THE SISTERS OF PARADOX

TITLE: The Sisters of Paradox
AUTHOR: Robert A. Black / bbovenguy@mindspring.com
DISCLAIMER: All things Buffy are the creation and property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy Productions, the WB Network, etc. Certain guest characters are property of the BBC.
RATING: PG
TIME CONTEXT: Set between the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes "Superstar" and "Where the Wild Things Are."

| Parts 1-3 | Parts 4-6 | Parts 7-9 | Parts 10-12 | Parts 13-15 | Parts 16-18 |

Part One

Rachel Malloy was going to die.

It was her own fault, too. She had to admit it. Once again, sheíd stayed up too late the night before, hanging out on the Internet, chatting about David Duchovny and Antonio Sabato Jr. and whoever else was the hot guy of the week. Now here she was, hurrying across the UC Sunnydale campus, trying to catch at least the second half of her English Lit class. Or maybe the fourth quarter of it.

She tried to focus as she walked, trying to think about Wilde and Tennyson instead of on the warm spring day she was rushing through. Instead of noticing the bright sunshine and the blooming flowers and the frat boys taking their shirts off, she forced herself to think whose class notes would offer her the best chance to catch up. Her friend Heather, perhaps, or maybe that Stephanie girl who always sat in the front row...

"Help! Help me!"

Rachel had been doing such a good job of concentrating that she almost walked past the small voice without hearing it, but at the last moment the cries broke through her train of thought.

"Help me! Please...?"

Rachel looked around, but she couldnít tell where the voice was coming from. Finally, she realized what had happened. The path she was walking along ran atop of one of the many hills the campus was built on. Whoever was in trouble had to be down the slope from her.

Picking her way through a gap in the bushes along the path, Rachel reached the edge and looked over it. Sure enough, a young boy, perhaps eight or nine years old, was sprawled out on the grass about halfway down the hill. He looked up almost immediately after Rachel saw him.

"Please help me!" the boy cried. "I hurt my leg!"

Terrific, thought Rachel. This kid goes and skins his knee, just when Iím trying to avoid an ugly death. Still, if the boy wasnít hurt too badly, it would probably only take a minute or two to help him, and she could still get to class in time to catch someone with notes she could copy.

"What were you doing?" Rachel asked as she started down the hill.

"Just riding my skateboard," the boy replied. "I must have been going too fast, and I crashed into the bushes. I just kept rolling after that."

By now Rachel had reached him. The boy didnít look hurt. There was a little dirt on his clothes, but they werenít torn anywhere. The kid didnít even look like heíd been skateboarding. He wasnít sweating at all, and his dark brown hair wasnít even mussed.

"Are you sure youíre hurt?" Rachel asked. "You look fine to me."

"Yes, Iím sure!" the boy shouted. "Please, do something!" He reached down and grabbed one of his ankles, wincing as he did.

"Okay, okay," said Rachel. She dropped her backpack and started to kneel down beside the boy. "Whatís your name, anyway?" she asked.

"Colin," the boy replied. "Please hurry! It hurts a lot!"

"All right, Colin, just hold on," Rachel said, growing impatient. Things were definitely getting weird. The kid was screaming as if his foot had been severed, but even as she got a closer look at him, he appeared to be completely uninjured. And when she thought about it, she didnít remember seeing a skateboard up in the bushes. What was going on?

"Can you see anything?" Colin asked. "Can you see where it hurts?"

Rachel shook her head. "To be honest," she replied, "you look just fine to me."

Colin grimaced again, whimpering slightly. "Well, can you just feel my leg?" he asked. "Just to make sure nothingís broken?"

Rachel sighed and glowered slightly, but then relented and reached out for the boyís foot. As she leaned in, she thought se saw a faint orange glow, dancing just above his shoe. Heat waves? She started to smell something, too. Smoke? Was something burning?

