Title: Statistical Anomaly
Author: A Gentleman Of Leisure
Written: July 2003
Story Type: Buffyverse/X-Files Crossover.
Rating: PG-13ish
Spoilers: Takes place early in BtVS Series 2. Possible spoilers up to BtVS Series 6. No particular time in X-Files.
Distribution/Archiving: Ask first please.
Disclaimer: None of them are mine - I've just borrowed them. All other Patents, Trademarks and Copyrights acknowledged.

Summary: What prompted the Initiative come to Sunnydale?

Author's Note: I'm a British writer, so there may be some terms (and spelling) not used in the US. OK? Now read on...

Pt 1: "It's a Mystery".

"Mulder, what are you doing?"

"Hi, Scully. Come on in. Would you take a look at this and see what you make of it?"

Dana Scully stood in the doorway and glanced round Fox Mulder's cramped, untidy, windowless office, the walls covered with diagrams, maps, lists of names and places, and photographs and posters showing unsharp images of things that might, or might not, have been alien craft. She shook her head and wondering how on earth he ever managed to find anything he wanted in such a mess.

"I really don't know how you can work in a place like this, Mulder. You could at least let Housekeeping in once in a while to dust the place - it's disgusting", she said.

"Rubbish, I know exactly where everything is. I can find anything I want, just like that", and he snapped his fingers.

'Rubbish is precisely the right word for it', Scully thought to herself. She sighed, and reluctantly began to pick her way across the room.

"OK. What have you got? A new sighting somewhere?"

"No. This is something much stranger. You might be able to make more of it than I can".

Fox Mulder looked up from the untidy pile of papers on his desk in front of the computer. He seemed strangely excited.

"I think I've found it, Scully. I think I may have actually found it!"

"Found what, Mulder? What's all the fuss?"

"I've found something incontrovertible, Scully. Real evidence - actual irrefutable proof".

"Of what?"

"You know what of, Scully. _Them._ Proof they exist. That they're here. That they exist among us, and maybe have done for decades".

"Aliens? OK, Mulder. Show me what you've got", she said cautiously, not really expecting anything she hadn't heard before. He was always finding 'incontrovertible' proof of extraterrestrials, but although she'd seen some pretty damned strange things while working with him, somehow she'd never been convinced the same way he had. This time however, he surprised her with a question, one which seemed to have no connection with his previous statement.

"What's the birth rate in an average small town in Southern California, Scully?"

"I have no idea. Why don't you look it up in the Census database?"

"I just did. Here", and he passed her the pages of printout he was holding. "But look at these figures on the screen", he added.

Scully studied them for a minute or two before responding.

"A bit low, I suppose. Why does it matter? There'll always be some variation from one part of the country to another".

"Now look at the death rate". He tapped the Page Down key to another table of information. "See how that compares".

Scully looked from the screen to the printout, and after a moment back again. Now she was frowning slightly.

"Nonsense. That's got to be a mistake. They've got their spreadsheet formula scrambled up, surely. Or else someone's entered the wrong figures. It can't possibly be that high".

"I agree. If it went on like that the place would be a ghost town in another ten years or so".

"What's the population base?"

"About 38,000. It really is a pretty small town. Of course I haven't had time to check back through earlier Census data yet - it may well have been slowly declining for decades. It's peculiar though - would you believe it has a National Guard Depot, an industrial zone, and a University of California Campus?"

"What? A College Campus in a town that small? That's a little unusual".

"There's more. It has a harbour, a bus terminus, a railway terminus, a hospital, at least one art gallery, a shopping galleria and a museum. It's even got its own local airport. But get this, Scully - you'll love it - the town apparently has 42 graveyards! And 43 churches!"

"That can't possibly be right. Those figures must be erroneous".

"I agree. Mind you", he added soberly, "I guess they might need them, because the percentage of pupils graduating from High School is ridiculously low".

"How's that? I don't follow your reasoning".

"It's because the death rate among them is unbelievably high. Even higher than the town's annual average, which is more than high enough, though it does seem to have reduced slightly in the last year or so".

Scully looked up at him.

"How high?" she said quietly.

"Anything up to 35 percent by my estimate".

"That's impossible!" She frowned, and then added "What are the causes of death?"

"Mainly murders of one sort or another, and disappearances. The percentage rate is many times higher than the very toughest parts of major cities like L.A. and Chicago".

"That is bizarre, Mulder - it makes no sort of sense. Why haven't we heard about any of this before?".

"But Scully, that's my whole point, don't you see? There is something seriously strange about the place".

"What the hell do the local police think they're doing?"

"Not a lot, so far as I can make out", Mulder said laconically.

Scully shook her head. "There's got to be some logical explanation", she said. "Even if that figure were true, no town that small could possibly need that many cemeteries, not even if it was several centuries old. How old is it, by the way?"

Mulder scrolled back to the top of the file.

"Founded in 1899. Apparently".

"It all sounds totally ludicrous. Anyway, how did you come across this place? Where is it?"

"It's in southern California, a couple of hours drive up the coast from LA, just off Route 17. I came across it when I was doing some background checking.

"You see", he continued, "about ten days ago an Agent set out to drive up to San Francisco from the Los Angeles office. Only he never got there. So they sent another Agent out to look for him. That one spent two days making discrete enquiries on the way up a hundred miles of the coast without any result. He last reported in from a motel on the outskirts of our mystery town. After that - nothing. He too seems to have vanished".

"What did the local police say? Any trace?"

"For some reason they've been strangely unhelpful. They just said they'd look into it, but we've had exactly nothing back from them since then".

Scully looked at her partner.

"So you're being sent out there to help look for two lost sheep? Well Mulder, I'd like to lend a hand, but I'm afraid you're on your own this time. I'm supposed to be starting a series of lectures on Forensics to the new intake tomorrow morning".

Mulder nodded.

"Yeah, I know. Skinner's sending me out there to wake up the locals because the LA office is now two under strength. It _is_ safe to let me out on my own you know, Scully", he added, smiling slightly.

"I sometimes wonder", she responded doubtfully. "You haven't even told me the name of this delightfully weird little town".

"Oh sorry, didn't I? It's called... er... Sunnydale".

Pt 2: "Food For Thought".

"Now we're going to have to buy a new bow from the sporting goods store. I'm not sure the Watcher's Council is going to be too happy about the expense".

"It's not Buffy's fault she broke it. They should have paid for a decent hunting bow in the first place".

"Thank you, Xander. After all Giles, I was only doing what you asked. I can't help that it wasn't up to the job".

