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Author's Note: In this story you find out how I have dealt with Dawn. Some elements of the original episode remain; Harmony and the Magic Shop incident, although the latter gains a surprising new owner, different from the cannon. Enjoy.

Elita.

It was another sunny morning in the town christened with that title, and under the yellow halo of that celestial object which was covering the shopping street of Maple Court, a red convertible drove down the road.

"There's a lot of books on this list," one of the passengers commented to its driver. "Any of them come on tape? You know, read by George Clooney or someone cute like that?"

"You're entering a new realm here, Buffy," her watcher answered. "One for which I myself am not entirely prepared. Are you ready for this commitment?"

"I'm just kidding! Hey, this Betty's ready. Color me committed."

An increase of noise from engine sounded at this point, causing it's owner to swear. "Blast!"

"You put it in neutral again, huh?" Angel sought to confirm.

"I'm just not used to this automatic transmission," Giles replied. "I loathe this sitting here, not contributing." He sighed. "To be honest, it's not working out."

"Giles, are you breaking up with your car?" Buffy asked.

"Well, it did seduce me," he answered. "All red and sporty!"

"Little two-door tramp," Buffy emphasised bemusedly, only to be greeted with a sour look by the owner.

"I don't know," Giles sighed. "I just - I was at such a loose end, I found myself searching for ... some way of feeling more..."

"Shallow?" Buffy finished.

"Perhaps, as I am to act as your Watcher again, a modicum of respect might be in order," Giles admonished.

"Do I have to?" His slayer pouted, while Angel hid a smile behind his hand in the rear passenger seats.

"I'm serious, Buffy, there's going to be far less time for the sort of flighty, frivolous-"

"Hey, there's Willow and Tara!" Buffy interrupted.

Giles slowed. "Ooh, they haven't seen my new car." He pulled over to meet them.

"Hey Giles, sharp wheels!" Willow commented.

"The rest of the car's nice too," Tara added, as the trio climbed out of its luxurious leather interior.

"Handles like a dream," Giles boasted.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Where are you guys heading?"

"Magic shop," Willow replied. "I have some charms on back order."

"So, is your training regime sorted?" Tara asked as they started to walk the rest of the way to the store.

"Barring supplies," Buffy answered. "Giles and I worked out a whole schedule around school. A block of time every day just to focus on my new slayer training."

"That's a work ethic!" Willow cried with joy. "Buffy, you're developing a work ethic."

"Oh, no," Buffy remarked in mock shock. "Do they make an ointment for that?"

"People gotta respect a solid work ethic," Willow commented. "Look at you, motivated Buffy. Eager to soak up learning. Oh, you and I are gonna have so much fun this semester."

Buffy halted mid-walk. "Yeah, that reminds me. With the whole new training schedule, I kinda had to drop a class."

"That's understandable," her best friend said. "Your slayer studies are way more important."

"So I won't be taking drama with you," Buffy finished as they arrived outside number 5124, otherwise known as the Magic Shop.

"What? You have to, you promised!" The redhead looked heartbroken.

"Well, I know, but Giles said that it just was...."

"The hell with Giles," Willow cut in, causing the Watcher to turn round. "I can hear you, Willow."

The witch sent him an apologetic look before continuing. "Drama is just Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. You can blow off training Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, can't you?"

"What happened to 'people gotta respect a work ethic?'" Buffy asked her.

"Other people, not me! There's a whole best friend loophole." Willow protested.

"I'm sorry, Will, but I can't," Buffy replied. Her best friend met her look, and sighed, surrendering. "It's okay, I'm not taking it, anyway. That encounter with the first slayer scared me off for good."

"Hey, you two," Tara called them to the windows of the Magic, where she, Angel and Giles had been looking through for the past few minutes. "Shop's kinda dark. Maybe it's closed."

"That's odd," Giles commented. He stepped back from the window, ready to enter, only to encounter two more people. "Wes, what are you doing here?"