She didnít have time to ask. As her hands made contact with Colinís leg, there was a crackling noise and jolts of electricity ran through her. Rachel screamed and pulled back quickly.

"Whatís the matter?" asked Colin. His voice had suddenly dropped at least an octave and developed an eerie reverberation to it. "Donít you want to help me?

Rachel looked over at the boy and screamed again, louder this time. The boyís face had suddenly mutated. His brow now projected forward in a ridge above yellow eyes, and a set of sharp fangs had sprouted inside his mouth.

She tried to get to her feet, but the monstrous boy was too quick for her. He reached out and grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her down toward him.

Rachel felt the electricity surge through her body as first Colinís hands touched her, then again as Colinís fangs made contact with her neck. There was a brief sharp pain, and then suddenly she felt nothing more.

******

Part Two

Nothing made sense any more.

Willow Rosenberg brushed the curls of her dark brown hair from her face and tried to get her bearings. Sure, it looked like the same UC Sunnydale campus sheíd known for the past several months, but the little things werenít adding up.

For starters, there was someone in her usual seat when she arrived at her Medieval History class. Willow knew perfectly well that this was college and they didnít have assigned seating any more, but she still resented having to sit all the way in the back. Things only got worse from there. She was supposed to get her latest paper back in Sociology class, but for some reason she had been missed. She went to ask the TA where her paper was, and the TA acted as if he had never seen her before. He even claimed she wasnít on the roster for the class.

Maybe it was a computer error. UC Sunnydale was a big school. Mistakes like that must happen all the time. If that was the only problem, Willow could fix it herself Ė unofficially, of course Ė when she got back to her room.

But now the worst insult of all had come up. After Sociology, Willow had gone over to the Music building, just as she did at this time every week since the start of classes. She went in expecting to find her usual rehearsal room waiting for her, but instead she found someone else already in there. She had angrily checked the reservation list and was shocked to discover that her name was missing. She had reserved this same room dozens of times. Why was it suddenly being given to someone else?

And if that wasnít enough, Oz wasnít there either. That simply wasnít like him. He and Willow had built such a good working relationship, ever since sheíd convinced him to try switching to an acoustic guitar and playing as her accompanist. Granted, you couldnít always tell what a guy like Oz was thinking, but he had always been reliable before.

Willow sighed. Individually, any one of these incidents was simply an inconvenience. Put them all together this close to the Hellmouth and they could add up to something more. She had to get to the bottom of it, and soon.

The house Oz shared wasnít too far from the Music building. That seemed like a reasonable place to start looking for answers. She took one more glance around, just to make sure the walkways still went in the directions she remembered them going, and started on her way.

******

"Come on, Will. I should know a sign of the apocalypse when I see one. Iíve seen enough of them."

Buffy Summers glanced over at her best friend as they walked across the UC Sunnydale campus. Willow Rosenberg brushed a lock of straight red hair from her face as she looked back.

"All Iím saying," Willow replied, "is that we shouldnít be too surprised that both our moms are interested in this thing. I mean, itís about a primitive culture, which my mom likes, and itís about art, which your mom likes."

"Yeah, but have you forgotten what happened the last time our moms got together on something?" asked Buffy. "We were almost burned in lack-of-effigy."

"Okay," said Willow, "so this time weíll carry fire extinguishers under our clothes until the crisis has passed."

Buffy found herself smiling, despite her apprehension. Maybe Willow had a point. Not everything that went on in their lives was a sign of imminent struggle with the forces of darkness. Most things were, yes, but every once in a while they were given a reprieve. Maybe this was one of those times after all.

The only problem was that the potential crisis was happening the old Sunnydale Mission, which had already caused plenty of trouble when it was first rediscovered just before Thanksgiving. The Archaeology Department at UC Sunnydale had been excavating the site for the past several months, and now they were ready to display some of their most important discoveries.

