Author: Elizabeth Wilde/Gabrielle Collins/Gabby Spike
Title: Temptation Waits
Distribution: Anyone who asks for it, the Vampire
Hunter D Archives, [my site]
Disclaimer: I do not own any VHD or Buffy characters
or the song "Temptation Waits" by Garbage.  Wish I
owned all of 'em, but all I've got is the concept of
the story.  Oh, and Dracula ain't mine either.
'Ship: some Buffy/D
Classification: general (has humor, romance, drama,
action... I'm just that good)
Summary: D comes to Sunnydale to help Buffy fight
Dracula once again.
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: not really...
Feedback:  to or
Notes:  The graphic for this story (which I spent a long time on, 
guys!) is at

Buffy traced the shape of the cross around her neck
with absent fingers.  She smiled slightly, remembering
when Angel had given it to her.  //So long ago...//

//How many years?  God, at least ten... It feels like
forever.//  So much had changed since.  Willow and
Tara had married once California passed the law making
same-sex marriage legal, then had moved to New York
for a change in scenery.  She still got letters
gushing about how happy they were.  Anya had taken
over running the magic shop after Giles was killed by
an upstart gang of vampires with something to prove.
Buffy felt her breath catch in her throat at the
thought of her mentor's death.  //I should have been

But she pushed the thoughts away.  She hadn't known,
and she had taken out every member of the gang
afterwards, pushing all her friends and loved ones
away in her frenzy for vengeance, including Riley, who
had left town.  //When was the last time I heard from
him?//  It had to have been at least a year.  Maybe
two.  Buffy sighed softly.  Xander had left Sunnydale
as well, moved to San Francisco and married a nice,
normal pastry chef with blonde hair and blue eyes.

//Spike and Anya.  They're all I've got.//

Spike remained a mystery to her.  They had formed an
at-first uneasy cease-fire and had eventually settled
into a full-blown truce.  When she needed him, he
came, helping as best he could with the chip still in
his head.  They talked, patrolled together sometimes,
and he was the closest thing to a friend she had left
since Anya blamed the Slayer for driving Xander away
despite any lack of a logical reason for doing so.

A noise toward the back of the cemetery broke her
reverie and the Slayer's head snapped up, eyes
instantly picking out an impossibly tall figure
walking in her direction.  //Bet he thinks he's hot
stuff stalking around here in all black... and a
cape... and the weirdest hat...//  She frowned.  There
was something odd about the man, something odd and
vaguely familiar.  "Who are you?" she called as he
drew closer, wishing her tone sounded less uncertain,
more commanding.

He remained silent, and as he drew closer, Buffy could
make out the outline of a sword slung holstered on his
back.  //And here I thought stakes were still all the
rage.//  "What do you want?" she demanded, this time
managing something more of her usual self-assurance.
The man was armed and not talking, which automatically
gave him a label to the Slayer.  //Trouble.//

Finally he stood a few feet away and Buffy could see
dark eyes peering out from under the hat, though the
man's face was obscured by the collar of his cloak.
"Last call for introductions before I start killing
you," she warned, unsure why she even bothered.

"My name is D."

"Well that just clears it right up for me.  Thanks
ever so much."  //So he can talk... and not such a bad
voice either...//  "Here looking all armed and
mysterious for a reason or is it just something you
get off on?"

"Years ago you fought and defeated Count Dracula."

"Yeah... And?"  Buffy could feel tension building in
her shoulders.  Fighting Dracula had proved harder
even than fighting Angelus.  //He had so much control
over me...//

"He is on his way here."

//Shit!//  "So you're... what?  One of his flunkies?
The new Renfield?  I don't have time for flunkies.  If
he wants me, he'd damn well better come and get me

"I'm a vampire hunter."

"Oh."  Buffy's brow furrowed.  "But Slayers are women.
 And there's already two of us."  //Even if one of us
is in prison.//

He nodded, a gesture so subtle that anyone not
watching with almost painful intensity might have
missed it.  "I am not a Slayer, merely a hunter."

"Oh.  Okay."  Buffy allowed herself to relax slightly,
leaning back against a nearby mausoleum and pushing
her long blond hair back behind her ears.  "So you've
got some kind of bone to pick with the Count?"

"Something like that."

"Good then.  I've been short of backup lately."  //To
say the least.//  "I'm kind of assuming you know who I
am already.  Wouldn't be here otherwise, right?"

"You're Buffy Summers.  You're the Slayer."

"Those are the basics, yeah.  So do you just like the
air of mystery that hiding behind all that fabric
gives you or are you some kind of deformed demon?  Not
that I'd mind if you were.  I just like knowing what
my friends look like."

The man hesitated a moment, then pulled off his hat
and folded down his collar.  Buffy couldn't help but
to let her eyes go a little wide.  He was gorgeous.
Long auburn hair spilled down into his cloak.  His
features were angular and refined.  And vaguely
familiar.  She tilted her head to the side.  "I could
swear I've seen you somewhere before..."

