't get me wrong, but I never thought a vampire to be royalty. Maybe it's just me." Xander chuckled to himself.
"Buffy," Willow butted in.
"You found something?" Buffy got up and went to Willow's side.
"Well, if you count nothing as something, then yeah I did. All I see is the usual missing then found later with drained blood and a gash in the neck." Buffy huffed and walked back to her seat. She turned to Tony, and then looked down.
"I'm sorry. I guess, maybe, whoever you're living with doesn't realize you're gone yet. I'm sure we'll see something soon though."
"It's ok. Actually, I think I lived alone." Buffy stared at him blankly. He continued. "I just have a feeling of solitude. I'm positive I would remember if I had lived with another."
"I'm sure you weren't alone." Buffy got up and started walking to Giles office. "Looks like its research mode. We have to find some way to destroy Kouzlo."
* * * * *
"I can't believe she is wearing that outfit! There should be a law against having to look at that!" Cordelia made a gagging face at a girl wearing bibs over a striped yellow shirt to go with the yellow scrunchies holding pigtails up. Cordelia's admirers laughed along with her at the poor fashionless girl, stopping in front of the library doors.
Cordelia looked at it and rolled her eyes. "Look, I'll catch up with you guys later and we'll talk season colors. I got some charity work to do." She waved and flashed her million-dollar smile and pushed her way into the library.
"So what are you social failures up to? If it's something about the world ending, it better wait till after my Tuesday hair appointment. I cannot cancel again!" They looked regretfully up at her.
"Well, we can't have that can we? I guess we have to send a memo out to all the demons in the world letting them know their evil plans will have to wait." Xander's comeback struck Cordelia and she sneered at him.
"Don't start with me Xander," Cordelia replied angrily. She fluttered her hands. "I just came in to see what's going on so I know how to handle it. I do have a reputation to uphold." Xander muffled a snicker which made Cordelia shoot a cold look at him.
"In a nutshell...Giles is missing, big bad vampire who has powers that is planning to turn Sunnydale into his own place, and we don't know what could destroy it yet." Willow took a breath and smiled. "Pretty interesting, huh?"
"Whatever," Cordelia replied carelessly. She did a double take when she finally realized Tony sitting there.
"Oh God, you guys have another loser on the slayer team? Are you people that pathetic that you need so much help?" Cordelia sat down and rolled her eyes. Actually, he is kind of cute. She shifted in her seat and shook the thought off, flipping aimlessly through a book.
Tony looked up and down at Cordelia, his face obviously un-impressed with what he saw. But he thought it would be polite to introduce himself. "I'm Tony...I guess. I'm not really sure who I am. Buffy found me when she was fighting Kouzlo."
Cordelia pretended to be uninterested. Buffy came back from Giles office with a thin volume book. She was walking with a little pep in her step, happy that she found some bit of information. Actually surprised with herself, since she never really helps when research time comes. Giles would be proud of me. She slowed down at the thought of Giles.
"You find anything Buffy?" asked Oz, actually speaking. Buffy smiled and set the book down, her finger marking a page.
"Yup! Well...I hope so, it sorta don't make any sense." Buffy opened to her mark page and followed along reading with her finger. "It says here, 'Kouzlo posses great power from the days of Tauraha, when blessed for serving his lord. Though through strength and mind may his powers flourish, only man's pleasure may destroy him.' And blah, blah, blah. It goes on about his history, but that's the only thing I could find about something actually killing him. But I don't understand what 'man's pleasure' could be."
"Oh, I think I have an idea," Xander smiled, rubbing his hands together and nodding. Buffy rolled her eyes and Cordelia slapped him.
"I just wish we knew what we were looking for." Buffy slammed the book shut.
* * * * *
"Mankind. That word is just enough to make me want to rip throats out." The wall exploded from an energy ball sent out angrily from Kouzlo. His voice rose. "I have had enough of this....this, slayer. Although she will be my queen, her hatred for our kind...is surprisingly annoying and desirable. Do you know how much power I will have when I drink of her?" A smile played with his face. "She will be the most powerful vampire, and I will be her master...her sire."
One of Kouzlo's followers walked forward and stood bravely. "Then why did you let her kill us, let her get away?" He looked nervous for a second, but then recuperated and stood bravely again. Kouzlo flashed in front of him and struck him across the face, drawing blood. He ran his icy finger through the vamps blood and licked it off slowly. His hand snatched up around the vampire's neck and stared into his soulless eyes.
"I know her every move. I know her weaknesses. Her power, her strength. I know every piece of her. I let her kill you WORTHLESS COWARDS FOR OUR FUTURE! Don't you understand? The time...was not right." He shook the vamp loose and slowly walked around, daring another to question him. When no one spoke, Kouzlo continued.
