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Author's Note: Some of the dialogue is taken from the original episode, as well as the main plot. Here I wanted to combine elements of THLOD with In The Dark;- the Ats sequel. Enjoy.

The harsh light of day.


"Do you mind?"

"Why should I mind?" He paused to show her a genuine smile. "I think its great. I'm really happy for you."

"Oh." The former cheerleader and Homecoming Queen sat back in the mocha coloured soft furnishing with a somewhat disappointed air. "Could you not just be a little angry? I had a whole defence prepared."

The owner of the soft furnishings chuckled and leant against the firm back cushions. "I'm sorry, Cor, really I am. But I'm not jealous. Maybe a few months ago, I would have been, but not now. You're happy, aren't you?"

Cordelia smiled now too. "Yeah. I really am."

"Then so am I." Xander looked up as he saw a slight reflection of someone appear in the coffee table between them. Not only were the transparent tables helpful in detecting vampire clientele, they were also a good way of seeing who was listening into conversations as well. "Hey, I hope you're treating her right," he remarked by way of greeting to the newcomer to their area of the nightclub.

"She won't let have it any other way," Doyle said as he joined them on furnishings. "Then again, neither would I."

"So you're really okay with this, Xander?" Cordelia asked him one final time.

"Okay with what?" A voice asked. The trio looked up to see that the rest of the Scooby gang had joined them.

"I really am okay," Xander replied. Then he looked up at the slayer. "See for yourself," he added with a smile.

Buffy sat down, Angel and Willow joining her, placing their drinks on the table, then glanced at Cordelia and Doyle, to see that their hands were joined in the traditional relationship way. "When did this happen?" She asked with a smile.

"During that stakeout of the frat houses," Cordelia replied. "The most unusual date I'd ever had," she added. "But very romantic."

"We Irish fellows have a way of making anything romantic, don't we Angel?" Doyle said, lacing his voice rich with the dialect of his home country.

"If you say so," Angel replied back, wrapping an arm around his own girlfriend.

It was about as ordinary as night gets in the town on the hellmouth, and the Scooby gang were relaxing after a hard day of lectures and an evening patrol. In the Bronze business was the same as it always had been, despite shifting to the freshman generation of clientele. On the stage the headline band for the night were just winding up their last song.

The final member of freshman in the guardians of the hellmouth came up as Dingoes Ate My Baby picked up their equipment and prepared to depart.

"Ready to load up and go?" He asked his girlfriend.

Willow finished her drink, stood up, and paid a temporary farewell to the slayerettes, then followed Oz outside. "I'm gonna miss you."

Oz turned from packing up the truck to take her in his arms. "Me too. Take care."

"And you."

"Willow, hi," a voice said then.

The wiccan turned round in surprise. "Harmony, hey. I haven't seen you since -"

"Since graduation. Big snake, huh?"

"Yeah. So, how was your summer vacation?"

"Well I was gonna go to France. But I didn't. I was dying to see the stores."

"Yeah, and the museums," Willow added.

"Museums?" Harmony queried.

"Yeah, I heard they have them. You know, just a rumour you pick up on the streets."

Harmony laughed. "You were always so funny, Willow. You haven't changed a bit."

"No, you neither."

Harmony suddenly smiled. "Oh, maybe a little," then the fangs and forehead ridges appeared and she grabbed Willow's neck.

Barely a second later, Oz brandished a mike stand at the ex-cordette and a cross, causing the vampire to retreat.

"Back off, Harmony," Willow remarked, holding a hand over the bite wound in her neck.

Harmony appeared relatively nonplussed. "Okay, fine. Hide behind your boyfriend. But I have a boyfriend too. And he's gonna be mad that you were mean to me."

 


Fortunately for the guardians the Bronze had obligingly emptied itself of guests and staff by the time the couple walked back inside. Instantly the alarm was raised and the chosen warriors leapt out of their seats to help the werewolf and wiccan into the light, while the owner of the nightclub fetched the First Aid kit from behind the bar.

"What happened?" Buffy asked.

"Remember Harmony?" Oz replied.

"She's back from her summer vacation," Willow added, her tone hissing a little as Xander applied the antiseptic. "And she's a little bit different."

"She's taken to a new diet," Oz finished.

"Harmony. A vampire?" Cordelia shook her head, but not in disbelief. "She must be dying without a reflection."

"She just made me so mad. 'My boyfriends gonna beat you up.'"

"'My boyfriend?'" Echoed Buffy.

"Well, if you believe her. She always lied about stuff like that. 'Oh, he goes to another school. You wouldn't know him.'"

