Summary: What if Buffy had
stayed in Cleveland, Cordelia's wish was never broken, and the
Initiative had to clean up a very different kind of Sunnyhell?
Date: January 25, 2001
Notes: This is my response to... uh... my own challenge over on the
Impure Things list. See what happens when you try to get rid of some
bunnies, they come right back and bite you on the ass.
**Forget me, everyone who reads this should thank Charles for sparing
them my unique take on grammar.
WARNING: This fic will include violence, torture, bondage, character
death, bloodplay, etc...
"The world can be a funny place sometimes, don't you think?" Xander
glanced down at the head pillowed on his chest, his hand coming up to
idly stroke long blonde hair. "Not funny ha ha. Funny... strange. I
mean, a couple years ago, I would have never believed I could end up in
a place like this, with a person like you." He pulled some golden
strands away from the side of her face, exposing a soft cheek. "Oh, I
dreamt about having moments like this..." His fingers brushed smooth
skin, moving down to her throat. "Though, some of the particulars
changed over the years."
Xander lifted his fingers to his mouth and sucked off their rich,
tacky coating. He sighed. Without the steady pumping of her heart, the
nameless girl's blood had begun to chill, the dormant fluid growing
thick, and as dead as the vampire who had spilt it.
Xander gave a shove and the corpse rolled off the bed, landing on the
floor with a dull thump. He'd have to remember to tell the minions to
dispose of the body. Some of the newer, hungrier ones might even have a
little fun with such a fresh corpse. Good for them. Xander knew it must
be nice to have no desires beyond the need to feed. The only hunger a
minion had to sate was the pesky one in his veins.
Xander just couldn't enjoy mindless kills and he completely blamed
this fact on his bloodline. The Order of Aurelius. Figures a human
slacker would be sucked into the overachievers of the vampire world.
Xander didn't just want a victim. He wanted art.
The girl on the floor wasn't art, she was a waste. All that lovely
potential gone in the space of a few heartbeats. Human lives were so
fragile, what they had to offer so finite.
Not that he would have wanted this meal around for very long
anyway. She had been a sniveling little thing. Begging and pleading to
be spared. What annoyed Xander, what got under his skin and made his
fangs practically itch with indignation, was the fact that she never
bothered asking for mercy directly. Why some humans believed that any
all knowing, all powerful being who let one of his 'children' get into
a situation like that in the first place would suddenly miraculously
save their sorry asses was simply beyond Xander's demonic
This girl's last ditch attempt to find faith abruptly ended when Xander
forced her religious rhetoric spouting mouth open and tightly grasped
her little pink tongue with his thumb and forefinger. The look on her
face had been priceless, and Xander still chuckled at its memory. He
gave the moist organ a little tug and asked if the girl knew what he
would do provided she continue with her "Oh, God, no. Please, God. Save
me"s. The girl nodded. Xander looked into her eyes, noting the fear,
the submission. From then on, if he told her to keep quiet she would,
unquestioningly. Of that he had no doubt.
He had smiled at her as his arm jerked back suddenly, fingers still
grasping their prize.
Unfortunately, things had just gone downhill from there. Oh, her
initial reaction had been delicious, full of wide-eyed horror and
gurgled attempts to scream. But then shock set in. Her entire face went
slack, and Xander watched with disgust as drool began to leak from the
corners of her mouth.
It had been disappointing to say the least. Where was the fun in
torturing someone who was catatonic? He had chided himself for thinking
this one would have lasted any longer then all the others.
Not for the first time, Xander wished he had been able to take a little
longer with that cheerleading bitch, Cordelia. She would have fought
him 'til she was allowed to take her last breath. She would have
lasted. But, her immediate death had been ordered by the Master, and
since Xander had no intention of 'kissing daylight', as old Batface had
so eloquently put it, the girl was killed swiftly. It was still
enjoyable, though... sinking his fangs into her throat, holding onto
her curves, copping a feel as he killed her. Willow might have been a
bit jealous... if she hadn't been doing the exact same thing.
Snapping the neck of that White Hat librarian had just been icing.
And with the washed up Watcher wannabe out of the way, the other goody
goodies got the hell out of Dodge.
The vampires ruled unopposed now, and unlife would have been good... if
it wasn't so unequivocally boring.
Monotony was all well and good if that's what you wanted out of the
world, but Xander needed something more from this so-called demontopia.
Privately, he thought the Master's 'glorious' new machine was a
travesty to their race. Blood in a bottle. Where was the thrill? The
If Batface ever did find out about Xander's opinions the elder
vampire would probably chalk it up to the indiscretions of youth and
assure him he'd grow out of it in a couple hundred years. But if that
were true, why was the nearly four hundred year old Darla happily
hunting her way through Europe again?
Xander sighed at the wanderlust that came over him. Perhaps his
Sire had the right idea. Greener pastures and all that. Maybe it was
time to move on. Of course, before he did anything like that there were
a few... obligations that needed to be taken care of first, like the
redhead who just entered his bedroom.
Deep down Xander knew it had been a mistake to turn Willow. With
the death of her two best friends, her once brilliant mind had gone
around the bend. Darla had warned him, but he hadn't listened. Jesse
had been turned as his brother, but Xander wanted someone to be his and
his alone. If he had *any* idea how cloying the demented vampiress
Xander watched through hooded lids as Willow sauntered over to the bed,
an annoying pout on her lips.
"Thought that would take longer." he remarked.
"Puppy passed out," she sighed. "It's just no fun doing stuff when he
Xander snorted. "Scourge of Europe, my ass." What the hell had
Darla been thinking... or smoking, for that matter? He guessed the
souled wuss was pretty enough, in a linebacker sort of way, but he was
The redhead frowned at the body on the floor. "Thought you said
you'd wait for me. That we could have fun with this one together."
Xander shrugged. "Changed my mind. 'Sides, she started babbling. You
know I can't stand it when they babble."
"There's some fresh stock downstairs that have already had their lips
sewn up," she said brightly. "We could play with them."
"Nah. You go ahead and have fun." Xander closed his eyes and rolled
from his increasingly irritating Childe. "I can wait."
"All right, gentlemen. You've heard what these things are capable
of. Now, I think it's time you see it." Maggie Walsh pulled back the
tarp covering the inert form on the examining table.
Most of the men paled, and a few began almost convulsively
swallowing, but Riley was proud of his team. Not a one heaved up their
lunch at the gruesome sight before them. It was a girl, and Riley
analytically took in her appearance. Late teens. Nude. She probably had
been pretty in life, but in death her face was permanently fixed in a
horrific mask, paying testament to the Hell that she went through in
her last minutes. There was one precise wound over her jugular, but her
lower extremities appeared to have been... gnawed. Walsh off handily
mentioned other injuries, internal injuries. His stomach twisted at the
description of how her tongue had seemingly been torn out of her
Everyone involved in the Initiative project knew what kind of
creatures they would be dealing with. They had been fully briefed on
the growing menace, but no words or pictures could have done justice to
the horror in front of them. Words were just ink on paper. Pictures, no
matter how detailed, were just two dimensional. This girl was real.
Occasionally throughout the macabre lecture Riley hazard to glance at
some of his fellow Marines. Forrest was clear enough to read. His face
was blank, his posture ramrod straight, and to the unacquainted he
looked every bit the well-trained, attentive soldier, but Riley knew
better. Riley knew his friend, and all Forrest wanted to do was fight.
Upon closer inspection it would have been easy for anyone to spot the
twitching muscles, the almost palpable *need* to find something,
anything, to make pay for what happened to the girl on the table.
Forrest believed in actions and Riley knew that all this waiting around
must have been pure torture for him. It was necessary, though. They
were the new players in town and Intel was still sketchy regarding much
of the local demon population. Running off half-cocked would only get
them tables and tarps of their very own, and Riley had no intention of
losing any of his men, especially not one of his best friends and one
of the better soldiers they had.
In fact, there were only two people in that room whom Riley would
feel comfortable with watching his back in any situation. One was
Forrest. The other was Graham.
Graham, who'd managed to maintain his trademark stone faced
expression even throughout the autopsy report. He looked like he didn't
care. Like it was just another day on the job for him. But once again,
Riley knew better.
Like Forrest, it was all about the little things. To read Graham,
all you had to do was look into his eyes. If eyes were the windows to
the soul then Graham's were washed daily with Windex. The streak free
kind. In Riley's opinion, his friend's thoughts were actually pretty
transparent, but only when you looked for them.
Because he was quiet and unassuming it was all too easy for some people
to write Graham off. It annoyed Riley and Forrest to no end when
someone made comparisons between silence and dimwittedness, and one day
they had screwed up enough courage to ask their friend why he never
bothered defending himself. Graham had graced them with a truly
beautiful smile and asked why he should bother with the opinions of
people he didn't give a flying fuck about. And that had been the end of
Riley had no doubt that if he could look into Graham's eyes he
would see the same emotions emanating from Forrest. Outrage. Fury. An
overwhelming desire to -
"-Send those undead bastards back to hell." Forrest launched his tiny,
orange Nerf ball towards the basket hanging on the back of the door...
and missed. "Fuck!"
After the briefing was over the three friends had returned to
Riley's room and tried to unwind, but the grisliness of their ultimate
mission refused to leave them. Their newfound knowledge creeped around
their brains, tainting even this most mundane of games.
Riley smiled wearily at his friend. "While I'm all for
improvisation, that"s not the way it works. You know that. When we go
out, we play by the rules."
"Tag 'em, bag 'em, and bring 'em back here." Graham took his shot,
and winced as the ball sailed a good five inches above its intended
Forrest blinked. "You are gonna have better aim with a rifle,
right? And, that's total bullshit." He shook his head. "Those things
should be destroyed on sight, not delivered with a bow on their heads
so Walsh can play doctor."
"I'm not disagreeing with you." Riley said softly. "If I had my way
we'd exterminate the lot of them. But, it's not our call. We're here to
do a job, not to-"
"Think for ourselves, right?"
"Forrest, if you wanted to think for yourself, why the hell did you
join the Corps?" Riley asked jokingly.
Forrest stared at him for a moment, mentally debating whether or
not he should accept the attempt at humor. Deciding that the tension in
the room was getting too thick, even for him, he responded with, "Those
fabulous government benefits, of course. What about you, Graham?"
"My recruiter said I would go to exotic places, work with cutting
edge technology, and meet interesting people. Three years later I'm
stationed in a town in northern California playing Nerf basketball with
the two of you. If that's not false advertising I don't know what is."
Graham smiled as orange balls of foam bounced off his head, and for a
moment reality was forgotten as his two friends rose from their
respective seats and launched their mock attack in earnest.
From a control room deep inside the compound Maggie Walsh watched the
horseplay on one of the numerous video monitors in front of her. Her
reaction to the activity was mixed. On one hand this was valuable time
that could be used training, but... it was so nice to see Riley smile.
Walsh let her fingers ghost over his grinning image. She decided to let
her boys have their fun... while they still could.
A nasty frown had descended upon Xander's face as he surveyed his room.