"You all will hunt tonight. Sire others or your hearts will burn in my hands, do you understand?"
The crowd of tattooed faces nodded and sunk back into the night.
* * * * *
A hand rose and wiped off freshly fallen tears. The slayer sniffed and got a Kleenex from the box on Giles desk. She blew her nose and threw it in the small wastebasket beside her. The voices of her friends were dim and closed out by her own thoughts. Giles...I really need you right now. I can't do this, I'm not strong enough. Silky blond hair fell on the desk as she laid her head down. Memories of encouraging talks, of advice, comfort came flowing back. So many talks they had in this very office. And now Giles is gone. Nobody to guide her, to offer advice, to make her feel complete. Not just as the slayer, but as Buffy Summers.
The door to Giles's office flew open. Buffy quickly sat up and whipped off her face. Willow walked over slowly and sat down in front of Giles desk. Her face fell at the site of Buffy's tear streaked face.
"Are you ok Buffy?" Willow smiled a little at how dumb she sounded to herself. "Well of course you aren't, otherwise you wouldn't be crying. Is it Giles?"
"Yeah. Will, I just don't know what to do. I'm so used to him telling us what to do, how to fight. He's the brains behind every operation. Now I feel so crappy for always treating him so carelessly. You never know that you love them till they're gone." Buffy was taken back at what just came out of her mouth. Apparently, so was Willow. She stared blankly at her best friend. Buffy really needs to forget about this for now. Especially sense I don't know what to say after that comment.
"How about we just leave the research behind and go to the Bronze. This Kouzlo guy is so powerful that we can't really do anything till we figure how to kill him. And staring at the only sentence that says how to destroy him for hours and hours isn't getting us anywhere. If we just go off and relax, maybe it will come to us. Besides, we can keep our eye on that place if they try to attack it again." Willow was pleased with her idea.
"I guess so." Buffy reluctantly gave in.
"Plus, you can get to know that cute Tony guy," Willow slyly grinned. So did Buffy.
* * * * *
"Wow." Tony scanned the crowd, amazed with its energy. Dancing teens jumped and thrived to the live band. The bar was littered with drinks and laughter. "This is fascinating. I don't think I've ever been this excited to dance before!"
Tony surprised Buffy by pulling her towards the crowd in front of the stage. Buffy looked back over her shoulder at her slowly fading friends, waving at them as if to say "I'll be back".
"I guess you can't judge a book by its cover," Willow said to the empty space where Tony and Buffy used to be.
"I'll never doubt that rule again. He seemed kinda...what's the word...stuffy?" Xander said.
"He chose Buffy over me? Is he blind or something?" Cordelia huffed.
Oz replied smugly, "No, I think he has better than 20/20 actually." They made a path to their usual table, only to find it occupied.
"Our table! It's taken! This isn't possible!" Xander turned and ushered them away. "Let's just boogie over here than, since we can't sit at our TABLE!" he shouted over his shoulder.
Buffy and Tony pulsated to the music, smiling and glancing at each other now and then. Fellow dancers bumped into them now and then, trying to get close to the stage. Hey, he's got moves! Buffy admired Tony with shy grins. The music stopped and they clapped, turning to the band. Taking their bows, they went off stage for a quick break.
"You want a drink?" Tony asked, out of breath.
"Naw, I'm good," Buffy replied, fanning herself with her hand. "Your one wicked dancer. I was starting to think I wasn't worthy enough to dance with you."
Tony laughed and shook his head. "I think you had me beat." They both smiled and then realized the empty space where conversation should be.
"You, uh, want to sit down?" Buffy gestured to an empty table. Tony nodded and they went to sit. "How are you feeling?"
"How are you feeling? You seemed to have a massive headache earlier. I was surprised you weren't bleeding from the ears from the loud music."
"Oh, that. Right...yes, my head is fine. I guess it was just from being attacked. I'm really glad you got me out of there."
"Just another day for me. Nothing big, really. Have you remembered anything about yourself?"
"Sadly, no. It's really frustrating and painful to not even know yourself. It's like I'm wandering around blindfolded." Tony looked down.
Buffy quietly replied, "It's like you're reading my mind. I always feel like I don't know who I am. The Slayer, or Buffy."
"It's ok. I'm used to feeling this way."
The band walked back onto stage and the crowd gathered onto the floor as a slow song started to be played. Without saying another word, Buffy and Tony went back onto the floor. Tony shyly put his hands around Buffy's waist, and Buffy draped her arms around his shoulders. Staring into each others eyes, they swayed to the music, turning slowly. Tony's eyes burned into hers, just like they did when she saw him in the crypt, afraid and begging at her.
