She jumped slightly in surprise but steadied herself rather quickly then looked to Giles. "Oh, no, Mr. Giles, I'm only browsing," she replied. She flipped through a few more cards. "You have a great deal of books for such a small town school." She plucked a card out of the file drawer. "W-well, yes. It's important to make certain these...these children have sufficient information on any...any subject," he answered. He glanced up at Willow as she came back into the library. Scully nodded. "Yes, as I've noticed, Mr. Giles," she said. She placed the card back into the file then looked back to him. "But books of...witchcraft?" She raised her eyebrows. "Do you really think those sort of books are appropriate for high school age kids?" Giles flicked another glance over to Willow, who flipped through a book lying on the check out counter. "Agent Scully, I believe it is necessary for these children to understand what is in the world around them." He paused, impressed by the fact he hadn't stumbled once during that sentence to her. "As do I, Mr. Giles," she agreed. She shut the drawer of the card catalogue and turned to him. "But witchcraft?" She kept her voice low so Willow couldn't hear her. "Willow is a very bright girl, and she's been here for hours reading spell books. Don't you find that disconcerting?" Giles tried to find the words, any words, to respond to Scully. She'd never believe the truth since she was so bloody skeptical, but still, he didn't want her to think *he* was off his rocker, as she seemed to think of her partner. "W-w-well," he started. The doors to the library burst open and a dirt laden Buffy, followed by a disheveled Mulder, entered. Buffy sighed as she stopped in front of Giles. "I followed him," she said. "And it's a lucky thing that I did." Scully looked from Buffy to Mulder who stood a few feet back, picking at a few minor scratches on his cheek. "My God," she said as she rushed over to her partner. "Mulder, what happened to you?" She studied the marks on his face. "Flat tire," Mulder replied. He glanced over at Buffy. "Ow!" he exclaimed when Scully touched his injured cheek. "Hey, hey. Sore." "Mulder, these look like claw marks, like from some kind of animal," Scully said as she looked up to her partner. "How did you get these?" Willow came up just beside Buffy. "What happened?" she asked Buffy in a whisper. "I was following Hartwell," Mulder replied. He saw Scully's expression switch from concern to suspicious. "I was hoping to find the others." "And Sheriff Hartwell attacked you?" Willow asked, her eyes wide in astonishment. "No," Mulder said, glancing at Willow then to Buffy. "Different vampire, same clan." Scully sighed as she rolled her eyes. Did he have to do this in front of complete strangers? She'd just met some normal folks on one of his wild escapades, now he had to open his mouth and sound like a crazy man. "How did you get away?" Willow inquired. "Yeah, gee, Agent Mulder, how *did* you get away?" Buffy asked, feigning enthusiasm. After a few moments of silence from Mulder's end, her eyebrows arched with a look that said, 'We're waiting!' Mulder cleared his throat, scratching the back of his head. "My, uh, masculine prowess?" he replied, more of a question than a statement. "God," Buffy muttered as she rolled her eyes while Scully snorted at Mulder's reply. Mulder's gaze settled on the floor of the library. Quietly, he mumbled, "Buffy showed up." He coughed a little then cleared his throat again. "What?!" Scully exclaimed as she looked from Mulder over to Buffy. "What the hell is he talking about?" Buffy looked to Giles. "Guess there are a few things she missed in her research, ay, Giles?" she said. "She's the Slayer, Scully." Mulder told his partner as he held out a hand in Buffy's direction. "She's the Chosen One. The one girl in this generation who posesses the strength and the skill to destroy the vampires." He laughed. "There's your proof, Scully! Proof that vampires exist!" "Mulder, did you receive a blow to the head?" Scully asked, staring up at him, wearing a puzzled expression on her face. She glanced at Buffy. "All I see is a normal high school girl! There's no proof whatsoever!" Buffy looked to Willow beside her. "Should I take offense to that?" she asked, pointing a finger at Scully. Giles walked over to the counter and picked up the tattered text he'd lugged around the last few days. "Buffy, are you certain this vampire you fought was a part of, uh, of Hartwell's clan?" he asked as he came over, flipping through the pages of the book. "Well, he was one of the strongest vampires I've ever battled--" Buffy paused then shook her head. "Scratch that. *The* strongest vampire. Yeah." She nodded then looked at the page which Giles skimmed, then added, "Then Agent Mulder said it was." She flicked her gaze over to Mulder. "What was that guy's name again?" "Strickland. Ronnie Strickland," Mulder supplied. "Ronnie Strickland never was, and is not now, a vampire!" Scully declared as she stepped between the two factions--Mulder on one side, Buffy, Willow and Giles on the other. She glanced from each side. "You're half-right," Buffy said, gaining Scully's attention. "Ronnie Strickland *was* a vampire, but not anymore. I killed him." She flicked her fingers against her dirty T-shirt. "I'm wearing most of what's left of him." Scully tossed up her hands as she walked over to the counter. "I give up!" she said, shaking her head. "This is just...crazy!" She faced the four of them, who all stared at her like *she* was the insane one. "Vampires do *not* exist! They are creatures of fantasy, the direct result of ignorance." "I'd really like to believe that, too, Agent Scully," Buffy said. "I'd actually have a way cool life then." She shrugged. "But it just ain't so." Scully took a few steps forward. "No, I've seen these so-called vampires for myself," she told Buffy. "They were quite normal human beings, a little eccentric, I'll give them that. And they walked around during the *day*. These people are *not* vampires!" Giles cleared his throat, drawing everyone's attention. He took a step forward and glanced at Scully. "I'm-I'm afraid you're quite wrong, Agent Scully," he told her. "T-the text I've been reading the last few days suggests...suggests we're dealing with an ancient clan of vampires." Scully rolled her eyes a bit, letting out a light scoff. This was a nightmare. Everyone around her sounded like Mulder. "Oh, really? How ancient?" she inquired. "Well, a-according to these writings by a 12th century monk," Giles started as he consulted the book in his hands. "These specific vampires are so old that most, uh, most vampires consider them a legend." "Oh, yeah, that's very interesting," Scully said, a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She nodded. "Mythical creatures considering other mythical creatures legend." She rolled her eyes slightly. "What else does it say?" Mulder asked, coming up to Giles. He looked over the librarian's shoulder, trying to decipher the Latin written on the pages. "The monk writes these particular nomadic creatures have...have been around since the dawn of modern man. T-t-that's quite a long time, considering when..." Giles stopped mid-sentence, forgetting the anthropology lesson. He laughed, nervously. "They're e-e-extremely old. The text is sketchy at best. The monk who wrote it received most of this information second-hand." "They can't be all that old if Buffy killed one of them," Willow said. She looked to Buffy then opened her mouth apologize for how that sounded. Buffy held up a hand. "Don't, Willow," she said. She smiled reassuringly at her best bud. "I know exactly what you meant. And it wasn't an easy task, either, killing Ronnie Strickland." "I-I'd imagine it wasn't," Giles replied, looking up from the book to Buffy. "Since this text is over 800 years old, w-we can safely, uh, assume that they're older than--than 800 years." He flipped back through the pages. "The monk writes these vampires have been inactive for many millennia." He glanced over to Mulder. "Explaining how they've survived for so long." "Inactive?" Scully repeated. She gave Giles a half-questioning look. "What exactly is that supposed to mean?" "Inactive," Giles said. He adjusted his glasses, thinking of how to explain it to her. "Uh, it's--it's...they haven't fed," he finally told her. "At least on human beings." "Until recently," Mulder put in, glancing from Giles to Scully. "Chaney. Ronnie Strickland grew bored with his life and decided to relive the glory days." He looked back to Giles. "Does that book say *why* these vampires ceased to feed on humans?" "Nothing much," Giles responded. "Only speculation based on, uh, the stories." He ran his finger down the page, searching for a particular passage. "Oh, here it is. Oh, yes. A l-leader of sorts emerged a hundred or so centuries before. He, uh, he preached isolation f-f-from these creatures known as humans. Those who agreed with him followed, and those who opposed--" He paused then looked from Buffy, to Willow then to Mulder. "--they were, uh, were destroyed. But this is...is only speculation, in part." "Ronnie mentioned something about his clan 'being kind to Slayers' in the past," Buffy said. "Yes, the Slayer is also mentioned," Giles told her, tapping the book. "Humans had a-a-a champion, a powerful one--The Slayer. It's not hard to discern why they would respect the Slayer. I'm quite sure they had enemies among their own kind. These vampires turned to seclusion, uh, in order to survive. It...it also explains why Hartwell would relocate after the incident in this other town." "Survival," Mulder matter of factly said, nodding. "That doesn't explain why Ronnie Strickland attacked Agent Mulder," Willow said. "I mean, if Ronnie got in trouble the last time, why would he do it again?" Mulder shrugged, but suddenly a strange expression washed over his face. "Ronnie told me something while he beat me to a pulp," he replied. "He said I was here to get *rid* of Hartwell. Apparently, I wasn't doing a good enough job." "That's it!" Scully exclaimed coming over to the group. She grabbed Mulder by the arm. "Excuse us, please," she said to Buffy, Willow and Giles. She practically dragged Mulder out of the library. When they were in the hallway, she demanded, "What the hell are you doing in there?" "What am *I* doing in there?" Mulder exclaimed, pointing to himself. "What are *you* doing? You're always preaching to me about proof, Scully, and now when I present you with it, you blow it off!" "Proof?!" Scully incredulously replied, a little more loudly than she'd meant to. She lowered her voice. "What