"I thought it was amazing when you put the arrow right through that log. It must have been a foot thick at least ".

"Only eleven inches, Willow. I measured it first. I wanted to be able to judge just what Buffy is capable of. I believe that with sufficient training she can do even better".

"And with a better bow, of course".

Rupert Giles, librarian at Sunnydale High School, and the Slayer's Watcher, suddenly pulled hard at the wheel of his old Citroen DS 19, swerving just in time to avoid a collision with a shiny new grey Ford sedan which was drawn up at the roadside on the far side of a blind bend.

"What a stupid place to stop", Xander exclaimed. "We might have driven right into it".

They came to a halt with Tires squealing, a little further on, and everyone looked back. Buffy was sitting in the front next to Giles, and Willow, Xander and Cordelia were squashed into the back, not that Xander minded being in the middle.

"Some people have no consideration for others", Cordelia announced.

"And you would be an expert on the subject, of course?" Buffy responded.

"Well, at least I don't go around breaking expensive pieces of equipment", Cordelia said.

"No, of course not. You might chip your nail polish", Willow commented quietly, and Giles couldn't help smiling to himself.

"Where's the driver? D'you suppose he's broken down?" Willow asked.

"He might be walking down the road, trying to find a phone", Xander said. "Maybe his cellphone battery's flat".

"Well we didn't pass anyone, so either he's up ahead, or I suppose he might have gone into the woods", Giles said.

"Why would he do that?" Willow asked, puzzled. The two men looked at her for a moment, and she gazed back at them.

"Um... perhaps to find a big tree, Wills", Xander suggested.


"To go behind", Buffy said gently, and Willow blushed and said hastily, "Oh. Oh, of course. I knew that".

"Well, wherever he's been, he's not there now. He's standing over there on the other side of the road looking at us. And I think he's coming over", Cordelia said. "He looks kinda cute, too", she added. "Really cool shades - they're East Coast style".

"Careful. We don't know what he wants".

"Buffy, it's broad daylight", Xander said. "There are five of us, we have a car load of sharp and pointy weapons to defend ourselves with, and he's wearing a suit".

"This is very true", said Giles, winding down his window.

'Training for the Olympic archery squad?' Mulder thought, smiling to himself as he pulled up in the forecourt of the Bates Motel on the outskirts of Sunnydale. 'I don't think so'. He shook his head, and went in to register, still wondering why the face of the Englishman who'd been driving had seemed vaguely familiar.

The proprietor claimed he didn't recognise the photo of the second missing agent, but Mulder hadn't really expected him to. The man seemed a little edgy though, nervous, and he filed the impression away for later.

Mulder hadn't seen any trace of either of the missing agents' cars on his way in from the airport, and the kids he'd encountered with their teacher had said they'd not noticed any abandoned vehicles anywhere out in the countryside, so if he was going to find them his next move was to introduce himself to the local police.

As it was lunch time he stopped at a fast food diner, some sort of "Burger Palace", he didn't really notice the name. There was the usual random collection of customers, any one of whom could have been either a serial killer or a saint, or even an alien in disguise, without his being able to distinguish between them.

While out on assignments Mulder would sometimes amuse himself with trying to do the Sherlock Holmes trick of attempting to deduce people's occupations solely by observation. He'd never told Scully about it, neither had he ever tried to verify his conclusions, preferring to leave them as an interesting mystery. Somehow this afternoon it didn't seem to be so entertaining. There was a strange feeling of tension in the air, despite everything looking so normal. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, and this bothered him.

The burger wasn't up to much either. It had a slightly peculiar taste, and he left half of it.

"Detective Stein. Just call me Frank, everyone else here does".

Fox Mulder looked at the officer blankly, and someone at the back of the squad room sniggered. Stein looked embarrassed and led Mulder into his office.

"We got the fax you were coming, and we've had officers out looking for several days, but there hasn't been a trace of your missing people. I'm afraid we can't keep them occupied on it for too much longer, though. We're only a small force, and we've got a pretty heavy caseload here".

"So I noticed", Mulder said, and Stein decided he didn't like Mulder's tone of voice. It boded ill for the future, he thought. He was promptly proved right.

"I had a look at some of the statistics for Sunnydale before I flew out from Washington. They were, well, 'interesting' would be a good word for it, I thought".

"I know what you mean, but we are getting on top of it. Things are getting better, Agent Mulder. Next year's figures will show another improvement..."

Mulder interrupted him.

"I was particularly wondering if you thought there was some sort of outside influence affecting the town".

"Like gangs, you mean?" Detective Stein said quickly, perhaps a little too quickly thought Mulder, but didn't say anything, just looked at him.

"Nothing we can't handle, Agent", Stein assured him. "We'll keep looking for your people though, no matter what".

A short while later Fox Mulder let himself be shepherded back out to the parking lot, where he was amused to notice that each of the off duty squad cars had a bunch of garlic and a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror.

"So, a real live G-man", Xander said. "Did anyone believe that story of his about looking for a couple of missing agents?"

"Well, if agents were to go missing, SunnyD would be the place to go missing in. Or do I mean from?"

"Both could be correct, Buffy, depending on whether they were still here somewhere, or were not", Giles told her. "I personally believed him".

"Why, because he was wearing a suit?"

"Well, being properly dressed certainly does say something about a man, even though it wasn't exactly Savile Row".

"Huh?" said Buffy.

"Oh, never mind. It doesn't matter", said Giles. "Listen, I want to test your strength, so that we can get a new bow for you that has the right pull. I've rigged this ingenious little device. It's a rope going through a pulley, with a hook to put weights on the end. I've fastened it to the banisters of the stairs leading to the upper book stacks. You just stand there, and when I say the word you...erm..."


"Yes. You're really getting the hang of this training, Buffy, aren't you? I'm really pleased".

"Wow, cool. Do I get the extra donut then?"

"Oh, all right, so long as it's not a jelly one", Giles said, having a quick look in the box. Buffy grabbed the last lonely item of confectionary before he could change his mind, and chomped away happily.

"Got to keep my strength up for vampire slayage. Calories equals dusting power", she observed happily with her mouth full.

"With me, calories mean inches", Cordelia said bad temperedly. "I only have to look at a carrot and I put on half a pound". She jumped up. "I can't bear to sit here all day watching you eating".

"Don't you have an elsewhere to be, then?" Xander said, turning one of her own catchphrases back at her.