* * * * *
Dabbing her eyes, Joyce Summers turned another page of Pride and Prejudice. She read a little more, book marked it and set it down. Sighing, she went up stairs to continue doing her motherly chores, collecting laundry from Buffy's room. It's only us two girls and I bet I do more laundry than they do on "Full House". Joyce flipped on the switch to Buffy's room and bent down to pick up a shirt crumpled on the floor. She could at least help a little and put it into the basket. Buffy is sometimes so lazy. The shirt had a dab of red on it and was torn at the top. What on earth...
A loud booming rang in Joyce's ears. She dropped the shirt in surprise and turned, leaving Buffy's room. The kitchen door continued to be pounded on. I'm coming, I'm coming. Her feet turned and led her to the door. Before she could even get to it, the door flew open. Joyce gasped.
Kouzlo's followers stood in the doorway and sneered at her. Not even being invited in, they pulled Buffy's mother outside and into the darkness.
* * * * *
Buffy stood in the doorway where the kitchen door used to be. Her body trembled. She knew her mother was gone, but she called out for her anyway. "Mom?" Slowly walking in, she searched for anything to calm her building fear inside. Tony walked behind her, afraid for her. Afraid for themselves. A note on the counter caught her eye. Buffy snatched it up and tried to dry her eyes to read it.
The note fell crumpled to the floor. Buffy set her jaw, and than spoke sharply. "Let's go."
* * * * *
"You can't go alone. Big, magical vampire is big, magical trouble. This is a job for the Scooby Gang." Xander wouldn't give up on her. Not this time. I'm not being left here just to baby sit the lost boy. That's Peter Pan's job.
"My mother needs me. The more I sit here and argue with you, the more my mom has a chance to die. You stay here. All of you. End of discussion," Buffy snapped. She started toward the door.
"Buffy!" Tony went after her. Buffy stopped and sighed. "Please let me go. You saw what happened last time. I know about them. I...I could help. They are too powerful."
"Maybe for you, but not for me. Not when they have my mother." Buffy's eyes glazed over, and Tony understood that she needed to do this. Without thinking, he reached over to her and kissed her softly. They both looked at each other, shocked. But Buffy smiled and kissed him back.
"I've got to go." She looked at him on more time and left. He longed to run after her, but his senses got the better of him, so he stayed at watched her disappear.
Willow and Oz smiled at them, but Xander looked appalled.
"How come he gets a kiss when he wants to help, but I just get glared at?"
"It's just the way this crazy world works," Willow said, turning on the TV.
* * * * *
The Slayer's speed increased as her target appeared in the moonlight. Mom. Finally reaching the crypt she was dragged into last night, she kicked the doors open, getting into fighting stance. Alright, let's do this.
Nothing. She walked into the crypt when no vampires came to challenge her. While it was lighted and full of tattooed vampires last night, it was dark and empty tonight. The chair where Kouzlo sat, worshiped, was gone. Buffy continued to inspect, clutching her stake, ready to stake if a lone vamp appeared. Nothing. She left the crypt, even more feared for her mother's life.
Her feet carried her through street after street, looking for tattoo vamps to get information from. And kill. If I don't find one soon, Willy will have a visitor tonight.
An alley soon appeared at her right. Slayer instinct kicked in, and she went over to check it out. Vampires were unusually attracted to them. The loneliness goes with the environment. A sour, foul smell washed over Buffy as she got closer. She covered her crinkled nose with an arm, looking into the shadows.
Her arm slowly lowered. Bodies upon bodies of vampire victims infested the darkness, waiting to be reborn to a new afterlife of evil.
* * * * *
"Buffy will love it! I'm so excited!" Willow's face beamed. She popped a piece of popcorn into her mouth and handed the bowl to Oz. Oz took a handful and continued sharing the wealth.
"So, she doesn't know this is going on?" Tony asked. He sat up straighter in Xander's bean bag chair. Apparently, he wasn't too comfy.
"Of course not! Giles...he didn't want us to tell Buffy because he was afraid she wouldn't do her Slayer duties. She'd be too excited."
"Oh. I think a trip to Chicago is a great idea. Who thought of it?"
"Giles," said Oz. The room fell silent.
Xander's door burst open, letting Buffy run in.
"They're making more. I found an alley full of them. They almost turned, but I stopped them. We need to go, now."
"Buffy, calm down. What's going on?" Willow rose and put a hand on Buffy's shoulder.
"Kouzlo's crypt, it was empty. Will...I don't know where they took my Mom...I don't know..." Buffy paced back and forth. She stopped and looked at them all. "We need Giles...he...he would know...and now mom..." Buffy crumbled. Tony went to her and caught her.
"Buffy, we'll find them. We'll look all night if we have to." He stroked her hair, rocking her.
