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The Haunted Vampire

Project Paranormal

Author: Smiling_n_Michigan

Season 3

Part 13

 

**

 

Summary: Every night has a day... Every challenge has a risk... Every case has a lesson.  Sisters have disappeared on a dare, and its up to the PP team to save them.  But what if they find something that they weren't expecting?  Could a lesson await them perhaps?  And maybe things aren't always as they appear to be... 

 

**

 

The Haunted Vampire

 

 

“You go first,” the frightened teenager said, pushing her sister in front of her.

 

“Why me?” she asked in a hushed whisper as she dug her heels in and pushed back.  “This was your idea.”

 

Jane and her twin sister Chloe were dressed in black from head to toe.  The Goth look had sounded like a good idea in the brightness of the pub, but now Jane was thinking it was a little stupid.  And for the first time in her life she was sorry that she and Chloe weren’t identical twins.  Jane’s blonde hair shone like a spotlight against the ϋber black ensemble and she envied Chloe’s dark tresses that seemed to blend into the rest of her outfit, but upon closer inspection Jane figured it didn’t matter.  She was pretty sure that her face looked as ghostly-pale in the moonlight as Chloe’s did.

 

“Yeah, but you agreed to do this with me,” Jane finally said.  Their mom was always telling Jane that her name meant gracious gift.  Jane was beginning to think her name actually meant ungracious git.  What in the heck was she doing out here in the middle of the night with her sister!

 

“Shh,” Chloe said.  “Did you hear that?”

 

“What?” Jane asked, her heart beating a little faster than it had been a moment before.  Maybe they should just go back to the car.  She was starting to regret hiding it in the thickest part of the trees.  It sounded like a good idea at the time, but now that the moon had gone behind some clouds, the trees suddenly looked a little scary.

 

“Over there,” Chloe said, pointing toward the back of the building.

 

“If you keep talking, I won’t be able to hear anything,” Jane said, trying to keep her voice quiet and calm.  She had a feeling it wouldn’t take much for the two of them to freak out and go off running into the night in opposite directions.  And if Jane got separated from Chloe out there, she’d just about curl up and die.

 

Jane strained to see if she could hear what Chloe was talking about, but the only thing she could hear was her own heartbeat beating wildly in her ears.   Taking a deep breath to calm her nerves and steady her heart, she listened closer.  That’s when she heard a rustling noise coming from behind the house.

 

“Okay, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea,” Jane finally admitted.

 

“Now you tell me.  Let’s just go.”

 

“Maybe the guys followed us.  Maybe they’re just trying to spook us,” Jane said, not sounding convincing even to her own ears.

 

She was such an idiot.  She had been bored, and the guys had been talking about the haunted manor.  And before she knew what she was getting herself in to, dragging Chloe along for the ride, she had told them that they were full of it.  And to prove that they were full of it, she and Chloe would not only find the place, but they’d stay the night there.  And once they changed into their appropriate night stalking attire, the girls were on their way.

 

It was all Jason’s fault.  He kept taunting her with those big brown teddy bear eyes and that pretty smile of his.  He got her heart beating in an entirely different manner, and she wished she could blame him for all of this, but she couldn’t.  It was her own pride and big mouth that had gotten her into trouble and now she and Chloe were going to pay for it.

 

Jane’s eyes squinted into the darkness.  The clouds were now only partially covering the moon, but somehow that didn’t help.  It just gave everything an even eerier quality.  She quickly switched on her torch and aimed it in the direction the noise was coming from.

 

“Jane!” Chloe screamed, her voice sounding even louder in their quiet surroundings.

 

As she followed Chloe’s gaze, Jane’s blue eyes grew wider and rounder.  She didn’t have time to let out her own scream.  Chloe had beaten her to it yet again.

 

+++

 

As soon as Giles hung up the phone call with Collins, the blasted thing rang again.

 

“Ah yes, Mr. Morris.  I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you,” Giles said.  “Things have been a bit hectic as of late to say the least.”

 

“It’s Andy!”

 

“I’m sorry, Andy,” he said as he moved a stack of papers and notes from his previous phone conversation out of the way.  His desk was a little messier than he liked and he was having a hard time finding the sketch Angel had made at the Morris’ home.

 

“Have you found out anything yet?” Andy asked.  “The thought that the contents of the box could wind up being dangerous is making my wife nervous.  And the fact that Sherry won’t even go by the room anymore sure isn’t helping.  Could we perhaps just sell it and be done with it?”

 

“I really don’t think it would be a good idea to sell anything until we know what we’re dealing with.  I’ve been comparing the sketch against texts and I have yet to come up with anything pertinent,” Giles said.  “I would require a little more time I’m afraid.”

 

Giles heard Andy sigh into the phone.  “We could really use the money and if it’s worth anything at all we’d really like to sell.”

 

“I understand, but I must insist that I don’t believe it to be in your best interest at this time,” Giles said, wishing that he had more information on what they had found.  If he had that and some extra money lying around, or a quick way to earn some, he could’ve made the Morrises an offer himself.

 

“How much time would you need?” Andy asked.

 

Giles was just about to answer when the door to his office opened.  Seeing Buffy standing there, he motioned for her to come inside.  She sat down in the leather chair just in front of his desk.

 

“Not much longer.  There is another case that needs our immediate attention and once that is finished I will look into this in further detail,” Giles said.

 

Giles feared Andy was going to say no, but then he said, “Okay.  I don’t want to rush you.  We’re just a little anxious, but you are the expert.  Just let me know as soon as you can, okay?”

 

“I guarantee it,” Giles said and after a few pleasantries and a goodbye, he hung up the phone.

 

“It’s been over a month you know,” Buffy said.

 

Giles’ mind was reeling with too much information and he was having a hard time following what she was talking about.  “I’m sorry, Buffy.  What exactly are you referring to?”

 

“Since your date with Alex.”

 

“Just over a month,” he said as he leaned back in his chair and sighed.  His mind hadn’t been anywhere near his date with Alex. 

 

“You should plan something else.”

 

He glanced at her over the rim of his glasses.  It wasn’t that he hadn’t had a wonderful time at the concert with Alex.  It was more along the lines of not wanting to rush anything.  He didn’t want to take the chance of ruining it.  And if he were being honest with himself, he wasn’t quite ready to get emotionally involved with someone at this point.

 

“Buffy, I do believe I am quite capable of planning social activities for myself.”

 

“I’m supposed to be going to London in a few days to go shopping with her.  Is there anything you want me to tell her?”

 

It wasn’t hard to miss the sparkle in her eyes, or the teasing tone that tinged her voice, and Giles knew in an instant they would be gone.  The laid back, relaxed atmosphere they had been sharing the last few days was about to come to an end.

 

“I’m sorry, Buffy,” he began and not knowing any other way to say it, said, “But I do believe you will need to postpone your trip.  DCI Collins called.  He is on his way here.  You see, two teenage girls, sisters, have gone missing in Wales.”

