Now It's Dark

Title: Now It's Dark: 01. Into the Night
Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 1st of Series

Summary: The death of one life leads to the birth of the next.

+++ "We have no past-- we won't reach back-- Keep with me forward all through the night... Until it ends there is no end--"
-Cyndi Lauper, All Through the Night

Some things you never get over.

He's dead. Everyone's dead. Almost everyone. Anyone who could help me is dead, long dead, and the worms are making nests out of their bones.

I stare at the mirror--always mirrors! how much easier would it be if I didn't have to look at myself?--and I don't see anything. I see a blank face. I see a shell, a ghost, a version of me that I didn't agree to.

Not like this. Not like this.

Things have fallen apart. I don't have anyone. I have my mother. That's it, that's all. Even Doggett has been transferred. He quit, actually. He went back to NYPD and told me that if he were me, he'd quit and tell the world everything, nothing more or less than everything, and then go hide in a little hole somewhere in the desert.

Such a nice man. I mean that. I think I would have liked him more if the world weren't going to hell in a personalized handbasket. But it is and I'm about out of my mind and you know? I don't care. I don't have anyone to live for. My poor mom. She doesn't know what to say.

Oh, God, not like this.

I have to get out. Go somewhere. I don't know where. Walk. Go. Somewhere. I have to--

I don't know where my shoes are.

Or my purse. I should have some sort of ID, just in case.

And shoes. Shoes would be good on the street. Yes. I need to get shoes.

The air is not nearly cold enough tonight. They said it was going to freeze overnight. I feel like I have a fever. I feel hot, way too hot, and too numb to be real.

At least now it's dark. I can wander in the same darkness my soul is plunged in.

I can say that because I'm alone. It's fair. It's not silly. Oh, God. I have to--I need to keep walking. Yes. I shouldn't stop. It's dark. There are probably murderers and normal people out wandering the streets. They don't need to hear the woes of crazy me.

Not me. I can wander and walk and cry alone. I don't need anyone to hear me. All the hearers are deaf now anyway.

"I met the Bishop on the road," someone calls, brushing by me. I feel soft material on my arm, women's material, and I try to see the someone but she moves too fast, like a whisper inside a shadow. "And much said he and I."

I don't quite understand what she's saying, and so I keep walking. And now the air is strange. Almost alive. The hairs on my neck are trying to warn me, but I'm beyond warning, beyond anything but my own dark thoughts.

"I'm sorry," I call into the velvet black nothing. "I don't know what you're saying."

"Those breasts are flat and fallen now-- those veins must soon be dry," the woman tells me. Now I can feel the hint of breath on my neck. Something in me is trying to scream. I can't scream. I only want to be left alone. Here, in this dark. But I'm angry. How could she know about my breasts? Maybe they are empty. Flat. Fallen. But is it any business of hers?

"That's not very nice!" I cry. Nothing. Then I stumble and fall, landing on a patch of grass between the black asphalt ribbons of road and the dirty bottles and used needles. "You shouldn't say such things!"

"Oh, but I'm only telling the truth," the woman whispers. All of the sudden, she's next to me. I realize she was always next to me, the entire walk. I can feel her lips on the very edge of my ear. "I can see it in you. Flying around your head. Death is walking behind you, like a jealous lover you've jilted at the altar. He steals everything when you blink."

"Shut up," I hiss. "Get away from me."

"I think you're losing your mind," the woman tells me. Her lips stay next to my ear. They're tickling horribly. I can't think with them there. I want to scream. I don't scream. I stay still, frozen in place.

"How do you know me?"

"I can see you. I can see all that delicious darkness that you're hiding in your heart," she murmurs, laying one hand on my chest. I can hear my heartbeat in my ears. It pounds like a drum. "So much fear. It's twisting your brain, like a splinter, pulling you into such lovely anguish."

"Get away from me," I say, but only half-heartedly.

"You want me to kill you, don't you?"

"No," I whisper. Tears are in my voice. "I don't want to die."

"Oh, you're not going to die. There's so much darkness-- I can feel it. It follows you like a veil," she tells me. My muscles are paralyzed. No, they're not. They're motionless, not frozen. I could move if I wanted to.

I don't want to.

I want to die. I want this woman to kill me.

"Aren't you going to kill me?" I ask. "My life is-- you can't know what my life is."

"Lost your baby, lost your love. Lost your sister, lost your dad, lost everything you ever had," she chants into my ear. "Lost your heart, lost your mind. And now all that you want is. to. die."

She knows. Apparently.

"Please," I plead.

"I can give you something you want more than death," she murmurs. "I can give you the revenge you want. I can make you able to hold the world in your hand and ask how it can be so small. Death will be your friend."

I shiver. "What are you saying?"

"Do you want it?" she asks me inexorably. Her grip is suddenly steely on my arm. "You have to tell me you want it."

I don't know what she's saying. But yes. I want to say yes. My heart is going so fast and my arm is stinging from her grasp and yes, I'm going to say yes, I want revenge, I want more than death. I don't know what that means, but yes, yes, I'm saying yes.

"Give it to me," I say.

"Say please."

"Please," I moan. And suddenly I feel it in my neck. I feel teeth in my neck and this is impossible. I feel my head go light and swimmy in waters of blue.

Blue blue superfluous blue. My mind is swirling.

My God.

This is death.

I've been here before.

More than once.

Mulder, are you there? Are you waiting for me?


I hear a voice, the woman's voice, the woman from my walk, the bad woman. She's calling from a thousand miles away. She's put her wrist in my mouth. What am I doing?

"Come on!" she calls.

And there is blood then so very much blood more blood than fell on the floor and from between my legs and from my heart and from his head and I'm dead but I'm not dead and Mulder, where are you? Are you waiting for me?

How long will you wait for me?

Oh, God.

I take a deep breath.

The world is still spinning.

"You don't breathe now, silly," I hear the woman say. "You're one of us. Come on, now, stand up."

"I'm dizzy," I say. I rub my hand across my face. And stop.

What have I done?

"It's just the change," she tells me cheerfully. "And now you are new again. Free of all that dying."

I blink. I can see her now and she's not human.

Then again, neither am I. Not now. Maybe not ever, but definitely not now.

"What are you? Who are you? What's happened?" I ask, unable to make sense of anything.

"I told you. I changed you. You're a vampire now. You said you wanted it. And if you must know, my name is Drusilla. It's very rude of you to ask when you haven't offered your name, Dana."

I gawk at her. Then I stand up. My brain has completely short- circuited. And I am not-- I'm-- I'm-- not human. I'm not human. I'm something else.

"It's Dana. But nobody calls me Dana. And it was Scully, but there's no one left to call me that, either," I stammer. "But I don't know who I am."

"You're you. Just different," Drusilla replies. "You're hungry. Why don't we find one of the bad men and eat him?"

I decide she means what she says. And I stand there and think. And think some more. And then even more.

I'm really hungry. And suddenly, the idea of taking one of those Consortium goons who handed the earth over to aliens, sucking him half- way dry, and then snapping his neck like a twig suddenly sounds delightful. Or perhaps I could crush his throat. Just like a bounty hunter. Maybe I could crush a bounty hunter's throat. They don't have throats. But I could hurt them. Badly. All of them.

And I like it.

"Yes," I say.

And thus we begin.

END PART ONE Author's Note: The title "Into the Night" as well as the Now It's Dark series gets its name from one of my favorite darkfic songs, "Into the Night" on the Twin Peaks TV soundtrack. Also, there is a snippet of poetry quoted here, from Yeats' "Crazy Jane Talks to the Bishop" because I found it appropriate for Drusilla to say. Thanks to Losh and Rachel for the pre-reads.

Title: Now It's Dark: 02. Emerging Dark Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 2st of Series

Summary: Revenge. Over and over and over.

"Please," he begs me, face dripping with mucus and running with tears. "Please. I have a wife-- I have kids-- please--"

Everyone suddenly has family when they're about to be killed. Even homeless junkie whores pick up sick aunties who depend on them for everything. But at least the prostitutes don't actively experiment on other people with wives and kids and puppies and boyfriends. I reach for this scumbag's face, tired of hearing the excuses. I pull it close to me, so close that I can smell the nasty, stale scent of his breath.

"I had a sister. Once. Do you know what you and your kind did to my sister?" I whisper, laying my teeth right next to his ear. "Do you?"

"I didn't do it, I swear to God-- I was just following orders--" he babbles. He knows, all right. I can smell the knowledge on him.

"Yeah yeah yeah. Orders. Three in the head, you know they're dead," I reply. "But you know what's worst of all? Worse than my sister? Worse than my dead lover who I found in thirty or forty little pieces all over the Arizona desert? Worse than being barely conscious and sick unto death in a sterile hospital and being told that oh, we're so sorry, but we couldn't save the baby? Do you want to know what's worse?"

His body is shuddering under my grip. When Dru picked me up on my long walk off a short pier of sanity three weeks ago, I couldn't have realized just how enthralling the kill was. Now I know and I just can't get enough. The blood is only half of it. Feeling these bastards squirm is so much better. Hearing them pray and plead and knowing that in the end, I will win--

"What?" he gasps, sounding kind of pissed off.

"What?" I ask back.

"What's worse?"

Oops. Lost my train of thought again. That happens.

I jerk his neck so that it's right under my lips. No sense in wasting time.

"You never once said you were sorry," I reply.

Then I blithely proceed to suck him dry. The screaming is fantastic. I kind of get off on it. Not as much as the begging and maneuvering, but it's by no means a bad thing.

Drusilla is waiting outside. She smiles at me as I stagger out of the office building, full of the blood of a most un-innocent man.

"And what has my baby girl been up to?" she asks. "You've got blood all over your face. You should wipe it up, you know. Or do you want your mummy to take care of it?"

"I had something to take care of," I reply, wiping my face off with my sleeve. I have to stop doing that. I've already ruined my favorite Donna Karan suit in all this midnight messiness. Oh, well. I can take another.

"Did he squeal?" she asks, pulling me down the steps with abandon. I start to giggle. I sort of love Drusilla. She's insane, but in the best possible way. We get along just fine in this new life of mine, one hundred percent perfect.

"Like a little piggy," I admit, linking arms with my new best friend. "So where did you go tonight?"

"I found a tagger. A little street urchin. He stuck in my teeth," Dru sighs. "Oh, my baby girl, I am glad that you're here with me. I'd almost forgotten how it was to have a family."

Oh, God. She's about to get all weepy about her "family." The coven that I've heard about at least six times a day ever since I was reborn. I know all their names as well as my own. Better than my own, because I'm not sure I still want to be Dana Scully. Everyone else gets a vampire name. I want one, too.

"My Spike," she whimpers at the beginning of the litany. I swear to holy God, once I get tired of killing Syndicate members and wearing their blood up and down the East Coast like the badass I was always meant to be, we are going to find this Spike and drag him along with us in chains. If Dru wants. If not, we'll do something else. "I miss my boy so much-- my wicked, wicked knight--"

We turn the corner of the nice Georgetown avenue. I find it amusing that despite all the antics and the dead businessmen, we've never once been stopped by the police. There's something to being a pretty woman after all, I suppose.

That's when I spot the other pretty woman rushing down the street across the way. I recognize her. Actually, I can even smell her. She's blonde and she's very, very afraid.

"Sweetie," I whisper to Drusilla. "I have another errand to run."

"Can I watch?" she whispers back.

I smile coyly at her. "Oh, if you want," I say, crossing the street right behind my new blonde playmate. Drusilla follows excitedly, just when I reach Marita, who's been rushing faster and faster away from me- - and toward my last victim's office.

"Out of the frying pan and into the fire," I tell her, grabbing hold of her by the arm and by the mouth. "Didn't your mother ever tell you it was rude to avoid someone who wants to talk to you?"

I swing her around and she gawks at me, unable to speak for a second. Drusilla, about five feet behind me, giggles like a schoolgirl.

"Agent Scully?" Marita asks, staring at me. "But you're--"

"Oh, I haven't been Agent Scully for a long time now," I say, putting my finger on her lips. "Not since I died. Isn't that what you thought? All that lovely blood on the pavement near my house? The missing shoe? Did you think I was dead?"

Marita stares at me. "There's something wrong with your voice."

"Where were you going, Marita?"

"My friend works at that building," she says lamely. "People I know have been dying lately. The way we thought you died. Lots of blood. Lots of-- oh, my God."

"Look, Dru, she made a connection!" I say, grinning. "Don't bother with your friend. He's dead. He has a wife. And children. And really bad breath."

"You did this," Marita hisses. "Why did you-- what kind of a monster are you?"

I smile and then it's game face time. Marita's eyes go bigger than saucers and she tries to step back. Drusilla is on top of it. Marita walks right into Dru's arms.

"Oh, God," Marita wails.

"Come on, let's take her back to Mr. Mom's office," I say. "I don't feel like sweet-talking cops tonight."

Sobbing, we pull Marita back into the blackened office building and just before we close the door, I stare into the night. My blood feels like it's made of all the stars, and they're pulsing. They're going to go supernova. I could leap a thousand miles and land on my feet. This is the new me. This is what death has returned to me.

Dru has Marita backed into a corner, hyperventilating at the body of her "friend", when I arrive. I light a cigarette, one of the Virginia Slims Mom used to smoke long before we found out that cigarettes would kill you, and take long, sensual drags. I missed smoking. I've missed it so much.

"Are you going to kill me?"

"We're going to kill you," I say, curling my lips into a smile. "Me and Drusilla. But don't worry, we're leaving you lots of time to cry and scream and pray."

Marita, if it's possible, goes even paler, and stares at me, her lungs shuddering with quick breaths. "Why?"