"Got an anonymous tip-off early this morning," Wesley replied as he and his other associate of Wyndam-Pryce Investigations joined the five. "Just before dawn, actually."

Cautiously the seven made their way inside the shop. Darkened windows did nothing to hide the ransacked appearance of the interior.

"Well, I think 'odd' just got upped to 'bad.'" The slayer commented as they surveyed the full extent of the damage.

"Hello? Anyone here?" Giles called out. "Mr. Bogarty?" Tara added, causing everyone to look at her with mild surprise. "The owner. I-I come in here a lot," she explained.

"Well," Willow began hopefully, "maybe this happened ... really late at night when nobody was..." she broke off as her foot tripped over something.

"Will?" Buffy called in concern. "I'm fine," the wiccan answered. "I just tripped over..." she trailed off as she caught sight of the corpse. "Mr. Bogarty," she finished, sorrowfully.

Tara caught sight of the body, took a breath, and walked outside for some air. Meanwhile the rest of the group surveyed the grim remains of the owner of the Magic shop and the chaos of the burglary.

"Judging by the bite-fest, I'd say it was more than one vampire," Buffy remarked. Her boyfriend bent closer to the corpse to make a more informed estimate. "I make it four at least," he remarked.

"Looks like someone's put together a new fang club," Spike commented before walking over to the counter where Willow stood.

"Well, I've cross-checked the inventory list," the wiccan declared, "and things are definitely missing. Mostly books. Including A Treatise on the Mythology and Methodology of the Vampire Slayer." Spike looked over her shoulder at the open pages, while the slayer studied her supply list.

"Oh, shoot! Was that the only copy?" She asked them.

"Come on, Buffy, this could be very serious," Giles admonished. "Whoever's leading this pack of vampires appears to be interested in learning more about you. Perhaps searching for weaknesses or ....."

"Blimey," Spike cried, cutting him off. "What?" Buffy asked.

"I had no idea the profit margins on a shop like this were so high," Spike replied. "Look at this! Uh, low overhead, out-of-state orders, international - it's no wonder there's never any trouble attracting new owners. A place like this is a virtual-"

"Deathtrap?" Angel pointed out.

"There is that," his childe allowed. "But, still... Location, pedestrian traffic..." he trailed off as he glanced outside. "I'm gonna go and check on Tara," he added before heading outside.

"Buffy," her watcher continued. "You should begin looking for their lair straight away," was all Spike caught before he closed the door to join Tara.

"Hey," he remarked, before sitting next to her on the pavement. As he made himself comfortable, he consciously touched the new piece of jewelry which he had acquired during the summer. The small silver talisman glowed in the sunlight. "You, alright?" He asked the witch who had given it to him.

"Yeah, its just a shame," Tara replied. "I liked Mr Bogarty." She turned to him. "Aren't you meant to be investigating?"

"Nah, it's slayer territory now." Spike shrugged. "Buffy can handle it. I was more concerned about you."

"Me?" Tara queried, surprised. Spike grinned at her. "Shocking, I know. So, what's wrong? Don't you feel part of the group, still?"

"Alittle," Tara confessed. "I know Buffy and I have been real close during the summer, but when something like this comes up, I feel...."

"Out of your depth?" Spike guessed intuitively. "Most do. My advice is to just stick with the gang, offer what insight you feel you can. The feeling soon goes away."

"Thank you," Tara said, smiling at him. Spike returned the expression, then rose from the pavement. "Come on," he said, holding out his hand. She took it and together they re-entered the shop.

"Oh, hello," Giles was heard to be saying as the two entered. "Something's been taken from this case, look here."

Buffy turned to Willow, who was still by the inventory book. "What'd they take?"

"I should think an item of value," Giles mused, "or-or power, possibly even a-"

"A unicorn. 10-inch ceramic unicorn imported from Thailand," Willow informed the group at large.

"Was it valuable?" Buffy asked her best friend.