D's dark eyes moved from her face to the ground and
then back again.  "Dracula is my father."

"But vampires can't have children," Buffy protested

"They can."

Buffy almost tried to continue the argument, but it
was obvious that she wasn't going to get very far.
//A man of few words to say the least.//  "So a couple
vamps got together and-"

"My mother was human."

"Oh-kay."  Frowning, the Slayer tried to figure out
how D's story fit into her knowledge of vampires.
"I'm beginning to think I've been fighting the low-end
models all this time," she finally concluded with a
sigh.  "So vampires can have children?"


"With humans?"


"And where does that leave you?  How much do you take
after daddy dearest, if you catch my drift?"  He
seemed suddenly uncomfortable, so Buffy continued, "No
need to be shy.  I used to date a regular ol'
bumpy-faced vamp.  Hell, my only friend now is one.
This is just for Buffy's useless information file,

"I do crave blood, but I do not need it to survive.
And then there's..."  D pulled off his left glove and
held the hand out toward her, palm up.

"Hel-lo there, sweet thing!  What brings a pretty girl
like you to a nasty place l-Hey!"

D quickly tugged the glove on again.  "I'm sorry.
He... is a bit uncivilized."

"You... have a talking face in your hand."  Buffy
somehow managed to keep her voice completely level.


"Nice.  D, has anyone ever told you that you're a
very... interesting person?"

A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.
"Many people have."


Buffy pulled her jacket off the second they entered
her apartment and threw it down on her coffee table.
"Feel free to sit anywhere you'd like.  And to push
anything that's thrown where you want to sit onto the
floor," she added, realizing with a sudden flash of
embarrassment that the apartment was a sty.  "I don't
spend a lot of time on housework."

Without a word, D moved to a chair that had relatively
few things piled onto it.  Lifting the shirt, bra, and
plate that occupied the chair, he set them onto the
coffee table and sat down.  Buffy could feel her face
growing hot.  "Sorry about that."

His gaze shifted from studying the room to her face.
"There's nothing to be sorry about."

"You're just too nice," she replied, walking into the
kitchen area.  "Want some coffee or something?"

"No, thank you."

"Suit yourself.  If I'm going to stay awake through
hearing whatever the hell fang boy is up to now, I
need caffeine."  There was complete silence in the
apartment as she made the coffee, but it wasn't
entirely uncomfortable.  Buffy was more used to
silence than conversation, and D's presence did not
compel her to speak.  In fact, she felt at ease as she
went about her usual nighttime routine of coffee in
the living room, something that generally preceded a
second shift of patrolling or a visit from Spike.

"So," Buffy finally said, breaking the silence as she
settled onto the couch and curled her legs beneath
her, "Dracula's having himself a little comeback tour,

"Something like that, yes.  He seems to have a certain
fascination with you, actually."

Buffy took a sip of her coffee.  "I just have all the
luck.  Question: How did you find out Drac was on his

"I pay attention."

Deciding a full inquisition would be useless and
time-consumming, Buffy replied, "Fair enough."  The
Slayer tilted her head.  "So what does he want?
Revenge because I kicked his ass way back when?"

"A companion, a bride.  You."

"Yea.  That's just... wonderful.  Really.  I *so* need
some creep fixating on me right now... no offense."

"None taken."

"But he is a creep."

"At times."

Buffy nodded her approval of the response.  "Another
question: Why do you want to off your dad?"

D allowed himself a slight smile.  "I don't exactly.
I bear him no ill will.  I will not let him harm you,

"Because I'm just such a nice girl?"

"Because of all the good you can do the world."

"You know, women who complain that men only care about
them because they're pretty should see what I have to
put up with.  People only help me because I'm the
Slayer."  Buffy laughed at her own bitterness.
"Sorry.  Old rant that was just dying to come out.
Alright, so Drac shows up and... we stake him?
Because that really didn't seem to do the job last

"We will have to be more thorough than that.  First
his head must be removed, then both his body and head
burned.  Then, his ashes much be scattered."

"They just can't make this easy, can they?  Gotta be
all complicated and stupid about it."  Buffy sighed
and let her head fall back against the couch, forcing
her muscles to relax.  "Okay, fine.  We do the
ritualistic stuff.  When should he be here?"

"He should arrive tonight.  We will face him

Buffy sighed again.  "Goody."


"You can take the bed.  I'll do the couch thing
tonight," Buffy told her new partner, rising to clear
the couch of its clothes and other random debris.  "I
wouldn't wish this on fang boy himself."

"I'll be fine on the couch.  Thank you.  I sleep very

"You sure?  I mean, it's not exactly a nice couch.
It's sort of lumpy and old and... then there's the
fact that it's brown plaid.  I bought it at a garage
sale."  Buffy shifted uncomfortably and smiled.  "On
the sad side."

"It will be fine."