"Well," I say, taking another slow drag off my smoke. "If you had asked me three weeks ago, I would have said revenge. If you had asked, oh, ten days ago, I would have said vengeance. But now, you why I kill? Do you know why?"

I've been slinking forward this entire time, and now I'm on my knees before Marita, who is clinging to the corner like it's salvation. She stares down at me, panicked but without tears, and shakes her head.

"I like hearing people scream," I tell her, reaching up and running my hand down her cheek. "It's fun."

"Good God," Marita says.

"God's not listening!" I cry, leaping to my feet, agile as a cat in four-inch heels. "Did God listen to me? And I've done a hell of a lot less to piss him off than you! Well, before this month, anyway. But did God listen to me? No! Did he listen to my good friend Drusilla when she entered his service?"

"No," Dru says. She looks utterly drunk on the drama. "God wouldn't answer me."

Marita moans. "If I tell you something--if I tell you about what's really happening here--will you let me live?"

"Like what?"

"Like--there are no aliens."

I groan. "Jesus, Marita. Even I believe in aliens. Remember? I was abducted by them? Of course there are aliens!"

"No, wait," Marita pleads. "They're not really aliens. They're demons. They're really powerful demons. They deceived us into believing they were aliens, that they had technology beyond our wildest dreams--"

I pause a moment. "Keep talking, blonde girl," I say.

"We didn't know. They told us to do these things-- horrible things-- and we did them. Some of them wanted to do it. Some of us were just afraid. But we thought they were extra-terrestrial. And then we found out-- Alex found out, before he took off--"

"What did Alex find out?" I ask, the syllables dripping with venom.

"It's all a lie. It's the devil, Scully," Marita whispers, eyes glittering with terror. "We've all been duped. We thought he didn't exist and now it's all over. I was trying to warn my friends-- but I suppose it's too late now. You've got to believe me. Whoever's in charge of this is as evil as the devil we've been taught to disregard."

I burst into laughter. I can't help it.

"The devil?" I ask. "Do you think just because I'm a vampire now, I'm going to buy that load of crap?"

"I know you don't believe me, but I swear it's true," she says. Behind me, Drusilla makes a whiny noise.

"What is it, honey?" I ask.

"She's sick," Dru whimpers. "She's got cancers in her blood. I can see it all around her. I don't like her. She whispers dirty lies into the porridge."

I sigh. "Marita, you've upset Drusilla. And I can't have that," I murmur, moving in for the kill.

"You have to stop it! You're the only one who can!" Marita cries. "If Mulder were here, he would--"

I can suddenly only see red.

If Mulder--

My Mulder.


My soul. My love. My dead man. If Mulder--

Marita's eyes are about to pop out of her head, and her throat is half- crushed under my fingers.

"That was the wrong fucking thing to say to me," I growl.

Then I snap her neck and throw her across the room.

"What did she tell you?" Drusilla asks, gaping at me as I sink to my knees and start sobbing. "What did the horrible thing tell you?"

"Nothing," I lie. "Come on, Dru. The night is young and I want to get the nasty bitch out of my mouth."

We leave the building and go walking.

Where? I don't know.

To what purpose? Who the hell cares?

I died. I'm reborn. That's enough.

For tonight.

And I'll never need to get past tonight.


Title: Now It's Dark: 03. Lucifer in Starlight Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 3rd of Series

Summary: New purpose. Family reunions. It's time to change the ending.

"I dream'd a dream to-night."
"And so did I."
"Well, what was yours?"
"That dreamers often lie." --Romeo
Juliet, 1.4

There are shooting stars blazing up every time my baby girl smiles.

But she doesn't smile nearly enough. Her face is sad, like she's been dreaming only of dead things. I want to watch her blue eyes light up with laughter, with delight, with something besides that cold, dark bitterness that surrounds her like a cloak of night.

My Dana is Darla, Angelus, Spike--my entire family reborn. Every time I watch her move soundlessly through the night, I know. I see my darling Spike in her smile. I hear Angelus's proud voice in every syllable Dana speaks. I can even feel Darla making hard, mean faces at me every time we leave another fancy business dripping with blood.

Tonight, we're all play, but it's not enough.

"I want to take you to Prague," I say, perching on the merry-go-round. Dana likes parks. We go and she swings on the swings until I think that she'll fly into the moon. And I know by her laugh that she once pretended she was so grown-up and proper. Now all of the little girl in Dana has slipped out. Now it dances in all the places little girls shouldn't dance.

"But I don't speak Czech," she yells back, soaring higher.

"You speak German, though. That's good enough!" I reply. "You're making me dizzy."

"You were already dizzy from spinning," Dana tells me very seriously.

I stick my tongue out at her. "You're the one who brings us here every night. Can I help it if my head is spinning?"

Her feet disappear over my head and I hear a loud squeal as she leaps out of the swing, over the merry-go-round and on her feet behind me. There's a smile on her face. Then Dana bends over where I'm sprawled out and shakes her head.

"You are inexplicable," my new baby girl says, eyes glittering. "What on earth are you looking at?"

"The stars," I say, drawing myself up into a sitting position. "They whisper secrets about who you are."

"And who am I?" she asks sharply. How very much my girl reminds me of Darla now. Poor dead Darla. Staked to death by Angel's soul. Horrible soul. Darla thought I didn't know anything. Silly. I knew how to live, didn't I? Did she?

"You are my very own wonderland," I say, turning around slowly and smiling. "I want to see you dance. I want the world to burn to give you the light you deserve."

"I don't know. I think the city out there is just fine for light," she says, pulling me off the spinning merry-go-round. "Let's dance."

Dana throws her arms out wide, just the way Spike used to, turning big circles and singing. She's dreadful. She'll wake every cat in the neighborhood.

"You're hurting my ears!"

"Sorry!" she tells me, not at all sorry, grabbing my hands. "Drusilla, let's go dancing. Let's put on our red shoes and dance the blues. Let's--"

"All right, we can dance," I say, throwing my arm over her shoulder. "Because you have red shoes strapped to your soul."

She sticks her tongue out at me.

"Loony toon."

"Naughty cub," I reply.

We walk out of the park and it seems only seconds before the air is bleeding with drums and music and I can see sparkles turn different colors all over my skin. There is beauty everywhere.

And Dana's laughing with every step.

"God!" she screams over the din of the music and the cries of the sparkles. "Did I ever tell you that I never understood nightclubs? I always thought they were full of desperate people forcing themselves to have fun. But now--"

"Everything old is new again?" I ask slyly.

She ignores me, or maybe she just doesn't hear.

"I want a shot of tequila!" she roars over the bar, every part of her lost in the moment. Just like my Spike. I can almost see his eyes in her face. "Make that six shots of tequila. I have a lust for life."

I can't stop laughing. Dana takes the first shot of tequila and bolts it down, turning to me coyly and triumphantly.

"What's so damn funny?" she asks, looking at me sidewise.

"You talk in song fragments and riddles. I think when I figure you out, I'll know the end to all the stories," I reply. My girl rolls her eyes and tilts her head.

"But that's so easy."

"What?" I shout over the roars of the music and the crowd. "What's easy?"

"The end to all the stories," she says. "It's just-- the end. No more. Nothing. That's how it ends. Finis. We will never find the pieces to put them back together."

I think she has three shots of tequila at once and she laughs again. How strange that it sounds just like broken glass crashing over the floor. Maybe that's just the shot glass slipping off the nasty, dirty bar. But my mind is spinning. I'm spinning, because of what she has just told me in utter jest.

Find the pieces. Put them back together. Put us back together. It could be done. I've been wandering alone too long, I know now. Like a lonely wind. I understand everything now.

I've lost her already, in the time it took to think one thought. She's dancing again, and her shoes are redder than blood, redder than rubies, and when they dance, so does she. Though this is not the dance she thinks it is. I can see what she's looking for. The last dance, someone to take all the way to the wall and then-- well.

No more. Nothing. That's how it ends.

I want to change the story. I want to make an ending made not of silence and dust, but of moans and subtle screams--something new, made of black flowers and blood so rich it could be wine. The air is whispering the ways it can change. I can hear the secrets that the drums murmur between beats and they're telling me to do wicked, wonderful things.

The way things were--but better. I can do that. Or if I can't, my baby girl can. They always can when they're young. I remember when my Spike killed his first Slayer and burst out into everything he was meant to be. We need to kill this Slayer, the horrible thing. A Slayer's blood could change the world, bring what I've lost back to me.

And there before me on the dance floor, unaware of anything, covered in glowing silver sparkles, is the one who will bring everything back. I understand everything now. She smiles at me, waving at me to come over, to slide between all these warm, wet human bodies that smell of life and death and join her.

"Is it strange?" I ask, brushing against her.

"Is what strange?"

"Seeing them and knowing that you were once just like them?" I ask, sliding past slowly.

"I was never like anyone," she replies in a warm, dark voice. Her eyes are fixed on something in black leather. I watch her watching him, the way his shoulders are held so tense. He can feel it. He knows that he could die tonight. But he doesn't know why. "Ever."

She licks her lips, slowly, raising them into a smile and catching the eye of her black leather man. She arches her neck, arches her back, and closes her eyes just for a second. He doesn't look at anyone except her as he parts his way into the crowds, brushing past me, falling into her.

"Who are you?" he asks. "I know you, don't I?"

Just like Darla, she draws him in, putting her arms on his shoulders. Like Spike, she smiles at me, a subtle grin. I know the ending of this story already, don't I? Her eyes never leave his after that, pulling him out of his skin, into hers. The tension slips out of his shoulders and he's meat. He's lost and he knows it--but he wants it all the same.

It would be delicious if it weren't so easy. A lamb to the slaughter. Fluffy and white and slightly woolly.

Her lips meet his ear. I can't hear what she's saying. I don't have to. I've heard enough.

They blur away and I wait, swaying closer and closer to the door into the alleyway. I think of Angelus. I can almost see him, glowering like a particularly gassy pastor. Thinking of nothing but Darla and the kill. He's so far away. I can't hear him. But I know where he is. I think I need to go to him. To bring back the past, I must find my family.

Dana is holding him by the throat in the alley when I emerge. He's gurgling, trying to say something that will stop her.

"Just talk about nothing," she says airily. Her other hand is on his crotch and she's starting to squeeze. "I'm so distracted that any talk might just make me yank and--"

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees me. So does he and his eyes widen, begging me to do something.

"Drusilla," she drawls. "Do you want to watch?"

He whimpers. I nod and she turns her attention back to the man in black. Her hand slides away from his throat, but she still has him pinned to the wall.

"Don't worry," she murmurs. "You'll be able to scream all you want soon. Scream like a baby."

Dana starts to drink and then stops. "How's that feel?" she asks. He blinks dumbly, moaning in agony. She rubs up against him, slinking like a cat. He keeps moaning. "Not as good as this, I bet--"

When she's finally done, she lets go of him, pulls a gun out of her purse, and shoots him three times in the head. I look at her and shake my head. Everything that has changed in my life is because of my girl Dana. I know that she'll understand the new plan.

"Dru?" she finally asks. "What's going on?"

"We have to go to Los Angeles," I say. "We have to find Angel. I want to reunite the family and he's the only one I know I can find. Will you come with me? We can change the ending. Be a family again. Make all the little piggies scream."

Her lips are dripping with blood and the light in her eyes screams of the delight she's just experienced.

"Of course, Dru," she says. "You know, I'm tired of dancing. Let's go get a room. It's almost tomorrow."

We disappear into the night, the red shoes still strapped on tight. But I don't care. Tomorrow, the book that was over starts again. I'm going to write a new ending.

Because after all, all the best stories end happily. And what's happier than my family being together again to do as they will?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.


OK, couple of song credits: David Bowie's "Let's Dance," and "Scream Like a Baby" and Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life". There's also a very obscure reference to the Jeffery Eugenides book "The Virgin Suicides." Send feedback and gain good karma:

Title: Now It's Dark: 04. The Subtle Art of Self-Preservation Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 4th of Series

Summary: Darla has joined up with the Dynamic Duo. Will they start wreaking havoc and causing chaos? I think that's a safe bet.

+ + +
"Light a candle, light a votive. Step down, step down.
Watch your heel crush, crushed, uh-oh, this means no
Fear cavalier renegade steer clear! A tournament,
tournament, a tournament of lies! Offer me solutions,
offer me alternatives and I decline--" --R.E.M.
+ + +

I have to admit it--I like the new one.

She's out of her mind and thinks she knows everything, but fuck me, I've missed real, honest-to-God vicious vampires. The new ones are either postmodern assholes, or they're whiny Anne Rice junkies dripping with velvet and leather. Nothing but poseurs, every single last one of them, and I've tired of second-rate demons and their pettiness.

Dana, on the other hand, is a vampire for the ages. She takes a satisfaction in the kill that simply doesn't exist any more. The Master would have loved her. Unlike Drusilla, who was mad and then went madder and stupider after we turned her, Dana's madness is the glow in her eyes, the spring in her step, and the last delicious kiss before she drops another 6'2, 250-pound asshole who thought *he* was the one calling the shots. The girl really gets off on dropping would-be date rapists. It's a pleasure to watch her work.

I'm not sure if she trusts me, though. Her eyes flicker a lot when she sees me. Dana wasn't there when I was reborn, though I found out later that she was the one that set up the entire scenario with Drusilla and Wolfram and Hart. I also appreciate that she set up my hasty escape. (Did I mention that? Two days after Wolfram and Hart turned me-- "recaptured" me--Dru and I were walking the streets of LA. They lost four guards. It was impressive.) They know nothing about her and when I asked why she set it up that way, she just smiled.