"Well," Oz began, slightly calmer now, "Devon dated her for a while, but she was too flaky for him. Which, stop and marvel at the concept."

"Guy dating Harmony dead," the slayer mused. "Must be like, the most tolerant guy in the world."


While the slayerettes discussed the new arrival in town, Harmony returned to her crypt and greeted her boyfriend. "Hi baby. I'm back."

He turned, taking off his protective equipment as he did so, revealing the white bleached blond hair. For the moment he ignored his girlfriend, turning to the table where a lackey was waiting with some blueprints. "It's definitely the crypt right?" He asked. "I'm not keen on tunnelling into someone's septic tank."

"It's the crypt," the lackey replied, a more intelligent one than usual. "The radar soundings are clear. The walls are thinnest here at the bottom. We'll have to tunnel underneath. More work but I'm sure -" he trailed off as his head was slammed down to connect with the surface of the table.

"You'd better be more than sure," his boss remarked. "'Cause I'd hate to have to hurt you."

The lackey nodded. "I swear, I swear."

Harmony meanwhile, seeing that her verbal greeting had not succeeded, tried the physical approach, by putting her body against him. "How's my little Blondie bear?"

"Harm, does this look like a good time?"

"Are you gonna kill Willow tonight? Cause I want you to say, 'This is for messing with my sweet girl.' And then, you know." She mimed the bite upon his shoulder.

Her boyfriend grabbed her by the waist. "And why do I need to do that?"

"She and her boyfriend attacked me."

"And was that because you tried to eat her?" He shook his head. "Nobody knows I'm here. And I'm not killing the slayer's best friend because that would tend to announce my presence. And we're too bloody close. Now, Sod Off! Go eat something, I've got work to do."

Harmony turned to the 'meal' that was trained up against the walls of the crypts and grimaced. "This one tastes funny. Take me out to eat."

"He's perfectly fresh."

"I think I had a math class with him last year and I didn't like him that much then either."

"Harm!"

"I want to go to a party."

Spike almost growled in annoyance and slammed his fists into the table, making his lackey jump. Then he walked over to Harmony, and pushed her against the wall. Unlike the lackey however, Harmony did not jump, preferring to wiggle against him and adopt a coy smile. "Oh. Right here, baby. In front of Bernie."

"You'd like that wouldn't you?" Spike replied.

"Maybe I would. After a party."

"Tomorrow. I'll take you somewhere nice."


Buffy wasn't sure what had caused her to open her eyes. The master bedroom suite of the Mansion on Crawford Street was on the first floor, covering the night garden, one entrance leading out to a balcony landing which partly overhung the double height living room and dining room, the other to a large ensuite bathroom which was directly above the kitchen. Despite this the suite was well insulated against sound, a by product of Frank Lloyd Wright inspired architecture. She turned as she quietly sat up, careful not to disturb Angel whose vampire enhanced hearing was better than her slayer audio range. Stretching out those senses now, she let her instincts acclimatise themselves to the silence within her immediate surroundings, before glancing to her right to check the time. The hour for the alarm was ten minutes away, she saw, before rising to get dressed.

When she reached the galleried hallway, she could discern the reason for her waking instincts, prone to unnecessary alarm as they seemed to be have been, for the had forgotten that she and Angel currently had a house guest, in the form of Anyanka. Since the destruction of her necklace, the now former vengeance demon was staying at the Mansion until she could adjust to a new life in this world. At the moment, this new life was entering the discovery phase, Buffy believed, for the young woman was sitting on one of the sofas in the living room, thoroughly absorbed in a morning soap opera.

"Anya?" Buffy queried as she came close enough to descry the young woman's tears. "What's wrong?"

"This woman is scorned and I can't help her," Anya replied.

Buffy took a glance at the television long enough to identify the programme then turned back to her house guest. "Anya, this is a soap opera, this woman's acting."

"I know that," Anya sniffed. "Just because I'm over eleven hundred years old doesn't mean the twenty-first century is a foreign country to me. I'm crying because the writers of the show don't believe that there is someone out there who can help her. Or at least there was."

Buffy took a seat next to her. "There is life outside the vengeance gig, you know."

"I know there is," Anya replied. "But what would you do if the vampire slayer destiny was taken from you?"

"I don't know," Buffy answered honestly. "But I would probably end up being just an ordinary college girl." She shrugged off the question, inwardly surprised by the irony that now she had accepted her destiny she would feel lost without it. "Okay, and I can't believe I'm suggesting this, but can't you ask for it back?"