proof? All you've shown me is a girl and a book which is full of myths and stories written almost a thousand years ago! Where is this proof?" "She's not just 'a girl', Scully," Mulder replied in an equally restrained voice. "She's Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. You didn't see her do what *I* saw her do." He pointed towards the library. "Ronnie Strickland hurled her through a cast iron fence, and she wasn't even phased! She wielded a metal pole as a staff with skill I've never seen before." He took Scully by the upper arms. "I saw Ronnie turn to *dust* in front of my eyes, Scully!" Scully stared up at Mulder, that skeptical 'Look' firmly in place. "Mulder, what part of 'What proof' didn't you understand?" she calmly asked. Mulder's hands dropped from Scully as he sighed. "Why can't you believe this, Scully?" he demanded. "Ronnie Strickland did this to me." He motioned to his face. "You said yourself they looked like animal scratches." "The operative words in that statement being 'looked like'," Scully responded. She sighed softly. "Mulder, you were under a lot of stress tonight, and you haven't slept much in the last 48 hours. I'm sure you believe you saw all of these things." "Scully, the girl--Buffy--she's confirming my story!" Mulder said, waving a hand wildly at the library doors. "An-an-and that guy--that guy seems to know what the hell is going on around here!" Scully folded her arms across her chest, shifting her feet a little. "I don't know why this Buffy is humoring you," she said. "Perhaps she likes the idea that *you* believe she is this mythical Slayer," she suggested. "And Mr. Giles--" She paused, scratching her forehead with her pinky nail for a moment. "Well, everyone has their little idiosyncrasies." "Oh!" Mulder said, raising his eyebrows at his partner. "So with me it's 'crazy' but with him it's an 'idiosyncrasy'. Hmm?" he added when she looked away from him. "Scully...do you have a little thing for that guy?" He jerked a thumb at the library. He laughed a little when Scully didn't respond. "You do, don't you?" Scully's eyes flicked up to him. "Mind your own damn business," she snapped. "And if you pursue this stupid vampire angle any further, Mulder--" "You won't have to worry about it, Scully," Mulder interrupted, holding up his hands in surrender between them. He turned and started up the hallway. "Mulder, where are you going?" she called out after him. He kept walking up the hallway, not even acknowledging her. "Mulder? Mulder, don't you--" He turned a corner, disappearing. "Dammit," she muttered. Mulder slowed to a stop after he'd turned the corner. As he leaned against a row of lockers, he spotted an open classroom door. Wanting to stay away from Scully for a while but definitely having *no* desire to go back outside, Mulder went into the room. He flicked on the light and took a look around. It was a high school chemistry classroom. Mulder laughed, almost as if he were mad, as he sat down on one of the tables full of tubes, beakers and tools. He'd wanted to get away from Scully and he'd walked right into a *science* classroom. Spike's Mansion Spike rested comfortably on the sofa when the vampire found him. "Uhh...?" "Yes?" Initially, he didn't open his eyes at the sound of the voice because he recognized it as belonging to someone that didn't annoy the hell out of him. Just as a precaution, he sniffed the air. No peanut butter scent. A good sign. He opened his eyes slowly and let his glance fall on the vampire standing nervously beside him. "Strickland's not with you?" The vampire's gaze fell on the floor, and a little shifting from foot to foot followed. "No. To say the least." "This means one of two things: The little wimp either failed to kill Mulder and fled, or he's been staked." He paused, a slight smile creeping onto his face, then he added, "Make me happy, tell me it's the latter." The vampire smiled as he looked back to Spike. His shifting around stopped. This wasn't so hard after all. "It IS the second one." "Oh. Pity. Wait," Spike paused briefly, then said, "It's passed. I *almost* cared. What happened?" "Well, he went to the cemetery, he found Mulder, he was all set to kill him." The vampire stopped, chuckling as he remembered the beating Mulder took from Ronnie. Who'd have thought that small guy could whip the hell out of that FBI character? "Actually, he managed to pound Mulder pretty good. Really, I thought he was going to succeed but... someone showed up and staked Strickland." "Someone?" asked Spike, casting his gaze onto the vampire. "Could you be a little more specific?" The vampire looked down at the floor, shifting from foot to foot again. "Well... I... honestly, I've never seen anything like it," he replied, flicking his gaze up from the floor to Spike. "Ronnie fought like hell, but she just kept coming back for more until she got him. This girl was... *ferocious*." At the mention of the word "girl," the smile disappared from Spike's face. This was something he hadn't counted on. With the arrival of Sheriff Do-well in town, he'd just assumed the Slayer had taken a vacation. Preferably someplace *very* far away from Sunnyhell. Obviously that was too good to be true. The only response he could muster up was a very dry, "Really." "No, Spike, I mean it," the vampire said, his shifting coming to a stop. He shook his head, a look of amazement on his face. "This chick looked like a twig, like you could snap her in half with your pinky finger--" He raised his own, crooking it slightly "--but she fought like a... like a... well, it was scary. Since she didn't come after me, I sure as hell wasn't going to go after her. I wouldn't be here now if I'd even congratulated her on her work." No question about it - it was Buffy. While Spike was more than a little pissed that the vampire hadn't even tried to get her, he couldn't blame him, having gone up against Buffy himself. "Well, at least you were smart enough to know your limits. Something our departed friend didn't do. Do you have any idea where Agent Mulder might have gone?" "They said something about... the school?" The school. Of course. Buffy, while being able to fight splendidly, was occasionally as predictable in her thinking as most humans. Thanking the vampire for the information, Spike was left alone to plan his next move. This... Agent Mulder person proved to be more of a pain in the ass than he could have imagined. Somewhere in hell, devils should be making Ronnie Strickland dance the hula naked over hot coals for all the trouble he'd caused with the simple statement "Hey, there's this FBI guy that *really hates* Sheriff Hartwell..." Clearly, this was going to be one of those times where the old adage was true - if you want something done right... His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of someone else in the room. "Spike," her voice cooed. He smiled widely. "Yes, my love?" "Are you thinking again? You shouldn't, your face looks so bad when you frown," she said as she sat down next to him. "Don't worry, pet, I'm not thinking anymore. Now I have to take action." "Are we going out to play?" Spike considered the options. While the company would be nice, the process of taking Agent Mulder out would be much simpler if he went alone. "No, I'm afraid I have to go on my own. Daddy has to go kill an FBI agent." Dru seemed momentarily pleased with the idea. "Do they die faster than most people?" "No, but I'll wager it gets you bonus points in hell when you do it. Now, I must be off." Dru pouted. "You always get to go out. Bring me back a souvenir?" "I promise. Head or heart?" She thought for a moment, then smiled. "I really wanted to go out with you, so... both." Smiling as he pretended to sigh in exasperation, Spike left the room. On the drive to the school, he pondered how easy it was going to be to get to Mulder with a Slayer nearby. Not knowing enough about the FBI agent to devise a way to lure him into a secluded room, he'd have to hope the agent would eventually be a normal man enough to have to use a restroom at some point. While Spike didn't relish the thought of hiding out in a high school washroom, it seemed the only time the agent would be without Buffy nearby. After all, following his experience in the cemetery, Mulder couldn't possibly be silly enough to wander around on his own. Best to leave things as simple as possible. Go in, kill this annoying Mulder person, then bring back presents for Dru and his existence would return to normal. Sunnydale High School Scully entered the library. Giles, Buffy and Willow were gathered around one of the tables, the text lying open before them. She slowed to a stop, unsure of what exactly to say to them. "Where is Agent Mulder?" Willow asked, looking beyond Scully. Her gaze met Scully's. "He didn't leave the school, did he?" Scully shook her head. "I'm not sure where Mulder went, but I doubt he left the school grounds, " she replied. "Learned his lesson," Buffy muttered, sitting down in one of the chairs. "At least he knows what we're dealing with now." Scully took a few steps forward. "And what exactly are we dealing with?" she asked Buffy. She looked to Giles. "I don't believe this vampire story, so please, don't repeat that." She switched her attention back to Buffy. "I don't think I'll ever know what really happened out there tonight. Frankly, at this point, I don't *want* to know." "Why can't you just accept the fact these things exist, Agent Scully?" Buffy asked, picking up the text. She waved it around slightly, much to Giles' disapproval. "I'm a vampire Slayer," she went on as she dropped the book on the table. "I didn't believe in any of it...until I saw them. They *are* real." "Look, Buffy," Scully said as she walked over to the table. "There is a logical, scientific explanation for everything in this world." She glanced over at Giles. "Vampires are interesting bits of folklore, but they simply do not exist. No matter what Mulder believes about you, you're not a...a vampire slayer." Buffy rose to her feet. "I didn't choose this life, it chose me," she told Scully. "It's hard enough I have to deal with it every day, but to have someone come along and say that--" She paused. "Well, it just hurts, ya know?" She leaned against the table. "A-agent Mulder appears quite...knowledgeable on the subject of vampires," Giles said. "Perhaps you should take your partner more...seriously." "What?" Scully exclaimed, looking over to Giles. "I've been with Mulder for five years. He has yet to prove anything paranormal exists. Now I'm here--" She pointed to the floor "--and you're telling me to take him seriously?" She