She gave him a dirty look and marched off to the door. As she pushed to open it, another student coming in to borrow a book did the same, so she just pushed harder. He wisely retreated and let her march out.

Pt 2: "Food For Thought".

"Now we're going to have to buy a new bow from the sporting goods store. I'm not sure the Watcher's Council is going to be too happy about the expense".

"It's not Buffy's fault she broke it. They should have paid for a decent hunting bow in the first place".

"Thank you, Xander. After all Giles, I was only doing what you asked. I can't help that it wasn't up to the job".

"I thought it was amazing when you put the arrow right through that log. It must have been a foot thick at least ".

"Only eleven inches, Willow. I measured it first. I wanted to be able to judge just what Buffy is capable of. I believe that with sufficient training she can do even better".

"And with a better bow, of course".

Rupert Giles, librarian at Sunnydale High School, and the Slayer's Watcher, suddenly pulled hard at the wheel of his old Citroen DS 19, swerving just in time to avoid a collision with a shiny new grey Ford sedan which was drawn up at the roadside on the far side of a blind bend.

"What a stupid place to stop", Xander exclaimed. "We might have driven right into it".

They came to a halt with Tires squealing, a little further on, and everyone looked back. Buffy was sitting in the front next to Giles, and Willow, Xander and Cordelia were squashed into the back, not that Xander minded being in the middle.

"Some people have no consideration for others", Cordelia announced.

"And you would be an expert on the subject, of course?" Buffy responded.

"Well, at least I don't go around breaking expensive pieces of equipment", Cordelia said.

"No, of course not. You might chip your nail polish", Willow commented quietly, and Giles couldn't help smiling to himself.

"Where's the driver? D'you suppose he's broken down?" Willow asked.

"He might be walking down the road, trying to find a phone", Xander said. "Maybe his cellphone battery's flat".

"Well we didn't pass anyone, so either he's up ahead, or I suppose he might have gone into the woods", Giles said.

"Why would he do that?" Willow asked, puzzled. The two men looked at her for a moment, and she gazed back at them.

"Um... perhaps to find a big tree, Wills", Xander suggested.


"To go behind", Buffy said gently, and Willow blushed and said hastily, "Oh. Oh, of course. I knew that".

"Well, wherever he's been, he's not there now. He's standing over there on the other side of the road looking at us. And I think he's coming over", Cordelia said. "He looks kinda cute, too", she added. "Really cool shades - they're East Coast style".

"Careful. We don't know what he wants".

"Buffy, it's broad daylight", Xander said. "There are five of us, we have a car load of sharp and pointy weapons to defend ourselves with, and he's wearing a suit".

"This is very true", said Giles, winding down his window.

'Training for the Olympic archery squad?' Mulder thought, smiling to himself as he pulled up in the forecourt of the Bates Motel on the outskirts of Sunnydale. 'I don't think so'. He shook his head, and went in to register, still wondering why the face of the Englishman who'd been driving had seemed vaguely familiar.

The proprietor claimed he didn't recognise the photo of the second missing agent, but Mulder hadn't really expected him to. The man seemed a little edgy though, nervous, and he filed the impression away for later.

Mulder hadn't seen any trace of either of the missing agents' cars on his way in from the airport, and the kids he'd encountered with their teacher had said they'd not noticed any abandoned vehicles anywhere out in the countryside, so if he was going to find them his next move was to introduce himself to the local police.

As it was lunch time he stopped at a fast food diner, some sort of "Burger Palace", he didn't really notice the name. There was the usual random collection of customers, any one of whom could have been either a serial killer or a saint, or even an alien in disguise, without his being able to distinguish between them.

While out on assignments Mulder would sometimes amuse himself with trying to do the Sherlock Holmes trick of attempting to deduce people's occupations solely by observation. He'd never told Scully about it, neither had he ever tried to verify his conclusions, preferring to leave them as an interesting mystery. Somehow this afternoon it didn't seem to be so entertaining. There was a strange feeling of tension in the air, despite everything looking so normal. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, and this bothered him.

The burger wasn't up to much either. It had a slightly peculiar taste, and he left half of it.

"Detective Stein. Just call me Frank, everyone else here does".

Fox Mulder looked at the officer blankly, and someone at the back of the squad room sniggered. Stein looked embarrassed and led Mulder into his office.

"We got the fax you were coming, and we've had officers out looking for several days, but there hasn't been a trace of your missing people. I'm afraid we can't keep them occupied on it for too much longer, though. We're only a small force, and we've got a pretty heavy caseload here".

"So I noticed", Mulder said, and Stein decided he didn't like Mulder's tone of voice. It boded ill for the future, he thought. He was promptly proved right.

"I had a look at some of the statistics for Sunnydale before I flew out from Washington. They were, well, 'interesting' would be a good word for it, I thought".

"I know what you mean, but we are getting on top of it. Things are getting better, Agent Mulder. Next year's figures will show another improvement..."

Mulder interrupted him.

"I was particularly wondering if you thought there was some sort of outside influence affecting the town".

"Like gangs, you mean?" Detective Stein said quickly, perhaps a little too quickly thought Mulder, but didn't say anything, just looked at him.

"Nothing we can't handle, Agent", Stein assured him. "We'll keep looking for your people though, no matter what".

A short while later Fox Mulder let himself be shepherded back out to the parking lot, where he was amused to notice that each of the off duty squad cars had a bunch of garlic and a crucifix hanging from the rear view mirror.

"So, a real live G-man", Xander said. "Did anyone believe that story of his about looking for a couple of missing agents?"

"Well, if agents were to go missing, SunnyD would be the place to go missing in. Or do I mean from?"

"Both could be correct, Buffy, depending on whether they were still here somewhere, or were not", Giles told her. "I personally believed him".

"Why, because he was wearing a suit?"

"Well, being properly dressed certainly does say something about a man, even though it wasn't exactly Savile Row".

"Huh?" said Buffy.

"Oh, never mind. It doesn't matter", said Giles. "Listen, I want to test your strength, so that we can get a new bow for you that has the right pull. I've rigged this ingenious little device. It's a rope going through a pulley, with a hook to put weights on the end. I've fastened it to the banisters of the stairs leading to the upper book stacks. You just stand there, and when I say the word you...erm..."


"Yes. You're really getting the hang of this training, Buffy, aren't you? I'm really pleased".

"Wow, cool. Do I get the extra donut then?"

"Oh, all right, so long as it's not a jelly one", Giles said, having a quick look in the box. Buffy grabbed the last lonely item of confectionary before he could change his mind, and chomped away happily.

