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Till Dawn

by Liz M


Notes: Dark/disturbing/death
Special thanks: To deadman, for all his inspirational talks.
Summary: A race/struggle/countdown to stay alive until daybreak.

"Excuse me miss but I can't issue the rental to you, you've been denied due to problems with your insurance coverage."

"What. You've got to be kidding me. Those accidents were clearly not my fault." Buffy stated, growing agitated.

"Regardless of the why's of the matter, you are too big a risk. Surely, you can understand?" He said.

She sighed, looking around to the rest of us.

I stepped up. "Here, here's my I.D. and a credit card. I'll drive." I said. "I have a good driving record, no problems whatsoever." I smiled, batting my eyes at the dork behind the rental register.

He took my I.D., gave it a once over and eyed me questioningly, asking as well as stating, "Miss Faith 'Le Hayne'?" He looked at me, asking for pronunciation with his eyes.

"No. It's 'Lehane not Le Hayne.' The H is silent. I know it's confusing but you say it 'Lee Ayne'. See the difference? " I asked annoyed at having to discuss something so trivial with someone so...what's the word.....anal? What the hell, lets just go with anal.

He feigned disinterest. "Ah... I see, well Miss 'La Hay Ne', everything seems to be in order. You realize you'll have to drive a van, it's all we have that will accommodate so many passengers." He smiled, nodding, slowly passing the paperwork over for me to sign.

I scrunched up my face, nodding, showing contempt, flippantly taking the papers, signing them and passing them back. I smiled overly sweet but wanted to shove my fist down his throat.

I snatched the keys from his hand and turned, making my way out into the rows of waiting cars.

"Miss." He ran out after me. "You forgot this, you'll need it, especially since the roads are being reconstructed in some areas. Wouldn't want you to get lost." He smiled, pointing at the van. I took the map and slowly turned to see what he was pointing to. Inwardly my coolness fell about 10 feet. I breathed out heavily, staring at the rental.

I stood there frozen, eyeing the dorkmobile, feeling everyone slowly come up behind me. "No freaking way." I mouthed.

B grabbed my arm, smiling. "Ah come on, it's not that bad." She gave her head a shrug in the direction of the van, meaning for me to come on, get in.

I sighed. "Remind me again where and why we're going

"Do I have to go over it again?" She asked, annoyed. "We got a tip that a new player is taking over a small town; that he has some type of new weapon stashed and we're off to do some light recon. Well to be more accurate we're off to do and see and take care of." She looked around at everyone. "I mean if it's true and this weapon can do all they're saying it can, well I for one would like for us to control it." She looked into all the pouting faces, growing more determined. "Oh come on, would you want to go up against some kind of laser weapon?" She looked at us, eyes wide, daring us to say no.

I laughed. "Hell no B. You're right and I for one am with you all the way." Yeah, so I was lying but who really gave a damn. I was bored and this way I got to spend some time with B, so who was I to complain.

She smiled, scooting in beside me, taking shotgun position. She grabbed up the map. "Guess I've got navigation." She laughed. My eyebrows automatically went up, questioning. "What?" She asked. "I can do this." My eyebrows stayed arched, disbelief written all over my face. "Really. It's just a map. How hard can that be?" She widened her eyes, challenging me.

I shook my head and adjusted the seat and mirrors, finding my comfort zone. "Everyone ready?" I asked, looking back at the others forced into this....scavenger hunt.

I cranked the van. "Wait." B yelled. "let me do a roll call."

"What? You've got to be kidding me...we're all here. You know us." I was becoming frustrated. "Oh hell.. .. go ahead, hurry."

She smiled slightly, proud of her ability to drive me nuts. She looked at everyone, pleased. "Giles, check. Willow, check. Kennedy, check. Xander, check. Dawn, check. Me and then there's you.... Miss Lehane." She laughed at loud at that.

I cut my eyes at her, scrunching up my forehead. "You don't like my name?" I asked, sounding hurt.

She looked in my eyes, "Oh I do like it, it just wasn't what I imagined it would be. It is your 'real' name, isn't it?" She asked, anxiously awaiting.

I nodded a yeah and she smiled. "I like it. I like it a lot. It's uhm....." She leaned over close, whispering in my ear. "sexy."

I smiled, looking first at her lips, which were so close to my face and then at her eyes, whispering back, "so are you."

We froze for just a minute, forgetting about the other riders, until a throat clearing broke us out of our reverie. "Yeah." I breathed out. "We'd better get going."

Thirty miles out it started raining, make that pouring. Visibility was down to zero but onward we trudged, the van slowly inching its way toward our destination. My nerves were so frazzled I'd actually shushed everyone and turned off the radio. That in itself was enough to let everyone know that I was struggling just to see the road.

"Detour." Dawn sung out.

"What?" I asked, trying to look for a sign or something.

She pointed, moving in between the seats. "There, see the sign."

I slowed to a stop, squinting against the downpour. "Damn." I muttered under my breath. "Is it on the map?" I asked.

I listened to B ruffling the map, turning it around, heard her sigh. "I don't think it's on here." She said, adding, "actually, I don't think this is the map that we needed." She handed it over, a crease appearing along her forehead.

I took the map, looked it over, turned it around then back again. I brought my hand up to my head, rubbing my temple lightly. "No, its not. I don't know why I didn't check it before we left." I said, disgusted with my lack of efficiency.

I sighed outwardly, turning around to face the guys. "Well it says the road is washed out. So we can either turn around or take the detour. I vote for going back." I looked at them, waiting for them to reply.

Giles spoke up. "We've made it this far and the matter at hand is of some urgency and importance...." He trailed off as I cut in.

"Have you ever seen deliverance?" I asked, continuing. "This isn't exactly the city here, its backwoods and I don't know about you but I know that I don't have a clue as to where I'm at or where I'm going. This place is completely off the map."

"Are you scared?" Kennedy asked, mockingly.

I looked at her. "Well I'm thinking I don't really want to find out if sasquatch is just a myth!.... and I'm not good with all this nature shit!"

"I was just kidding." Kennedy retorted, rolling her eyes, adding, "jeez, sensitive much?"

I glared at her, turning back around to face front. "Fine!" I spat out. I turned the van onto the detour road, heading away from the road and in my opinion, further away from civilization.

Ten minutes felt like an eternity, the road and weather made driving almost impossible. The van rocked from the wind, jostled from the uneven road which ended and turned into a dirt path. Xander tried to assure me, assure all of us. "It's just a dirt road, they'll probably be in to pave it any day now." He smiled, continuing to pat his legs along with the music emitting from Dawn's portable. He sat up, pointing, "See there's a cement mixer; this road will be up and going in no time."

"Hey Red." I tried to get her attention.

"Red?" I said again.

"For crying out loud, can't you two wait to feel each other up in private?" I said, louder than needed.

Willow and Ken immediately straightened up, facing forward, feigning innocence. "What is it, 'Faith." Willow rushed out, voice just a little bit irritated.

I sighed, smirking. "Can't you clear this up or something?" I asked.

She looked at me hard, saying, "I'm not mother nature......I."

I cut her off abruptly. "Everyone's a comedienne."

"What the hell!" I asked out loud, stepping on the brakes. The van skidded and came to an abrupt stop, everyone was suddenly thrust forward. "I don't fucking believe this!" I yelled, hopping out of the van.

"What the hell just happened?" Ken asked.

"I'm not sure." Buffy replied.

After seeing what was wrong I ran around, throwing the door to the van open. "We're stuck and good." I stated.

"Well can't you just back out?" Dawn asked.

"Yeah Faith, just put the van in reverse and back us out." Xander added.

I looked at them hard, anger taking me over. "I'm not a moron!" I yelled, adding, "It's not that easy, we're in a trench, we're not going anywhere."