Somewhere, within the various piles of things collected over the years,
something was trilling at him. The sharp, high pitched noise had been
repeating incessantly for the past four minutes and Xander was just
about to go insane...-er.
The sound almost seemed to be echoing off the walls, but the
vampire finally located it's source hidden behind a stack of comic
books. It was a cell phone. Why the hell would... Oh!
Xander's frown morphed into an easy grin as he realized the only
person who could be calling him was the same one who given it to him.
When he had yet again refused to accompany Darla on her latest
vacation, the vampiress had presented him with a cell phone as a
staying put present. And, with a threat of letting Puppy go at him for
a few hours if he didn't keep it charged, Darla patted him on the cheek
and left for parts unknown, but probably a whole hell of a lot better
Xander removed the phone from its charger, studied it for a moment,
then pressed the talk button. "Hello?"
"Darling! How is my sweetest Childe?"
"Darla!" The younger vampire didn't even try to keep the elation from
his voice. "How's... where exactly are you now? Dru and Bleachboy still
hanging around? How?s the hunting? Terrorize any villages lately? Did
"Xan, honey, I know it's going to be incredibly trying for you, but
shut your mouth for a minute. This wasn't exactly meant to be a social
call. I need you do to Mommy a favor." Xander was slightly taken aback
by the seriousness in her voice. "Watch your back."
The frown returned. "Any specific reason or just in general?"
Darla paused a moment before answering. "Evidently, Miss Edith was
quite chatty last night. Dru keeps ranting about how if her precious
kitten isn't careful he's going to be taken by the green men."
"The green men? What's a green man?"
"How the hell am I supposed to know?" Darla snapped. "I'm not loony.
Just... take care of yourself."
Xander smirked. "Yes Mother."
"Don't get pissy with me, boy. I said take care of yourself and I mean
Xander sighed. "Yes, *Sire*."
"That's better. Now, regal me with the latest news from good ole
"This is not gonna be a simulation, or a training exercise." Riley's
face was hard as he addressed his team. "This is the real deal. Mess up
and you're not cleaning the head, you're a corpse. Got it?" He waited
for the nods of assent before he continued. "The main objective of this
mission is to capture more specimens for study, however, considering
the large number of HSTs that we'll be facing, the Professor and I have
decided that you will have the option to use lethal force, if
Forrest fought hard to keep his eyes focused on Riley and not
rolling upwards. It was painfully obvious who had been the driving
force behind that little change. Walsh didn't give a damn about the
men. All she wanted was more lab rats. Forrest almost shuddered at the
thought of what Riley might have had to... do for the professor to get
her to agree to something like that.
"However, this does not mean you can stake everything that growls
at you." Cornfed eyes fell on an innocently blinking Forrest. "Use your
discretion, but play it smart."
Riley indicated for the men to open their dossier files. "Now, our
target is this building. It used to be known as 'The Bronze'. It was a
popular hangout for teenagers until the vamps took it over."
"Demon nightclub?" Forrest snorted. "Man, this town"s got everything,
A few sparse chuckles were heard throughout the briefing room, but
they died under Riley's glare. Once the others were, quieted his
attention turned back to Forrest, displeasure clearly written on his
usually affable face. "Anything else you'd like to add, Agent Gates?"
Riley gave a silent prayer of thanks at the response. The last
thing he need to worry about was a confrontation with one of his own
people. "All right then. We're gonna be in two teams. One will go in
through the front, the other the back. We should have a pretty good
element of surprise thing going on. These creatures think they own this
town. That they're above humans. We can use that to our advantage. Hit
them hard, and fast."
"Read over the files. Get some rest. We move out at twenty three
hundred hours." He held up a hand before anyone could protest the time.
"I know, I know, wouldn't it be better to raid the place while the
sun's up? According to our intelligence, very few vamps actually nest
there during the day. Night is when the place comes alive... so to
speak." He let his gaze travel over his men, noting the various
expressions on their faces, or in Graham's case, the comforting lack of
any expression. "Any questions? Okay, dismissed."
Xander stalked through the streets of Sunnydale, a sneer firmly
fixed on his face. He had wanted some time alone and had escaped from
the Bronze through the sewer tunnels for that express purpose - Willow
hated the tunnels. But, after only a few hours of freedom he was
returning to the place he had come to loathe.
The night had been a complete waste. He had never had such a disastrous
hunt. There had been no one on the streets! No one! No giggly hormonal
teenagers, no drunk off their ass homeless... It was deader then he
was. Could it be? Did the cattle finally look up and realize they were
grazing outside a slaughterhouse?
Xander just knew something like this was going to happen. Humans
might not be the smartest species on the planet, but if you hit someone
upside the head with something long enough...
This, combined with his earlier talk with Darla just cemented the
idea that had been floating around his head for a while. It was time to
move on. He'd pack a light bag, politely wish the Master all his best,
tell Willow to go suck on a Chaos demon, and be on his way. Sunrise was
still roughly five hours away. He could be in L.A. in three... of
course, to make that work he?d have to steal a car. Good thing he was
Xander stopped suddenly, all his plans disappearing as a lovely
scent assaulted his senses. His nostrils flared, trying to garner more
of that wonderful smell.
Human. A fresh, healthy, regularly bathing, variety of human.
Xander actually felt his mouth begin to water as his ears strained to
pick up the accompanying heartbeat. Maybe the night wasn't going to be
a total wash after all.
Evidently one of the sheep hadn't gotten the memo to be scared
shitless. He rounded the corner of a building and... there he was. Mmm,
such a nice sheep, too. All young, and muscular, and... heavily armed?
Xander blinked as he began to see beyond the initial bloodlust.
Yes, the human was young and well built, but it wasn't the physique of
a regular gym bunny. No, that was the body of someone who was trained
to fight for a living. And, his clothes... At first glance, Xander had
simply wrote them off as a by-product of the severe lack of fashion
sense that assaulted many human males in their twenties. But, upon
closer inspection, the vampire realized those drab clothes were
So, either a militia had decided that Montana had just gotten too
The military had come to Sunnydale.
Of course, he might have been on leave from that base outside town.
But, that certainly didn't explain why he was caring a big gun, and...
something else. The soldier was periodically looking down at something
in his left hand, then looking back up to the buildings. And, he was
slowly, but surely turning towards where Xander was standing.
With a soft curse Xander ducked behind an abandoned car. He didn't know
why, he just knew he had to get out of sight immediately.
This was a new game, a different game, and until he figured out the
rules, the vampire determined that discretion was the better part of
surviving the night.
So, Xander hid behind the car, that tantalizing heartbeat echoing
through his ears.
Graham frowned as his eyes slowly swept the street. There were no
heat signatures on his viewscreen. Nothing. Not even a rat, but... The
Marine could almost swear he felt someone was there. He moved to check
the instrument in his hand again, but before he could, Riley's voice
came over his earpiece.
Graham pocketed his infra-red device and brought his tiny
communicator up to his mouth. "Miller here, Sir." His eyes glanced over
the street again. "Everything's clear. No stragglers."
"Good. Get into position." Riley ordered. "Let's do this."
Xander stealthily followed the soldier, Miller, through the streets of
Sunnydale. He kept roughly half a block between them, but Xander had no
worries about losing track of the human, not with that strong, steady
heartbeat to guide him... unless, of course, it got lost amongst other
strong, steady heartbeats.
The vampire's jaw dropped as he took in the sight a few hundred
yards in front of him. Soldiers. Everywhere. It was like those cheap,
green plastic Army men that came in a bucket had somehow come to life.
"Shit!" Xander ducked into an alley. Darla's warning from Dru rang in
his ears. It was obvious the soldiers were the cryptic 'green men' from
the vision. There was no way their appearance could be considered a
coincidence. On the Hellmouth, there was no such thing as coincidences.
But, why were they here? And, if Dru had been right about their
presence, then could she have also been right about the rest of the
warning? Would the 'green men' try and take him someplace? Xander was
confused and for the first time since his death, frightened. He didn't
like either of those feelings, not one bit.
He knew that trying to take control of the situation was
unrealistic, but assessing it was not. He just needed to be a bit more
removed from things. Xander took in his grimy surroundings. It was an
average alley, and like many other alleys, it had its very own rickety
fire escape hanging perilously to the side of one of the buildings.
Xander jumped up and carefully used the ancient looking apparatus to
make his way to the top.
As the vampire lifted himself onto the roof, he swore again and dropped
into a crouch. There had been movement on a few neighboring rooftops.
More soldiers. Snipers, probably. Xander gently sniffed the air and
sensing no humans on his building, he carefully edged closer to where
the action was going to be. He kept low, not wanting to draw any
attention to himself, and peered over the edge of the roof.
The soldiers looked kind of like big green ants now, except they
weren't scurrying around. Most of them were standing completely still,
waiting. Others were checking various weapons.
Xander gasped, something he hadn't done since the night Darla
ripped open his throat. Even from distance it was easy to recognize the
thing that had suddenly popped out of one of the man's weapons. It was
Suddenly, an idea came into Xander's head. He looked around him at the
various buildings, trying to discern his position. Yes, he knew where
he was, and everything became crystal clear. The 'green men' were after
vampires. They were going to storm the Bronze. These walking blood bags
actually meant business.
Xander slowly sat back on his haunches. What an interesting
dilemma. He knew he should attack first. They thought their back was
secure and surprise might give him the opportunity to tear out a few
jugulars before a stake was stuck in his chest. Or, perhaps he should
try to sound the alarm. Alert his undead brethren. Again, before he was
staked. No, neither of those options sounded particularly appealing,
especially since both scenarios would most likely end with him doing a
permanent impression of a dust bunny.
Of course, there was always a third alternative - hunker down and
wait it out. From his vantage point Xander had a relatively secure
location to watch the show and formulate a course of action based on
the results. Regardless of the outcome, things in Sunnydale were about
to change dramatically. If the vampires were victorious, it would be
short lived when faced with the seemingly limitless supply of manpower
that the military boasted. Kill twenty soldiers today, get two thousand
on your doorstep tomorrow. But, if the soldiers were victorious,
then.... that might not be so bad. Having a government agent kill
Willow would be a whole hell of a lot easier then trying to break up
And, the Master? His Master? As far as Xander was concerned that
backward old fool deserved everything he got. After all, he practically
brought this on himself.
The more Xander thought about it, the more he realized it was only
a matter of time before a raid like this happened. Back in the Middle
Ages or whenever it might have been all right for the population of a
town to be unexplainably decimated. It was simply called an act of God,
or the devil, or something. But, there was no way the modern American
government would be so uncaring about the loss of such a large group of
Xander peered over the side again and watched as the one he had
followed, Miller, put a hand up to his ear, nodded, then motioned to
As they began to move stealthily towards the Bronze Xander felt the
last of his trepidation vanish. This was what he wanted, after all.
Something to shake up the status quo, a challenge. Xander allowed
himself a small grin. He couldn't wait to find out what happened next.
Forrest had never been a particularly religious person. Even when
he was a child and his Nanna had to resort to begging, bribes, and
finally threats to get him to sing in the boys gospel choir at their
church. The idea of an all knowing, all powerful, loving creator was
nice, he supposed, but there was nothing tangible about it. No proof.