"Got to keep my strength up for vampire slayage. Calories equals dusting power", she observed happily with her mouth full.

"With me, calories mean inches", Cordelia said bad temperedly. "I only have to look at a carrot and I put on half a pound". She jumped up. "I can't bear to sit here all day watching you eating".

"Don't you have an elsewhere to be, then?" Xander said, turning one of her own catchphrases back at her.

She gave him a dirty look and marched off to the door. As she pushed to open it, another student coming in to borrow a book did the same, so she just pushed harder. He wisely retreated and let her march out.

Pt3: "Two's Company..."

Later that evening Buffy was out on patrol. Well, not exactly on patrol, yet - she was in the main shopping street, looking in the window of a fashion store, wondering if she had enough of her allowance left for a rather attractive top that was On Sale. Tomorrow was the last day.

Across the road a car parked up, but Buffy was so engrossed that she didn't notice the driver approaching until he spoke her name. By the time she realised he was there, and recognised him, it was much too late to slip away into the shadows.

"Evening, sir... um... Agent Mulder. Have you had any luck looking for your friends?" she asked politely.

"Not so far. Nor even a trace of either of their cars".

"I'll keep an eye open, if you like", she offered, not knowing exactly what else she could say, and hoping it would satisfy him. She really didn't want to get into a conversation because she was somewhat overdue at 'The Lawns' cemetery a mile away, where she had arranged to meet Angel. It wouldn't take her long to get there, about 3 minutes at the speed she could run, but while she was stuck here in the street making small talk with an FBI agent, who knew what members of the town's undead population might be getting up to?

"I... er... gotta be going. Home. That is... I'm late. I don't want to be grounded, right? Grounded is bad". She waved vaguely in a northeasterly direction and shuffled her feet, hoping he would get the message.

Mulder smiled. A typical SoCal teen, out later than she should be. Small, blonde, probably a cheerleader, obviously ditzy. Except for the archery. How do you break a hunting bow? He wondered about that, but made no comment.

"Well, I wouldn't want you to get in trouble. Here". He dug in a pocket and handed her a police flyer. "These are the guys who are missing. Can you get your friends at school to take a look? OK?"

"Certainly will, sir. Looking is good", Buffy told him, hoping that was it as she stuffed the leaflet into her jacket.

"Thank you, Miss Summers. Off you go then - I don't want you to be in trouble with your folks".

Buffy made her escape gracefully, and gratefully, walking purposefully away down the street until she was sure she was lost from view, and then cutting down a side alley and racing off across town.

If Fox Mulder had stuck to his original intention of talking to late evening shoppers, of showing them the pictures of his missing colleagues, maybe none of what took place subsequently would have happened. But he did, and history was changed. Things, as they say, were never quite the same after that. Not that any of them were aware of it for at least a couple of years. And Buffy herself never found out that, in a way, she was responsible. But then, hey - stuff happens, right? So deal with it.

Instead, Mulder decided to take a walk, to explore the neighbourhood. It wasn't long before he had left the good part of town. The difference was brutally obvious, he could hardly avoid noticing when he entered the bad part - it was almost like stepping over a line. He simply turned the corner into a back street and it was as if he was in a different town altogether. Shabby rundown houses, rubbish-strewn dirty sidewalks, abandoned buildings, poorly dressed scruffy looking people scurrying furtively by who watched him suspiciously out of the corners of their eyes, broken street lights, and the feeling that someone, or something, was following him. As he walked through the maze of narrow alleyways, a couple of times he stepped back into the shadows and watched to see if any pursuer would show themselves, but there were no anonymous footsteps that stopped when he did, no nondescript figures showing an unusual interest in dusty, flyblown shop windows just down the street.

Even so, he was strangely thankful when he emerged into what he thought at first was a park. That was until he realised it contained more than just pathways, trees and bushes. And that it was in fact one of the most crowded parts of Sunnydale. No voters or taxpayers living here though, just the past population, quietly sleeping until the Last Trump should tell them all it was time to Rise-And-Shine.

However cemeteries had never bothered Mulder, and he strolled past the tidy rows of headstones, crypts and mausolea, glancing with genuine interest at the names. Wilkins (two of them, father and son by the look of it), Alpert ('any relation to Herb?' he wondered), Flutie. It was all as good a way as any of familiarising himself with the place. After all, one had to be aware of the local names, didn't one?

The thought of all the deceased at rest didn't disturb him one little bit, nor the darkness, or the quiet. No, it wasn't that at all.

It was the hand on his shoulder.

Buffy reluctantly unpeeled herself from her boyfriend.

"Sorry. I was delayed by the FBI guy who's in town searching for his missing buddies. He wanted me to take a look at their pictures".

"Well, the word is they aren't missing any more", Angel said. "But he's not going to be very pleased when he finds them".

"Huh? Why not? Something happened to them? Are they dead?"

"Sort of", Angel said. "I think you know what I mean. I reckon we'd better try and find them before he does. Or worse - they find him. Got your stake?"

"Don't leave home without it", Buffy quipped, tossing it into the air and catching it again.

"OK, then. We'd better get to them before they 'persuade' him to change sides like they have. The last thing we want in Sunnydale is three FBI trained vamps".

"Two's company, three's a crowd, as Giles would say", Buffy said with a grin. "Where do you think we should start? I left Agent Mouldy safe on Main Street".

"I don't think we need to go that far", Angel told her, pointing over towards the other side of the cemetery.

Mulder spun round, heart suddenly racing, his hand automatically going to the holster on his belt.

"I hear you're looking for us", one of the figures in the shadows said. "I guess the office was wondering what happened. Well they needn't have worried; we're fine".

"In fact, it's a good thing we found you", the other one said. "We're onto something interesting here, and we need an extra body. Geddit? Extra body?"

"In fact, that's why we've gone under cover. We daren't show ourselves in the daytime - it's not safe".

Mulder smiled a little thinly, and relaxed somewhat. He thought he really must see if he could submit a new sub-paragraph for incorporation into the FBI training manual - something about levity while out on operations in the field. Could be distracting. And potentially fatal.

"What have you got? I did a check on the town before I flew out from Washington, and it's a really peculiar place. Have you got any idea what is going on here?"

"You're Mulder, aren't you? We've heard about you. They call you Spooky".

Mulder sighed, and nodded. He really hated that nickname.

"It's just a joke", he told them.