 

Detective Chief Inspector Collins was a good ally to have.  Especially with the kind of cases Project Paranormal took on, and he was becoming a friend.  When he had called Giles asking for help, Giles hadn’t hesitated.

 

“Sisters?” she asked, all business now.

 

“Yes, Buffy.  The girls are Dawn’s age and their mother is frantic with worry.  They have been missing a couple of days now.”  It wasn’t hard for either of them to make the connection between the missing girls and Dawn.  If something bad could happen to other girls, something bad could happen to Dawn.  It was a recurring thought that floated in and out of their consciousness from time to time.  The fact that Buffy hadn’t seen her sister in quite a while didn’t help matters either.

 

“How does he know what’s going on in Wales?” Buffy asked.

 

“It’s a friend,” Giles said.  “The girls missing are the twin daughters of someone with whom he went to university.”

 

Buffy stood up.  “I’ll go pack.”

 

He put his hand up to stop her and to try calming her down.  “Collins is on his way.  We need to discuss the details before we leave and I believe it’d be better if we all discussed it together, as a group.”

 

Heaving a sigh, she sat back down.  “So you knew all about this before I even got here.  This is why you called me down to talk.”  A statement, not a question.

 

Giles had a pretty good idea where the root of her disappointment lay.  She had the preposterous notion of her, Angel, Alex, and himself going out together.  Giles knew there would be no way that would happen.  He would be far too uncomfortable being under the continuous scrutiny of his Slayer - the Slayer that only wanted to improve his love life.  Fortunately, this was one area that he could handle himself.  Add that to the fact that one never knew what could happen out in public.  If for some reason Buffy had to take on her Slayer role, or heaven forbid, Angel his vampire one, Giles wasn’t ready to explain all that to Alex.  He wasn’t sure if he ever would be.

 

“I’m sorry, but yes,” he said.

 

“So we wait for Collins.”

 

“So we do.”

 

“I’ll get Angel.”

 

+++

 

Buffy’s anxiousness was beginning to take its toll on Giles.  “Buffy, pacing around the room will not make him magically appear,” he said.  “Please sit down.”

 

She stopped mid-pace and then flopped back down in the chair she had been occupying only moments before.

 

When the knock on the door finally came, she sprang from her chair and raced to the front door.

 

“I was waiting for her to physically burst,” Giles said, looking at Angel.

 

“Yeah, so was I,” Angel agreed.

 

“Collins!” Giles said as Buffy escorted him into the room.  “Are you all right?”

 

DCI Ian Collins looked more than a little stressed.  His dark hair was disheveled beyond anything Giles had ever seen, and the usually candid grey eyes were tinged with worry and surrounded by dark circles.  It appeared as though he hadn’t slept in days.

 

“I’m fine, thank you.”  After Giles motioned for him to sit, he began to speak again, “I suppose that’s a lie.  I’m not anywhere near the vicinity of fine.”

 

“What happened?” Buffy asked.

 

“Where are my manners?” Collins asked as he acknowledged Angel.  “I’m sorry.  I’m a little distracted.”

 

“Understandable,” Angel said.

 

“Where should I start?” he asked.

 

“The beginning, Ian,” Giles said.  “Just start at the beginning.”

 

“I would go myself--” he began, but Giles didn’t let him finish.

 

“We understand,” he said.

 

After Collins shared with them what he knew, he let out a huge sigh.  “It could be nothing.  It could be something,” he said.  “Things aren’t like they used to be, I know better now.  And their mother is beside herself.”

 

“This is something we can do for you,” Giles said.  “It will take us approximately four hours to get there by car, and if we get started at first light we could arrive there in plenty of time to meet the boys and get any additional information.”

 

“I believe them,” Collins said.  “I do believe they are telling the truth.”

 

“And I’m sure you’re correct,” Giles said.  “But we have our ways.”

 

Everyone pretty much ignored the way Collins’ gaze rested briefly on Angel.

 

+++

 

“We really didn’t think they’d do it,” the tall, dark haired young man said.  “We figured they’d pretend and then laugh it off.”

 

Buffy, Angel, and Giles sat at a dark wooden table in the back of the Sailor’s Return Pub and Restaurant, closest to the fireplace.  The décor was a little much for Buffy’s taste.  Burgundy flowered wallpaper with a crème background adorned the top half of the walls, while forest green solid wallpaper hung on the lower half.  The two distinctive decorating styles were separated by four-inch dark wood trim.  The pictures they had hanging around weren’t bad.  Brass and wooden frames depicted various scenes out of a sailor’s life, but she figured it was a little too much and if you looked at it too long it made you dizzy. 

 

“Yeah,” another said.  “Chloe and Jane are fun to hang out with.  We were just harassing them.  We didn’t think they’d do it.”

 

“I’m pretty sure the double-dog dare had a lot to do with it, Dane,” Jason said.  “You know how competitive Jane can be.”

 

Jason and Dane, Dane a smaller version of his older-by-one-year brother, had been the last ones to see Jane and Chloe before they had taken off for the Welsh manor house.  And when they hadn’t shown up once the pub had closed, and after the boys had driven by their flat and didn’t see their car, they had begun to panic.

 

“I mean we know there are no such things as vampires or ghosts.  I mean come on…  But nowadays?” Jason shrugged his shoulders.  “There’s a bunch of whackos out there.  Anything could’ve happened to them.”

 

“It’s all your fault,” Dane said.

 

“Hey!” Buffy said.  “Can we not go there?  Let’s just focus.”

 

Through downcast eyes Dane said, “I’m sorry.  I’m just worried about them.”

 

“What time did they leave?” Giles asked.

 

“I don’t know,” Jason said.  “Around 9:30pm.  It’s about an hour’s drive from here if you can find it.  If you get lost you could be driving out there for hours.  That’s why we didn’t worry when they didn’t come back at first.  Figured they had gotten lost or something.”

 

“Their mom is pretty mad at us,” Dane said.

 

“Jeez, Dane, I wonder why,” Jason said.

 

Once the boys had realized that the girls hadn’t returned home the next day either, they had fessed up to Jane and Chloe’s mom.

 

“Their mom,” Jason said.  “She’s into weird stuff, like the meaning in names. Jane’s means she’s gracious.  Chloe’s means blooming.  I’m supposed to be a healer.”

 

“She never told me what mine meant,” Dane said.

 

“That’s because she doesn’t like you,” Jason said matter-of-factly.

 

“Please, can we get back on task?” Giles asked.

 

“You’ll be able to find them, right?” Jason asked.

 

“We will do our best,” Giles said.  “Is there anything else that you can add that might help?”

 

“Just this map.” Jason handed Giles a folded up piece of paper.  “Just find them,” he said, eyeing Angel suspiciously.  It wasn’t lost on anyone that Angel hadn’t uttered a word the entire time.

 

+++

 

“So did you intend to be all intimidating?” Buffy asked as she opened the car door.

 

“I did what Giles asked me to do.”

 

“Vampire lie detector,” she said.  “I get that, but you could’ve said something.  Did you see the way Jason kept looking at you?”

