Part Two

Buffy Harris jumped at the name and studied the vampire intently. Blond hair, English accent, sneering attitude … it could be him.

“Spike …” Buffy pretended to muse. “Spike, Spike … yeah, I’ve heard of you. Haircut fifty years out of date, lower-class English accent, used to hang out with some crazy bitch named Drusilla —” Buffy shut up as Spike abruptly lunged for her. Deftly she stepped to one side and kept talking. “Yep. You’re Spike, all right.”

“Do not talk about my dark princess so disrespectfully again. I won’t miss a second time.”

“Yeah, yeah, cry me a river, deadman,” Buffy answered. “You didn’t miss because you wanted to, you missed because I was just too fast for you.”

“Go on thinking that if it gives you comfort, Slayer,” he sneered.

“Well, if you think you can take me …”

“You’ve got guts, I’ll give you that,” Spike said. “I can’t wait to see them stretched out all over the ground.” He turned and started walking into the darkness, and as Buffy moved towards him he snapped his fingers. Two more vampires walked out from the wall — Stupid! Stupid! She’d been so distracted by Spike that she’d been paying no attention to her ‘Spider-Sense’. That’s what Dad called her ability to detect vampires; Buffy had no idea why. Spike motioned the vampires forward and said as he faded back into the depths of the factory, “But before you start thinking I’ve gone soft, just tell your Watcher this: I’ve found the Orb, and soon enough I’ll figure out how to use it.”

Orb? What in the hell was the deadboy talking about? Buffy Harris didn’t know from orbs.

Oh, right. Two vampires, one from either side. No imagination, these dead people, none at all. Buffy grabbed one in each hand, slammed their heads together, and staked one with each hand while they tried to recover. She almost wished she’d run across a challenge now and again.

Of course, this Spike might qualify, especially if, as she thought, this was the Spike her ‘Aunt Buffy’ had fought.

Definitely sounded like something Leary would want to know about. She headed back to her Watcher’s house.

*                  *                  *

Spike watched this new Slayer head off into the darkness. She was good. Almost as good as she thought she was. It would have been one hell of a fight. The way she was talking sounded familiar, almost like … that wanker Xander, from way back when he fought the first Buffy.

Of course! She was the right age to be Harris’ daughter, too. Oh, this was bleeding delicious! A perfect way to twist the knife into his old enemies one last time. She was the sacrifice he needed to activate the Orb of the Savior.

And once he had that activated — no vampire would ever die, again, unless he wanted them to. The power of life and death would literally be his to control. Not that that was what he wanted; let those who want to take over the world try to take over the damn thing, it wasn’t his bag.

Spike pulled an old, thin volume from under his jacket. It detailed the workings of the orb, and what was necessary to invoke its power — and who could stop it. The book was a sight less cryptic than most, and further, it was written in English, so Spike could actually read the damn thing. He hadn’t been able to find a halfway decent vampire linguist since he’d stupidly let the Judge burn Dalton to death almost thirty years ago.

The Judge. Now there was a pitiful excuse for a powerful demon. He’d almost been glad when the Slayer had disassembled the overmuscled Smurf into its component pieces.

Anyway. No chance of that here. To bring about the day of Dark Judgment, he needed the blood and the red, and an unwilling Slayer as his victim. No problem with that, none at all.

Of course, the book descended into some obscurity when it detailed who could stop the day from coming.

“If the blood and the red join, then the only thing that can prevent Dark Judgment is the alliance of the Slayers, the Watchers, the Companions, and the Unforgiven, and only if the Unforgiven is forgiven shall the day come about.”

The Slayers, the Watchers, the Companions — he could puzzle that out now that he knew the Slayer.

But who the bloody hell was the Unforgiven?

*                  *                  *

Galen Petrillo studied the printouts intently as his plane circled Harrisburg International Airport. Low-lying clouds were making it almost impossible to see the ground, and Galen never put much faith in automatic guidance systems. Like all machines, they were simply tools, and you never put all your faith in tools.

The pilot called back to him. “Hey, Gale!” he said. “I think we’re almost ready. You all strapped in and everything?”

“Of course, Andy,” he called back. “Have you ever known me to be not ready for something?”

“Well, boss,” the pilot shot back, “you didn’t seem all that keen on coming to New Glenbury …” A telling shot. Galen simply didn’t interact with people all that often, if he could avoid it. Very few had ever actually seen him and known it. He had a personal assistant to handle much of his business, and Andy here to fly him around, and that was about it. He much preferred the company of books, and relics, and the undead — actually, he preferred fighting them, after — after —

Galen still didn’t think about it very often. After the death of the woman he loved. Twenty years later, and he had trouble saying her goddamn name. Almost like he didn’t have the right to.

See, it had all been his fault she’d died. While vampires were the proximate cause, he was to blame.

And that’s why he was necessary. On the printouts, he had as much as possible dealing with the prophecy of the day of Dark Judgment. And everyone else was accounted for. There were two Slayers in town, and two Watchers, and two companions. The only one missing was in one version of events called the Invisible, and in the other the Unforgiven — and few people had ever seen Galen Petrillo, and none had ever forgiven him his love’s death.

Least of all, himself.

Around him, he felt a jolt. The plane had landed. Andy said, “So, boss man, daydreaming again? Never mind. We should be in the hangar in five minutes. Anything special you got planned here?”

“Yes, and no, I’m not telling you. You should know better than to ask.” The rebuke was delivered gently, and that’s the way the pilot took it.

“Ah, well,” Andy said philosophically. “Never hurts to ask. Anything you want me to do in particular?”

“No. Just stick around town for a couple of days, go put yourself up in a nice hotel, see the town, whatever your usual routine is. Find a nice girl. I realize Harrisburg’s not exactly Milan —”

“It ain’t even Jacksonville, Boss.”