She shrugged.  "If you insist.  I'm certainly not
gonna force you to be comfortable," she added with a
quiet laugh.  "Night, D.  See you dark and late

"Good night."  He watched as she walked into the
adjoining room and shut the door.  A sudden muffled
outburst from his left hand drew his attention, and D
removed his gloves.  "Yes?"

"For God's sake, man, have you absolutely no sex drive
whatsoever?"  At D's pointed glare, the symbiot merely
continued, "The woman is obviously attracted to you.
And she made sure to ever-so-casually mention that
she's had relations with a vampire before.  And did
you *look* at her?  No wonder your father is obsessed
with her!"

"I am concerned for her safety.  We are working
together.  Anything else-"

"Is something that any other man with a pulse wouldn't
be able to keep his mind off of!  She's got legs up to
her neck, eyes a man could drown in and her assets are


"I'm only saying that-"

"Please stop.  It's not possible, and I prefer to keep
my mind where it belongs-on keeping her safe."  D lay
down on the couch, which was just small enough to
leave his legs dangling over its arm from the knees
down.  "Go to sleep."

"Oh, very well.  But I'm telling you, she-"

"Sleep.  Now."

"Yes, Master," the symbiot replied sarcastically
before drifting into a sullen silence.

"C'mon, Slayer, open the bloody door!  I can't stand
out here with my coat over my head for the rest of the
day!  C'MON!"  The door swung open and Spike found
himself face to face with a complete stranger.
"Where's Buffy?" he asked, pushing past the man and
into the slayer's apartment.  He slid the black
leather duster back down to his shoulders.  "What've
you done with her?"

"Spike, God, can't you just for five minutes try not
to be an ass," Buffy chided, walking into the room,
still toweling off her hair, though she seemed
otherwise decently attired.

"Who's 'e?"

"Spike, this is D.  D, this is Spike.  You know how I
mentioned my only friend is a vampire?  This would be
him," she said, hoping the use of the word "friend"
wouldn't go to Spike's head.  "He's not as obnoxious
as he seems.  Not all the time, anyway."

Choosing to ignore Buffy's comments for better or
worse, Spike continued, "What's 'e doing 'ere?"

"You could talk to him yourself, you know."  Without
waiting for him to do so, she continued, "D's here to
help me fight Dracula."

"Dracula?  That wanker doesn't know when to give up,
does 'e?  We'll take him down a notch.  Not lettin'
'im run around my town anymore.  Not still owin' me
money!  Bloody poof should-"

"You know Dracula?" D asked, speaking for the first
time since Spike's entrance.

"We go way back, Drac 'n' me.  What's it to ya?"  When
D made no reply, Spike snorted and sat down on the
couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table.
"Doesn't talk much, does 'e?"

"Not really," Buffy replied with a slight smile,
sitting down next to the vampire.  "D seems to be the
strong silent type."  The man in question sat down in
a nearby chair.  "So, Spike, you gonna help?  You can
be lookout or something."

"Hey!  I can beat up on vamps with the best of 'em.
So long as Drac 'asn't gone human since the last time
'e came, I have as much a chance against 'im as either
of you," Spike protested.

Buffy patted Spike's arm gently.  "No arguments here.
I just figured me and D would be the heavy artillery."
 Before Spike could protest again, she continued, "If
you insist on beating the guy up and taking back your
lunch money or whatever, I'm not going to stand in
your way."

"That's the spirit, Slayer!" Spike crowed with a broad
grin.  "We'll go in and kick some ass!"

D spoke again, "This is not a game.  Facing Dracula
will be difficult, and-"

"He's not so tough as all that.  I remember this one
time we got ourselves smashed and decided to duke it
out just for kicks.  'E didn't exactly come out o' it
without any bruises, mate.  Fact of it is, I kicked
'is ass."

"And he's gotten stronger since then," Buffy reminded
him.  "He fought me and almost won.  There's not a
whole lot of people who can say that.  You never came
as close as he did."  The Slayer's voice was growing
steadily more quiet.  "He came damn close.  Too damn

"Hey, now, the bloke just got lucky."  Spike put his
arm around Buffy's shoulder and gave it a squeeze.
"You got 'im good last time, and you'll do the same
this time.  Got even better 'elp than you did then,
and you've gotten better too, stronger."

"Older.  Spike, I'm not eighteen anymore."

"Not exactly a fossil either, luv."

"For a Slayer, I am."  Buffy sighed and laid her head
on Spike's shoulder.  "Doesn't help that while I'm
over here aging you keep staying young.  You could at
least have the decency to get a receding hairline or
something," she teased.

"I'll look into it.  Maybe get m'self some o' those
grandpa pants too, eh?"

"That'd be good."  Buffy shook her head and turned to
D.  "Sorry.  We're sort of each other's moral support
network.  Not that ol' Spike has any morals.  Still,
he's a pretty good therapist.  And a very nice

"Never knew ya thought so much o' me, Slayer."