 

Angel shrugged his shoulders and then grabbed the flashlight out of the bag in the backseat of the SUV.  Handing it to Buffy he said, “You and Giles had it covered.  You didn’t need me.”

 

“I’ll always need you, silly.”  She planted a quick kiss on his lips.

 

“Buffy!  Angel!” Giles called out.  “If you’d be so kind.”

 

That’s when Buffy noticed that Giles had moved quite a bit beyond where they had parked and that he was already on his way to the house – if that’s what you wanted to call it.

 

“Well, isn’t this… nice,” Buffy said, struggling to find the words to describe the scene in front of her as she and Angel met up with Giles.

 

“We’ve seen worse,” Angel said, stuffing his hands into his pockets.  Buffy was cold, she could only imagine how chilled he must be by now.  The fireplace at the ugly pub was starting to sound really good about now.

 

“I do believe Angel has a point,” Giles said.

 

They stood in front of the antiquated manor house.  Nightfall wasn’t supposed to be for a couple hours yet, but due to the intensity of the gray clouds that hung from the sky like a grimy beard on a fake Santa, it had become a non-issue for Angel.

 

The manor itself had been hard to find even with Jason’s hand drawn map, and Buffy had been about ready to scream out of total frustration when they found the road they were looking for.  One winding lane had led to another, and it wasn’t like there had been anyone around to ask for directions – not like Giles or Angel would’ve asked anyway, but they eventually found it hiding in plain sight and looming up in the distance like the Psycho house - and let’s be honest, her comparison wasn’t exactly an exaggeration.

 

“Does the word creepy mean anything to anyone?” she asked.

 

“This way,” Giles said, pushing open an old, rusty gate.  He led the way up a short flight of steps that were overgrown with different types of foliage, most of it dead and dried out. 

 

“Ouch!” Buffy said as she tried to untangle her boot.  Angel reached down and grabbed the offending fibrous root, scattering dirt and plant parts everywhere, immediately freeing her foot.  “Thank you.”

 

At the top of the steps, and through another metal gate supporting a broken lock, was a small cement path that led to a securely locked iron front door that was made even more secure with iron bars that ran from the bottom all the way to the top.  It was easy to tell that somebody didn’t want anyone getting inside.

 

“Are we breaking in?” Angel asked.  Buffy knew that between the both of them they could’ve made short work of all the ironclad security.

 

“I’m not sure if that would be the course of action to take at this juncture,” Giles said, giving the door the once over.  “It’d make one hell of a racket and it most assuredly would alert someone of our presence.”  And then almost as an afterthought added, “And not necessarily someone whose presence we’d want to alert.”

 

Buffy looked around.  “Should we try the back?”

 

“It wouldn’t hurt,” Giles said.  “It will be dark soon.”

 

“Soon?” Buffy asked, not expecting a reply.  “Darker is more like it.”  The little dingy light they had seemed to be fading quicker than it should have, so she grabbed the flashlight Angel had given her and switched it on.  “Come on.”

 

As she led them around the side of the manor, she tripped over something and it began to roll.  Angel reached down and picked it up before it could get any further away. 

 

“Guess we’re on the right track,” he said, holding up a broken flashlight.

 

“Guess we are,” she agreed.  “Anyone else have a bad feeling about this?”

 

The grounds were littered with even more overgrown brush that carefully hid pieces of masonry that were no longer connected to the old building.  After she tripped for the second time, Angel reached out and steadied her, leaving his hands on her elbow. 

 

“Anyone ever hear of a lawnmower?”  Buffy asked.  She was starting to feel like a major klutz.  “Thanks again.  Are you my savior today or what?” 

 

His answer was one of those kinda-smirks that she loved so much and then she didn’t feel quite as embarrassed anymore.

 

Looking beyond his shoulder, she noticed a cement arbor that resembled a narrow tunnel more than anything else in the distance.  The beam of her flashlight barely penetrated the inky darkness that stood between her and the custom piece of architecture, so she quickened her pace to get a better look. 

 

As her light moved over the uneven landscape, she made sure to watch her step.  There was no way she was going to trip again, especially since Angel had loosened his grip once she began walking faster, eventually releasing her arm all together.

 

One step into the tunneled entranceway set her slayer senses into overdrive.  Angel was directly behind her and Giles beyond that.  “You feel that?” she asked Angel.

 

“Yeah,” he said.

 

The bolted door didn’t exactly lead into the house.  It led into what Buffy would’ve called a breezeway, but made out of concrete and mortar.  “I’m thinking this is a first for me,” she said as she flashed her light through the small window on the door, and zeroed in on at least two marble-like coffins that were clearly visible.

 

“I assume that they contain the remains of people who had lived in the house,” Giles said as he peered over her shoulder.

 

“Don’t they know what crypts are?” she asked.

 

“I believe they consider this the family vault,” he said, taking a step back.

 

“Have you noticed?” Angel asked Giles.

 

“Yes, as a matter of fact I have,” he said.

 

Buffy watched the look that passed between the two of them, and not quite understanding what it meant asked, “What?”

 

“There aren’t any religious symbols anywhere,” Angel said. 

 

“Oh.”  She wasn’t surprised that he had picked up on that before anyone else had.  If this was the place where a family was laid to rest, one would think there would be some type of religious icons to signify that.  How could two girls come out here just for the fun of it?  She shuddered at the thought.

 

“Cold?” Angel asked.

 

“No, I’m okay,” she said, working up a smile for his benefit, although she suspected he knew better.

 

“That leads one to assume that they have been interred on unconsecrated ground. Of course,” Giles continued, “if that is the case it has probably given rise, or served as a reason, for the vampire stories that seem to be running amuck in this area lately.”

 

Buffy arched her brow at his reference to ‘amuck’ and genuinely smiled.  “Well, this door doesn’t seem to be as tightly secured as the one in the front…”

 

“Probably figured anyone in their right mind would be too scared to walk past the sarcophagi,” Angel added.

 

“But not too scared to wander out here in the middle of the night to impress a guy,” Buffy said.  “So do we break in or take in the perimeter of this monster and see if we can find another way?”

 

“My suggestion would be-” Giles began.

 

Before he could answer she kicked the door in.  “Never mind.”  She walked inside, missing the look the two men behind her exchanged.

 

As soon as Buffy entered the family vault, her sense of smell was assaulted by mold and mildew.  “Ew.  It smells like feet.”

 

“Worse than,” Angel said, crinkling up his nose as he came in behind her.

 

“I really don’t want to know,” she said.  “And no invitation required either I see.”

 

“I guess that means it’s truly deserted,” Giles said.  “By anyone living, anyway.”

 

She tipped her head in the direction of the concrete coffins.  “Too easy?”

 

“Probably,” Giles said.

 

They checked the two coffins and by the time the lids had been pushed aside they were standing in the middle of a lot of dust and two skeleton filled caskets, one male and one female.

 

“Guess we look around,” Angel said.

 

“Guess we do,” Buffy agreed.

