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Author's note: Dialogue taken from the original episode, the plot of which I have modified in order to include my alterations to canon. There is no reference to the Zeppo role which Xander explored in the original episode, as he and Cordelia are still together, and the group are not as lost as they were during the original season three. Also, more B/A scenes, as their relationship deepens. And apologies to Danielle Steel, whom I use as a culture reference here, I mean nothing but the deepest respect for the author whom I was named after. I only hope one day to become just as successful as her, though I don't know if I have that many novels in me. Enjoy.


Buffy could not remember a time when she had felt more content. Angel's arms encircled her from behind, underneath some sheepskin rugs, the only protection between them and the stone floor, as well as the only cover upon their skin, beside a roaring fire, in the double height living room of the Crawford Street Mansion. He rested against the arm of a sofa, his face beside the slender curve of her neck, while his hands caressed her beneath the rugs.

No other vampire was allowed so privileged a position. Though he was not like the others, there was a danger in it, for he was the first and the last of his kind that a slayer would let him drink from her if he needed to. She kept such a trust to herself at present, knowing him almost as intimately as he knew her, certain that he would be horrified that she had prepared herself for such an event, one which he would doubtless recoil from.

They had been in this position almost from the moment she arrived at the mansion after school, desiring to spend the evening loving each other tenderly, thoroughly and leisurely. Even now Angel explored her beneath the rugs without urgency, just in a quest to become familiar with every facet of her. Buffy rested relaxed in his arms, though her hands were by no means idle, occupied in exploring him with the same vein. Since the deepening of their relationship, she had become more aware of the power she held over him, installing a confidence within her which she had never felt before.

She had always been conscious of the women who had been there before her, before his soul, even before he became a vampire, unsure if she would ever measure up to them, an insecurity strengthened further during the time his demon stalked and hunted her after he lost his soul. Now she realised there was no need for her to be concerned for she surpassed them in every way. For none of them had seen the look she saw in his eyes when he told her he loved her, nor his expression when they made love, or the smile which lit his face when he caught sight of her.

There was just such a picture of contentment on his face now, as he kissed and caressed her beside the roaring fire. He was content because she was, intimately attuned to her as a hunter to his prey, as a lover. This knowledge existed even before their loving, even in the early days of knowing her, and their union now only deepened the depth of it. From the night of her seventeenth birthday to the night when he took her in celebration of his career, a tutelage began in where and how he could touch her that would derive the most pleasure, while in return, she journeyed in the same quest of discovery for him.

"Okay," she uttered, breaking the peaceful solitude around them, "this is getting way too Danielle Steel," she decided, turning round to face him.

Angel pinched the lining of the sheep skin rugs to keep them covering her, before returning his hands to caress her thighs once more. She arched into his touch, smiling at him coyly, an expression which he returned readily, matching the gentle, contented amusement within her. Then, surprising him, her eyes turned from his to study the open drawing book lying beside them.

He had only recently resumed the display of said talent, cautious and guarded, concerned above all for her feelings for the skill. His demon had used the artist genes from the soul's memories evilly to his dark, sadistic ends last year, tormenting his love and her friends with drawings of them to show how easily he was granted admittance to their houses. Since his soul's return, Angel had refused to taint paper with his pencil, oils or watercolours, for fear of invoking the same hatred his demon had. This vow however was reckoned without Buffy, whose curiosity caused her to discover an old drawing of his, sketched prior to the night of her seventeenth birthday, hidden in a drawer of the mansion. Her enthusiastic praise was the only thing to convince him to take up such materials again, along with a sound argument that he would need his talent for Art History, the subject which he lectured at Sunnydale University.

Now she removed her hands from exploring his body to pick up the sketch book and study the latest batch of drawings, some of which he only began and finished this evening. Almost all were of herself, the more recent ones in poses which made her blush even now, just as when he shyly asked for her to sit for them. He had caught her so well, so accurately, she could almost believe herself to be looking into a mirror. She remembered the drawings his demon did to torment her watcher, her friends and herself last year, but the ones she studied now bore no resemblance with which to identify that it was the same hand which cast these brushstrokes. There was a tenderness wrapped within these drawings, a sense of awe which she felt every time he looked at her, that the demon never conveyed. And the comparison between displayed the missing link of genius which Angelus always lacked, and Angel possessed in spades.

"How do you draw me so well?" She wondered aloud, gazing at the last, finished before they made love here by the fire. Her figure lay bare for him, nothing hidden, everything displayed for his pencil to draw. He had even caught the slight embarrassment within her eyes, self-conscious of such liberty before another being. "I'm never that beautiful," she uttered softly.

She was not fishing for compliments, but he gave them to her anyway. "I draw you how I see you," he replied. "How the world sees you. How you are. Beautiful." A hand left her thigh to caress her cheek, causing her to turn and face him. "I draw you with all the love I have for you, and that you return just as powerfully."