sharply laughed. "He tells me about this Hellmouth, a revolving door between Hell and earth, in this town. That's not something I readily believe in." "I suggest you start believing in it, "Buffy said to Scully. "Sunnydale has everything you can dream of: demons, werewolves, witches, vampires--" She took in a breath. "Basically, this town is like a Rob Zombie album." Scully looked to Willow who'd been quiet through the discussion. "You all truly believe in this..this Hellmouth?" she asked. Willow nodded. "It's true, Agent Scully," she said. "I was a lot like you are now when I found out about this stuff, but I've learned since then. I didn't want to believe it because it's a hellmouth. It's not really a nice thing. Nice things are puppies." She stopped and looked away. "But then again, there was that time Xander was possessed by a hyena, so maybe that wasn't a good example." She brightened as she looked up at Scully. "Oh, kittens are nice! I don't...I don't recall anything bad happening with them. Kittens, I mean." "Oh, *I* could tell you some stories about cats," Scully replied. She let out a long sigh. "I need to sit down," she said. Giles pulled out a chair for her which she practically collapsed into. "I just need...to sit." She put her elbows on the table. "Agent Scully, I know this is...is quite a bit for you to take in," Giles said as he sat down on the table. He gazed down upon Scully who buried her face in her palms. "But these creatures do exist, like Buffy said. Your...your survival depends upon you believing it. E-e-especially if you remain in Sunnydale." Scully slowly raised her head, lifting her eyes up to Giles. Hearing him say that kind of thing, it sounded so *normal*. If Mulder had told her that, she'd simply have shrugged it off. But with Giles, it was completely sincere, as if a danger was actually present in Sunnydale. She gazed into Giles' eyes for a few moments then buried her face in her hands again. It has to be the accent, she concluded. Sunnydale High School 9:45 PM Steering clear of the library, Spike crept around the exterior of the school building. Concentrating on finding the aura of a living, breathing full grown man, he expected to find him hidden away in a back room. To his shock, the first room he walked past contained a very boring-looking man who appeared vaguely pissed and fairly beaten up. Spike watched for a moment, unable to believe that this *person* was Mulder. Being off on his own like that? Didn't he learn anything the last time? The man inside played with the Bunsen burners, idly turning them off and on until he nearly caught himself on fire. Though the fire sent a mild shudder through him, Spike smiled. This hapless creature was obviously his man. Just to be on the safe side, he went over to an open window and said quietly, "Agent Mulder?" Mulder turned around quickly. "Yeah? Who's there? Come on in." And an invitation as well. This man was making things SO simple. Why not have a little fun with it? Spike kicked in the window to make an entrance for himself, his face changing into "demon mode" as the glass shattered. Mulder backed across the room, reaching for his gun as he saw the vampire come through the window. After a brief scramble around, he remembered that he'd lost his gun earlier. He glance around as the vampire approached him, then grabbed a high stool by the seat and thrust the legs out. "Stay back," he called out in warning. "Please, like you'd know the first thing about using that on me," the vampire snarled, knocking the stool easily out of Mulder's hands. The stool flew across the room, clattering against the blackboard. Mulder was temporarily stunned. The force of the chair being cast away from him was extremely powerful. This wasn't a vampire in the same league as Ronnie Strickland, but it looked a lot more pissed. He threw a punch at the vampire's midsection, hoping to at least slow him down. However, he ended up hurting his hand as it struck what felt like a solid mass. "You call THAT a hit?" the vampire snarled. "I'm ashamed to be the same race as you." "I'm part of the human race," Mulder shot back, still gasping from the pain in his hand. "I doubt you could say the same." "And thank God for that," Spike retorted as he slammed his fist against the side of Mulder's head. The blow sent Mulder flailing back. His head slamming against the edge of a lab table with a sickening thump as he fell backwards. Spike looked down calmly at the unconscious agent. That wasn't so hard at all, he decided. I barely even paused for breath. Killing him now would be no fun at all. Still, I DID promise Dru a present. Bet she'd never expect this, he thought as he picked up Mulder, slung him over his shoulder, then carried him across the room and out the window. In the library, a thump caught Buffy's attention. She looked around the library then over to Giles and Scully who sat together at the table. "Did you guys hear that?" she asked. Her eyes traveled around the room as they listened for anything. She shook her head. "That's weird." She looked back to Giles and Scully. "I heard something." Willow closed her spell book and said, "I heard it, too." She shrugged when Buffy turned to her. "I thought I imagined it." A slightly panicked expression washed over her face. "Y-you don't think some monster is lurking around in the school?" Scully sighed as she stood up. Monsters, indeed. "It's probably Mulder," she told them. As she walked towards the library doors, she added, "And he's probably breaking something." She left the library, headed in the direction Mulder went earlier. "Mulder?" she called out, stopping at the end of the hall. Her voice echoed in the empty hallways of Sunnydale High. She glanced up each end of the hall then called out louder, "Mulder! Where are you?" She let out a long exasperated sigh when no one answered. She saw an open classroom door to her right. "Mulder?" she called out as she approached the open door. "Goddamn it, Mulder, this is not fun--" Scully skidded to a halt as she entered the classroom. The chemistry lab was trashed. A stool lay on the floor by the blackboard, it's metal legs contorted into complicated shapes. Only a significant amount of force could've done that. Shattered glass from broken beakers and vials lay scattered all over the floor. As she walked further into the room, the glass crunched under her pumps. TINK! She stopped and looked down when her left foot kicked something. A small ID wallet lay on the floor. Slowly, Scully crouched down and picked it up. When she opened it, she wasn't surprised to find out it was Mulder's. She rose up, gazing around the lab. Where could he be, though? If he'd gotten into a fight, where was he? "Mulder?" she called out as she proceeded to search the room. Perhaps he was lying unconscious nearby. After a few minutes of searching the room, Scully left. Mulder definitely was not in there. She continued up the hallway, checking the other rooms. "Mulder?" She peeked into an English classroom. No one answered. I'm assuming you're not in the building, Scully thought as she tapped Mulder's ID wallet against her leg. So where the hell are you? As Scully headed back towards the library, she remembered her cell phone. Of course! She could call Mulder's cell phone! Pausing in the hall, she pulled her phone out of her suit jacket pocket then clicked it on.
"I swear to God, Mulder," she muttered as she dialed his cell number. "You'd better pick up." The phone rang. "And you'd better be in this damn school." It rang again. "Pick up, pick up, pick up," she whispered, more out of fear now than annoyance. Mid-fourth ring, someone answered the phone. "Agent Mulder's residence," a male voice with a British accent answered. Scully froze in her tracks. "This is Special Agent Dana Scully," she said. "Where is Agent Mulder?" she demanded. "Who is this?" "Oh, I'm quite sorry, but Agent Mulder isn't able to come to the phone right now," the voice replied from the other end. "If you'd like him to get back to you, please, leave your name, number and a short message after the scream." In the background, Mulder's voice cried out, "SCULLY! HELP!" Scully gasped. "Mulder!" she shouted into her phone. "Mulder, where are y--" Click. The person on the other end of the line hung up. "Dammit!" she swore, clicking off her own phone. "Mulder," she grumbled, shaking her head. He'd gone and did something stupid. Now someone had a federal agent as a hostage. She continued on to the library, a half-pissed off and half-tired expression planted on her face. Time to get some answers about this damn town, and the truth, she thought. She shoved the doors to the library open, startling Buffy, Giles and Willow. "Mulder is gone," she said, stopping a few feet from Giles at the counter. She put her hands on her hips. "Gone?" Willow asked as Buffy said, "He left?!" Scully shook her head as she looked at each of them. "No, I don't think he left of his own volition." She held up her cell phone then clanked it down on the counter. "I called his cell phone. Someone else picked up." She settled her gaze on Giles. "All this over that stupid telegram!" "Telegram?" Giles asked as he came closer to Scully. "What...telegram?" Scully leaned against the counter. "Yesterday Mulder received a telegram, informing him Hartwell was in this town--Sunnydale," she explained. "I thought it would be a waste of time coming out here, but not Mulder. He was convinced he'd find something here." She laughed. "But that's just like him, to run all the way across the country because of some mysterious telegram signed by a 'William B'." Giles, Buffy and Willow exchanged an urgent look. Scully noticed the panic very apparent in the look they shared. "What?" she asked. When Giles looked at her, she came closer to him. "What is it? Do you know something about all this?" Giles glanced back at Buffy, but tensed up when Scully grabbed him by his jacket, pulling him close. "If you know who has Agent Mulder, tell me!" she demanded. "You wouldn't believe us if we told you," Buffy replied, coming over to them. She looked from Giles to Scully. "And could you please cease and desist with strangling my Watcher?" She nodded to Scully's hands clamped on Giles. Scully looked up at Giles then released her grip on him. She flushed with embarrassment as she lowered her eyes. "God, I'm sorry," she apologized in a low voice. She drew in a breath, trying to gather herself up and act like a professional. "You...you said you knew who has Mulder?" "Yeah," Buffy said. She glanced at Giles who straightened his jacket. "And I also said you'd never believe it." Scully looked