"With secret organizations full of megalomaniacal intentions, I like to watch my ass," she told me. I've tried to tease the information out of her and Drusilla about her past, but all I get are fascinating fragments. Bad things happened to our little Dana (who won't be babied by me, but allows Drusilla a thousand ridiculous pet names) in the past. Further than that, I don't know.

Right now, our brave new alliance is drinking a lot of Skid Row blood and Dana is loaded. I don't know if she's been draining their tequila bottles or if the last guy she fed on was high, but she's got that unearthly look in her eye that she gets when she's not quite home.

Smiling like crazy, she turns to us. "Dana, Darla, and Drusilla," she says, apropos of nothing. "The Charlie's Angels of the vampire world."

Drusilla laughs hysterically and doesn't know what Dana's talking about. As usual. I haven't been around Dru a month and I'm already wishing she would just go away in search of a talking star or a snake in the woodshed or something preferably on another continent.

Dana looks down at the victim, who is glassy-eyed from the three-hour feeding she has been perpetrating--just for fun--in our hotel room. He gasps like a dying fish in her lap.

"Who would you choose to play me in the movie?" she asks, tilting her head and stroking his hair. "The last time they chose Tea Leoni. I didn't like that at all. She's sort of wooden for my tastes."

Abruptly, she tosses the human aside and throws out her arms. They've made a movie about our Dana? Very interesting indeed.

"Do you know who I am?" she suddenly asks, ostensibly to the gasping lump on the floor. "Do you, motherfucker? Do you hear me? I'm asking you a question! Do you KNOW who I am?"

She whips her head to look at us. Drusilla is transfixed. For that matter, so am I. Dana's eyes blaze and she drops to her knees next to him. Her lips touch his cheek as she pulls him close and her grip on his blood-striped back is so tight I can see white under her fingers.

"I," she begins in a clear hiss, "I am FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, formerly of the X-Files, and while you enjoy the last moments of your life--or more accurately, while I enjoy the last moments of your life-- think about this."

We all go dead silent. The only sound in the room is the hiss of the air conditioner and the sobbing, wavering breathing of the condemned man. We wait.

"Julianne Moore would do an admirable job in the part," she finally says before draining the man and dropping his lifeless carcass on the floor in about forty seconds. I lick my lips. Some part of me wants to throw my new sister up against the wall and taste all that delicious blood. It's funny--man or woman, nothing is more sexual than a vampire with a taste for killing and the style to do it right.

Later, after we get rid of the body, I disappear and find Lindsey. I can't help it. I'm just too curious about my little sister Dana. It's not hard to find him--he's terrified that I'm going to kill him and nothing leaves a wider trail than fear. I catch up with him at that ridiculous demon karaoke bar, his eyes the size of saucers at the sight of me.

"You can't do anything to me in here," he warns as I walk in and wave at Merle the Empath Demon, who's listening to a Graknar sing La Vida Loca and ignoring my revamped presence.

"I don't want to do anything. I have a name for you, Lindsey darling. Can you do me just one more favor, the same as you did me when you ripped that filthy soul out of my breast?" I ask, fluttering my eyelashes.

He looks at me warily, then nods slowly. I sit down and because I'm feeling energized by Dana's youth and exuberance, slide my foot up his thigh. Lindsey is such a faker. He loves me, but he wants Angel. Babbling twit.

"What is it?" he says in a half-strangled gasp. "Who is it?"

"FBI Special Agent Dana Scully, formerly of the X-Files. Whatever that is."

Apparently, the name carries some weight. Lindsey's jaw drops. The three tables around us hush into frightened silence. Lindsey gapes at me, pale as death.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me, Darla."

"Assume I'm not," I say, not understanding the reactions. I turn on a Porsimon sitting at the table next to me. It's blanched at the human name Dana Scully and it's too much for me. "What? You act like she's a fucking Slayer or something!"

"Hey, lady, this one was worse than the Slayer," the Porsimon replies coolly. "At least the Slayer stays put. This Scully, though--back in her day, before she dropped off the planet, she was working for a crazy government unit called--"

"The X-Files. We get it," Lindsey interrupts smoothly. "Why the interest, Darla? She's dead, or good as. Disappeared about six weeks ago. If she's not dead, she's in a mental ward somewhere."

"Say I saw her investigating a case in the neighborhood," I reply calmly. "She was looking for something haunting sewers. Badge and all. I think she's awfully little to strike so much fear into the hearts of demons. Would you be open to sharing information then?"

Lindsey shakes his head. "It's a long story. The basic gist of the story is that she had a crazy genius partner, Fox Mulder. They ran around, as FBI agents do, solving crimes and righting wrongs and that sort of bullshit. This, of course, offended many of our clients as well as some special government folks on the East Coast. And these guys are your worst nightmare--Mafia meets PTBs meet Black Ops. Instead of explaining to these do-gooders that they needed to back the fuck off, they just fucked 'em over. Especially her-- just to fuck Mulder. I'm friends with these people, and I thought it was sick. They held her once for three months to perform tests. Lots of medical rape, sterilization, cancer, that sort of crazy shit. So finally, the boys out east off Mulder to find out our girl Dana is pregnant."

"With what?" I ask sarcastically. "An alien? The anti-christ?"

"We dunno. Nobody will ever know. Nobody wanted to find out," Lindsey says. "Anyway, Mulder is dead and Scully is having his baby. You'd think she'd back off and take up haunting conspiracy newsgroups, but she keeps pushing--and this bitch is good. She could put a few of our clients out of business for good. So the East Coast boys decide to arrange an accident. If you get my meaning."

"I'm not stupid," I growl. "I can see where this is going. So she lost her mind, thanks to the massive bitch-slap dealt to her?"

"Apparently. Then she disappeared about six weeks ago," Lindsey finishes. "But if you've seen her, Wolfram and Hart would pay good money for her whereabouts. There are a sizeable number of people who say she faked her death and went sort of vigilante. They'd like to speak to her."

I think about Dana's ongoing quest to kill as many things as possible with as much pain as she can inflict. I grin. Lindsey eyes me suspiciously.


"Sort of vigilante? Lindsey," I say, sliding my foot around his crotch. "That's like saying Angel kind of does it for you. The way I heard it, girl took out twenty-five of your East Coast boys like they were standing still. In fact, I heard she strung one bad boy up and removed his guts while he was alive. It was a one-woman bloodbath."

OK, I didn't really hear about the guts thing, but it's a good conversational flourish.

"Where is she?" Lindsey asks.

"Singing karaoke at the bar over yonder," I say, pointing. His head swivels and before he can realize I've lied to him, I rush out of Caritas and into the night-black streets of Los Angeles.

For once, Drusilla has done something brilliant. Why she turned Dana, I don't know, and I don't care. But we have a name on our side, a name that makes demons piss themselves and big-shot evil guys turn pale as a sheet. I still don't understand why a couple of FBI do-gooders shake them so, but I'll go with it. She's a weapon in my hands, one that could bring the world to its knees.

"Now this is an interesting situation," someone suddenly murmurs in my ear two seconds before she slips her hand around my throat. "It appears our little alliance isn't so sacred after all."

"That wasn't what you thought," I squeak, trying to pull Dana's hand away from my throat.

"I'm not so sure of that," she says, flinging me against the side of the building. "You have a very bad reputation, Darla. It's you first, you second, Angel third, everyone else fourth, and then it's you again. Forgive me if I don't believe your half-assed confession of innocence."

"Have some respect, little sister," I croak, wriggling against the incredible pressure she's putting on my throat. "Without my self- preservation skills, none of us would be here today."

"And with your self-preservation skills, I might not be here tomorrow," Dana replies. "What's the play, Darla? Are you going to lie through your teeth until I crush your lying throat or what?"

"If I scream real loud, do you promise to crush it slow?" I ask, sneering. Of course it's a stupid thing to say, but I can't help it. I deserve this child's respect, not her third degree. I'm four hundred years old. I was made by the Master himself.

She doesn't say anything, just slams my head harder into the wall. It hurts like fuck and I go game faced. She slams my head again.

"What do you say, Darla?"

"Fuck you, Dana," I reply, expecting my head to go into the wall again. Instead, I feel something pointy against my chest.

"If that's how you really feel," she says. "I can penetrate you right here, right now."

"You'd break Dru's heart," I protest. "She's in love with this idea of reassembling the family. How would she feel if her beloved baby girl killed her grandmother?"

"You hate Drusilla, Darla. And she's really not that fond of you. She's fonder of your Angel-attracting properties than your charming personality and I'm sure she'd get over it pretty fast," Dana replies. "Come on, Darla. You like living. Just tell me. What the fuck were you doing with that pretty-boy lawyer?"

She's not going to back down, and she's right. I didn't survive as long as I did because I was idiotically stubborn.

"Finding out about you," I admit. "That's the truth. I wanted to know who you were and he told me. Sounds like you were worse than the Slayer in your day, Agent Scully."

"Righting wrongs and fucking Mulder was pretty much my life until about six weeks ago. I prided myself on being the best at both. It's sort of a thing with me. I have to do my best or I'm not going to do it," she says, slowly loosening her grip on my neck. "Plus, I had a gun. The Slayer has a bunch of children's toys."

"Maybe so," I say. "But they're a bunch of effective toys."

She glares at me, but it's a speculative, thinking sort of glare. Even with my bruised neck, I'm excited. This one has everything necessary to bring hell onto this earth. She's smart, tough, and just realistic enough to avoid obvious death. Plus, she has the desire--not the desire, the pathological need--to be perfect at whatever she does.

"What's so interesting about me, by the by?" Dana asks after she lets go of me and we start walking down the street.

"Your reputation. It causes brave men and lawyers to piss their pants. Especially after the East Coast bloodbath," I reply nonchalantly. "So, Dana, now that you're through the glass darkly, do you have a purpose besides pain?"

She frowns and thinks silently as we turn a corner onto a busy street. "Not really," she admits. "But do I really need one? A purpose is such a tedious thing to carry around all the time. All I want is to be the best at pain. I was one of the best at suffering it, so I want to see what the other side is like."

"Good enough for me," I reply. "So why are you helping Drusilla on this family reunion project?"

"I owe Dru. Besides, you guys are the best of the best. I think that my purposes are best served by uniting this little family again," she says. "Want to get a beer and a nice bartender to go with it before we go home, Darla?"

I hear the subtext. What she isn't saying is that she wants to know if I'll be loyal to her. The idea annoys me. To be subservient to a vampire so young and inexperienced when the Master sired me! When I was brought back from the dead!

But I have nowhere else to turn. Wolfram and Hart are keeping tabs on me, but my escape and refusal to work with them doesn't make them likely allies. Besides, I dislike them. Angel can't help me. The vampires of Los Angeles are weak, mewling kittens. This cold, tiny woman with eyes of steel and a grip to match is my only way back to safety, to more than safety, to what I once was.

"Sounds like a plan," I reply.

"Good," she says. "After we go home, we need to go to Sunnydale. Dru's hung up on killing the Slayer. I say it's not a bad idea, but we're going to need time, talent, and careful planning if we want to survive the town. What do you say to that?"

"I say I'm going to need a bottle of whiskey to wash down that bartender," I reply grimly. Sunnydale. I died there. Going back doesn't really appeal to me. However, killing that blonde cheerleader--or watching Dana do it with a dull knife and a song in her heart--does.

"Seconded and agreed," she says. Her face softens for a moment, and then she turns to me and smiles.

"You and me, girl. We're gonna fuck up the world," she says. And I completely agree.

END I hope you enjoyed the story...

Title: Now It's Dark: 05. Facing the Stranger Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 5th of Series

Summary: Meanwhile back at the 'Dale....