"Why don't we split up? Willow can come with me. We'll check the Bronze and through town. Xander, call Cordelia. You can go with her since she has a car and check the warehouses and the docks. Tony and Buffy can check graveyards, parks, and alleys."
Buffy sniffed and stood. She nodded, "Sounds like a plan, Oz. But nobody try and get heroic. If you find them, than find me." They all headed out in their search parties, with Xander sluggishly following.
"Why, oh, why...do I get stuck with Cordelia?"
* * * * *
"Is this just another day for you?" Tony asked.
"You'd be surprised."
"It seems like you never have time to do anything. I can tell."
Buffy stopped and turned to him. "How?"
Tony blushed. "You...just act like nothing in life are worth looking at. You move quickly, talk quickly, and I haven't seen you laugh. Life is going to pass you by, and you won't even open your eyes." He reached a hand out to her, but put it back down.
Buffy didn't know what to say. Nobody has brought that part of her out. She leaned up and kissed him deeply. They pulled apart, and Buffy whispered, "They're open now."
A bush rattled beside them. Buffy's reflexes kicked in and she whipped her stake out. The figure shaking the bush jumped out, only to be knocked down with a side-kick to the side. Buffy saw the black marks on its face. When it got up, Buffy snatched it around the throat.
"Now be a good little undead creature and tell me where you took my mother." She raised her stake as a threat.
"I will not betray my lord, Kouzlo."
Buffy broke of her cross necklace and pressed it against his forehead. Its skin smoked and burned.
"UNDERGROUND!" he cried in agony. That was almost too easy, Buffy thought.
"Where underground?" Buffy asked, pressing the cross harder.
"Underneath...the...school," it spat. Buffy released her grip.
"Thanks," she said, staking Kouzlo's former follower.
* * * * *
"My Lord, although you are judicious and highest...I don't comprehend why we have relocated from our great crypt to this most unsettling underworld."
Kouzlo stood and flicked his arm, burning the puzzled vampire to dust.
"Any other fools dare to defy my intellect?"
Buffy entered with Tony in tow.
"Only, I would...but I doubt that you have any intelligence at all."
Kouzlo smiled at her and laughed. "Oh, slayer, slayer, slayer. We've barely gotten a chance to know one another! Don't judge me so rationally." He extended his arm, and dragged Buffy to him with his magic. Tony reached for Buffy, but a force threw him across the room. Kouzlo snatched Buffy's wrist when she was close enough.
"I had enough intelligence to know that your love for your mother clouds your common sense. Thus, allowing my devoted worshipers to pursue my plans."
Buffy only stared blankly back at him. She couldn't take hold of her body. He had it. If only I could look away. Find my mom.
"I know you are thinking of her, Slayer. But you can unwind. She is not here. I'm pleased in saying that she is already a component in the blessing."
Blessing...the Bronze! No wonder that vampire told me where they are so easily. They are gonna go back there and kill everybody. Idiot vampires, get a new hotspot.
"You are here with me now, and that's all that matters. When you are on our side, you shall sit at my right hand...and rule all. You'll be my queen, and I'll be your sire. Our realm is unfolding before us as we speak," he drawled. He leaned into her hair and whispered, "Can you feel the blood let go?"
Buffy came to when his eyes looked away. Her hand wrapped around his wrist of the hand that was holding her, and snapped it. Kouzlo cried out. Buffy did a back flip, swinging her legs to a direct blow to his head. She spotted Tony against the wall, unconscious, and went to get him. Kouzlo's minions started to go after them, but Kouzlo secretly informed them to stay back.
She checked his pulse. Still alive. She kissed his cheek, than throwing Tony over her shoulder; she made a break for it.
Kouzlo rejoiced over his victory.
* * * * *
"Somebody help me!" was her last words as the vampire leaned into the frightened girl's neck. Screams rang through the Bronze as death consumed innocent victims of Kouzlo's minions, and turned them into more worshipers. Every exit was covered with fists pounding, begging to be free, to go home and live the normal life again.
Outside of the Bronze main door, Buffy could hear the screams. "I hope Tony is ok with Xander. This wouldn't have been a very good date." She kicked in the door, and some petrified teens ran out, screaming.
"Slayer..." the vampire girl hissed. She approached Buffy with not a trace of fear on her, only want.
"Oh, it's you! I was hoping we could keep it touch," Buffy punned, throwing a punch into her gut. "So-to-speak." It was like watching Cat Woman and Bat Girl go at it. At the end, Cat Woman stood victorious. Meow, thought Buffy.
Finally, she realized that this time, the vampires weren't holding them hostage, or waiting a ridiculously long time to sire them. They had already started.