"Ridiculous." Giles said, continuing, "Surely, you can manoeuver the van out of this predicament."

I rounded on him. "Did you not hear me... we're in a fucking trench. There's a trench dug all the way across the road. The van is not moving and neither are we unless we walk back the way we came!" I said low, between gritted teeth.


I was mad now. "No Buts, get your ass' out and take a look for yourselves."

I walked back around to the driver's side and climbed back into my seat, slamming the door as they all got out to take a look.

Ten minutes, twenty minutes tops, they all piled back into the van. I just turned my head away from them, still angry.

"Faith." Buffy whispered.

"Faith." She tried again, moving closer. "You were right. We're stuck. Giles actually took a look, got all muddy to boot, said it looks like the axle is broke."

I looked at her and sighed. "Not like that's important, is it?" I asked, annoyed.

She shrugged. "No need to be mean about it." She said, leaning toward me.

I turned my head away from her, angry. She touched my leg, squeezing. "Ah, come on. It's not that bad. When it quits raining, we'll backtrack, shouldn't be that long of a hike. We'll just hang out, talk, play games or something." She smiled.

When we got down to three bottles of beer left on the wall I exited the van just to get away. So what if it was raining, listening to them was gonna make me go all evil on them again. I leaned against the van, still soaked from earlier, it didn't matter, what was a little water, maybe it'd cool me off. Sighing, I walked around to the back of the van, opening up the cargo area, looking for something, anything. I was going nuts with the waiting, better to try something foolish and wasteful than to just sit here singing songs.

She rolled down her window, calling, "Faith."

I peered around the van. "What?" I asked.

"Here's a flashlight." She said, holding it out the window for me.

I sighed, walking around to the passenger side. As I neared the window I slipped in the mud, instantly going down, landing on my back. "Great." I said outloud. I just laid there, I mean, really, what the fuck else was there to do.

I could hear them all stifling laughs inside the van but I didn't care anymore. I pulled out my smokes and lit up, just lying in the mud, smoking and thinking.

"Faith." Buffy opened her car door, peering down at me. "You okay?" She questioned.

I looked at her and continued smoking, the rain slowly turning my cigarette into mush.

She sighed and got out of the van, holding out her hand to me, offering me an easy up. I reached out and took her hand and got hoisted up out of the mud. I didn't say anything, I just quietly turned and walked back around to the back of the van.

"Faith." She followed me, eyeing me carefully. "What's wrong? Why are you so mad?" She questioned.

I saw some pipes over by the cement mixer, I ran over and picked up a couple, running back toward the van. I threw them over the trench, following, lifted one, placed it underneath the van and started lifting. It didn't budge. I took in a few deep breaths, got ready and hoisted again, straining to lift the van up and out of the trench.

"Faith." She got my attention. "Even if you get it out, it'll still be broke....and wouldn't it be easier if everyone got out of the van?" She offered.

My anger flared, causing me to put more pressure on the pipe than needed, it bent from the strain, causing me to lose my footing again. "Ahhhhhhhh." I screamed out, throwing the pipe off toward the woods. "Just one break, one lousy break, is that so much to ask for, huh?" I asked out loud to the night.

"Faith." She moved closer, getting my attention, "what's wrong?"

I looked at her, lowering my eyes. "Bad memories, just bad memories."

She moved closer, touching my shoulder. "Tell me, don't let them keep having a hold over you." She half smiled.

I breathed out heavily, turning away from the onlookers in the van, getting a small amount of privacy, B realizing what I was doing, turned from them also. "My mom ran the road a lot and when her and whoever would get... you know..." I looked at her, doing my eyes up, pushing across my point, which she got, she let out an "oh", showing me that she understood, so I continued. "They'd just kind of set me out in the woods and drive off a little bit to do stuff, tell me to stay put and I'd just sit there, listening and imagining stuff until I freaked myself out pretty good, sometimes too good." I glanced back at the others looking through the windshield at us.

She nudged me, "hey, you're not alone this time. I'm here and you can rest assured I won't let anyone or anything mess with you or us. Okay?" She smiled.

I laughed. "B, I'm grown now, it's not so much the fear as it is the feeling of just being dumped and left."

She laughed with me. "Well in that case, know that there is no way in hell that I would leave without you." She smiled. "So there. Now can we get back in the van, I'm starting to feel like a drowned rat." She wrung out the hem of her shirt.

I smiled. "And you look like one too." I said, laughing.

"Hey!" She gasped out, pushing me toward the van.

I couldn't help myself, I had to laugh, unrestrained and heartily. "Well, at least you don't' look like you've been mud wrestling." I offered.

"True." She nodded as we climbed back into the van.

Quiet took over, with no one really knowing what to say, singing was out, due to my 'tantrum'? Anyway, Giles took over, quizzing us over 'slayer lore', which in my o.p. is highly overrated. I just sat there, numb, watching the rain fall, listening to the trees rustle, slowly tapping the steering wheel. "Buffy." I whispered, my fingers tapping faster with each passing second. "Ken." I said lowly. "You feel that?" I asked quietly, waiting for an answer. "Yeah." They both answered back.

I started sweating, my muscles twitching, the hair on the back of my neck standing on edge. "We need to get out of here." I whispered.

Giles cut in. "There's nowhere to go." He said, louder than necessary.

I turned, facing him. "We can't stay in this tin can, we're sitting ducks." I said, voice calm, collective.

"Arm up." Buffy stated. "Get ready for whatever's coming."

Xander grabbed the ops bag from underneath the seat and began passing out weapons.

We sat there, quietly, waiting, that feeling of dread, anxiety slowly creeping its way around to all of us.

"I have to get out." I said, making a move for the door handle. Buffy grabbed me, stopping me. "Stay in the van, Faith. Stay put till we know what's out there." She kept her hand on me, firm, holding me tight. I nodded, sweat slowly starting to run in droplets down past my temple.

My breaths started coming fast, adrenaline pumping, I squeezed my stake tight, gripping it relentlessly, waiting. "It's coming." I whispered.

Everyone started looking around, trying to see what direction the attack would come from. We stilled, ready to fight.

Out it jumped, peering in through the windows, screeching. I looked at it, gasping out, "It's a moose. It's a moose?" I started laughing, the adrenaline build up, pouring over, slowly subsiding. We all laughed, sighing, breathing easily.

Something hit the side of the van, rocking it, shifting us. I looked, seeing nothing but a blur. Again, the van rocked, something hit against it harshly. "What the...." My words were cut off by my window crashing in, the glass cutting my hands and face slightly. I moved quickly, shifting over toward B's seat as the thing attacked me through the window. "Fuck!" I yelled, kicking at the things head. It caught my foot with its clawed hands, its fangs descending toward me. I kicked at it, hard, it didn't budge, it just hissed. Ken fired her crossbow, hitting the thing in the head. It looked at me, long and hard before slowly backing away, back into the night.

We heard it chuckling in the darkness, staying just out of view. "What kind of vamp was that?" I asked, looking at Giles, who just shrugged.

I looked to Red. "Will, can you do a protection spell?" I asked, hoping.

She nodded and started her incantations. I looked around, trying to stay away from the broken window, looking at everyone. "Stay away from the glass." I whispered.

The spell acted like a bug zapper, jolts of electricity sporadically lit up around the van. I looked to Red, who was sweating, concentration etched over her entire face. I lowered my eyes, thinking.

"What is it?" B asked, moving close enough to whisper to me. I leaned back, against her, not taking my eyes off the broken window, whispering. "She's not gonna hold out B, she's tiring fast and when she's spent, those things are gonna come, hard and fast and she's gonna be too drained to even help." I breathed in, held it, releasing it to continue. "There's more of them now, have you noticed?" I asked.

