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Chapter Twenty-One - The Harvest

"This is a glorious night!" the big, ugly vampire on stage announces with a smile on his face. He looks around at all the terrified faces and tells them, "It is also the last one any of you will ever see." More people screamed, trying to run but vampires were suddenly coming out of the freakin' woodwork, surrounding all the humans like herding cattle.

"Xander, go now," Faith whispers, pushing him towards the back of the club where the pay phone is. He nods silently and slips through the crowd as Faith bends down and gets the stake she has strapped to her leg. Maybe it's a good thing Buffy told her to carry these now. She slips it in her jacket sleeve, hiding it from view as she tries to get closer. Her heart is pounding in her chest and she hopes to fuck that Buffy can get here.

Of course the Harvest would happen here. How could they be so stupid? Big place, lots of people to eat… shit. She needs to figure out what the hell her plan is. Don't die would be number one – and while she can fight and maybe stake a couple if she's lucky, there's no way she'd be able to get them all without ending up dead; there're just too many.

"Bring me the first," the vampire says, presumably the Vessel. Faith finds herself getting shoved into the crowd as the vampires herd them onto the dance floor.

"Hey! What the hell is going on?! Get your damn hands off me—!" Faith hears Cordelia yell to one of them… until she gets a look at their face. She screams and is shoved into Faith, who doesn't try very hard to catch her. She's got bigger issues to deal with than Miss Popularity's fears.

"What are you doing? Huh? You want money? Hey! HEY!"

Faith looks up and sees the bouncer, Jimmy, getting pushed on stage, arms held behind his back as he's steered towards the Vessel. "What the hell is wrong with your face, dude?!" he asks, but he's cut off by the Vessel grabbing his throat and pulling him forward. Faith slides the stake out of her jacket pocket, backing up through the crowd. She knows there's no way she can save him, but she's gonna try to take out some of these mother fuckers at least.

"Watch me, people," the Vessel says, his booming voice still echoing over the screams from the crowd. He seems to stroke Jimmy, ushering him closer. "Fear is like an elixir… it's almost like blood…" he seems to get off on terrifying everyone around him; he smiles before lowering his fangs into Jimmy, who screams only once before taking his dying breath.

Faith finally finds herself in the back of the crowd, near the corner, there's only one vampire herding the people there. She feigns fear (which isn't very hard, she's fuckin' terrified, but she's also not gonna lay down and take this shit), backing up into him. She turns and screams, making the vampire grin at her fear and snarl. He pushes her back into the crowd, expecting her to just cower, but instead her face masks in determination and a smirk passes along her lips before she drives the stake through his chest. He looks surprised; for not realizing that she isn't just another stupid human, before he turns to dust. No one seems to notice besides a couple of people near Faith who continue screaming.

"Shut the fuck up," she hisses; she doesn't need attention brought to the situation. She knows she just got lucky, that the vampire she chose was kind of an idiot, and she doubts she'll be able to get a chance like that again but she's gotta try. If she can stake them before they realize she's a threat then she might actually make it outta this place alive.

The Vessel throws Jimmy's lifeless body to the ground before requesting casually, "Next." Faith looks up as she hears a familiar scream, though usually when she hears it it's not in fear. Trish is being dragged on stage; screaming, begging, pleading for her life.

"NO!" Faith screams, pushing her way through the crowd to try to get to the stage. She knows it's a stupid move, but she's not gonna let her friend die if she can help it. Some of the vampires notice her running through the crowd and seem to find it amusing, but they don't find the funny anymore once she took the first that confronted her with an uppercut to the jaw, a spin around to elbow it in the face and then a stake driven home.

"GET HER!" a blonde vampire cries and Faith finds herself trying to fight off three of them at once, but it's no use; they're all so much stronger than her. One of them grabs her arms, twisting them behind her back, making her drop the stake, effectively pinning her as Faith thrashes around, trying to get loose.

"Let me go, you stupid mother fucker!" she spits out, but she knows there's no way she's going to get out of a hold this strong. She winces and cries out a little as the vampire increases its grip on her, almost popping her shoulder out of place. "FUCK!"

"Mmm…" the blonde vampire says, coming up to Faith, who's still trying to get loose. "This one has strength… The Master will relish in her blood. Put her in line," she orders.