"List price, $12.95." She replied.

"Which begs the question," Giles began. "What kind of an unholy creature fancies cheap tasteless statuary?"

 


Meanwhile, across and below town, the new leader of a new fang gang had called her first meeting of the morning. "Okay, hi. First of all, I wanna thank everybody for a really successful raid on the magic shop last night. Good job, minions!" Harmony clapped at them. Apart from one, the rest looked bored. "Yes, you deserve it. Secondly... somebody remembered to pick me up the sweetest little unicorn!" She smiled at the vampire in question, while his guys turned to in exasperation. "What?" He queried.

"Brad, guess someone was feeling guilty for standing me up in the tenth grade," Harmony mused as she admired the unicorn.

"I had to get her something. She sired me," Brad protested.

"Sire-whipped," Peaches muttered to Cyrus.

"Anyway, the books you guys brought me to help with the plan?" Harmony paused to gestured to the pile of accumulated info on the slayer. "Well, I've been skimming through the book jackets all morning, and let me tell you, there's some pretty useful stuff in there, so-" she broke off as one of the vamps raised his hand. "Yes, uh ... sorry, forgot your name."

"Cyrus." The minion informed her.

"Cyrus, huh, right. Peaches' friend. What's your question?"

"When are we gonna do it?" He asked.

His leader was disgusted. "Eww! That's rude! I barely know you! Uch, and you're a minion!"

"He means the plan!" Another minion, Mort informed her. "When are we gonna do the plan?"

"Ohhh! The plan! Ah, well, first lemme tell you I'm really psyched about it and I hope the rest of you guys-"

"WHEN?!" Mort yelled.

"Tonight!" Harmony cried back. "We kill the slayer ... tonight."

 


"Your turn."

"Right," Angel mused, gazing at the board. It was evening, and the slayerettes had moved their unofficial headquarters temporarily to the Mansion on Crawford Street, as Ellis was having restless nights. The meeting was drawn to a close with Buffy going out on patrol. The youthful generation of the group now remained sequestered in the double height living room, playing games as they waited her return. Angel made his move and then passed the dice to the next player.

"Oh, crap" Anya commented. "Look at this! Now I'm burdened with a husband and several tiny pink children, more cash than I can reasonably manage..."

"That means you're winning," Xander pointed out.

"Really?" Anya queried. "Yes. Cash equals good," Her boyfriend affirmed. "Ooh! I'm so pleased. Can I trade in the children for more cash?"

"I can't believe how much money the Magic shop makes," a voice commented over by the coffee table.

"So you've said constantly for the past three hours," Angel remarked as he rose up from the floor to opt out of the game.

"I'm serious, mate, this look like a really good investment to put all my winnings from poker," Spike continued, oblivious.

"How can you buy a shop with kittens?" Tara asked him.

"Oh, I sold them for cash. To nice homes, I swear," Spike groaned. "You lot are making me soft, you know."

The sound of smashing glass was the only reply to his comment, and the slayerettes leaped out of glass' trajectory, watching as the missile; a brick with some paper tied around it, landed on the stone floor.

Xander advanced cautiously to pick the offending item up. "'Slayer, come out and die,'" he read off the unwound note.

"I'm waiting for you, Buffy!" A familiar voice shouted from outside, causing the gang to go to the window. "I know you're in there!"

The gang advanced to the doorway. "Sorry, Harm," Cordelia remarked as she caught sight of her old friend. "Buffy's not here."

"What do you mean, she's not in there?" Harmony countered, annoyed. "She has to be. I'm calling her out!"

"Then I bet she'll be real sorry she missed your call," Xander remarked. "'Fraid you and your buddies are gonna have to come back and be killed by Buffy later."

"They're not my buddies. They're my minions," Harmony informed them.

"They're ... what now?" Angel asked.

"Minions! You know, lackeys? They work for me."

The gang looked at her in disbelief for a moment. Then the funny side of the scene was realised as they started to laugh.