What most interested both Buffyís and Willowís mothers was a new set of relics had been found, mixed in with the Chumash artifacts everyone had expected to find. They were unlike anything the archaeologists had ever seen before. In Buffyís book, that spelled trouble. The Hellmouth Sunnydale was built on had a knack for attracting all kinds of malevolent forces. She couldnít help wondering if this was some kind of early warning that another one was on the way.

Then again, Buffy told herself, she may simply be feeling paranoid because of everything that had happened lately. There was nothing like temporarily losing your body to a rogue fellow Slayer, living in an altered universe that was the product of a misfit with delusions of grandeur, and hunting for an elusive cybernetic man/demon killer to make a person suspect danger lurking around every corner. Maybe this was one of the few corners that was actually danger-free.

Buffyís optimism lasted only until they reached the field where the Mission was being excavated and saw trouble looming ahead. This time, however, the trouble had nothing to do with the supernatural. A crowd of protesters had surrounded the dig site, shouting loudly and waving a variety of signs and banners that called for the school to stop disturbing the old ruins.

"And speaking of crises..." said Willow, indicating the crowd.

"How much longer are they going to keep that up?" Buffy wondered. The number of people had been growing all week as the day of the exhibit drew near. Now there was hardly any space left in what used to be an open lot surrounding the excavation.

"I guess until they decide that enough people know about what happened in the Mission," Willow replied. "You know, about all the atrocities that went on there in the past."

"The past was way able to speak for itself," Buffy remarked, recalling the Chumash vengeance spirits that had run amuck in Sunnydale shortly after the Mission had been found. "Although I must admit, these people are a lot less deadly about it."

"Iím just glad my mom isnít out there," said Willow. At the thought, she gave a worried glance around the crowd and asked, "Sheís not out there, is she?"

"I thought your mom wanted to see the exhibit," said Buffy, a little confused.

"Oh, she does," Willow explained, "but thatís her scholarly detached side. Her outraged militant side probably wants to be out here shouting through a bullhorn."

By now they had reached the edge of the crowd. The mass of people was blocking their path completely. Buffy looked around, but couldnít see a way to the other side. Unless she wanted to start putting some Slayer moves on people, they would have to walk all the way around the mob to move on.

"Excuse me," said an English-accented voice, "does this sort of thing happen often around here?"

Buffy and Willow turned and saw a young woman standing next to them. She was a bit taller than either of them and looked a few years older, with a wiry build and short blonde hair. She was dressed in faded jeans and an Amnesty International t-shirt that had seen better days.

"It has been lately," Buffy replied.

"Iím trying to reach the Political Science building," the young woman said, unfolding a campus map she was carrying. "Do you know the best way around this lot?"

"We were just trying to figure that out ourselves," said Willow.

"Well then, it looks like I found the right people," said the young woman. "Would you mind if I join you?" Extending a hand, she said, "Iím Samantha Jones. Call me Sam."

"Iím Buffy, and this is Willow," Buffy replied. She shook Samís hand quickly, a bit uncertain about the chatty stranger. Willow simply waved. "Come on, weíll help you get where youíre going."

"Thanks," said Sam. As they walked away from the crowd, she turned and looked backed at the people, glancing over their signs and banners. "You know, I used to do this sort of thing, back in London. I started marching in rallies when I was twelve."

"Really?" said Willow, trying to be polite.

"Oh, yes, I was quite the little activist," Sam replied. "I was the only person there wearing Wellington boots. Someone told me I looked like Paddington Bear with a protest sign."

"Iím sure no one would mind if you joined in now," Buffy offered. "You know, relive the old times."

"Oh, no," Sam said with a slight laugh. "I donít do it any more. I mean, Iím still all for people expressing themselves, but Iíve changed since then. Iíve... Iíve traveled a lot, and Iíve seen a lot of things. Sometimes it doesnít matter how many people youíve got shouting slogans and waving banners, because theyíll never do as much as the right person in the right place. Sometimes all you need is one person to change the world."

Buffy couldnít help smiling. "I hear you there," she said.

