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10. Drusilla

The air rushed past Buffy, tearing at her hair and her clothes as she fell. She stretched out for the wall of the dam, hands scrabbling for purchase on the surface. Skin was scraped from her fingers as she continued to fall.

She lashed out, striking forwards with her right hand with as much strength as she could muster and the wall cracked under the impact. For a brief moment she was able to find purchase in her newly made handhold and her descent stopped abruptly, the sudden jolt shaking every bone in her body.

But for that one moment she was not falling.

Then her sweat-coated fingers started to slip and, struggle as she might, she couldn't regain her grip.

She was plummeting once again.

* * *

I brought Janice home with me. She was in shock. The first time we had been attacked by vampires - not one of my finest hours - Janice had been able to pass the whole thing of as a dream, or a hallucination or something. I mean, real people don't turn to dust when you stick a bit of wood in their chests, do they? I blame myself, I guess. I knew what was going on. I could have talked to her about it, helped her through it. But I was so desperate to protect my friends from Sunnydale's dark secret that I was more than happy to help with the denial. And because of that my best friend was falling apart.

I had one arm round her, supporting her, as we walked up the drive.

'Those were really vampires, weren't they?' she asked.

'Yeah,' I replied. What else was there to say?

'I stabbed a guy and he just…I don't know…turned to dust or something,' Janice continued. 'That's not right, is it?'

'Once we get inside, we're going to have a long talk,' I said. I couldn't protect my friends by hiding the truth from them, so I might as well let them into my world. And if they couldn't deal? Well, at least I'd given them that choice, rather than making the decision for them.

'And that stuff last year, y'know, with Justin and everything, that was vampires too?'

'Mm hmm.' I fumbled with my keys as I tried to open the door while still keeping my arm round Janice.

'But you said…'

'I know,' I replied, shoving the door open with my foot, 'and I'm sorry. I'll explain everything once we're inside. I promise. But let's get in the warm first, 'kay?'

I led Janice into the lounge.

'Hiya, kids!' Clem said, bounding to his feet and waving at us.

Janice fainted.

'Was it something I said?' Clem asked.

* * *

When she heard the door to her bedroom click closed, Helena finally stopped fighting back the tears and allowed herself to cry. The tears felt hot as they ran down her cheeks and she could taste salt where they touched her lips.

She was kneeling at the foot of her bed, facing the window. The window was open and the cold air was raising goose pimples on her naked skin. She pulled on a T-shirt, trying to ignore the sharp burning pain in her back.

How long had this been going on? She tried to remember a night that had been free from pain. She tried to please her father, tried so hard. But it was never enough. And it always came down to this. This…or worse than this.

Not for the first time, Helena wondered if she could take it anymore. She would pray to God to make it stop, but she had given up believing in God a long time ago.

* * *

'Buffy! Buffy, wake up! Please!'

Buffy tried opening her eyes, then immediately snapped them shut again. Even the starlight was too bright.

'Xander?' she groaned.

'Thank God,' Xander said, releasing all of the tension that had been building inside of him in one long breath. 'I though that you were…'

'Almost,' Buffy said, struggling to sit up, 'and part of me wishes I were. Least then it wouldn't hurt so much. How'd you find me?'

'I heard about the bus on the car radio,' Xander explained, helping Buffy to stand. 'Stood to reason you'd be involved somehow. Now lets get you back home.'

'Yes,' Buffy agreed.

'What, no argument?' Xander inquired. 'I thought you wanted to get as far away from us as possible?'

'That was then,' Buffy told him.

'And now?'

'Now? Drusilla's going after Dawn,' Buffy explained, 'so less talking and more driving.'

* * *

Janice groaned as she regained consciousness.

'What hit me?' she moaned.

'One surprise too many, I think,' I replied.

'Who was that?' she asked. 'I'm not seeing things again, am I?'

'No, you're not,' I promised. 'That was Clem.'

'You're friend with the 'skin condition',' Janice recalled.