"And you're assigned to the X-Files, right? Aliens and flying saucers, and stuff. Is that what you think it is?" the other figure said. For some reason Mulder couldn't fathom, the man sounded as if he was trying not to laugh, though not really trying very hard. Mulder had heard the tone of voice before, and quietly gritted his teeth.

"Well, to be honest, we do know what's strange about Sunnydale" said the first one. "We both found out pretty quickly, but I don't think you're going to like it".

"No, you're really not going to like it...", the second person said quietly, "...not one tiny little bit", and stepped forward into the light from the lamp post a few yards along the path. Mulder had just a couple of seconds to see his face before everything suddenly seemed to happen at once.

Pt4: "The Morning After The Night Before".

"Wow, Buffy! What happened?"

"We jumped them before they were able to bite him. Angel grabbed him and dragged him out of the way while I went for the two vamps. Tried to stake the nearest but I missed my aim. Unfortunately I didn't get a second chance".


"Why not?" Both questions came simultaneously.

"They vanished. Ran for it. Vamoosed. I chased, they ambushed and tripped me, and then they pulled the old invisibility number on me and just disappeared. I was left sitting on my butt in the dark feeling stupid".

"Oh, surely not", said Giles, and Buffy gave him a pained look.

"You mean they didn't stay and fight? No knock-down-drag-out-chop-socky action?"

"No Will, not even any hair pulling or name calling. Angel said it looked like they'd made a strategic withdrawal. My guess is that they ducked down into the storm drains that we know run under the cemetery".

"How very intelligent. That doesn't sound like your usual run of the mill vampires", Giles said thoughtfully, and took his glasses off to polish them. "I suppose that must be the FBI training. What about Agent Mouldy, I mean Mulder? What happened to him? I hope he didn't recognise you".

"Oh, I doubt it. I'm pretty sure he didn't get a chance to see much of anything. He'd knocked his head on a grave marker and been stunned, but he seemed OK. Anyway it was all pretty dark. Angel said he'd dump him back at his motel - his car keys were in his pocket".

"I guess that's why they're called headstones", Xander observed.

"God, that is so lame", Cordelia said. "Do you always have to joke about things all the time? Angel could have knocked his brains out".

"Would we notice if Angel had knocked his brains out? Oh, I see, you mean this Mouldy guy's brains. I say again, how could we tell?"

"Yes", Giles said slowly, not really listening to them. "I'm just a little bothered about what you heard him saying to these other two. Are you quite sure they were talking about aliens and flying saucers? I mean, it's all rubbish, you know. Complete nonsense. Everyone knows there are no such things".

"Giles, I don't think we can really say that. Not for certain", said Willow thoughtfully. "After all everybody *knows* there are really no such things as vampires and demons. Don't they?".

Mulder woke suddenly with a splitting headache. For a moment or two he couldn't remember anything, not even where he was or why he was there. Then the events of the previous evening came filtering back and he sat up. Perhaps a little too quickly.

When the room had more-or-less stopped spinning erratically round him, he discovered he was still fully dressed, with even his shoes on, and had been lying across the bed in his motel room. He wondered how he'd got back there the night before.

His cell phone was chirruping in an irritatingly optimistic manner - that must have been what had woken him. Annoyed, he picked it up with half a mind to hurl it through the window, but it seemed less effort to put it to his ear and mutter hello instead.

"Mulder? I've been calling you for half an hour. Where have you been?"

It was Scully, of course - who else? Her voice pierced his brain like an icepick and merely intensified and enhanced his headache.

"Here Scully. I think. I've only just woken up. I'm not sure how I got back here last night". He paused as a memory floated into view. "I think someone drove me, but I'm not really certain. I know I got a bang on the head, but..."

"Are you OK? What happened? Are you hurt?" She sounded genuinely concerned.

Mulder took a moment or two out to assemble his thoughts. He needed to be sure of his memories of the previous night.

"No permanent damage, I think. Nothing a mild analgesic won't take care of, or anyway a strong one, ". He hesitated. "And I think I've found our missing agents", he added, "but..."

He paused again, and on the other side of the continent Scully bit her tongue and waited. After a moment or so the small voice in her earpiece resumed.

"...Something seems to have happened to them, Scully. Something very strange. It was a really weird experience. I know we've come across some unusual things while investigating X-Files cases, but this might just beat the lot of them, hands down".

"You found them? So where were they?" she asked.

"I met them in a cemetery, of all places - I think they'd been following me. They kept in the shadows and I couldn't see them properly. They said they were on the run".

"What, both of them? They were together?"

"Yes. We talked for a couple of minutes. Then one of them came closer, into the light, and - now I think this is the strangest thing I've ever seen in my whole life - I swear as he did so his face started to change, Scully. One moment he looked exactly like the picture I was given, then the next his features just seemed to melt into this... strange, ugly, alien creature".

"It melted?" Scully couldn't quite believe her ears.

"That's right, melted. You know - dissolved. Changed. Morphed. I don't really know how else to describe it, Scully. It was like something out of a horror film. One second I was looking at a human being, and the next there was some sort of alien with a peculiar, lumpy face and great sharp teeth, coming towards me, and then... Well, I don't know exactly what happened after that".

"Wait a moment, Mulder. Were you actually attacked? "

"Yes, I was. Well, at least I think so. The creature was speaking to me as its face was changing - and then someone else (a third person I think, not the other agent) rushed at me and threw me to the ground. I hit my head on something, possibly a gravestone. I was stunned, and it was dark, but I'm reasonably sure I could see some sort of fight going on. There was someone else, a woman - small, blonde I think - attacking the two agents - aliens. Hell's teeth, I don't even know what to call them, Scully".

Three thousand miles away Dana Scully frowned. Mulder never swore, hardly even a 'damn'. He sounded shaken, and somewhat confused. Not that surprising, she supposed. If he'd really just encountered one, no two, of the beings he'd spent years trying to prove actually existed, then the experience might possibly have affected him more than he realised.

"You mean a fourth person was attacking _them?_ A woman? Could you see who she was? Or do you think you could recognise her if you saw her again?"

Mulder remained silent for a whole minute, replaying the scene in his mind's eye. Scully waited for him, though she was hardly able to resist the instinctive urge to speak, to hurry him up, to prompt him to reply.

"You know", he said slowly, "I could swear it looked like that girl I told you about. Buffy Summers. You remember I said I'd met her and her friends and that teacher of theirs when I was driving in from the airport yesterday? Well I bumped into her again last night, only about half an hour before all this happened, downtown, looking in a shop window".