"Hush, you!  Anyway, we're what we've got, so..." she
shrugged, "we just sort of spaz out when we're
together.  May take some getting used to for you."

"It isn't a problem," D replied quietly.

Buffy caught the faintest hint of sadness in his tone
and wondered if it was her own mind trying to add
inflection, emotion where there was none or if it hurt
him to see two people who were close like she and
Spike were.  //He doesn't strike me as the kind of guy
who has lots of friends... or any.//  She frowned
slightly but decided any further exploration of the
subject would best be done later.  "So... tonight,

"Yes."  D's gaze strayed briefly to the clock hanging
on the wall.  "The sun goes down in five hours."

"Yeah...  So what do we do until then?" she asked,
silently praying there wasn't some annoyingly
complicated ancient ritual to perform.

"We wait."


"Give me the remote, Spike!"

"But, Slayer-"


"Bloody 'ell.  Just because you can hit me and I can't
'it you--OW!"

Buffy wrenched the remote control out of Spike's hand
and turned the CD player off.  "God, I knew I never
should have let you bring those Sex Pistol CDs over!
If I have to listen to 'My Way' one more time, I swear
I will stake you!"

"You wouldn't do that, Slayer.  You like me too damn
much.  'Sides, I was just about to ask for requests.

With a sigh, Buffy looked to D, who had spent a
greater part of the three hours since their previous
conversation sitting and watching Buffy and Spike
bickering good-naturedly.  "How about you?  What's
your music of choice?"

"How about some Metallica, babe?" a voice coming from
D's general direction suggested in a boisterous tone.

Spike's brow furrowed.  He looked D up and down
suspiciously.  "What the bloody 'ell was that?"

"Somebody a hell of a lot more interesting than you,"
the voice retorted with a snort.  "More attractive
too, you bleached blond little-"

"That will be quite enough," D said firmly before
raising his gaze to Buffy and Spike.  "I'm afraid he
doesn't handle boredom well."

Buffy smiled and shrugged.  "No big."

"Wait a bloody minute!  What is it?  What was
talking?"  He looked almost afraid of the answer.

"Oh, D has this... this face in his left hand.  It
talks.  It's kind of a slimeball, actually.  No
offense," she added with a small smile in D's

"None taken.  I agree."

"A talking face in 'is hand?" Spike echoed, looking
and sounding more than a little disbelieving.

"Yes."  D pulled his left hand free of its glove and
held it up, palm toward Spike.

"Hello, neighbor!" the symbiot crowed.  "D, be a pal
and turn me so I can see the girl, huh?  Been awhile
since I got an eyeful of anyone with a body like that.

"No."  Closing his hand into a fist, D lowered it,
then pulled the glove back on.  Out of the corner of
his eye, he could see Spike, eyes wide and jaw
slightly agape.  "Believe me now?"

The vampire blinked, then nodded.  "Sure thing, mate.
Just... never seen anythin' quite like that."

"Neither have I," D replied quietly.

"So Metallica is a no," Buffy finally said, breaking
the silence.  As the silence grew longer, Buffy moved
toward the CD rack, scanning the titles.  "How about
Sarah McLachlan?"  A quick, firm, "No!" came from
Spike and the symbiot, and Buffy sighed.  "I should
have known better..."


Just over two hours later, Buffy was half out of her
mind and hoping fervently that Spike and the symbiot
would shut up.  As it turned out, they were kindred
spirits in many ways.  Too many ways.  "Amazing how
loud you are through leather gloves," Buffy finally
commented, glaring at Spike though she spoke to the

"Feisty!  I love feisty!  Maybe later you can meet

"Quiet.  It's time," D interrupted, standing in a
motion so fluent that it almost looked as if he had
floated rather than moved.  "Are you ready?"

Buffy stood as well, grinning mostly from relief that
Spike and the symbiot would have to be quiet, at least
for a little while.  "Lemme grab my favorite ancient
sword, a fashion accessory every girl should have."
She returned a moment later with a sword and scabbard
strapped around her waist and her long hair pulled
back into a ponytail.  "Let's go kick his ass."

"That's the spirit!"  Spike followed just behind
Buffy.  "Now this is gonna be fun!"

"Assuming we don't all die horrible deaths... yeah,
it'll be a party," the Slayer responded as they exited
her apartment.  "And I for one have no intention of
giving fang face the satisfaction."


"Okay, could this guy be just a little more
conspicuous?  I mean, how is someone not going to
notice this place?" Buffy asked, staring up at the
sprawling, castle-like mansion and ignoring the fact
that she had overlooked it herself until D led them
there.  "It's bigger than the last one!"

"Dracula is not known for his subtlety," D responded.

"You can say that again," Spike snorted.

"Or his taste.  This place needs a coat of paint and a
decorator stat."  The slayer squared her shoulders and
took a deep breath.  "You boys ready to rumble?"

"Ready an' willing, Slayer."

"I am ready."