from Buffy to Giles. "Well, run it by me," she said. "It's obviously a person. Who is he?" Giles cleared his throat as he adjusted his glasses. "William...B. it's short for a rather formal name--William the Bloody," he explained. He paused, trying to decipher that blank look on Scully's face. "He...he's better known by his nickname--Spike." "William the Bloody?" Scully flatly said. She sighed, rubbing her temples with her fingers after he nodded. "Do I even want to guess at how he got that name?" she asked. She held up her hands as Giles opened his mouth to reply. "No! Never mind. I don't. Just tell me where I can find this...Spike?" "I know where he is," Buffy told Scully. "But you can't go after him alone. He'd totally skewer you." She shrugged when Scully raised an eyebrow at that. "Hey, no offense, but I can't let you go up against a vampire by yourself. It's in my job description." "A vampire?" Scully said then laughed as she shook her head. She let out a half-chuckle, half-sigh. "A vampire sent Mulder a telegram about Lucius Hartwell?" she said. When the three of them confirmed it, she snorted, amused. "I can't decide which is better--that, or the fact you believe it." "Um, actually, it kind of makes sense...sort of," Willow said as she came over to them. She continued when she had their attention. "I mean, who here in Sunnydale loses the most with Sheriff Hartwell patrolling the streets at night? Things have been very...nice since he arrived." Buffy snapped her fingers. "I heard Ronnie tell Agent Mulder that's why Mulder was here," she suddenly said. She looked from Scully to Giles. "But I guess Mulder didn't do it quick enough for Spike's taste." "Or perhaps he didn't care for Mulder's fascination with the Hellmouth outweighing his interest in Hartwell," Scully put in, immediately tacking on, "And please tell me I didn't just say that." "I believe your theory is correct, Agent Scully," Giles replied. "Perhaps that is why...Strickland sought out your partner. To...to remedy the situation--?" "This is all super, but if you want to see Agent Mulder in one piece, complete with all his pints, we have to motor," Buffy interrupted, looking from Giles to Scully. "Spike isn't exactly a candidate for any awards when it comes to patience with people--living or undead." Scully shook her head as she pointed a finger at Buffy. "No, you're not going," she firmly replied. "It's simply too dangerous." "You know, it *is*," Buffy said, nodding in agreement. She motioned to herself with her hand. "I'm surprised I'm letting you tag along." As Scully started to protest, Buffy added, "*And* I am the one who knows where Spike is." Scully's mouth shut. Buffy did have a good point. Well, she could let the girl take her there, wherever that was, then go after Mulder. "What about local law enforcement?" she asked as Buffy headed for the doors. Buffy paused and turned around. "Trust me when I say it's a total waste of time," she replied then went out of the library doors. Scully opened her suit jacket and pulled out her gun. "I really don't like this," she said as she checked the clip. Full. As she replaced the gun in the holster clipped to her slacks, she looked over to Giles and Willow. "It's better if you two stay here." She started to leave. "Agent Scully, do...do remember what I told you?" Giles called out after her. He paused as she stopped by the doors to look back at him. "I-I-If you hope to survive this confrontation, you'll need to...to place conventional thinking aside." Scully's hand pushed against the door, opening it up just a crack, but she didn't leave. Slowly, her gaze shifted to the floor as Giles' words sunk in. Somehow, this time around, she didn't believe it was the accent which made that warning sound valid. Gathering up all her strength and wits, she shoved the door open the rest of the way, leaving the library. The doors fell shut behind her. Spike's Mansion Before Mulder opened his eyes, several scents caught him at once. Muskiness that he associated with basements or attics, blood, probably his own, and a heavy perfume. VERY heavy. He opened one eye, wincing in pain. He found himself in a room that, sure enough, didn't have any windows. Closer inspection revealed the blood was, in fact, his own. As for the perfume scent, he couldn't see past the shadows to find the source of it. He tried sitting up, then howled at the pain shooting through his side. "You've been hurt," a soft voice cooed in his ear. "You went through a window, and the glass cut you." "Yeah, probably," he replied, now looking around for the source of the voice. He felt cool hands against the back of his head. "You poor thing. Does it hurt much?" "Only a little," he tried to reply manfully. Where WAS she? And, more importantly, what was she doing here? "Well, that'll never do," she said, sitting down next to him. "Where else does it hurt?" "Really, it doesn't hurt. I'm fine." He wasn't sure if he was lying because he wanted to perpetuate the macho illusion or because he was still worried about why this... girl was here. For now he just wanted to listen to her pretty little British voice. "Then it must not be much of a wound. Let me see it." She parted his hair in the back to study the wound there, then moved in front of him. Mulder watched the slip of a girl, all dark hair and big, round eyes study the blood on the front of his shirt with a huge degree of interest. "Why are you here?" he asked. "Sssh. I'm here to make everything different," she replied as she poked one finger near the blood. "Maybe you shouldn't do that," Mulder said as he squirmed at the touch. "You might make it worse." "I know what I'm doing," she replied calmly. She spoke so slowly, so musically that Mulder started to relax. Until she started to pull his shirt up over his head. "Hey!" he called out, trying to pull away, hampered by the pain shooting through him and the surprisingly strong arms holding onto him. Looking at her face, he saw something in the placid expression, especially in the glimmer in her eyes, that slammed the realization into his head that it was another vampire that was trying to undress him. Not a good thing. "Hmmmm." She studied the exposed flesh around his midsection. "This doesn't look that bad at all. You were exaggerating." "I was not," he shot back. Great, I'm arguing with a vampire, he thought. "Yes, you were. That's no matter, Agent Mulder," she responded in her cooing voice. Agent Mulder? Uh oh, she's in on things with the blonde guy. "We'll just make it worse," she said as her head bent down with astonishing speed. With one deft move of her mouth, she ripped open the small wound in his midsection, tripling it in size, then sucked at the blood in long, slow movements. Mulder felt a bit more lightheaded with each exhale. His thoughts moved towards, I'm gonna die at the hands of this woman. Okay, there are worse ways to go. He noticed a slight stiffening in an all-too familiar area as he listened to the little noises she made as she drank. Of course, now this. Typical. "I have a question," he said weakly. "No, I'm not going to kill you," she said in between laps of blood. "That wasn't the question, but thanks for the information. What I was going to ask was..." "Yes?" She managed to look up at him as she drank. "Is it wrong that I'm totally aroused by this?" She took one last sip, then backed away from him. "Shame on you for talking to a lady like that," she said disapprovingly. "Yeah, shame on you," a voice behind Mulder which Mulder recognized as the man from the school lab said. He felt himself being hauled up off the sofa he'd been sprawled on. The man threw him down on the ground, then stood over him as Mulder struggled to turn over. "I was planning on ripping you to shreds on general principle," Spike said as he looked down at the shaking wreck underneath him. "Now it looks like I'll be pulverizing you to defend the honor of my love. How noble of me." Before Mulder had a chance to shrink back or say anything in response, Spike kicked him full force in the side of his head. Letting out a loud yelp, Mulder grabbed his head where Spike's boot had made contact and rolled over into a fetal position to protect himself. Spike leaned down and grabbed Mulder by the shoulders, hauling him into an upright position. "Not that it makes any difference, but she *did* start it," Mulder said as he tried to stand on his own. "Don't you *ever* shut up?" Spike asked with a groan. "Obviously I'm going to have to punch you in the mouth to shut you up." With a wicked smile on his face, Spike did just that, blood spraying from Mulder's mouth as Spike's fist made contact. He threw Mulder onto the back of a chair, then systematically threw a right, then a left, then a right, as Mulder tried unsuccessfully to move away and groaned with each hit. Outside the Mansion Buffy crept around the outside of the dilapidated mansion Spike and Drusilla called home. Her senses were at their height, every muscle in her body on alert, just waiting to be jolted into action. It was rather quiet around the place. She didn't notice any perimeter guards. That meant Spike didn't expect company, or... "Stay back," Scully whispered as she pushed her way in front of Buffy, taking over the lead. She looked around. The place appeared dead. Buffy sighed in frustration as Scully pulled out her gun. Great, Buffy thought. Nobody can handle anything without a gun these days! "Agent Scully," Buffy said in a hushed voice. "Like I told your partner, a gun won't kill vampires." "They aren't vampires!" Scully hissed back as she glanced over her shoulder at Buffy. "Now stay back and don't follow any longer. I don't want you to get hurt." She proceeded to the front door, on her guard. "Oh yeah?" Buffy muttered as she scanned the area, looking for anything she could use as a weapon. She spotted a nice stick, about the size of the quarterstaff, lying on the ground. "Well, likewise, lady," she finished as she snatched up the stick. Buffy examined her weapon, guessing it'd been a broom or mop handle back in its glory days. She smiled. Better yet, the stick sported a decent pointed end. She twirled the "staff" a little between both hands. "Here's a skill I'm racking up good practice time on," she said to herself. Scully positioned herself on the right side of the door, her gun clutched in both hands. She closed her eyes, letting out a long, steadying breath. She reached out with her left hand to knock on the front door. Someone grabbed hold of her wrist before she could knock. Her eyes flicked open to see Buffy standing beside her, grasping onto her wrist. "What, are you