"Did you see what happened? What about the guy who knocked you down? Did you get a look at him?"

"Not really. I've only got a rather vague impression of a tall heavy man, about six foot, in a long dark coat. Short hair. Very strong. That's all, sorry. Not much of a witness this morning, am I? ".

"But you're OK?"

"Oh, I think so. Arms and legs still bend the right way, eyes still focus, no blood. Ow!"

"What?" Scully exclaimed anxiously.

"A big lump on the side of my head. I don't think I'm concussed, though. Do I still sound as if I'm making sense?"

At that Scully just couldn't stop herself from laughing out loud.

"What's so funny? What did I say, Scully?"

"You know I'm the only person you could safely ask that question, Mulder".

Despite his headache, Mulder had to smile.

"So why did you ring me up, Scully?" he said. "Apart of course from missing the sound of my voice, and maybe not wanting me to oversleep".

"Well, I've been checking up on these people you asked about. It's really rather interesting. This Buffy Summers of yours seems to have a history of mental trouble from when she lived down in LA. She was in a clinic for a couple of weeks, on a voluntary basis, when she was fourteen. And she apparently burned down her high school, Hemery High, or at least part of it - the gymn. She claimed she was fighting vampires. She was expelled - no great surprise there, really. That's why they moved to Sunnydale - just about a year ago".

Now it was Mulder's turn to laugh out loud.

"Vampires? Everyone knows there are no such things as vampires, Scully. People's belief in things like that are just a way of rationalizing their fears of the unknown. Creatures of the night don't really exist - while we _know_ that alien visitors do. And that they're here. And now I have actually seen them".

"Well, there was something else that was strange as well, Mulder. Or rather, two things", Scully continued. "I checked our files to see if there was anything more about Sunnydale, and it turns out that some agents were sent up there from the LA office about six months ago to collect a recruit for a special project. There weren't any details, just the name Marcie. And guess which two agents were part of that operation?".

"Hm, very interesting. And the other?" Mulder asked, intrigued, his headache forgotten.

"The teacher you met. Rupert Giles. English. The school's librarian I think you said".


"There's a file on him, but it's black-flagged. Meaning no access. I don't know what that signifies, I've never come across one before, but I wasn't able to get into it".

"Hm. That *is* very strange. Was there any trouble when you tried to open it?"

"Well, yes, there was. Walter Skinner came down in person about five minutes later and wanted to know what I was doing. I explained I was doing some follow-up research for you, and he ordered me to leave it strictly alone. Again, no explanations".

Mulder stared at the wall, thinking.

"Shall I tell him you've found the missing agents?" Scully said eventually.

"Not yet", Mulder said slowly. "I think I want to find out some more about what's going on here. Particularly about this Mr. Rupert Giles".

"OK then. But I'm going to fly out to join you - you obviously need backup. I'm beginning to think you're right, something strange does seem to be happening there, Mulder, though you know my opinion on the subject of aliens. Anyway, no matter what Skinner says, I should arrive this evening", Scully said firmly.

Mulder thought about that for a moment or two. Although he wouldn't admit it, even to himself, he was missing Scully, and he would certainly prefer working with his partner to being on his own in this peculiar little town.

"OK", he said, and smiled again. "Don't talk to any strange men".

Pt 5: "Overground, Underground..."

"Giles, what are we going to do about the G-man?"

"Well, Buffy, he is going to be a problem - unless we can dispose of those two vampire agents".

"Before they get him", said Willow. "He obviously has no idea what he's got mixed up in".

"Right", said Xander. "He'll just go right up to them next time he sees them, and say 'neat trick with the face guys. Howdja do it?' And they'll say 'observe, grasshopper' and wammo, three wise monkeys, instead of two".

"With a side order of extra-shiny, pointy teeth. I hear ya".

"So I think an expedition underground is in order, don't you?", Giles said. "And the sooner the better".

"Tonight would be good", said Buffy, "even though it is a school night. Either we go early, and I can get home before curfew, mission accomplished, or alternatively we go later, when I do my usual Tarzan act down the pine tree outside my window, and we meet on the corner of Hadley and Crestview. How does that sound?"

She looked at the others. Only Cordelia didn't seem happy.

"I need my eight hours regular", she complained. "Going out on patrol till all hours does my skin condition no good at all".

"Except for when you're partying late, of course", Xander pointed out.

"An accelerated heart rate, such as caused by dancing, and boys, is beneficial to the complexion", Willow volunteered. "Or...or so I'm told".

"Yes, well, with any luck we should be able to provide Cordelia with an accelerated heart rate tonight when we hit the bad guys", Giles said, looking over his glasses at her. "Still, I can quite see that a lady must get her beauty sleep".

"Right", said Xander. "We'll just get on with the slaying, and tell you tomorrow about all the fun you missed".

"Fun?" Cordelia could have screeched for the USA. "All sweaty, and running, and fangs, and fighting, and wet shoes, and tunnels, and cobwebs. Oh, please. Ewww, or what!"

"How very eloquent", said Giles. "I must try to remember that speech verbatim for the Watcher's Diary. Shakespeare, eat your heart out".

Cordelia sighed.

"All right. I'll be there, but I'm driving myself in my daddy's car. I don't get my own until my next birthday".

"You know what?" said Willow. The others looked at her expectantly.

"What with Giles's Citroen, I think we just got us a convoy".

"That's him!"

"He's wearing a tweed jacket. In California!". Scully shook her head, scandalised. "You were right, Mulder, there is something strange about the man - he's an out and out eccentric".

"He's a librarian. But that is really what's so strange, Scully. What is an Englishman doing working in a small town like Sunnydale, when he has a black flagged file? What does it signify?"

"Shouldn't we be following them?"

Mulder did a hasty U-turn and dimmed his lights. The Jeep Cherokee and the foreign car were safely down the road, but driving well within the speed limit, so they had no problem keeping them in sight. Instead it was rather difficult to go slow enough not to attract their attention by catching up with them.

"It looks as if they're heading for the place where I encountered our two missing people last night. 'The Lawns', I think it's called".

Scully scanned the street map spread out across the dashboard, and Mulder reached over and put his finger firmly on a square.

"It's there, downtown on Whedon Street. I spent this afternoon, while I was waiting for you to arrive, memorizing the layout of the whole town. It's not a very big place but I didn't want to risk getting lost again".

"Sshh! Give me the crowbar".

"Hey, it's my crowbar. I'll lever up the manhole cover!"