+ + +
"sit in the chair and be good now"
and become all that they told you
the white coats enter the room... --Tori Amos
+ + + OK. I'm alone. I don't have to pretend anymore. It's too quiet. Dawn isn't ever this quiet. Something's wrong. Oh, my God, I've got to go make sure she's okay. What if Mom-- she wouldn't mean to, but what if, with all the problems-- oh, God. It's way too quiet. I practically run down the hall to Dawn's room and open the door maybe a little bit too hard. "Were you born rude?" Dawn asks. She and Mom are camped out on the bed, and Dawn has a dog-eared copy of Goodnight Moon in her lap. "I'm reading to Mom. And I thought you wanted time to yourself." I am so losing it. "Sorry," I say, practically gawking as I step out of the room and away from the cozy pair. "I'm just-- I'm sorry." Wandering back to my room, I look down at my fingernails. They're all bitten to hell. Things have really gotten to me lately. Dawn, Mom, Glory the Valley Girl Demon from Hell, Riley acting like a tool, this whole Spike thing, (which I just don't get at ALL)-- add in some primal Slayer wigginess and I'm just a ball of psychological goodies ready to explode like piñata. One thing's for sure. It can't get any worse. Knock wood. Because next thing you know, Xander and Willow will be vampires, or Harmony will get her own show on the WB. I can actually see that in my head. Harmony's Homestead, co-starring Spike as the brooding bad boy, constantly clothed in delicious tight black leather-- or not. I really, really need a vacation. Preferably one with fluffy bunnies, ice cream, two-hour massages, and frolicking in the sun and sands of Mexico. But who am I kidding? I'm the Slayer. If I went to Mexico, the vamps would all have accents. Nothing changes. Or if they do change, it's only for the worse. I lie down on my bed alone and stare up on the ceiling. No one knows what I'm going through. It's hard to imagine they'd even understand. I'm so keyed up that I can't even cry. The door creaks open. "Buffy?" Mom asks. "You doing okay?" No. "I'll live." "Well, I'm going to go to bed now. Did I take everything I was supposed to? Is there anything else we need to do?" she asks nervously. You know, this is harder than almost anything. She's my mother, not vice versa. I can't deal with having to take care of her like a kid. It's scaring the hell out of me. "I think we got everything," I say, mentally going over the pill schedule for today. "Yeah, we're good. Do you want me to help you to bed?" "No, honey, I'm fine," Mom says. "You should get some sleep, too." "I will. Good night." "Good night, Buffy," she says, closing the door and disappearing. I want to cry, but I can't. I stare at the ceiling. I can't cry and I can't sleep, so I'm almost glad when the phone rings. "Buffy?" Giles asks me. "Did I interrupt anything?" "No," I say. "Mom went to bed and Dawn's in her room. What's up?" "I hate to ask you, but we need you to come to the shop," he says, wincing into the phone. "We have a slight emergency." "I'm there," I reply, sitting up. "Can I kill it?" "That's a definite possibility," he says. "I wouldn't bother you, but it is urgent." I sigh. "It's okay, Giles. This is Sunnydale. Evil doesn't take a vacation just because I want it to." When I get there, everyone looks guilty. I feel totally uncomfortable, especially because Riley's brooding in a corner and he doesn't look guilty. He's pissed and everyone's trying not to look at him. That doesn't bode for good. "What's the emergency?" I ask, ignoring Riley. "Riley's a moron," Anya pipes in. I ignore her and the obvious comment about pots and kettles. "Shut up, Anya," Giles replies. "Buffy, there's a new coven of extremely powerful vampires in town--" "So how does that make Riley a moron?" I ask, looking directly at him. Everyone else shuts up fast and shrinks back. "I was looking for them," he says. He doesn't meet my eyes when he says it. "To kill them?" "Not exactly," he says, looking down. That really can't be good. I cross the room in two steps and get in his face. "What does not exactly mean?" I ask. "It means--" and he pauses. "Look, I'm sorry, all right? It was stupid. It was extremely stupid and childish of me and I'm sorry." "Riley, what the hell is going on?" He won't look at me. I won't force him to look but I don't know why he doesn't want to. Finally, I turn away and walk over to Giles. "Giles, you have to tell me what's going on. Who are these vamps? What did Riley do?" "I was looking for someone to bite me, okay?" he snaps from the corner. "I was trying to work up the courage to--" I didn't just hear that. I didn't just put that together in my mind. Because if I did, I will have to kill my boyfriend. Therefore, I must ignore him and hear more about these new vamps, who are out for blood that is apparently belonging to my boyfriend who wants to be one of them! "You are a moron!" I snap. "Giles, let's cut the crap. What's going on? Who are these people?" "We don't know, Buffy," he tells me with that weary Britishness that is really starting to piss me off. "They're extraordinarily powerful." "And we know that because Riley couldn't find them?" I ask. "Give me the real 411, Giles." Giles opens his mouth to answer, but then the door opens, despite the very prominent CLOSED sign out front. Everyone turns to look at the party crasher. "Oh, dear," Giles says. "Am I late?" This is so not what I expected Giles to say, but the average customer who can't read also doesn't look quite like an average customer and in fact looks like a very hot date. I look over at Willow, who stares back at me and shakes her head. Xander's blinking a little too fast. "I'm early," she says, eyes sparkling at Giles. "But I'm interrupting something. I can go." The hot date is wearing a long black velvet dress with silver designs across it. The slit in the side reveals most of her left thigh. The long silver satin gloves match. And hello, she's an uber-babe--well, for her age, anyway. Red hair in pre-Raphaelite, Madonna-type ringlets, smoky eyeshadow, and lips asking to be kissed. Yeah, right, she can go. And I can trust Riley not to do stupid things. "I'll handle it," I say too quickly. "You should have told us you were busy tonight, Giles. We could have let you get ready." Giles looks at me suspiciously. I shake my head. Then he looks at his date, who is both sexy and classy in a redheaded, Rita Hayworth noirish way. He has a pathetic expression on his face. He's actually thinking about sending her home. "Are you sure, Buffy?" he asks. "Your date is waiting, Giles, and I'm sure--" "Dana," she adds helpfully. "I'm sure Dana didn't dress up like this because she thinks you're boring," I say. "Go. Have fun." He gives me one last, pitiful look and then runs for the stock room. "Dana, I'll be just a moment-- do make yourself comfortable." She smiles and winks at all of us. I notice that Xander is sort of staring at her. Anya doesn't look too pleased about that. Good. "So, Rupert is some sort of mentor to all of you, I take it?" Dana asks before sitting down next to Tara, who doesn't say anything at all. "Yeah. He's been there for us since we were sophomores in high school," Xander pipes in. "We're sort of a happy little family." "I thought you thought family was a manipulation forced on us by the greeting card industry and 50's TV," Anya snipes. "And I thought we had discussed not talking about my bad days in front of a mixed crowd." "Oh, please," Anya says. "So, Buffy, what are our plans for the rest of tonight? Are you going to go wreak havoc?" Dana raises one very cultured eyebrow. I shudder. One day, I am going to ask Xander to muzzle her in the presence of strangers. "On the dance floor, sure. Because you know I'm all about wreaking beat-crazed havoc and all," I say. Giles saves us from imminent disaster by emerging and looking somewhat suave. "Well, you have fun doing that," Dana says, smiling at me. Her eyes are so blue that I almost think they're fake. Also, she doesn't seem to blink. I force a smile back. "Buffy, call me if there's anything you can't handle," Giles says, offering his arm to Dana, who accepts it lithely and starts to glide away with him. "What part of 'have fun' don't you understand?" I ask. "Night, Giles!" With that, Dana the redheaded siren glides him out of the store and I turn around to see everyone staring at me. I try to smile. Then I just shake my head. "Powerful new vampires? Riley has a new bloodlust? Is this basically the vital information that you needed to tell me?" I ask. "Yeah," Willow says. "Buffy, what are you--" "I'm out of here. I can't do anything tonight. Try to get any information you can about these vampires." Riley stands up. "Buffy--" I turn my head and look directly at Willow. "If Riley tries to go get a little fang, lock him up. I don't want him jeopardizing the rest of you. Maybe you can have Spike watch him." Before anyone else can interrupt me, I take off, slamming the door to the magic shop behind me. There's no one on the street and I start heading home. OK. I'm alone now. I don't have anyone to pretend for except myself. But that's plenty. THE END

Title: Now It's Dark: 06. A Fantastic Death Abyss Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 6th of Series

Summary: Spike is set up. And he is a sexist pig-dog.

+ + +
"I've lain with the devil
Cursed God above
Forsaken Heaven
To bring you my love--" PJ Harvey
+ + +

Harmony has any number of problems. I would be the first to list them. She's a stunning half-wit with neither a sense of humor, a lust for the kill, or an original personality. But God or Satan knows that she's an incredible, mind-boggling, cock-swelling good lay.

If only I could escape the post-coital blatherfest.

"Spikey, baby, what's a good D name?" she asks, examining her fingernails.

"Dementia? DeLorean? Difficult?" I ask, trying to get a little sleep. If I stay up too late, I miss Passions, and the Timmy storyline is to die for these days. "Doll? Dimwit?"

"Don't be stupid," she says, tapping her fingers on the bedspread. "I was thinking of changing my name to Donna, but Donna sounds too much like my aunt."

"Why's that?" I ask.

"Her name was Donna."

Ba-dum-ching. OK, that's quite enough of Harmony's Homestead for the night. I'll take my chances on the couch. At least then, if I think of certain bitchy blonde slayers, I won't be in danger of sharing that information with certain moronic blonde vampires.

"Where are you going?"

"The couch."

"Not until we figure out a good D name!" Harmony squawks. She pouts her little pout, reminding me that there is another reason to keep Harmony around the homestead. "I wish that I could choose a P name. Then I'd pick a name off Charmed. But no, it has to be a D."

Pout be damned. I really need to get rid of Harmony. Her voice makes the back of my neck rise up in little bumps and grit my teeth. I cannot stand another night of prattle from this preening, babbling-- wait a second. D name?

"What the hell do you want to change your name for, anyway?" I ask. "I mean, Harmony's a stupid name and all, but like you say, there's only so many good names that start with D."

Methinks my spidey sense is tingling. Something is rotten in the Dale-- more than usual, that is.

"You know," Harmony says in that insufferably snooty tone she takes whenever she knows something I don't, "If you weren't so busy stalking the Slayer, maybe you might hear a few things."

"And if you weren't so busy flapping your jaws, I could hear them," I reply. "Be a darling, Harm, and tell me what the hell is going on."

Harmony wrinkles her nose and tries to pout, but finally spits it out.

"There's a new girl gang of vampires in town," she says. "They're really super cool and SO powerful and they're going to kill the Slayer."

Oh, yes. "And why are the Vampirettes going to succeed when the Master himself failed?"

Harmony thinks about this. You can actually see the wheels turning in her head. They're rusty and slow. Finally, she shrugs.

"I don't know. All I know is that I was talking to Big Benny and he said that one of these vamps was made by the Master, but that she's not even the most powerful one. And the most powerful one is like, five foot two and out of her mind. He says he saw her tear a guy open behind the Bronze. Everyone is totally joining up with them."

Oh, bloody hell. It sounds like we've got another coven of wannabes who spend far too much time watching the telly and reading Anita Blake. They probably thought the Hellmouth was a "cool" place to hang. Silly cows.

"Who's everyone?"

"Um-- Big Benny. Um, a lot of people. Anyone who's anyone in the vampire community," Harmony says. "Can we go meet with them? Please? Big Benny says that tonight's Vampire Night at the Bronze and I just really really want to go, but everyone's still mad at me for that whole minion thing. I need protection."

I shake my head. Oh, well. Maybe I can ask someone to tape Passions for me. Besides, maybe the Double D gang will take Harmony off my hands and I can finally get some sleep at night.

When we get to the Bronze, I discover that this mysterious Benny is right. It is Vampire Night and that's just bizarre to me. Buffy should be all over this, but there are all sorts of creatures of the night, roaming around free and finding victims to feed on. I don't know what to make of this. These aren't wannabes.

"Oh, my God," Harmony twitters next to me. "This is so cool. We're on a date with other vamps around. Oh, Spikey, isn't it great?"

"Bugger off," I say, pushing her aside and disappearing into the extremely mixed crowd. My spidey-sense is flashing a major red alert. Evil is a-brewing and I'm not involved. This is a bad thing.

"Excuse me, little boy," someone with a tired drawl asks. "But aren't you Spike?"

"That's my name, and who are you?" I ask, turning around. "And what is your business with me?"

Shit. Holy shit. This one's so powerful that it's practically hovering in the air around her. She's really young, too. Last month, she was alive. I can smell the life on her. I can smell the death on her, too. It's intoxicating.

"Come on, Billy the Bloody," she says coolly. "We have things to discuss."

"You're the new one in town, eh?" I ask, refusing to move until I get a better look. I don't want to go into this situation blind. New One's short and slender to the point of being delicate. She's pale, dainty, far too refined to be a real killer. In fact, she reminds me a little of Dru. "A tender young morsel, from the looks of it. I bet you went down real smooth and easy for your sire. Or do you remember?"

She sneers at me, reaching out and pulling me close enough to smell the soft, warm skin on her neck. With the other arm, she clasps me around the waist, pinning her hips to mine.

"In the alley out back is a boy waiting for me to come out and finish him off. He's seventeen years old. One of those water polo boys completely made up of lean muscle and sweet, pure, young blood that's gone before you have time to savor it. Like a fine wine or a box of Godiva chocolate," she purrs, pressing against me close and tight so that I can see that boy in my head, with lithe hips and strong thighs.

"He's out back?" I whisper. "Still alive?"

"Yeah," she murmurs back. God, she smells good. She's so damn hot and wicked and ripe. "You can see it in your head, can't you? How it was? He thought I was too old for him, but he was excited. He kept stumbling all the way out. If he was a girl, he would have giggled."

This is a dangerous game I'm playing here. The idea of seeing her smile at him with her swollen lips, the promise of ecstasy in her half-open baby blues-- I'm getting hungry. Not for blood, fuck that, but for the satisfaction of the kill, the all-encompassing delight of hearing a warm heart stop. And I know I can't do anything about it.

"You remember the way it feels? How they moan and whimper and rub up against you?" she asks, her whispers getting harder, hotter, crazier. "How they start to pant? They can feel your unnaturalness pressed up next to them, and the death staring them right in the face. It makes them so hot and sweet, though. You know what I mean, don't you? He was still pumping his tight little hips against mine even though I had him pinned up against a cold brick wall, sucking the blood out of his body until he was dizzy."

Shit. I need to kill and I need to kill soon. The way she keeps talking, I can feel the fresh human blood under her skin, heating her up as she shimmys against me.

"There's a little of him left on my finger," she says, tilting her head awkwardly to look up at me. "Wanna taste?"

I'm lost.

"I want the whole thing," I whisper. "Take me wherever you're going."

She immediately lets go of me. "All right, then. To the secret lair."

"What about the boy?" I ask as we slide through the crowds of the Bronze like a hot knife through butter. "Aren't we going to him?"

"Fuck him," she says casually. "I have something better at home."

We disappear into the night, and the world inside my head's buzzing with anticipation. I know that the New One will work around this ruddy chip. The taste of fresh human blood is going to be mine tonight. It's incredible. Whoever told Harmony about this new vampire gang is a saint. I'd kiss Big Benny if I could.

"Hey," I say as we stumble deeper into the woods. "What's your name? My girl had a big to-do about finding a D name to fit in--"

"Dana," she says calmly. "I hate the name, though. I'm thinking of changing it. Maybe to Rogue. Or Vampirella."

