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|Halloween||The Dark Age|
A young boy sits on the monkey bars in a Sunnydale playground shortly after sunset. He’s waiting for his mother to pick him up. She’s late. Drusilla walks up behind him. She asks if he’s lost, and offers to walk him home. The boy turns her down.
“My mummy used to sing me to sleep at night,” says Drusilla, and she starts to sing softly. “Run and catch, The lamb is caught in the blackberry patch… She had the sweetest voice. What will your mummy sing when they find your body?”
The boy starts to back away from her. “I’m not supposed to talk to people.”
“Oh.” Dru’s voice becomes more menacing. “Well, I’m not a person, see, so that’s just—”
Angel steps between Dru and the boy. “Run home,” he tells the kid. The boy doesn’t need any more convincing. He runs.
“My Angel!” says Drusilla. “Do you remember the song Mummy used to sing me? Pretty.”
“I remember,” says Angel. He tells Dru that she should leave Sunnydale. He is offering her the chance to take Spike and go.
“Or you’ll hurt me?” asks Dru. Angel looks away from her. “No. No, you can’t. Not anymore. My dear boy’s gone all away, hasn’t he? To her.”
“The girl. The Slayer.”
Buffy is on the rooftop of a building overlooking the park. She looks down and sees Angel with Drusilla.
“Your heart stinks of her,” says Drusilla. “Poor little thing. She has no idea what’s in store.”
“This can’t go on, Drusilla. It’s got to end.”
Drusilla steps close to Angel and tilts her head up toward his. “Oh, no, my pet,” she whispers. “This is just the beginning.”
From Buffy’s perspective on the rooftop it looks like Dru and Angel are kissing. She watches as Drusilla turns and walks away from him. He stands for a moment watching her go, and then departs in the opposite direction. Buffy leaves too, without Angel ever noticing she was there.
Next day at school Jenny asks Giles out for a date, but she won’t tell him where she plans to take him. Giles wants a little information. He at least wants to know enough to know how he should dress.
Jenny gives his tweed suit a look. “Do you own anything else?”
Apparently not. “Alright, alright, I put myself in your hands.”
“That sounds like fun,” says Jenny. She tells him she’ll pick him up tomorrow night at 7:30, and walks off down the hall.
Buffy arrives as Jenny is leaving. Giles asks her if she had any encounters during her patrol last night. “Nothing vampirey,” she tells him. Giles spent the evening researching Spike, but he hasn’t made much progress either. He notices that Buffy seems distracted, and suggests that she take a night off. Buffy thinks that might be nice.
“Yes. You could spend some time with Angel,” suggests Giles.
“I don’t know,” says Buffy. “He might have other plans.”
Buffy and Willow pass notes back and forth in history class about what Buffy saw the night before. Willow wonders if the girl Buffy saw with Angel could have been a vampire. The bell rings ending the class and the girls continue their conversation out loud as they go out into the hallway. Buffy doesn’t think the girl she saw with Angel could have been a vampire. They seemed pretty friendly.
Xander comes up behind them. “Who’s friendly?”
“No one,” says Buffy.
“Angel and a girl,” says Willow.
“Willow, do we have to be in total share mode?” asks Buffy.
“Hey, it’s me,” says Xander. “If Angel’s doing something wrong, I want to know. ’Cause it gives me a happy!”
Buffy is glad that someone is happy. The three continue into the lounge. They walk past the tables, and up to the sofas on the mezzanine. A guy sitting at one of the tables notices Buffy as she passes by. Xander suggests that what Buffy needs is a crazed dance party at the Bronze to cheer her up. He demonstrates with a bit of dancing. Buffy doesn’t think so. “Very calm dance party at the Bronze?” he suggests, with a more restrained dance. Buffy doesn’t say anything, she just looks glum. “Moping at the Bronze,” concludes Xander, and sits down beside Willow on a sofa.
The guy who had noticed Buffy comes up behind her. “I’d suggest a box of Oreos dunked in apple juice, but maybe she’s over that phase.”
Buffy spins around in surprise. “Ford?”
“Hey, Summers!” says Ford, and they exchange a hug. Buffy is very surprised to see him. She wonders what he’s doing there. Ford tells her that he just moved to Sunnydale. His dad got transferred there. Buffy considers this to be great news. Xander looks a little less pleased. Ford is surprised that Buffy remembers him.
“Remember you?” asks Buffy. “Duh! We only went to school together for seven years. You were my giant fifth grade crush.”
“So! You two know each other?” asks Xander. Buffy is reminded of her social duties and introduces Xander and Willow to Billy Fordham, and she and Ford sit down on the sofa across from them. “Ford and I went to Hemery together in L.A,” says Buffy. “And now you’re here,” she says to Ford. “For real?”
“Dad got the transfer, and boom, he just dragged me out of Hemery and put me down here.”