Buffy pulled her sword free of its sheath.  "Then
let's give Dracula a big, old fashioned welcome home


The second they entered the castle, Buffy moved with
certainty toward its east side.  "He's there.  I know
it.  I can feel him," she informed her companions with
no small trace of disgust.  Neither man dared question
her words, and soon they were standing in the doorway
of a large room decorated with lavish tapestries and
antique furniture.  Dozens of candles provided the
room's only light.  At the opposite end of the room
stood a tall, elegant man with long, dark hair.
Though his back was turned, there was no question as
to his identity.

"I knew you vould come."

Buffy stepped inside the opulently furnished drawing
room and nodded.  "Yeah, we sorta figured.  You don't
get a pad like this if you aren't planning on
entertaining.  But this time I wasn't stupid enough to
come alone.  Count Dracula, meet my back-up."

The vampire turned slowly and gazed at the group.  A
smile spread across his face.  "Your choice ov allies
is... interesting, my dear."

"Not many make it past the stringent application and
interview process," Buffy quipped, stepping forward,
sword in hand.  "Tell you what, you surrender now,
I'll make sure I take your head off with the first

"I am afraid that is not part of my plan," Dracula
replied impassively, hands clasped behind his back.

Spike pushed past Buffy and strode across the room,
strutting as though he had no fear.  "Happens to be
part of ours, though, mate."

"Ah, Villiam.  It is lovely to see you again.  You
look vell."

Spike let out a short, derisive laugh and tired to
look threatening.  "Cut the bull, Drac.  No time for
it.  I'm 'ere to kill you."

Buffy rolled her eyes.  "Spike-"

"Slayer, I can 'andle this."

Buffy glared daggers at the vampire, who didn't even
bother to turn around.  "If you get yourself staked, I
am //so// not getting the Dustbuster out to take you

"Relax, I have everything-"  Faster than the eye could
see, Dracula's fist flew toward Spike's face, and the
bleached-blond fell to the ground with a muffled

"Not the most artful vay of doing things, but it is
effective, and somehow fitting in this case," Dracula
commented, his dark gaze returning to Buffy, eyes
challenging her to approach.

"I don't take real kindly to people punching my
friends.  Especially since they're in damn short
supply lately."  Buffy stalked forward, standing
beside Spike's unconscious form.  She raised her sword
and smiled grimly.  "Let's see you try that on me."

"I don't believe there vill be any need for your
veapon," the vampire said slowly.

Buffy felt instantly the familiar pull inside her
mind, felt her arms lowering the sword.  She fought
back, raising the sword again.  "I don't think so.
Not again.  I won't... I..."

"You vill.  Place your sword on the ground.  You von't
need it."

"I... I'm not falling for it," Buffy ground out even
as she lowered the sword to the floor.  "Dammit!"  She
rose again, hands empty.

"Come to me..."

"Leave her alone."  The words were quiet, spoken in a
soft, normal tone, as if the speaker had no need of

"Stay back.  As you have no qualms killing me, so I
have none toward killing you."  Dracula's arms reached
out and jerked Buffy against him, in the process
taking a large step forward.  "She is mine," he
snarled.  "She has been mine since the first time I
visited her.  Before that.  Perhaps since before
time... she is my destiny."

"Leave her alone," D repeated, moving closer.  "She
belongs only to herself."

"A moving sentiment, certainly.  A foolish one as
vell.  Ve all belong to someone."  As he spoke,
Dracula ran one tapered finger down the veins in
Buffy's neck.  She obediently leaned her head to the
side, eyes falling closed.

D pulled his sword free of the sheath across his back.
 Deep blue eyes burned from under the wide brim of his
hat.  "I won't let you hurt her."

Dracula laughed aloud at that, dark eyes dancing.
"You von't let me?  My dear boy, the decision is not
yours.  It is mine."

"It is hers.  I do not wish to fight you."

"That is vell.  Do not fight me.  Vhat reason do you
have to fight for her life, my son?" the vampire
asked, one hand splayed over Buffy's stomach, the
other holding her arm fast.  "Perhaps you vish to have
her for yourself?  Hmm?  You look disapproving.  You
cannot tell me the thought has not crossed your mind.
She is beautiful, strong, intelligent."  Dracula moved
as if he would bite the woman in his arms, then raised
his gaze to D.  "You see her passion, her life.  You
vant it for yourself.  You vant her."

D remained silent, face impassive, body poised for a
fight, sword held at the ready.

"Your silence speaks volumes.  Enough talk.  If you
vant her, fight for her.  If you do not, leave us be
and save yourself the trouble."  Dracula leaned in
once again, his intent more than obvious.

D raised his sword, moving to one side of the vampire
to decrease any chance of injuring Buffy in the
attempt, but before he completed the motion, Dracula's
head was sliced cleanly off from behind.

Whatever power Dracula held over her gone, Buffy
blinked, then shrugged off the corpse.  "Eeeew."  She
looked shaken but uninjured.