crazy?" Buffy asked as she let go of Scully's wrist. She nodded to the front door. "For the love of Mike, don't knock! You want to alert every vampire who works for Spike we're here? No, we just go in." She shifted her staff from her left hand to her right then grabbed the doorknob. "And don't yell 'Freeze, FBI!' in here, and get all Nicholas Cage on me, ok?" she added, glancing over at Scully. Scully blinked a few times, stunned by the way Buffy had taken command of this rescue. From the way Buffy talked and handled the tension of the situation, Scully knew it wasn't the first time the girl had done something like this. Buffy gripped the doorknob, paused a moment then pushed on it. The knob popped through the door easily. She pulled her hand back, showing the knob to Scully. "Follow me," she told Scully then tossed the doorknob away. She glanced from the gun to Scully. "And put that gun away, would you? I don't want to get shot!" She pushed the front door open with her foot then took her staff in both hands as she walked inside. Keeping close behind Buffy, Scully, gun still drawn, followed the girl inside the mansion. Inside, Scully secured the right side of the room while Buffy kept her eye on the left. Certain no one was near, Buffy rested the blunt end of her staff on the floor and scratched her head in puzzlement. The girl shook her head. "This is total weirdness," she commented, turning to Scully. "It was way too easy to get in here. And now there's nobody guarding the fort?" She let out a breath as she scanned the room. "I don't like this." Scully lowered her gun to her side. "Are you sure you're at the right place?" she asked. She gave the dreary, half-lit room the once over. "This place looks like it hasn't been lived in for years." "Oh, trust me, Agent Scully," said Buffy as she held onto her staff with both hands then leaned on it. "No living happening in this place--of any kind." Suddenly, she stood straight; her eyes flicked around the room as her body tensed up for the approaching battle. Picking up her staff, she shifted into a defense position. "Keep your eyes open," she said in a low voice. "We are not alone." Scully tossed her free hand up in frustration as she sighed. "Great! Now what?" she said. "Aliens, too?" "No," Buffy replied, shaking her head as she took a few steps backwards. "Vampires." Scully started to say something, but gasped as four men, dressed in dark clothes, stepped from the shadows of the room. She couldn't even begin to guess what was wrong with the faces of these thugs. They sure weren't any welcoming committee--that much was certain. Slowly, she brought up her gun, but these men showed no interest in her. They all surrounded Buffy. Buffy glanced from each of the vampires advancing on her, gripping the staff tightly in her hands. She knew Scully would be relatively safe for the time being, as long as the agent didn't call attention to herself in any way. These creeps wanted to take out the viable threat first. "The Slayer," said the leader vampire, the one directly in front of Buffy. He laughed when she looked at him. "You don't look so tough," he went on. "You and your little stick." He laughed again. This time the others joined him. Buffy blew a loose lock of hair out of her face then grinned. "We have something in common then," she said. She arched her eyebrows slightly. "We both have little sticks." The lead vampire growled then advanced to attack. Buffy ducked as the vampire tried to clothesline her with his right arm during his advance. She rotated the stick around and jabbed the pointed end of the stick up behind her. She caught one of the other vampires off-guard, and the stick penetrated the chest and moments later, the vamp vanished into a poof of ash. Scully drew in a sharp breath, amazed when she witnessed the man explode. No! She hadn't just seen a man disintegrate! No way! It simply couldn't happen! All logic ruled against it. But, however, the man was no longer there. She shook her head as she retreated further away from Buffy and the last three thugs. Meanwhile.... "Do you have some deep-seated problem with me that I'm just not aware of?" Mulder said after Spike let him fall to the floor again. "Oh, what a lovely loaded question," Spike said as he placed one foot squarely in the middle of Mulder's ribcage, on the left side. "Hmmm... where to start. Dru?" "Yes, my love?" Dru appeared next to Spike. "What is my problem with Agent Mulder?" "Ohhh, good question. Well..." Dru pretended to ponder while she walked to Mulder's right. Stepping down lightly on his left ribcage, she said, "He did make advances toward me that were VERY ungentlemanly." Mulder wasn't worried about the damage she would do - her foot felt like nothing on his midsection. Pressing down a little harder with her foot, she added, "And he isn't dressed very well." "And I dressed to impress today," Mulder dryly said. Without missing a beat, Dru added, "And he talks back far too much" as she placed her full strength on Mulder's ribs. He screamed as she rocked back and forth, shifting the weight, and said, "What else has he done wrong, my love?" "Well, Dru, I'd say the biggest error he's made is his inability to follow simple instructions." After a glance down at Mulder, he commented, "You look puzzled as well as pained. I guess I need to explain. I credited you with more intelligence, I'm sad to say," he concluded while he slammed his foot down on Mulder's midsection. Pausing only until Mulder's howl of pain died down, he said, "You can't even follow through on a simple telegram." "You... sent... that...?" Mulder wheezed. "Of COURSE I did, you cretin!" Spike kicked him in the hip. "All I wanted you to do was track down Sheriff Hartwell and destroy him. But, no, you had to make like a second-rate Sherlock Holmes and interview everyone!" "What...?" Mulder started to ask for clarification, but the blow to his ribs stopped him from making any sound other than another wail in pain. "After everything that vile Strickland child told me, I'd have thought it would have been enough to be in the same town with Hartwell, you could just be left to your own devices. But you had to go poking around about the Hellmouth, didn't you?" "Ronnie probably exaggerated," Mulder shot back. Spike responded with a smash of his foot against an extremely sensitive area on Mulder's lower half. The scream that resulted almost drowned out Spike yelling, "You just don't realize every word you say makes me want to kill you more, do you Agent Mulder?" "Come here, bitch!" yelled one of the other vamps as he charged Buffy, intent on tackling her. With lightning quick speed, Buffy whirled around, putting all her weight behind the staff. The blow struck the vampire in the face, hurtling him backwards. He did a complete back flip then landed flat on his stomach. She took her staff, pivoting as the last vampire tried to make his move. She gave him a series of blows to the head, legs, and arms, advancing as he backed away. As she handled this vamp, she sensed one of the other two coming up behind her. She paused in her attack on the one in front of her to give a back kick. She caught the vamp behind her square in the chest. While the one behind her was off-balance, she did two spin kicks, hitting that vamp in the head. She then used her staff to sweep the vamp's feet out from under him. Buffy spun around on one foot, whirling the staff around with her. She smacked the leader vampire in the chin, sending him back a few steps. Forgetting the leader, she turned back to the vampire on the floor, attempting to get up. Quickly, she brought down the pointed end of the staff on him, making direct contact with his heart. A loud scream faded as the vampire exploded, the ash raining down on Buffy. She took a breath then turned around. Only one vamp was still there. The leader with the attitude had disappeared. She twirled the staff around then executed a flying spin kick, connecting with the last vamp's chest. While he tried to recover, Buffy swing the staff around, hitting him upside the head. The staff hit the vamp with such force, he flipped over and to the left, landing on his back. Taking the staff in both hands, she plunged the sharp end into his chest. Buffy sighed and wiped the sweat from her brow with her forearm as the third vampire poofed away. "Agent Scully?" she said as she turned around. Scully only stared at her, her mouth hanging open in disbelief. Buffy took a few steps closer. "Are you ok?" she asked. Scully held out her empty hand to the three piles of dust around Buffy. "Am I ok?!" she repeated. "I just saw three men explode and I have no logical explanation for it! No, I'm not ok! What else would I be?" Buffy's eyes widened as the leader vampire popped up behind Scully, his teeth bared and ready to take a bite out of the agent. "Duck!" she yelled, grabbing the staff like a javelin. The vampire growled as Scully dropped down to her knees. She didn't even question Buffy or have a second to wonder why she didn't. Buffy threw the staff, which sailed across the room. The vampire roared out as the pointed end of the staff drove straight though his body. He barely had time to grab the staff before he disintegrated. The remains showered down upon Scully, while the stick clattered beside her. Cautiously, Scully raised up her head, jumping slightly as dust fell from her hair and her suit. She looked behind her, her eyes wide when she saw another pile of dust. What the hell was going on around this town? This...this was nuts! "Hey, are you all right?" Buffy asked as she jogged over to Scully. She cocked her head to the left as Scully gazed up at her in wonder. "That was *so* close," Buffy continued. She held out a hand and helped the agent to her feet. Scully brushed her clothes off as Buffy picked up the staff. "How..." she managed to say. She sighed, looking from Buffy to the dust. "I don't understand...." She motioned to the dust then settled her gaze on the dirty, sweaty teenager. "Do you believe me about the vampires now?" Buffy asked. She took her staff in both hands, looking around the room. "I think I know where your partner is." She looked over to Scully. "Come on. And be quiet." She started across the room. Scully looked at each of the piles of dust then to the gun still clutched in her hand. She shrugged. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, she thought. "Guess there's really no need for this then," she muttered. She put the gun back in its holster under her suit jacket as she walked across the room to catch up with Buffy. "Where are we going?" Scully whispered as she crept along behind Buffy. She glanced around, wondering where this dreary corridor led. She let out a breath, rubbing her arms. "Shh," Buffy softly said, glancing back at Scully. She placed a finger to her lips, making sure Scully got the message. She pointed straight ahead where a light originated--the end of the corridor. "Listen," she added. The sounds of blows landing on something--or someone--echoed up the corridor from the room at the end. Each thump was followed by a groan or a yelp of pain. As they neared the end of the corridor, Buffy and Scully noted the noises growing louder. Buffy slowed to a stop at the corner. After taking in a few steadying breaths, she peering around the corner. "What do you see?" Scully whispered after a few moments. She tried to take a look for herself but Buffy pushed her back, gently, with her makeshift staff. In the room, Buffy saw Mulder on the floor, doubled over on his knees. The agent's head rested on the floor as he coughed then spat out blood mixed with saliva. Spike circled Mulder, his hands locked together behind his back. He appeared rather pleased with his work thus far. Drusilla put her foot on Mulder's right side then shoved him over onto his back. Mulder remained in a fetal position. His hands immediately went to his face, shielding himself the best he could. "N..no...no more," he hoarsely whispered, shaking his head vigorously. "Please...no more." Buffy gripped her stick tightly in her hands. Spike and Drusilla had really worked Mulder over. The agent's suit was barely recognizable as a suit, every inch of his body was either bleeding or had blood spattered upon it. She felt bad about making fun of him on the way to the school earlier that evening. Nobody deserved that kind of torture--not even a nosy, clueless FBI agent. The simpering, shaking wreck of a human being continued to repeat, begging actually, "No more...please, no more." "What's happening in there, dammit!" Scully demanded, impatiently. She found it hard to keep her voice to a whisper. "Is Mulder in there?" Buffy ducked back then looked over to Scully. "Would you be quiet?" she hissed then jerked her thumb in the direction of the room. "They'll hear you!" Scully sighed, frustrated with all this standing around. "Is Mulder in there?" she asked again, in a quieter more controlled voice. "Oh, he's in there," Buffy replied, glancing around the corner once more then focused her attention on Scully. "Spike is in there. Along with his significantly wacky other, Drusilla." She bit her lip slightly, concerned on how to make the next move. "Separately, they're not so hard to handle. But together..." "Why don't you go in there and stake them...or whatever it is you do?" Scully hotly asked as she waved a hand towards the room. Buffy stared at Scully for a moment then said, "Ok, like, where did I lose you on 'separately, they're not so hard to handle'?" Mulder groaned as he dared to look up at Spike and Drusilla. He was so, to put it bluntly, fucked. Scully would never find him, and if, by some miracle she did, she'd never believe these two were vampires. She'd only wind up dead herself. For once, he realized Scully was right. They should've never come to Sunnydale. Drusilla dropped to her knees beside Mulder and turned his head so the agent looked at her. She stared into his eyes for a moment then a devilish smile crept to her face. "He's thinking of someone," she said. She ran a finger down his face, between his eyes and stopped at the tip of his nose. "Let's kill him now while he's still afraid." Spike started to reply but his head lifted as he sense something...familiar. That scent in the air--the smell of Buffy. But the Slayer was not alone. The other scent was something much...softer. He smiled slightly. Another female. Drusilla, vamped out, leaned over to take a bite out of Mulder's neck. The agent was too exhausted and in too much pain to do anything but whimper as the vampire drew near.
Spike looked down when he noted Mulder's whimpering. While he hated to interrupt Dru right before she started feeding on someone, it was best to stop her before she got too involved in her work. If the other woman out in the hall was half the fighter Buffy was, catching Dru mid-drink could be calamitous. Best to get her out of the room, out of harm's way. He cleared his throat, startling Drusilla. "Dru," he said. She looked up at him with the appearance of an innocent young woman. "Why don't you let me finish up here, love?" Drusilla pouted. "But I wanted to play with his insides--" She lowered her eyes meeting Mulder's frightened gaze "--while *he* watched." "Daddy and the very rude man have a few more things to discuss first," Spike told her as he held out a hand to Dru. "You go and wait for me, love." He helped her to her feet. "And I'll bring you all the parts when I'm done." Drusilla smiled, enchanted with the suggestion Spike made. "All his parts? So I can put him together again, like a puzzle?" she asked. "Yes, pet, just like a puzzle," Spike replied. Buffy peeked around the corner again. Drusilla was leaving! She grinned for a second then looked back to Scully. "I think we caught a break. Drusilla's leaving the room. It's just Spike and your partner now." Scully slipped into Buffy's spot along the wall then peeked into the room. "Oh my God," she gasped when she saw the sorry state Mulder was in. She looked from her partner to the blond fellow who remained in the room. *That* was Spike? *That* was William the Bloody? He looked like a kid! Then again, Buffy *was* a kid and very lethal. "He doesn't look so good," Buffy said when Scully turned to her. "What's the plan?" Scully asked. "How do we go in?" Buffy peered around the corner then settled her gaze on Scully who anxiously awaited her reply. "The plan starts with you staying here," she replied. She grinned. "Ya like it so far? And it's right off the top of my head, too." "I can't stand here and hide," Scully protested, shaking her head. "I'll help Mulder out while you handle this...this Spike person." Buffy opened her mouth to say something but a loud growl caught her attention. She turned to see a vampire coming towards her. Scully let out a yelp of surprise as the vampire and Buffy tumbled into the room together. She gasped when two more vampires headed up the corridor towards her. Stumbling over her own feet, Scully backed away from the vampires...and right into the room. "Agent Scully!" Buffy called out as she wrestled with the vampire who'd tackled her. "Get out of here!" She punched the vampire in the face then flipped up to her feet. As soon as she was upright, Buffy did a cartwheel, picking up her stick from the floor. One of the two new vampires used a roundhouse kick on her. Buffy held up her staff to block the vampire's attack but the stick had taken enough abuse. It gave up and snapped into two pieces. "Buffy," Scully said. When Buffy used the piece of stick in her left hand to strike one of the vampires on the side of the head, sending him hurtling back, Scully remembered the girl could take care of herself. Buffy looked at the pieces of stick in her hands. "You broke my staff!" she yelled at the vampire she'd just smacked in the head. She twirled each stick in her hands in perfect sync. "Chobos," she said as she looked at the sticks then shrugged. "You guys are just lucky Giles showed me how to use them." One of the vampires kicked Buffy in the back. She stumbled forward. The vampire hadn't hit her hard. As she turned around, her right arm extended, the stick hammered the vampire in the back. Quickly, she used the stick in her left hand to whack the vampire in the back of the knee. He fell flat on his back. "Say good-night, Nancy," Buffy told the vampire. She drove the pointed end of the stick in her right hand into the vampire's heart. As the vamp vanished into a poof of ash, she added, "Guess there's no silver medal for you, though." Scully watched Buffy fighting multiple vampires at once with some degree of fascination. Maybe after this is all over, she can teach me a few moves, she thought. It'd help in battling psychopaths twice my size. It took Scully longer than it should have to remember she was in the room to help Mulder. The surprise of those vampires and the hypnotic grace of Buffy's fighting style were to blame. She was about to turn around when she heard a low voice say directly into her left ear, "Hello, darling." She froze. "Mulder?" she said, knowing it probably wasn't him, due to how horrible he'd looked when she caught the glimpse of him. Plus, Mulder wasn't British. It was an idle hope at best. "Sorry, no," the voice replied. "Mulder's lying on the floor, a broken, bleeding man right now." Okay, that was a dumber thing to say than I thought, she decided. Still not able to muster up the energy to turn around, she looked ahead, hoping to catch Buffy's eye. Unfortunately, Buffy was still busy with the troupe of vampires who'd jumped them. "Why aren't you fighting the girl with the others?" Scully asked, hoping it would stall him. A pause. "They seem to be doing all right," the voice replied. "I prefer one-on-one action myself." Scully felt the lump in her throat as she swallowed. "I don't believe we've been formally introduced," the voice behind her continued. She felt a hand on her shoulder, gently guiding her to turn around. When she did, she found herself face to face with the blond vampire. "Are you usually a stickler for formalities?" she asked. She was nervous and scared as hell, but tried her best not to let him know that. Though, she suspected he already did. "Well," he said as his hand slid away from her shoulder. "We *did* talk on the phone before." Mr. Message Service, Scully thought, nodding slightly. That's what was familiar about the voice. "So that was you," she said. "What did you do to my partner?" Spike took a cursory glance over at Mulder's inert form. "Beat the crap out of him, essentially." Scully nodded. "Ah," she said then paused before asking, "Any reason why, or just general principle?" She gave a half shrug as she reached up to scratch the back of her head. Her stomach did flip flops, but her outward exterior was cool and composed now. "It's very complicated," Spike answered with a dismissive gesture. "Entirely unimportant now." The agent nodded once more. "And you sent the telegram," she concluded as she lowered her hand from the back of her head. "You're William." To Scully's mild surprise, Spike smiled. "I like the way you say my name, Agent Scully." On the verge of responding with a "What?" Scully was stopped cold by Spike's next action - a very noticeable sniffing of the air. She watched him