'That's the one,' I agreed.

'That was no skin condition,' Janice pointed out.

'No,' I said.

Janice looked at me expectantly. I sighed.

'Clem's a demon,' I explained, then added hastily, 'a nice demon. Honest.'

'A demon.'

'Yeah, yeah,' I said. 'Vampires are real. Demons are real. Werewolves are real. Basically all the monsters you can think of really do exist and most of them come through here at some point or another.'

Janice just looked at me.

'And now you think I'm crazy,' I deduced.

'No,' Janice replied, shaking her head. 'I figured you were crazy long before now.'

'Thanks a lot,' I replied, but I was smiling. Janice was acting more her usual face.

'So,' she said, glancing round the room, 'where's your demon friend now?'

'In the kitchen,' I explained. 'He's making chilli con carne.'

'There's a demon,' Janice said. 'In your kitchen. Making chilli.'

'He's a really good cook,' I offered.

'Riiiight,' Janice said. 'Listen, much as I'd love to stay and sample his cooking, Mom's got to be worried sick right now.'

'I, er, already called her and asked if you could stay the night,' I explained. 'Sorry.'

'And she agreed?' Janice asked.

'Yeah,' I said. 'I thought I'd really have to beg, but she seemed pretty relieved underneath that cold hard exterior.'

'We've got the decorators in,' Janice replied. 'She's probably glad not to have me underfoot. And on behalf of my mom, hey!'

It wasn't that Janice disagreed with me, but she didn't like anyone dissing her mom. Anyone who wasn't her, anyway.

'So what's really going on around here, Dawn,' she asked. 'Do I warrant the truth this time.'

'Yeah, I guess you do at that,' I admitted.

'Well?'

'Sorry just trying to work out where to start,' I said. 'Guess the best place is with Buffy.'

'Your big sister?'

'That's right,' I agreed, 'my big sister. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'

* * *

'I just don't like Dawnie holding out on us,' Drew was saying.

He and Chrissie were emerging from the Sun Cinema on the high street. They had both been to a late night film showing. Drew had been hoping for a little making out in the dark, but Chrissie had actually wanted to watch the film. Their mood as they started for home was sour.

'Cut her some slack, Drew,' Chrissie replied. 'How do you know she's hiding something anyway?'

'Oh come on, Chrissie,' Drew retorted, 'it's obvious.'

The breeze was blowing Chrissie's hair into her eyes so she reached up and tucked it beneath her woollen hat.

'Maybe to a conspiracy nut like you,' she said, 'but the rest of the human race? Well, we just can't see it.'

Drew shook his head.

'What is it with this place?' he asked. 'There's more denial in Sunnydale than in Africa. Open your eyes, Chrissie. There's some major-league weirdness going on around here.'

'Yeah? Well excuse me if it's all just passed me by.'

'Hello, children,' Drusilla said as she glided down the street towards them. 'You shouldn't be out on your own after dark. But don't fret. Mummy's here now.'

Drusilla wasn't alone. Four people flanked her, three men and a woman. One of the men was wearing a brown suit. It was worn and frayed and there was a hole at the elbow of the jacket. The woman was wearing a white dress that fell to mid-thigh. There was a pinkish stain down the front of the dress.

'Look, we don't want any trouble,' Drew said. 'How about we just go down this way and you can pretend we were never here.'

The vampires shifted to their game-faces.

'Okay, I accept the weirdness,' Chrissie said. Her voice was shrill and she fought to keep it under control. 'Can we just run now?'

They ran.

'Take them,' Drusilla ordered.

* * *

Anya was letting Trix walk her home from the Magic Box. When they arrived, she was planning to invite him in for coffee. And then…well, let's just say that she felt she was really getting the hang of these human mating-rituals.

Then they heard the screaming.

'We could just ignore it,' Anya suggested half-heartedly.

'Yeah,' Trix agreed with an equal lack of conviction. 'It's not like we're Slayers or anything. It's not up to us to save the day at the drop of a hat.'