"Yeah." She answered, adding, "there's no way we're gonna be able to keep them out, we're gonna have to make a run for it, get out in the open so we can fight." I nodded, agreeing.

"Ken." I whispered. She moved forward, kneeling between the seats. "We're eventually gonna have to make a run for it. Will can't keep them out forever, she's wearing down fast. Tell the others, get them ready to move. We'll need you to help us fight so the others can carry Red." She nodded and went back to her seat, silently telling them what was going to happen sooner or later.

I watched the horror in each of their eyes, the realization, the knowledge that it was all we had, all we could do. I watched as they accepted it, took it inside and held it, letting it make them stronger, determined.

The clocked ticked down, minute by minute, till the very last second. Red was wiped out, slumping in the seat. I grabbed up a sword, getting ready, putting myself in front of the van's sliding door. "On my say." I said, already gritting my teeth.

"Now!" I yelled. Xander flung the door back, a vamp already coming forward to climb inside the van. I drew back the sword, thrusting it forward, sinking it in, twisting it, pushing it and me outside, into open territory. I cleared the van, pulled the sword out, drew back and sliced it through the air, meeting the things neck, severing it from its body.

It slumped to the ground, slowly starting to burn. I stood back, waiting for the others to exit the van. Another came around the corner, fangs bared, claws drew back, hissing. It lunged at me, grabbing along my arms, its claws furrowing in my skin. I kicked it back, moving in, swinging the sword hard, fast, accurately. Another down, more coming.

"Hurry!" I yelled, watching as the last one made it out of the van.

I looked to Buffy, asking, "which way?"

She looked around, pointing, "it's the only clear way, the others are covered."

I looked to the open field she pointed at, nodding, knowing it was our only option, hoping there would be something out there, some place to dig in and fight.

Buffy took over, commanding, "Ken you scout up front, about 5 foot ahead, no further. Xander, you and Giles get Willow, Dawn, stay with them, right on them, Faith you flank right and I'll take left. Stick close, we can't afford to let one get through." We all nodded and moved away from the van, quickly, quietly, in formation.

When we set foot in the open field, we started running, still in ready stance, still on guard, listening, looking, feeling those things following, watching. It didn't take long for them to take chase. They darted in, slicing through us, trying to separate us.

Three run head on at Ken, she stopped, ducked under one's attack, kicked it backwards toward us, came around and thrust her stake into ones heart. She pulled the stake out, backing up fast, muttering to herself, "It didn't dust." She froze up, momentarily. "Ken." I yelled, "Cross." She hesitated just a few seconds before she grabbed the cross out of her belt and thrust it forward, burning the beast.

I stepped forward, arching the sword, moving in on the one that Ken had propelled back to us. I drew the blade upward, sharp, crisp, fast, ending it then and there.

Buffy went after the third as two more came in from the side. "Holy water!" B yelled, spurring everyone into action. Dawn, Xander and Giles took aim, releasing the glass vials, breaking them against the oncoming beast, instantly baptising them, making them cringe and back off.

"Ken!" I yelled. "Snap out of it!" I ran over, shaking her, moving after the vamp she burned with the cross.

It hissed as I ran at it, laughed as it became intimate with my blade. "Move!" I yelled, immediately dropping back to my space, noticing the plan was falling short. "Ken!... Ken... take point. Ken!"

I breathed out heavily, thinking, "Xan, take point, Ken fall back and get Will!"

Ken turned, shaking her head, muttering, "but....but..."

"Go!" Buffy yelled. "Hurry! There's too many, we're being surrounded."

"We need to fall back." Ken finally yelled, adding, "you don't understand!"

I gritted my teeth, pushing forward. "Fall back to what Ken? What? There's nothing to fall back to. We need to run like hell." I pushed her, getting my point across.

"Now!" Buffy yelled again.

I pushed them all forward, got them moving again.

"Behind you!" Buffy yelled.

I sheathed my sword and a faked left, diving to my right, rolling over the ground, back up to my knees, my feet and into a ready stance. I blocked a hard right coming at my head, pushed the vamp back, drawing my stake, I lunged at the vamp, pushing the stake forward. It sunk in, thick, wet, deep. Nothing happened. Nothing. I froze. "It didn't dust." I said to myself.

Its claws shot out, flaying everywhere, all at once. I used my hands and arms to defend my vital areas. It came without hesitation, fear or remorse. I backtracked, taking several large steps back, putting some distance in between it and me.

"Faith! We need to go!"

I didn't have time to draw my sword, the vamp was amost on top of me so all I had was my stake and it was useless. I looked the vamp in the eyes, waiting. He moved fast, coming in, I held my breath waiting. "Wait." I told myself, "just wait. Almost there, almost. Now!" I yelled out as I pushed my fingers toward his eyes, the gelatinous substance giving way to the force of my fingers. He screamed, grabbing at his face, giving me the break I needed. I lifted the sword again, unsheathing it, deciding to use it from now on as my primary weapon. I stepped forward, delivering the fatal blow.

"Faith." Buffy called. "Come on. Hurry."

I ran, grabbing hold of the others to help them move faster.

On we pushed until oxygen became an issue, until several fell from exhaustion.

"Buffy!..... Buffy!" I called out, getting her attention. "They're spent, they can't go on." I breathed out heavily.

We looked at each other quietly.

I finally spoke. "We can't out run them." I said. "Plus, I staked one of the vamps, it didn't dust, maybe I didn't hit the mark but I don't think that's the case." I added, still winded.

She looked around at the ones fallen from exhaustion. Ken walked over to us. "What do you wanna do?" She asked, watching the perimeter for movement.

"Is Red able to fight?" I asked, swallowing hard, taking a deep breath, adding, " cause we really need some serious mojo, about now." She shook her head no.

"We've got to move, they're just waiting for us to give up." Ken stated.

Buffy looked around again, pointing. "There, lets get to that rise, we'll be able to see them coming and fight them from every angle. It's the best possible defense." She turned facing the others, "gear up, let's go."

"Let's go." I said, jogging over to help Giles up" I looked to Dawn and Xander, smiling lightly at them. "Xan, you okay, can you make it?" I asked.

"I'm not done for yet." He breathed out. "What about you, Dawnie?" He asked.

"No, I'm good." She said, her fear showing in her words.

Ken yelled. "Incoming, five o'clock."

We took off at a fast pace, heading for the rise. I kept peering around, watching them move in, then back off. I shook off my thoughts, pressing on, pulling Giles with me.

Part 2

We finally made it. I sat Giles down and looked around. I jogged over to B, who was looking off in the distance.

"What?" I asked.

She stood firm, looking, pointing. "There're some houses." She stated.

I squinted my eyes, focusing. "Yeah but I think we stand a better chance staying here. We can see them coming from every angle. We put the civilians in the center and me, you and Ken space out, we can defend against any angle of attack that way." I looked at her waiting for a reply.

"I don't know. We don't have anything to our backs here, nothing to back into to cut off their line of attack." She said, adding, "I..."

I interrupted her. "We got each other, besides, think about it, this is all too convenient. We have one direction open for us to go in and they really haven't attacked us like I think they could."

She looked at me. "What do you think?" She asked.

I looked at her hard. "I feel like they're moving us where they want, herding us like cattle." I paused briefly before continuing, "my bet is they want us there." I pointed at the houses in the distance.

She nodded her head. "You think the guy at the rental place was in on it?" She asked.

I shrugged. "Doesn't really matter, we get out of this, I'm gonna kick his ass just because."

She turned, pointing out into the darkness. "Why do you think they're holding off?" She asked as Ken was walking over to us.

I sighed. "Probably, waiting to see what we're gonna do or which direction we're gonna take."