“This is great!” says Buffy. “Well, I mean, it’s hard, sudden move, all your friends, delicate time, very emotional, but let’s talk about me! This is great!”
“So, you two were sweeties in fifth grade?” asks Willow.
“Not even,” says Buffy. “Ford wouldn’t give me the time of day.”
“Well, I was a manly sixth grader,” says Ford. “I couldn’t bother with somebody that young.”
“It was terrible,” says Buffy. “I moped over you for months. Sitting in my room listening to that Divinyls song I Touch Myself.” She casts a nervous look around at Willow and Xander. “Of course, I had no idea what it was about.” Xander nods understanding.
“Hey, are you busy tonight?” Buffy asks Ford. “We’re going to the Bronze, it’s the local club, and you have to come.”
“I’d love to!” says Ford. “But if you guys already had plans, would I be imposing?”
“Oh, only in the literal sense,” says Xander.
Ford accepts the invitation, but he has to go now to find the admissions office to get his papers in order. He gets up off the sofa. Buffy gets up too and offers to show him where it is. She tells Xander and Willow she’ll catch up with them in French class, and leads Ford away.
Xander smiles after them until they are out of sight. Then his smile fades. “‘This is Ford, my bestest friend of all my friends!’ Geez, doesn’t she know any fat guys?”
Willow isn’t paying any attention to him. Her mind has been on something else for the past thirty seconds. She suddenly figures it out. “Oh, that’s what that song is about!”
Buffy arrives at the Bronze and finds Ford playing pool with Willow and Xander. He has been telling them embarrassing stories about the swimsuit competition in the ninth grade beauty contest.
“Oh, my god, Ford, stop that!” says Buffy. “The more people you tell, the more people I have to kill.”
“You can’t touch me, Summers,” says Ford. “I know all your darkest secrets.”
“Care to make a small wager on that?” asks Xander. Buffy gives him a nudge to shut him up.
Buffy goes off to get herself a drink and runs into Angel at the bar. She’s a little surprised to see him there, with a drink—of the non-blood variety.
“There’s a lot about me you don’t know,” says Angel.
“I believe that,” says Buffy.
Ford watches Buffy and Angel together while Willow and Xander rack up the balls for a new game. “That’s Angel,” says Willow.
“He’s Buffy’s beau,” says Xander. “Her special friend.”
“He’s not in school, right?” asks Ford. “He looks older than her.”
“You’re not wrong,” says Xander.
Buffy asks Angel what he did last night, and he tells her he just stayed in and read a bit.
“Oh.” Buffy turns away and walks back toward Ford, Xander and Willow. Angel is a little puzzled by her behaviour, and follows her after a few seconds.
Ford notices that Buffy is drinkless when she gets back to them. She says she decided she wasn’t thirsty after all. She introduces him to Angel.
Ford reaches out and shakes Angel’s hand. “Whoa, cold hands!”
“You’re not wrong,” says Xander, which earns him a glare from Buffy.
Angel asks if Ford is just visiting, and Ford tells him that he is in Sunnydale to stay. Willow invites Angel to join in their game. Buffy decides that things are just too crowded in the Bronze for her tonight, and asks Ford if he wants to take a walk with her. It sounds like a good plan to Ford, so Buffy says goodbye to everyone, and she and Ford leave.
“Okay, once more with tension,” says Xander after they have gone.
“He just moved here?” asks Angel.
“Yeah,” says Xander. “And boy, does he move fast.”
“Well Angel, we could still play.” Willow adjusts the position of the rack of balls. When she looks up again Angel has vanished. “See, you made him do that thing where he’s gone,” she complains to Xander.
Buffy and Ford walk away from the Bronze together. Ford asks if Angel is her boyfriend. “No. Yeah. Maybe,” says Buffy. “Could we lay off the tough questions for a while?”
“Sorry,” says Ford. “So! What else do you do for fun around here?”
Buffy has heard some suspicious noises coming from the alley up ahead. She tells Ford that she forgot her purse in the Bronze, and asks him to go back and get it for her. “Run!” she says. Ford hurries away for her. Buffy runs into the alley.
Ford looks back over his shoulder, and notices Buffy has disappeared. He stops and starts back toward where he left her. A girl comes running out of the alley. She’s crying as she runs past Ford. He continues toward the alley entrance. A garbage can comes flying out. Ford cautiously looks around the corner. He is just in time to see Buffy finish off the vampire she has been fighting. “What’s going on?” he asks.
Buffy spins around, and starts trying to come up with a story. “Um…uh, there was a cat. A cat here, and, um, then there was another cat…and they fought. The cats. And…then they left.”
“Oh,” says Ford. “I thought you were just slaying a vampire.”
“What?” asks Buffy. “Whating a what?”