Buffy laid the sketch book aside, and softly put her hand on top of his. Her dark pupils met his own, and never left them, as she gently guided the hand down her body, lingering through the valley of her breasts to press upon the skin which covered her beating heart. "I need you here," she uttered, before leading his hand onward and southward, down to her sex, where she confidently pressed it against herself. "And here."

Angel bent his head and pressed a kiss to the skin covering her heart, then pushed her backwards so he could deal the same blessing to her sex. She bent herself willingly, unconsciously showing off her prowess, gained from genes and the slayer line which ran within her. His mouth continued upwards from its' starting point, letting his tongue out to caress her belly button, before moving once more, until she could straighten her spine and meet his lips with her own. Despite having made love countless times since arriving at the mansion, their energy nor their desires were sated, and the passion showed within this kiss, and through the movements of their bodies, as his erection stiffened in the space between them, and her sex pressed itself insistently against his groin, requesting fulfilment.

His hands left her hair where they had been massaging her head, to begin their own journey of passion, one going to her breasts, while the other went to her sex to try and restrain and torment her desire at the same time. Tenderly he dove between them to probe and caress her, pausing briefly to grab at the wrist of one of her own questing hands, to daringly guide it where his intended to go, showing her what he intended to do. Emboldened, she let her other join his at her breast, slipping under the palm for guidance, a small moan escaping her mouth as she did so.

Angel broke from her mouth to growl into the curve of her throat while his hands continued to arouse the fire within her. The borrowed breath felt warm upon her throat and she leaned into the warmth, as the sheepskin rugs slipped from her back to fall to join the others covering the hard stone floor. He leaned back a little, to take in the sight of their hands joined in the same missions of pleasure, before meeting her passionate gaze. Bending his spine, he tended to her neglected breast, nipping and sucking at skin and nipple, while his hands continued to fondle the other with her, and probe fingers into her sex below. She bucked into the combination of his and her touch as he expertly brought her to the brink of a climax before entering her.

His hands left hers and to clasp her butt from behind, pulling her tightly to him. Hers hands went to his back where she traced the outlines of his tattoo, and her lips captured his for a one more kiss. When he broke from them, he pressed another to the base of her neck before leaning back against the sofa arm to watch her as she rode him. The sight of her in all her glory, breasts proud with hardened nipples jutting outward, golden hair and skin glistening from sweat, never ceased to attract or amaze him. She was the slayer, a chosen warrior, an amazon among her kind, and above all else, a girl when these battle glories were stripped away. She could have had anyone, but she chose only him, and he felt humbled and honoured every time he received the gift which was her heart.

She met his dark gaze with one just as powerful as the love within the both of them strove to become one. His hands moved to press against the small of her back, then slid upwards where they came to caress her breasts. She arched into his touch, tightened herself around him, smiling into the bliss which soon came to take them.

Tonight was her allotted night to patrol, causing Buffy and Angel to prise themselves reluctantly from each other in order to fulfil her sacred duty by walking the beat of Sunnydale during the witching hour. Despite there now being two slayers who stalked the hellmouth, there were still some vampires who had not received the memo, causing a small engagement in one of the twelve cemeteries not more than an hour after they exited Crawford Street.

Brief as the encounter soon proved to be, it was nonetheless just as intense as a full scale long waged fight, with Buffy and Angel defending their cause as fiercely as if their losing held the potential to bring forth the next apocalypse. Summoning energy reserves from somewhere, a resource which most humans would find incredible and impossible; but then neither were completely just human; they battled their opponents with strength and skill, and occasionally brute force until the vampires were nothing but dust falling to grass.

Afterwards they patrolled the rest of the graveyards, where word had reached before them of their skill and prowess tonight, for they contained no life but the remains resting in piece six feet below their marble or granite monuments. Even so, the warriors chose not to relax their guard, and their foresight served them well, for the encountered another pack of demons looking for a fight just as they completed their tour of Restfield.

These demons were not vampires, nor were they a race which slayer or souled vampire had encountered before. Red eyed and bluish-grey skinned, with sharp teeth and long pointed ears, the former glistening in the night. A series of horns beginning from just above their eyes and ending on their forehead suggested another use for their heads other than eating, smelling, seeing or hearing.

Buffy and Angel took in the fierce sight of these creatures calmly, knowing even the slightest show of fear would be like nectar to them. The pack growled as they caught sight of the warriors and rose to meet them, welcoming battle as proudly as any war-hungry breed of warriors would.

On any other night, the two chosen warriors of the Powers That Be would have avoided such an encounter if they could, retreating home to learn more about their new enemy and recruit more fighters to their cause. But they had been seen now, making the fight unavoidable, leaving them no choice but to engage. Cautiously they advanced into the field, choosing an opponent from among the pack, seeking out the strongest in order to make them think twice about rousing the slayer again.