 

The manor itself was huge, and half the roof was missing at one end of the building. It was probably fifty or sixty feet high and it originally had contained four or five floors. None of the upper floors were intact.  The ground level seemed to be the only one that still was. 

 

“What’s over there?” Buffy asked.

 

Her light shone on a short flight of stairs to the left of the main floor; at the end of the stairs stood two massive great oak doors.  A quick look to see what was on the other side was out of the question.  Even though Buffy suspected a crypt or dungeon of some sort could lie beyond, there was no easy access.  Lying in front of the doors were great big chunks of even more masonry.

 

“Taking all the dust and masonry debris into consideration, my guess would be that the girls are not down there,” Giles said.

 

“Good point,” Angel said.

 

“Is it just me or is it getting colder in here?” Buffy asked, wrapping her arms around herself.  It wasn’t the kind of cold that some old stone buildings could hold onto, making it feel like a cooler.  It was the kind of cold that seeped all the way into your bones and made the slayer part of you feel even edgier.

 

“It’s colder,” Angel said.

 

“So what are we dealing with?” Buffy asked.  “Ghosts or vampires?  Last time I checked, vampires didn’t cause sudden temperature changes.”

 

“I’m sorry, but I really don’t know,” Giles confessed.

 

“With all the undisturbed dust and cobwebs in this place,” Angel said.  “The girls never made it inside.”

 

Buffy sighed in defeat.  Why did she think it’d be that easy?  “Back outside?” she asked.

 

“I’m afraid so,” Giles said.

 

The grounds were massive.  Even larger than Buffy had thought when they first pulled up to the place. It was full on dark now, but with the three flashlight beams coming from them, and an enhanced sense here and there, they could still see the overgrown orchard that must have taken up two or three acres. There were out buildings that were derelict and had long since been deserted.  There was a huge ornamental fish pond with a cracked bottom, which had long dried up. And using the term ‘fish pond’ was pushing it.  It was wider than Revello Drive had been long.

 

“What is that?” Angel asked.

 

Buffy followed his gaze and found herself staring at the strangest, hugest dead plant leaves she had ever seen.  They almost appeared to have once been tropical, which didn’t make any sense to any of them. 

 

Giles reached down and picked up one of the dead leaves.  “I could be wrong, but I do believe this is the biggest leaf I’ve ever seen.”

 

Angel gingerly took it from him.  “It’s got to be six feet across.”

 

The stem itself was the size of a small sapling tree and it was covered in spikes.  She didn’t know what they were, and she didn’t think Giles did either.

 

“I don’t know what this is,” Giles said, confirming her suspicions.  “Out here in the middle of nowhere they could’ve been doing anything.  It is possible that they were experimenting with various forms of vegetation. ”

 

“Now it sounds like we’re dealing with witches,” Buffy said.  “What?  We have a ghostly vampire that likes to dabble in magic?”

 

“Anything’s possible, Buffy,” Giles said.

 

“Didn’t Chloe’s name mean blooming?” Buffy asked.

 

“Yes,” Giles said.

 

“There’s nothing blooming here,” she said.  “They’re all dead.” 

 

“I’m sure it’                       s nothing more than a coincidence,” Giles said, trying to reassure her.

 

Too bad Buffy didn’t believe in coincidences.

 

+++

 

“Chloe?” Jane called out in a harsh whisper.  “Are you there?”  Shuffling sounds from her right, and then a huge sigh of relief.  Something had woken her up, she just wasn’t sure what it had been.  A loud noise maybe?

 

“I’m here,” Chloe said.  “Wherever here is.”

 

Jane couldn’t see a thing.  Wherever she and Chloe had ended up was blacker than a witch’s hat. “I don’t know either.  Are you hurt?”

 

“No.”

 

“Me neither.”  Jane’s first thought was that they were being held captive, but she wasn’t tied up.  Didn’t kidnappers tie you up and then toss you into a blackened pit?  Did that mean they could get out?  “Chloe, do you know how to get out?”

 

“I’m afraid to move.  I can’t see a thing,” she said.

 

“Did you see who put us down here?”

 

“I—I don’t remember,” she stammered.  “It was too dark and it happened too fast.”

 

“Yeah, me too.”  There was only one thing left to do.  “You go to the left and I’ll go to the right.  See if you can find a door.”  Jane began crawling, hands splayed out in front of her.  She wasn’t sure what she expected to feel, but the dirty, cement-like substance under her hands and knees wasn’t it.  For some reason she was thinking cold and dank equaled slime.  Reaching out she found that the surrounding walls were made of the same type of substance.  She could feel the grit on her hands; she pulled them away, wiping them on her jeans.

 

“It’s like a cellar or something,” Jane said.  She had continually worked her way around the room, Chloe moving in the opposite direction, until they had met up with each other again.

 

“If this is a cellar, wouldn’t the door be on the ceiling?” Chloe asked.

 

Jane rolled her eyes in the dark.  Grateful that Chloe couldn’t see her.  “Excellent point,” she said.  She stood up slowly, her arm stretched out above her.  She was afraid if she stood up too quickly she might crack her head on the ceiling.  The slow movement, the inability to see anything, and not knowing where they were was starting to have a claustrophobic effect.

 

She didn’t find door handles, knobs, or latches.  “All I feel is an indentation.”  Jane’s hands trailed the notch, but it didn’t help much.  It was hard to tell because she couldn’t see it, but the channel seemed to span seven or eight feet, longer than it was wide.  “This is hopeless,” she said as she sat on the floor, her back leaning against the cool wall.

 

“It can’t be hopeless,” Chloe whispered.  “I have to go to the bathroom.”

 

“Oh, thanks for bringing that up,” Jane said, squeezing her own thighs a little tighter together.

 

+++

 

“We’re missing something,” Angel said.

 

“You think?” Buffy shot back and then immediately regretted it.  “I’m sorry.  I’m just frustrated.”

 

“You think?” Angel asked, a small smile toying about his lips and he squeezed her hand.

 

They were back to square one.  They had checked the grounds and neither she nor Angel had found or sensed anything unusual.  It didn’t help that nothing had caught Giles’ attention either.

 

“I’m open to suggestions,” Giles said as he leaned against their car.

 

“Maybe they found their way back home?” Buffy said.

 

“Collins told me he’d call if the girls arrived home safely.”  Giles reached into his jacket pocked and pulled out his cell phone.  The look on his face told Buffy all she needed to know.  “Sorry, Buffy, but there aren’t any messages or missed calls.”

 

“Where’s their car?” Angel asked.

 

“Okay, who wants to be president of club ‘Duh’?” Buffy asked, raising her hand. 

 

Giles raised his hand too, saying, “Of course!”

 

“Hey!” Buffy said.

 

“Not that,” he said.  “But that should’ve been one of the very first things we looked for.”

 

“Well, we know they’re not parked on the drive,” Buffy said.  “And we also know they made it this far.  Flashlight has got to be theirs--”

 

“Not necessarily,” Angel said.

 

“Humor me,” she said.  “Please.”

 

“Which means they’ve parked somewhere their car couldn’t be seen,” Giles deduced.