Ken spoke up, "Willow's coming around." She advised, adding, "look, earlier, I staked a vamp and nothing happened."

"Me too." I added.

"So what now?" Ken asked, looking around.

Buffy answered. "It's either stand here, defend ourselves or make a run for those houses." She pointed, so Ken could see where she was talking about.

"Man, we're screwed." Ken mouthed.

"You think?" I stated, annoyed.

"Well, what are we waiting for?" Ken asked. "At least we can board up in there until daylight." She nodded for emphasis.

"I think so too." Buffy added, looking to me.

I sighed. "I guess majority rules, huh?" I said, continuing, "but I don't like it. We could be walking right into a nest, not to mention, we'll be trapped inside once we get there."

Some movement caught my attention. "Buffy." I said, getting her attention, "they're making another pass." I ran back toward the others, sword in hand, getting ready.

The others followed, each flanking the center of the rise.

Something swooped down at me, clawing my face and neck. I fell backwards, landing in the dirt. "What the fuck was that?" I yelled.

It came again, fast, hard, swarming low, swiping at me, hissing as it passed over, heading for Dawn. "Dawn! Hit the dirt!" I screamed. "Buffy!" I yelled again.

Buffy turned, saw what was coming and moved in. She drew back her sword, jumping, slicing the blade through the air, cutting the thing in half.

We stared at it in shock, in horror, as it lay on the ground, screeching, hissing, squirming.

I heard more coming, their wings flapping against the wind.

"Since when can vamps fly?" I asked, adding, "Unfuckingbelievable!"

I looked to the sky, saw more moving in. "House!" I yelled, pulling on Giles and Dawn. "Xander, get Red!" I yelled again.

"Same formation!" B yelled, looking around, realizing that it was gonna be a free for all.

We ran for it as best we could with the things following closely behind, swarming around us.

Dawn fell in front of me. I sheathed my sword, leaning over as I ran, hoisting her up, pulling her along with me.

"Ken!" I called out. "Take Giles and Dawn, Me and B will keep them off of you." She fell back, stepping in between the two, continuing the fast pace.

I pulled my sword, immediately pushing it through the air and into a beast, pulling it out quickly, turning to run again.

B went down. "No!" I yelled, making a direct path for her. Her sword had fallen to the ground, her arms were up blocking and hitting at the demon.

"B!" I yelled, swinging the sword. It connected, knocking the beast off of her. She turned over, grabbed her sword and shoved herself back to her feet, again running.

We were quickly approaching the house. We sped up at the thought of shelter, of cover from the beasts.

We ran to the door. "Get them in Ken, we'll hold them back!" B called out, looking to me. I nodded and stood firm, ready.

Ken kicked the door, pushing everyone through. B backed in, pulling me along. We slammed the door shut. "Block it up, find a way." B yelled.

I turned, adjusting my eyes to the greyness, grabbed a chair and wedged it underneath the doorknob.

"Start blocking up all the windows!" I yelled, adding, "get upstairs and somebody see if there's a back door!"

Everyone ran, all at once. I looked up. "No! Stay together. We need to stay together!" I yelled after them.

"Damn it!" I screamed, frustrated, looking at Will and Dawn, who were sitting still on a couch, staring at me. I looked to Giles, who was trying to barricade the window. I walked toward him. "I'll get it Giles."

The window caved around him, arms reaching in, surrounding him, clawing at him, grasping hold and pulling him slowly through the opening.

I ran, grabbing at him, pulling, trying to back them off with my sword. I strained, holding on, trying to keep him inside, quickly losing the tug of war. I heard Dawn screaming in the background, heard Willow trying to get up to help. I pulled harder, lashing out at them, slowly becoming a target myself. I looked up, staring into Giles' face, his eyes were rolled upwards, his mouth hung open, pale, as they drank him dry. "Giles." I whispered, letting him go. The vamps glared at me, smiling, then lunged again.

I slashed at the open window, freaking out, hitting everything that tried to get in.

Willow finally stepped beside me and literally blew them back before slouching again. I took that little bit of time and pulled the holy water from my pocket. I sprinkled it over the opening, making the sign of the cross, muttering the words I'd heard in 'the exorcist' a hundred times. "I sanctify in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let no evil pass."

I looked at Red, who had her brows arched in astonishment. I shrugged. "You never know." I offered.

Buffy ran back in, saying, "back door's secure." She breathed out. "I also searched the kitchen, found some nails, hammer and a few candles" She looked around the room, asking, "what happened?"

I rounded on her, angry. "You couldn't hear us screaming? With all the racket we were making, what the fuck do you think was happening?" I spat out as I snatched the hammer and nails away from her, walking over and smashing the coffee table, picking up the top part to put over the window.

I started hammering, blocking them out.

Buffy looked around the room, then back to me, sighing, "no, I didn't hear you Faith, in fact, all I could hear was some muffled sounds. I guess the house is insulated well or something." She shook her head and looked around again, asking, "where's Xander, Kennedy and Giles?" Her voice quivered slightly, causing me to stop what I was doing.

I sighed, wiping at my eyes. "Ken and Xan ran upstairs. I don't know where they're at up there but that's where they headed." I stated, looking toward the stairs.

Willow followed my eyes, looking at the stairs herself, stepping toward them. "I'm gonna go help them." She said lowly, moving to the staircase slowly.

I touched her arm. "You're not recovered yet. You should stay."

She pulled her arm away from my hand. "I'm fine. I have to go." She looked at me. I nodded, letting her know I understood. I wouldn't try to stop her from going to her girl.

She walked away and slowly started to ascend to the top floor.

I looked back to B, lowering my eyes. Dawn was still crying. I threw a glance her way, then returned my attention back to Buffy.

She stepped closer to me, asking, "and Giles?" My eyes cut to the broken window, tears, already starting to fall.

"He's gone." I whispered.

"NO!" She screamed, approaching me. "How could you let something happen to him? How?" She yelled, lashing out, her fists striking out at me and me like a dope, standing there, taking it, letting her hit me.

She finally fell against me, sobbing, as I wrapped my arms around her, holding her firmly. "Shhh." I soothed. "I'm sorry." I whispered.

"Come on." I said as I walked her backwards, trying to get her to sit down next to Dawn and relax, to deal and suck the pain inside, turn it and use it to make her stronger.

The floor creaked and buckled as we moved over it, snapping loudly. We jumped, changing positions quickly. "Damn, watch that part of the floor, it's gonna give." I stated, looking at both B and Dawn. "I'll put something over it so nobody steps on it by accident." I looked around for something to cover the weakened spot, not finding anything that wouldn't make it fall in.

Buffy's voice broke through the silence. "Why haven't they came back yet?" She asked, looking upstairs.

I just shook my head, not knowing, not wanting to know.

Something hit against the door, wailing. Again it hit the entrance, shaking the door at its hinges, moving the chair slightly with each strike. We stood, swords ready, waiting.

I crept toward the door, pulling out the holy water, repeating my actions and words from earlier. I doused the door, just as it flew open. I jumped backwards flinging the water at the door. "I sanctify in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Let no evil enter." I said, shakily, slowly moving closer to the door to close it.

"Faith, that's not going to work. You're not ordained." Buffy advised.

"What?" I said, turning to look at her, still moving toward the open door.

As I reached the opening a vamp emerged, hissing and grasping at me. I startled, falling backwards on the floor.

"Get back!" Buffy yelled, trying to keep Dawn from backing away.

I flung some holy water at it, backing it up, getting to my feet and slamming the door shut, again wedging the chair back underneath the doorknob.

I heard something snap. I turned abruptly. "Dawn." I muttered, forgetting the door, heading toward Dawn. "Don't move." I said.