"No," Anya replied. "D'Hoffryn, my boss, would ask me to explain how I lost it in the first place, and he would be too disgusted that a souled vampire destroyed it to let me have it back."

"Can you earn it again?" Buffy asked her.

"That would be a problem," Anya replied.

"Why?" Buffy queried, curious.

"Let's just say I had to do a live audition for the first time, and a repeat performance would involve you coming after me again."

"Oh," Buffy replied. "Well, I know being ordinary may seem boring, but we could help set you up for college. You know, id and stuff."

Anya looked at her. "Really?"

"Yeah," Buffy assured her. "I mean we did destroy your talisman, its the least we can do. We sorted out that for Angel."

"I did wonder how he managed to acquire this house," Anya remarked.

"Ah, this he found when he lost his soul briefly last year," Buffy replied, a part of her inwardly shivering at the memory of that event. Despite those traumatic times, she loved living here with Angel, and between the two of them they had furnished the rooms where she and Angelus had fought beyond recognition of those dark summer days.

"So," she asked her guest, "are you interested?"

"I think I could be," Anya replied.

"I'll talk to Willow and Oz," Buffy remarked, before rising from her seat. "Do you fancy some breakfast?" She asked her.

"Yeah," Anya replied, rising from her seat as well and following her into the kitchen.

It was in this room where Angel found them, comfortably talking and eating, falling into silence to smile at him as he wandered into the room, dressed in his business suit ready for a day of lecturing.

"Should my ears be burning?" He joked as the two of them looked at him before he leaned down where the slayer was sitting to kiss her neck in greeting.

"Not unless you've taken your talisman off," Buffy remarked, smiling at him. "Relax, honey, no scorned women plots of vengeance here. Me and Anya are just getting to know each other."

"I've decided to become a college girl," Anya informed him.

"That's good," Angel replied. "What classes are you gonna take?"

"I was thinking about drama," Anya replied. "But I don't know about the rest."

"I'll sort out my course prospectus for you to borrow," Buffy proposed. "And there's a party at Wolf House tonight. You could come with us and learn the social side of College."

"Sounds good," Anya decided.


Night came, and as the darkness closed in upon Boca del Inferno, the slayer and her friends conducted their nightly patrol of the city, via the party at Wolfhouse. Sure enough, they soon found who they were looking for.

"There," Angel said, looking in the direction with a smile. Buffy turned to stand in front of him and smiled as well. "Well I'll be. Spike and Harmony."

"Buffy, hi," the ex-cordette remarked in greeting. "What a cute outfit. Last year."

"Well this is interesting," Spike observed. "You two still together? Last I heard, you were in hell."

"And you with Harmony," Angel said, ignoring him. "What'd you do? lose a bet?"

"Hey," Harmony rejoined, while Spike threw the 'takeout' they had been supporting back into the crowd.

"Actually, how we met. It's a funny story," he said then he leapt over the couch and took off.

Buffy took out her walkie-talkie. "Guys, its Spike," she announced before running outside after them.

"What's the matter Spike?" She asked when she had caught up with him, "Dru dump you again?" She returned his backhanded strike with two punches, both of which he managed to block, before missing out on the punch to his face.

"Maybe I left her," he pointed out before striking back.

"She left him for a fungus demon," Harmony said as she came up to the two of them. "That's all he talks about most days."

Spike meanwhile had thrown his last punch. "Harm! We are going. It isn't time yet."

"Yeah, but as soon as we have the Gem of Amarra, you're gonna be sorr-," she was cut off as Spike growled in frustration and grabbed her by the waist. The odd couple then departed, leaving Buffy wondering.

 


"Yeah, Spike with Harmony. If you can believe it."

It was barely half an hour later, and the Scoobies were back at their HQ, the slayer relaying to Giles and the rest about her and Angel's encounter with them.

"I couldn't figure out why he ran away but Harmony said something. Why they were here. They were looking for the Gem of Amarra."

Angel gasped while Giles queried further. "The gem of Amarra. Are you sure?"

Buffy nodded. "Yeah, why?"

"It's not real," Angel remarked while the watcher went over to his bookshelves, more stacked than usual since the entire occult section from Sunnydale High had been moved into them before the school was destroyed.

"It's the vampire equivalent of the Holy Grail," Giles continued, "the source of some enormous power, references concerning the item were as usual conveniently vague." He paused to study the leatherbound volume in his hands. "Oh, here it is, yes. There was a great deal of vampiric interest in locating it during the 10th century. Questing vampires combed the earth, but no one ever found anything. It was concluded that it never existed."

"Well, Spike seems to think it exists," Buffy remarked. "And he's looking in Sunnydale."