******

The day was only getting worse. Willow glared at the mass of people gathered around the Sunnydale Mission dig site. It wasnít that she had anything against the protest - she had spoken out herself about the atrocities committed at the Mission back when it was first discovered last Thanksgiving. But at the moment she didnít have time to think about demonstrations. She just needed to get around the mob to reach Ozís house.

She worked her way along the edge of the crowd, looking for any gap that would help her get through. She also couldnít help keeping her ears open, just in case her mother had shown up with a bullhorn and was trying to lead the mob in some kind of mass chant. That was the last thing Willow needed to have happen.

The crowd began to thin out as Willow circled away from the dig site. Just as she finally found a way through, she looked over and saw Buffy making her way around the protest as well. She was with two young women that Willow didnít recognize - a slender redhead about her own age, and a slightly older blonde.

There was no time to say hello to Buffy, though, or to meet her new friends. The three of them were heading in the opposite direction from Ozís house. For a moment, Willow considered catching up to them anyway and telling Buffy about all the things that seemed wrong, but in the end she decided against it. If something Hellmouthy really was going on, there would be plenty of time to tell Buffy about it later.

Leaving the Slayer behind, Willow turned and started for Ozís house again. For the moment, she was determined to find some answers on her own.

******

Part Three

"Bloody hell!"

Xander Harris looked up from the demonology textbook just in time to see Rupert Giles slam the telephone receiver back into place. The former Watcher and librarian was red in the face, making Xander wish he had done a better job of eavesdropping over the past few minutes.

"From the tone of your voice," Xander said, "Iím guessing you didnít just get a marvelous opportunity to save on your long distance phone bill."

"I most certainly did not," Giles replied. "We may all be in a great deal of trouble. That phone call was from Ms. Sarah Jane Smith."

The name meant nothing to Xander. He looked over at his girlfriend Anya, who was sitting beside him on Gilesís couch, and saw that she was drawing a blank as well. Turning back to Giles, he said, "Let me guess - old girlfriend?"

"Did she just find out about you and Olivia?" Anya added.

Giles glowered. "Thatís hardly the problem. Ms. Smith is a journalist from England. She says sheís been doing some research for a new story and has come to Sunnydale to follow up on some leads. Thereís only one thing she could mean by that."

Xander thought for a moment, then shrugged. "You might get on the BBC version of Ď60 Minutes?í"

Gilesís scowl darkened. "It means she must have discovered the Watchersí Council," he said, doing his best not to sound exasperated. "My guess is sheís hoping Iíll fill her in on some of its secrets."

"Whatís wrong with that?" Anya asked. "I thought you said the Watchers were bad guys. Didnít they kick you out, and then really screw up when things went wrong with Faith? If this womanís doing an exposť on them, you should be glad to help."

"Yeah," Xander added, "you could go on camera behind one of those silhouette things, and get one of those computer distortions done to your voice. Itíll be cool."

"Itís not that simple," Giles replied. "Even though Iím no longer a Watcher, I still believe in a lot of the Councilís policies. If the public found out too much about vampires and the Slayer, it could be dangerous for everyone. And even if I didnít feel that way, the Council has been known to use some rather extreme measures in order to keep its existence a secret."

"Okay, I see the problem," said Xander. "Thatís a big Ďnoí on talking to the media. But how bad can things be? Itís not like you were getting grilled by someone scary, like Diane Sawyer or Cokie Roberts. Iíll bet this Ms. Smith isnít even as bad as Katie Couric."

"Actually," said Anya, "Katie Couric kind of scares me."

"I happen to know a few things about Ms. Smithís career," Giles replied. "Ever since the seventies, sheís been writing stories about unusual phenomena happening around London. Itís become her specialty. On top of that, sheís written a book that caused three Members of Parliament to resign, and a documentary she produced on the arms trade led to a number of high-profile arrests."