"Are you mad?" I ask as we turn another corner and come upon the entrance to a nice cave. "Vampirella?"

"Not really. I guess Dana works for now, doesn't it?" she asks, a wicked smile glittering on her face. She leads me into the cavern, which is well lit and heated by space heaters. I don't know how. "It's not the Ritz for damn sure, but this is just temporary anyway."

My eye goes past all the trappings to the real prize. The something better is asleep on a bed, probably dreaming of pretty things. I'm ready to jump on her, but Dana holds me back.

"Chip, remember?" she asks, tilting her head. "We don't need to get ouchies from being hasty."

"What do you suggest then?"

"Well, I could spoon feed her to you," she says, highlighting the lascivious intent of that game. "But what if--oh, what if--I could make it so that nasty nasty chip went away? What if you could bend over that luscious, hot creature over there and eat her up just like the Big Bad Wolf?"

Heavy temptation. Except that it's not possible.

"What are you, the Vampire Brain Surgeon?" I ask. "Come on, let's just do this."

"What's the big rush, Spike?" a familiar, lilting voice asks. Bloody hell. I know that voice. But she's been dead four years. It's impossible. "Why don't you ask little sister here where she got her M.D.? It's got to be better than being a bigger eunuch than Angelus. Angelus has at least tasted human blood this year."

I spin on my heels. Darla smiles back at me, as blonde, pompous, and cold as she was in her unlife. I can't figure it out. Angel dusted Darla. I know that. She can't be standing here.

"But you're dead," I said.

"Things change," she growls. "I'm alive, and Dana can get the chip out your skull, Bloody Boy. Scary, isn't it? You might have to decide to be a real man again."

"She's a miracle worker," Drusilla calls to me, emerging out of the darkness. My God, I've been so fucking set up. Dana stares at me with lustful diffidence. "Isn't she just lovely, Spike? My own special little girl. She helped me remake our family! And she can get all the nasty nasty demons in your head out."

I stare at the three of them. Darla and Drusilla are more powerful than ever, but they're nothing next to the sheer, pulsing evil that drips from the redhead. She's clever in a way that few vampires ever manage. It took her all of fifteen minutes and a lot of whispering to get me here, completely at the mercy of her minions. And God help me, I still want to run to that bed and feed with her.

"Not all of them," she correctly meticulously, narrowing her eyes and going to game face. "Just the ones we want to go away."

She rises on tiptoe and her blood-scented breath tickles my ear.

"Be a good boy, Spike. In just seven days, I can make you a man."

The Master never had this power, I realize. Not the Master, not Angelus, not any vampire I've even been near. This one could take down the Slayer. She understands the fine line between duty, love, and death. She knows how it feels to be strong and to lose anyway. This one has something in her Buffy's never seen. I need to get out of here--

But I can't. And I don't think I would even if I could.

Drusilla smiles at me again. "Are you hungry?" she asks.

"Famished," I reply. "Absolutely famished."


Title: Now It's Dark: 07. Out of Media Res Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 7thof Series

Summary: Cordelia brings some bad news to the Scoobies.

+ + +
"This is not Nam. This is bowling. There are rules." --Walter, The Big Lebowski
+ + +

One time Wesley told me during one of the Latin lessons we used to have when nothing was going on at the office that in media res means, "in the middle of things." Lots of movies tend to use it as a dramatic device, especially in these kooky, MTV-director days. So hey, why not me? My life is already enough like a movie, so I've earned the right to rush into the middle of things.

That means while I'm waiting with Buffy and the crew for Giles to arrive from this random hot date (don't get me started on the ew factor), we're talking about how much I've missed living in a town not on the Hellmouth. You'd think there wouldn't be much to miss, but apparently the world keeps buzzing everywhere. Right now, I'm trying to parse Willow's love life.

"Okay, so Oz freaked out and couldn't control the wolf within. Then he left, you met Tara, and you and Tara got together. But Oz comes back, wolf tamed, and you have to break the bad news?" I ask incredulously. "Jeez. Soap city."

It's actually not so surprising, especially considering the little fling Wesley and Angel almost have, but it's better than hearing about Xander's love life. Stupid ex-vengeance demon.

Willow blushes. "More or less. What about you?" she asks. "Any hot dates recently?"

"I met Chow-Yun Fat the other day. Otherwise--it's been a bad year," I say succinctly, conveniently skipping over the flaming wreckage that is my love life. The 'fag hag' aspect of my life is also being swept under the rug. When Buffy, Xander, and Willow are all dating, I'm not going to be the lifeless loser. "I have my Phantom Dennis to keep me company."

"Phantom Dennis? You mean like if Dennis the Menace died and went friendly undead like Casper the Friendly Ghost?" Xander quips.

"But I always thought Casper was the ghost of Richie Rich," Willow replies.

"Jeez, and how many episodes of The Simpsons have you watched?" Buffy asks.

"About three less than you," Xander replies. "Anyway, we were asking Cordy about her phantom?"

Tara leans over toward me shyly. "Were they always like this?" she half- whispers. I wish she'd speak up.

"Yeah, except they used to be even *bigger* losers," I reply.

"Cordelia, explain to me again why you had to drive to Sunnydale alone?" Buffy snaps.

"Orders from the boss," I reply. Actually, I could have waited until later and gone with Wes, Angel, and Gunn, but watching Angel flirt with Wes is vaguely creepy. I wonder if I should tell Buffy about Angel's latest dual thang for Darla and Wesley. Personally, I think she'd have a freak scene, so I'm not going to do it, but I'm unsure if that's being unethical.

Of course, I don't have time to think about it because all of a sudden Giles arrives with a vampire. Have I mentioned they're also making out?

I don't even have to think about what to say. I just scream.

"Giles! Are you crazy? She's a vamp!"

The entire Scooby gang gapes at me in shock. They apparently didn't know, and usually they know when someone's got a pair of fangs. But hey, I am right. The vamp, who is the same redheaded demon woman I saw in my last headsplitting, vomit-inducing vision, leaps back with bared fangs. "Seer," she hisses at me. I don't know how she knows that. But I know a lot about her, so it's okay.

"Agent Scully, FBI," I reply, sounding pretty cool. "How's that life of murder, mayhem, and madness going?"

She tilts her head and pulls out a .22. Then she aims it at me.

"Business is just *fine*," she replies. "Would you like a free demonstration?"

"Are you crazy?" Buffy asks. Of course she's horning in on the badass action. But she has a crossbow, which makes me feel a little better. "Because only a crazy woman would try to kill a seer who was protected by the Slayer, her Watcher, and a coven of powerful witches."

Agent Scully sneers and fires directly at Buffy's crossbow without missing a beat. Buffy has to duck. Scully half-twirls and then she shoots Giles in the shoulder. He drops like a stone and before Buffy can regain her bearings, Scully has the gun aimed at his head.

"You'll live," she tells Giles icily. "But only if your precious Slayer puts down the weapon and puts her hands where I can see 'em."

Buffy's lip trembles for a millisecond, but she does exactly what Agent Scully wants. I have to admit, as bad as this situation is, it's nice to watch Buffy get told.

"One day, I'm gonna kill you," Buffy says, all pissed off.

Scully doesn't even reply. She just presses Giles a little harder with the gun. Then she walks backward toward the door, eyes colder than the ocean in January.

"Don't fuck with me, Slayer," she growls. "Because you won't like what happens."

With that, Agent Scully opens the door and disappears into the night. Buffy screams like she's gone primal and rushes over to Giles. Which means it's as good a time as any to explain what I'm doing here in the first place.

See, ever since Darla and Drusilla ditched LA like a bad date, Angel has been driven to find the girls and stop their latest bloodbath. It didn't help that Wesley discovered this uber-freaky prophecy that said that Darla and Drusilla had been united with this other person who had some serious major duty to the universe--like deciding to obliterate it or not.

Then, of course, Wolfram and Hart had to get their nasty asses involved. Lindsey did one of his "change of heart" deals that I swear happens every full moon, and told us that right before Drusilla sired Darla, she had found this Agent Scully and turned her, starting a catastrophic chain of events. Big shock, huh? So about halfway through the conversation, bored to tears, I had to go and have a little vision to break up the ennui.

When I say little, I mean "grand mack daddy hella number one straight out of hell vision." It went on forever--actually, Angel said it was only for ten minutes--and I blacked out after it. Then the vomiting started. But it didn't change the importance of what I saw.

Scully had been somebody before Drusilla got to her. Usually, when I have a vision, it's just what's going on outside. But instead, I was inside of her head. I had seen all of the events that had ripped her apart, and how cold it was to be inside her head. But I knew even more than that. Agent Dana Scully, current bloodthirsty psycho vampire, former FBI heroine martyr-type, has a massive decision to make.

I don't want to think about. I can still hear the last thing she said in my vision before it dissolved into the abyss:

"God may still want me, but I don't want him."

I don't know how she knew that--still don't--but I knew she was right. When I came to, Wesley was babbling some major crazy shit about this prophecy talking about a famous holy warrior who has to be damned to finish her holy duties, but all I wanted was a Vicodin.

Gunn had that. Gunn is occasionally useful like that, though he told me all I really need to do if I want my own Vicodin is go to Tijuana and ask around.

But enough of being out of media res. Buffy is hollering and Tara is calling 911 and all. I can't get into it. I have to do something here, something more important than worrying about Giles.

"Hey, Cordy, little help?" Xander asks. I ignore him. "Cordelia!"

"Xander, why does she act like she's newly human?" Anya asks. I remind myself to do something unpleasant to her later.

"That woman--that vampire--is going to stop the world," I say, not really to anyone. "Giles?"

Giles looks up from all of his moaning and groaning and bleeding. "What is it, Cordelia?"

"Well, when you're not busy bleeding, we need to talk about your vampire girlfriend. She's not just a blood-sucking demon who used to work for the government. You're going to have to dust off that Watcher knowledge about--"

Shit. Wesley told me six times what the Latin name was. Can I remember it? Of course not.

"The Virago? The Virago Bellissima--no, not Bellissima, that was another prophecy--in English, Wesley said she was this holy warrior of God who really has to suffer--"

Giles groans. Willow glares at me. Teacher's pet.

"Cordelia, maybe I can help you find it," she says. "Giles isn't really up to--"

"No, wait," Giles interrupts. "Cordelia, did Wesley mention Transgelian?"

"Yeah," I say. He grimaces. "What is it?"

Of course, that's when the paramedics arrive. I think I remember seeing Tara call them. Everyone else is glaring at me, and Willow is searching through some dusty books.

"Transgelian was an apocalyptic type," she informs us as the men with stretchers put Giles on one. "He had a vision of this Little Warrior Woman--the Viragello. And--"

I already know the story. "Has anyone here heard of the Key?" I ask. "Cuz basically, the story boils down to the Viragello gaining the Key and making a choice whether to obliterate our universe or not. The fun part is that according to the prophecy, nobody can stop that from happening."

Buffy whirls around and stares at us. "We're going to have to," she says briefly.

"What kind of a name is Viragello anyway? It sounds like an Italian cheese vendor," Xander pipes in. "We'll whip that vamp like she was Spike."

"What are you talking about?" Anya asks. "She shot the crossbow out of Buffy's head and then shot Giles in the shoulder with a firearm without breaking a sweat. She's dripping with apocalyptic prophecy twinges. We should run and hide. And perhaps have sex. Whatever this Key is, it can wait 'til we have a game plan. Also, Spike could kick--"

Buffy breaks away from the paramedics while Tara explains--sort of--what happens. She looks pissed beyond belief.

"Look, if the vamp--Dana or Scully or the Viragello or whatever her name is--is after the Key, *we* are on it. Now. Not tomorrow. Now. Got it?" she snaps, spinning around and walking away.

Willow, Anya, Xander, and I all look at each other. None of us get it. We're left clueless as the sirens blare, the paramedics talk, and the end of the world waits around the corner. Everything old is new again.

Dammit. I knew I should have ridden up with Wesley and Angel.


Title: Now It's Dark: 08. Me, the Dragon, and the Dames Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 8th of Series

Summary: Spike is chained to a wall, Glory is actually around, and the world is doomed.

+ + +
"When I am king, you will be first against the wall
With your opinion, which is of no consequence at all..."
--Radiohead, "Paranoid Android"
+ + +

All other things being equal, being chained to a wall is not among my favorite things. But when the other choices are a swift stake to the chest or brain surgery performed by the wildest cat in the vampire jungle, having a little time alone with the wall to think about things is right useful.

"Why won't the little wormy play or dance?" Drusilla wails. God, she sounds like a broken record. "Why am I alone and cold? So cold--"

Darla, who is stretched out over a couch they must have stolen from Goodwill, rolls her eyes and then glares at me.

"You had to go and fall for a Slayer, didn't you?" she asks. "It wasn't enough that you two broke up, you had to go all mushy for that cheerleader. And we won't speak of *that* one--"

She turns her head and looks at Harmony, who is following the leader of this jamboree around like a lovesick puppy. I don't know how Harm found us, but now she's here and it's a girl power party all over the place, complete with screaming victims.

"Oh my gosh, Dana!" Harmony cries, almost on cue. "That was so cool! How did you keep him alive while you did it?"

I would kill for a taste of blood right now. Harmony keeps trotting by with the remnants of something yummy on her fingers, smirking her empty-headed little ass off. But no one has seen fit to even bring me a cup of leftovers.

"Hey, I didn't sire her, I just slept with her," I reply. That doesn't impress Darla, either.