'No,' Anya affirmed. 'We both have respectable jobs and already contribute more than our fair share to the community. To expect us to do any more is…'

'Oh what the hell,' Trix said. 'Who are we trying to kid.'

They set off in the direction of the noise, Trix racing ahead of Anya who was struggling to run in heels.

Two teenagers were running in the opposite direction, a pale-skinned girl dressed in head-to-toe black and a guy with spiky dyed-blond hair. Trix wasn't focussed on the kids, however. He was looking at the five vampires pursuing them, one of whom just had to be Drusilla.

'Pick on someone your own size,' Trix snarled as he leaped forward.

His jaw distended as he sailed through the air and then clamped down on the throat of the nearest vampire, tearing it away. The vampire staggered back. Its head was only held on now by a thin strip of flesh, but it was enough to keep it alive. Briefly. Trix whiled and delivered a spin kick to the vampire's face, knocking its head clean off its shoulders. Its body crumbled to dust.

In the struggle, Trix's cap had come off, exposing his pointed ears and horns.

Chrissie put a hand over her mouth.

'Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod,' she moaned.

'Told you so,' Drew said.

His smugness served to snap Chrissie back to reality.

'Well here's a thought,' she said. 'You stay here and revel in how right you are. I'm sure that'll far out weigh the minor inconvenience of being killed.'

The female vamp in the white dress launched herself upwards, pirouetting in the air while lashing out with her feet. She kicked Trix once, twice, three times in the chest and the demon staggered back before stumbling and falling to the floor.

'Trix!' Anya screamed.

'So your bright idea is to run away, is it,' Drew demanded of Chrissie, 'and leave other people to fight our battles for us.'

'What do you mean 'our battles'?' Chrissie shot back. 'You think I asked to be chased through town by horror movie rejects. This is nothing to do with me. If these…freaks…want to fight it out then I say let them. I'm outta here.'

'Well, I'm going to stay and help,' Drew informed her defiantly.

He turned back towards his pursuers and was immediately floored when a vampire punched him in the stomach.

'Drew!' Chrissie shouted. 'Hands off my boyfriend!'

She kicked the vampire in the shins.

'Don't kick them, stake them,' Anya shouted at her.

She pulled a stake from her purse and threw it at Chrissie. Chrissie fumbled it, but managed to pin it against her chest with her forearm. Holding the stake in her left hand, Chrissie lunged forward, eyes partly closed. The stake jarred against one of the vampire's ribs and the impact knocked the stake from her hand.

'That wasn't nice,' the vampire said, grabbing Chrissie by the shoulders, 'but I'm sure there's a way you can make it up to be.'

He leaned in for the kill…then exploded in a cloud of dust.

Drew was standing on the other side, stake in hand.

'Boyfriend, huh?' he asked.

'Keep it to yourself,' Chrissie replied.

Trix was stuck between the two remaining vampire minions. He was holding his own, but it was only a matter of time before one of them scored a lucky blow.

'Hang on, I'm coming.'

Anya raced forward, stake in hand. Then she stopped short, as if held by an invisible force.

'What have we here?' Drusilla asked. 'Another of Buffy's little followers. But you're different, aren't you? We can sense it. Ah, now we recall. You're Anyanka, patron saint of wronged women.'

Anya nodded.

'Do I count as a wronged woman, Anyanka?' Drusilla asked, pulling a miserable face. 'The Slayer killed my love. Doesn't that entitle me to some rightful vengeance.'

Anya fought to keep from nodding, but the force acting on her was too strong.

'Oh goody.' Drusilla clapped her hands together like a little girl. 'In that case, I wish you little demon friend would stop fighting me. No, not that. We wish his blood would burn like acid.'

'Wish granted,' Anya said in a hollow voice.

Trix screamed.