Even to his eight year old mind, without evidence, the whole theory
seemed highly ridiculous.
And after learning of the reality of demons, that they actually
existed, did nothing to change his mind where religion was concerned.
The assorted horns, and fangs, and glowing red eyes made no difference
to him. As far as Forrest was concerned, demons were just another new
species scientists had discovered, like that little deer in Vietnam.
They were animals, nothing more and nothing less. And, like other
animals, when they posed a threat to humans they had to be dealt with.
So, it was with great irony that Forrest, the tried and true
atheist of the unit, couldn't stop thinking that his team had just
entered a circle of Hell when they burst through the door of The
The vampires had been expected... their victims had not.
Humans, or what was left of them, littering the floor, chained to the
walls, hanging by various means from the ceiling...
The vampires' shock at such a blatant intrusion was mirrored by the
soldiers' shock over such abominable tortures. Both groups seemed to
recover at the same time. And then, the fight began. Bolts of pure
energy flew through the room, some hitting targets, others leaving
scorch marks on the walls. The blasts that did make their marks were
successful, though. Vampires were going down. Unfortunately, so were
Riley's head whipped around as someone to his left let out a
guttural scream. A magnificent arc of blood caught him in the face as
the vein of a man he had played basketball with was slashed by a single
claw. Riley watched, unbelievingly, as his teammate died right before
his eyes, the man's uniform turning black from the red liquid that was
soaking into it.
The creature that had been holding him, that had killed him, was
grotesque, its face deformed beyond even the normal fangs and brow
ridges. Riley knew he should shoot it, or better still, stake the
bastard, but as those ancient eyes bored into him, the Marine found he
couldn't do much of anything. He was rooted to the spot, paralyzed.
Luckily, though, as the thing in front of him sprang forward, Riley was
able to close his eyes.
Graham's team was faring a bit better. They had burst in through
the back, quickly stunning the vampires there. Then, half had waited,
ready to stop anything that tried to escape, while the others began to
fan out through the back areas of the club.
Graham had found a small staircase behind an unmarked door. Soft
lights reached up to greet him as he cautiously descended into the
basement of the building. The Marine was almost to the bottom when the
smell hit him. His nose twitched, his brow furrowed, and part of his
mind began to try and place the odor, even though something told him he
really didn't want to identify it.
He carefully eased out into the room, his attention immediately drawn
to something on his right. A cage had been built into the wall and
lying on the floor of it...
Now Graham knew where the smell was coming from.
"Shit!" The Marine hurried over to the inert, chained form, easily
slipping in through the unlocked cage door. Tears formed in his eyes as
he bit back the urge to relinquish his last meal. He didn't bother
checking for a pulse, it was obvious the man before him was already
dead. An autopsy would have to be performed to determine the exact
cause of death, but Graham was fairly certain it would have something
to do with the black, bubbled blisters covering the man's chest and
Summer nights spent in the backyard, playing with his younger siblings
while his father barbecued...
Graham shook his head trying to clear his thoughts. There was
nothing he could do here. The Marine turned around and before his brain
could comprehend the figure in front of him, his weapon was knocked
from his grasp and a strong hand had closed around this throat.
"You know," the petite redheaded vampire grinned. "I've been thinking
about getting a new puppy..."
Riley honestly never thought it would end like this. On the rare times
when he did contemplate his death it had always involved one of two
scenarios. Either he would slip away peacefully in his sleep after
reading bedtime stories to a gaggle of grandchildren, or he would go
out in a blaze of glory, fighting 'til the very end for the ideals he
had believed in his entire life.
But, instead of either of those fantasies, he was just standing
there, waiting. The whole thing felt unreal. This wasn't him. This
couldn't be him. As Riley waited for his skin to be sliced open he just
knew this had to be happening to someone else.
He could almost feel the air move as the creature sprang towards
him, but there were no fangs or claws, just a high pitched squeal and
the sharp tang of ozone. As quickly as it had come over him, the
paralysis was gone. Riley opened his eyes and sagged with relief. The
deformed vampire was crumpled on the floor, and Forrest was standing
off to the side, weapon still up, eyes wide with fright.
Forrest moved closer to his friend. "What the...Riley, you were just
standing... What the hell?"
"I c-couldn't move. I just couldn't..."
"Ri!" Forrest snapped. "Now is not the time or place for a breakdown,
you hear me? You gotta keep it together. We need you."
They needed him. His men needed him. That simple statement cut
through the residual fog in his brain. He gave his friend a short nod,
and glanced around the room assessing the situation.
He stared to activate his comm-link, but thought better of it. He was
sure all channels were being monitored, and he really didn't want
certain people to hear this next order. "Spread the word. Walsh has got
her subjects. Kill the rest."
Forrest looked at him in surprise, then smiled grimly and nodded.
Regardless of what just happened, Riley was back, and in his opinion,
the boy was actually starting to make some good decisions. Forrest
began to move through the main room of the club, stepping around
various bodies, dusting vampires, and telling every soldier he could
about the change in plans. He loved the way their eyes lit up. You
don't 'capture' in the middle of a massacre, you kill, and they were
more then ready to do a little avenging.
Out of the corner of his eye, Forrest saw a couple vamps running
towards the back. They were gonna get a not so pleasant surprise in the
form of a waiting B team. Forrest rolled his eyes. Why did Graham
always get the cushy gigs?
"New puppy's all feisty." Willow smiled as her new toy tried to
squirm out of her grasp. Oh, yes, this one was going to be fun to
train. She just knew it.
Graham was desperately prying at the hand around his throat. Black
dots were already swimming in front of his vision, and with each
successive second without oxygen, they were getting bigger. His lungs
were on fire. The girl, thing, in front of him was tiny, but her grip
was like iron.
"Ooh, pretty." She said brightly. "You're turning such nice colors.
All purpley." Then she sighed as Graham's eyes rolled back in his head.
Humans and their silly breathing issues. Willow pulled him close, then
struck out, propelling him across the length of the small cage.
Graham hit the wall hard, his teeth rattling from the impact, but
as he slid to the floor, his lungs gratefully accepted oxygen again.
Quickly gathering his wits, he knew this was just a slight reprieve and
he needed to move. Fast. He blinked, trying to clear the haze from his
eyes, and find an escape route. His chest felt like an elephant had
kicked him, and his neck felt dented, but he wasn't just going to roll
over and play dead for this bitch. He was going to get out of this...
if he could just remember how to use his legs.
Willow licked her lips at the sight sprawled before her. She
pounced. The air whooshed out of Graham's lungs as her weight landed on
top of him. As he tried to get his wind back, again, she grabbed his
arms, pinning them to his side. Graham struggled, trying to buck her
off, amazed that something so small was so heavy.
Willow giggled at his movements, confusing his intentions. "Puppy
wants to play?" She ground herself into his pelvis. It had been so long
since she found someone who was willing to actively participate.
Graham gritted his teeth, face scrunching in disgust. He wasn't
getting paid nearly enough to go through something like this. The thing
was gonna use him to get off? What the hell ever happened to just
ripping out his throat and being done with it? Graham shook his head,
his muscles straining to break from her grasp, refusing to just lie
back and take this treatment.
"Oh, yes." Willow looked adoringly down at him squirming beneath
her, oblivious to his repulsion. "You're gonna be a good puppy." She
frowned slightly. "Not that I don't like our old puppy. I mean, he's
okay. Still screams and sizzles and everything, but he's gotten kind of
boring, you know?"
She smiled again. "But you. We're gonna have fun with you. Not too
much fun yet, though, 'cause you're all human... Hey, I could take care
of that right now, couldn't I?"
"I *suppose* I should wait for Xander." She rolled her eyes. "But
he plays with things all the time without asking me, so..." She
released his arms, but immediately put one of her hands hand in the
center of his chest, holding him down, while the other grabbed his
short hair. She yanked his head to the side, exposing a soft expanse of
Willow lowered her head slowly, savoring the fear in the air, the
resignation in Graham's eyes. The seconds before the kill were always
so perfect. Lost in the rapture, the vampiress didn't hear the flurry
of movement behind her until it was too late. Willow hissed in surprise
as a chain was slipped over her head and tightened around her throat.
She was yanked backwards off the human, the iron digging painfully into
the immortal, yet still delicate tissue.
Graham watched all this in shock. His own death had been preempted
by the resurrection of the burned man on the floor. But that was
impossible. Nothing could have survived what he obviously went through.
Nothing human anyway.
The question of the other man's species was answered when the
redhead elbowed him sharply in one of his wounds. He yelped and his
face shifted in response to the pain. It was a vampire, and evidently
it was pretty well pissed at the redhead... not that Graham could
really fault it for that.
They struggled a bit more, and just as Graham was realizing he
should actually stop watching and try and do something the male looked
at him and said, "Run."
Run, right. Good idea. But Graham had a better one. He frantically
glanced around the cage looking for... There! He dove for the corner
coming up on his knees, his taser in his hands and aimed before he
could even consciously think about it. He pressed the trigger, hitting
the female vampire square in the chest. The electricity moved through
her body and into the male's. They both immediately dropped to the
floor, out cold.
Using the wall for support, Graham shakily got to his feet, and
headed out of the cage toward the stairs. Someone else could figure all
this out later, he had a mission to complete.
From his perch, Xander had watched as many comings and going as he
could with an unusually avid interest. This was better then those real
life video things on Fox.
At first it had been boring, and Xander began to worry that the
vampires had won and the idiots were feasting on those hard, young
bodies without him. The very idea was almost enough to make him want to
be loyal to his peers... almost.
Then, thankfully, vehicles began to rumble through the streets.
Large, green vehicles. Transports. And Xander's attention was piqued
again. He didn't have the best vantage point in the world, but he was
able to discern basically what had transpired. The humans had won, and
evidently, a vampire consolation prize was to be tied up and loaded
onto one of the vehicles.
That was different.
Xander watched as the vehicles were filled, then secured, then
turned around to rumble back the way they came. The soldiers left too,
though Xander could tell there were less of them then there had been.
He wondered if it would be safe to enter the Bronze now, or if
there would be sentries posted. It's not like he really *needed*
anything from his room, he just wanted to salvage some of his stuff.
Not the phone though. Darla might get worried if he stopped answering
altogether, but as much as he loved his Sire, he didn't care to hear
her input on the situation. She would probably order him to leave town.
To hop the next freighter even if it was carrying horse shit to
He didn't want to receive such a command because, in all honesty,
he didn't want to leave Sunnydale anymore. Why would he? As far as
Xander was concerned, this town had just gotten interesting.
"Thirty three test subjects! Quite an impressive haul, Agent Finn."
Maggie smiled proudly, fully expecting to see a similar look of
accomplishment reflected on Riley's face.
It was not there. "Yes, Ma'am," he said grimly. "But they came with a
Maggie opened her mouth to impart one of her mother's favorite
sayings. But, she stopped as she realized the folly of comparing a
mission to an omelette, and referring to dead Marines as eggs, at least
in present company. "Yes, the price. It's truly heart-rending when we
lose good men."