Xander considered Gilesís words for a moment, then turned back to Anya. "Like the man says," he remarked. "Bloody hell."

******

Willow couldnít believe her eyes.

She had made it to Ozís house at last. The place looked a bit different, although no more than you would expect a house being rented by members of an up-and-coming rock band to change. She had strolled in just as she had many times before, and had gone straight to Ozís room. The door was closed, so she knocked politely, waited a few seconds, then opened it and looked inside.

The room was empty.

What was going on? Before, Willow had felt like something was affecting only her. Now whatever it was, it had done something to Oz as well. Where had he gone? Was this even where he lived any more?

As Willow stood there, she heard the front door of the house open. "Yo, guys! Iím back!" called a voice.

Devon. At least he still lived here. Maybe he could give her some answers. Willow hurried out of Ozís empty room and went to meet him.

She found the lead singer in the kitchen, putting six-packs of beer into the refrigerator. Trying not to show any of the dread that was forming in the pit of her stomach, she approached him casually and said, "Devon! Howís it going today?"

Devon looked up from the refrigerator, a bit startled at first. He gave Willow a puzzled look for a moment. "Good," he said, a bit hesitantly. "Iím good."

"Great!" Willow replied. Not bad so far, she thought. Probably best to get to the point quickly, though. Devon had never been very interested in the type of music she and Oz performed, so he probably wouldnít want to talk for long. "Listen," she continued, "I came by looking for Oz, but... funny thing, it looks like heís not here."

Devonís puzzled look returned. "Yeah, Iíll bet it looks that way," he said. "Because heís not."

"Well, do you know where he is?" Willow asked. "I kind of need to find him. We had a rehearsal room scheduled."

"Last I heard, he was somewhere in Moldova, wherever that is," Devon replied. "But that was a few weeks ago."

"A few weeks!" Willow cried. "Thatís impossible!"

"Yeah, I know," said Devon. "Seems like a lot longer. Especially considering how much we suck without a regular lead guitar."

"No, Devon, you donít understand," said Willow. "I saw Oz, just yesterday. We were going to plan out our song list for the Renaissance Faire."

Devon shook his head. "Sorry," he replied, "you must be thinking of some other Oz, because this oneís been gone since November. Even his girlfriend stopped coming around to ask about him."

"Girlfriend?" Willow repeated. "What girlfriend?"

"You know, Willow Rosenberg," Devon answered. "If youíve been hanging out with Oz, you must have met her."

Willowís head started spinning. She fought to keep a wave of panic from washing over her. "Devon," she said at last, "Iím Willow Rosenberg!"

Devon looked at her closely. "Whoa," he finally said. "You know, I donít want to criticize or anything, because if you wanted to change your look thatís totally cool. But I gotta tell you, I liked the old look better. Especially the hair."

Willow was speechless. Behind her, another of the band members entered the house and called to Devon. The lead singer pulled some of the beer out of the refrigerator and went to greet him, leaving Willow standing there. She felt like her brain was becoming detached from her body.

She had been wrong before. There wasnít plenty of time to tell Buffy about things later. She had to find Buffy right away. It took a great effort to get her limbs working again, but by the time Willow reached the front door of the house, she was already running.

******

After all her years as the Slayer, Buffy could hear an emergency vehicle coming from half a mile away. All too often, at least here in Sunnydale, they were a sign that something new in town needed slaying.

She just wished she hadnít heard the sirens at this particular time. After delivering Sam Jones to the Political Science building and dropping Willow off at her friend Taraís dorm, Buffy had finally gotten a chance to meet up with Riley Finn for some quality boyfriend-time. They had been walking across campus, heading for one of their favorite spots, when Buffy heard the familiar wail.

At least there was one bright spot, Buffy thought. Since she and Riley were both monster-fighters, they could check out the scene together. Not the most romantic afternoon she would have envisioned, but such was her lot in life.