* * *

Once the bath was full, Helena turned off the taps. After checking for what must have been the seventh time that the door was securely locked, she stepped out of her dressing gown and lowered herself into the warm water. The bath was too short for her to stretch out her legs and her knees stuck out of the water like twin mountain peaks.

Helena lay back and closed her eyes, enjoying herself, if only for a moment.

Then she twisted and leaned other the side of the bathtub. Water splashed out and across the floor. Mom would be furious.

Helena picked up the knife in her right hand.

She settled back in the bath, making herself comfortable. She could just get out now, she thought, wrap herself in a towel and pretend this had never happened. But what would be the point. She stretched out her left arm. Holding the knife firmly in her right hand, she dug the point into her left wrist. A bead of dark red blood appeared almost immediately. Slowly, she began to drawn the knife towards her, lengthways along her wrist. She had read in a book some time that this was the correct way to do it, not across the wrist like you saw on TV.

Blood sprayed out, staining the blue and white tiles on the wall. It was flowing freely now, thick and warm. It trickled to her elbow and then drip, drip, dripped into the bath water.

When she was satisfied, Helena swapped the knife to her other hand. It was more difficult to hold on to it this time, as if she couldn't quite control her own fingers. Still, she persisted and succeeded in tearing an admittedly more ragged gash in her right wrist. She dropped the knife over the side of the bath and the blade clattered against the hard floor.

Helena slid down into the bath, so that the water lapped over the top of her shoulders. Then she closed her eyes and waited.

* * *

'Can't this thing go any faster?' Buffy demanded.

'I'm going as fast as I can,' Xander snapped back, but he stamped a bit harder on the accelerator, just in case.

'I'm sorry,' Buffy began, 'it's just…'

She hid her head in her hands. When she emerged, she looked even more drawn and tired than she had when Xander had found her.

'I just don't even think about what Drusilla might be doing to Dawn and there's nothing I can do to stop it,' she said. 'I should never have left. I thought I was protecting her, protecting all of you. I should have known better. Angelus taught her, after all.'

'Look, Buffy, I'm hardly one to talk about good decision making,' Xander said, looking across at her, 'but you did what you thought was right. Don't beat yourself up over it.'

'Xander, watch the road,' Buffy shouted, pointing.

Xander slammed on the breaks, swerving to avoid the man standing in the middle of the road. The car came to a halt on the grass verge.

'Who the hell is that?' Xander demanded.

The figure was watching them. He was tall and pale, dressed in white and gold. And he had wings.

'A friend,' Buffy told Xander, as she unbuckled her seatbelt. 'I think.'

Xander moved to unbuckle his own belt, but Buffy put a hand on his arm.

'Stay here,' she said. 'I won't be long.'

Then she opened the door and stepped outside.

* * *

Xander either didn't think to ask Buffy what happened or, more likely, Buffy refused to tell him. Either way, I can only guess at what happened out there in the middle of nowhere. I suppose it might have gone down like this:

'Zauriel. You're a long way from home,' Buffy said.

'I came looking for you,' the angel replied. 'There is much we have to discuss.'

'What's to talk about,' Buffy replied. 'You're here to take me away.'

'Not yet,' Zauriel replied, 'but soon.'

'I guess I'm luckier than most,' Buffy said. 'At least I know where I'm going. Death doesn't scare me any more.'

'Do you really mean that?' Zauriel asked.

'No, I'm terrified,' Buffy said. 'Why now, Zauriel. I've just got my life back together. We're happy. I…I don't want to die.'

'Few people do, Buffy,' Zauriel said, 'but death is a part of life whether we want it to be or not.'

'How very Zen,' Buffy replied. 'I guess…I mean when I was brought back I thought it was because I had a purpose. A destiny. But this? It's just so pointless. It's a lovers' quarrel as filmed by Hammer. I mean, where's the apocalypse? Where's my big defining moment? My death should at least mean something, don't you think?'

'I wish it were that simple,' Zauriel replied, 'but we didn't send you back. That was not our choice.'