"What's so funny?!" Harmony asked angrily.

"Nothing!" Cordelia protested, still laughing. "What could be funny, just 'Look out, it's a terrifying Harmony gang, ooh!'"

"Stop laughing!" Harmony cried, rushing forward to try and attack her. Only to encounter the invisible barrier. "Hey, I thought I could enter a house owned by a vamp."

"Little spell," Cordelia remarked. "Big barrier."

Xander recovered enough to speak. "I just, I just can't picture anyone pathetic enough to be following...... Is that Brad Konig? Huh! Hey Brad, who'd have thought when you were beating up kids in gym class, you'd end up Harmony's lapdog?"

"Screw you, Harris," Brad countered.

"You should know all about being somebody's lapdog," Harmony added. "I hear you were a good little puppy for Dracula."

"You heard wrong," Xander lied.

Now it was Hamorny's turn to laugh. "Don't feel bad. I hear that mind-control thing he does works really well on weak fraidy-cat losers. You didn't stand a chance."

"Shut up, Harmony!" Xander cried.

"Make me." She challenged.

"Fraid I don't feel like getting into another hair-pulling contest with you," Xander replied with a shrug.

"You're the hair-puller, you big girl!" Harmony sighed. "This isn't over, Xander! I'll be back! And the slayer better be here the next time!"

"And we'll be ready for you! Stakes ... crosses ... the whole enchilada," Cordelia remarked before closing the door.

Angel looked at the group. "Buffy is not going to be happy about this," he declared.

 



"Harmony ... " Laughter. Deep breath. More laughter. "Harmony has minions?"

"Yeah, that was pretty much our reaction," Cordelia remarked.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Buffy tried to get sober. She had just returned from a fruitless patrol to find the vamps had declared war on her in her absence. "It's just ... Harmony has minions!" The giggles started again.

"And Ruffles have ridges," Xander added. "Uh, Buffy, there's actually a more serious side to all this."

"I sure hope so, 'cause I'm having trouble breathing." Buffy took another deep breath. "What is it?"

"Well, she did come here to kill you," Angel informed her. Buffy burst out laughing again, and this time her boyfriend joined her.

Ten minutes passed before the slayer could be relied upon to remain serious. "Okay, did she say anything else?"

"Aside from taunting Xander?" Cordelia remarked. "Nothing."

"In that case, we better get someone on to her. She can't have gone that far." Buffy looked around the group, and found the person she knew would do.

The bleached blond vampire looked up from his piles of papers, took one look at the slayer's expression, and groaned. "No! No way."

"Please, Spike." Buffy pleaded.

"As entertaining as it is seeing you beg me, Buff, no," Spike replied.

"Come on, Spike you did used to date her," Angel added. "Aside from Cordelia, you're the one most suited to tracking her down."

"Fine!" Spike got up from his chair, grabbed his leather and walked out the door. "I'll be back before dawn."

 


"What a total disaster," Harmony said as she and her minions walked back to their hideout. "My first plan! I so wanted it to go well. Plus, I didn't even get to kill stupid Xander Harris! God, that was so embarrassing."

"We'll go back later," Mort suggested.

Harmony shook her head. "It's no good. Buffy's gonna expect us now. The whole surprise is blown."

"Who are you growling at?" Peaches asked his friend.

"Not me, my stomach," Cyrus explained. "If I don't eat somebody soon, I'll get dizzy."

"Let's go back to the lair. That census taker may not be empty yet," Peaches decided.

"Not me. This night is young, and I want some action," Brad declared.

Suddenly a hand tapped his shoulder, and he turned round, only to be greeted by a punch that sent him straight to the floor.

Spike grinned at them. "Happy to oblige. Here I thought it was gonna be a slow night. Step on up, kiddies. Thrashings for all."

"Stop!" Harmony commanded. Spike pretended to look surprised. "Well. Hello, Harm."

"Spikey. I mean, Spike," Harmony returned.