Several police cars and an ambulance were converging near one of the many hillsides on the UC Sunnydale campus. The police officers were all at the top of the hill, looking down. Buffy joined them and looked over the edge herself, where she saw a girlís dead body sprawled out on the hillside.

Just as Buffy was about to investigate, the campus police officer in charge came over and tried to warn them away. Riley flashed his military ID, and the officer yielded.

"You know, sometimes I wish I could do that," said Buffy. "Wouldnít that be great? I could have some big shiny Slayer badge that Iíd wave at people and theyíd let me do whatever I want. Think of the fun."

Riley merely gave her a sardonic grin as they started down the hill. He was starting to learn her moods and recognize when she needed her witty remarks. She liked that in a man.

The girlís body was facedown in the grass. Riley reached it first and turned it over gently. He looked up at Buffy with a pained expression as she joined him.

"I know this girl," he said. "Rachel Malloy. She was in a class I TAíd last spring."

"Iím sorry," Buffy replied. Riley still wasnít used to seeing the battle against the undead from Buffyís point of view, where it was one-on-one and the lives were lost before your eyes. Heíd been trained to hunt "Hostile Sub-Terrestrials," to "minimize collateral damage" and other military jargony stuff. He still had trouble when things got more personal.

"It, uh, looks like a typical vampire bite," said Riley, his voice hardening as he tried to be the detached military man. Buffy decided not to push the matter. They could talk about it later, once things had calmed down. Instead, she examined the body herself. Riley was right. It did look like a routine vampire killing. Except...

"It canít be," she said. "She hasnít been dead more than a couple of hours. Whoever killed her had to do it out here in the sunlight."

"What else would do this besides a vampire?" Riley wondered.

Buffy shook her head. This was getting into Giles territory now. She started to look at the body more closely. After a moment, she pointed to the dead girlís neck wound. There were strange marks all around the bite. "Look here," she said, pointing the marks out to Riley. "What do you think those are?"

Riley reached out and touched the wounds himself. "Iím not sure," he replied. "Burn marks, maybe?" He examined the rest of the body again. Picking up the girlís arm, he showed Buffy the palm of the girlís hand. "It looks like she was burned here, too."

"A vampire that hunts by day and burns people when it attacks," Buffy mused. "I donít like the sound of that."

"I donít either," Riley agreed. "I definitely wouldnít want to have something like that mad at me."

******

Spikeís eyes snapped open the instant he heard the door to his crypt start to move. He was on the floor and out of sight before the door was halfway open.

He really hated all this hiding business, but it was something he had to do. The soldier boys who had once captured him and put a computer chip in his head had raided his crypt before. And thanks to that bloody chip, he wouldnít be able to fight back if they returned. And so here he was, cowering in his own home like some kind of rodent.

Maybe it wasnít the soldier boys, Spike told himself. Maybe it was just some tourists who had gotten too curious. That might be kind of fun. He could pop out with his vampire face on and give them a good scare. Not as much fun as killing them, of course, but Spike would take what fun he could get these days. Maybe they were old and he would give one of them a heart attack. He could hope, couldnít he?

"I know youíre here, Spike. They told me you lived here, and you canít exactly go somewhere else at this time of day."

Spikeís mind raced. Where had he heard that voice before? High-pitched, but with a low undertone and an eerie reverberation to it. It sounded so familiar.

"Whatís the matter, Spike?" said the voice. "You already killed me once. Are you afraid you canít do it again?"

Killed him once? Spike concentrated, and suddenly the answer came to him. He did know that voice! But it couldnít be...

Unable to resist his curiosity, Spike looked up from his hiding place and saw the small figure standing just inside the crypt. He still thought it couldnít be... and yet it was. That little brat of a vampire, Colin the Anointed One, the powerful demon forever stuck in the body of an eight-year-old boy. The little brat Spike had indeed killed before.