"Oh, God." Death stank up the Bronze so heavily that Buffy choked back a gag. "I've got to get these people out of here." So she started near the closest carnage. A chest wound bled out of three people, which she staked before they could rise. Two vamps caught on to her and started throwing her to the ground. Throwing her leg under herself, she knocked them down, then staked. But the other was already up and kicked at her back. She turned, caught his foot, and twisted it. "I don't have time for you, sorry."
The stage looked as it was set for a murder/horror play. Five tattooed vamps held onto two girls, while another vamp was cutting into her and licking the blade clean. It looked like some sick ritual. Buffy ran to help the girl before she bled to death. Running, she leaped onto her hands and flipped onto the stage. "Didn't your sires ever tell you not to play with your dinner?" Before they could react, the backdoor to the stage opened to reveal Willow and Oz. Willow stopped and covered her mouth, having seen the gore before her.
"Willow! You guys have to leave! NOW!" Buffy cried over her shoulder. But he didn't move. Instead he removed a stake from his back pocket and ran to the vampires holding the girls.
"No, Oz!" Buffy ran after him and fought by his side, killing the vampires before they could get to him. One girl fainted into her own pool of blood, and the other ran out the door behind Willow. Oz went over to the fainted girl and picked her up.
"Get her out of here!" Buffy continued fighting them off. She finally staked the last, a tall vamp with long hair and plaid pants. She turned and jumped off the stage, than stopped in her tracks.
Buffy reeled, seeing her mother in the grasp of Kouzlo.
* * * * *
"Cordelia! For the love of God...please leave the guy alone! Losing your memory means he doesn't remember ANYTHING!"
Cordelia ignored Xander and kept hammering Tony with question after question.
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Not officially," he smiled, thinking of Buffy.
"How old are you exactly?"
"Cordelia!" Xander shouted, throwing his arms up.
"What? I might trigger a memory for him!"
"More like a migraine." Xander opened up the door to his basement, relieved to sit down. Their patrolling was tiring and boring. All they found was a vampire, who, thankfully, didn't find them.
"I'm so sick of doing Buffy's job! We didn't even fight and I broke a nail!"
"Poor you. My get-well card is in the mail." Xander put on the TV. A news reporter was in the alley behind the Bronze.
"...are trying to get into the popular hang-out, the Bronze. Civilian calls have been reported, hearing screams coming from inside. Police officials have yet to break in and take control. More news on this unknown situation will come once available. Back to you, Judy."
"I wonder if Buffy knows about this."
* * * * *
"Buffy!" Her mom's cries couldn't reach her. Kouzlo had her catatonic. He walked slowly towards Buffy. By the time he got to her, he was Angel.
"Don't touch my daughter!"
"Silence," Kouzlo said in Angel's voice. "She needs me now, don't you, Buffy?" His hands cupped her face.
"Angel?" Hearing Angel's voice, she snapped out of her trance and smiled at him.
"Shh...everything's ok. I'm back."
"I thought you left me." She hugged the fake Angel tightly. A grin crossed his face as he pulled out a needle full of a dirty-yellow chemical. He tapped it behind her back.
"I'll never leave you again. I can't stand to hurt you," he said as he drove the needle into the side of her arm. She gasped and reached for him, only grabbing air as he backed away.
"Sorry, I lied." He laughed and became Kouzlo again. "Your Watcher had quite a good idea, taking your slayer strength away with just one prick. You see, Slayer, I do know everything. No more fighting."
Buffy ran to him and jumped on top of him, throwing them to the ground.
"Still feels like I got it to me." Buffy's fists flew as she punched him vigorously across the face. Gradually, she slowed down until she was breathing heavy and wincing.
"Perfect." With the greatest of ease, Kouzlo grabbed her around the waist and pushed her off. Buffy panicked, remembering how helpless she was without her strength. Did Kouzlo capture Giles? Is that how he knows everything? Buffy thought.
"Continue with the blessing! We have little time," he shouted. His worshipers stopped watching and moved in on their prey. Buffy looked like a deer caught in headlights. Her eyes moved to her mom, who only stared helplessly back, tied-up on the floor.
"Oh, don't look so frightened, my love. She's in safe hands, as long as you obey me. Once you give yourself to me, you'll wonder why you hadn't done it sooner." Kouzlo's hand reached out, bringing Buffy to him. Her hand slipped into his cold, smooth hand.
"So young, so delicate. It's a wonder how you've lived this long."
"Had a great trainer." She stomped with all her might on his bare foot. A howl shot out his mouth as he released her. Buffy ran off towards the dance floor. Willow was clinging to Oz's shoulder, who shook her off to stake a vamp that was about to attack Buffy.
"Hurry! Out the back!" Oz shouted. He missed the vamp, dropping his stake. The vamp hissed and back-slapped Oz. Willow ran beside Buffy to the exit. Kouzlo was already there.