"That's what ya get for punchin' me in the face,
mate," Spike said smugly, glaring down at the corpse,
then smiling at Buffy, her bloodied sword still in his
hand.  "You alright, luv?"

"I'm... good.  Alive.  Alive is good."  Her brow
suddenly furrowed.  "He didn't dust.  Of course."  The
slayer rolled her eyes.  "Figures.  We get to find a
place to burn the thing now."  Another thought
suddenly occurred to her and her slightly wide
blue-green eyes fixed on D.  "Are you okay?  I mean,
he was-"

"I am fine."

Buffy nodded slowly.  "Okay.  We'll take care of this.
 You don't have to."

Ignoring her words, D said, "There was a marble table
in the other room.  We can burn the body there."

"Alright, then," Spike said, "you take the feet, mate,
and I'll get the shoulders.  Slayer, you take the

"Yea.  Since when are you in charge anyway?"  Buffy
grumbled, picking up Dracula's head by the hair.
Together, they took the count's remains and laid them
on the marble table.

Spike pulled a lighter out of his pocket and looked to
his companions.  "So, who gets the honors?"

D held out his hand and Spike handed him the lighter
as if it were an object of power.  Silently, D touched
the flame to various points on the body until it was
burning steadily.  He handed the lighter back to
Spike.  "Thank you."



"This is... weird," Buffy said as she stood between D
and Spike near Spike's crypt.  "Should we... say
something?  A eulogy?  I mean, he's... he's Dracula,"
she finally said with a shake of her head.  "Just
dumping him in the cemetery doesn't seem quite...
right.  Maybe we could-"  Before she could say more, D
purposefully upended the vase containing Dracula's
ashes, moving it from side to side until it was empty.
 Some of the ash was caught and pulled away from the
ground, the rest left to feed future generations of
trees.  "Or you could just dump it."

Spike watched the ceremony with vague interest, then
shifted from foot to foot.  "Well, looks like we're
done, then.  It was good meetin' you an' all," he said
to D.  "Maybe next time you're 'round, we can go 'ave
a beer or somethin'.  Anyway...  Later, Slayer."  With
a slight wave, the vampire turned and entered the

"Sorry he's so... well, sorry," Buffy said after Spike
was gone.  She watched the ashes blowing quietly in
the wind for a moment before looking over at D.  "I
guess... guess you're leaving now, huh?"

"Yes.  There's no reason for me to stay."

"Yeah.  No reason..."  The Slayer shifted
uncomfortably, then ran her hands over the back of her
crossed arms to warm them.  "Getting too chilly to
just be standing out here staring.  And it's getting a
little close to morning to be out playing, right?  I
mean, you can stay until tomorrow night, right?"
There was a note of hope in Buffy's voice that even
she might not have been able to fully explain if

D slowly nodded.  "That would... make sense."

"Good," Buffy replied, smiling.  "It's good having
somebody who, y'know, who gets it," she explained as
they walked back toward her apartment.  "I mean, Spike
does more than most people, I guess, but... I mean,
it's not just some job I can quit.  Slaying isn't, I
mean.  It's my birthright or fate or whatever.  I
can't get away from it.  It's something I have to do."
 She stopped and blushed slightly.  "Is it like that
for you?  Sort of?  Atoning for... for who your dad
is... was?"

Looking faintly surprised, D replied, "Yes.  Yes, that
is what it's like.  I don't think... I don't think
I've ever spoken to anyone who knew."

"I'm insightful that way."  She paused to unlock the
door to her apartment, then walked inside, throwing
herself down on the couch and patting the cushion to
her left.  "Last chance for a slayer-to-hunter
heart-to-heart.  I know you don't talk much, but...
maybe it would be... fun?"

After a moment of hesitation, D sat down beside her,
looking uncomfortable, hands folded in his lap.  "I...
don't talk... much."

"Try ever," the symbiot's distinctly muffled voice
complained from his lap.  "I've known mute's who were
more verbal!"

Buffy glared at D's hand.  "Nobody invited you to be
part of the conversation.  Hush!" she ordered firmly.
"I'm talking with D."  Looking back up at the vampire
hunter, she grinned a little.  "That must be fun to
live with."

"You have no idea."  He paused for a moment.  "Are
feeling alright?"

"Oh, I'm fine.  Not a scratch."

"I meant... It couldn't have been easy to be under his
control again."

"Oh.  That."  Buffy blinked and looked away, hands
twisting together absently.  "It was... not fun.  I
don't like not being the person who decides what I do.
 It scares me.  I've lost it before without his help.
I just can't help but think what could happen... I
have a lot of power.  Strength, at least.  Somebody
could get hurt.  Because of me."  Her voice wavered
slightly.  "They have before.  My... my Watcher, the
one who trained me... he... a bunch of vamps killed

Tears glistened in Buffy's eyes and finally spilled
down her cheeks.  "I wasn't there.  All my goddamn
Slayer strength did me a Hell of a lot of good.  He
died and... and I couldn't stop it.  There wasn't
anything that..."  Sobs shook her shoulders until an
arm wound around them.  Buffy felt shocked to realize
that D was comforting her.  Unable to hold back her
grieving any longer, she relaxed against him, burying
her face in his chest and crying with abandon.