"Time to do do some research," Giles proposed. "And I thank you all for assembling so promptly to help me out."

Slayer and slayerettes groaned at the research trap which they had unwittingly walked into before obeying the watcher's request and selecting books from which to begin.


Meanwhile, their resident villain was climbing into his newly open burial site with a lantern to illuminate the darkness. He looked around and saw an ornate necklace around the neck of a skeleton, which contained a large green gemstone. Excitement filled his mind and expression as he gazed upon his holy grail.

"It's real," he murmured, awed by the sight.

"Ooh, pretty," Harmony remarked as she came inside. "Can I take stuff?"

"Take whatever you want I don't care," Spike answered without even looking in her direction. Silently, almost reverently he stroked the gemstone. Then he pulled it off the skeleton and put it about his neck.

"So is it doing it?" Harmony asked. "Do you feel it? I mean, you don't look different, if you were wondering. I thought maybe you'd look taller or glow or something." She turned back to the rest of the jewels.

Spike took hold of a cross, only to cry out in pain as it burned his skin, leaving a dark red bruise on his open palm.

His girlfriend turned at his growl of pain, but was unaffected. "You should put some butter on that. But, hey, maybe it's worth money, anyway. That would be something. Then we could go to France, I always wanted to go to France and stay in a chateau and you could take me shopping -" She trailed off abruptly as Spike struck her with a piece of wood.

To their mutual surprise, and his temporary disgust, she did not turn into ashes.

"I can't believe you just did that." She started to punch him, but he grabbed her hands, noticing one of the rings.

"That's my gem," he remarked, catching sight of the green jewel encased within a ring of gold.

"Fine if that's all that matters to you. Take it, and get out." She took it off her finger and threw it to him.

Spike caught it with a smile. "That's a good idea. I think I'll go wait outside."


"Okay," the guitarist of the group began, "either I'm borrowing all your albums or I'm moving in."

The owner of said records merely turned the page of the book he was studying and said, "Oz, there are more important things than records right now. Like the impending disaster, for example."

"Found something?" Willow queried.

"A paragraph here. It refers to the Gem of Amarra as 'residing in the valley of the sun.' In other words, Sunnydale. It seems the gem may exist after all, in Sunnydale in a sealed underground crypt."

"More important than this one?" Oz asked, holding it up.

"Well I suppose an argument could be made for that one," Giles allowed.

"Whoa," Xander exclaimed at that moment, as he unveiled his discovery to the rest of the research committee. "Giles has a TV. Everybody, Giles has a TV. He's shallow like us."

"I got to admit, I'm a little disappointed," Oz said as he put the record down.

"Well maybe it doesn't work," Willow said hopefully. "Like a piece of art."

In reply Xander turned the set on. Colour pictures and the current news showed, leaving Willow and the rest open-mouthed in shock.

"Public television," Giles merely observed. "Come on everyone we have vital work to do. Watching television is not going to help us right now."

The television however, had other ideas. "Near the UC Sunnydale campus. Officials attribute the unusual occurrence to weakening of the supporting topsoil nearby. City work crews denied any tunnelling has been done in the area....."

Giles put down his book. "Tunnelling," he echoed, before realising. "Spike."

Buffy and Angel put down theirs. "We're on it," she said before dashing out of the door, her soulmate following.

 


It did not take long to find him. But then bleached white hair with forehead ridges and fangs tend to stand out. Or at least, that was what the screaming students all silently agreed before running for cover.

"This is nice," Spike said aloud. "Birds singing, squirrels making lots of rotten little squirrels. Sun beaming down in a nice, nonfatal way. It's very exciting, I can't wait to see if I freckle."

"You don't, thankfully, " Angel replied.

His grandchilde turned round in shock to see him in the sunlight as well. "Bloody hell."

"No, not bloody. Just plain ordinary dust," Buffy said as she struck him from behind, before taking out her stake.

Spike was unprepared, but even that did not affect his new found invulnerability. He turned round and pushed her to the floor. Buffy kicked him in the crotch, then shoved the stake through his chest.

The vampire merely laughed. "Oh, do it again. It tickles. You know, in a good way." He withdrew the stake and handed it back to the slayer.

Who watched with Angel in surprise as the wound healed.

"The Gem of Amarra," Spike said, holding up the hand which it adorned. "Official sponsor, of my killing you."

He threw another punch, causing Buffy to drop to the floor, kneeling to block it. Spike applied some of his new found strength and sent her into a pole, before punching her in the stomach.