"Men. Always looking for the next lay," Darla says. "Do you think the Slayer will come looking for you? It's such a pain to have to go search her out."

"Please," I say smartly. "She's not that hard to find. It's not like you're looking for J.D. Salinger."

Darla waves me off. "Oh, shut up. I'm watching Passions."

"Passions?" I ask, perking up. "Tilt it this way. Come on, for old time's sake. I gotta keep up with this new storyline."

"Fuck off, Spike," Darla replies. "And shut up."

So there you have it. Chained to a wall, blood everywhere without a drop for me, *and* Passions playing less than ten feet away and I can't see or hear a minute of it. I can hear Dru getting hysterical again and Harmony squealing like a piggy, but Timmy? Or Sheridan? Of course not.

It's a hard knock life, you know what I mean?

Dana sweeps into the area, her blue eyes glittering with unrestrained malice. For someone so bite-sized, she definitely has a presence. The world sort of centers around her when she's in a room. I don't get why, but that's not mine to reason why and all.

"How is my favorite bleached blond?" she asks in a sunny voice that effectively masks any hint of evil. "Have you considered the surgery yet?"

"Yeah, I'm still thinking it's a bad idea-- that doesn't mean no!" I say as she reaches for something in her pocket. "It's just that if the government blokes that put it in can't get it out, what's the guarantee that you can?"

"I *was* government, number one, and if I can autopsy goat-sucking chupacabra and green slime aliens that kill you upon inhalation, I can sure as hell get one teensy little chip out of your head," she tells me, looking nothing like a government agent in any way, shape, or form.

"You? Do alien autopsies? Who do you think you are, the famous Agent Scully of the X...aww, fuckin' A, you didn't say that you were--"

Dana makes a face that gives me the chills. "Jesus, did every last single one of you crazy fuckers KNOW who I was before I died?"

"You gotta know who's looking for you, love," I say with an almost- shrug that's hampered by the bloody chains. "Can I get a little pint of that blood you're sampling? I'm peckish!"

Dana sneers. "Sorry, no can do. Blood is for vampires, not for Slayer- whipped eunuchs."

"Hey, I didn't *ask* for this bloody chip in my skull," I protest. "And I'm not a eunuch."

"You're not asking for me to get rid of it either," she replies. "Sit and spin, Spike. I'm not interested in hearing you complain."

With that little bit of smugness, Dana spins off into the D-Cave. I start to count the seconds before Harmony squeals in worshipful delight again. I get to thirty-six.

"That's so--"

I hear strangulation sounds.

"Shut up, Harmony. Or I will crush your larynx. Got it?"

Darla snorts. "Someone's cranky," she sing-songs. "Spike, you've made Little Sister all angry. She doesn't like being told no. It makes her go all homicidal maniac."

"Why the fuck do you let her order you around anyway?" I ask. "You're the ancient one. She's just some upstart."

Darla cackles. "You were afraid of her when she was a mortal. Now she has absolutely nothing to lose. I don't know, Spike, I'd place her against the Slayer any day. She's got a purpose. It's like Angelus was back in the day. It didn't make any sense to follow him around, but I knew it was the best way to thrive in this world of ignorant, impotent humans."

"Think she's got a destiny?"

"We all do," Darla says. "Now shut up, the show's back on."

Dru comes wailing into the room. She's dressing better these days, which is something, considering that Drusilla has excellent taste. "I see it! I see it in my head and I'm afraid. The world is going to stop its spinning and spinning and oh, my poor darling girl!"

"Dru, what is it?" Darla asks irritably.

"I saw the future," she moans, gyrating like a cage dancer. "It was drenched in blood and glory, but then it stopped cold. She made it stop. Why? Wasn't it good enough for her? When she has all the world in her fist, why, why, why?"

Insanity used to be such a turn-on. But I suppose everything gets tired, and the problem with insanity is that it's hard to decide to change the way you present yourself.

"I thought you were for the end of the world, Dru," I say meanly. She hisses at me.

"You," she says. "You're nothing. You aren't even the pup who licks the dish. You're the stray scratching to get in. But nobody wants the silly puppy--"

Behind her, Dana laughs as my vision goes red. I try to leap at Dru, to do something to her, but I practically break my bloody wrists instead.

"He'll attack vampires, but not humans," I hear Dana say clinically. "Do we really want him hindering our fun? You said he was Slayer- whipped anyway. He might not get much fun out of tearing her beating heart from her body."

"Ooh!" Dru cries, clapping. "Can I have it after you're done?"

"Tied with bright pink ribbon," Dana says, patting her cheek. Dru grins coquettishly. If I didn't know better, I'd say Dru wanted a piece of her newest little sister.

"Were you like this when you were human?" I ask. Dana snorts rudely.

"I," she begins, strutting up to me boldly, "Was a killjoy. My life was to pretend that every shadow was a shadow, that every monster was a psychological manifestation of the collective unconscious and that being in love with the wrong man was a sin."

"And now?"

She rubs up against me, closing her eyes sensuously and writhing against me.

"Fuck it. Everything I want should be mine."

"And what do you want? Really?"

"I want you," she begins in a very seductive whisper. "I want to come back to where you belong."

Well, now I'm shivering with antici--

Never mind.

"How do you know who belongs where?" I ask defiantly. "You're the newbie here. You don't even have as much history with us as Harmony and yet you're in charge, giving orders, knowing history, this and that. I don't like tyrants."

"I'm not a tyrant. Aren't I asking you to have the chip removed?" Dana snaps. "And I give orders because I'm the one who knows what's happening--"

The conversation is stopped in mid-squabble by an explosion, followed by a bunch of screaming from Harmony. I figure that the Slayer has finally found us and I hope I'm on her "non-slay" list.

But instead of Buffy, this blonde girl in a tight dress comes flouncing in. Drusilla screams like the world's coming to an end. However, Darla stays calm and stands up, nodding and smiling comfortably.

"Glorificus," Darla says. "Nice to see you. I'm Darla."

"Hi. I need to talk to the Viragello."

"Who's that?" Dana asks, breaking away from me. "And who the hell are you?"

"I'm Glory and you're the Viragello. Nice threads. Are those DKNY?"

"Yeah, but what does that matter?"

"I just like an ally with excellent fashion sense," the blonde says. "Hi, I'm a god, and you're my new henchwoman."

Dana is unimpressed.

"Yeah, that sounds like a great deal," she says dryly. "Come work for a crazy person as a flunky. Not to mention you got my name wrong. Viragello? That sounds like a venereal disease. Give me some better reasons, Glory."

Glory gets this look on her face like she's been told no. In fact, she has been told no. Then she walks over to Drusilla, and sends her flying halfway across the room.

"Reason number one," Glory says. "I could kill all of your flunkies in less time than it takes to say goodbye."

I look over at Dana, who looks absolutely impassive. Dru is sobbing like a child and Darla is frozen stiff. But the redhead? Not a reaction.

"Interesting," she finally says. "But what does brute strength have to do with leadership? And why do you want me as an ally?"

That's not what I would have asked, but then again, I'm not in the life or death showdown.

"I am older than time," Glory says. "I've been trapped on this world by a cruel, cruel fate. And I'm tired of it. I'm tired of this petty existence full of silly, stupid humans. I want to be free of it all. But I need your help to do it."

Dana nods, still poker-faced. "You're tired of the world? Well, so? Everyone is tired of the world."

"Help me!" Glory orders. "You have to help me or I'll kill everyone here!"

"Kill them," Dana says with a shrug. "Unless you give me a good reason to help you, I'm not going to do it."

"Mean!" Glory shrieks. "Mean, horrible vampire! I am Glorificus! I am She Who Cannot Be Named!"

"You're not convincing me."

Glory howls. I mean howls like wolf at the moon howling, and she starts stomping across the room, spoiled-child style. She's as crazy as Drusilla, but Darla is scared stiff of Glory.

"Dana," she says. "You really shouldn't insult her. She is older than time. In fact, she could probably obliterate us in a second."

"I don't help people who don't ask nicely."

Glory stomps back. "Evil vampire," she says, pouting. "You don't know what it's cost me to beg a foul, diseased creature, a near-human, to help me find the Key and open the way to my home. All I want is to go home! Can't you help me? I'm begging here. Me. Queen among demons. Me. I'm begging you, a mere vampire, to do this! Please!"

Dana stares at her carefully, walks over, touches the bird's cheek. Everyone else is dead quiet.

"Home, hmm? What would you do if you went home?"

Glory sniffles. "I'd make everyone who banished me pay. And pay. And pay."

"That I can get behind," Dana says thoughtfully. "I'll help you."


"What can I say? I'm a sucker for homecomings. And the end of the world, especially when it's fast and spectacular."

Glory looks absolutely blank-faced at Dana.

"What?" she asks.

"Come on, Glory. I can read you like an open book," Dana says. "You want to get home and the world here is going to pay for it. I'm fine with this. Come on. Let's get going."

Glory smiles like a jackal and puts her arm around our former leader, who has apparently ditched us to join the crazy girl. "You are the living end."

"Or the end of living," Dana says. Dru rushes up to her before she can leave.

"Are you leaving us? What will we do? What about Spike? What'll happen to us without you?" she wails, clinging like moss. "Don't go."

"It's all right, Dru," Dana replies. "You're a survivor. And as for Spike, do what you want. But make it hurt."

With that, she walks away. Dru floats over to me, a crazy woman's smile plastered across her face.

"I can do that," she says. "Oh, yeah."

I'm fucked. But so is everyone else if I don't get out and warn Buffy. Of course, I'm in a tight spot. But I'm sure I can get out of it. I just need to sweet talk Dru, Harmony, and Darla.

Oh, fuck. I hope Buffy has some inkling about what's coming at her.

Oh, fuck...


Note: the title is a reference to the Placebo song, "My Sweet Prince," which was not the title I originally had, but it was better than "First Against the Wall" which was a Radiohead reference.

Title: Now It's Dark: 09. Almost Redemption Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 9th of Series

Summary: Dana Scully discovers her purpose in life.

It's not every day, good or evil, that you're recruited by a god. Granted, it's happened to me at least twice that I know of. Thus I am allowed to be blasé. And I am sorely unimpressed by the crazy one who's pressed me into service this time. "You and me, girlfriend. We're going to bitch-slap the Key right out of the Slayer and then BOOM!" Glory rants, traipsing across the mall. I hope she trips and breaks her divine ankle in six places.

"Sounds dandy," I say without any feeling, wondering why I said yes to her for the six hundredth time. I guess it's my fatal weakness for crazy people with vision.

"Gee, you sound enthused," she snarks back at me, looking over her shoulder.

"It's not my fault. I'm sorry, Glory, but your plan is fundamentally flawed, and putting it into action will be fatal for everyone involved."

That came out before I could stop it. Glory stops dead in her tracks, turns around, and stares at me. I probably shouldn't have insulted a god that can suck the sanity from your brain, but hey.

"Excuse me?" she asks, arms akimbo.

"You do realize, Glory, that the Slayer hates us both?" I ask very calmly. "She's not going to tell you anything. She'd rather die. And even before you say it--no, that's not any good if you don't know where the Key is first."

She nods. "True."

"Now, obviously, Buffy realizes this," I continue. "So she knows that we're not really going to kill her. But the obvious alternative to that--torture her friends--is also a loser plan."

"Why?" Glory objects.

"Because it's painfully obvious we're going to do it," I reply flatly. "And all of her little friends will come together and redouble their efforts to defeat us if we kill one of them. And they have good luck."

Glory nods, the light slowly dawning in her brain. "So what do you suggest?" she asks.

This kind of catches me in a bad spot, because I have no plan. But then I think, and I do. Oh, how I do have a plan, and I love it when a plan comes together.

"I suggest we destroy her from the ground up. When she doesn't care what the Key does, she'll give it to you."

"But you said not to torture her friends!"

"Don't," I reply. "Kill them. All of them. In front of her if possible. Leave them as present on the living room floor. Suck the sanity right out her Watcher. Burn her house to the ground and crucify her mother in the ashes. Call the cops on her when she's out slaying."

Glory blinks. I'm not sure if she's impressed or scared.

"Overkill much?" she asks.

I pause.

"No, I don't think so," I reply. It's sort of sobering, isn't it? I'm going to destroy someone the way I was destroyed. I'm going to take everything, and I'm not just talking trash. Hell, I even wonder if I could find one of those vicious cancer-spawning control chips.

"You've got a serious revenge thing going on with the whole world," Glory notes. "I dig it. It's exciting and psychotic."

"Glad you approve," I reply wearily.

"So what do we do first?" she asks, putting her arm around me and marching us down the mall. "Torture? Murder? Emotional blackmail?"

"No, first we understand," I reply primly. "We understand what she wants, and then we take it from her."

"What if something goes wrong when we take it? What if she doesn't play ball?" Glory asks.

"Then we tie up the Slayer and start cutting off fingers. Then toes. Then ears. And so forth."

Glory's eyes go wide. "You are so sick. I love it. You're the best underling ever."

I almost lose my temper and strangle her, but I manage not to attack my divine employer.

"I live to please," I lie through clenched teeth.

Glory smiles. "You are just too cool."

I shake my head. "I'm simply goal-oriented."

Yes, I have goals. They have little to do with Glory's. I don't give a damn what the Key is, but I'm also not going to challenge a god. I have obligations to my family. I came to kill the Slayer, not because I want the victory, but because it'll make the people who still care about me happy. And I'm playing with Glory mostly because I like her crazy destructive streak. In fact, if I do find out where the Key is, I'm going to make it my goal to get it as far from Glory as possible.

Not because I care either way, but because I feel like doing it.