for a moment, then dared to ask, "What the hell are you doing?" "Smelling," he told her. He met Scully's curious gaze. "I've been told that most redheads smell like peanut butter." He sniffed the air once again. "You certainly don't. It's a... different smell." Vampire or no vampire, if he says I smell like a summer breeze, fruit or flowers, I'm going to vomit, Scully thought. Spike took a step towards her, his face moving closer to hers, then lightly sniffed at her hair. "It's... a chemical smell." He raised his eyebrows as he looked down upon her. "Do you dye your hair?" Enough was enough. The hair comment was the last straw. She pushed at his shoulder, sending him back at least a foot or two. "Give me a break," she snorted. Shocked, Spike looked down at the spot on his shoulder where she'd pushed him. He actually felt a slight twinge where her hand had shoved him. She hadn't put that much effort into it, but she had caused a bit of discomfort. How... fascinating. He was too wrapped up in amazement that she'd caused that reaction to advance on her again. If I piss him off enough, I could probably take this joker, she thought. "If you want to kill me, just get it over with," she said then rolled her eyes. "The Frank Langella routine is pathetic!" She scoffed. *She* was insulting him? She'd caused mild pain and now she was insulting him? More fascinating than before. Spike was grateful he'd sent Dru out of the room - if she'd seen him now, she'd never let him hear the end of it. "Frank Langella? Please," he snorted. "There are some vampires who can charm without coming off like a soap opera actor." Images of Sheriff Hartwell flashed through her brain but she ignored them. "Are you going to just stand there and stare at me?" she impatiently asked. "Or may I leave in peace?" Spike's normal mode of behavior came back to him. "Leave in peace?" he repeated, amused. "Oh, I'm afraid we're past that point, Miss Scully. Your partner's going to leave in pieces--that much is certain." He gave her a critical once over then added, "The jury's still out on you." Spike advanced on Scully once more. As the vampire reached out for her, Scully side-stepped quickly and grabbed a hold of his right wrist. Getting a firm hold on him, she brought his arm down, using the kinetic energy of his own forward motion to flip him over. Spike landed flat on his back, looking up at Scully. Scully stared at the vampire on the floor for a few seconds, then got her bearings. She started searching for Mulder so they could get the hell out of there. She spied Mulder over in a corner, where he'd managed to drag himself to get out of the path of the fighting. Before she had a chance to move towards Mulder, Spike seized her ankle and pulled her down on the floor. "Nice move," he complimented her as she fell into a sitting position with a thump. "Bet you can't do it twice." He raised himself onto his knees, then leaned towards her again. "I won't need to," she said matter-of-factly. She let a perfectly formed right hook clock him in the chin. While he was stunned, she quickly got to her feet, then kicked him in the face with her foot. His head whipped back severely then he collapsed onto the floor, groaning in pain. Spike didn't take long to get pissed-off. As Scully made her way to Mulder, Spike stood up, his face morphing into his vamped-out state. And he attacked. When Scully slammed against the wall, the side of her head hit the wall before her body did. Stunned, she started to slump down but Spike grabbed her by the waist and held her up. Scully blinked a few times, trying to shake off the daze from being smacked into the wall. Then she saw the demonic face inches away from hers. She opened and closed her eyes deliberately but that face remained. The same sort of face the thugs Buffy battled in the mansion had. Vampires. "You fought well, Miss Scully. Even managed to hurt me a few times." He winced remembering that wicked kick to the face. "At first I respected it, now it's pissed me off. Fun's over." He growled. Do something! she frantically told herself. Scully struggled to push him away, but he pinned her arms by her sides as he leaned towards her. She wriggled as she felt Spikeís body leaning against hers. Whimpering slightly, she jerked around, her hands flailing around in an attempt to hit him. Spike took his time, allowing the little woman to fight. This was the most fun part of being a vampire, anyway; feeling all the fear a human went through before death. Even more exciting about this particular situation was the fact the great Slayer hadnít a clue Agent Scully was about to die. Scully grunted as she slipped her right hand behind her back. She strained as she reached up and up...until she found what she wanted. Iíve got something for you to bite, she thought as her fingers curled around the handle of her gun. Buffy looked up from staking the last vampire when she heard an ear-shattering blast. The surprised look on her face matched Scully's, who was standing in front of Spike, recently fired gun in her hand, staring at the unholy mess the single bullet had made of Spike's stomach. As he fell to the ground, his hands unsuccessfully trying to cover the mess that had been his midsection, Buffy yelled, "I told you guns don't kill vampires!" "No, but they sure seem to slow 'em down pretty good," Scully said blandly, still staring at the sight of a vampire trying to hold his stomach together. She suddenly snapped out of the reverie, looking around and saying briskly, "You're right, though. Let's get the hell out of here before things get worse." She started for the door, then stopped as she looked out the window. No. Couldn't be. Here? Now? Impossible. "Uh... Agent Scully?" Buffy called out. "Yeah?" she replied, still looking out the window. "Don't you want to get your partner?" She jerked a thumb behind her. "You know, Mulder? The guy you came here for?" Scully blinked a few times, her focus still out the window. "Yeah. Mulder. Right. You get him, I'm tired of carrying him around. I'll meet you outside." Before Buffy could say anything, Scully left. Buffy sighed in frustration as she threw her two sticks aside then ran over to Mulder. As she passed Spike, she took a second to kick him in the side. That would give her a little more time to escape. "Agent Mulder?" Buffy said as she leaned over to the battered, groaning man who struggled to get up. "Come on. We need to get out of here now." "Huh?" Mulder mumbled. He groaned as Buffy heaved him up to his feet. He was very surprised by the girl's strength, yet didn't care enough to comment on it. Buffy supported Mulder. "You have to help out a bit," she told him. After a few steps, Buffy finally took on all the work, practically lifting him off the ground while they left the room. Outside, Scully skidded to a halt. Sheriff Lucius Hartwell turned around after he opened the back door of his police cruiser. Giles, Willow and Xander all got out. Hartwell smiled when he saw Scully staring at him. "Agent Scully," he greeted pleasantly. Scully swallowed. Hartwell was just as, if not more, gorgeous as he was in Chaney. She sighed and, under her breath, uttered, "Hoo, boy." "You all right?" Hartwell asked as he came up to Scully. He looked her over. Physically, the woman appeared fine. Willow ran up to them, stopping just behind Hartwell. "Where are Buffy and Agent Mulder?" she asked of Scully. When Scully continued to stare at Hartwell, Willow glanced over her shoulder to Giles and Xander then shrugged. Buffy, still lugging Mulder, hobbled out of the mansion. She let out a sigh of relief as she reached Scully. She let go of Mulder and he dropped to his knees on the ground. "Buffy!" Willow exclaimed, relieved her friend was ok. "You're all right!" Buffy dragged her left forearm over her forehead. "Barely," she said. She saw Giles and Xander by a patrol car. "What are you guys doing here?" A growl caught the attention of everyone. Spike, still clutching his gut with one hand, charged out of the mansion headed straight for Scully. Buffy quickly went on the defensive as she placed herself in front of Mulder. Hartwell pushed Scully behind him. As soon as Spike was close enough, Hartwell backhanded the younger vampire. Spike sailed backwards through the air until he slammed against the front of the mansion. Dazed by the blow, Spike sat slumped on the ground. Buffy blinked as she lowered her defense. She looked from Spike over to Hartwell. The sheriff shook his head, displeased, as he stared at Spike. "Didn't I tell y'all kids to behave?" he said, pointing a finger at Spike. Spike, hand on the back of his head, met the narrow gaze of Hartwell. Boy, did that hick vampire looked pissed. A full retreat was definitely in order. At least for now. Quickly, he scrambled to his feet and went inside the mansion. Buffy held up her hands. "Whoa! Wait a second here!" she declared, making a "T" for a timeout with her hands. "How did you know where to find us," she asked Hartwell then she looked at Xander who stood by Giles. "And, Xander, what are you doing here in your pajamas?" Xander glanced down at himself. He wore a pair of pajamas with Scooby Doo characters on them, along with his tennis shoes which were untied. Suddenly, he felt embarrassed. When he'd stumbled out of bed after Willow's frantic call, he'd never thought about what he was wearing. "Well, uh," he started as he looked over to Buffy. "Well, I sleep in the nude, but there are laws against showing off a body this good in public." Buffy snorted slightly. "You mean a body that good that's still in the pupal stage, right?" Xander opened his mouth to respond but paused then held up a finger. "I'm not entirely sure what that means but I'm guessing...not a compliment." Giles reached into the pocket of his jacket as he cleared his throat. He pulled out Scully's cell phone and held it out to her. As Scully accepted the phone from him, Giles glanced over to Hartwell. "We, uh, we took the liberty of using your phone," he told her. "I called Sheriff Hartwell shortly after you and Buffy left." He gave the sheriff another quick glance. "We would've been here sooner, but--" "Willow called me and said you guys needed help," Xander put in. He stopped when he realized he and Scully didn't really know one another. "And it's pretty pointless to tell you who I am. From now on, you'll just remember me as 'The Dorky Kid in the Scooby Pajamas'." "We'll pay you back for the calls, Agent Scully," Willow chimed in. "We saw your phone on the counter, and well, we would've used our own phone, but it was just...easy access." Xander looked at Willow, nodding. "Sure