'You're saying that I should have stayed dead?' Buffy asked.

'I'm saying that there is no great force of destiny at work here,' Zauriel explained.

'Then I'm free to choose,' Buffy deduced. 'I don't have to go to my…death.'

'It's your choice,' Zauriel said. 'It's always been your choice.'

'What's that supposed to mean?' Buffy demanded. 'I never chose any of this. I was made the Slayer, I didn't choose that.'

'Didn't choose to be a Slayer, perhaps,' Zauriel replied, smiling enigmatically, 'but to be the Slayer, that was entirely down to you. There has never been, will never be, another Slayer quite like you.'

'Well that makes me feel so much better,' Buffy snapped.

'I'm not here for comfort, Buffy, not this time,' Zauriel remarked solemnly. 'I'm here for the choice.'

'So what do you think I should do?' Buffy asked.

'It's your choice, not mine,' Zauriel pointed out.

'I can't fight her,' Buffy said, 'not like she is now.'

'Then don't,' Zauriel said.

'But if I don't then people will die, people I care about.'

'Then that's your choice: your life or theirs?'

Buffy looked away, feeling naked beneath the angel's penetrating gaze. When she turned back, there was resolve in her eyes.

'Promise me you'll keep an eye on Dawn for me,' she said.

That's one way it might have happened. Or maybe it went like this:

'Zauriel,' Buffy said.

'Buffy,' Zauriel replied.

'You left me behind,' Buffy accused him.

Then she punched him hard enough to knock him off her feet, spun on her heel and stalked back to the car.

I'm betting on one of those scenarios.

* * *

Trix writhed on the floor, screaming, his own blood eating him up from the inside out. Anya wanted to run to him, to help him, but the power of the Wish held her where she was. A lone tear rolled down her cheek.

'Leave him alone,' Chrissie shouted at Drusilla. 'You're killing him.'

The vampire in the dress held Chrissie immobile. Drew lay unconscious at her feet.

'But child, that's the point,' Drusilla purred. 'I want to hurt him. I want to hurt all of you.'

She glided across to Chrissie and cupped the girl's chin in her hand. Her long nails scraped across Chrissie's face.

'But you're a curious one, aren't you,' she said.

'Wh-what do you mean?' Chrissie stammered.

'You're incomplete,' Drusilla explained. 'A jigsaw with a piece missing. And you don't even know it. How…sad.'

She let go of Chrissie and turned away as if the girl had lost all interest for her.

'Now what shall we do with you, my pretty little demon?' Drusilla asked, stroking Trix's face with the back of her hand. 'I wish…'

'No!' Chrissie shouted. 'No more. He can't take any more.'

Drusilla turned, exposing her vampire face.

'I wish she would shut up,' she snarled.

'Wish granted,' Anya said tonelessly.

Chrissie tried to scream, but no sound would come out. She no longer had a mouth.

'Now, where were we?' Drusilla asked.

'Stop!'

'Now what is it?' Drusilla demanded.

Halfrek stepped out of the shadows.

'Anya, honey, what do you think you're playing at?' Halfrek asked.

'She's helping me to get a little vengeance,' Drusilla explained. 'That's what a vengeance demon does.'

'Honey, you are so out of your league, here,' Halfrek replied. 'Anya's not a vengeance demon, we're justice demons and that means we don't have to do anything that's not justified.'

'My vengeance is just,' Drusilla insisted. 'They killed my darling, my love.'

'Oh change the record, girlfriend,' Halfrek retorted. 'Your precious Spike never was the man you seem to think he was.'

'How dare you,' Drusilla snapped. 'I loved him. And you…'

'Hey, I knew him before you came along, honey,' Halfrek said, 'and trust me on this, that guy was lacking something even before you took his soul. William was a mess and a killer. He wasn't killed because they wanted to do it, he was killed because they had to. He brought it on himself. There's no call for vengeance here.'

'I'll kill them all for what they did,' Drusilla snarled.