The demons let them dictate this wish of single combat, choosing to stalk in a circle around them, outlining the limits of the arena. If their kindred lost, the victors would not be allowed to survive the encounter for long.

Slayer and souled vampire fought bravely, summoning energy from who knew where, as they faced fierce and skilled opponents, as well trained in combat as themselves. It did not take long into the fight to realise that these creatures were their match, if not superior, causing them to doubt the wisdom in engaging such foes, even if it appeared that they did not have much choice in the matter. Still they pushed aside such doubts, knowing they could lead to mortal and violent ends, channelling their skills into what vulnerabilities they could discern within each of their opponents.

Buffy was the first to bring her combatant to the brink of defeat, choosing to ram a steak through their heart just as she would any vampire, having nothing else with her which counted as a slaying weapon. Angel was not long behind her, breaking his enemy's neck, the snapping sound echoing through the strangely silent night, before conquered by the crash as the demon fell hard upon the asphalt.

Knowing the demons would not take kindly to two of their breed falling beneath the hands of a mere vampire and slayer, the couple took to the streets before the pack realised their quarry were gone, heading for security and sanctuary that was numbers and knowledge, in the form of Rupert Giles' apartment.

It was with a sigh born out of frustration that the watcher opened his door that evening, his visitors having disturbed what was to be a quiet, romantic evening for two. His love, Jenny Calendar, empathised but also at the same time understood that he had duties which made sacrifices such as this a necessary evil. She leaned back against the sofa, waiting patiently for the intrusion to reach its end.

When Giles caught sight of who was visiting him this night, and the emotions which their facial expressions betrayed, he abandoned his frustration to silently usher them inside, cautiously checking the courtyard behind them to make sure they had not been followed, before closing the door.

Buffy wasted no time in detailing their encounters that night, calmly disclosing everything about the pack of demons she and Angel had just faced. Asking Giles for a piece of paper and pencil, she put both in her soulmate's hand, and commanded him to draw, in case the watcher might recognise them from image rather than description. Either she had forgotten the last time Giles caught sight of a drawing from Angel's hands, or perhaps she simply chose to outline the contrast between the demon and the soul which resided in the same body, but it caused hesitation to both the artist and the watcher before and after the command was obeyed.

Giles studied the picture as he listened to Buffy's description of the fight, casting his mind through the realm of information open to him as her watcher, searching for a clue which might reveal the demons' identities. He also noted the contrast in technique and style within the drawing, as his slayer had done only hours before; the stark comparison between the soul and demon that resided in the souled vampire who sat silent beside the latest in the generation of hunter and prey.

A part of him could not help but feel proud of the slayer whom he mentored, a woman he had come to love as a daughter, who risked her life recently to ensure he kept his job as her watcher. She could have done as others had, by refusing this souled vampire's help, casting him out of her world and her protection, scorning him when his one moment of happiness let forth a demon feared by all. But instead she loved the man, loved the soul within, and used that affection to inspire him; unique among his kind, exiled and revolted, into confidence and acceptance, not just of himself as he appeared to others in this world, but to his own character and ideals aswell. Her generosity humbled others by mere display, and caused them to wish themselves and attempt to make themselves as unprejudiced as she in order that they might earn her respect by default.

"I cannot immediately recall who they might be," Giles now replied to her and Angel. "But I shall look them up and see if I can discover their identity before nightfall tomorrow. If they have arrived in force as you say, their arrival could hold a darker significance."

"We'll get home now," Angel remarked, having silently noticed throughout Buffy's tale the evidence of the quiet, romantic evening which they had unwittingly intruded upon. He took his beloved's hand and rose from the sofa, as they bid a farewell to Jenny and Giles before exiting the apartment.

Having brought the car on their patrol, Angel drove the 1967 Plymouth Belvedere GTX convertible down through the streets until the automobile reached Revello Drive, and number 1630; the Summers' homestead.

"Will you come in for a while?" Buffy asked him when he turned off the ignition. "Mom's pulling an all night at the gallery."

Angel nodded and got out, rushing round the open the car door for her, making her smile at his gentleman manners, an eighteenth century relic.

Despite the emptiness of the house they still made for her bedroom, where they sat together upon her bed, nursing a mug of nourishment in their hands, which they had paused in the kitchen to make before coming upstairs. Hers was a product of cup a-soup, his a heated pigs' blood from her supply which she kept for whenever he visited her home.

Quietly they sipped the food, recovering from the two fierce and disturbing encounters which had haunted their patrol. New demons to the hellmouth were not unusual, but always unsettling nonetheless, causing speculation and concern until their identities were established, and their end assured.