"FUCK YOU!" Faith screams as she feels herself getting hauled backwards into the line of humans waiting to be slaughtered. "I'm gonna fuckin' feed all of you your fuckin' eyes! LET ME GO YOU SON OF A BITCH!"

But she hears another scream on stage as the Vessel finally sinks his teeth into Trish. Faith can hear herself screaming but she can't make out the words she's saying. She can barely move and yet she still keeps trying, needing to get up there to save her. But she watches Trish get paler, her screams dying in her throat… and then she watches the Vessel toss her lifeless body to the side like it was nothing.

"XANDER!" she screams, her eyes searching the crowd for him but she can't see him anywhere. She feels herself getting pushed up in line as the next victim gets hauled on stage. "LET GO OF ME, you fuckin' hunk of rotting meat!" she screams to the vampire that's still holding her, but she doesn't know why she's trying anymore. It's not like he's gonna change his mind and go, ‘Oh sure, here ya go. Go kill some of my friends.'

Highly fucking unlikely.

"I feel the Master's strength growing," the Vessel booms out as he tosses another lifeless body onto the pile. This fucker sure does seem to like to talk a lot. "I feel him rising! Every soul… brings him closer…" he grins at the crowd victoriously, who shrink back in fear. Faith's still trying to fight off her vampire, but nothing's working; his grip is iron clad. The Vessel turns and orders, "I need another!"

Faith watches as Cordelia Chase gets hauled on stage, screaming. "Tonight," the Vessel goes on, apparently feeling the need to announce everything, "is his ascension. Tonight will be history at its end!" he grabs Cordelia who's crying, begging now, and strokes her hair, smiling with his wicked grin.

"No, please… please…" Cordelia cries, looking terrified.

"HEY!" Faith screams, though she has no idea why the hell she's actually trying to stop Cordelia from being eaten. Maybe cause she's already seen one person she knows die tonight, and she really ain't lookin' for another. She's terrified like fuck, but she's still one brave bitch. "DICKWAD! Ya wanna fuckin' maybe eat somethin' that ain't gonna make your Master a pathetic Momma's boy?"

The Vessel turns to look at what caused the disruption during his little ritual and sees Faith struggling against the vampire that holds her. He grins and asks her, "Are you volunteering?"

No. Not in so many words. Okay, maybe she should have thought this plan through better.

The Vessel throws Cordelia backwards and she scrambles to her feet, running as he starts advancing on Faith. Fuck. But suddenly, out of frickin' nowhere, a body flies down from the ceiling, landing on the floor in a heap. The Vessel turns, snarling, as the vampire that just got thrown off of the overhead tries to get up off the ground.

"Oh, I'm sorry," comes a voice from the balcony and Faith looks up, feeling a wave of relief as she sees Buffy casually leaning over the railing, looking down at them. "Was I interrupting something? Is this a bad time?"

"Slayer…" the Vessel growls, completely forgetting Faith.

"The one and only," Buffy says with a little smile. "You don't mind that I'm crashing your party, right?" She cocks her head to the side and does the whole dumb blonde act.

"I will enjoy feasting on your blood," the Vessel snarls, advancing towards the edge of the stage.

"Well in that case, I'll be right down," Buffy says with her little perky attitude before she flips nicely over the railing, landing on the pool table. Damn, Faith didn't know she could do that. One stupid vampire snarls and charges at her, but she barely gives it a glance as she picks up the pool stick and shoves it right in his chest, disintegrating him.

The Vessel and Buffy are bantering, but Faith doesn't notice because all of a sudden the vampire behind her is turned to dust and she whips around, surprised to see Xander standing there, looking shocked that he actually was able to sneak up on it. "Oh thank god," Faith says as she sees him, glad he isn't dead.

"Xander to the rescue," he quips, but his voice is shaking from nervousness. She tries to give him a small smile of encouragement but she's sure it came out more like a grimace. She turns to Buffy.

"B! Need a weapon!" she yells, not about to leave Xander defenseless. Buffy shoots her a look but pulls another stake out from her jacket and throws it at her before flipping onto the stage to confront the Vessel. Faith catches it easily and turns, finding the blonde vampire coming at her fast. She dodges her at first, delivering a kick to her sternum before she finds herself getting backhanded across the club.