“I know, Buffy,” says Ford. “You don’t have to lie. I’ve been trying to figure out the right time to tell you. I know you’re the Slayer.”
Willow lies on her bed in her nightshirt, and fuzzy pink bunny slippers. She’s talking on the phone with Buffy. Buffy tells her about how Ford told her he knew she was the Slayer. He found out about it just before Buffy got kicked out of Hemery. Willow thinks it’s neat that Ford knows. “Isn’t it neat?”
“Yeah, I guess it is,” says Buffy. “I don’t have to constantly worry that he’s going to find out my dark secret. It just makes everything easier.”
Ford knocks on a heavy metal door in an alleyway in another part of town. A small window opens and someone looks out. He recognises Ford and opens the door to admit him.
Ford walks past another heavy steel door that someone is working on—making some alterations using a cutting torch—and down some stairs. Music is playing, and the place is full of goth teenagers, mostly dressed in black. Half the guys are wearing capes. He is met by Marvin—who prefers to be called ‘Diego’ these days—in a particularly glaring purple cape. Diego wants to know how things went. Ford tells him it went good.
Diego would like a little bit more information than that. He has really put himself out on a limb for Ford, and the lease payment for this place is due.
Ford pops a pill and washes it down with the contents of a metal wine glass handed to him by a pretty blonde girl named Chanterelle. “Everything’s going to be fine,” he tells them. “Just make sure you’re ready when I say. True believers only.”
“I can’t wait!” says Chanterelle.
“Right, whatever,” says Diego. “I still think I should be in on the plan.”
“Diego, you got to trust me,” says Ford. He looks up at the TV on which an old vampire movie staring Jack Palance is playing. “A couple more days and we’ll get to do the two things every American teen should have the chance to do. Die young, and stay pretty.” Ford keeps watching the TV, and starts to repeat the dialog along with Jack. “So…You play your wits against mine. Me, who commanded armies hundreds of years before you were born.”
Willow is about to go to bed when she hears a knock at the doors which lead out to her patio. She looks through the blinds, and sees that it’s Angel. She opens her door and steps aside to let him in. He doesn’t move.
“Well?” She gives him a curious look.
“I can’t,” says Angel. “Unless you invite me, I can’t come in.”
“Oh! Well, okay, I invite you…to come in.”
Angel steps into her room, and Willow turns and starts to walk back toward her bed. She notices that she has left her bra lying out on it, and quickly rushes to hide it under her pillow. Angel tells her that if he’s come at a bad time he can go.
“No!” says Willow, “I just…I’m not supposed to have boys in my room.”
“I promise to behave myself.”
“Okay. Good.” Willow wonders what he’s doing there.
Angel tells her that she needs her help. At first she thinks he wants help with homework, but quickly realizes that can’t be it. Angel tells her he wants her to track down some information about someone on the net.
“Oh! Great! I’m so the net girl.” Willow goes over to her laptop computer sitting on her desk and begins to type. “What’s the name?”
“Billy Fordham,” says Angel.
Willow stops typing. “Uh, Angel? If I say something you really don’t want to hear, do you promise not to bite me?”
“Are you going to tell me that I’m jealous?”
“Well, you do sometimes get that way.”
“You know, I never used to.” Angel sits on the edge of her bed. “Things used to be pretty simple. A hundred years, just hanging out, feeling guilty…I really honed my brooding skills. Then she comes along. Yeah, I get jealous. But I know people. And my gut tells me this is a wrong guy.”
“Okay.” Willow resumes her typing, “But if there isn’t anything weird— Hey, that’s weird.”
“What?” asks Angel.
“I just checked the school records, and he’s not in them,” says Willow, “I mean, usually they transfer your grades and stuff, but he’s not even registered.”
Before Willow can learn any more she hears her mother calling to her, asking if she’s in bed yet. Willow shouts back that she’s just going, and shows Angel to the door. She promises to keep looking. He can come back after sunset tomorrow and she’ll let him know what she’s found.
Angel pauses in the door. “Don’t tell Buffy what we’re doing, alright?”
“You want me to lie to her?” asks Willow. “It’s Buffy!”
“Just don’t bring it up until we know what’s what.”
“Okay,” says Willow, “It’s probably nothing.”
“That’d be nice,” says Angel, but he doesn’t believe it.
Buffy and Ford run into Willow at the water fountain next day. Buffy invites her to come hang with them in the cafeteria. Willow is much too nervous and jumpy. “I’m going to do work in the computer lab on school work that I have, so I cannot hang just now. Hi, Ford.”
“Okay, Will, fess up,” says Buffy.
“What?” Willow’s afraid she’s been busted.
“Are you drinking coffee again?” asks Buffy, “’Cause we’ve talked about this.”