When they finished their meals, it seemed appropriate for Angel's visit to end, but the souled vampire was reluctant to leave his beloved alone in the house after such a night like this, and the slayer was equally desirous of having him stay. After securing the house and tidying away the mugs, they returned to the bedroom, where she sought the comfort of his arms beneath the warmth of her duvet.

The last time he had spent the night in her room was nearly two years ago, beneath a spare duvet upon the floor beside her bed. Tonight there was no need for such gentlemanly restraint, nor indeed did either of them desire it, as they sought each other's lips in what was meant to be a goodnight kiss. However, passion such as theirs was never satisfied with such chaste beginnings, and the night witnessed them returning to what the afternoon saw them begin, consummation of their love.

Buffy felt the contrast between their acts conducted at the mansion to this first inside her home. The last time she had pictured them inside her bedroom was the product of a dream induced by the First, which ended in the demon savagely draining the life out of her. Reality, as always differed here, for there was no chance of his soul being lost now, securely fastened within his body by the rewriting of the curse which had first wrought such enchantment. Passion, love, desire, all these existed within the act, along with questing fingers, mouths and tongues, but there was an added tenderness, a chasteness to the love making which had not existed in the ones committed earlier. Angel took her as if it were her first time again, peeling each article of clothing from her body slowly, as if he had never been granted permission to see her nakedness before now.

When their clothes were gone from them he pushed her gently down upon bed before pressing his head between her legs, letting his mouth worship her sex. An awed silence rose around them which both felt loathed to break, causing nothing but a gasp from her as he brought forth her climax with his skilled tongue, drinking from her as if he needed the added nourishment. Deftly he worked her to the brink again, before journeying upwards to worship the rest of her body, pressing kisses to her stomach, her breasts, the valley between and the middle of bone at the crux of her neck, whereupon she took him up to her mouth, kissing him powerfully as he entered her.

Exhaustion was the only excuse for the abandoning of his initial intent to go home before her mother returned. Instead he withdrew from his beloved just to take her into his arms before they drifted off to sleep.

Something was ringing. Not a long non-ending noise, but of short beeps, insistent and continuous. The slayer opened one eye, identified the source, and relaxed, allowing for no damage to the offending object which unknowingly disturbed their peace.

Buffy reached across and switched off the alarm. With a soft groan at the time, she rolled over to meet the dark eyes of her boyfriend, who greeted her with a silent but revealing expression.

"It's rare I see you embarrassed," she remarked, though not in rebuke.

"When was the last time we spent the night in your room?" He countered.

Buffy ingested this information, not really recognising its worth until her slayer senses detected the sounds below the floor, drifting upwards, louder due to her advanced abilities. Abruptly she sat up, the duvet covering them going with her, revealing all too well exactly what had happened the night before.
"I'm eighteen," she uttered to herself, replenishing her courage. "I'm an adult, she can't object." These two sentences seemed to do the trick, so Buffy rose from her bed and walked over to the wardrobe.

Angel sat up, his eyes drifting to her body, watching as slowly her bare skin was hidden from his view. "Shall I climb out of the window?" He asked when she was dressed.

"I don't think that works so well in the daylight, honey, even with your talisman," Buffy replied. "Mom will be fine. Come on."

Angel complied, sliding his feet to the floor, making Buffy draw in breath at the sight of him. When he had put on his trousers, he came up to her and caught her chin in his hand. Slowly, he kissed her thoroughly. "Good morning," he replied when they drew apart for air.

"Mmm," Buffy murmured in appreciation. "Definitely good."

Ten minutes later and they made their way downstairs.

"Morning Mom," Buffy began as they entered the kitchen.

"Good morning, Buffy," Joyce said, looking up from her breakfast. She did a double take then, blinking in surprise at who was behind her daughter. She had thought that Buffy would be alone, as she usually was whenever Joyce was lucky enough to see her in the morning. Lately she had been spending more and more nights at Crawford Street. Joyce was starting to fear that she would lose her daughter before she was ready, even though she approved of the man who was taking her away, she nonetheless wished the day she would lose her little girl to him to be years into the future.

"Good morning Angel," she finally managed to say.

"Good morning, Mrs Summers," Angel replied politely. He leaned close to Buffy, speaking softly into her ear. "Have you any more..." he trailed off, still self-conscious about taking his own meal in public.

"In the pastry tin in the fridge drawer," Buffy replied, for she had made the meals the night before, leaving him ignorant as to the whereabouts of her supply.

"Thank you." Angel left her side to travel to the fridge. He retrieved his meal, putting it in the microwave to warm. "Your usual, milady?" He asked his beloved.

"Please," Buffy said. Joyce watched in amazement as Angel prepared some pancakes expertly for her daughter. She was only starting to realise that there was a lot she had yet to learn about Angel. She continued to watch as he returned to the microwave and took out whatever it was he had put in. Then his back was facing them for a few minutes and she could hear the sound of pouring. Suddenly she realised what was in the mug. She wondered what would happen as Angel turned round. She was surprised when nothing did.