"No way out, except through me."
Buffy ran the other way. She leapt off the stage with Willow in the lead. A girl reached up to her as she landed.
"Please, help me." Her throat was bleeding and her face paled.
"I...I can't." Buffy walked off, regretfully.
Kouzlo slowly walked after her, confident in his plan. Chaos and death, screams and blood still rang through the Bronze. Nobody noticed anybody else's problems. It was every man for himself.
Buffy was as helpless as Willow now. Oz continued to fight off vamps from victim to victim. Willow motioned for Buffy to get behind the bar.
"Willow, my strength. It's gone."
"I know, I saw. We have to get out of here."
"I don't know if I can do it. I'm helpless."
"No, you're not. You did it before, you can do it again."
"That was one vampire. An insane one. I can't beat Kouzlo. He has powers...and groupies."
"Buffy, you don't need to hide. I'll find you no matter what." Kouzlo paced back and forth, running his hand over the bar, than took it off suddenly. Willow heard him swear.
"Something hurt him! It's now or never, Buffy." She picked up a bottle and nodded to her friend. They both jumped up and threw the bottles at him.
They flew threw the air and smashed into him, glass flying in every direction. They were already dashing for the door, but stopped when they heard his tortured screams. He fell to the ground and laid motionless for a heartbeat. Vapor rose from all the alcohol drenched parts of him. The red, heavy smoke filled the room, and vanished with a blinding red light.
Kouzlo was gone.
Buffy couldn't believe her eyes.
She thought for a second and then understood.
"Alcohol. Man's pleasure. Now why didn't we think of that earlier, Willow?"
* * * * *
Tony breathed in a sharp breath and fell to the floor. Xander and Cordelia ran to his side. He seemed to be choking, holding a hand to his chest.
"Tony! What's wrong?" Cordelia looked into his eyes. From his eyes shone a brilliant white light that blinded Cordelia for a second.
Finally, he fell still. Tony lay as if he were sleeping on the ground.
"Tony...are you ok?" Xander shook him. "Wake up, buddy."
"Xander?" He sat up and placed a hand on his shoulder. "How did I get into your basement?"
"Remember, we came back from patrolling...really boring...you know? What just happened there, Tony?"
"Who is Tony? I'm Giles. Oh....dear. My memory is coming back." Giles sat down and looked at his still-youthful hands. Xander stood in utter shock.
He didn't respond to Xander. He had only one thought.
* * * * *
The tattoos lit up on the former Kouzlo worshipers, and one by one, exploded.
"Well, that takes care of them, I guess," Buffy said. She sighed, relieved, and went to call 911 for the victims that lay scattered across the Bronze.
"Will, go find Oz and get my mom out of here."
"Be sure to call Xander's place and see if they are back." Willow left her, coughing.
Buffy picked up the phone, dialed 911, told them the information, than hung up. She dialed Xander's and waited for them to pick up. There was a click, than Xander.
"We're at the Bronze...yeah I'm ok, but the jerk took my slayer strength. Kouzlo's gone, Willow and I got him...she's fine too."
Xander took a deep breath, and said slowly, "Buffy, we found Giles."
Buffy's heart picked up pace. "I'm on my way." The phone slammed down. She went to help Willow and Oz with her mother, assured the bloody faces that an ambulance is on the way, and went into Oz's van to take her mother home.
"Are you ok Buffy?" Joyce said before she went inside.
"I'm fine. They found Giles. I'm going over to Xander's." Buffy kissed her mom, and left.
* * * * *
"I can't see her like this." Giles said. He was touching his face and looking into the mirror. "Especially after...everything."
"I knew it was you all along. I mean, how many boring English guys can there be?" Xander and Giles looked at Cordelia doubtfully.
"It's ok G-man. Just break it to her slowly. It's not that different from the candy bar situation...except that was with her mom...and your really are younger...ok maybe this could be a bad thing."
"Thank you Xander. Your advice has always proven most helpful."
Xander went and sat by Cordelia. "Yup, that's defiantly him."
The door swung open, and in came Buffy, with Willow and Oz in tow.
"Giles?? Where is he? Is he hurt?" She looked around, but didn't see him anywhere. Buffy huffed up to Xander. "You said he was here!" Willow's eyebrow rose in confusion as she looked with Buffy.
"I am, Buffy." Young Giles walked up to her from behind. Buffy turned around, saw Tony, and kept looking. 'Tony' grabbed her shoulders.
"I'm right...here." He drew his brow together, afraid.
"Tony, what are you talking about? I'm looking for Giles."
Giles sighed; this will be harder than expected. He took her over to the couch, shoed Xander and Cordelia out, and sat.