Giles shrugged and moved out of Xander's way. If the boy wanted to show off his muscles in front of the girls that was up to him.

"What's taking so long? I thought we wanted to surprise them".

"Keep your voice down, Cordelia, or they'll be ready and waiting for us".

"And it'll be all your fault", Xander hissed, straining at the crowbar, which was not having much effect in shifting the manhole cover.

Buffy reached past him and casually added her strength. The fifty pound piece of cast metal flew up and thudded over onto the turf, narrowly missing the toes of Cordelia's trendy thigh length boots. She gave a little suppressed squeak and leaped back.

"I didn't need any help, Buff, I nearly had it", Xander said plaintively. "It was just starting to shift".

"I know. I'm sorry", Buffy told him, "I was just trying to be helpful".

She realised she must have hurt his feelings by so easily doing something he was struggling with. Sometimes she found it was really difficult to stand by and not use her super strength to help people.

'It must be like that for Clark Kent too,' she told herself. 'I wonder how he manages?' and she sighed quietly. 'It's not so easy being The Slayer'.

The title of a song she hadn't heard for a while slipped irreverently into her mind - 'It's Not Easy Being Green'.

'Move over Kermit, and make room for Buffy', she thought.

Giles snapped his fingers once to attract everyone's attention to the job in hand. Buffy silently stepped forwards, sat on the edge of the dark square hole for a moment, and then dropped out of sight. Not wanting to be outdone, Xander followed her in much the same manner. A thud and a muffled "Ow!" told them he'd successfully arrived at the bottom. After passing down the weapons bag, Giles, Cordelia and Willow more sensibly descended using the metal ladder.

"Now what?" whispered Scully.

The two FBI agents were thirty yards away, hiding in a clump of laurel bushes beside a large mausoleum.

"We wait".

"What if they come out somewhere else?"

"What if they don't?" Mulder responded with a slight smile.

"Turn off the flashlight".

"It is off - that glow's coming from up around the bend", Buffy said quietly. She passed the flashlight back, and the next person did the same until it arrived at the tail end of the procession, in the hands of Cordelia.

"What am I supposed to do with this?" she asked in a stage whisper.

"Keep an eye on our rear", Giles told her.

"Oh, pleeeeese!" she responded. "Gross!"

Giles looked round at her, slightly surprised, and then silently pointed back the way they'd come.

"Our rear", he said quietly. "Keep looking back. We don't want anyone sneaking up behind us out of the dark. It's a very responsible job, Cordelia", he added. In front of him he could hear Willow desperately struggling not to laugh, and he shook his head and straightened his glasses.

"Someone's coming".

Mulder and Scully kept perfectly still as, padding quietly across the grass three tall, approximately human-shaped figures approached the manhole. It was difficult to see properly in the dim light away from the path, but Mulder felt his heart start to race.

They really did not look quite right - for a start their bodily proportions were all wrong, with short, powerful looking legs, very long torsos, and arms like apes. And then again, people did not usually have shiny, bright blue-green scales for skin. Neither was it common to have great knobbly crests on top of their heads. Besides which, they were each at least seven feet in height, and very obviously had not a stitch of clothing on between them.

One of them stopped, lifted its head and peered all around, sniffing the air like a hunting beast. As it did so the moonlight illuminated its face and Mulder heard Scully give a quiet gasp of surprise.

"What on earth are they?" she whispered.

Mulder shook his head, unable to make any other response. For the moment he was effectively dumb-struck.

"I don't think I'd like to meet one of those on a dark night", Scully added with unconscious humour.

There was a moment or two's pause while they silently continued to observe the creatures.

Then Scully said quietly "Now I think I really have seen everything. I'm going to have to apologise to you in six different positions, aren't I?"

"'As the actress said to the bishop'", Mulder murmured.

Scully punched him gently on the arm. "I heard that", she whispered.

Mulder smiled and said nothing, just went on watching the new arrivals, absolutely fascinated.

It was quite obvious that the creatures were not even remotely human. Beside their unusual body proportions, they had large, peculiarly shaped eyes, much larger than normal. In the quick glimpse the two agents got, it was apparent that they were also an odd colour - pure yellow throughout, without a separately coloured iris - and had unusual triangular pupils, unlike any animal either of them had ever seen before.

All three creatures were armed with exotic, antique weapons. They each carried ornate swords, and one of them also had some sort of metal club, one a wicked looking axe and the third a short stabbing spear.

The one that had sniffed the air, Mulder thought of it as being the leader, spoke to the others in a guttural language that did not sound like anything he had ever heard before. It pointed into the manhole. The others grunted briefly, and one after the other the three of them jumped straight into it without even looking to see where they would land.

"Well, now I _know_ I've seen everything. Were those like the aliens you saw last night, Mulder?" Scully sounded really quite composed about what she'd just observed, all things considered.

Mulder shook his head again.

"Nothing like, at all", he replied quietly, which greatly surprised her. "Sorry. My two started out looking exactly like real people, and then they changed, but not into anything like those three. They're a whole other ballgame. I think they must be a completely different type altogether.

"You've got to admit, though, they really do look like what people expect aliens to be like", he added.

Scully shook her head, still feeling confused. She thought that he too sounded amazingly calm about it all, under the circumstances. There was a short lull in the conversation.

"So what do we do now?" she said eventually.

"I think we might wait for a couple more minutes - give them a bit of a head start - and then follow them to try and find out what's really going on. We're going to have to be pretty cautious..."




"Sshh, Cordelia!!"


Rupert Giles felt something hard poke him where the sun doesn't shine. He looked round over his shoulder and realised it was the expedition's flashlight, carried by Cordelia.

"What???!!!" he said as forcefully as he could without raising his voice above a whisper, but Cordelia wasn't looking his way. She was looking anxiously back over her shoulder into the dark.

"Giles, I just heard something behind us!!!"

He listened carefully but could hear nothing, and scowled at her.

"I did!!" she squeaked indignantly.

He shook his head and turned away, to find Buffy looking intently back past him.

"I think there's somebody behind us", she said.

Pt 6: "Three's a Crowd".

"This tunnel's larger than I expected, Scully. Too big for just a storm drain, surely?. If I was a couple of inches shorter I could stand completely upright".

"Can you see anything, Mulder?"

He shook his head but moved to one side so that Scully could look past him, and made a sign to remind her to stay quiet. From somewhere up in front of them they could hear voices, but not really clearly enough to be able to make out what was being said - the speakers were out of sight and their voices too muffled by distance and confused by echoes. Cautiously the they moved forwards to follow the gradual right-hand bend of the tunnel, hoping to get close enough to hear what was being said.