"So," Joyce said in an effort to sound unaffected, "do you want me to take you to school, honey?"

"No, it's all right, Mom," Buffy answered, "I know you have that exhibition today."

"I don't have a class till ten," Angel supplied.

"Giles wants us to meet this morning, I imagine," Buffy added. "Angel and I ran into some new and tough demons last night, which he promised to have identified by the time we have to face them again." She ate the last of her pancakes and stood up to put the plate and syrup away. Then she walked over to Joyce and hugged her farewell while Angel drained the last of his pigs blood.

Joyce watched her daughter leave the kitchen to fetch her bag, then turned to Angel, who regarded her cautiously, and repentant.

"I'm sorry if my being here upsets you," he uttered carefully. "But after last night's encounter I didn't want to leave her alone."

"I can't deny that I feel a little uncomfortable about it," Joyce confessed. "But only because it's the first time it's happened. I know you Angel, and I trust you with my daughter. You'll always be welcome in this house, I assure you."

He bowed his head in gratitude. "Thank you," he uttered. "Not all parents would be so understanding."

"Buffy's far more mature than I was at her age, and all the wiser in the ways of the world for it," Joyce remarked. "I would be betraying my promise of acceptance and understanding if I barred her from using her instincts now. She's grown into a remarkable woman."

"You had a hand in that too, you know," Angel said. "For which I thank you."

Joyce smiled at the compliment. "You're both welcome," she uttered, before Buffy walked back in to claim her boyfriend for escort to school.

"They call themselves the Sisterhood of Jhe," Giles began when the slayer and the slayerettes had assembled in the library before their first classes. "They are an apocalyptic cult, existing sorely to bring about the world's destruction and I don't think you and Angel saw the last of them, Buffy. More will follow."

"How exactly do they wish to bring forth Armageddon?" Buffy asked. "Fight everyone who stands in their way until they're the only ones left on the earth?"

"No, based on the current astral cycle, I suspect they'll settle for opening the hellmouth," Giles replied.

"Sarcasm and seriousness," Xander commented. "I don't think he's joking."

"This isn't the time for jokes," Giles replied. "Unless we stop them, they will open the hellmouth. That demon we faced the night of your sixteenth, Buffy, is only the first of the creatures which harbour that doorway and he won't be the worse, not by a long shot."

"So are you saying batten down the hatches and run for the hills," Faith remarked, "or a pre-emptive strike?"

"Both options might have to used if what I've read about them is true," Giles replied. "For now I suggest we gather weapons and ourselves to fight them tonight."

"Well, I'll be there in spirit," Oz replied. "Night before the full moon requires me to see nothing but the inside of that cage," he added.

"We'll meet here at sundown, Giles," Buffy decided. "A battle plan which involves the element of surprise would be useful too," she uttered as they rose in time to the bell signalling the start of class.

"I think I know of something which could provide that," Willow remarked before they headed out of the library for class.


"Obscurate nos non diutius."

Hours later, and nightfall found them in what was previously thought to be a vampire's nest in the bad part of town. After finishing school they met up as planned, stocked up weapons, and after seeing Oz safely and securely inside his cage, headed for the location of the Sisterhood of Jhe headquarters.

Choosing the classic rule of divide and conquer, the slayerettes and slayers waited until a demon was alone before surrounding it and putting an end to its existence. Now was just such a case as one of the Jhe stalked its nest, growling in rage at discovering the amount of its kindred dead, threatening vengeance.

"Now!" The slayer yelled out.

The demon turned in the direction of her voice as planned, while Faith launched from her hiding place, to barrel into her with the sword she was carrying, sending the forged metal straight through the demon's heart.

Silence greeted the demise of the demon, and there was a long pause before others emerged from their hiding places.

"I think that was the last," Giles judged.

"Willow, you okay?" Buffy asked her best friend and spell caster of the night.

The redhead was breathing hard. "Yeah, I'm fine," she replied. "The shaking is a side effect of the fear."

"Well, if it wasn't for that clouding spell..." Angel murmured admiringly, causing Willow to smile proudly.

"Yeah, it went good!" She agreed, glancing at her candle which was the sole ingredient needed for the enchantment save words. "Nothing melted like last time."

"These babes were wicked rowdy," Faith commented.

"Yeah," Cordelia agreed as she helped Doyle up from the floor. "Where's Xander?" She asked, causing everyone to glance round, concerned.

He emerged from behind a rock. "I'm good. I'm fine," he answered. "Just a little bit dirty. Good show, everyone. Just great. I think we have a hit."

"Are you okay?" Cordelia asked him.