"Xander!" she yells, but Xander's busy trying to fight off another one, and she coughs as she picks herself off the ground quickly as the blonde continues to advance.

"You look absolutely delicious," the blonde coos, licking her bottom lip. Faith backs up, gripping her stake hard.

"Yeah, well I get that a lot," Faith retorts, trying to keep her voice relatively stable. "And what's with your getup? You into a little kink, baby? Schoolgirl don't seem like your thing; think bondage would look a lot better on ya." That ain't no lie either; for being dead, the bitch is surprisingly wicked hot.

"What makes you think I haven't already done that?" she asks with a wicked grin before she launches herself at the brunette. Her hand wraps around Faith's throat and she chokes, feeling her air get cut off. She raises her fist and punches her clean across the jaw, making the blonde stumble back and lick the blood from the cut on her lip. Faith's gasping for air though and it makes her less aware of what's going on, and suddenly she's flat on her back, the blonde hovering over her, pinning her down.

"Mmm… you're such a pretty thing," she says, looking at Faith like she's a mouth watering snack, which, Faith guesses is accurate. She tries to struggle but the girl is strong and she can't move.

"Never got any complaints," Faith retorts, but she knows the vampire can see the fear in her eyes. She tries to push against her but can barely move an inch.

"You'd made such a fine pet," she purrs. "Your strength…" she leans down, fangs barely an inch from Faith's neck before she whispers, "I could play with you all night long. You'd make a better child than my last, I can tell…"

Fuck, is this bitch about to turn her? HELL NO! She's not gonna end up like this undead cunt!

"I AIN'T GONNA BE YOUR FUCKIN' PET, BITCH!" Faith screams, trying to fend her off but she knows she's about to die in about thirty seconds.

"FAITH!" she hears Buffy scream from the stage as she looks at Faith's predicament on the ground. Her face is filled with fear, but worrying about Faith ends up costing her because the Vessel punches her clean across the jaw, sending her sprawling.

"BUFFY!" Faith screams, her eyes wide in fear as she sees her land hard on her back.

"DARLA!" Shouts another voice, a male one.

The blonde, Darla, looks up from Faith to see Angel fighting his way over to them. "Speaking of," she purrs, but doesn't have a chance to get up because all of a sudden she's sprayed in the face with holy water. She screams as her skin sizzles and Faith looks up in surprised because she knew Angel still wasn't close enough to do that. She's met with the site of Willow standing over her, looking terrified as Giles runs in behind her.

Darla runs, her skin still sizzling as she makes her way out the door and Angel hurries over, holding his hand up to Faith to help her up. She takes it and allows him to pull her to her feet, but doesn't pay much attention to him after that because she looks up at the stage and notices that Buffy's about a minute away from being killed. She's always a wave of fury and precision but she seemed distracted this time, and Faith's pretty damn sure it's over worrying about her.

She feels her feet carrying her quickly to the stage, trying to divert the attention off of Buffy. "Hey pencil dick!" she screams. Her plan of diverting the attention away from Buffy seems to work a little too well though and as she comes at him she can't even get in one shot before she's grabbed around the throat and pulled towards him.

"NO!" Buffy screams, getting to her feet, fear radiating off every inch of her as she watches Faith struggle to breathe. Okay, so as far as being a distraction for Buffy, Faith just made it ten times worse. Fuck.

"This one…" the Vessel snarls as he looks Faith over and then back over at Buffy's terrified look. "She's important to you."

"You want blood? Have mine!" Buffy screams, though it sounds too much like begging. Faith gasps for air as his grip tightens and she closes her eyes as her head starts to spin from the lack of oxygen. "This is between you and me, leave her alone!"

Apparently she tries to come forward though because the Vessel snarls, "One more step and I'll snap her neck like a twig."

Fuck, Buffy better not move.

But then there's a crash and she's dropped to the ground, gasping for air. She looks up and see's Angel standing there with the remnants of a drum in his hand after he hit the Vessel in the head with it. Buffy doesn't wastes any time as she launches herself at him. All Faith can do is watch and struggle to regulate her breathing while they fight. They both move so fast it's hard to tell when one moves ends and another begins. Buffy is sent sprawling again and Angel launches himself at the Vessel this time, and Faith swears she must be loopy from the lack of oxygen because it looked like Angel's face changed, just like a vamp. He gets him in a chokehold, snarling before Buffy attacks. She's furious now and Faith can still can barely distinguish the first move from the last but she does see the final blow; driving the stake home while a quippy comment leaves her lips.