 

“Why?” Buffy asked.

 

“Why do teenage girls act strangely and do things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever?” Giles asked, arching a brow.

 

“Point taken,” Buffy conceded and smiled.

 

“One could also assume that they wouldn’t want to park too far away,” Giles continued. 

 

“And since we haven’t actually seen their car…” Buffy said.

 

“It must be close, but hidden.”

 

“But easy access,” Angel said.

 

“So if I was still a teenage girl…” Buffy said as she began walking down the drive.

 

“Which isn’t as big a stretch of the imagination as one would think,” Angel said in a hushed tone.

 

It didn’t matter, she heard him anyway.  “Hey! I’m in my twenties now.  My teenage years are now behind me.  I need to focus.”

 

“The high school cheerleader getup?” he said.

 

Apparently it was also loud enough for Giles to hear.  “There is some information in which I do not need to be made privy,” he said, pushing past them both.

 

“I can’t believe you said that,” Buffy said, nudging Angel in the side.

 

“You haven’t worn it in a while.”  He shrugged his shoulders.  “I got a visual.”

 

“Try to keep your visuals to yourself oh-big-mean-virgin-hunting-vampire-man-with-the-long–black-cape. Oh, that’s still at the dry cleaners.  Remind me that I need to pick it up, okay?”

 

She was pretty sure if he could blush, he would have.

 

+++

 

They had finally moved far enough away.  The girls were waiting for her and the uninvited three were making it impossible for her to go to them. 

 

She tipped her head and listened.  The girls were awake.  Now all she had to do was keep them safe until morning.  Keep them safe from the Other that was and wasn’t she.

 

The Other wouldn’t be gone long.  It had hidden upon the arrival of the three.  She needed to move quickly, and perhaps find out why the three had scared the Other so. 

 

Maybe she could use it to her advantage.

 

+++

 

“I mean it, Jane.  I really gotta go.”

 

“And talking about it is only going to make it worse.”

 

Their voices drifted up to her, but she couldn’t help them.  They had to help themselves.

 

“Girls,” she called out to them.  “Can you hear me?”

 

The sudden quiet told her that they could.  “I will not harm you.  I’m here to help, but I need your assistance in order to do that.”  Silence.  “Do you understand?”

 

A tentative ‘Yes’ floated up to her.

 

“You’ll need to push.”

 

+++

 

“Push on what?” Jane mumbled.

 

“The ceiling,” Chloe said. 

 

“Wonderful.”

 

Jane searched for the groove she had found earlier, her bladder protesting against the sudden movement.  “On three, Chloe.”

 

“Okay.”

 

As Jane felt her sister standing next to her, she began to count.  “One.  Two.  Three.”  Both girls began to push as hard as they could. 

 

Nothing happened.

 

“It won’t budge,” Chloe said.

 

“Push harder,” the woman’s voice said.  Jane didn’t know who she was, or why she was listening to her, but it wasn’t like she had a choice.

 

“We are,” Jane said.  “It’s too heavy.”

 

“Can you help us?” Chloe asked.

 

“Not in the way you’d require,” the woman responded.  “Are you sure you can’t try harder?”

 

“Yeah, pretty sure,” Jane said.  She was beyond confused.  The woman wanted to help them, but she wasn’t.  What good did it do to stand there and say, ‘Push’?

 

“We’ll need to find another way,” the woman said.

 

“I’m not sure who you mean by ‘we’,” Jane said.  “But there’s not much we can do.”

 

“I’ll be back,” the woman said.

 

“Who are you?” Chloe called out.

 

“Pheodora.  I’ll be back.”

 

+++

 

“That was easier than I thought it would be,” Buffy said as she slammed the car door shut.  “Finding the car I mean.”

 

“Too bad it didn’t help,” Angel added.

 

“This is bloody ridiculous!” Giles said.  “How hard can it be to find two lost girls with the assistance of a vampire and a vampire slayer?”

 

“Hey!” Buffy said, falling short in the quippy comeback department yet again.

 

“I’m sorry, Buffy.  I wasn’t implying that it was either your or Angel’s fault,” he said.

 

“Good to know,” Angel said.

 

“I feel like a rat in a maze,” Buffy said.  “You know, wandering around aimlessly while someone watches you.  Or maybe even a bug under a magnifying glass.  Small bug.  Big glass.”

 

“As long as they keep it away from the sun,” Angel said. 

 

“No kidding…” she began, but then her voice trailed off.  For the first time since they entered the breezeway-thingy, her slayer sense was going off.

 

+++

 

She had trusted her instincts up to this point.  The odds of them failing her now were low.

 

The uninvited three were moving in the wrong direction.  They could help, but they needed to know how to do so first.

 

The girl spoke before Pheodora had the chance to introduce herself.  “We’re not alone anymore,” she said.

 

“I mean you no harm,” Pheodora said.  She would’ve offered her hand as a sign of good will, but she knew that wasn’t the way.

 

“Why are you here?” the older man asked.  If she had still been human, she would’ve thought of him as being attractive, but she didn’t allow herself those thoughts anymore.  They only reminded her of how lonely she truly was.

 

Before she could answer, her attention was directed to the third of the uninvited three.  She hadn’t realized what he was until she had gotten closer to them.  He was one of those whom she despised.  “Why do you travel with the likes of this one?” she asked the girl.

 

The young woman jumped in between Pheodora and the one that walks the night.  “Back off,” she said.

 

“Buffy, it’s okay,” the undead one said.

 

“No one disses the boyfriend, Angel.”

 

“Angel?  An odd name for a vampire,” Pheodora said.  “One would assume they’d be associated more with a devil.”  But she didn’t get that impression from the vampire.  There was something different about this one.

 

“They’re not all the same,” the older man said.  “I would be Rupert Giles.  And you are?”

 

She stood up proudly.  “I am Pheodora and I insist that you help me.”  Before they could respond to her, she turned and moved away.

 

+++

 

“We’re following a ghost why?” Buffy asked.  “And what is it lately with them being all Casper-like?”

 

Pheodora had the gracefulness of a ballerina, but the fact that her feet never actually touched the ground probably had something to do with that.  Buffy had been surprised at first in the ethereal quality of their hostess.  Pheodora was dressed in the same type of clothing that the woman from Angel’s time had been dressed in.  The royal blue dress swayed as the ghost floated, and Buffy would’ve sworn if she listened close enough she could’ve heard the fabric rustling. 

 

“I’m not sure,” Giles said quietly.  “But I suggest we follow her and keep our questions for later.  It’s not like she can physically hurt us at this point.”

 

It was kind of hard to tell what color her eyes were, but Buffy guessed they were blue.  And the long, blonde ringlet curls completed the ensemble.  Buffy hated to admit it, but Pheodora had been a beautiful woman once upon a time and now she made an even prettier ghost.

 

When they rounded the next corner, Pheodora was gone. 

 

“Inside?” Buffy asked.

 

“Most likely,” Giles agreed.

 

Buffy switched her flashlight on again as they found themselves standing in the middle of the room that contained the opened sarcophagi from earlier.  Pheodora was standing by one of them.  “Here,” she said.