The Day Planner in my head is bulging with to-dos. I have to kill the Slayer. I have to find the Key. I have to keep the Key from Glory. I have to ditch Glory. I have to reunite with everyone, and I have some serious revenge to take. But the idea of burning down Buffy's home appeals to me on a very deep level.

"I can't figure you out," Glory says as she makes a beeline for The Body Shop. I used to love shopping there, before I became a bloodthirsty night-stalking demon. Now I just can't muster up enough interest. It seems petty. "You are full of your own agenda, but it's not anything I can figure out. What do you want, really?"

"I want everyone to feel just as bad as I did the night I decided to die," I say without thinking. This is the truth. I've gone beyond wanting to punish the Syndicate, or the government. I want everyone to feel what it's like for your soul to be sliced away from you with a thousand cuts. I want them to stare at the world, knowing it can never be better. I want them to confront despair.

"We can do that, you know," Glory says. "Just stick with me, Dana-poo."

I need to ditch Glory fast.

"Of course, Glory," I say. "But right now, I need to go gather information about the Slayer. Is it all right if I leave for a while?"

"Go ahead. I know I can trust you," Glory replies with a smile. "Have fun! Be violent!"

I've disappeared before she can say anything else.

I end up wandering for a while, thanking God that Glory decided to go shopping after the sun went down. That's how I end up at the local Catholic church. I look at it, feeling not quite ashamed of myself, but strange. I realize that I have to go in. I want to confess. Fortunately for me, they're actually doing confessions tonight, too.

Amazing how that worked out.

I don't have a problem getting in, much to my surprise, and I know better than to dip my fingers in holy water. Instead, I walk over to one of the confessionals, wondering what I'm going to say and why I want to say it.

Bless me, Father, for I have agreed to join the forces of hell. Bless me, Father, for I hate this world and everyone on it so much that I want them to suffer with me. Bless me, Father, for I think I'm going to break your neck just for the blood underneath it--

I open the frayed purple curtain and sit down. I cross myself, noticing that doesn't burn either.

"Bless me, Father," I whisper. "For I have sinned. It has been far too long since my last confession--"

He murmurs something. I can't quite hear it. I don't really care, either. I'm confessing, but not really to him.

"Please, just listen. I can't hear you anyway. I don't want to hear you. Father, I have sinned. I--my God, where to begin? I sold my soul. And more than that, I don't care. I don't want to be forgiven. I just want to be heard. Everything that I did, I chose to do. And I'm glad. I decided to let that woman kill me in the park. And I was glad--are you trying to move?"

Silence. A little soft breathing. I can smell the fear.

"Don't move or I'll break your neck," I warn softly.

The rustling that I had heard stops dead.

"Good priest," I whisper. "I was glad when I felt my heart almost stop. I wanted to die. I didn't realize that I would come back. I didn't realize how much I hated everything about my life. I hated myself. And when I died, I realized the truth about myself. I was miserable and nobody cared. Everyone who cared, the world took from me. At least Job had someone to tell him that he should curse God and die."

He whimpers a little, just a tiny whine of fear, like a mosquito. I chuckle to myself and keep talking.

"Bless me, Father, because when I realized that the world hated me, and that God hated me, and that every good thing I had done had led to my death, I gave in to all the things I had ever dreamt of doing. And I liked it. I still like it. I have killed, I have ravaged, I have maimed, I have lied and cheated and hurt every living thing I could managed to hurt. It feels good. I think I have a death wish, Father. I think I always had one."

The words just keep coming, and every one of them feels like the truth. This is the truth I always hid from myself. It's been eating me inside out and now it's finally broken the skin, like all of the little wormies Drusilla sees. It's been wriggling up and up--

Now it's in my mouth, filling it. It tastes sweet.

"Father, I want to die. But I want a glorious death. I don't think I can die until I have it," I say. "Then I can die and go to hell forever. But at least I'll have the truth with me when I do."

He breathes in. "Young lady, I think you need--"

"I don't need anything anymore," I say, standing up. I reach across the grille and pull him back through, his throat caught in my hand. It's pulsing with blood. Warm blood. Rich, delicious, hot blood. "And I certainly don't need you spreading stories. And so, goodnight."

He only gets to scream once before my teeth are drenched in blood. Death and glory. That's what I want. That's what I've always been searching for, in my aimless, unknowing human way. Each drop of life I suck from him, I realize it more. I have to die, but I have to do gloriously.

I drop the priest and leave the confessional, feeling oddly satisfied with myself and my new purpose in life. I even know how to satisfy that itch for glory.

I'm gonna start the Apocalypse. Because there's nothing more glorious-- or deadly--than that.


Title: Now It's Dark: 10. Comparative Madness Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 10th of Series
Disclaimer: The character portrayed herein belong their legitimate copyright holders and not me. No infringement meant.

Summary: Little sister comes home covered in blood, none it hers. It seems she has a destiny to fulfill.

+ + +
"Never was one for a prissy girl
Coquette, calling for an ambulance
Reach high, doesn't mean she's holy
Just mean she's got her cellular handy
Almost brave, almost pregnant
Almost in love-- Vanilla--" --Tori Amos
+ + +

Little sister comes home covered in blood, none of it hers.

Fitting. She seems blessed with the gift of creating messes that don't leave a scratch on her divinely adored ass. She smiles at me when she catches sight of me and her eyes are lit like fireflies. I can tell she has a delicious plan buzzing somewhere in her brain.

"Drusil-ll-lll-la," she trills, her voice drunk and lustful with death. "I'm home!"

Drusilla rushes from her corner of cushions and dolls to seize Dana and cover her in kisses.

"You smell of dead things!" Dru coos. "Like potpourri and death. I like it so. And so does Miss Edith."

"Dru, I missed you," she replies with a smile and an affectionate caress. "And how is my other sister?"

"Bored," I say honestly. "You promised us revenge, Dana, and off you go cavorting with deities, leaving us here to languish in provincial caves."

She smiles again and slips her arm around Dru's waist. "I appreciate your honesty. And I promise that we're all reunited now and much death will follow. Drusilla, honey, where's your puppy, sweetie?"

Drusilla pouts and rolls her head like she was a rag doll.

"He's over there. I think I played too hard with him. He doesn't squeak so much no more," she say, pointing sadly to the darkest corner of our home. "What are we going to do now that you're home?"

"Play harder," she says wryly. I hear her walk to the dark corner. I hear a soft moan. Then Dana pokes her head out of the corner and glares at me.

"Drusilla, you almost broke him for good! I have big plans for him," she says. "He's family, you know. And our family is going to start something unstoppable, so we all need to be a hundred and ten percent."

"So is that before or after you clean off the dried blood?" I ask, tired of hearing big promises with no details. "My God, what did you do, anyway? You look like a teen horror movie victim."

"I went to San Diego and ate what was left of my family," Dana replies with an indifferent shrug. "Darla, for the love of God, he's fucked. Do we have anything that'll work on him fast? The blood of six virgins? A good romp with one under the full moon?"

Drusilla's eyes light up. "Oh, my baby girl, I have JUST the treat for our puppy," she says. "I found her in the cemetery. It'll revive his blood."

She trots off and returns with the little redhead witch who hangs out with the Slayer--Willow, I think her name is. The fear is rising off her in big, stinky waves.

"You can't do this to me! Buffy will kill all of you!" Willow shouts, trying to get away. Dana sneers.

"Shut up about the Slayer," she snarls. "If she's going to kill me, fine. Great. But when one is marked by the gods for a big destiny like me, Slayers matter less. And you're going to be dead either way. So shut up. You're giving me a headache."

Willow stares at her, and she makes the most pathetic little moan. It sounds like a kitten trying to be just charming enough to avoid being thrown into a lake. Dana walks up to Dru and Willow, stopping to touch Dru's arm again. Then she looks the witch up and down, a businesslike appreciation in her eyes.

"Please don't kill me," the girl whispers to Dana. Dana puts a blood-stained finger on her lips and then cups her face.

"What does she do?" she asks me.

"Witch things."

"Oh, Lord," Dana says, rolling her eyes. "Well, do we have supplies? I have medical supplies, don't I?"

"I found her with all her dark materials," Dru says. "Wicked things, the devil's tools for the devil's witches."

"Witches don't believe in--" the girl begins, but a cool glance from Dana shuts her up.

"Do your fixing thing," Dana orders. "We can argue comparative theology later, okay? Get to work and save my vampire brother, okay?"

Willow doesn't move. She stares at Dana, who's unimpressed.

"What will that do for me?" she asks, begging for mercy with her very posture, but trying to sound tough. Mortals. What can you do?

"You have half an hour to hope," Dana whispers, reaching out and pushing the hair back from the witch's face. "If you're going to be difficult, you'll just die now. If not, you'll die when you're done with Spike. Who knows what'll happen in thirty minutes?"

It's a killer argument. The witch immediately pulls away from Drusilla and hurries into the dark corner where Spike is all chained up. He's been ridden hard and put away wet--so to speak.

Dana wanders back over to Drusilla, her eyes dreamy. Then she holds her arm out to me, lost somewhere in a personal reverie I can't get into. There's a strange contentment in her posture and her skin that rises from her in crystalline waves.

"I'm going to die," she says, stretching out. "And it's going to be perfect."

"Are you getting into Heaven, too?" I ask sarcastically.

"Will you see your baby? And your darling love?" Dru asks, oblivious to sarcasm. Crazy people never do get the whole sarcasm thing. That's one of the reasons being near Dru is usually not fun.

Dana pulls away from Dru and shakes her head.

"Drusilla, there will be no more heaven. No more hell either," she says in a flat voice. "It's my final reward. Oblivion. Nothing. Or maybe I'll go to hell. At least I don't have anything else to hope for."

My little sister is an idealistic fool. She doesn't understand that there can be hope even in hell. No, instead her hands fall instinctively to her tummy and you can almost see the wheels turning. She has a bloody crusade waiting for us--and she's ready to be the martyr. With us crushed beneath her heels, no doubt.

"But there's always hope!" the witch pipes in from the darkness. "Why would you want there to be no more hope?"

"I used to hope," Dana says, her words becoming ice in the air, brittle and breakable. "Don't we all hope? When I was ten, I hoped to be a doctor, a princess, and a magician. When I was twenty, I hoped to have a fulfilling career and a happy live. When I was thirty, I hoped I could help others and do good work."

I've grown very used to the litany. Dana Scully's life, the shattering of hopes from birth til death in inexorable progress. Sometimes I wish I could explain to the girl that all of us lose our hopes and dreams every day. Of course, her life does resonate with that prophetic operatic tragedy air, but shit. Even with alien abductions and dead babies, it could have been worse. She could have been a starving African child or an Anne Rice fan or something.

"Six months ago, I hoped for two things. I hoped that my baby would live and I hoped that my one true love would come back to me."

One true love. This man is the mythical Agent Mulder, the one, the only, the legendary. I don't know if she realizes it, but he's become more legendary with every tear she drops from her undead eyes. He used to just be her partner and her best friend. And the father, of course, but that was obvious.

"What happened?"

"I found two fingers in the desert," Dana says, flat monotone. "They found the rest a hundred miles away in a ditch." I've seen the fingers. They're disgusting. She keeps them in a little velvet bag, along with a sonogram. It's very, very disturbing, but no worse than things Dru has kept in her drawers. At least the fingers don't stink anymore. "And I fell down. And when I came to--"

"That's really sad," Willow says, peeking out from the dark. "But does it give you the right to do--"

"Fix the vampire!" Dana snaps. "I didn't pay you to talk!"


"Shut up or I'll pull out your tongue and make you eat it in a sandwich."

Wow. Little witchie-poo said I was thinking. It's a pity she's not a psychotic, divine-right vampire queen with a grudge against all living things. Maybe she could be the one to give Dana some harsh news about the cruel and unusual nature of the world. Fuck it all, I actually had sex with Angelus. I was actually with Angelus before I lost him. This one had one night of pretty crappy sex. That's it.

"Grandmother's cranky," Dru says. "She thinks little sister has turned the corner."

"Oh, I have," Dana replies vaguely, patting Drusilla's hair. "I'm not stable or sane or anything. What sort of sane person prays to die? And what sort of person prays that everyone dies with her?" She smiles at me with absolutely no light gleaming from her ice-blue eyes. I'm suddenly reminded of Drusilla's dolls. "It's just a question of dying now or later, Darla. What's there to be afraid of?"

"Take it from someone's who's been the regular sort of dead. There's nothing to it," I say evenly. "You are simply in love with being avenged. Can't you just get over it? We can burn the city to the ground, but then we'll have to eat each other. That's being a vampire. We like the idea of being gloriously evil, but glorious evil is inefficient."


"So I don't want to die anytime soon and neither do you."

She doesn't say anything. Instead she smiles at me, with her eyes that are the color of a dead summer sky, the kind of sky we can never see again. Behind her eyes, she's hiding something, even from herself. She wants to die. Every particle of her being wants to die gloriously. But there's something else inside of her and that's the thing no one can stop.

"Little sister's got a secret in her heart, but she doesn't know it's there," Dru coos. "She'll stop the world on a platter to watch it spin or fall apart."

I hate it when Drusilla's crazy talk makes sense to me. Little sister does have a secret. She has this destiny thing that even she can't stop. No wonder she can drag us all around like pet puppies. It's like Angel again. They're very unattractive as people, as personalities, when you get right down to it. But you can feel the destiny pulling you in like a drain.

"Does it burn?" Dru asked Dana.

What was left for her, after all? Dana, the regular, everyday Dana with no destiny, really did want to die. But what does the destiny need her to do? That's much more important.

"How's it going back there, Willow?" she asks casually, keeping her eyes trained on me.