Riley nodded solemnly. In his mind there was no such thing as an
acceptable casualty. Not on his team. Five Marines had died, and Riley
felt responsible for each of them. He had gone over the raid countless
times in his mind, and one scene stuck out at him. In all honesty he
knew it probably had nothing to do with the deaths of any of his men,
but that wasn't to say it wouldn't be a contributing factor next time.
They couldn't afford to have any weak links. So, Riley cleared his
throat, and dropped his bomb. "I think it might be best if I were taken
off active duty."
Maggie's mouth fell open, then promptly shut again. This had
certainly not been expected. Not for the first time, she wondered about
the inner workings of that pretty head of his. "Oh, you do?" She made
sure her voice was liberally laced with sarcasm. All the better to
undermine whatever shortcoming he had managed to convince himself of.
"And why exactly is that, Agent Finn?"
The tone of her voice was not missed, but Riley had prepared
himself for derision. He knew that Maggie favored him, and she often
shared her opinions about how far Riley would rise in his chosen
career. But, even she would have to concede to the facts. "I assume
you've read my report?" His expression remained neutral.
"Yes." Maggie replied carefully.
"I froze Ma'am. I was faced with a charging hostile and I froze. If
Agent Gates hadn't have been there-"
Maggie waved her hand dismissvely, cutting him off. "As I said, I
did read your report, and I can say with utmost certainty that your
reaction had nothing to do with a lack of ability on your part."
Riley blinked at her, confusion plainly written on his face.
"Evidently," Maggie continued, "We underestimated some members of
this species. It appears the vampire that attacked you has some sort
of... mental powers. It stunned several guards and one of my
Riley looked alarmed. "Was anyone hurt?"
It had been a nightmare. The fact that just one creature had
undermined nearly everything Maggie Walsh had staked her reputation-
"Hmm? Oh, no. Luckily the behavior modification chip was already in
place. They managed to subdue it fairly quickly."
"Why wasn't I told-?"
"It was a non-event, Agent Finn. And, in case you were wondering, the
answer to your request is no."
Considering the new information, Riley was quite relieved with that
decision. And it showed.
Maggie almost smiled as the tension flowed out of the young man. He
would really need to learn to curb those self-sacrificing impulses. "If
"Actually, Ma'am, it isn't. I have something I'd like to ask you."
Maggie's eyebrows raised expectantly, one hand unconsciously reaching
down to smooth her skirt. "Yes, Riley?"
"Well, Ma'am, the men have been through a lot lately, what with the
fighting, and losing some of their own, and the... people we found in
the club..." Riley's voice faltered for a moment. "I think they need a
break and I was hoping you'd grant permission for a little R&R."
Her mind whirred for a few seconds, clicking away all the pros and
cons of such a request. "All right. You can have the weekend." She felt
quite proud that she was being so understanding towards her men's
emotional wellbeing. After all, they were only human. "But, I want
everyone back and in fighting form come Monday."
"Yes, Ma'am." Riley grinned, and Maggie's heart skipped a beat.
Xander quietly stared at the beer bottle in front of him. It was an
ordinary bottle, containing a piss poor excuse for alcohol, yet even
that was infinitely better tasting then the fat-free, low salt tripe
this place had the gall to pass off as pretzels. The vampire had never
fathomed the possibility that one day he would actually miss Willy's.
It had been almost twenty four hours since the raid on the Bronze, and
there was no telling what the 'green men' might be going after next.
The regular demon bars were too dangerous, so, Xander had come to
Moe's, one of the few human bars still operating in Sunnydale. He
raised his head and rolled his shoulders, surreptitiously checking out
the hole-in-the-wall's other clientele.
Xander couldn't remember the last time he had seen so many
non-bleeding humans in a room. There were nine of them, not counting
the bar's employees. It had been a bit of a shock, seeing so many 'free
range' meals gathered in one spot. But, the shock had turned to
understanding when Xander began paying attention to the snippets of
conversation floating around him.
All talk, slurred or otherwise, centered on the 'gang war' that had
happened the previous night. The 'PCP addicts' that had been
terrorizing the town for years had been taken down by a rival group.
Probably from L.A. Probably heroin junkies. Or maybe they were using
that new sex drug. That ecstasy stuff.
Xander's eyes rolled back into his head as he had a flashback to
tenth grade English. "What fools these mortals be..." he murmured. And,
with a slight, unidentifiable pang for a Willow that was lost forever,
he reached for his bottle again, tipping it upwards, letting the still
cold liquid flow into his mouth... and then by some miracle managing to
keep it from shooting out of his nose.
When the door to the small bar had opened, Xander's eyes, along
with everyone else's, had darted towards it, instinctively. But, while
everyone else had immediately classified the newcomers as slumming frat
boys, Xander had known better. Xander had recognized one of them.
It was Miller, the soldier he had followed the night before. And
judging by their physical appearance, the other two people with him
were part of the same outfit. But why were they at Moe's?
Xander recovered himself and set the bottle back down on the table.
Were they looking for vampires? Were they looking for him? He risked a
few glances at the group of young humans. They were wearing normal
clothes, and they weren't carrying any obvious weapons.
Xander watched as the humans paid for and picked up the beers that
had been placed on the counter. After a few seconds debate, they
headed for one of the unoccupied tables towards the back of the room.
They really didn't seem to be that concerned with their fellow patrons.
Maybe they'd already reached their vampire quota for the month. It
certainly didn't seem like they were actively searching for demons, but
their proximity was more then a bit disconcerting for Xander.
He could handle this. He knew he could handle this. He just needed
to... breathe. Xander closed his eyes and purposefully inhaled. He
waited a second, pushed the air back out, then repeated the process.
After moment it was happening unconsciously. His body was still young
enough to remember when respiration was a necessity, and it adapted
well to this, albeit now strange request. That was good. His face was
in its human guise, his chest was lifting and falling in a regular
fashion, and he knew that, as long as no one got too close, he could
pass for a normal mortal.
Forrest grimaced as his hand came into contact with the sticky
surface of their table. "Nice place. Really. Loving the atmosphere."
"Baby." Graham said scornfully. "I like it." He glanced around the
room. "It's... colorful."
"If by colorful you mean 'shitty', then, yes, it?'s colorful."
"Can it." Riley commanded, a frown on his face. Something had been
bothering him since they had entered the building, and he had finally
realized what it was. He nodded towards the front of the room. "Check
out the guy at the end of the bar."
Forrest's eyes slid in that direction and he raised an eyebrow. "Nice,
but I prefer blondes."
"Funny. That was... Seriously, though, don't you guys think he... looks
a little strange?"
Graham fondly smiled at his Midwestern CO. "Ri, this is California, you
think everyone looks a little strange."
"No I don?t. I-" Riley scowled. "Don't tell me, we're back to the Iowa
"Would we do that to you?" Somehow Graham managed to keep a
straight face, though the corners of his eyes crinkled. "Okay, you said
seriously, so, let's be serious. What're you thinking, Ri? He a
The ribbing had been good natured, but Riley was still sheepish
about his proclamation. "Maybe. You know, vampires *can* look human."
"Vampires!" Forrest looked at his friend in disbelief. "Vampires. Yeah,
a vampire that eats pretzels and drinks beer."
Graham shrugged. "Maybe it's blood lite."
Riley dropped his head to his hands as Forrest glared at their
teammate. "You know, later, we're gonna have to beat you for that,
Riley lifted his head and spread out his hands. "You know what, forget
"No, we're not gonna forget it." Forrest said with finality.
"Something's telling you that that guy's a little off, and I'm gonna
check it out."
Riley was almost afraid to ask, but did it anyway. "How?"
"Well, I figure I'll walk over there, pretend to trip, grab onto his
arm for support and check for a pulse."
"No." Forrest reached over and flicked Riley on his forehead, then got
up and moved to the bar.
Xander had been furtively watching the trio at the table. Miller,
and the other two, who Xander had decided to call 'The Player', and
'The Yokel', had been laughing and joking with each other, behaving
like a group of normal young men. The vampire found it hard to relate
the three men sitting at the table to any of the soldiers he had seen
by the Bronze.
Hard... but not impossible. Under those joking exteriors were the
bodies of fighters. They were hard, but their movements, even the most
common of them, were utterly graceful. They were masses of well toned,
well trained, muscles. Tight packages of flesh built for endurance,
One corner of Xander's mouth quirked up. Oh, now *that* was an
interesting idea. One that could work. One that could definitely work.
He had been mulling over doing something on a grand scale. A kind
of thing that would have his name being whispered reverently in demon
communities all over the world. But, those were usually the plans that
ended up coming apart at the seams. And Xander was still young, real
notoriety could wait a few decades. However, the chance to have a
little fun had just announced itself in big, bright letters, and who
was he to pass up on such an opportunity? After all, if the soldiers
weren't actively hunting tonight then they probably didn't have any
back-up. Just the three little humans, all out by their lonesome.
This was going to be a fun game.
The brief, predatory grin stretched Xander's lips. That's what he was.
A predator. And, the vampire decided it was high time he started acting
like one again.
So, when the Player sidled up next to him and politely asked the
bartender for a bowl of pretzels, Xander didn't flinch, or go on the
offensive, he just sat there quietly observing how the soldier quietly
The Player gave him a slight nod, and a "Hey." Xander return the
noncommittal gestures. The Player got his pretzels and went back to the
Riley was practically jumping out of his seat by the time Forrest got
"A little pale for my tastes, but alive and kicking... well, breathing,
"What, you *want* to face another hostile so soon?" Forrest asked,
"No. it's just..."
"Look, we've got a weekend furlough, and by the way, I don't even
want to think about what you had to do to pull that off-" Graham
snickered while Riley looked befuddled. "-and we're approximately a
three hour drive away from one of the most debauched cities on the
planet. I say, tomorrow, we head down to L.A. All in favor?"
"I could get with that." Graham said.
"L.A.?" Riley frowned. "I don't know if... You guys are just gonna drag
me down there anyway, aren't you?"
Riley smiled. "All right. We'll go to L.A." He looked at Forrest.
"Son, by the time you leave there you won't think anybody in *this*
town looks strange again... not even the demons."
Xander watched as the Yokel, the Player, and Miller rose from their
table and calmly walked to the door, relaxed smiles on their faces.
The vampire waited roughly a minute and a half, his anticipation
steadily building. He then slid off his barstool, and followed his prey
into the Sunnydale night.
Their car was only parked half a block away, but Riley, Forrest, and
Graham didn't cover one hundred feet of the distance before they knew
something was wrong. They couldn't see, or hear anything that might be
considered a threat, but nevertheless they knew one was out there. It
was an instinct each human was born with but only a select few ever
cultivated It was like a giant neon sign had lit up in each of their
brains, screaming 'DANGER'.
Very subtly, almost everything about the young men changed. Their
postures, the way they stood, the way they carried themselves, all
shifted in response to the, as yet, unidentified threat.