Finally the tears stopped and Buffy's shoulders were
still.  "Thanks," she whispered without shifting her
position.  "I needed that.  Guess I've needed it for

"I'm glad it helped."

"It did.  A lot."  She shifted slightly, moving so
that her head was lying on his shoulder in a familiar,
comfortable gesture much like the one she has used
with Spike earlier.  "So, how about you?  Your turn
for painful confessions," she said with a sniffle and
a quiet laugh.

Buffy was again surprised when D laughed softly.
"Even if we spent the rest of tonight and all tomorrow
talking, I think we would run out of time for my
painful confessions."  He sighed and seemed to relax
slightly against the cushions of the couch.  D removed
his hat and set it down on the table in front of them.
 "Besides, I'd rather listen to you talk," he added in
a tone so gentle that could barely be categorized as a

"In that case, you can get the full version of my life
story, all painful, shocking secrets and high flying
adventures included."  Settling in a bit and pulling
her legs up onto the couch, Buffy began, "Once upon a
time, there was a beautiful, intelligent-did I mention
beautiful?-cheerleader named Buffy Summers..."

The slayer awoke the next morning curled up on the
couch with her head resting on D's lap.  She stirred,
then sat up and stretched, smiling over at D, who was
already awake.  "You make a great pillow," Buffy
informed him with a grin, rising reluctantly from the
couch.  "As a reward, I'm going to go take care of my
morning breath now, maybe even shower too."  With
that, she jogged into the bathroom and shut the door.

"Well that was a fun evening," the symbiot stated with
a chuckle.  "I can't remember the last time I got that
close to a pretty girl.  You really should pick up
chicks more often, D."

"We were talking."

"Oh, of course!  Silly me... It isn't as if she spent
the night using your lap as a pillow... Oh, wait, yes
she did!  You can't honestly expect me to believe
you're this dense.  I know you better than that.
You're falling in love with her.  For heaven's sake,
you told her you wanted to listen to her talk.  Coming
from anyone else, that would have been spotted as a
cheesy pick-up line a mile away!"

"It wasn't a-"

"Of course not.  The great, lone hunter would never
fall victim to something as silly as a crush.  You
don't have emotions or needs.  You don't need them.
Isn't that right?"

D was silent, but he squeezed his left hand into a
fist.  "Quiet."

Buffy chose that moment to re-enter the room, smelling
of vanilla body wash and coconut shampoo.  She wore a
silky-looking black robe.  "Clean.  Now I'm gonna work
on dressed.  Then maybe I'll make us some food."

As soon as she disappeared into her bedroom, the
symbiot continued, "You should go in there after her.
I don't think she'd object.  Or you can just wait out
here.  She's going to ask you to stay longer.  Then
she's going to make a move.  You know hunting, but I
know women.  She likes you," he added in a sing-song

"I can't get close to people like that.  I could...
She could get hurt."

"Not if you keep yourself in check.  You try so hard
to be human.  What's more human than love?"

Before D could formulate a reply, Buffy returned,
smiling and wearing a pair of sweat pants and a white
t-shirt that was so threadbare it was almost
transparent.  "Want a sandwich?  I make a mean grilled

"Thank you."  D's eyes strayed to the window, covered
with black curtains that were shut tight against the
light of day.  "I should leave when the sun goes

The pleasant clatter of food preparation in the
kitchen faltered for a moment.  "Oh.  I was thinking
maybe... maybe you can leave tomorrow night?  I'd love
to maybe talk some more... if you want to."

"I... I could stay another night."

"Good!  We're just getting to know each other... and
I'm horrible about sending Christmas cards, so..."
Buffy shrugged, "I just want to spend as much time
together as we can now, y'know?  We're not in low risk
jobs."  There was no need to say the obvious:  Even if
they agreed to meet again, it was entirely likely that
one or both of them would be dead before it could
happen.  Emerging from the kitchen with two grilled
cheeses and barbeque chips, the slayer passed a plate
to D, then sat down on the couch beside him.  "Not
gourmet cuisine, but I can make it without burning the
house down or making people gag."

They ate in silence which was broken only once by the
symbiot again requesting they play Metallica and Buffy
and D vetoing the request with a simultaneous, "No,"
followed shortly by, "Quiet!"  The last bit of
daylight also passed with a relatively small amount of
talking, but it was pleasant nonetheless.

Once the sun went down, Buffy patrolled, joined by D
and, once they reached the cemetery, by Spike, who
returned to his crypt as soon as he realized the two
were more interested in quiet discussion than
fighting.  "Sod this!  You two 'ave fun talking.  I'm
gonna go find something to kill."