The floor creaked louder, snapping. "Buffy!" Dawn screamed.

Buffy and I ran, diving, grabbing for Dawn as the floor gave way. "Dawn! Dawn!" Buffy yelled.

I peered into the dark hole. "Dawn!" I yelled. "Dawn?" I questioned, in disbelief.

I put my hands over my head, backing away, "this isn't real. It's not real." I said over and over.

I walked back and forth, finally walking back to the broken floor. "Dawn!" I screamed, looking into the blackness. "Get me some light, Buffy. Get me some kind of light!" I yelled, getting her attention. I pulled out the last of my stash of holy water and sprinkled it over the opening, praying that Dawn was down there, being bathed by the droplets.

I leaned over, looking in. "Dawn, can you hear me?" I yelled again, leaning over further.

It came up fast, grabbing hold of me, pulling me downward. I hit the floor hard, grasping for leverage, slowly sliding toward the opening.

I felt as B grabbed the waistline of my pants, pulling me back. I started flinging the holy water at it, causing it to hiss and scorch, its grip loosening. "Get it!" I forced the words out, started reaching for it, grabbing hard, pulling it up to us.

She grabbed hold of it, helping me get it above ground. I raised up, pulling harder, placing my knee at the back of its neck, holding it to the floor.

"Sword." I gasped out, tiring quickly.

Buffy reached around me, grabbed a sword, raised it and chopped it downward, sending the vamp into oblivion.

The room lit up as it ignited. We watched the glowing embers fall below, illuminating the darkness. We didn't see anything of Dawn.

I looked at B, her fears plastered all over her face. I touched her arm. "It doesn't mean anything." I said, offering hope. "We don't know. She could still be alright."

She stared into the abyss. "I'm going." She said, her voice emotionless.

"Buffy, no." I almost pleaded.

She moved toward the opening.

"Buffy..... please." I begged.

She looked up at me, eyes full of hurt and pain. "I have to." She said.

"I'll go with you." I whispered, moving toward her.

She shook her head no, saying, "you stay here, wait, just in case the others come back. I'll be okay."

She turned, getting ready to jump down.

"Buffy." I called out, stopping her. She turned, looking at me.

I looked at her, knowing it was now or never. I chose now. "I loved you, always have, then.....now.... til the end." I whisperd, tears escaping my eyes.

She half smiled. "We'll finish that conversation when we get back." She said, lowly, lost in thought.

I nodded as she turned and jumped into the darkness.

I gripped my sword tighter, backing into a corner, waiting, watching and listening.

Part 3

(Kennedy POV)

"Block all the windows up!" That's all I heard, spurred into action by the words, by the sounds of wings flapping, by the sound of those things trying to get in.

I ran up the stairs with Xander following right behind me, hesitating only a few seconds before the slayer instinct took over.

"I'll block off the rooms on the right, you take the left." I pointed, gesturing, making my way to the first door. I looked back over to Xander. "Any trouble, you call out." He looked at me, gave me an, 'as if' look and made his way off toward the row of doors on the left side of the hallway.

I walked up to the first door, placed my hand on the knob, slowly turned it and pushed the door open.

The way it creaked was unnerving, literally and it echoed out into the corridor, making me wince.

I looked around the room, peering in from the hallway, watching for movement, trying to scope out my surroundings.

Not sensing anything, I stepped inside, hunting for something to place against the window.

I saw a wardrobe and immediately started sliding it over in front of the window. If they broke through, that being the most likely outcome, the wardrobe would at least slow them down, give us time to get in here, fight them back.

I pushed it flush against the glass, grabbed a chair and wedged it underneath the wardrobe's handle, adding a little extra hold for the already weak shield.

I assessed the barricade, looking further around the room. I upended the bed making sure nothing was hiding, then slowly walked to the closet.

I stepped to the side, throwing the door open. I didn't sense anything so I closed the door back.

I smashed the bed frame, splintering it, picked up a piece and wedged it under the closet door. No way in hell that door was gonna be opened easily.

I picked up the splintered wood, makeshift stakes, wedges, any or all, it was better than nothing.

I backed out of the room, pulling the door closed, breathing in short pants, listening and looking around for any sign of Xander.

The corridor was empty so I went on to the next door, slowly pushing it open, peering inside before moving in.

I turned the bed over, snapping the headboard apart from the frame. I pushed it up against the window, sliding a dresser over to hold it in place.

I dropped a couple of wedges and kicked them under the dresser, knocking them in tight, hoping that it would help keep pressure on the blockage.

Something fell. I jerked around, looking at the closet. I froze, listening, watching, slowly starting to make my way over. My first instinct was to just wedge the door shut but my slayer sense told me to make sure I wasn't locking something inside the house with us.

The slayer won out as always.

I armed the small crossbow as I inched closer, slowly raising my hand up to open the door.

I held my breath and pulled the door open, letting it swing wide.

I aimed the arrow into the closet and pulled out a cross, waving it back and forth amongst the old clothes.

The window broke. I jerked around, aiming the crossbow.

Claws reached out from the closet, grabbing around my face and torso, pulling me backwards. I dropped the cross as I grabbed onto the doorframe, trying to leverage my way out.

I threw my head back, butting them repeatedly, kicked backwards trying to gain some leeway, some room to fight.

The hands wrapped tighter around me, constricting me more. I started struggling, trying frantically to get away.

I felt numerous fangs penetrate me, my shoulder, arms. I fought until I became limp, my eyes focused toward the barricade, watching as it slowly faded from sight.

(Xander Pov)

I ran upstairs behind Ken, following her lead, her instructions.

I silently made my way down the leftside of the hallway, barely able to see, feeling my way mostly. What I wouldn't give for some slayer vision right about now.

I came to the first room and pushed the door open fast, hard, hoping for the element of surprise.

I gasped slightly as I realized that nothing had jumped out at me.

I looked around the room as I entered. The moon shown through the window, casting an eerie glow about the place.

I walked to the window and checked the lock, making sure it was latched.

I looked around trying to figure out a way to secure the window. I smiled as a plan filtered through my head.

I reached in my back pocket and pulled out a roll of duct tape. "Never leave home without it." I mumbled to myself. I pulled the cross out of my belt loop and wrapped tape around it tightly, then stuck the tape from one side of the window to the other, leaving the cross suspended in mid air.

I nodded, pleased with myself.

I snatched the chair from the desk and pushed it up against the closet door, making sure it was tight. "Thank you Faith." I muttered, remembering how she secured the front door earlier.

I gave the room a last glance over before I closed the door, going on to the next.

I blew out the breath I'd been holding as I reached for the next doorknob, turning it and opening the door into the unknown.

I peeked around the door. The room was black, no moonlight, no nothing and that meant no window. I know my math. I closed the door quietly, again removing the duct tape.

I started wrapping the tape around the knob, making sure it was strong, then started looking for something to secure it to.

Viola, bright ideas were on the forefront tonight. I pulled the tape toward the first room and began wrapping the tape around the knob there, basically using each door as a lever to hold the other one closed. "Oh, I'm good." I whispered to myself.

I heard something shift. I jerked my head up looking, questioning, "Kennedy?" I waited for an answer. "She must be moving furniture." I reasoned to myself.

I waited a few minutes, listening just to be sure there was no trouble, hearing nothing, I moved on to the next room.

I barely heard the slight sounds coming from inside the room. I paused, thinking. I put my ear to the door, listening, I could hear some faint scratching sounds coming from inside.

I stepped back, jumping as I heard something smash in a room behind me, followed by Kennedy, talking to herself. I looked back to the door in front of me, my breaths starting to come in pants, my fear factor moving up to an eleven on a scale of one to ten.