Willow lets out a slightly hysterical laugh, and quickly stifles it. “It makes me jumpy,” she tells Ford. “I have to go. Away.” She turns and hurries away from them.
“Nice girl!” says Ford.
“There aren’t two of those in the world,” says Buffy.
Giles finds Buffy and tells her that he and Miss Calendar are going out on a date. He gives her Miss Calendar’s pager number, in case she needs his help—he glances nervously at Ford—with homework or something.
“He knows, Giles,” says Buffy.
“Ford knows I’m the Slayer,” says Buffy.
“I know,” says Ford
“Oh! Uh, very good, yes.” Giles pulls Buffy aside. “Um, Buffy, you are not, by any chance, betraying your secret identity just to impress, um, cute boys, are you?”
Buffy assures Giles that she didn’t tell Ford. He just knew. He can go have his fun, and she will try not to have a crisis.
Buffy finishes giving Ford a tour of the town that evening with their return to the Sunnydale High campus.
“Well, it’s…really…” Ford searches for the right words.
“Feel free to say dull,” says Buffy.
“Okay. ‘Dull’s good.” Ford sees a couple of figures moving through the shadows up the stairs near the school. “Or maybe not so dull. Is that more vampires?”
“Must be the weather.” Buffy pulls a stake and a cross from her pockets and hands the cross to Ford. He surprises her when he pulls his own stake out of his pocket. She tells him to stick close to her, and they follow the vampires up the stairs.
The vampires have vanished. Ford suggests that maybe they were just passing through. Buffy turns to tell him she doesn’t think so, and a female vampire attacks her from behind. Buffy gives it an over the shoulder kick in the face, and flips it to the ground. The second vampire tackles Buffy, carrying her over the railing, and down onto the lawn.
While Buffy fights with the vampire on the lawn, Ford goes for the one she left lying on the walkway at the top of the stairs. He holds the cross in front of its face and raises his stake. “You’ve got one chance to live. Tell me what I want to know, and I’ll let you go.”
Buffy finishes off her vampire on the lawn and runs back up the stairs to Ford. She finds him sitting on the ground with his stake and cross in hand. She asks what happened to the other vampire.
“I killed her.” Ford coughs. “I killed her and she just turned to dust. It was amazing!”
Willow, Xander and Angel walk down the alley that Ford was in the night before. It is the only address Willow was able to find in her computer search for Ford. It is called the Sunset Club. She didn’t find anything incriminating.
“He leaves no paper trail, no records,” says Angel, “That’s incriminating enough.”
“Yeah, I’m going to have to go with dead boy on this one,” says Xander.
“Could you not call me that?” asks Angel.
Angel knocks on the door. When the window opens he tells the guy inside that they are friends of Ford’s. He lets them in.
The three of them stand on the balcony overlooking the main area of the Sunset Club. They look down at all the people, in their dark, goth outfits. “Boy, we blend right in,” says Willow in her brightly striped shirt.
Angel orders Xander and Willow to check out the lower level, and walks around the balcony. They go down the stairs and look around.
“Are you probably noticing a theme here?” asks Xander.
“As in ‘Vampires yay!’?” asks Willow.
“That’s the one.”
Chanterelle has overheard them. “You guys are newbies. I can tell.” Willow tries to tell her that they come there all the time, but Chanterelle knows better. “Don’t be ashamed! It’s cool that you’re open to it. We welcome anyone who’s interested in the Lonely Ones.”
“The Lonely Ones?” asks Willow.
Angel has come down the stairs behind her. “Vampires.”
“Oh!” says Xander. “We usually call them ‘the Nasty, Pointy, Bitey Ones.’”
“So many people have that misconception,” says Chanterelle. “But they who walk with the night are not interested in harming anyone! They are creatures above us. Exalted!”
“You’re a fool,” says Angel.
“You don’t have to be so confrontational about it,” pouts Chanterelle. “Other viewpoints than yours may be valid, you know.” She walks away from them.
“Nice meeting you.” Willow calls after her, then she and Xander turn back to Angel.
“You really are a people person,” says Xander.
“Now nobody’s going to talk to us,” says Willow.
Angel doesn’t need to talk to anyone else. He’s seen this kind of thing before. “They’re children making up bedtime stories of friendly vampires to comfort themselves in the dark.”
“Is that so bad?” asks Willow. “I mean, the dark can get pretty dark. Sometimes you need a story.”
“These people don’t know anything about vampires. What they are, how they live, how they dress…” Angel stops when a guy comes down the stairs dressed exactly like Angel. He and Angel give each other a once over as he walks by. After the guy is gone they start up the stairs.
“You know, I love a good diatribe,” says Xander, “But I’m still curious why Ford—the bestest friend of the Slayer—is hanging with a bunch of vampire wannabes.”
“Something’s up with him, you’re right about that,” says Willow.