"You just have fun with that," Buffy replied, patting
Spike's arm.  "The grown-ups are talking."

"Aw, bloody 'ell, Slayer..." Spike began before
rolling his eyes in disgust and walking away.

Buffy turned to D and half-smiled.  "I'm gonna owe him
a pint of blood and a six pack for that later, plus
some cigarettes too if I want him to speak to me
again.  Worth it, though.  How about we go back to my
place, huh?"  She grinned at the mildly scandalized
look on his face.  "Don't worry-you're just cute when
you're shocked."  Hooking her arm through D's, Buffy
started walking back toward her apartment.  "You

"No, thank you."

"Me neither."  Buffy threw her keys down on the coffee
table and crossed to the CD player, putting in a
worn-looking album and then sitting down on the couch.
 "Garbage-the name of the band, that is.  It's old,
but good.  My favorite's this first one."  She hummed
along with the tune, finally singing outright in a
clear, incongruously innocent voice, "You come on like
a drug, I just can't get enough.  I'm like an addict
coming at you for a little more.  And there's so much
at stake..."  Her voice trailed off when she
remembered that D was there.  "Oh, God... Sorry.  I
shouldn't sing.  Ever.  Especially not around people
who aren't deaf.  Sorry."

"You have a lovely voice."

"Aw, I bet you say that to all the slayers."  Buffy
smiled and settled back against the couch cushions.
"So you're really leaving, huh?"

"I need to."

"Yeah... kinda like I need to stay.  Home sweet
Hellmouth."  She sighed and her gaze focused on the
shadows in the corner of the room.  Shaking off
whatever thoughts had pulled her away, Buffy reached
her hand out and gently ran her thumb over D's cheek.
Before he could protest, she leaned forward and
pressed her lips against his, at first with
feather-light softness, then more firmly, her kisses
almost fierce in their passion.  In one fluid motion,
she slid her leg over his and was straddling his lap.

Despite himself, D threaded the fingers of one hand
into her thick blond hair, the other sliding across
the small of her back.  He could still smell the sweet
scent of the vanilla bodywash on her skin, and beneath
that... His breath caught.  Beneath that, there was
the intoxicating smell of her blood, the almost
audible rhythm of it pumping through her veins.
Knowing that even a second's hesitation could prove
fatal for Buffy, D moved his hands to her shoulders
and pushed her back, eyes squeezed shut and lips
pressed together.

Buffy knew the look well.  "D... It's okay."  Her
fingers skated across his face.  "You don't have to be
embarrassed.  You won't hurt me."  One hand moved her
hair away from her slender neck.  "Go ahead."

D's eyes opened, glowing with an eerie blue light.  He
shook his head mutely and pushed her off of his lap,
onto the other side of the couch, then rose and walked
quickly to the other side of the room, a shaking hand
reaching up to cover his eyes.  Finally he turned back
to Buffy, eyes downcast.  "I'm sorry.  I... can't.  I
should go."

"No!"  Buffy rose as well, walking over to stand
beside him.  "I'm not going to let you run out just
because of this.  It's not a big-"

"It is."

"To you."  Buffy leaned her neck to the side, she
pointed to one scar, "Angel," then another, "Dracula."
 She let her hair fall back across the scars.  "I've
been there and done that and lived to tell the tale."
She reached her hand toward D's face.  "I trust you."

He caught her hand and moved it down to her side.  "I
don't.  I need to go."

"How about... how about we get some sleep and... and
maybe talk tomorrow?"  Impossibly large eyes pleaded
along with her voice, "Please?"  D nodded slowly and
Buffy smiled.  "I'll see you tomorrow.  Good night.
Morning.  Whatever."  She began walking toward the
bedroom, cast one final bittersweet smile back toward
D.  "Tomorrow."  After receiving a nod of reply, she
continued on.

"You aren't staying, are you?"

D pulled the glove from his left hand.  "No."

"But she said that-"

"I know.  She trusts me.  Which is why I can't."

"D, you'll never learn to control it if you don't-"

"I won't hurt her."

"Leaving will hurt her."

Unable to find a suitable reply, D pulled his glove
back on.


Buffy smiled as she stretched the next morning.
//Moved too fast last night, but you can do better.//
She was the first to admit that when it came to guys,
her track record was, at best, patchy.  //This will be
different.  I don't know how, but... we'll figure it
out.//  "Morning," she said pleasantly, walking into
the living room after going through the usual morning
grooming routine.  "How'd you..."  The living room was

Something on the table blowing in the current from the
air conditioner caught Buffy's eye as she moved
further into the room.  //Oh, God...//  The note was
written in an elegantly slanted hand that seemed
particularly odd given that the ink, which came from
the pen Buffy used for writing grocery lists, was a
vibrant pink.  She read the note aloud, eyes misting
over with tears.  "I had to leave.  I'm sorry.  I know
you understand."


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