I looked around the hallway, eyeing a broom propped up against the wall. I snatched it up, bringing it over to the door. I frantically started wrapping the tape around the knob, the sounds coming from inside the room making me work faster, making my heart race as the sounds grew louder and closer to the door.

I held the broom, placed it against the door frame sideways and held it in place with my knee. I ran the tape from the knob around the broom handle and back again, numerously, making it stronger with each pass of tape.

The door jerked, stilled, then jerked several more times. I pulled my stake and holy water out of my side pocket, instantly opening the water, sprinkling a little bit at the door.

The door jerked several more times. I backed away from it, watching, stake raised, ready.

Whatever pulled the door had suddenly stopped and moved away. I breathed out a sigh of relief, my shoulders slumped from all the pent up tension.

I eyed the door at the end of the hall, slowly moving toward it but keeping watch on the others.

I stood before it, gathering the courage to go inside. I pulled in a deep breath, releasing it slowly and pushed the door open.

I looked around the room quickly, not seeing anything. I looked to the window. I inwardly cursed, seeing that the window was one of those old double kind, the ones that looked like a french door and opened basically the same way. They had a hook-eye latch and would just unfasten at the gust of a wind.

I shook my head, noting that I was right as the wind pushed against them, rocking them. It'd only be a matter of time before they.."

The sound of the windows blowing open cut my internal rant short. I sighed, moving quickly to push them back together, latched them, checking twice to make sure the latch caught.

As soon as I let go of them, the wind started battering them again.

I looked around the room for something to secure them with. Nothing was suitable, no boards, no furniture, nothing, just a pile of junk pushed up into the corner, but maybe, just maybe, I could find something in there to help me out.

The windows crashed open again, banging against the walls.

I ran back over, pushing the windows together again, latching them and pulled my tape out.

I tore a small piece of tape and put it over the latch, mumbling, "that ought to hold you for a few minutes." I sighed, turning to sift through the pile of junk.

I turned looking directly into the eyes of a demon. I pulled out the holy water and threw it, it stood firm against the burning water, holding its gaze. I pulled the stake, thrusting it at him as hard as I could.

He hissed and pushed his arms outward, knocking me backwards into the window, my weight causing the glass to give way. I fell backwards, my torso leaning over the sill.

I grabbed the sill to keep myself from falling and looked up into the faces of several vampires.

They descended before I could move. Biting, holding me down. I fought, struggling, until my body finally stilled, nothing left but the occasional twitch of a reflex reaction.

(Willow Pov)

Halfway up the stairs I turned back, looking at Dawn, Buffy and Faith, who were all just kind of staring at me, seemingly frozen, unsure, broken.

I really needed to find Kennedy and Xander, plus I didn't want to be there to watch as Buffy crumbled. I didn't want to be the one who had to tell her that the only father she really had, was gone, lost in the battle to stay alive.

Buffy started to come toward me, to go with me but I waved her off. If I hadn't of thought that Faith would be there for her, be her strength, I would've never left. Well, maybe I would have but this time, for once, I wanted Faith to be the one there for her.

I looked back to the top of the staircase and started climbing, slowing as I reached the top.

I peered into the dark hallway, on reflex, absentmindedly casting a spell to illuminate the area.

I stepped into the hallway, noticing the tape strung from one door to the next, finally noticing the one secured shut by tape and a broom handle.

I decided to leave well enough alone, I mean, if they felt the need to secure the doors, then I didn't really want to know why so I slowly backed away from them.

I walked back to the first door on the right, turned the knob and shoved the door open, hands already glowing with power, ready to fire at will.

I entered slowly, my eyes taking inventory of what was in the room. I saw the barricade from the start then noticed the closet door had been wedged shut. I looked around one last time, casting a dim light in all the corners, making sure not to miss anything.

Slowly I backed out, closing the door.

I started to the next door, jumping as one of the doors started jerking against the frame. I moved closer. "Kennedy?.....Xander?" I questioned, watching as the door stilled.

I heard faint chuckling coming from the other side of the door. I slowly, quietly moved away from it, neglecting the door directly across from it.

The door started rattling again, harder. Growling echoed through the door and reverberated along the hallway. I moved backwards quickly, coming in contact with the last door.

I flung the door open just as the tape gave way, the broom handle snapping, letting out the beast.

It stepped out into the hallway with purpose, instantly turning toward me, hunching over slighting, hissing.

It smiled as it made its ways toward me.

I stood straight, hands at my sides. My hands flinching as they quickly ignited.

I let the power flow through me, fill me, let the darkness invade, run rampant.

I felt the darkening of my eyes. I gritted my teeth, trying to hold the darkness at bay.

I cast the fire at the vamp, hitting him square in the chest. The blaze seemed to disappear, only to re-emerge from within him, burning brightly.

It screamed as it combusted.

I heard something to my left. Turning, I saw a window crashing back and forth against the wall, saw a figure draped over the window sill. Flashes rushed through my head as cold, hard reality sunk in.

I moved forward, in shock, denial, not wanting to look but having to. Slowly I edged closer, tears already falling. Almost there.

Something shifted behind me. I turned, staring into the eyes of numerous vampires lined along the inside of the room.

I watched as they spread out, smiling at me.

Anger flared. I drew in a sharp breath, releasing it as a sigh.

I raised my hands, blowing them backwards, crashing them back against the walls, instantly bringing forth flames, slowing the burning process as they glowed. I bathed them in a white hot light, my body shaking from the adrenaline rush.

I watched in satisfaction as each one slowly blackened, started smoking and finally burst forth in embers. I continued until all of them were nothing but smoldering pieces of dust drifting over the floor.

I ran toward Xander, pulled him in the window. "Xander.... Xander!" I called out to him, hoping he'd respond, move, breathe. "No... please no." I cried, sobbing, holding onto him.

I finally let him go, steeled myself as I moved away from him. I couldn't leave him like that, not knowing if he'd rise or not.

Tears flowed freely as I cast another spell, making sure that he wouldn't come back. I watched as the flames finally subsided around him, leaving behind a residue of ash. Another wave of my hand caused the ash to turn blue and glow brightly. I blew at it and watched as it floated out the window, releasing him, setting him free. I lowered my eyes, whispering, "Ken..."

I turned, stopping abruptly at seeing someone fall through the door, staggering, trying to get up, stand. "Ken." I whispered.

"Will." She mumbled, stumbling, falling to her knees.

She whimpered as she tried to get to her feet, only managing to fall again to the floor.

I ran to her, helping her up. "We need to get out of here." I stated, wrapping my arms around her.

She turned wrapping her arms around me, enveloping me in a hug.

I smiled, then tensed as I felt how cold she was in my arms. She laughed and squeezed her arms around me, sinking her teeth through the surface of my skin.

She clamped down, pulling back, tearing out a chunk of flesh.

I pushed her backwards, trying to bring my hand up, using magic to blast her back against the wall.

I raised my hand, feeling the bite, swooning from the vast amount of blood flowing and from the large amount of pain I was feeling.

I staggered, looking around for her.

She came up behind me, pushing me forward, causing me to tumble across the floor.

I rolled, stopping against the wall, looking up into her altered features. I screamed as I cast another spell, the light emanating from my hands going directly to her, covering her, outside and within.

I laid on the floor watching as she drifted apart. I slowly pushed myself up, trying to make my way back to the others.

I could faintly hear Faith as she called out to us. I tried to answer but words wouldn't form.

I eased down the hallway, staggering, my vision becoming blurred, my body ready to give out on me.

I collapsed in front of one of the doors, gasping for breaths, in, out; Listened as my heartbeat echoed in my head, growing slower and slower, more faint with each beat.

I panted, fast, shallow, only able to pull air in until finally I released a long drawn out sigh.