Diego watches them go. He had been eavesdropping on their conversation.
Buffy enters the library with Giles and Jenny. She is sorry to have beeped them away from their date, but she thought the vampires on the campus seemed a little weird. Giles thinks she did the right thing.
“You hated it that much?” asks Jenny.
“No!” says Giles. “But, uh, vampires on campus is, could have implications. Very, very grave—”
“You could’ve just said something.”
“Honestly,” says Giles. “I’ve always, I’ve always been interested in, uh, monster trucks.”
Buffy’s eyebrows go up. “You took him to monster trucks?”
“I thought it would be a change!” says Jenny.
“It was a change,” says Giles.
“Look, we could’ve just left,” says Jenny.
“What, and miss the nitro-burning funny cars?” asks Giles. “No, couldn’t have that.”
Buffy pulls the conversation back to the vampires, and they all head over to the library table which Giles has left strewn with books. Buffy figures the vamps were probably on campus for a reason. Jenny asks what happened to Ford, and Buffy tells her she sent him home. This is good news to Giles. The less Ford is involved the better as far as he’s concerned. He starts looking through his books.
“He did bag a vamp his first time out. Got to give him credit for—” Buffy stops, noticing an old photograph of Drusilla that Giles uncovered as he moved his books around. Jenny asks what’s wrong.
Buffy picks up the photo. “Who’s this?”
“She’s called Drusilla,” says Giles. “The sometime paramour of Spike’s. She was killed by an angry mob in Prague.”
“Well, they don’t make angry mobs like they used to,” says Buffy, “’Cause this girl’s alive. I saw her with Angel.”
Giles is surprised by that. So’s Jenny. “Isn’t he supposed to be a good guy?” she asks.
“Yeah,” says Buffy. “He is.”
Jenny thinks they need to learn more about this lady. Giles has some books in his office that might have more information on her, and starts to go get them. Before he gets there the vampire that Ford had claimed to have killed comes running out carrying a book. She knocks Giles into Buffy and they both fall to the floor as the vampire vaults over the railing up onto the mezzanine level of the library and runs out through the stacks. Jenny asks Giles and Buffy if they are okay.
“A book!” says Giles as she helps him to his feet. “It took one of my books!”
“Well, at least someone in this school is reading,” says Jenny.
Buffy is not amused. “He said he killed it. That’s the vampire Ford said he killed.”
Drusilla talks to her pet bird in its cage in the factory, “You sing the sweetest little song. Won’t you sing for me? Don’t you love me anymore?” The bird is lying dead in the bottom of the cage.
Spike comes in. He has heard a funny thing. He has heard that Dru went out hunting without him the other night. He wonders what she may have found. Dru is still talking and whistling to the bird. “You, um, meet anyone?” asks Spike. “Anyone interesting? Like Angel?”
“Angel,” sighs Drusilla.
“Yeah. So…what might you guys have talked about, then?” asks Spike. “Old times? Childhood pranks? It’s a little off, you two so friendly, him being the enemy and all that.” Dru keeps talking to her bird. Offering to give it a seed if it sings.
“The bird’s dead, Dru,” says Spike. “You left it in a cage, and you didn’t feed it, and now it’s all dead. Just like the last one.” Drusilla whimpers, and Spike instantly regrets his harshness. “Oh, I’m sorry baby. I’m a bad, rude man. I just don’t like you going out, that’s all. You are weak. Would you like a new bird? One that’s not dead?” He takes her hand and raises her finger tips to his lips.
“This is so cool!” says Ford. “I would totally live here.”
Spike is not pleased. He calls out for the vampires who were supposed to be on guard duty, asking if they’re asleep. He starts to walk toward Ford. “Or did we finally find a restaurant that delivers?” A pair of vampires have appeared behind Ford, blocking his escape.
Ford says he knows who Spike is. Something that doesn’t impress Spike in the least. Spike knows who he is too. “I came looking for you, Spike,” says Ford. “You are Spike, right? William the Bloody?”
“You’ve got a real death wish,” says Spike. “It’s almost interesting.”
The vampire from the library comes in and hands Spike the book. He leafs through it briefly. It is just the volume he was looking for. He turns his attention back to Ford. He asks how Ford found him.
The vampire who delivered the book gets a little nervous, but Ford doesn’t answer Spike’s question. He’s there for something else. “I’m pretty sure this is the part where you take out a watch and say I’ve got thirty seconds to convince you not to kill me. It’s traditional.”
Spike isn’t one for tradition. He slams the book closed, grabs Ford by the ear and twists his head around, exposing his neck.
Drusilla places her hand on Spike’s shoulder. “Wait, love.”
Spike lets go of Ford’s ear. “Well?”
“Oh c’mon! Say it!” says Ford. “It’s no fun if you don’t say it.”