 

“We’ve been here,” Buffy said.  “We didn’t find anything.”

 

“Look closer,” Pheodora insisted.

 

Buffy stood there feeling like an idiot.  She wasn’t seeing anything and it wasn’t like there was anything left to check out.  She looked at Giles out of the corner of her eye and she didn’t see any sudden realization on his face either. 

 

It was Angel who pointed out what she had been missing.  “There,” he said, pointing to the open coffin.  “Underneath.”

 

Buffy went and stood at one end while Angel stood at the other.  On the count of three they pushed the entire coffin aside. 

 

“That,” Buffy said pointing, “so wasn’t what I was expecting.”

 

+++

 

“What was that?” Chloe asked, beating Jane to the question. 

 

“Someone’s up there,” Jane said.  “I can hear talking and there’s more than one this time.” 

 

Oh God, whoever had kidnapped them was coming to kill them now, she just knew it.

 

“We’re dead aren’t we?” Chloe asked.

 

“Shut up, Chloe,” Jane ordered, tipping her head toward the ceiling.  If someone was coming to kill them, they were pretty much dead.  The inactivity and cramped space had taken its toll.  She was stiff, sore, hungry, and scared.  And being in the pitch blackness wasn’t helping.

 

She kept looking up, not sure why since she couldn’t see anything, and then she was suddenly blinded by a bright light.

 

The beam of the torch was horrible.  “Get that out of my face!” she yelled as she tried to stand up.  “Kill me if you want, but I don’t need to be blind too.”  She blinked rapidly trying to get her sight to return to normal as quickly as possible.  If she was going to die, she wanted to see who was going to kill her.

 

“It’s all right.”  It was Pheodora that spoke.  “They’re here to help you.”

 

“Then can someone help me get out of this hole in the ground,” Chloe demanded.  “I gotta pee.”

 

Before Jane could reprimand Chloe for her latest outburst, a large, cool hand had grabbed her wrist and pulled Jane up.  “Thanks,” she said as she looked up and saw an older guy - who was still pretty hunky in an older guy kind of way.

 

“What about me?” Chloe said, and before Jane could respond a blonde girl standing next to her reached in and hauled her sister out.

 

“Damn,” Jane said, getting a good look at the woman who called herself Pheodora.  “You’re a ghost.”

 

“That I am,” Pheodora said.

 

“A ghost didn’t toss us into that hole,” Chloe said. 

 

“Then who did?” the blonde girl asked.  “Oh, I’m Buffy and this is Angel,” (the hunky guy,) “and Giles,” (the old guy).

 

Pheodora turned to Giles and said, “She is strong for a female.”

 

“Yes, she is,” Giles agreed.

 

The ghost appeared thoughtful for a moment and then said, “That is good.  We will be needing strength.”

 

“With?” Giles asked.

 

“Vampire,” Pheodora said.  “A nasty one to say the least.”

 

“Wait a minute,” Chloe said.  “First ghosts and now vampires?  Are you people crazy?  There’s no such thing!  No way.”  She shook her head from side to side adamantly.

 

Jane rolled her eyes.  Jane was going into denial mode and that was always fun.  “Chloe?  Ours is not to question why.  Just go with it.”

 

“Fine!” Chloe said.  “But could someone please take me somewhere so I can pee?”

 

+++

 

Buffy led the girls to the side of the manor, away from Giles, Angel, and Pheodora.  In mere moments both girls emerged, a look of relief on their faces.

 

“You need to get out of here,” Buffy said.  “You know where your car is parked?”

 

“Yes,” Jane said, but her face looked like she had more to say.

 

“What?” Buffy asked.

 

“It’s kind of creepy.  Can you walk us to our car?”

 

“God yes,” Buffy said.  “It took us this long to find you.  No way I’m going to lose you now.  Come on.”

 

“Did everything come out all right?” Giles asked.

 

“Tell me you didn’t just say that?” Buffy said.

 

Stammering, Giles said, “I-I-I think we need to get the girls back into their car where they’ll be safe.”

 

“Way ahead of you,” Buffy said, but then the hairs on the back on her neck stood at attention.  “But maybe not this very moment.”  She moved and stood in front of them.

 

“It is here!” Pheodora shouted.  She had been quiet since the girls had been rescued.

 

“Will you ever stop trying to ruin everything?” the vampire asked, shifting into game face. 

 

The similarities between Pheodora and the vampire weren’t hard to miss.  The only difference was the way in which they were dressed.  The vampire wore tight blue jeans and a black leather jacket instead of the flowing 18th century gown, and her hair, except for a few strands that had come loose, was pulled back into a ponytail.

 

“I must commend you though,” the vampire said.  “This is the first time you almost succeeded.”

 

“I’ll succeed,” Pheodora said.  “I have help and they’ll stop you once and for all.  You will stop making my home a place of death.”

 

The vampire laughed.  “You sure got stuck in a time warp didn’t you?  Too bad you couldn’t leave this place.  You could’ve seen the world, but I guess that would’ve been a little too weird even for you.”

 

“Not that this isn’t really interesting and all,” Buffy said.  “I’m getting kind of tired and I’m already cold.”   She flashed the stake she had taken out of her jacket pocket so the vamp could see it, but she shielded it from the girls.  “So let’s get this done so I can go home.”

 

The vampire glared at her.  “You do not speak to me like that.  I am a master vampire, little girl.”

 

“Master vampire?  Look, I met Dracula.”  Buffy firmly planted her hands on her hips.  “After that?  Any other vampire is pretty much anticlimactic.”  Angel, standing behind her, cleared his throat softly.  “In a manner of speaking,” she quickly added.

 

Buffy heard Chloe whisper, “Dracula’s real?”

 

And then Jane added, “What’s a master vampire?”

 

Buffy didn’t acknowledge the sisters because she had bigger fish to stake.  Specifically, the one standing in front of her, and Buffy was more than ready to call it a night.

 

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything like this before,” Giles said, the Watcher side of him taking over.  “Are you twins?”

 

“That would be the logical choice,” Pheodora said, moving next to the vampire.  “I would like you to meet… Pheodora.”

 

“Maybe if it was 200 years ago,” vampire Pheodora said.  “I dropped that name centuries ago.”

 

“And apparently got a makeover,” Buffy said.

 

“Pheo isn’t even a name,” ghost Pheodora said.  “You disrespect my parents.”

 

“Do I care what you think?” Pheo asked.  “And I wouldn’t be bragging about Pheodora either.”

 

Buffy said, “I don’t get it.  If they’re not twins, what are they?”

 

“Pheodora is a ghost,” Angel said.  “And Pheo is a vampire.”

 

“Yeah, I kind of got that,” Buffy said.  “But I’m still confused.”

 

“What are ghosts?” Angel asked. 

 

Buffy just looked at him. 

 

“Okay then, what are vampires?”

 

“Come on, Angel.  You know that I know what they are,” she said.

 

“Humor me.”