"Buffy, this is hard for me. I AM Giles. I was in my room, just looking out my window, when a pain coursed through me. When I came to, I was at Xander's. I'm terribly sorry...for what I put you through." His eyes welled up. He remembered all the pain he saw Buffy go through when he was Tony. She was so afraid...
Buffy got up to leave.
"Look at me! Just look. Buffy, you have to understand..." Buffy leaned over, fixated on his eyes. They had looked so familiar before, she didn't know how she had missed it. It is him.
"Giles," she whispered.
"Yes, it's me Buffy." He smiled. Now she had realized who he is now, and everything they had done, and felt...
"Oh my God." Buffy stood up, almost feeling nausea from being so scared. "I have to go."
"Please, Buffy, no. We have to talk." He grabbed for her arm, but missed as she ran for the door.
"I have to go!"
She was gone.
* * * * *
"Honey, are you alright?"
"I'm fine!" Buffy yelled to her mom. She had run up to her room, slammed the door, and cried. Just go away, she silently pleaded.
"Ok, but if you need anything, I'm downstairs sweetheart."
Her hand whipped away some tears that were starting to dry up. She couldn't stop thinking that all this time, she had been kissing Giles. He just seemed so polite, so handsome, so charming...
Her face buried into her pillow as she started to cry again, hoping her mother wouldn't hear. All the pain of love in her life gone wrong crashed upon and suffocated her.
A knock sounded at her door again.
"Buffy, honey, there is a young man for you at the door. Says his name is Tony."
"Oh God..." She said silently. Buffy sat up and headed for her window. She couldn't bear to see him. The humiliation would kill her. The window slid up, and she only got one leg out when her door opened.
Giles looked around, than saw her going out the window. "Don't! Please, stop. We have to talk..."
"No! We don't have to talk about anything! There isn't anything to talk about. Nothing! Just...leave me alone." She pulled her leg out, and sat on her bed, covering her face.
He crossed the room and sat next to her.
"Don't. Just please don't."
"I understand you're ashamed. You have every right to be. Kissing and old fool like me."
"Let me finish. I had no idea, Buffy. I care deeply for you. Even more-so than before. I know that this will be hard on us. But running away from it will not make it disappear. We can either pretend it didn't happen or...actually, I'm not sure."
"I didn't mean to hurt you by avoiding you. I just can't believe who I fell in love with." They both were surprised. Giles reached out her.
"I...you felt that way as well?"
"Yes. I was wondering how a person my age could act beyond his years. I don't want to pretend this didn't happen. I found somebody who understands me. Just had to look harder I guess."
Tension rose as silence filled the air. They remembered how they felt with one another, so save, as if they were walking on air.
They smiled at one another, and leaned in.
"Hmm?" They pulled back suddenly.
"We have to find a way to get you back."
He looked at his feet. "I understand. Research then."
Buffy smiled. "You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that."
* * * * *
"Willow...could you please continue with your work?" Giles's young hand gestured to her book open in front of her. She had been staring at him ever since she found out who he really was. They had decided to go to the library, as usual, and find anything that could have made Giles young.
"Oh...right. Sorry. It's just that..." she covered her embarrassment with humor, "you're so cute!" Willow smiled and pinched his cheek like a grandmother would. Cordelia made a gagging noise.
"As flattering as this is, I would very much like to be my age again." He turned to his book, than looked up again. "Of course, I haven't the slightest idea why."
"Giles, we need to go over how this all happened. Are you sure you haven't left anything out?" Buffy sat down, bored with pacing.
"Yes, I'm sure. I was lying in bed, thinking to myself. I looked out the window and stared at the stars....of course!" He slammed his hand down. Everybody jumped. "That bloody star! Why didn't I think of it earlier! I knew that the star wasn't in the right place!" He ran to the window and gestured for them to follow. A bright star blinked down at them, and Giles pointed to it.
"That's it. Don't look at long; I don't want anything happening to you all as well." They went back and sat down. "Look to find a reference to that star."
What seemed like hours later, Oz finally found something.
"Check it out. It says here that the Kouzlotic star, named after a vampire, was created back in the 1200's by a great demon named Tauraha. It holds powers that neither man nor demon can hold alone. The vampire, Kouzlo, performed an unmentionable deed, and was rewarded by Tauraha with magic from the star."
"So...when Giles took a little sneak peek at it, he tapped into it some how and poof! Instant plastic surgery....except, no plastic necessary." Xander said.
"I'm guessing that's it. When Kouzlo died, it must have weakened the star, and Giles got his memory back." Oz said.
"No wonder I felt a force pulling at me. It must have granted my wish..." Giles remembered.
"Like a genie?" Willow suggested.