"Tiptop, really," he replied, stumbling to join them. "If anyone sees my spine lying around, just try not to step on it."

Buffy looked on worriedly at her best friend. "Xander, one of these days, you're gonna get yourself hurt."

"Or killed," Faith decided.

"Or both," Buffy agreed. "And, you know, with the pain and the death, maybe you shouldn't be leaping into the fray like that," she suggested cautiously, careful of hurting male pride. "Maybe you should be... fray-adjacent."

"Excuse me?!" He countered, miffed. "Who, at a crucial moment, distracted the lead demon by allowing her to pummel him about the head?"

Faith smirked at his interpretation of the battle with one of the demons. "Yeah. That was real manly how you shrieked and all."

"I think you'll find that was more of a bellow," Xander replied.

"Uh, what do we do with this lot here?" Buffy asked, indicating the bodies of Jhe. "Should we burn them?"

"I brought marshmallows," Willow uttered with a smile, causing everyone to turn to her in surprise. "Occasionally, I'm callous and strange."

"I expect we can leave them," Giles replied. "It might give a message to the others not to mess with the hellmouth this century."

"Couldn't agree more," Faith added as they headed out into the night.

"I say bring 'em on!" Xander cried.

"Uh, Xander, I think in the future perhaps it would be best if you, uh, hung back to the rear of the battle, you know, for your own sake," Giles commented delicately.

"But, gee, Mr. White, if Clark and Lois get all the good stories, I'll never be a good reporter," Xander countered in a fake accent and whine.

"Hmm?" Giles looked at him blankly.

"Jimmy Olsen joke," Cordelia explained.

"Ahh," Giles nodded in understanding. "Still," he added, "something to think about."

"Giles could be right," Cordelia remarked to her boyfriend as she saw him home just before midnight. "There's a limit to how much the human body can take hits, and I think you reached it a couple of punches ago."

"N'ah," Xander shook his head as he climbed out of the car, staggering on to the driveway, grateful none of his family were home to witness this. The last thing they would think was that he had got in fight however. They would just think he was heading down the same alcoholic road as his forefathers. "Anyone who can withstand your driving is strong enough for anything."

"I'll ignore that comment," Cordelia replied as she helped him inside. "Because I know you use humour as a defence mechanism. Now, where is the first aid kit?"

"Right hand cabinet by the oven in the kitchen," Xander replied automatically before realising the essence behind her words. "You mean you're going to play nurse?" He asked her with a grin.

"Not play, be," Cordelia corrected as she returned with the box. "And if you think this is something to joke about, this will be the last time you see me tend your wounds."

"No joking here, ma'am," Xander replied as he presented the first of them for her to sanitise and bandage. He shivered as the alcohol wipes stung his skin, before settling down to enjoy the sensations her touch produced. Moments like this between them were rare, as usually they were too busy making out or bickering to be gentle to each other.

Cordelia sat back when she finished. "Right, shirt off," she commanded briskly.

"What?" Xander cried as he looked at her.

"I know you have a bruise or two underneath there," Cordelia replied. "So come on. This is no time for embarrassment."

Xander grabbed the ends of his shirt and tugged the garment off him. He blushed as she washed clean the bruises on his chest. "You haven't got one of those little nurse outfits hiding under that shirt?" He asked her.

"No," she replied, for like everyone else she had worn jeans and shirt for this battle. She dabbed a few more places with Savlon then sat back to admire her work. "All done," she replied.

"Really?" Xander queried as he looked at her. "I could have sworn you missed one here," he added, taking her hand and guiding it to the skin covering his heart.

"Oh yeah," Cordelia remarked. "How could I forget about that one?" She bent forward and kissed the skin, surprising herself and him with the motion.

"One here, too," Xander added, pointing to his lips.

"Of course," Cordelia replied. "Have to attend to the ego."

"Hey," he replied, wrapping his arms around her as he gathered her close. "No more talking," he added, before they kissed.

Faith patrolled before going home, as it was her night to fulfil the shared duty between her and Buffy. Giles' verdict on the demons' desires to bring about the end of the world, concerned her only a little, as she did not have much in the world which she considered worth saving.

At least if such a fight occurred she would know where her motives lay, survival bound, as opposed to being mired between Mayor and B. She had chosen not to inform the former about the Sisterhood of Jhe, not wanting to see the evil in his expression as he contemplated what he could do with this latest pack of demons in order to come out top.

She still did not know the full nature of his plans for herself and the town, but she dreaded what they might be already. The amount of times she came close to telling Buffy or someone else only to rethink the matter as the person looked at her were too many to count. If she told someone her problems might be solved, but she had no evidence save her new apartment, which she doubt would be convincing to any of the slayerettes, or slayer.