 

She heaved a sigh.  She just wanted to stake the dumb thing and go home.

 

“Fine,” she said.  “A vampire is a corpse animated by a demon.  A demon that drinks blood to survive until it’s staked, burned with fire or sunlight, or has its head whacked off.”

 

“And?”

 

“A ghost is a spirit.  The soul separates from the body at death and if it doesn’t move on…”  If realization was a 200 year old vampire, it would’ve bitten her.

 

“I think she’s starting to get it,” Pheo said, smirking and crossing her arms over her chest.

 

“You mean to tell me--” Buffy began.

 

“Dear Lord!” Giles said, cutting her off.  “Extraordinary.”

 

“Has this ever happened before?” Buffy asked.

 

“Not to my knowledge.  I’ve never known a person’s soul to hang about in a ghostlike state once having been turned.”

 

“One or the other,” Angel said, shaking his head. “Not both.”

 

“I guess you do learn something new everyday,” Jane said.

 

“I thought geometry was hard,” Chloe added.

 

“Chloe--” Jane didn’t have a chance to finish her most-probable admonition of Chloe.  With vampire-quick speed Pheo had snatched Jane right out from under them.

 

Grabbing the teenage girl, Pheo wrapped her arms around Jane’s waist and pulled her close.  “These girls were to be mine.  I was going to play and then feed.  Pheodora not only tried to ruin my fun, she has succeeded.  Now, if you all leave I’ll keep this one and the other one can go with you.  She whines too much anyway.”  A thoughtful expression came over her face and then she added, “In a way she reminds me of Pheodora.”  She ran her tongue down the Jane’s neck.

 

Buffy hadn’t enough time to get her brain around the entire ghost/vampire scenario before Pheo had snatched Jane, treating her neck like it was a Tootsie Pop.  And Buffy knew time was limited.  Who could just lick a Tootsie Pop?  Everyone knew the enjoyment came from chomping down and getting to the part where the chocolaty goodness was.

 

As Pheo spoke and eyed Jane’s neck like the chewy morsel it wasn’t, Angel began to slowly move behind the preoccupied vampire.  Buffy glanced at him out of the corner of her eye and an unspoken plan was made.

 

“Master vampire, huh?” Buffy said, moving closer to Pheo.  “What are the criteria for one of those nowadays anyway?”

 

Pheo regarded her, her eyes appearing over the top of Jane’s head.  “I’m not stupid.  And you’re not getting any closer.  So stop where you are or I’ll kill her now.”

 

“You won’t kill her!” Chloe shouted out.  “You are so outnumbered it isn’t even funny.  And your hair’s stupid.”

 

Buffy was beginning to see how the dark-haired twin could start getting on anyone’s nerves, and Buffy was also pretty sure that if Jane wasn’t currently in a life or death situation she would’ve reminded Chloe of that fact.

 

Pheo’s brow arched in mock humor.  “Outnumbered?  You don’t say?”  Her gaze rested on Pheodora.  “Impressive, but it still doesn’t matter.  One day you will need to tell me how you got these people to come here, but for now…”  Without any warning, the vampire’s fangs slid into Jane’s neck.

 

“Jane!” Chloe cried out as she unsuccessfully tried to rush to her sister’s defense.  Giles grabbed her as she ran by and held onto her firmly.  Her feet dangled above the ground.

 

“You might want to reconsider the Master comment,” Buffy said, as she rushed the vampire.

 

Pheo pushed Jane at Buffy as Pheo took off running.  The teenager crashed into Buffy so hard that they both hit the ground - hard.

 

“Are you all right?” Buffy asked, getting up and helping Jane to her feet. 

 

“She bit me!” Jane said, her blood-covered hand coming away from her neck as her breathing came in short, panicked bursts.

 

Taking that as a Yes, thank you for asking, Buffy, Buffy threw a look at Giles who had already let Chloe go.  The twins were now clinging to each other like socks fresh from the dryer.  Buffy could relate to them perhaps a little more than she cared to admit.

 

Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, and once she made sure that Jane and Chloe were all right and that Giles was going to stay with them, she raced around the manor to see where Pheo and Angel might have gone.  She didn’t see anyone.

 

“Into the orchards,” Pheodora said as she materialized beside Buffy.  “Pheo might be a vampire now, but once, she was me and that was the place I felt the safest… before I was turned anyway.”  She looked at Buffy thoughtfully for a moment.  “You are The Slayer aren’t you?”

 

Buffy nodded and then took off after them.

 

+++

 

Angel ran after Pheo, trench coat billowing behind him.  Once she was within arm’s length, he reached out and grabbed her from behind.  He picked her up high over his head and then tossed her through a rundown, crumbling building that stood in the middle of the orchard.  The loud crack she made as she collided with the crumbling building was quickly replaced by a loud crash as her body kept going through the wall, half the building crashing down around her.  By the time Angel had rushed through the hole her body had created, she was standing up and brushing herself off.

 

She was cornered now.  Her eyes held the frantic movement of a caged animal.  “I smell a soul on you, vampire,” she hissed. 

 

“Think I’d rather have it on me then running around on its own,” he said.  “At least I know where mine is.”

 

“I can do as I please,” she spat.

 

“Funny, so can I.”

 

She lunged toward him.  He sidestepped her easily and helped her along by giving her a good, hard shove back out the way they had come. 

 

Pheo landed spread-eagled on the hard ground at Buffy’s feet.  Before she could get up, Buffy planted her booted heel in the small of the vampire’s back.

 

“Does this one belong to you?” Buffy asked.

 

Angel nodded his head.  “I think it does.” 

 

“Let me up you bitch,” Pheo shouted to no avail. 

 

Angel could tell by the look in Buffy’s eyes that she wasn’t going to let the vamp go anywhere anytime soon. 

 

“And actually, it’s Vampire Slayer.  Not nearly as entertaining as bitch, but it’ll have to do,” Buffy said.

 

She tossed him the stake she had at the ready, and he caught it mid-flight.  “I’ll tell your better half you had to run,” he said.

 

Buffy moved her foot and Angel staked Pheo through the back so hard the stake was still lodged in the ground when the dust cleared.

 

“How weird was that?” Buffy asked, accepting the stake Angel had handed back to her.  She shoved it in the waistband of her pants. 

 

“Which part exactly?” Angel asked as he wiped the dust from his coat.

 

“All of it.”

 

+++

 

Giles waited anxiously with Jane and Chloe.  He hadn’t expected Buffy and Angel to be gone as long as they had been.

 

He jumped when Pheodora appeared along side him and said, “They are fine.  It is over.”

 

“Over?” he asked.

 

“All over?” Jane asked, stilling pressing her palm to her neck.  Giles had told her that the puncture wound wouldn’t cause her any further distress and it would heal if she’d just leave it be and stop poking at it.

 

“Can we leave now?” Chloe asked.

 

“In a moment,” Giles said to her.  “What has happened?” he asked Pheodora.

 

“They have sent the demon to hell where it belongs,” Pheodora said. 