'And you're welcome to try,' Halfrek replied, 'but you won't get any help from the likes of us. There's no justice in what you're doing and that means you have no power here.'

'We'll see,' Drusilla said. 'I wish snakes would grow from your mouth and devour your eyeballs.'

'Anya, you don't have to do this,' Halfrek insisted. 'You're a justice demon now. She has no power over you.'

'She has no power over me,' Anya repeated through gritted teeth.

'I wish her head would shrivel like a prune,' Drusilla said.

'No,' Anya insisted. Sweat beaded on her forehead from the effort of resisting Drusilla.

'I wish your arms and legs would drop off and be eaten by rats.'

'No.'

'I wish…'

'No,' Anya repeated. 'No no no no no.'

Drusilla stamped her foot petulantly.

'You're no fun anymore,' she complained.

'Sorry, darling,' Halfrek said with a shrug.

'I could snap you like a twig, demony thing' Drusilla told her.

Halfrek folded her arms.

'Really?' she asked.

'Your time will come,' Drusilla promised before turning to her vampires. 'Take them.'

Her two remaining minions scooped up Drew and Chrissie and the three vampires strode off into the darkness.

It was a long time before Anya could summon up the strength to move again.

* * *

'This is good,' Janice commented as she scooped up another forkful of chilli.

'Thank you,' Clem said, beaming.

'So, you're a demon,' Janice said slowly.

'Mm hmm,' Clem agreed through a mouthful of chilli.

'What's it like?'

'I'm sorry?'

'Being a demon,' Janice clarified, 'what's it like?'

I leaned forward in my seat. I'd never thought to ask Clem that and I was curious about what he might say.

'Ah. Now that's a tricky question,' Clem began. 'It's not like I'm a vampire so I've never been a human and, well, I don't really have much to compare it with.'

'So you're not going to tell me,' Janice concluded.

Clem looked at me.

'You don't have to if you don't want to,' I said.

Clem nodded and took a sip from his drink.

'Let me ask you a question first,' he said to Janice. 'After all you've seen tonight, what do you think of Dawn now?'

Janice shifted uncomfortably in her seat. So did I.

'I don't know,' she admitted at last. 'I mean, it's not like she's not the same girl she was yesterday, but I so didn't know she had any of this baggage. I guess it's not her I have problems with, it's everything else, but in her case it's all part of the same package. I'm trying to find out if I can still deal with all that.'

'That's good,' Clem said. 'Most folks would have run for the hills by now. Dawn's lucky to have you for a friend.'

'I don’t think so,' Janice replied. 'What kind of friend wants to like run and hide from what you are?'

'But you're still here,' Clem pointed out, 'in spite of everything. That's got to mean something.'

'It means something to me,' I put in.

'You like Dawn a lot, don't you,' Janice said.

'Yeah, I do,' Clem agreed. 'There aren't a lot of humans prepared to treat me as who I am instead of what I am. Most people just see the skin and the ears and think demon. Followed by evil. Followed by kill, kill, kill. Dawn's different. Of course, it doesn't help that most demons are evil and would gobble you up soon as look at you, but we're not all like that.'

'Sounds like you've got it pretty tough,' Janice told him.

'I guess,' Clem admitted with a shrug. 'Like I said, I've never known any different so I've got nothing to compare it to. It would be easier if I was an evil, scary, villainous type. Then I could just take what I want. But I'm just not cut out for that type of stuff.'

'You look pretty scary to me,' Janice told him.

'Thank you,' Clem said. 'You know, that's one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me. Course, doesn't matter much. Just between you and me, I'm not really up for all that violence and stuff. Makes me squeamish.'

Janice laughed.

'You know, I'm starting to get what Dawn sees in you,' she said.

'Really?'

'Really.'

That's cool,' Clem said. 'And it's not so bad being a demon, not here anyway. Sunnydale's got quite a big non-human community, relatively speaking, so there's always plenty of work going if you want it. It'd just be nice if I could mix with your kind every once in a while.'