Angel moved to intervene, but then retreated reluctantly to the sidelines when Buffy rose back up. He hated being a spectator, but this time it was necessary. Spike was not stupid. Sooner or later he would spot the charmed medallion that his grandsire was wearing and that would be that. Half of his humanity did not protect him from turning into dust. He could only intervene if Buffy was in danger. That was what they had agreed before advancing upon the battlefield.

Buffy meanwhile tried to kick Spike, but he merely blocked her and threw her against the pole once more. He pressed her against it, but she grabbed him by the throat and began to strangle him. Spike threw her off, and she landed on the floor with a roll, to then punch him in the stomach, which sent him spinning to the ground.

Spike leapt up and struck back, but the slayer blocked him, throwing him with a roundhouse, then another, sending him rolling over a nearby bench.

She jumped upon it, sent a kick to his chest, but Spike blocked and reached up, sending her crashing into the table.

"Oh, Angel, I think your little bitch needs some help," Spike remarked with a cruel smile.

Angel did nothing but return the gesture, as his soulmate grabbed Spike from behind, taking hold of the arm which had the hand that wore the ring.

"Take it off me this way, we both burn," Spike said to her.

"Really?" Buffy queried. "Let's see," she yanked the ring off.

Spike growled as his face contorted in pain. His body began to smoke, and immediately he ran off for nearest place of shelter from the once more mortally harming sunny rays.

Buffy bent over, breathing heavily, and Angel rushed to her side.

"Do you want me to go after him?" He asked her.

His girlfriend shook her head. "Leave him be. There are other things in this universe that can catch him now."


"I like it," Willow remarked.

"It does sparkle beautifully," Anya agreed. "Do you think we could make some more?"

"That would require a goldsmith," Xander pointed out. "And a knowledge of how to melt and mold metal. And how to cut jewels."

"You're right that's too much hard work," Anya agreed. "We just need a spell. Or a carefully worded wish."

The ring was lying on Giles' dinning table, under the gaze of the rest of the Scooby gang who were all taking a close look at it.

"It's small," Oz observed.

"It's also very dangerous," Giles pointed out. "And we're destroying it."

"No we're not," the slayer remarked.

"Buffy, any vampire that get his hands on this....." Giles trailed off as he realised. "Oh. Well you've earned definitely," he added, looking at the new owner.

Angel shook his head, his eyes moving from the ring to those of his beloved. "I don't really need it, do I?"

Buffy merely picked the ring off the table and handed it to him. "Give it a try and see," she said, watching him as he tentatively slid the ring on to one of his fingers, a part of her already realising his eventual resolution, however unconsciously, as she caught the uncertain expression eclipsed in his dark eyes.


Later that same night, Buffy opened her eyes to find the space next to her empty. Instead of panicking, as she had done the last time she had woken up to discover this state of affairs, she rolled over and took in the rest of the bedroom. Then she gathered up the silk sheet around her naked body and walked over to the window bay.

Her boyfriend stood with one hand on the top frame, gazing at the small golden object which lay upon the stone window sill. Buffy came to stand beside him, looked at the ring, then to his thoughtful face. "You're gonna destroy it, aren't you?"

He came out of his trance, and turned to face her. "You mad?" He asked her.

She shook her head. "No. I just want to know why."

"If I put this on, I become a target for every vamp with big ideas. This," he pointed to the small golden medallion resting upon his hairless chest, contrasted with the black silk of his towelling robe, "none of them know about, and it protects me in much the same way. I know the Gem would make me invulnerable, at least until my redemption is complete, but all it takes is one moment of carelessness and its gone. I'd rather not take the risk."

"I understand," Buffy said, agreeing with him. "Why did you think I would be mad?"

"Because you gave it to me as a gift."

"Yes, because I knew you were the best person to decide whether the Gem continues to exist or not. With the thought that whatever you decided, I would and I do, understand. Angel, it doesn't matter to me whether you have the ring or not. You're still the same guy I fell in love with."

"The medallion was different. That only protects against the sunlight. But this..."

"I know, and I understand, believe me."

"Thank you," Angel, leant forward and kissed her softly. Then he took the marble ornament which he had been holding, and hit the ring with the bottom, smashing the holy grail completely.

There was silence for a moment, as the couple gazed at the spot where the ring had once been. Nothing, not even a speck of gold remained.

Then Angel looked up, and noticed what his soulmate was wearing. Silently he stepped forward and took her in his arms.

Buffy smiled up at him and let go of the silken sheet. It fell apart, falling to the floor as her boyfriend wrapped her in his arms and kissed her once again.

The End
To Be Continued In

Fear, Itself.