 

Giles detected a note of sadness in her voice.  “That should make you happy and I’m sensing that it does not.”

 

A small smile played about Pheodora’s mouth.  “No.  I am happy.  I have wanted to rest for a long time now, but I could not.  I needed to destroy the beast that was created the night I died.  Although I was bound to this place and it was not, it would always come home.  Each time it returned I would try to end its existence mostly through the spoken word; however, it was extremely difficult to get people to listen to a ghost.”

 

”I can imagine,” Giles said.

 

“It tried to banish me.  All those homegrown, mixed up botany experiments never worked.  If it couldn’t find an herb, it would try to grow one, but all it ended up with was bizarre looking vegetation that did nothing at all.”

 

“I must say I’m glad she failed,” Giles said.  “You stopped her.”

 

“But not soon enough,” she said.  “The demon killed my parents in front of my very eyes.  And once they were blessed and buried, it removed them from their holy tomb and brought them here.  Just killing them wasn’t enough for it.  It had to desecrate their graves as well.  There was nothing I could do.”

 

There was no missing the sadness in her eyes at the last statement.  “I am so sorry,” Giles said and the twins echoed his condolences.  “Not from lack of trying I’m quite sure.”

 

Pheodora smiled softly.  “Thank the… Buffy and her friend for me.  I think I’m going to leave now.”  She glanced at Jane and Chloe.  “I’m glad you are safe and that you were not yet even more victims of mine.”

 

Pheodora dissolved into mist and then disappeared.

 

“How cool was that?” Chloe asked.

 

“I was thinking it was pretty sad,” Jane said.

 

“Quite,” Giles agreed.

 

“It was sad, too,” Chloe said.  “But still kinda cool.”

 

+++

 

“I spoke with Collins.”

 

“And?” Buffy was flipping through a magazine.

 

“Apparently Jane and Chloe shared their entire ordeal with their mother--”

 

“And she believed them?” she asked, looking up, this year’s fashions suddenly losing their appeal.

 

“Yes, she did.”

 

“I guess a vampire bite can be pretty convincing.  What about Angel and me?”

 

“Your secret identities are safe.”

 

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye.  “Did you just say ‘secret identities’?”

 

Giles smiled.  “As a matter of fact…”

 

She met his smile.  “I’m going to find Angel and let him know everything’s okay.”

 

“One more thing you may find interesting,” he said.

 

“What?”

 

“During their retelling of the events, they mentioned Pheodora by name.  Their mother looked it up.  Do you know what that name signifies, Buffy?”

 

“You mean like Chloe being blooming and Jane being gracious?”  Giles nodded his agreement.  “Not a clue.”

 

“Pheodora means God’s gift.”

 

“You’re serious?”

 

“Quite.  Their mother is considering everything that happened fate.  Her daughters were sent there to set Pheodora’s spirit free.”

 

“So not a coincidence?”

 

“No.  She believes that Jane and Chloe’s disappearance led to people who could stop a vampire and free Pheodora’s spirit.  A spirit that remained earthbound to try and rid the world of an evil that was created the night she died,” he said.

 

“Everything happens for a reason.”

 

Giles nodded his head again.  “Even if at the time we don’t always know what that reason is.”

 

Buffy tried to tell herself that those were words to live by, but she kept coming up short.  She had seen and done too much.  And the fact that Pheodora’s spirit or soul or whatever you wanted to call it hadn’t moved on and that the vampire self had still been here had freaked Buffy out.  How could that happen? 

 

“Are you okay?” Giles asked.

 

“Peachy,” she said, standing up.  She suspected even more that the events of the previous day had affected Angel more than he was letting on.

 

+++

 

Angel watched as the shadows of the room became darker.  The sun had set moments before and it wouldn’t be long before he was bathed in the velvety blackness of the night where he belonged.

 

The thought of the soul lingering in this dimension once a person had been turned was something he had never thought about or even deemed possible.

 

What made Pheodora so special?  What had given her the strength to fight and not move on?  The question that was replaying in Angel’s head over and over as though on a timeless loop was:  If she had been strong enough to fight it, why hadn’t he been?

 

Angelus might be anchored, but he was still there.  He was still part of Angel.  The reoccurring dream of turning Buffy over and over again had been proof of that.  The demon side of him was there and would always be there.  A fate he couldn’t change now that the Shanshu was no longer an option.  What would happen if he ever came face-to-face with Angelus?  Orpheus notwithstanding.  What would Angel do?

 

He had told Pheodora that he could do what he wanted, but now he wasn’t so sure about that. 

 

Giles had referred to Pheodora as the vampire haunter, and Pheo as the haunted vampire on the way back to Westbury.  Angel wasn’t so sure she was the one that was truly haunted.

 

“Angel?” Buffy asked, opening the door to their flat.  Her slim figure outlined from the light outside and the sight of her stirred him instantly.  “Is there any reason why you’re sitting here in the dark?”

 

“Waiting for you,” he said, which in part was true.

 

“How’d you know I’d come?” she asked, closing the door behind her.

 

He knew she was waiting for her eyes to adjust to the dark, and he was glad she didn’t turn on the light.  He wasn’t sure what she’d see on his face and he really didn’t want to talk about it anymore.

 

“You always come,” he said, reaching out and pulling her to him. 

 

“Good point.”  Her lips found his in the dark and as she pulled away she asked, “Are you okay?”

 

“I’m good,” he said.

 

“Why don’t I believe you?”

 

They sat down on the bed.  “It was a little weird,” he said.

 

She heaved a sigh and he felt her breath on his neck, causing an uncontrollable shiver.  “To say the least.”

 

“What made Pheodora so special?” he asked.

 

“Yeah, I was pretty much wondering the same thing.”

 

“Why was she the only vampire that could split themselves apart like that?” he asked, wanting the answer, but knowing that there wasn’t one.

 

Shaking her head she said,”I don’t know and we probably won’t ever know.  Giles told me something that could help though, if you believe in that kind of stuff anyway.”

 

“What?”

 

“Pheodora’s name means God’s gift.  Maybe she was special in that way.  Maybe it was her thing.”  Buffy laid her head on his shoulder.  “Probably the best explanation we’ll ever get.”

 

“Maybe.”

 

She ran her finger down his cheek.  “Are you sure you’re okay?”

 

Letting out an unnecessary breath he said, “You’re here.  How could I not be?”  And the proclamation was sealed with a kiss.

 

~ The End ~

 

 

Resources

Female Spectre

Location: Beaumaris (Wales) - Baron Hall
Type: Vampire
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A local tale says that this old manor house is home to a female vampire, though many believe the entity to be ghostly in nature

 

http://www.paranormaldatabase.com/reports/vampdata.php

 

 

http://www.ufodigest.com/vampire.html

 

 

http://www.thothweb.com/article783.html

 

 

http://www.baby-names-meanings.com/firstnames/girlsj-z.html

 

 

http://www.sailorsreturn.co.uk/

 

http://www.archivesnetworkwales.info/cgi-bin/anw/search2?coll_id=11114&inst_id=39&term=

 

 

 



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