The Jhe she ran into halfway to said apartment gave her the distraction which she craved from her thoughts. The demon threw her against the fence again and again until Faith managed to break free and deliver a back swing to her head. She aimed a punch at the gut and attempted another to the head, but the Jhe blocked the attempt, grabbing Faith by the arms and throwing her to the ground.

Faith rolled as she hit the asphalt, regaining her feet to continue the fight. She kicked the demon in the knee, then raised her leg, spun high and kicked the beast about the head. She dealt another kick, which the Jhe blocked this time, grabbing the leg to throw it down, before grabbing her jacket and swinging her into the fence.

The slayer grabbed the fence, using the wire within as leverage to lift herself up so she could aim both legs at the demon's gut, forcing her back.

A engine revving disturbed the battle, as a car barrelled into the demon, sending the creature flying to the asphalt. Faith turned to see the driver, a college boy deciding to be chivalrous.

"Get in," he cried to her.

Common sense and safety would tell you to decline, but Faith could take care of herself, and was pretty sure the boy could see that when he arrived, as he had chosen his moment to provide assistance timely. She dived into the back seat of the convertible as ahead of the demon rose to her feet.

"Whoah!" Her driver commented. "What the hell is that?"

"Don't ask," Faith replied. "Just drive."

"Yes, ma'am," he said before pushing the engine up a gear and urging the car forward. The demon tried to catch up to them, but modern technology was far beyond her powers and she was soon forced to admit defeat.

"Thanks," Faith uttered to her escort as she climbed into the front seat.

"My pleasure," her knight replied. "I'm Kent by the way."

"Faith," she returned, shaking his briefly proffered hand.

"May I escort you home?" He asked her.

"You already are," she grinned at him. "Turn left here."

Kent pulled the car up outside her apartment and saw her to the door, where she felt it was only his due to invite him for coffee. Faith never used the actual words, instinctively testing him for vampire, which he passed with flying colours as he walked inside after her.

"Do you think whatever that was followed us?" He asked her.

"No, we're cool," Faith replied. "Bitch dislocated my shoulder though," she added as she tried to raise her arm and failed.

"Here," he offered, and she took his grip, using his strength to hold herself steady as she righted the joints.

"That's better," Faith murmured, as she tested the shoulder, moving her arm in gentle circles. "She got me really round up."

"I can tell," Kent remarked as he surveyed her.

Faith caught the tone in his voice and turned to face him. "A fight like that and no kill, I'm about ready to pop," she remarked. "You up for that?"

He closed the gap between them. "Oh I'm up," he returned. "Wouldn't want to leave a damsel in distress for long, me."

"A damsel, eh?" Faith grinned as she grabbed him. "I'll show you a whole new meaning of the word."

"Looking forward to your education," Kent replied before letting her kiss him.

It was the last movement he controlled, but he did not seem to mind her taking charge of the act. Faith led him to her bed as they practically ripped each others clothes off, frantic to have skin touching skin. This wasn't love, it was lust, in its purist, most animalistic form. The primitive within her was on overdrive, and Faith was more than content to let it take control of her, as she slipped protection between them before making the bed rock. He responded just as fiercely, but Faith no longer saw him as anyone of importance to her, simply an end to her need. If Kent understood this during their sex, he returned the sentiment, as he stove to match her, touch for touch.

It was over quickly, as fast as their libido would let them, and they lay together, panting only for a moment before separating. Kent grabbed his clothes as she grabbed a sheet, and they kissed casually at the door, promising to keep in touch, although neither had seen the need to exchange phone numbers.

Faith locked her door before seeking the comfort of a shower, where she washed the sex and fight off her skin and hair, silently wondering if the water jets could work such miracles as baptism, making her reborn, free of the Mayor's shackles.

She knew however, that such miracles were not meant to be.

Willow faced the sight before them ominously. "I've never seen him like this," she whispered, anxious not to disturb the beast which was her boyfriend.

The next day brought report from Faith of her encounter with another Jhe, causing Giles to decide to prepare for the hellmouth to open, which meant certain precautions taking place after sundown.

Now the watcher handed Willow the tranquilliser gun. "It's the Hellmouth. He can sense it's going to open. Be ready just in case."

Willow nodded and clicked the safety off the rifle.

Giles walked to the cage, where the growling werewolf regarded them, waiting. "Now don't hesitate," he reminded her.

The redhead nodded, putting the weapon to her shoulder, taking aim. "Do it."

Giles unlocked the cage. "Now Oz..." he managed to get out before the werewolf threw open the door, knocking him to the floor. He took a jump towards his girlfriend, but she was prepared for him, and pulled the trigger. The dart hit him in the side, causing him to yelp as he falls to the floor. It was not enough to keep him down however, and he rose to all fours as Giles scrambled to his feet.

"Again!" He urged.