"How come the star is still there if Kouzlo is dead?" Cordelia screeched.
"The magic that is keeping me young is tied to the star, so once we break the spell, I imagine it will die." Giles looked back at the star.
"Well, how do we reverse it?" Buffy said impatiently.
"Probably by just reversing whatever wish he made." Cordelia said. Everybody stared at her, in awe.
"What? I can be smart and helpful too, you know!"
"Cordelia is right. We'll have to try it." Giles went to the window. Buffy went to his side, secretly.
"Are you sure this is what you want?"
"I can't stay like this forever, Buffy. A dark magic did this to me. It can't have good side effects."
"I...I know." She smiled. "But, at least I got to see a different side of you."
"My thoughts as well." He took her hand and squeezed it, than looked out the window at the star. His eyes held the star's gaze for minutes, than he began to reel. He forced his thoughts to be of his true form.
A shudder ran through him, and down to his fingers, releasing Buffy's hand. His back arched, throwing him to his knees. A cry escaped his mouth. Buffy gasped and kneeled beside him, but he didn't even notice. His eyes were lit with electricity, still staring at the star. The muscles in his body began to shift as they did nights before, pulsating and moving, sending pain shivers through Giles. Buffy looked at him, helpless, knowing she couldn't ease the pain. Cordelia, Willow, Xander, and Oz were in awe, gaping at the site. Finally, Giles fell to the floor, taking deep breaths.
"Giles?" Buffy's hand rested on his shoulder as she tried to look at his face. She looked at her hand on his shoulder, and moved it around. It felt familiar. "Giles," she said again.
He slowly pulled himself off the floor, groaning with pain.
"Buffy," his eyes met hers, and she smiled.
"It's you again."
"I can feel it," he grimaced, standing up. He was instantly bombarded with hugs, except for Cordelia, who was grabbing her purse and going for the doors.
"You guys get mushy over everything, makes me want to hurl." She turned at looked back. "Are we done now, because if I don't get some sleep, I'll look horrible."
"As opposed to every day?" Xander cracked. Cordelia huffed and left the library.
"How does it feel to be back?" Willow smiled.
"Emotionally and mentally, very well, thank you." His eyes crinkled with a smile, but then fell when he noticed Buffy trying to smile, but not succeeding.
"Um...I hate to ask, but would it be a bother to talk to Buffy, alone?"
Willow, Xander, and Oz noticed the tension suddenly, and left without an argument. Giles gestured to the chairs to sit.
"I know what you are going to say before you even say it, so the answer is yes. I'm fine." Buffy tried to smile to prove her point.
"No you are not. I know you're upset and as uncomfortable I am. But we need to talk about it to get past it."
Buffy's face got red with frustration.
"Fine! You want to talk? Let's talk! Let's talk about how I kissed you! A-And my feelings for you, then and now! And how I'll never be able to get over it, especially when I have to see you everyday! I can't ignore it, because I still feel it! You are almost 30 years older than me Giles! And I care about you! I...I care about you. No more father-daughter caring. It's deeper now. It's not the same as Angel. He'll be young forever. I connected with you quicker and better than I ever did with him. I want that so badly, but I can't with you. I....can't."
Tears lingered in Giles's eyes as her words sunk in. She took the words right out of his mouth, and he understood completely. He wanted that kind of companionship also, but knew it was impossible to have it with her. But maybe...
"I understand everything you are saying. I know the pain of wanting something you can't have. But we could still have it, Buffy. The relationship of needing one to be there for you. Anytime you need that companionship, I'll be here. Always."
"It doesn't have to be physical. Perhaps, later in life it could, somehow. But let's just let fate decide that. Do you understand?"
"Yes." And she did. She knew what he was saying, and it was actually alright with her. What she and Giles had was too deep to let go. Buffy needed someone to care for her, to hold her when she was hurt. Suddenly, she didn't see his age anymore, just the soul.
"I love you." Buffy's arms wrapped around his waist for a tight hug. They released, and held hands.
"Oh! I almost forgot!" Giles let go and ran to his office. He came out holding an envelope that read "To Buffy" on the outside.
"T-this is for you."
Buffy took the envelope, looking at him suspiciously.
She gasped, pulling out 7 tickets to Chicago.
"I...this is for me?"
"All of us. We've been waiting a great deal of time for a chance to take you away for a while. I...I hope you don't mind going..."
Buffy slapped him with the tickets. "Are you kidding? This is so great! I can't believe you guys did this for me? When do we leave?"
She smiled at him, tears forming in her eyes.
"Thank you. For everything."
Buffy reached up to his cheek, but paused, hesitant. Giles grabbed her hand, and without thinking, bent down and softly kissed her.
She smiled at him, looking deep into those eyes...