“What?” asks Spike. “Oh.” He sighs. “You’ve got thirty seconds to convince me not to kill you.”
“Yes!” says Ford. “See, this is the best! I want to be like you. A vampire.”
“I’ve known you for two minutes, and I can’t stand you,” says Spike. “I don’t really feature you living forever. Can I eat him now, love?” he asks Drusilla. She shakes her head.
“Well, feature this,” says Ford. “I’m offering you a trade. You make me a vampire, and I give you the Slayer.” Spike starts to smile.
Buffy is making herself a cup of cocoa in the kitchen when Angel appears at the door and asks if he can come in. “Sure,” she says. “I thought once you were invited you could always just walk in.”
“I can,” says Angel. “I was just being polite.” He tells her that they have to talk about Ford. He isn’t what he seems.
“Who is these days?” Buffy carries her cup into the dining room, and sits at the table. Angel follows her. He tells her how Willow ran Ford down on the computer, and found an address that they checked out with Xander. Buffy becomes less and less thrilled. “Wow. Everybody’s in. It’s like a great big exciting conspiracy.”
“What are you talking about?” asks Angel.
“I’m talking about the people I trust,” says Buffy. “Who’s Drusilla?” Angel remains silent for several seconds. “And don’t lie to me. I’m tired of it.”
“Some lies are necessary,” says Angel. “Sometimes the truth is worse. You live long enough, you find that out.”
“I can take it,” says Buffy. “I can take the truth.”
“Do you love me?” asks Angel.
Buffy is surprised by the change of subjects. “What?”
Buffy takes a moment to think about her answer. “I love you. I don’t know if I trust you.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t do either,” says Angel.
“Maybe I’m the one who should decide!”
Angel turns away from her. “I did a lot of unconscionable things when I became a vampire. Drusilla was the worst. She was…an obsession of mine. She was pure, and sweet, and chaste.”
“And you made her a vampire,” says Buffy.
“First I made her insane.” Angel looks at Buffy. “Killed everybody she loved. Visited every mental torture on her I could devise. She eventually fled to a convent, and on the day she took her holy orders, I turned her into a demon.”
It’s Buffy’s turn to look away. “Well. I asked for the truth.”
Angel tells her about Ford and the Sunset Club. “I don’t know what he wants from you, but you can’t trust him.”
Buffy meets Ford on the front steps of the school next morning. He tells her that he had an interesting time last night, and asks if she wants to go out again tonight. He has a surprise for her. Buffy tells him that sounds like fun, and they agree to meet back there at nine. “It’s going to be fun,” says Ford.
Buffy finds Willow and Xander sitting together on the steps inside the school. Willow is looking pretty miserable. She asks if Angel has talked to her about Ford. Buffy tells her he has.
“I’m sorry we kept stuff from you,” says Willow. “When Angel came to my room he was just really concerned for you, and we didn’t want to say anything in case we were wrong.”
“Did you find out what Ford is up to?” asks Xander.
“I will,” says Buffy, and leaves them.
Willow and Xander watch her go. Then what Willow said penetrates Xander’s consciousness. “Angel was in your bedroom?”
“Ours is a forbidden love,” says Willow.
Diego paces around the Sunset Club. Chanterelle sits in a chair and nervously taps her fingers on the arms. There are half a dozen or so other kids scattered around. Ford comes down the stairs. He asks Diego if everything is ready. Diego assures him that it is.
“Is it time?” asks Chanterelle. “Tonight?”
Ford pours a couple of glasses of wine. “You nervous?”
“Yes.” Chanterelle’s resolve returns. “No. I’m ready for the change. Do you really think they’ll bless us?”
Ford hands her one of the glasses, and keeps the other for himself. “I know they will.” He smiles at her.
Diego is still nervous. He asks if Ford’s friends who were there last night are coming tonight. Ford is not pleased to hear about this, and asks why Diego didn’t tell him about this sooner.
“I have to do everything around here,” says Diego. “Sorry, Mr. Flawless Plan guy, it slipped my mind.”
“It’s going to be alright, isn’t it?” asks Chanterelle. “They’re not going to let us down? I need them to bless me.”
“It’s going to be fine,” says Ford.
“No,” says Buffy from the balcony. “It’s really not.”
“It’s kind of drafty in here.” Ford says softly to Diego.
Buffy comes down the stairs and apologises to Ford for showing up early. “I’m rash and impulsive. It’s a flaw.”
“We all have flaws,” says Ford.
“I’m still a little fuzzy on exactly what yours is,” says Buffy. “I think it has to do with being a lying scumbag.”
“Everybody lies,” says Ford.
Buffy wants to know what Ford is up to. He doesn’t think that she will understand.
“I don’t need to understand,” says Buffy. “I just need to know.”
“I’m going to be one of them,” says Ford.