The fact that Colin was standing there, looking as fit and unalive as the day he was sired did make Spike a bit nervous, but he wasnít about to let Colin know that. However the little vampire had managed to cheat death, he was still a demon, and demons were things that Spike could still fight. If he had his way, this unpleasant reunion wouldnít last long.

"Well, if it isnít the Annoying One," said Spike as he stood and stepped into the open. "What brings you back into town? Still need to work on your suntan?"

"Why Iím in Sunnydale is no concern of yours," Colin replied. "But the ones who brought me back donít care what I do when Iím not working for them. And that means I had time to come pay you a visit."

Spike walked around in front of the tomb at the center of his crypt. As he did, he reached under his black duster, which he had folded up to use as a pillow, and slipped a stake he had hidden underneath it into his hand.

"You mean youíre spending your precious break time catching up with me?" Spike said acerbically. "Iím touched."

"Do you think I havenít checked up on you, Spike?" said the Anointed One. "Iíve heard how magnificently youíve handled things since you took over. Beaten by the Slayer how many times? Chased out of town by her how many times? And now you serve her and fight against your own kind?"

Spike felt his blood begin to boil. The little git was asking for it, and Spike was more than ready to give it to him.

"The Slayer had beaten the Master," Colin continued, "but I was ready to carry on his dream. I could have brought his vision to life - but now youíve made a mockery of it. Thatís why I let them bring me back, you know. The only reason I agreed to work for them was because Iíd have the chance to see you again and..." He smiled, bearing his fangs threateningly as he finished. "...and express my appreciation."

"Really?" Spike replied, trying to keep his voice cool. "Well, Iíd like to express something, too."

The Anointed One was only a few feet away now. Apart from the brief display of his fangs, he was acting completely docile, like a harmless little puppy. Spike hated harmless little puppies. It was time to put this one to sleep for good.

He struck quickly, covering the distance between himself and Colin in an instant. He brought the stake out and brought it to the Anointed Oneís chest in a heartbeat - if there had been any hearts beating inside the crypt.

And thatís when things suddenly turned upside down.

There was a bright flash as the point of the stake hit the Anointed Oneís body, and Spike was suddenly flung backwards. He hit the side of the tomb and landed on the floor. The acrid smell of smoke brought him back to his senses. He looked down at his hand and saw that his stake was now a smoldering ruin. He tossed it aside quickly, before it set him on fire.

"Whatís the matter, Spike?" mocked the Anointed One. "Killing me not as easy as you thought it would be? Trust me, I wonít have the same problem."

Spike suddenly felt something he swore he would never feel. He was afraid of the little vampire. It was at that point that he realized Colin had entered the crypt during the day, yet had no overcoat or blanket with him for protection from the sun. It looked like there was some sort of faint orange haze around Colinís body, too. What the hell was going on?

"Now, letís wait just a minute, Colin... er, I mean Anointed One," Spike said. He wasnít really going to suck up to the little git, but maybe he could buy some time by pretending. Instead of standing up again, he kneeled in front of the boy, trying to look submissive.

"You donít really think Iím going to believe this, do you?" said Colin.

Spike shrugged. "No," he admitted, "I guess not." Fortunately, he wasnít going to need Colin to believe him anyway. The few seconds he had bought had indeed been enough.

Now it was Spikeís turn to remain still as the Anointed One approached. At the last minute, Spike reached up to the tomb and grabbed his black duster. He unfurled it with a snap of his wrist and whipped it around Colinís legs. One quick pull, and the Anointed One was on the ground.

Spike ran. He whipped the duster into the air and brought it down over his head as best he could by the time he reached the crypt door. Outside, the sun was still beating its rays of vampire death from the sky, but he would have to take his chances anyway. He took off as fast as he could through the graveyard, heading for the trees beyond.

The Anointed One was going to pay, Spike promised himself. Not just for trying to kill him. Not just for running him out of his own home. But because - especially because - of who Spike would have to turn to for help. Cursing under his breath, Spike took off to look for the Slayer.

End Of Part Three

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