Janice shrugged.

'Well I'm not going anywhere,' she pointed out.

'Great,' Clem said, bounding to his feet. 'Who's up for Monopoly.'

'Only if I can be the hat,' Janice called back.

'I bags the dog,' I shouted as Clem went looking for the box.

I turned to Janice.

'So, you're really okay with this?' I asked.

'Yeah, I think so,' she replied. 'I just wish you hadn't lied to me.'

'I was trying to protect you,' I explained.

'I know,' Janice said. 'I'm not blaming you. I just wish you hadn't done it.'

'Yeah, me too,' I agreed. 'The past year would have been a whole lot easier if I'd known you would be there.'

Janice smiled at me.

'Never again, all right?' she said.

Then the window shattered.

* * *

It happened all other town. They targeted children, kids of my age, people I knew from school. The vampires burst in on them, smashing windows, breaking down doors, then snatching up the kids and running off with them into the night.

Home was supposed to be where you could be safe. Even in Sunnydale. It was the one place the monsters weren't supposed to be able to enter. And in one night that innocence was stripped away. Somewhere, somehow, Drusilla was working her magic, spurred on by the thought of her dear departed Spike, her lover for over a hundred years, and she was breaking the rules, destroying all the advantages that gave us humans a fighting chance against the vampires.

They were predator. We were prey. Nothing else mattered anymore.

And across town, maybe a lone vampire broke into Helena's home. He found the girl in the bathroom, lying motionless in the tub, the water, now cold, coloured red. He touched a skin. There was still heat in her body, but it was fleeing even as he stood there. So the vampire walked away empty-handed.

* * *

Buffy and Xander sat in silence as the pulled up to the outskirts of town. It had been a long drive dragged out by thoughts of what might be happening while they were away. Neither wanted to share the images running though their heads.

They were approaching the gas station when they saw them, four vampires on motorcycles heading their way.

'Guess Drusilla set up a welcoming committee,' Xander remarked. 'Wanna stop and say Hi?'

'No time,' Buffy said. 'Go straight through them.'

'Aye aye, Captain,' Xander replied, flooring the accelerator.

The bikers peeled off to the sides, two on the left, two on the right.

'Well, that was easy,' Xander said.

Then one biker grabbed hold of the passenger side door and tore it off its hinges as he rode past. The biker following him reached in to the car and yanked Buffy out, tearing her seatbelt as he did so. Buffy had dusted him almost before she left the car, but her momentum carried her across the road and away from Xander.

Xander yanked on the steering wheel, trying to turn the car so that he could go to her help, but the remaining bikers had surrounded him. One of them swung a length of chain into the windshield, shattering it, and Xander had to use his arm to shield his face from broken glass. He spun the wheel blindly, hoping to hit one of the bikers, but they were toying with him, keeping just out of his reach.

Then one of the tyres blew and the car skidded across the road.

It collided with one of the petrol pumps and its contents began spilling onto the ground.

Buffy clambered groggily to her feet. She had Slayer strength, but tonight was really taking its toll.

'Xander, get out of the car!' she shouted.

Xander couldn't hear her. His head rested against the steering wheel. Blood flowed from a deep gash on his forehead.

'Xander, get out of there!'

Buffy began to run towards him, but the bikers were tearing up the ground between them.

Flames started to lick at the edge of the pool of petrol.

Buffy sprang, knocking the closest vampire off of his bike with a flying kick. There was a stake in his chest before he hit the ground.

The flame kissed the pump.

Buffy clambered on to the bike, tried to remember all the Spike had shown her and drove straight towards the remaining vampires. First one, then the other swung their chains at the Slayer. Buffy just smiled as she caught a length of chain in either hand. Then she yanked. Hard. The vampires flew off of the bikes and sailed through the air straight towards the stakes Buffy had waiting.

Then the petrol pump exploded.

Buffy screamed.

'Xander!'

 

 
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