Riley silently cursed as his suddenly shrewd eyes scanned the
surrounding area. His hand unconsciously drifted under his jacket,
needing to feel the reassuring bit of plastic stuck into the back of
his jeans. The question of whether they should take any weapons with
them on this little jaunt had been a no-brainer, but their usual
equipment was a bit too obvious to go with their civilian attire. The
tiny, hand held tasers each man had grabbed and subsequently concealed
on their person seemed like perfect alternatives. Each one only had
enough power to take a single vamp, but after their performance at the
club the previous night, what would be the chances of them meeting up
with one, let alone, three vampires?
The thought of retaliation hadn't even entered their minds, until they
were standing on a darkened Sunnydale street, with dinky little weapons
and without a whole platoon behind them.
Of course, they could easily summon the rest of the team. Each of
their cell phones had a 'panic button', preprogrammed to send a direct
alarm to the nerve center of the Initiative base. But, what if it was
just a vampire, or even two? They could surely handle two vampires.
Besides, the embarrassment factor present in three senior agents
calling out the calvary over what would most likely amount to just a
couple of hostiles was more then enough to keeps their phones securely
A shuffling sound drew the Marine's attention to a nearby alley.
Switches were flipped and a low electrical hum filled the air. They
were ready, as ready as they could be, and any vampire that they
encountered that night was going to be facing one hell of a fight...
Unfortunately, for the Marines at least, the creature that ambled out
of the alley wasn't a vampire.
In fact, it wasn't anything the humans had ever seen before.
Though, Forrest did manage to come up with an appropriate greeting for
the unidentified beast.
"What the fucking hell?!?"
The wyvern cocked it's head and blinked. What was this? Humans?
But, that wasn't right. It had been drawn to the Sunnydale Hellmouth by
the stories, the wondrous stories, of a town virtually free from the
human pestilence. But, then to simply see three of them on the street.
Unattended, unshackled, unmarked... how utterly disappointing.
And one of them was saying something, rather rudely, by the sound of
it. Oh, that wouldn't do.
The small dragon stepped forward as the lower beings stepped back. At
least the humans had enough where-with-all to be properly afraid of
such an advanced being... or, so it thought. But then, one of the
glorified primates raised its hand. It was holding something. A weapon
of some kind? What complete and total impudence! This situation needed
to be dealt with.
With a loud bellow, the wyvern sprang, startling the humans. A
strong, serpentine tail swung around sending one man flying, and
clipping another on his shoulder. Cries of pain and alarm sprang up.
They were like music. The Wyrven concentrated on the third human. Its
beak snapped at the air, anxious to tear into flesh.
Then, a bright light. Pain. PAIN. It screamed. Wings flexed. It's
chest puffed in outrage. What was that?! The human had done that! His
blood would flow.
The Wyrven started to lunge but was caught by another blast. More
pain. Seizing its central nervous system. Not stopping it, but going a
long way towards slowing it down. It was confused, staggering slightly.
Humans with the ability to call lightning itself? That was unheard of,
but both of the apes that were still standing seemed to have that
ability. The Wyrven lashed out in the general direction of the mortals,
then hastily retreated before either human could call their magics
No, the Hellmouth was definitely not all it was cracked up to be.
"What the hell was that? What the hell *was* that?!" Forrest's wide
eyes darted around the once again deserted street, adrenaline still
pumping harshly through his veins.
More than a bit shaken himself, Riley merely shook his head at the
question. "Are you o..." The word 'okay' died on his lips as Riley
really *looked* at his friend. No, Forrest was not all right, though
the endorphine rush was probably keeping him from feeling any pain...
The logic defying angle of Forrest's right arm was enough to snap
Riley out of any lingering shock. He finally hit the panic button on
the phone, knowing that within ten minutes a full team, including
medical personnel, would be at their location.
"Okay, help's gonna be here soon, Forrest." Riley struggled to keep
his voice even. "Do you need to sit down, or... something?"
"Sit down? Why?"
"Uh. No reason."
Forrest's brow furrowed as some of his more adamant nerve impulses
finally began to be heard. "Ri... I think there's something wrong with
Riley swallowed. "Um. Yeah. But, you're gonna be fine. The medics are
coming, and everything's-"
"Riley?" Forrest cut him off, suddenly realizing something more
important than hearing false assurances.
Everything hurt. No, that was an understatement. What Graham was
feeling was beyond normal words like 'hurt', and 'ache', and 'ow'. For
this pain he needed big words. Dictionary words. But, he had to shake
it off. Had to get up and finish the game. It was the playoffs and
Graham couldn't afford to be hurt. He had to get up. Couldn't be the
hero, guy with the ball was the hero, but he could help that guy get to
the endzone, and that was enough. He just had to get up.
But... he couldn't. Something was wrong. His arms were behind his back
and there was something... something... wrapped around his wrists. He
couldn't move his legs either. His ankles were tied together. Tied?
There was something covering his mouth too. And, his eyes...
Graham physically shook his head trying to clear the fog. He just
needed to get his bearings. He wasn't in high school. The football game
where he had gotten knocked out had happened over five years ago. He
was a Marine. He was part of the Initiative. They were in Sunnydale
fighting demons, like that thing that had come out of the alley. That
big, lizard thing with the long tail. The tail had come right at him.
He had gotten hit. He had gone down. And, obviously, he had been found
by something with arms, though, the coarse material binding his hands
and feet together pretty much guaranteed it wasn't a friendly.
Graham began to test his bonds, trying to find some slack. There
wasn't any. He tried again, ignoring the pain as the restraints bit
into his wrists.
Xander's eyes flickered from the form on the bed to the drivers
license in his hand. The other contents of the human's wallet had been
filed away either in Xander's pockets or the trash can, but he had kept
the license out. An impassive face stared up at him from the laminated
surface. Beside the typical lamentable DMV photo there was the average
information. Date of birth, social security number, address... Xander
ran his thumb across the smooth surface and wondered if there was
anyone there, maybe waiting for a nightly phone call. A mother? A
brother? He idly imagined what they might do when they realized that
phone call hadn't come. How long would it take, how many calls would be
missed, before panic set in? And, then, how long would it take for
their hope to die? How long before the cold, stark, realization that
they'd never see their son again. He imagined copious amounts of tears.
Quiet tears, though. People of their stock didn't grieve out loud.
Trophies and mementos would be packed... No. No, they would be kept
out, put on display. Maybe in a long unused childhood bedroom. A shrine
to their lost, little boy.
Xander smirked. Part of him wished he could see it. He briefly reveled
in the fact that his actions in Sunnydale could cause such drama
thousands of miles away.
His gaze turned back to the human. For the second time in as many days,
fate been on his side. Xander had been content to simply follow the
three solders, knowing that the right moment to strike would come
along, but not thinking it would happen so quickly. But, with the
lizard-type-thing distracting the others, and this one knocked out
cold, the vampire would have been a fool to miss the opportunity.
For a while Xander was a bit worried that the soldier had been
seriously damaged, and dragging the body back to his new lair had been
pointless. That just wouldn't have been fair at all. But the human was
awake now, and already struggling. Xander grinned. He might have to
break out the chains for this one.
But, first, it was time for introductions.
Xander leaned forward and gently removed the blindfold. Dilated
blue eyes blinked up at him rapidly. Confusion was quickly replaced by
recognition, and then an almost grim realization.
"Hello, Graham." The vampire smiled, showing teeth. "My name's
Xander. I'm going to be your captor this evening... and the rest of
your probably very short life."
let me explain to you how this is
all going to work." Xander's
eyes were bright as they traveled over
face. "First of all,
we're just gonna skip over all that 'You
can?t do this', 'My friends will
save me', 'Oh, God. No. Stop',
because I'm tired of it. And, frankly,
I just think you're a better class of victim
no backup, no funky little electric
company sponsored toys."
No, that was safely out on the kitchen
next to the Marine's cell
phone. "It's just you and me." Xander let
his hand ghost over Graham's
shoulder and down his arm, smiling as the
human automatically recoiled
from his touch. "You *could* fight
me every step of the way... but I
don't think you will.?
had a very different opinion about
that. For obvious reasons, he
had never given much thought about what
might happen if he ever got
captured, and he never had reason to
on how he would behave.
enjoyed the stubborn set to Graham's
face. Even tied up and
gagged the human still thought he had some
option in the matter. "So,
you a Ravens fan?"
blinked at the question.
is Baltimore's football team, right? The
felt a cold knot begin to form in
the pit of his stomach.
don't know, maybe it's just the hellspawn
in me, but I think I'd have
to be a fan." Xander smiled wistfully. "My
wouldn't have felt the same way, but then,
she never was too fond of
Poe. When she was human she thought
he was too dark, and after she was
turned, well, big words hurt her head. But,
we're not talking about the
people in *my* life right now, are we?"
stayed completely still as Xander
gently pulled down his gag,
trying to ignore the brush of cold fingers
against his face. He knew
where the vampire was going with this
innocent line of
conversation. It was instinctive,
like the icy tingles of pure fear that
had started to diffuse through his body.
let his fingertips lightly rest against
the warm skin of the
human's jaw, feeling the blood steadily
rush below the fragile dermis.
The mortal's heartrate had picked up, but
his face had paled, not
flushed, and as Xander peered down into
sky blue eyes he could plainly
see the horror there. Good. Graham
understood what had just been
brought into play, but that didn't mean
Xander couldn't have a little
more fun with his implications. After
all, drawing it out could be so
figured, you look like a football
type of guy. And, since you
are from Baltimore." The vampire held
Graham's drivers license up, and
grinned. "We're gonna play a little
game. And, if you do everything
exactly the way I tell you, I won't have
to slaughter your family."
head swam, and his stomach heaved. This
wasn't supposed to
happen. This *wasn?t* supposed to
happen! He had never even entertained
the possibility of a situation like this. It
was too extreme, too
farfetched, too... unreal. It was
unreal. It would never happen. Never
flared in Graham's eyes, and he spoke,
his voice hoarse and raw. "You're
cocked his head. "Maybe." He nodded once,
thoughtfully. "Maybe I
wouldn't travel all the way across the
just because you wouldn't
play nice." He leaned in towards Graham's
face until only inches
separated them. "Or, maybe I have
a demon straight from hell inside of
me and will be pissed off enough at your
disobedience to hunt down and
eliminate your entire bloodline." He
grinned. "It's not like I have
anything else to do."
heard the truth in that statement,
but more importantly, he saw
the resolve in those gold flecked brown
eyes. And fear on a whole new
level rushed through him.
mean, really, I'm not asking for much,
am I?" Xander asked. "Your
submission for your family's wellbeing. Come
on, we both already know
the answer. You're a stand up kind
of guy, there's no way you'd ever let
anyone suffer in your place, especially
a member of your own family, your
flesh and blood. Think about it, Graham.
Think about... what I could do
to your mother."
shut his eyes and turned his face
into the pillow. Fear, and
pride, and rage, and humiliation battled
inside of him. His instincts
told him to fight, that his survival was
tantamount. But, his head, his
head knew that the monster was right. If
Graham didn't get out of this
situation alive, and he was well aware his
chances for that existed
somewhere between slim and none, what was
to stop the demon from doing
whatever the hell it wanted? Nothing.