Part 4

(Dawn Pov)

I fell to the ground hard, dazed, looking upward from where I fell.

Something off to my left moved. I jerked around, looking through the darkness, tears starting to run down my cheeks.

The sound grew louder, accompanied by a kind of hissing. I froze momentarily before I finally had enough sense to start crawling through the darkness, trying to find somewhere safe to hide.

I heard Buffy and Faith screaming out for me but I couldn't answer them, I couldn't let that thing know where I was.

I backed up against what felt like a wall, pushed myself flush against it, trying to meld into it. I trembled with fear, while trying to control my sobs.

I heard Faith, this time louder, closer. For a brief second relief washed over me, making me think it would be all right, then the scuffling began, fighting from the sound of it. Dread filled my body, I looked to where the opening was, waiting, praying, holding my breath, hoping.

Finally embers rained down from the floor above, casting a yellow glow. I stepped toward the opening, with hope beginning to build up inside of me. I knew they were coming. I moved closer.

Something wrapped its hands around my face and pulled backwards. I began to kick and squirm trying to break its hold.

I was thrown forward, tumbling across the ground. My hands and arms were skinned up from the rough surface of the ground. I heard a door slam and then I was surrounded by silence.

I sat up on my knees, trying to focus in the dark, rubbing my hands together gingerly, trying to ease off the pain I was feeling from being tossed so fiercely.

My eyes finally adjusted to the blackness, giving me a faint glimpse of the room.

I noticed a basement window. I got up running toward it. If I could get back to the front door then they could let me back in.

Believe me, the last thing I wanted to do was go back outside with those things but the other option of staying locked in a dark hole with them, seemed much worse to me.

I squinted, looking for something to bust the window with.

There was nothing. "Think Dawn, think." I muttered to myself as I continued to search over the room.

I pulled off my jacket, wrapped it around my hand several times. I breathed in and out several times, sharp and fast, getting myself ready, pumped up. I gritted my teeth as I drew back my fist, letting out a grunt as I thrust my fist forward, hitting the small window, cracking it.

I drew back again, pushing my fist forward repeatedly, gasping out in frustration with each strike upon the glass.

Finally the glass gave way.

I cleared the stray particles of glass away from the sill and jumped for it, my feet digging against the wall, trying to help push myself up.

I finally had enough forward momentum to pull my shoulders through the opening. Inch by inch I pushed myself further and further into freedom.

Just as my hips cleared the window, something grabbed my legs, pulling sharply, trying to pull me back inside.

I dug my fingers in the dirt, trying to hold on, trying to pull myself forward, out of their grasp.

Again, I was pulled backwards, losing what little ground I'd gained. I started clawing at the ground frantically, sobs breaking free.

Again, I was jerked, this time, so hard and callous that I found myself pulled back through the window and falling back down to the basement floor.

I hoisted myself off the ground, turned and was knocked back against a wall.

Claws struck out, hitting against the side of my head, traveling around to my face. I felt the stinging and the wetness where the scratches appeared and began to run.

It pushed against me, pinning me to the wall.

I raised my eyes, meeting its stare.

Anger over-powered my fears as I spit in its smiling face.

A brief look of shock and disbelief passed over its face before anger took it over, making it draw back its clawed hand and thrust it forward.

I felt as its claws penetrated my stomach.

I gasped out, held in my breath as I looked at the creature, who slowly released me, backing away, smiling.

I stood there frozen, holding my wound, until the pain made me stumble back against the wall.

I leaned back, letting the wall hold me up, until my legs buckled and I slid downward into a sitting position, trying to stop the bleeding, trying to move past the pain, trying to focus, trying to wait for the others to come and save me.

I looked off into the darkness, mumbling, "they'll come... I know they'll come."

My eyes fluttered closed.

(Buffy Pov)

I turned from Faith, leaned over, picked up my fallen sword and looked back into the hole. I took a deep breath, glanced back to Faith briefly, then jumped downward into the darkness.

As soon as I hit the floor I was surrounded. They swarmed around me, each looking for bragging rights, wanting to be the one that bagged a slayer.

I closed my eyes, letting my senses guide me, listening for the air to part as one moved, waiting for them to get within my range.

They came all at once. I arched the blade, swinging, hitting most of them, knocking them back. I attacked, chopping, thrusting, slicing, not stopping, not slowing, not hesitating until I'd hacked each and every one to bits.

When I finally stopped, I was breathing heavily, covered in soot and ash.

The glow emanating from the vampires cast enough light to see around the room. I started kicking doors open, hunting, killing whatever I found.

I barely heard Faith as she called out to me. "I'm okay!" I yelled out as I continued searching below.

I let out a small scream as I kicked another door open, my scream dying on my lips as soon as I saw Dawn, slouched on the floor, leaning back against the wall.

I ran to her, falling down onto my knees, laying my sword down beside me to touch her, to assess how bad her wounds were.

"Dawn." I stated, holding in a cry.

"Dawn, come on." I said, lightly patting her face, trying to revive her.

She stirred slightly as I tried to lift her.

I felt a sharp pain to the back of my head. I stilled for just a second before I stumbled with Dawn. I sucked in a deep breath, held it, watched as the room started to slowly spin before my eyes, watched as the spinning slowed and faded from view, felt the horror as I lost the battle to stay conscious. Dark enveloped me as I slumped against the floor.

I slowly opened my eyes, trying to focus, trying to remember what happened. My memory flooded back like a ton of bricks, hard and heavy. I jerked upright, immediately looking around the room, the sight of Dawn knocking my haze back. I quickly crawled over to her, slowing as I approached her.

I ran my hand over her face, closing her eyes.

My eyes fell to the gaping hole in her stomach then down to the pool of blood she was sitting in.

I gritted my teeth as anger took me over. I stood up, walked over to the door and kicked it open.

I found a vamp waiting on the other side. I covered the ground between us quickly, drawing back my fist.

I lunged, raining blows over it, bringing it down to the ground. "How dare you take what was mine!" I growled out, rage taking over.

I pummelled, shouting out curses, damnations,until there was nothing left but a piece of bloody meat.

I heard something, someone, faint, off in the distance.

"Faith." I whispered.

I got up and ran back to the opening.

(Faith Pov)

I backed myself into a corner, blade ready, poised. I leaned back resting, thinking, breathing hard, trying to get my fears under control.

I edged toward the window, peering through the cracks in the barricade, watching the vamps move about. They had free reign over the houses. "Great." I mouthed, noticing something peculiar. The vamp jumped downward, disappearing below ground. "Tunnels." I said to myself.

I heard some noises from upstairs. I looked to where they were coming from and moved toward the staircase. Step by step, I slowly went upwards. "Red? Ken?...... Xander?" I called out. Slowly I moved to the top of the stairs. I froze as soon as I reached the top step. I could barely make out Willow slouched on the floor. I could smell the blood and sense her demise. "Ah, Red." I whispered.

The front door burst open again, causing me to move past my grief. I jumped half the steps, getting back down to the floor quickly and ran for the door.

The vamps started entering. I plowed forward, diving through the air, pushing my blade forward, fast and hard, taking a couple of vamps out and pushing the others back outside.

I slammed the door again, grabbed up the hammer and some nails and began tacking the door in place.

The barricade moved behind me. I moved fast, throwing my weight at it, pushing against it.

One minute there was chaos and the next, all the chaos vanished. I looked through the cracks again, noticed that the darkness was giving way to day.

I sighed, slumping from all the tension.

I started pulling the barricade down.



The voice finally broke through my closed off state.

I turned, looking to where the voice came from.

"Buffy!" I yelled, running over to the collapsed floor.

"I need a hand up." She said.

I looked into the darkness, not able to see clearly through the dark.