Still,” Galen continued, “There should be enough to keep you busy for a couple of days. This one could be dangerous —”

“Here?” the pilot asked disbelievingly as he smoothly guided the plane into the hangar building. “What’s gonna happen, Gale? You gonna get on the bad sides of some Amish farmboys?”

“Vampires are everywhere,” Galen answered as the plane came to a stop. “And there are more in New Glenbury than most because of the influence of the Orb.”

“Got it, boss. Carefulness shall be my watchword.”

Muttering, “Smartass,” Galen picked up his bag and headed out into the airport, leaving Andy behind. Beyond the mock subservience, Andy Pappas knew exactly what he was doing, both as a pilot and as a part-time vampire killer. He’d be okay.

Galen made his way smoothly through the weapon detectors — no one cared about crosses or holy water, and stakes could be made wherever you went — and went right to the car he’d reserved. With his wealth, he could have reserved a car only slightly less pricey than your average tropical resort island, but that just wasn’t his style. He wanted to blend in, not stand out.

And so the Unforgiven made his way to New Glenbury.

*                  *                  *

Leary wasn’t at home, or at the bookstore she ‘owned’ as her cover job. It was possible she was out hunting vampires herself; her Watcher did enjoy a good vampire hunt every now and again.

Enjoy it, hell; Leary lived to kill vampires, as often and as painfully as possible, and despite that they were much stronger than she was, she rarely had any problem at it. Buffy had once seen the woman’s body, almost naked, as she had tended to some of her Watcher’s injuries after a particularly tough fight in the woods; it had been covered with bruises and scars from head to toe. And she gave the injuries no thought once they’d healed, or while they were being inflicted. Buffy Harris had figured out then and there why Leary could kill vampires.

She just didn’t care about being hurt. She didn’t even feel pain until there was something practical she could do.

Anyway. She needed to tell someone. Mom and Dad knew about her life as a Slayer, but they didn’t want the details. Sadly, Buffy knew exactly why. Aunt Emily notwithstanding, few Slayers tended to live past their twentieth birthdays. It ticked Buffy off royally that they didn’t think she’d be one of the exceptions, but what are you going to do? Mom and Dad had spent the best part of the last five years in and out of a fairly deep depression.

Talk about denying reality, they were the all-time rulers of that magical land. Anyway, that left Aunt Willow and Aunt Emily. Spike was in town, they’d know what to do, or who to call, and exactly how much panicking needed to be done.

As she approached Aunt Willow’s house she felt vampires nearby and ran faster. What were they doing? She dodged behind a tree and watched for a second. There were four of them and they were pouring something on the ground and leading it up to the house.

It might not have been gasoline, but Buffy doubted it was ginger ale. In any event, no one messed with her aunts.

Buffy screamed and charged forward, sending the lead vampire flying with a kick to the side. Quickly she picked up the can and smelled it. It was gas, all right. She clanked the vampire she’d kicked in the head with the gas can and moved towards the other, stake in hand.

The first one went down in seconds, but the second one was a bit smarter, hanging back and trying to dodge. The fourth was rummaging through the trunk of a car looking for something.

Behind her, Vamp Number One was getting up. Buffy kicked it and it went down again, but in that split second of distraction the second one jumped on top of her and knocked her down. As they rolled around, Buffy saw the other vampire produce a mini-flamethrower from the car’s trunk. That’s why hesitant boy here had made with the weaving and dodging. They really wanted to set Aunt Willow’s house on fire.

She stopped, braced herself, and threw the vampire up into the air by flexing her body. Leary had called her the strongest damn Slayer on record; she might as well take advantage of it. Staking it as it came down, Buffy sprang to her feet and bodyslammed the she-vamp with the flamethrower. It went one way and the vampire went the other. Buffy dove for it and said as she pressed the trigger, “Little vampires should know not to play with fire.” After the weapon did its job, Buffy crushed the nozzle with one hand.

The other vampire was nowhere in sight, though the gas can was still lying in the front yard. Swearing, Buffy was about to extend her senses when a sharp voice brought her up short. “Buffy!” It was Leary. “No need.”

On the porch of the house stood her Watcher with a stake in her hand — and Aunt Emily with a fired crossbow. As Leary walked up to her, she said, “I told you to save that last one for me, Emily.”

Grinning, Aunt Emily said, “You ever thought of seeing a psychiatrist for that bloodlust of yours, Reeg?”

“Did go, once,” her Watcher said distractedly as she checked Buffy almost tenderly for bumps and bruises. Finding none, she straightened and gestured for the Slayer to follow her to the porch. “She refunded my money and told me never to come back. Last I heard she was living her life as a hermit in the Everglades.” An utterly straight face accompanied this recitation.

See, you could never tell when Leary was joking about things like that. When they’d first met, Buffy would have thought that her Watcher was kidding, but after seeing that back …

Anyway. The four of them — Aunt Willow had been watching from a window — congregated in the living room, where the computer screen took up a wall. Aunt Emily yanked open the shade so they could see the front, and called out, “Computer! Home Security System open! Full Watcher Mode!” Instantly four camera views appeared in the bottom left corner of the wall computer screen. This way — no mirrors in these security cameras — they’d know if the vamps tried it again.

They obviously had something to show her, but first things first. “My patrol was dull —” Buffy began. “Except for this guy named Spike …”

The three older women exchanged worried looks. “Oh, shit!” Aunt Willow said. That wiped all amused thoughts from Buffy’s head. Aunt Willow swore about as often as her mother — or her! — dressed down in public.

In unison, they said “William the Bloody …”

“William the Bloody?” Buffy said in confusion. “Who’s that?”

They looked at each other again, and ultimately Leary said, “Sit down, Buffy. We have a lot to discuss …”

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