Nothing at all.
refusing to look at the vampire, he
whispered, "What do you want
me to do?"
grinned. He had played the family
card, and it had worked like a
charm. Whether he would do anything
wasn't relevant. It was the fact
that he could. The human understood
that, and as long as he kept that in
mind everything would run relatively
at least until Xander
wanted it to be rough. He let out
a rumbling, throaty, "Hmmmm..."
quickly strode down the sterile looking
corridors. He wanted to
run, but he knew that kind of display from
their CO would just worry his
men more. Still, he moved with haste,
nimbly navigating his way around
slower moving soldiers, biting his tongue
to keep from yelling at them in
debriefing was tedious and seemed to
take forever, though, in
actuality, it was the shortest he had ever
attended. Walsh had taken the
information on the unknown HST, and, eyes
gleaming, headed off to her
command center to plan a course of action. A
protesting Riley had to be
escorted to the infirmary by two MPs. He had
been poked and prodded, and
when the doctor finally made certain he
wasn't suffering from anything as
unseemly as shock, he was released with
the advice to lay down and get
some rest. Like hell.
he knew what was best for his patient,
the doctor refused to
give him any kind of progress report, on
either Forrest's or Graham's
conditions. It almost earned him a
broken jaw. But, somehow, Riley
managed to keep his fists at his side,
the look on his face had
spoken volumes and was probably the reason
no one had actually tried to
enforce the doctor's orders.
Riley was headed for the one place where
he knew, one way or
another, he could get some answers. Ahead of
him the corridor opened
into the cavernous main area of the
troops and equipment, he made his way to
spotted him. "Riley." She
frowned at his coloring, noting the
unhealthy pallor to his skin. "You
should be in-"
me what's happened."
sighed. "I've sent teams out. So far there's
no sign of the
creature you described, but if you wounded
it it couldn't have gotten too
shook his head, annoyed, but not surprised
that the creature had come
first. "What about Graham, and Forrest?"
Gates' injury was... extensive. But, they
did manage to save his
arm, though, he won't be using it for a
Graham? Agent Miller?"
sighed again. Why couldn't the
boy have just gone to bed like he
was told. Then, when he woke up, she
would have thought of reasonable,
incontrovertible, fabricated answers to
any possible questions, because
the truth wasn't going to go over very well.
"I've called off the
blinked. "You've... What do you
mean, you've called off the
Finn." Her voice was suddenly
sharp. She didn't have time to
coddle him. "Our team scoured the
place you were attacked. The street.
The alley. Even the surrounding buildings.
There was no trace of him."
we widen the area."
was somehow thrown clear then there
is only so far he would have
been able to go. We would have found
him by now."
if something got him?"
him? We aren't in some second
rate slasher movie, Agent."
if the lizard thing travels in pairs? What
if while one attacked
me and Forrest, the other grabbed Graham?"
if you leave the military and pursue
a career in writing fiction?"
one that's even more plausible."
stared at her for a moment, and
slammed into him. He
bristled. "Graham is *not* a deserter. There
is no way in hell he would
run away. No. Way. In. Hell."
almost stepped back at the vehemence
in the young man's voice.
She swallowed and took a shaky breath. "You
will watch yourself, Agent
Finn. It would be a shame if your
record was blemished with
wanted to snarl at her, tell her just
what he thought of his damn
record. But, instead, he straightened
his spine, and threw back his
shoulders. "I want to lead a team."
be prepared to put me in the brig,
well aware that this was not an idle
threat. "And just what
would you do with a team if you got one?"
find the HSTs for you."
convinced that Agent Miller was taken
by one of them."
knew that for the purpose of finding
his friend, this would be an
exercise in futility, but she also knew
that, of all the men in the
Initiative, Riley would be the most likely
to successfully bring in the
unknown creature. And, if he did find
Agent Miller in the process, well,
then everybody could be happy. "All
fragment of the tension residing
in Riley's long frame eased at
the affirmative answer. He didn't
want to think about why she had given
in so easily, or what it might cost him
in the future. He just wanted to
find his friend. He gave Walsh a terse
nod and headed off in the
direction of the armory.
watched him for a few seconds, then
she motioned a nearby Dr.
Angleman over. "I want you to look
over these specifications for the
latest addition to the project."
the thin folder she was offering
him. "How long do you think
it's going to be before Finn stops deluding
it you heard?" Maggie asked
help it." He shrugged. "Do you really
think you should
encourage him? There's only one way
Miller could have gotten out of that
alley before our men got there, and that's
under his own steam. I'm sure
he's well on his way to Mexico now. Or,
Canada. Probably Canada, he
always struck me as kind of a strange guy."
Oh, come on, Maggie! Don't tell me Finn
managed to sell you
on part of this. I know he's your
golden boy, but-"
didn't sell me on anything. I
found his argument to be childish,
his explanation ludicrous, and I do wish
he would stop forming all these
emotional attachments to his subordinates.
But, part of me has to wonder
if, maybe, we are overlooking something."
fairly simple to me."
shook her head. In her mind,
it was anything but simple. "If
there had been anything in Miller's
workup that even hinted
at him abandoning his post then he would
never have been allowed in the
program. In fact, all of his personality
tests showed he was loyal
almost to a fault."
can be wrong."
designed those tests."
eyes dropped. He changed
his tactic. "I suppose Finn's
theory is... feasible, although, if he's
correct, I certainly wouldn't
lay odds on finding Miller alive. If a demon
did take him, his bones
have probably been picked clean by now."
that, we agree." Walsh put a hand
to her temple and briefly shut her
eyes. "It would be a great loss to
this unit. We have to make sure the
remaining men are extra careful now. We're
not pumping millions of
dollars of chemicals into their systems
just to watch them go down the
walked around the room, his eyes slowly,
methodically, going over every inch of his 'cell'. The first seven
times he had done this exercise he had found nothing useful, but he had
to keep trying, had to keep looking. There must have been something
doors, one open, leading to a small bathroom.
The other closed, locked, leading to what Graham presumed was a way
out. No windows. One bed, brass, neatly made except for the wrinkles in
the cover showing where Graham's body had lain earlier. One table,
made of ornately worked pieces of iron, welded together. No loose
pieces. No dressers, or bureaus, or desks. Nothing wooden.
the regular fixtures, the bathroom
was just as barren A toilet. A glass encased showerstall. A porcelain
sink. A mirrored, empty medicine cabinet. The only
auxiliary things were the extra rolls of toilet paper and bars of soap
that sat under the sink.
had to admit that the vampire did
a good job of clearing the place out. But there was one thing that
spoke of it's previous owner, that told the Marine this wasn't the
normal lair. The purple and white daisies on the bedspread.
used to *live* there, and not too
long ago. If Graham put his face into the pillow and breathed deeply
he could just make out something. The faintest whiff of strawberries.
It wasn't strong enough to be perfume. Maybe shampoo. Whoever
had lived there had used strawberry shampoo and liked the look of
and white daisies. And had invited the wrong person in one night. Or
maybe it had just taken her on the street, killing her before she had
a chance to scream, and then pocketing her keys. Graham didn't know. He
didn't want to know. Didn't want to think about why he wasn't
just killed on the street as well.
course, not wanting to think about something
invariably leads to thinking about that exact thing. The Marine leaned
against one of the walls as he once again began to speculate on what
going to happen to him. Every single vampire victim, both alive and
dead, he had ever seen flickered in front of his eyes. Everything
he had read. Everything he had learned. Everything he knew
these creatures were capable of.
slowly slid down until he was sitting
on the floor, eyes staring blindly ahead, mind filled with unspeakable
horrors. Graham had thought he made his peace with death a long time
ago. He knew signing up that he would be put into situations where
people would try to kill him, where he would have to kill them first.
It was his job. For better or for worse, he had always thought that
when it was his time, he wasn't going to make a big fuss over going.
come to that decision during 'special'
training. Back when he was learning sniper skills and how to repel
out of a helicopter without breaking both legs. Of course, then,
in any conceivable action he would have been a part of, death was easy.
Double tap to the head. Knife across the throat. Five seconds
at the most.
Then, goodbye cruel world, hello whatever
comes next. And, he was cool with that.
vampire wasn't going to abide by
those rules. It didn't want him dead, at least, not yet. It
wanted to play first. It had even used that word. Play. Graham had no
illusions about what was going to happen. He wasn't
an idiot, he wasn't naive... and he couldn't do anything to stop it.
was going to be the hardest part, just
laying back and taking whatever the thing threw at him. But he couldn't
fight back, no matter what. Unless... unless he could actually figure
out a way to kill the demon. The deceptively innocent looking demon
from hell that had threatened his family.
that was the crux of everything. The monster
had brought his family into this. Graham knew he could
always rush the vampire. If the moment was right, and he had surprise
on his side, he might even be able to get out of the bedroom. And,
if he was lucky, *really* lucky, there might be something to use
as a weapon outside. The thing couldn't have gotten rid of *all*
of the wooden products in the entire apartment, right?
thought about all this. Mulled
it over, tried to come up with all possible scenarios, weighing the
in his mind. If it was just his life on the line he'd do it, no
hesitation. But, that wasn't the case this time, and Graham didn't want
to do anything
to piss off the vamp.
snorted at the thought, disgust clearly
heard in the derogatory sound. He banged the back of his head against
the wall. Then, for good measure, he banged it a few more times. Maybe
if he hit it hard enough he would stop thinking about how long it
was going to take him to die. He would stop worrying about whether
or not his family would be safe even with his cooperation. He would
stop wondering what the vampire meant when it said it was going out for
supplies. He banged his head a few more times.
in the dull thump that was produced
as his skull hit the painted drywall, Graham almost didn't notice the
scrape of a deadbolt being slid back. But he was fully aware, and
on his feet, when the door to the bedroom opened. He blinked at his
captor, not quite getting what he was seeing. Of all the things he
expected the vampire to walk through the door with, a bag from a fast
restaurant wasn't one of them.
you might be hungry," it said
with a slight smile.
didn't think he was, but at the sight
of that brown bag with the red and yellow on it, his stomach growled
a Pavlovian response.
out the bag. "Here."
licked his lips. "No... thanks."
vampire blinked, then, in an instant
he was in front of Graham, pressing the Marine into the wall, a cold,
strong hand once again at his throat. "Here I am, trying to do
all nice, and *this* is how you act?!"
Graham made a small sound of
protest as inhuman fingers pressed harshly into his already bruised
quick as it had appeared, Xander's rage
was gone. He frowned and released his hold on the Marine's neck,
though he didn't move away. Instead, his questing fingers pulled
aside the collar of Graham's shirt, revealing dark purple bruises.
"Well, something got too close, didn't it?" Xander's eyes darkened. He
hated the fact that something had marred his newest acquisition before
he got the chance to do it himself. That was all right, though. If the
human lived long enough bruises would heal. They wouldn't
leave a trace. Xander just had to make sure that whatever he did,
would. All the greats signed their work, didn't they?
had been thinking also. It seemed
his intentions towards this mortal were changing every other minute.