we'll pay for the calls," he said. "We'll just have to pool our allowances and Giles' salary for a year together to cover the cost of two phone calls." After a moment, he realized something. "Hey! Why should I pay for a call that was made to me? Will, you're covering that one." Scully put her cell phone away. "Don't worry about it," she told them. "That's what expense accounts are for." Hartwell joined them. "I doubt he'll come back out for awhile," he told them, jerking a thumb towards the mansion. "Who was he, anyway?" "Spike," Buffy replied. "One of the troublemakers of Sunnydale. He didn't really dig the whole law and order thing happening around here since you arrived." "That's why they're here," Willow added, pointing to Scully. Scully looked to Hartwell. "Ronnie Strickland told this Spike about Mulder and what happened in Chaney," she explained. "So Spike sent Mulder a telegram, alerting him to the fact you, and the others, were in this town." "Ronnie?" Hartwell said. He shook his head, clicking his tongue. "That boy needs to get it into his thick head we're not like that now. He never understands. Heíll be the death of us all." "You don't have to worry about him anymore, Sheriff," Buffy said. "I pretty much cured all his ills earlier tonight." She made a staking motion. "Oh," she suddenly continued as she extended her hand to him. "I'm Buffy Summers. Your friendly, neighborhood Vampire Slayer." Mulder coughed as he clutched the left side of his rib cage. He looked up at everyone. All of them talked and carried on like this was a high school reunion and not a rescue. And Scully, of all people, paid more attention to Hartwell than to him! He moaned a little. Dammit, he needed a hospital! "Uh," he groaned loudly, trying to get the attention of anyone as they talked. "Hello?" He waved his left hand slightly. "Hurt...broken...bleeding. Need help please?" Scully rolled her eyes then closed them upon hearing that voice which had graduated to insufferable. She opened her eyes then looked down upon her partner. "Mulder," she said in an even voice. "Not now." She motioned to herself and the others with her. "The *adults* are talking." Mulder stared back at her in complete shock. What? That what? She didn't just say that, did she? She couldn't have! She was Scully, his partner! She always had him first in her mind. "But, Scully," he started. Scully sighed as she leaned over to Mulder, putting her hands on her knees. Calmly, she said, "Mulder, is it possible for you to shut the fuck up for ten seconds?" Giles' eyes widened at the sound of that word coming from Scully's mouth. Willow gasped but quickly clamped her mouth shut. Xander took a few steps back as he said, "I'd just like to take this opportunity to say 'Wow', and I'll be waiting in the car." He nodded then made his way for Hartwell's cruiser. Scully, however, didn't even notice the responses she'd elicited from the others. She hadn't finished with Mulder yet. "You think I was a bitch in Chaney, Mulder?" she asked. "Well, watch out now. I'm sick and tired of wasting my life chasing after you. I've put so much on the line for *you*, Mulder, and it's led to the same place. Pain. And when it's not my pain, it's your pain. And it's still my pain, too, because I have to fix it!" Mulder shrank back as Scully launched into him. He'd never seen this level of hostility from her directed at him. "Scully--" "No, Mulder!" she snapped, cutting him off. She pointed to herself. "*I'm* talking! I was almost killed by a vampire tonight because of you. Yes, you heard me--vampire!" She stood straight. "I admit it, Mulder, I do owe you something. You opened my eyes this time. Here I was, wishing we'd never come to Sunnydale, but I've found out an interesting fact about myself here: I'm sick of this job." She reached into her suit jacket, pulled out her badge and gun then threw them on the ground in front of Mulder. "Consider that my official letter of resignation." She walked away, calling out as she left, "Find your own goddamn way to the hospital!" After a few moments of an awkward silence, Giles cleared his throat and spoke up. "Uh, well, I-I believe that's just about everything, Sheriff...Sheriff Hartwell." Mulder stared at Scully's gun and badge lying on the ground before him. Scully had...quit? Just like that? He slowly lifted his head when he felt a hand touch his shoulder. Hartwell stood there. "Come on, Agent Mulder," Hartwell said. "I'll get ya to a doctor." Gently, he helped Mulder to his feet. "Wait," Mulder said to Hartwell. Wincing, he reached down and scooped up Scully's gun and badge. "Ok. Let's go." He clutched her things close. She'll be back, he thought. Buffy came up to Giles and Willow. The three of them watched Hartwell help Mulder into the cruiser. She folded her arms across her chest. "Do you think Agent Scully is really quitting the FBI?" Willow asked no one in particular. She looked over to Buffy. "I mean, they're, like, partners." Buffy shook her head. "Well, I think she's serious," she answered. "Mulder is one of those guys that goes to prove the rule." Giles, puzzled, looked over to Buffy. "Rule?" he said. "What rule is that?" "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do, and a woman's gotta do everything else," Buffy replied. She shrugged. "Looks like Agent Scully is tired of doing everything else." Sunnydale High School Monday 3:35 PM "Ooof!" Giles hit the floor hard after Buffy had swept his feet out from under him. He coughed a little. Despite all of the padding he wore when he worked with Buffy, the Slayer still managed to inflict a bruise or two. "Very...nice," he stiffly said as he lay on his back. "Good show." Buffy put her hands on her hips, the practice chobos still in her hands. "And that's how I did it," she said to her Watcher. Willow looked up from her book of spells to Giles still laying on the floor. "Maybe that's one you should save for the bad things, Buffy," she suggested. Buffy took both of the sticks in one hand. "I think I should," she agreed as she used her free hand to help Giles to his feet. The door to the library opened causing everyone inside to tense up. Giles knew he'd put out the sign saying the library was closed for reshelving of materials. Scully, dressed casually in jeans and a long sleeved light blue shirt, entered. She noticed Giles wearing all of the pads and Buffy holding two sticks in her right hand. She half smiled. "Hi," she said as she took a few more steps into the library. "I...I saw the sign, but I knew you were in here." Giles removed the padded helmet quickly. "Agent Scully," he said as he placed the helmet on the counter. He glanced over to Buffy. "We...we thought you'd left." Xander came out from the stacks holding a book in one hand. He saw Scully in the library. He came down the steps to join everyone else. Scully glanced at Xander, over to Willow then she clasped her hands together. "It...it has been a few days, hasn't it?" she said. "We thought you'd just left town after the other night," Willow replied as she and Xander approached. "Your partner came around here looking for you too." "Mulder?" Scully said. "Is he...did he leave?" Buffy nodded. "Yeah. He left yesterday afternoon," she answered. "He dropped by here, hoping we'd know where you were." "He said...uh...he said you'd checked out of the local motel," Giles added. He finished removing all of the pads then set them on the counter. "I had to get out of there," Scully replied. She tucked her hair behind her left ear. "I spent a lot of time thinking, and on the phone, this weekend." She cleared her throat a little. "I...talked to my immediate supervisor and told him I was leaving the Bureau. He tried to talk me out of it, but had no success." Buffy and Willow looked to Giles. They saw a glimmer of hope in the librarian's eyes. Both girls exchanged knowing smiles. "You really did quit, huh?" Xander said. "I don't blame you at all. That Mulder...I don't think all his thrusters were firing." He twirled an index finger by the side of his head then added, "If you know what I mean." Scully chuckled shortly. "So...I'm...I'm pretty much out of a job," she went on. She shrugged as she looked around the library. "And...something about this town really appeals to me." "As long as it's not the Hellmouth, we're all cool with that here," Xander replied. He grunted when Buffy elbowed him in the ribs. Willow's face brightened with a smile as she got an idea. "Hey! The coroner's office is looking for another M.E.," she told Scully. "You're, like, *there* with the dead people, right?" Scully raised a curious eyebrow at Willow. "How do you know the coroner's office is looking for another M.E.?" Willow's face flushed slightly. "I have the website bookmarked in my favorite places," she replied. "Cause sometimes we need to know about what's happening there. You know...with the dead stuff." Scully nodded a little as she considered Willow's suggestion. It was a great idea, she decided. California--3,000 miles away from her old job. Across the country from her mother, but Bill Jr. being in the same state would work wonders in alleviating her mother's worrying. Yes, Sunnydale could be the place for her to start a real life. "I think I'll stay," she finally told them with a smile. But the moment was interrupted by a blood-curdling scream from the hallways of Sunnydale High. Scully whirled around in surprise as the screams continued. "Whatís going on out there?" Buffy sighed as she took a chobo in each of her hands. "Just the usual," she answered then ran out of the library doors. "Can't wait to get to know ya!" Xander called to Scully as he ran after Buffy. ďAnd the nameís Xander,Ē he added before he barreled out of the doors. "You can tell me that cat story later!" Willow said as she, too, went to help Buffy. Scully turned around, looking at Giles. What was going on? "Just a moment," Giles said to her. He went to the door then peeked into the hallway. His expression changed as he flicked his gaze to Scully. "You, uh, you may want to take a look at this." Scully, curious, joined him in the doorway. She gasped at what she saw Buffy and her friends battling down the hallway. "What is *that*?" she asked, her eyes wide as she looked up to Giles. "Chaos demon," he told her. He started to leave, but turned around to say, "Uh..welcome to Sunnydale, Age--*Ms.* Scully!" then continued down the hall. Scully put a hand to her forehead. What had she just gotten herself into here? After a moment, she let her hand drop to her side as she shrugged. "Oh, what the hell?" she muttered. She ran down the hall to join the Slayer and her friends.