"Long time," Spike sympathised. "You look good."

"I feel good," Harmony remarked, causing him to smirk. "I remember."

"Why are you talking to him?" Mort asked.

"It's okay, we used to go steady. Spike, Mort. Mort, this is-" Mort cut her off. "I know who he is. He kills our kind."

"Oh yeah! What's up with that?" Harmony asked him.

Spike shrugged. "Bloke's gotta have a hobby, don't he? Piss off, Mort."

Mort growled warningly, but Harmony stopped him and stepped away to talk to Spike. "Mort, just give us ... a couple minutes, 'kay? He's really testy. Some of us were thinking of voting him out of the gang."

"Gang?" Spike echoed.

"Oh, yeah. I've got my own gang now," Harmony declared proudly.

"Is that what those circus freaks are?" Spike smirked.

"Uhuh. I mean ... shut up! We're gonna kill the slayer."

Spike raised an eyebrow at her. His hanging with the slayerettes had somehow yet to make news in the underground. "Singing my song now, are you? You should pay me royalties for that one, or at least get your own tune."

"I'm not gonna make the same mistakes you did. I've been doing my homework, reading books and stuff."

Spike scoffed. "What, Evil for Dummies? Look at you, all puffed up and mighty, thinking you're the new Big Bad. It's, uh ... well, let's face it, it's adorable."

"You just can't stand the fact that I'm my own person now. There comes a time in every woman's life when she realizes she needs to take the next step. I've taken it. I've found the real me... and I like her."

"Hope you'll be very happy together. In the meantime, save slayer slaying for the professionals."

"You'll see. Buffy'll be dead by sunrise. I've got a plan."

"Lemme guess," Spike said, chuckling. "Snatch one of her friends, use 'em as bait, lead her into a trap. That sort of thing?"

"No! Much, much better one. I'm not gonna tell you!"

"Thought as much. Best of luck. Let me know how this arch-villain thing works out for you," he walked away.

"I'll do that. And after Buffy is gone? I'm gonna kill everybody in this town that was ever mean to me ... Spike!" Harmony waited until the bleach blond was out of sight, and then turned to the minions. "Guys! New plan."

She turned back to the direction of her lair. Spike walked back out of a nearby crypt and followed.

 


"All right, once again, nice work, minionators," Harmony commented a few hours later. I'm really, really proud of you guys. Ah, Mort. I trust you made our guest ...comfortable?"

"You told me to chain her to a wall," Mort replied confused.

"Yeah, I know, I'm being, you know, sarcastic or whatever? Anyway... I'm feeling really good about this new plan, people. I think it's a winner."

"When do we eat the girl?" Cyrus asked.

"We don't," Harmony informed him. "Not yet."

"Why not?" Cyrus asked.

"Because! That's not the plan! Do I have to go over the plan again? We use the girl as bait. We send Buffy a note-"

"More notes?" Peaches taunted.

Harmony ignored him. "We send Buffy a note, telling her that if she wants to see this girl again, she has to come alone to a place we choose. She comes, we jump her, we kill her."

"So it doesn't really matter if we're actually holding this girl, just as long as she thinks we are," Mort pointed out. "She'll walk into the trap."

"I guess," Harmony agreed.

"So it won't make any difference if we eat the girl now," Cyrus added.

"We're not eating the girl." Harmony reaffirmed.

"Why not?" Peaches asked.

"Cause! That's not the plan," Harmony replied.

 


A few minutes later and Spike was back in the living room of 1902 Crawford Street. "Predictable Harm," he commented as he entered the warm room, tossing his coat on the newel post.

"What's she done?" Angel asked him.

"Kidnapped some poor kid off the streets," Spike replied as he sat down on one of the sofas. "Girl looks barely fifteen. They're gonna send another note, asking you to come and rescue her, only it'll be a trap."

Buffy chuckled, but quickly sobered herself. "Well, I suppose I better go and spring it, anyway. Where's her hideout?"