Food. Fodder. Fuck toy. A vamp could go nuts over the
whole thing. And he hadn't been sure why he was waffling about any
of this, after all, he knew what he was supposed to do. But, in the
middle of Home Depot, it hit him. Why should he do what was expected
when no one else was around anyway?
first time in his unlife he was alone.
Really, truly alone. No minions to put on airs for. No Darla
looking over his shoulder critiquing his techniques. No Willow pouting
and then hogging the flogger. He had said it before, but it hadn't
really sunk in. It was just him and Graham. There were no expectations,
no right or wrongs. Xander could do whatever the hell he wanted.
thought opened up a few new possibilities.
There were things Xander had always thought about trying but never
got around to. It just would have been too complicated. Willow
would have wanted to play too, and she had been too far gone to
the meaning of the word subtle. Anything Xander built, she would
have destroyed, not out of malice or spite, but because that was the
thing she was capable of anymore.
Master certainly wouldn't have approved.
Old Batface had stopped thinking of humans as anything but food a long
time ago. Xander made a mental note to ask Graham what happened to
the other two vampires and their kin, not that he was going to do
about it besides probably have a good, long, hard laugh. But, later.
First he wanted to get started on his new plan. He had no idea how
long it was going to take, though, considering his guinea pig's obvious
physical and mental strength, it might be a while before those walls of
propriety crumbled down. Good. Xander had been looking for
ridiculously easy to break someone
physically. With fists and fangs he could reduce this proud, unyielding
body to a crushed husk in the matter of a few minutes. And while,
yes, that might be fun, if he looked at the bigger picture it wouldn't
really do either of them any good.
Xander had another plan of attack. It was
nothing to make Graham cringe away from contact, but it was quite
another to make him arch into it. To make him want it. That
was his new objective. Turn the big, tough Marine into a begging,
pleading bundle of exposed, aroused, nerve endings.
backed away a bit, giving the human
a little extra space, then grinned. He pressed the fast food bag
to Graham's chest. "Eat. After you're done, go in and take
a shower. Don't bother putting your clothes back on." He paused
for a moment, savoring the look on Graham's face. "I've still got
a few things to take care of in the other room, but I won't be long,
when I get back..." Xander left the statement open ended, knowing
what the human's mind was going to come up with was going to be
worse than anything he was actually going to do.
and a fuck toy. Xander smiled. It would be
nice not having to get out of bed for a noon snack.
couldn't remember eating the hamburger
and fries, though the
rumblings in his stomach had ceased. He
didn't recall taking off his
clothes, yet somehow he knew that they were
laying in a neatly folded
pile beside the bed. He didn't even
realized he had gotten into the
shower until a spray of cold water pelted
him back to awareness.
shook himself like a dog and adjusted
the water temperature, honestly
not certain if he appreciated being jolted
out of the pleasantly numb
haze he had found himself in. Arms
out to brace himself against the wall
of the shower, he bowed his head and let
the now warm water cascade down
his back. The steam and heat trapped
in the tiny room surrounded him
like a cocoon. It was nice.
had no idea how long he stayed there,
letting the warmth seep into
him, trying to thaw the ice in his bones.
Trying to make some sense out
of what was going on in his head.
it wasn't the time to fight. Now was the
time to do as he was
told. It couldn't be that hard, after
all, that's what he had done for
his entire adult life. Follow orders. Don't
question, just obey.
a shudder that wasn't entirely
caused by the rapidly cooling
water, Graham turned off the faucets and
pulled back the shower curtain.
He stepped out of the shower and, still
dripping, walked back into the
was already waiting for him, leaning
nonchalantly against the door
to freedom, holding a fluffy purple towel.
Graham stood by the bed and
waited as gold flecked eyes eagerly raked
over him. Any other time and
the human would have been blushing from
head to toe over being exposed
like that, but now, embarrassment wasn't
high on his list of priorities.
vampire came towards him, a half smile
quirking its lips. It slowly
circled the mortal male, anticipation
as its eyes roamed freely
over Graham's skin. Finally, it unfurled
the towel and moved in closer.
Graham stood stock still as the vampire
gently dried him. The unexpected
tenderness unnerved him, just, as he
it was supposed to. Keep
him on edge. Keep him guessing.
Graham refused to react. He wasn't
going to be lulled into thinking
this was anything more than some sick,
game. And somehow,
knowing that they were only designed to
mentally, and emotionally wear
him down, the soft touches were easier to
let the towel fall to the floor and
stopped to once again admire
his new pet. If there was an ounce
of fat anywhere on the Marine it had
to be between his ears. And, every
sculpted inch of that amazing, Greek
god body belonged to him. Xander moved
in closer, putting a hand on the
back of Graham's head to keep him still.
There was still a recoil,
however, though not much of one. Just
the slightest flinch. The
Marine's will may have been made of iron,
but his body was still human,
and he couldn't help but react when a
nuzzled into his neck.
lovely, interactive work of art.
rested his face against the man's
heated skin. He breathed in
deeply and was rewarded with the heady scent
of a healthy, human male.
It was intoxicating. He burrowed deeper
into that crook between neck and
shoulder, staying there for a moment, and
then slowly licking up the
carotid artery. The vampire continued
lapping along the pulse point, the
rhythm of Graham's blood echoing through
his own body. Maybe... maybe,
he could just... take a taste?
so close. Just a sip. One... little...
he was going to be patient. He was going
to wait. Regardless
of how good the blood would taste now, it
would be even better from a
willingly bared throat. But, there
was no more time for dalliances.
Xander pulled back, his eyes more yellow
than brown. "Lie on the bed,
face down, arms up by your head."
hesitated for a moment, blue eyes
trapped by shimmering golden
ones. As a child, watching various
nature programs that were more
violent than most prime time series, he
always wondered why the rabbit,
when face to face with a snake, didn't just
run for it. Hop, hop, hop
away to safety. The Marine never thought
he would truly understand the
why behind that. Of course, he also
never thought he would one day be
empathizing with the rabbit. It was
something about staring into the
eyes of a creature that could kill you with
one strike. It had to do
with knowing that, stripping away the
you were just a
meal. Food. And, this thing
in front of you could swallow you whole
Xander did blink. His control returned,
and with it, the rather nice
honey brown irises. The spell was
broken, and on shaky legs, Graham
crossed to the bed and took up his potion.
couldn't help but grin. All
for him. There were so many
possibilities. But, first, he had
to lay the groundwork. All he needed
for this round had already been placed on
the iron table by the bed. It
wasn't much, the ropes and chains were still
out in the main part of the
apartment, but Xander had decided that
he made that body scream,
he was going to make it sing.
vampire quickly stripped out of his clothes
and grabbed the innocuous
looking little bottle from the table. He
climbed onto the bed, and
straddled Graham's thighs.
everything the Marine had to remain
still as that chilled body
touched his own. Not that thrashing
about would have done him much good
with the vampire's weight pinning him down.
Maybe that was the very
reason he felt a sudden, overwhelming urge
to get away. Something long
buried had reared up in the most primitive
part of his brain and demanded
why he wasn't at least *trying* to do
something. Fight or flight.
Graham gritted his teeth and defended his
actions to himself. This was
the only way... The human's rationalizations
were cut short by a gasp as
something cold was drizzled onto his back.
vampire recapped the bottle then set
it to the side, knowing he was
going to want to use more later. For
a moment he simply watched as the
oil ran its natural course over the surface
of Graham's back. He then
gathered some of the substance into his
hands and began rub against the
Marine's knotted muscles.
another part of the game. Graham's
fingers dug into the comforter.
Did the vamp really think he'd be taken
in by this? That he'd forget
just what kind of creature he was really
dealing with? At first, Graham had
no intentions of giving in. He
tried to stay tense and unyielding.
But with those preternaturally strong hands
rubbing and kneading his
tired back, it was a loosing battle. The
Marine began to relax, despite
himself. He knew it was wrong. That this was
just one of the vampire's
tricks and he was falling right into it. He
knew it, but didn't care.
Was too damn tired to care.
found himself actually liking his
task, and more so, what it had
accomplished. The man beneath him
was calm, relaxed. His bare, oiled
back glistened in the light, and for the
first time Xander wished he had
paid attention in biology class so he could
name each of those
beautifully defined muscles. His fingers
drifted aimlessly over the
flesh. So warm. And, if that's
what the outside of the man felt like,
then the inside... Xander scooted
back a little. He licked his lips and
while one hand still made nonsense patterns
on the small of Graham's
back, the other reached for the bottle.
barely registered when the vampire's
hands left his body, but he
certainly did notice when more of that cold
liquid was poured onto him.
He squirmed as he felt it run down the cleft
in his ass, then immediately
stilled as he felt fingers follow the same
change in the man beneath him was almost
palpable, not that Xander
especially cared. Not when his finger
was resting against Graham's
entrance. There was still no movement
on the part of the human. After a
moment Xander added pressure and the very
tip of his slick digit pressed
into Graham's body. That got a reaction. The
vampire smirked as muscles
clenched tight around the invader. Just to
show the Marine what he
thought of that response, Xander pushed in
even further, relishing the
tiny gasp of pain he produced.
Relax. Relax. Graham
took a few deep breaths, trying to calm
himself, knowing that that little sliver
of pain was only the tip of the
iceberg, and the vampire wasn't going to
stop now. With one last
shuddering exhale he made himself accept
that his reprimand had been understood,
Xander played a bit,
twisting his finger, rubbing the tight ring
of muscle. The inside of the
human felt like molten velvet, soft and
heated to a balmy 98.6. Or,
possibly, higher. In contradiction
to the seemingly relaxed state of
Graham's body, his heart was racing along.
His body temperature had to
be rising. Pretty soon, Xander was
certain he wouldn't even be able to
touch Graham without being burned.
vampire almost moaned at the thought. And,
suddenly, he decided that
he just couldn't take it anymore. The
waiting. He couldn't stand it.
Hearing that heartbeat, feeling that warmth,
it was all just... too damn
tempting. He moved back further, resting
his weight against Graham's
calves, and leaned over so that his face
was hovering just above the
mortal's delectable ass. His fangs
dropped. Just a little taste... He
kissed the smooth firm flesh first, then
he let his teeth sink into the
felt Graham's body jerk as the human's
blood rushed into his
mouth. It should have been heaven,
that first taste of Graham's very
life, bittersweet and copper on his tongue.
It should have been...
vampire's body was reacting before his
mind could finish processing
what had happened. He leapt off the
bed, spitting and retching, trying
to get the tainted substance out of his
and instantly wary, Graham watched
the display. Questions flew
around his head, but those were pushed aside
by the opportunity that
vampire was distracted.
was no inside lock on the door.
rolled off the bed and into a crouch. His
plan didn't consist of
anything more than 'try to get to the door'
and 'try to get out the
door', but it would have to do. There
would be something to fight with
on the other side, he just knew it.