Willow backed off a little as she reloaded the gun. Oz lunged forward, but Giles was ready and grabbed him, restraining his arms so the second dart hit his chest. The drug worked this time, sending Oz to the floor in a limp heap.

"We've got to move him before he wakes up," Giles advised, as she came to join them.

Willow stroked his fur tenderly. "Sorry. I hope you're not mad at me in the morning."

"Come on," Buffy added walking to join them, "I'll help you, Will."

Together they moved Oz to more secure storage closet further down the hall, before returning to the library, where Giles and Wesley were laying candles around the red pentagon which surrounded the tiles above the hellmouth, chanting as they went.

"Terra, vente, ignis et pluvia. Cuncta quattuor numina, vos obsecro." They intoned. "Defendete nos a recente malo resoluto."

"Okay," Willow announced as she laid the gun aside. "Oz is moved. He could barely walk after that mickey I gave him, but we made it. Is he gonna be alright there?"

"Anywhere is safer than here," Giles replied, before tossing her and Buffy a lighter.

"We're doing the binding spell from the Hebron's Almanac?" Willow asked as she and Buffy joined the rest of the slayerettes in lighting candles.

"Yes," Giles confirmed, "but once it's ready, you're to stay back and let us finish the recitation."

"But...." Buffy started, causing him to hold up a hand.

"Don't argue. I want you safe," he interrupted. "Who knows what's going to come up from beneath us."

"Or around us," Wesley added as he glanced upwards towards the half circle windows in the upper mezzanine, causing everyone else to follow his gaze.

And groan as they realised the Sisterhood had arrived.

"Oh, my God," Giles could be heard to murmur not more than fifteen minutes later. "It's grown."

The it in question was the first beast which harboured the hellmouth. Green, huge, as many heads as a hydra, with tentacles to match, it loomed over the slayerettes, as they battled the Jhe on all fronts, split between defeating the demons and the ones which exited the hellmouth. Fierce on both sides, there was no time to respond to Giles' comment with anything but silent consensus as they exchanged blows with the Jhe, trying to prevent them reaching the hellmouth before the watches finish their spell.

"Omnia... vasa... veritatis!" Wesley cried.

"Now, Buffy!" Giles shouted.

The slayer stood above them on the mezzanine level, a large battle axe in hand, poised to strike at the creature which leered out of the hellmouth. At her watcher's signal she swung the weapon forward, decapitating one of the demon's heads, causing it to retreat in pain.

"Terra, vente, ignis et pluvia. Cuncta quattuor numina, vos obsecro." The watchers chanted once more. "Defendete nos a recente malo resoluto."

Around them the slayerettes fought the Jhe, who increased their aggression as the demon from the hellmouth threaten to retreat, closing the gate to the hellmouth behind him.

Angel was struck by one from behind, causing him to fall to the floor.

"Angel!" Buffy cried before leaping on the creature, picking up her boyfriend's sword and killing his opponent.

"It's working!" Someone could be heard crying aloud, but who it was lay lost in the melee, as the battle turned in a blur of frantic punches, kicks and clashes, as the slayerettes fought the save the world for another day.

"Even after the Hellmouth was closed, you could still hear it screaming," Jenny remarked.

It was the next morning. Sunnydale had lived to fight another day, along with the township's chosen warriors, who congregated at a wooden table and seating ledge on campus before first class of the day.

"But Angel's gonna be okay?" Oz asked, who had been informed of the nights' activities as soon as the full moon was over.

Buffy readjusted the sling on her arm. "He was only out for a few minutes," she replied, calmer now for seeing her beloved awake. "Longest of my life," she added, pushing away the nightmare of what might have happened to him.

"I will never forget that thing's face," Willow remarked. "It's real face, I mean."

"Yes," Giles agreed.

"I don't know how you managed," Buffy said to her watcher. "It was the bravest thing I've ever seen."

Giles grinned, then immediately regretted the notion, as his face bore several vicious scratches across his left cheek, ear and neck. "Stupidest," he replied. "But the world continues to turn."

"No one will ever know how close it came to stopping," Wesley remarked solemnly. "Never know what we did."

"I don't know how I'm gonna get through class today," Cordelia said, supporting her head with a bent arm resting on the table.

"I know the feeling," Doyle agreed.

"We saved the world, why shouldn't we get a break?" Xander argued.

"Because no one knows, more's the pity," his girlfriend reminded him.

"And that's the way it has to stay," Giles informed them, taking his glasses off for a clean, a little slowly due to his aching arms and hands. "Mass panic would ensue otherwise. No, 'we work in the dark. We do what we can. We give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.'"

"What's that, watcher philosophy?" Buffy asked tiredly.

"Henry James."

The bell rang for the first lesson of the day. By degrees the Scoobies split up, making their way to class, content to just have survived to die another day.

The End.
To Be Continued In....

Bad Girls.