Buffy doesn’t quite believe what she’s hearing. “You want to be a vampire?”
“I’m going to,” says Ford.
“You know, vampires are a little picky about who they change ov—” Buffy figures it out. “You were going to offer them a trade!”
Ford doesn’t want to talk about this any more, but Buffy isn’t done. She grabs him by the throat and pushes him up against some pipes. “You were going to give them me! Tonight!”
“Yes,” says Ford.
“You had to know I’d figure it out.”
“Actually, I was counting on it.” Ford starts to laugh. Buffy lets go of him and backs away. He coughs and rubs his throat.
“What’s supposed to happen tonight?” asks Buffy.
“This is so cool!” says Ford. “It’s already happening.”
Diego shuts the heavy metal door with a clang. Buffy runs up the stairs and pounds on it.
“Rigged up special,” says Ford. “Once it’s closed, it can only be opened from the outside. As soon as the sun sets, they’ll be coming.”
“Ford,” says Buffy. “If these people are still around when they get here—”
“We’ll be changed,” says Diego. “All of us.”
“We’re going to ascend to a new level of consciousness!” says Chanterelle. “Become like them. Like the Lonely Ones.”
“This is the end, Buffy,” says Ford. “No one gets out of here alive.”
Buffy searches for a way out. There isn’t one. Ford tells her the Sunset Club is built in an old bomb shelter. The walls are three feet of solid concrete.
“At least let the other people go,” says Buffy.
“Why are you fighting this?” asks Chanterelle. “It’s what we want!”
“It’s our chance for immortality,” says Diego.
“This is a beautiful day. Can’t you see that?” asks Chanterelle.
“What I see is that, right after the sun goes down, Spike and all of his friends are going to be pigging out at the all-you-can-eat moron bar,” says Buffy.
“Okay, that’s it,” says Diego. “I think we should gag her.”
“I think you should try,” says Buffy.
“She’s an unbeliever,” says Diego. “She taints us.”
“I am trying to save you!” says Buffy. “You are playing in some serious traffic here! Do you understand that? You’re going to die! And the only hope you have of surviving this is to get out of this pit right now, and, my god, could you have a dorkier outfit?” Chanterelle and a couple of the other people there smirk at her last comment.
“I got to back her up, D,” says Ford. “You look like a big ninny.” An electronic alarm begins to beep. Ford takes it out of his pocket and looks at it. “6:27. Sunset.”
Spike gives his henchvamps their final instructions. “When we get there, everybody spread out. Two men on the door, first priority’s the Slayer, everything else is fair game, and let’s remember to share, people.” He walks over to Drusilla. “Are you sure you’re up for this?”
“I want a treat,” says Dru. “I need a treat.”
“And a special one you’ll have.” Spike holds out the keys to his car. “Lucious! Bring the car around.”
Buffy goes back upstairs to try the door again. Ford follows her. He admires the way she refuses to give up. They have a lot in common.
Buffy isn’t pleased with the comparison. “Let me explain something to you. You’re what we call the bad guy.”
“I guess I am,” says Ford.
Buffy looks down at the other people in the club. “These people aren’t going to get changed, are they? The rest of them, they’re just fodder.”
“Technically, yes,” says Ford. “But…I’m in. I will become immortal.”
“Well, I’ve got a news flash for you, brain trust,” says Buffy, “That’s not how it works. You die, and a demon sets up shop in your old house, and it walks, and it talks, and it remembers your life, but it’s not you.”
Ford thinks even that is better than his alternative. He’s dying. If he doesn’t do something, in six months they will be burying a smelly, shriveled, bald corpse that won’t even look like him. He doesn’t want to go out that way. Buffy tuns away from him. “I’m sorry, Summers. Did I screw up your righteous anger riff? Does the nest of tumors liquefying my brain kind of spoil the fun?”
Buffy turns back to him. “I’m sorry. I had no idea. But what you’re doing is still very wrong.”
“Okay, well, you try vomiting for twenty-four hours straight because the pain in your head is so intense, and then we’ll discuss the concept of right and wrong.” Ford looks down at the kids on the club floor beneath them. “These people are sheep. They want to be vampires ’cause they’re lonely, miserable or bored. I don’t have a choice.”
“You have a choice,” says Buffy. “You don’t have a good choice, but you have a choice! You’re opting for mass murder here, and nothing you say is going to make that okay!”
“You think I need to justify myself to you?”
“I think this is all part of your little fantasy drama!” says Buffy. “Isn’t this exactly how you imagined it? You tell me how you’ve suffered and I feel sorry for you. Well, I do feel sorry for you, and if those vampires come in here and start feeding I’ll kill you myself!”
“You know what, Summers?” says Ford. “I really did miss you.”