Unfortunately though, before he
could go any further, an animalistic growl
stopped him in his tracks.
was pissed. His mouth felt like
it was coated with the foul
tasting sludge. The only other time
he could remember sampling anything
as remotely vulgar was when, shortly after
he was turned, he made the
mistake of trying to feast on one of
High's football players.
The results weren't exactly the same, but
they were close enough for
Xander to have realized what was wrong. The
perfect body came with a
human mask was completely gone now, lost
to almost blinding anger.
His voice came out as a low, accusatory
hiss. "You're a user?!"
not-" Graham never got to finish. He barely
had time to register
the fact that Xander was moving before one
of the vampire's fists cracked
against his jaw. Pain exploded across
the side of his face, but the
first blow was nothing compared to the
and the third... and the
too fast. Too savage. Graham never stood a
chance. He still
tried to fight back, still tried to protect
himself, but it was useless.
The vampire was enraged, in a frenzy. And,
in the end, all Graham could
really do was gratefully slip into a stupor.
His mind only grasping onto
snippets, like a broken film reel.
eyes, like a big cat's. Feral. Beautiful.
sound of something cracking.
in his mouth. Coughing it up.
around him, lifting, being thrown. Hitting
mouth, distended from covering the
fangs behind it, twisted,
fingers pressing into his hips, lifting
pain. Deep. Ripping him
hurt. So much...
second after he regained consciousness,
a whole, lovely second,
Graham felt absolutely nothing. Then,
the reprieve ended, and the pain
began. Bright, white hot flames of
agony shot through him with each
inhaled breath. Bone, and tissue,
and flesh either screamed out their
violations or throbbed with a dull, steady
knew he should take stock of the
situation. Examine and catalog
his injuries, then figure out the best
of action. But, he didn't
want to examine the pain. Examining
the pain would mean recognizing,
remembering, what had happened. What
had happened to him. He didn't
want to clear his mind. He didn't
want to start thinking logically. He
wanted to drift on the sea of hurt until
his body caught up with his
mind, and just... decided... to stop.
couldn't take *that* long to die. The vampire
had been too enraged to
watch where he had hit, or to pull any
punches. Things had broken.
Things had cracked. Things had ruptured. And
the part of Graham that
had long since skittered off into the
comfort of one of the
darker parts of his newly fractured mind
thought it ironic that a vampire
victim would bleed to death on the inside.
then, his blood didn't appeal to the
vampire, did it? It didn't
taste good. There was something wrong
with it. Graham grasped onto that
thought. Held it close. Studied
it, and ran through it over and over.
He was clean, he knew that much. The
only drugs he ever put into his
system were alcohol and caffeine. He didn't
even like being around
vampire could have been lying, but it
was doubtful. Why would it?
The rage, the disgust, had all been as real
as the beating that
followed. Besides, if the vampire
had changed his mind, and had decided
to just beat him to death instead, why would
it make up some kind of
excuse to do so? It was a vampire,
it didn't need a reason to be evil.
the creature wasn't lying, and Graham
hadn't put the drugs in his
system himself, that left only one viable
alternative. The vampire had
said he tasted like he had been using
steroids. Steroids. Who would
have wanted him stronger, faster, better
then he already had been? Who
would have gone to any means necessary to
achieve that? And, who had
been controlling almost every substance
he had put into his body since
the moment he joined the Initiative?
She had been poisoning him all
yet another reason to retreat a bit
more from the world at large.
Of course, a nice thought was that at least
this way the bitch wouldn't
have his body after he died. A perfect
opportunity for an autopsy gone
forever. What a blow to science. If Graham
didn't suspect his jaw was
broken, he probably would have smirked.
without warning, something was pressed
against his lower lip.
Graham instantly tensed at the contact,
which only seemed to further
aggravate already outraged muscles.
Multi-colored starbursts exploded
behind his closed eyes as his mind flitted
around unconsciousness again,
but the feeling of something cool, and wet
against his parched lips
brought him back.
he tried to open his mouth. Pain
blossomed up the side of
his face, but everything seemed to be
all right. His jaw hadn't
been broken after all, though some of his
lower teeth were considerably
looser then before.
aside cosmetic concerns, Graham eagerly
swallowed the offered
water, not realizing how thirsty he had
been until the first drops rolled
over his tongue. The Marine didn't
even think twice about taking what
was obviously offered by the very thing
that had put him in his present
state. Pride was one of those things
that only mattered to people whose
insides were all still in their proper
locations. Besides, Graham had
heard stories about what happened when
died of thirst. Why should
he go out that way when the whole internal
bleeding thing was already
happening for him.
the water was taken away, Graham slowly
opened his eyes, and fixed
them on the deceptively innocent looking
face staring at him.
Xander said. "I admit,
I may have overreacted." Hell. Damn.
Hell. Shit. Fuck. That
wasn't supposed to have happened. Xander
wasn't just some mindless, stupid minion
only taking pleasure from the
frenzy. He was better than that. It's
just... finding out that all that
rich, luscious blood was *tainted*... Well,
it pissed him off. But, he
truly hadn't meant to do quite that much
frowned down at the human, noting
the interesting colors that had
already formed over the formerly pristine
skin. In the end, his Adonis
had crumbled, the fabulous musculature
giving way under the fists
of an enraged vampire. Large, discolored
bruises ran down the swollen
left side of his face. Blue eyes,
now dull as dishwater stared at him,
not in fear, or anger, but, just... stared.
went his perfect little plan. Even if he
could force down the
mortal's blood, if Graham was turned now
he'd probably end up nuttier
than Drusilla. Or, worse... Oh, no! No way
in hell was he going to have
another Willow on his hands, no matter how
delicious the unbruised
would have to think of something else. Make a
decision. And soon.
gently eased his hand between Graham's
thighs, noting the complete
lack of any response on the part of the
human. Well, he *had* wanted to
break him... With a scowl the vampire
removed his hand and stared at the
bright red smears on his fingertips. Most of
the blood had already
turned into a congealed tar, but some was
still stubbornly oozing to the
outside. That probably wasn't a good
lifted his fingers to his nose and inhaled
deeply. Yes, there it
was. Under the intoxicating scent
of lifeblood itself, he could now
detect a faintly chemical odor. He
softly growled, and shook his head,
trying to dispel a new rush of anger. If he
lost control again that
would be it. Little bits of Marine
would end up stuck to the ceiling.
looked back at Graham, golden tinged
eyes meeting desolate blue. "You
really didn't know, did you?"
moment something surged behind the
Marine's gaze. Hatred. Yet,
oddly enough, Xander didn't feel as if that
particular look was directed
solely at him.
wasn't difficult to discern what had happened.
After all, the mortal
Xander Harris had been quite the little
X-Files fan. Secret government
organizations, conspiracies, human
The vampire wouldn't
have been surprised if the person behind
all of it was Cancer-man
himself. Xander cocked his head. "Huh. Looks
like they screwed with
you long before I got the chance."
moved away from the bed, not wanting
to see the reaction, or lack
there of, that statement produced. It was
time for him to make a
hand, he could always just let the
mortal die. There were plenty
of other humans in the sea, but not many
came wrapped in such nice
packaging. At least, nice under normal
circumstances. Dammit! He still
wanted the swollen, discolored thing. Graham
belonged to Xander, and
Xander wasn't the type of person who liked
to give up his toys.
he wasn't going to let the human die,
and he couldn't stomach the
thought of changing him with that stuff
in his system, then... he had to
get Graham help. Xander rolled his
eyes and muttered something about
being glad Darla couldn't see him now.
He'd let the human go, get patched
up and healed, then take him
again afterwards. Xander knew that
wouldn't be easy, but no one ever
said obsessions were a walk in the park.
Graham couldn't be safe twenty
four hours a day, and at the first slip,
Xander would be there to collect
what was his.
an idea popped into Xander's head. A
truly wonderful idea.
Something that would make sure Graham
just who he really
belonged to. The question of how came
up, and was answered just as
quickly. Of course.
appraisingly studied the figure on the
bed, wondering how much time
they had before it was too late. What
with humans being so fragile he
decided he really shouldn't take any longer
than necessary, and he
hurried off to the kitchen to light the
still alive. Damn. When
the vampire had come back into the room
and rolled him onto his stomach, Graham
used all the willpower he had
left to not think about what was going to
happen again. But, blessedly,
every atom in his body had angrily protested
the movement and the Marine
had blacked out, sure, that this time he
would not be waking up.
wasn't that lucky.
heard the vampire shuffling around
behind him. There was more.
There was going to be more. He pressed
his face into the pillow, and
didn't even bother to control the shudder
that went through him. But,
there was only so much he could take and
then it would be over, he would
be over. Graham held onto that thought
as chilled fingers gently brushed
against his lower back.
leaned in close. "I've come
to a fairly important decision,
Graham. I'm going to let you go for
a little while." He began to kiss
up the Marine's spine. "I'll call
911. The paramedics will find you, if
your people don't get here first. I assume
they do have the emergency
channels tapped, right?" Xander grinned. "Do
they know who really shot JFK too?
Nevermind. The important
thing is, you're going to stay alive,
and you're going to get better. But,
before I let you go, there's one
more thing I need to do." Xander moved
towards the door. "Have to get
something from the kitchen. Be back
in a sec."
wasn't sure what he should be feeling.
Huge, staggering doubts
kept him from being happy or relieved. Just
because the vampire said it
was going to let him go didn't mean it
would. It was just a
trick. Nothing more.
heard the vampire come back into the room. It
was, oh God, it was
this is just to make sure that you,
and everyone else, for that
matter, knows that you belong to me. You
will always belong to me."
body tensed, something, somehow
telling him that he needed to
move, *move*, now! But, he couldn't,
couldn't even muster the energy to
turn his head to see what was coming. In a
way, he supposed, it was good
he didn't know.
I'll try to do this as quickly as possible,
but..." Xander paused,
contemplating the long, glowing piece of
metal he held with his pot
holder. The purple daisy girl had
probably used it for shish kebab, but
after a little while of sitting in an open
flame on the range it was
about to have a very different use. "Let me
just say, I won't think any
less of you if you scream."
barely had time to process that thought
before he was screaming as
white hot metal was pressed into the bare
flesh of his left buttock.
God. Oh My God!" The young
Marine at the communications desk
doubled checked the computer monitor in
front of him, then immediately
called for his superior.
Riley shook his head, hoping
he hadn't misheard.
sighed. "I said, Agent Miller's
cell phone was activated three
minutes ago. It was used to place
a 911 call. I've already sent men to
intercept the ambulance, and a medic team
to the specified site."
to go too," Riley said at once.
be ridiculous, you'd only get in the
way." She softened a bit. "You'll
know when I do, Riley."
young Marine nodded. He had been
waiting that long, he could stand
another few minutes. But Riley knew,
in his heart, that it was going to
be good news. It had to be. Graham was still
alive, he could just feel
it. Forrest was going to be okay. They were
going to get Graham back.
Everything was going to be all right.
let out the breath that he seemed to
have been holding in for the
past twenty four hours. He let himself
relax a little, after all, it was
obvious that the worst was already over.