The Vessel becomes nothing but dust.

The vampires, once they see that the Vessel has been defeated, start to scatter; running out of the club. "Faith, are you alright?!" Buffy asks, kneeling down at Faith's side, looking like she's going to pass out by what she's looking at. Faith knows she feels like a bag of shit, but she can't look that bad, can she?

She's still looking at Angel though, her eyes wide as she realizes that his face isn't due to her lack of oxygen. She sees him slip back into his normal face and she screams, "B! He's a fuckin' vamp!"

"I know, just calm down—"

"What do you mean calm down?! Did you not fuckin' hear what I said?" Faith screams, though her voice is horse from all the vampires that choked her out tonight. She coughs, and then realizes one of her ribs must be fractured because pain shoots through her side and she groans.

"He's not going to hurt us," Buffy tells her, trying to calm her down. "And stop moving! That could be broken!" She tries to put her hands on Faith to hold her still, but Faith is still in the realm of ‘why the fuck would B trust a fuckin' vampire?' and is struggling against her.

"Are you insane?!" she screams.

"Faith! Are you alright?" Giles asks, coming up on stage, worry crossing his features.


Giles looks up, startled.

"With a soul!" Buffy protests as Xander and Willow catch up to them.

"I won't hurt you," Angel says calmly, holding up his hand to signify surrender, but that's not helping matters any.

"The hell you won't!" Faith screams.

"Faith! He just saved your life!" Buffy yells, reminding her. That makes Faith stop; she's right. Twice, actually. Still, he might be on some kind of fuckin' crusader type bullshit but that still doesn't mean he ain't gonna snap and try to bite their heads off.

"Angel?" Giles asks, looking at him wearily.

"Y-You're a… vampire?" Willow asks, looking halfway between scared and intrigued. Jesus.

"Guys! Will you just stop!" Buffy yells. "He's okay; he was cursed by gypsies or something. Angel isn't the issue here – Faith's hurt!"

"I'm fuckin' fine!" Faith snaps, pushing Buffy off of her. She struggles to get to her feet, her whole body hurting like fuck, but she manages. She stumbles back behind Giles.

"Gypsies?" Giles asks, like he's struggling to remember something.

"What the hell is going on?!" Cordelia screams, coming up to them; great, like this is really needed right now. If Angel eats her, she's not doing a thing to stop it. "What did you band of freaks bring in here?!"

"Vampires," Xander says dryly, too tired from the fight to hide it from her.

"You… what are you… what?" Cordelia sputters.

"Vam-pi-res," Xander sounds out slowly for her. Cordelia turns white as she seems to piece two and two together. She takes a step back, looking at all of them in wide eyed horror and anger.

"FREAKS!" she screams, backing away from them like they're the plague. She runs out of the club with the last pack of Bronze customers, leaving the group to themselves.

"Buffy, why didn't you tell us that Angel is a vampire?" Giles asks, furious.

"It… never came up?" Buffy answers weakly. Oh bull-fuckin'-shit. Faith's glaring at her fiercely. How could she endanger all of their lives like this? Selfish bitch!

"Giles, it's okay. I wouldn't… I couldn't hurt you guys," Angel tries to explain, keeping his voice calm and his face trusting.

"You drink blood, don't you?!" Faith snaps.

"Pig's blood," Angel explains. Okay, that's fuckin' nasty.

"This… we…" Giles starts, obviously overwhelmed, "We should get back to the Library. We'll discuss this further there." He looks disappointed in Buffy, which is probably better than how Faith's looking at her which is completely furious. Yeah, he might have saved her life, but he could be the one to end it later on down the line! How could she be so fucking stupid?

"I knew I didn't like him for a reason," Xander mutters.

Faith's right there with him as she eyes Angel, trying to find any hint of evil in him. It just infuriates her further that he seems genuine, and she swears at Buffy before stomping off; out the door.

Like this day wasn't already shit to begin with. Fuck.



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