"Is there something you can stand on?" I asked.

"Hold on." She said as she stepped away. "Okay." She called out to me as she scooted something across the floor for her to stand on.

I braced myself, holding my hand out for her to take.

"On three." She said, counting, then jumping up to grab hold of my hand.

I gripped my hand around hers and pulled her up and out.

"Where's the others?" She asked.

I shook my head. "I don't think they made it." I offered. "We'll light up the place and look, make sure."

"Dawn?" I questioned.

She lowered her eyes, shaking her head no.

I sucked in the pain and decided to change the subject. "We got to get out of here B, regroup, come back and make them pay. They got tunnels all over, we'll have to make sure we get them all." I said as I pried the barricade away from the window. "My senses are completely off the wall. We're so covered in evil, I can't tell the good from the bad anymore." I added, as I threw the table off to the side.

"We made it, B, we got to make it count for something." I said as I stared out the window, watching the rising sun.

She stepped closer. "Yeah, you almost made it." She said.

I turned slowly. "Buffy?" I asked.

She lunged, knocking me backwards against the floor, the fall knocking the breath out of me, her body weight pressing against me.

I tried to push her off of me but she already had me, had me way before I ever hit the floor.

The sunlight broke through the sky, sending beams throughout the house, streaking across the floor, the walls, knocking back the darkness.

I felt the warm light cover me. She scurried away from me, into the shadows as the light settled over me, blanketing me.

I watched her push herself into the corner, avoiding the rays of light.

I glanced up at the sky, unable to move, my strength sucked out with my blood.

I watched helplessly as clouds drifted closer and closer to the sun. It was only a matter of time.

She sat down in the corner, watching me, laughing, waiting......for the sun to fade, for my time to end.

"Guys.... Guys.... We're here."

"Hey... Come on.... We're here."

He shook us. "Hey, you guys sleep like the dead." Xander said teasing.

"What?" Buffy asked, sitting upright, rubbing her eyes. "Oh." She said, jerking around, looking at everyone. She started rubbing her hands all over her body, then proceeded to check Dawn.

I slowly opened my eyes, sitting upright, peering around at everyone.

Buffy moved closer and started checking, running her hands over me, feeling, looking at every exposed body part.

I moved away. "Damn B, if you want to rub me up, at least get me alone first." I said.

Giles cut in, "we're here, so lets get what we came for and get down to the business at hand." He moved to exit the car.

"Wait!" Buffy said, louder than normal. "Everybody get back in the car."

"Buffy, can't this wait." Giles interrupted.

"NO!" She yelled. "Get back in now!"

They all piled back in, looking, waiting for an explanation.

She pulled in a deep breath. "It's a trap." She said, almost out of breath, continuing, "I know it sounds crazy but you just have to believe me." She looked around at all of us.

I shifted uncomfortably in the seat. "Pull away from here and park us out of view." I said.

Giles looked at me, cranked the car and pulled out of the rental lot, driving for about a half a mile before he pulled over, turning to face me.

I looked at him hard. "When we're a couple of hours overdue, call the car lot, tell them we've had car trouble and reschedule our trip for the day after next." I sighed, not wanting to look at anyone.

"Faith?" Buffy asked. "Did you dream too?"

I nodded, finally looking at everyone. "I don't think we're after an actual weapon. I think the weapon is the vamps themselves. They're some kind of new breed, strong, deadly, infectious." I pulled in a breath before continuing. "We're gonna need to regroup and hit them at first light, hard."

Buffy interrupted, "I'll call Angel, we're gonna need someone that has enough pull to get us everything we'll need in a short amount of time."

Giles sensing our reluctance to elaborate, asked, "What happened?"

Buffy looked up at him, whispering, "we all died."

"Oh." He nodded and started the car for home.

The ride home was quiet, no one talked. We all just sat quietly, thinking.

When we finally got back home, calls were made, orders put in, it wouldn't be long now, all we had to do was sit back and wait for Angel to come through for us, to send us the supplies we needed.

Giles and Willow retreated to research some spells. We'd need them in order to carry out our plan.

Kennedy paced. Dawn and Xander slept sprawled out all over the couch.

I sat on the back step, smoking. B sat close by, watching me until she finally couldn't take it anymore.

"Lehane, huh?" She asked, nodding.

"Yep." I answered.

She moved to sit next to me, saying, "so.... In the dream, you know...." She looked at me blushing, not knowing how to continue. "Well, you said....."

I interrupted her, answering, "yeah, I know." I sighed.

She smiled. "I have one more question, okay?" She asked.

I looked at her, raising my eyebrows, my look telling her to go ahead.

Her smile widened. "Where did you get a credit card?" She asked.

I burst out laughing.

Ken saved my ass by interrupting, "Time to go." She called out.

I pushed myself up, silently making my way to the two trucks that Angel had sent over for us and climbed in.

The sun was just coming up as the houses appeared within view.

We drove all the way down the hill, parked, entered the houses and began pouring gasoline all over. We worked in pairs, with one covering the back and one doing the deed. The last thing we did before we headed back to the top of the hill was make sure the ground around the houses and off beyond was saturated in fuel. We made sure we uncovered each and every tunnel, pouring gas in every burrow.

We loaded up, finally stopping the trucks on the incline, looking down at the houses. Giles and Willow stepped up, spell book open.

I handed them the scythe as Buffy, Ken and I surrounded them, touching them so they could draw on our strength.

They began their incantation.

A small, white, bright, hotness appeared and grew bigger.

I shielded my eyes from the burning white light.

It grew to an enormous size and encased the grounds, the houses and the entire area below.

The area exploded, turning into nothing but a blaze of fury, a wasteland. The light penetrating the ground went deep and started to spread out, making sure all the tunnels were bathed in the light.

I watched as vampires exited the tunnels, trying to find relief from the flames, only to make it above ground to be greeted by the sun; seconds after the sun kissed them, the bright light spread outward again, demolishing all the evil in its wake.

I felt tired as the light finally subsided, lessened its glow but relieved to know that the horror we'd been destined for was averted.

As the light snuffed out, I looked to the ruins, watching just to make sure.

The others helped Red and Giles back into the vehicles so their energy could start to restore itself.

I felt B walk up beside me, moving to stand close. I gave her a glance, my eyes moving back to the place of our nightmare.

She slowly placed her hand in mine, lacing our fingers together.

"It's over." She whispered.

"Is it?" I questioned.

She looked at me, moving even closer, whispering, "for them, yes; for us, it's only just beginning." She smiled up at me, contemplating her next words, finally asking, "so, you want to get some take out, watch a movie or something?" She looked at me anxiously, waiting for me to answer.

I smiled, big, unrestrained, my dimples making a show. I nodded. "Yeah." I whispered, "that'd be nice." I looked hard at her, adding, "I just have to make one stop along the way, then I'm all yours."

She looked at me, questioning, as I pulled her back to the truck, climbing in. "What?" She finally asked.

I laughed. "I'm stopping by the rental place, I've got some ass to kick."

She laughed. "Get in line."

We took off for home, safety.

As I looked in the rearview mirror something off in the distance caught my eye. I turned the truck toward the next incline and drove forward.

"What is it?" Buffy asked.

I couldn't answer. I put the truck into park and ran the rest of the distance up the hill, stopping abruptly when I reached the top.

"No." I whispered to myself.

I heard Buffy as she stepped up beside me, felt her as she placed her hand on my arm, heard her gasp in disbelief.

We stood there quietly, looking at the vast array of houses dotted along the valley, knowing that something was there, watching us from afar, feeling them stare back at us, mocking us.

We stayed firm as the rest of the gang made their way over to us. "What is it?" Kennedy asked.

I pointed to the valley.


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