"Cave in the north woods. About forty meters past the overpass construction site," Spike informed her. "Do you want some backup?"

"Nah, I can take Harmony and her minions," Buffy smiled. "I better get out of here before I start laughing again."

 


"They don't respect me," her nemesis whined inside said cave to her prisoner. "They pretend they do, but deep down they think I'm nothing. I mean, I'm the one who put this group together. Me! But they treat me like I don't even matter. Do you have any idea what that feels like?"

"A little," the girl answered.

"They have no idea how much pressure I'm under. I have to make all the hard decisions. And it's hard!"

Girl gasped just then, causing Harmony to turn round and see that her minions had entered the cell area. "Excuse me, I didn't hear anybody knock."

Mort stepped forward, electing to be spokesperson. "We've been talking it over, and we decided we don't like this plan."

"Except for Brad. He abstained," Peaches added scornfully.

"Oh really? You have a plan you like better?" Harmony challenged.

"We're gonna feed on the girl and kill you," Mort informed her. "Maybe not in that order."

"I don't think I like your attitude, Mort." Harmony turned to the others. "Kill him for me," she commanded. None of them moved. "All right. You're all on my list." she backed away as they advanced. "This isn't fair. Okay, so things haven't been perfect. I just need a little more time to grow into my leadership role."

"Time's up," Mort declared grabbing her by the throat. Cyrus walked towards the prisoner.

"Touch me and the slayer's gonna kill you," the girl informed him.

Cyrus laughed, then reached forward and poked her. Nothing happened, causing more laughter, this time from them all. He poked her again.

Abruptly, an arrow from a crossbow planted itself in his chest. He turned to ash, making the minions turn round and back away from Harmony.

Buffy saluted with her crossbow. "Can't say she didn't warn him."

"And you didn't like the plan," Harmony muttered to Mort. "So, slayer, at last we meet."

"We've met, Harmony, you halfwit."

"I'm the halfwit? Um, excuse me, but look who's fallen into my-" she broke off as Peaches rushed forward, attacking Buffy with a large axe. The slayer ducked under his swing and staked him. As he turned to dust, she grabbed the axe and chopped off Brad's head.

"Trap," Harmony finished defeatedly.

"Harmony," Buffy countered, stepping towards her and the girl, "when you tried to be head cheerleader, you were bad. When you tried to chair the homecoming committee, you were really bad. But when you try to be bad ... you suck."

Mort, swerved behind her, and struck her. Buffy rolled out of the way and turned to face him. She dropped the axe and traded blows for awhile, until he caught her off guard and grabbed her by her neck. Taking advantage of the raised height, Buffy found the tacky item stole from the magic shop. She snatched it off the shelf and drove the horn into Mort's chest.

Wisely, Harmony chose to split. Buffy watched her leave, then stepped forward and untied the girl.

"Sorry, about that," she apologised to her. "I hope the sight of vampires didn't terrify you too much."

"No, actually they helped," the girl reveal. "My name's Elita," she added to Buffy. "And I was told you could help me."

"Why?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know."

 


"Are you sure about this?" Tara asked her companion as he surveyed his new purchase.

"Why wouldn't I be?" Spike asked.

"Well, aside from the fact that most magic shop owners in Sunnydale have the life expectancy of a Spinal Tap drummer ... and, have you ever run a store before?"

"Nah, but I'll soon learn the ropes. It'll give me focus. Increase my resources. And it'll prevent me from trampling all over Buffy and Angel bonking each other at all hours." He smiled at her. "Seriously, if I'm gonna follow in my sire's footsteps," he indicated the talisman he was wearing, "I need a life, like he has. One of my choosing. This is it, for now." He gestured around. "What do you think."

"Do we get discounts?" Tara asked, making him chuckle. "Of course. Now, we better get back to the Mansion, and find out who this Elita girl is."

The End.
To Be Continued In

Slaying in L.A.