"Ow!" Spike replies for her.

"Oh, God," Dana growls. She sweeps up and disappears into the back room. There's an audible crack as the witch's neck snaps. Or at least I think it's the witch.

"Oh my GOD!" the girl screams. "You killed him! You killed Spike!"

"I decided I was tired of him," Dana said diffidently. There's a moist sound and I realize that Dana's also draining him dry. Dru whimpers.

"She killed the puppy! She killed my Spike!"

"Shut up! I'll get you a new one!" Dana yells wetly. "Now come here, little girl. I'll show you what it feels like to stop hoping."

She cries, but I already know the outcome. I can almost see through my sister's eyes. The look of fear as she pulls girl's head up to lay a few cold fingers on the throat, an appraisal of the fresh meat.

It's so funny. Those damned little children have killed a thousand vampires but they've never really thought they would die. They watched death like it was a television show. They felt death and thought it was a chill.

"Shh," Dana whispers. We can hear her whispering. There's no sound. Just her whispers of shh and the pounding of a heart that will never beat again. "Shh, don't cry."

"Please," the girl whimpers.

"No, baby, no," Dana says. Her voice has changed. It doesn't sound like the mad queen of destiny anymore. It's frightened, shivering into slivers of ice that could pierce the skin. "It won't hurt. I promise."

We all hear it when she pierces the throat. The wailing gets higher pitched and hysterical with despair.

"Please! Please don't do this! Somebody help me--Mom, God, Buffy, Tara, Buffy, Mom Mommy Mommy Mommy please help me somebody! Xander! Buffy! Please help me! Please don't do this!"

It's the squeal of a lamb at the slaughter. And finally it stops.

And then there is the second scream.

Drusilla and I run into the back room, where the blood is running thick and deep. I'm going to ruin my shoes.

"I killed the baby," Dana whispers, her hand over her mouth. "Oh my God, I killed it."

She bursts into tears and runs off. Drusilla moans. And I'm just totally pissed off. She just killed Spike and the Slayer's best friend and she's chosen now to go all crazy? No, no, no, not today. I'm nipping this in the bud.

"Of course you killed her! You're a vampire! It's what you do!" I scream, thundering into the room. "Do you get it? We don't have destinies. We don't need grand schemes. We live for the kill. And for each other. That's all. That's what we are. If you can't deal with that, you should fucking kill yourself already and put us all out of our misery!"

She looks up me. Her eyes are as blank as one of Drusilla's dolls in her porcelain perfection face. I don't think she hears me.

"I have to take a shower," she says. "And then it's time to end this."

END Maybe it'll take me less than TWO MONTHS to write the next one. Anyway, much love to all you nags. I hope you enjoyed it. :)

Title: Now It's Dark: 11. Vengeance Theory Author: Jennifer-Oksana
Category: X-Files/BtVS crossover, 11th of Series

Summary: Enemies come to foregone conclusions.

One sunny day in the middle of spring, I found my best friend's body waiting for me on my doorstep. It was neatly laid out across the cement step, with a grimy baggy of dust and a handwritten note pinned to what had once been her chest.

FYI. Dusty baggy's all that's left of Spike. youKNOWwho.

Time stopped.





Who then?

A fly buzzed past my ear and landed on Willow's face.

Time started.

That was when I screamed. I screamed until my throat was numb and my head swam with unshed tears. Then I realized my mistake and ran into the house. My enemy was smarter than me. She distracted and conquered. I sank to my knees as I stared at the long, jagged lock of dark brown hair stuck to the coffee table with a bloody butcher knife and yet another note beside it.

Did you lose your Muffett? Oopsie. No Muffy for Buffy!

I had no screams left to scream. Just a cold, definite need to find you-know-who and gut her with that butcher knife.

...which was of course the point.

My enemy needs to be taught the first lesson: don't get complacent. Just because no one else kills the Slayer's friends doesn't mean they're invincible. Just because it hasn't been done doesn't mean it's undoable.

Dear girl, you are mortal. And you, too, can die.

"You're not Glory," a little voice accuses me.

"Hallelujah for that," I mutter sardonically. Then I turn around and smile at the Key. I do like what she's done to her hair.

"My sister--" she threatens.

"Was too busy screaming to save you from the big bad wolf. Or am I the spider?" I ask, half-attentive even though it's very important. Something is wrong with me. I keep forgetting to remember things. I don't half remember where the little girl came from.

"Well, you, well, you--you distracted her on purpose!" she says, clearly agitated.

I distracted her? How? I don't remember that. I thought I would burn in the sun. Maybe that's just a myth. That would be funny. Thousands of years of myths and wary vamp behavior and it turns out it's not true.

"How did I do that?" I ask.

"Willow! You left Willow on our doorstep!" the little girl screams.

"Oh," I say. I don't remember. But my hands are dirty. They have dust all over them. I put the dust in a baggy. I put it on the body. The witch's body.

Now I remember. "Yes, right. And then your sister screamed and I got you. Right."

The little sister who isn't real or a sister tilts her head and peers at me, clearly confused.

"Are you okay?" she asks.

"No, I can't let this wait!" I screamed at my friends shrilly. They all stared at me with dull eyes. "I can't. We can't let Dawn-- I'm sorry. I--"

"Are you s-sure it was Glory?" Tara asked. Her arms were wrapped around her own shoulders, like she was trying to shrink. I couldn't think about what Tara was feeling, or Xander, or anyone else. My head was spinning with the possibilities of what was happening to Dawn.

I would kill that hellgod and mount her head on the wall. I'd do something. Terrible. I'd do something despicable, like Spike. Like Spike if he wasn't bits of grimy dirt in a baggy.

"No, she's not," Giles said irritably. Giles was not helping me. "For all we know, this could be Spike, or Drusilla, or Dana, or--"

"Hello?" I asked, my head pounding. "Spike? Also dead."

"But we don't know that," Angel pointed out, brooding in his corner. Of course, he wasn't so heartbroken that he didn't have time to make eyes at Wesley. And I just had to ignore that because there were no words to describe the squick. "He could have done this to throw you off the track."

"Except for the part where he's into me. Like, hardcore. He'd want me to find him," I snapped. "He's dead. And Glory killed both of them to hurt me."

"Nice theory," someone drawled. "Sounds great. Except for the part where it's totally wrong."

We all turned to see Darla standing there, shaking her head in disgust at all of us puny mortals. I wanted to stake her, but I held back, because that's what I do. I hold back at the wrong moments.

"Darla," Angel said flatly. "What do you want?"

"I want my Key!" Glory screams. "You said you knew where it was!"

Gods. You invite them over, they act like spoiled children.

"I thought I did," I say. "Ask the girl. I have her key, don't I, Dawn?"

The girl looks at me strangely. Like we just went over this or something. Maybe we did. I'm feeling very strange today, like I've been magically split in two or something.

"Uh," she equivocates.

I look at Glory. "You didn't do the sanity-suck on me, did you? Because I needed that to think."

She glowers at me, gesturing wildly. "No. I didn't do the "sanity suck" on you. Because you? Already crazy. And not human. Where's my key, Dana?"

This is the part where I stun everyone with only pretending to be vague and crazy.

"Oh, she's right here."

"The Slayer's sister is my Key?"

"Pretty much."

"Do you really expect me to buy that?" Glory asks, annoyed. "Crazy people. Where's my Key?"

Hellgods. Never offer them any favors.

"She's the girl. I'm not lying."

"You're probably not lying," Glory says. "But you're crazy. How do you know what's real and what's in your head?"

I look at her and shrug. If she's going to be difficult, I'm going to be difficult. I don't like her that much anyway. If she never gets the Key, who cares?

"If you're really curious, we should consider Hamlet."


"She's crazy. But she's not crazy," Darla said, shading her eyes from the stray beam of sunlight that filtered into the dusky interiors of the Magic Box. Angel couldn't look at her. He paced instead, with fluttery gestures from Wesley slowing him down occasionally. "I can't explain. When she killed your friend--and about time--she broke down in a way I don't understand."

"What did she say?" Giles asked. I was getting desperate. I had to find Dana, stake her, and then get Dawn away from Glory by any means necessary. Then I would have to slap Angel silly for the entire Wesley thing and stake Darla, but first I had to find Dana.

"She said that she'd killed the baby. What baby?" Darla asked. "I don't get her. She has destiny, she has power, she's got that hellgod wrapped around her finger. And then she decides to go crazy and start killing people for no reason. I like death, don't get me wrong. But I don't want to die over my meal."

"How wonderful of you," Xander said. "Where's Dana?"

"Probably taking the Key to her hellgod boss to start the Apocalypse. Dana's on a serious Apocalypse kick. Think Angelus before he got souled and boring," Darla said archly. She didn't mention the gay part, but she really didn't need to. That was just obvious.

"Do you think they'd go to the Hellmouth?" Riley asked. "Because if you ask me--"

"We didn't," I said coolly. I hadn't forgotten about the vampire whores. "But you're thinking Apocalypse on the mouth of hell. I think that's not a crazy idea."

"Except that it's been done," Darla said. "Glory's a hellgod. Don't you think she'd be more original than that?"

We all stared at Darla and shook our heads.

"Have you met Glory, by any chance?" Xander asked. "Not so original. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Faith. Except blonder, eviler and a God. Not to mention that your friend Dana--"

Darla glared at him. "Look, I'm sorry your little witch friend is dead. It sucks when you lose the ones you love, especially to clearly inferior beings. Still not sorry Spike is dead, but I didn't ever like him. But you've got to watch your attitude. I was made by the Master himself."

"Do you know where Dana is? Do you know how we can stop her or Glory from destroying Dawnie?" Tara asked.


"Okay," Tara replied. She dove across the table and before any of us could stop her, drove a makeshift stake (a sharp pencil) into Darla's heart. Darla couldn't even make a snide expression before she exploded into a puff of dust. We all gaped for a minute or two. Angel couldn't move. Served him right, I thought.

Tara stared up at me from her place on the table. Her eyes were full of tears. "I'm sorry, Buffy. But I had to."

I remembered Willow's body on the doorstep. Of course she had to. It was the only sane thing she could have done.

"It's okay. Good job," I said lamely. Tara almost smiled.

"Th-thank you," she said. "Please, can we find the one who did this?"

Everyone remembered to start breathing again.

"Right," Giles said. "So I believe that Riley's suggestion is our most solid one, and I suggest--"

I didn't want to hear suggestions. I wanted to hear that it was time to carve that vampire bitch's heart out of her chest and eat it. I wanted to set fire to Glory just to watch her burn. And I wanted it to feel like the right thing to do.

I looked over at Tara. She was staring at her hands and looked like she was going to be sick.

Is it possible to survive your own vengeance?

"Yes, Hamlet," I say calmly. "Have you ever considered the fact that a sane person who plays crazy in earnest is in fact, a crazy person?"

"Not really much about thinking about Hamlet or crazy people," Glory replies. "Get to the point, Dana. Then give me my Key or I'll have to get stern and boss-like and then kill you."

I sneer for the briefest moment and then stand up and strike an extremely studied pose. Dawn and Glory watch me intently.

"Then I'll be brief. As we all know or should know, Hamlet pretended to be crazy so he could get revenge. But he got so good at it that basically, we don't know if Hamlet was crazy or sane. But, if we consider the hypothesis that Hamlet knew when he was crazy and when he was sane, it doesn't matter. Because he was whatever he believed himself to be," I say, smiling at both girls.

"So he basically decided if he was sane or not? How?" Dawn asks.

I smile and press a finger to my lips. They both lean forward.

"Wind direction," I whisper. Disappointed, they pull back. I explain further.

"See, it doesn't matter how he knew, or if he knew. Vengeance was what mattered. As long as Hamlet remembered that he was alive to avenge his father's death, he could be crazier than crazy and still think himself functional. I find it fascinating that--"

"Fucking who cares about Hamlet? Give me the Key, Dana! I'll get you a pretty room where you can explain about Hamlet to a bunch of people who give a shit!" Glory snaps.

Glory didn't notice that my pretentious pose-striking took me right above Dawn. I grab the girl and pull her over the couch.

"No," I say.

"What?" Glory shrieks, throwing the couch aside. I step back two steps.

"You're not going to try this, are you? You need it alive. I can snap its neck before you kill me," I reply cavalierly. I'm not quite sure this is true, but it makes the hell bitch move back three steps.

"Why won't you give me my key, Dana? I need it! You don't!" Glory screams.

"I'm not an it!" Dawn says over the din.

"Shut up, kid," Glory says. "Dana, give me the Key."

"No," I say. "I've decided I'm keeping her until I find the person who's best at taking care of her."

I can hear the shock in both of their heads. It echoes across the room like a bad joke trying to find someone, anyone, to amuse.

"You're joking," Dawn said.

"Maybe I am," I say. "Who knows? The wind's all wrong for answers. Go away, Glory. Come back when you can convince me that you're the best thing for Dawn."

Glory gapes at me. "I'm a god."

"And I'm crazy. It evens out. Now go."

It's the first lesson the enemy has to learn.

Don't get complacent.

I'm no exception to the rule.

Glory screams and sets the room on fire. It's all like a horrible dream, except when I wake up, I'll discover that everything's been a dream.

Am I the dreamer? Has this all already happened? Are we all just having the same dream tonight?

"So we'll go instead," I say, looking over at the girl. "Watch this."

I take her hand in mine and hold tight. And it suddenly makes sense. Everything I'm doing has been for a reason that I couldn't know. But now I do. The girl who's not a girl stares at me.

"Did you feel that?" she whispers to me.

I nod. We take a step. The entire world changes.

The End

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