Buffy hears the sound of a car screeching to a stop outside. “Ford, help me stop this,” she asks him one more time. “Please!” He just looks at her. Buffy gives up on him, and turns her attention back to the other people there. “People, listen to me!” She runs back to the top of the stairs. “This is not the mother ship, people! This is ugly death come to play!”
Ford comes up behind Buffy, and hits her on the head with a piece of pipe. Buffy falls down the stairs. The others all look on in shock. Ford follows her down and hits her again as she starts to pick herself up.
The outer door of the Sunset Club can be heard opening. Chanterelle goes up the stairs, ready to greet the Lonely Ones when they arrive. Spike comes through the door in full vamp face as she gets to the top of the stairs. He isn’t what she was expecting. She starts to look scared when he snarls at her. Spike reaches out and pulls the choker from her neck. He grabs her and pulls her toward him. “Take them all!” he tells the vampires behind him. “Save the Slayer for me!” The vampires stream into the Sunset Club and start to feed on the people there. Spike bites into Chanterelle’s neck.
Ford takes another swing at Buffy with his pipe. She blocks it, swings him around, and bashes his head into a concrete pillar. Ford falls to the floor unconscious.
Buffy looks around the club, at all the vampires feeding on the people. She spots Drusilla standing alone on the balcony overlooking the carnage. Buffy doesn’t bother with the stairs. She runs and uses the back of a sofa to launch herself up to the balcony railing. She vaults over it, and grabs Drusilla. She pulls a stake from her pocket and holds it over Dru’s heart. “Spike!”
Spike looks up from Chanterelle’s neck and sees Buffy holding Dru. “Everybody stop!” he yells. He lets go of Chanterelle, and she staggers away from him.
“Good idea,” says Buffy, “Now you let everyone out, or your girlfriend fits in an ashtray.”
“Spike?” asks Drusilla.
“It’s going to be alright, baby.” Spike tells her. “Let them go!” he orders the rest of the vampires. The vampires all release their victims, and the kids quickly start to run from the club.
Once everyone is out Buffy orders Spike down the stairs, and she and Drusilla move to the door. Buffy pushes Dru down the stairs at Spike and dashes out the door. She closes it behind her, just ahead of Spike’s charge.
Spike looks at the door. “Um, where’s the doorknob?”
Xander, Willow and Angel come running up the alley as the club members stagger away. Buffy tells them that they had better all go too. The vampires are contained, but they will get out eventually. They can come back after they’re gone.
“Come back for what?” asks Xander.
Buffy turns and looks back at the door to the Sunset Club. “For the body.”
Ford picks himself up off the floor and rubs his head. At the top of the stairs several vampires are pounding on the door, trying to force it open. “What happened?” he asks.
“We’re stuck in the basement,” says Spike.
“Buffy?” asks Ford.
“She’s not stuck in the basement.” Spike starts back down the stairs. Drusilla follows him, looking at Ford and shaking her head.
“Hey, well, I delivered,” says Ford. “I handed her to you.”
“Yes, I suppose you did,” says Spike. Dru closes her eyes, and sways gently back and forth.
“So? What about my reward?” asks Ford.
Drusilla opens her eyes and stares at him.
Buffy returns to the Sunset Club the next day. She makes her way past the broken door, and looks down the stairs. Ford’s body is lying at the foot of them. Buffy walks down the stairs and kneels beside it.
Buffy lays some flowers on Billy Fordham’s grave, and goes to stand beside Giles. Night has fallen, and they are alone in the cemetery. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.”
“You needn’t say anything,” says Giles.
“It’d be simpler if I could just hate him,” says Buffy. “I think he wanted me to. I think it made it easier for him to be the villain of the piece. Really he was just scared.”
“Yes, I suppose he was,” says Giles.
“Nothing’s ever simple anymore,” says Buffy. “I’m constantly trying to work it out. Who to love or…hate. Who to trust. It’s just, like, the more I know, the more confused I get.”
“I believe that’s called growing up.”
“I’d like to stop then, okay?”
Giles gives her half a grin. “I know the feeling.”
“Does it ever get easy?”
Ford bursts from his grave before Giles can answer. He snarls at Buffy and Giles. She pulls a stake out of her pocket and stabs him in the chest. Ford has time to look down at it, and back up at Buffy before he explodes into dust.
“Does it ever get easy?” Buffy asks Giles again.
“You mean life?”
“Yeah? Does it get easy?”
“What do you want me to say?” asks Giles.
“Lie to me.”
Giles considers for a moment. “Yes, it’s terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after.”
“Liar,” says Buffy.
|Who or What||Where||How|
|A vampire||Outside the Bronze||Staked by Buffy|
|A vampire||The school lawn||Staked by Buffy|
|Billy Fordham||The Sunset Club||Killed and vamped by Spike and Drusilla.|
|The vampire Billy Fordham||Cemetery||Staked by Buffy|