Some way ahead of them they could see the figures of the creatures they were now following. All three were stooping due to their considerable height, and were silhouetted by a faint glow from out of sight where the voices were coming from.

"Can you see anything, Buffy?" That was a man's voice, in a sort of stage whisper - obviously the librarian, Mr. Rupert Giles.

'Rupert? What sort of a stupid name is that, anyway?' Mulder thought to himself. A girl's voice replied, equally quietly.

"No, not behind us, but I think there's a nest just up ahead, Giles, although I can't see any of them yet. Is everybody ready? OK, I'll lead off". That definitely sounded like the blonde one, Buffy. It also sounded as if she was acting as the leader.

Mulder wondered what sort of creature might make it's nest underground in a storm drain. What were these people hunting for? Was it perhaps the three supposed aliens, or something else? In either case things were about to get very interesting, to say the least.

The two agents heard subdued responses in the affirmative, followed by a growl from one of the creatures just up ahead.

"I told you there was something behind us", another girl said anxiously. She sounded pretty nervous.

"OK, so you were right for once, Cordelia. You guys keep them busy while I see what we have here", Buffy said, a bit louder now that they had obviously lost the element of surprise.

Mulder and Scully saw the three monsters just ahead of them raise their antique but perfectly effective weapons and trot forward out of sight round the bend. The they looked at each other for a moment in the deep gloom, and then moved cautiously forward to follow them.

"Hey, Buff. Look out! We've definitely got company back here. Demons, triplets, big ugly ones!" Xander exclaimed.

"Uh oh, change of plan, guys!" Buffy said, and turned to face the rapidly advancing newcomers.

Giles hastily dumped the weapons bag and pulled out an axe which he quickly tossed to Xander, and then drew out a long broadsword for himself. Willow and Cordelia scuttled round behind them, one still holding their flashlight, the other a temporarily redundant stake, while Buffy cocked her crossbow.

Giles raised his sword, and Buffy was sure she heard him mutter "For what we are about to receive..." Then the three demons were on them.

Buffy aimed at the biggest one in the middle, but just as she squeezed the trigger Xander took a swing with his axe, and in the narrow space in the tunnel with the three of them side-by-side, his backstroke jogged her elbow and the bolt went high over the demons' heads, bounced off the curved roof beyond them, and disappeared out of sight into the darkness. There wasn't time to reload so she simply dropped the crossbow and waded in with her bare fists.

The humans did have one advantage - their relatively small size. In the centre of the tunnel Giles and Xander could stand almost fully upright, whereas the three demons, at approximately seven feet tall, were severely hampered by having to stoop to avoid hitting the roof with the crests on the tops of their heads, and had barely enough room to swing their weapons without risking hitting each other.

"Aim low, go for their legs", Giles shouted, and slashed at the biggest. There was a bellow of pain and it staggered back.

Xander didn't hear the advice, but was doing pretty well on his own account, getting in close under his opponent's sword, swinging wildly and causing considerable damage. The demon's scaly skin was leathery, and hard to pierce, but an axe is a tough weapon to resist at close quarters.

Buffy was also having some success in drawing dark blood from her opponent, principally by punching it repeatedly on its strangely shaped nose, not a mode of fighting it seemed to be familiar with. She varied this with some martial arts kicks aimed low down, where both vampire or human would normally be particularly sensitive, but for some reason this wasn't having quite the desired effect, so she quickly switched tactics and went directly for its weapon. In just a few seconds the demon found itself on entirely the wrong end of its own sword (from its point of view), and not at all happy about the situation!

Scully tugged at Mulder's sleeve.

"Keep back, Mulder. We don't want any of them to know we're here".

"I don't think we should just leave them to it. We have to help them".

"The humans seem to be doing pretty well under the circumstances, Mulder. It looks like the monsters that are coming off second-best".

"That's what I'm worried about, Scully - it's the monsters I'm thinking of. And I still believe we should think of them as some sort of aliens, not monsters. They're obviously intelligent beings, whatever they are..."

"Dangerous is what they are, Mulder" Scully hissed. "They're carrying lethal weapons. I know people are in danger, but we don't know what's actually happening..."

"...Well we can't just stay back here and risk letting any of them be killed, Scully. Not even the creatures, whatever they really are. They're all part of whatever the hell strange goings-on are... er... going on in this town. We have to stop the fight somehow".

"Keep your voice down, Mulder. One of them might hear you".

"Over this row? I doubt it".

Then, without any warning, Mulder stood up and turned on his own flashlight. Then he waved it about vigorously to deliberately attract attention.

Scully quickly grabbed at his sleeve again, trying to pull him back down into concealment.

"What are you doing, Mulder? They'll see you".

"That's the idea - to distract them. I want to break up the fight, and I think showing ourselves is probably the best way to do it".

Scully sighed and got to her feet beside him. This did not seem to be a very good idea to her. It certainly wasn't what they had originally planned, but she supposed Mulder was right about one thing - they had to find out what the hell was going on. To do that they had to be able to ask people questions, and to do _that_ there had to be people still alive to talk to. Or live monsters, or aliens, or even (the horrible thought suddenly occurred to her), god forbid, people in alien suits from a theatrical costumiers. And if that last idea turned out to be the case, someone was going to look remarkably stupid. And if that person turned out to be Dana Scully, then she was going to make quite certain that one Fox Mulder was going to regret even getting up this morning. Period.

"Hey! You there. This is the FBI! Throw down your weapons!"

"What the...?"

"Look out Xander!" Willow shouted, and he ducked to avoid a jab of the spear held by one of the demons, grabbed it, and kicked out hard at its kneecap. The creature gave a pained bellow and let go. Xander tossed the spear over to Buffy who swapped it for the sword she was using, and then he took another vigorous swing with his axe. Disarmed, the monster backed up, reluctantly giving ground, and he swung again, taking a step forward as he did so. It retreated again.

Buffy jabbed at the demon opposing her, which also withdrew a pace or two.

Giles, distracted by the shout from along the tunnel, missed his stroke, but his opponent also took the opportunity to move back a few feet.

"Come on, they're retreating. Keep at it!" he shouted. "Never mind who's back there".

"Is it the seventh cavalry? Maybe they're out on night manoeuvres", Buffy said between jabs with the spear.

"No, it's only the fifth. And I think they very sensibly left their horses behind", Xander responded, wielding his axe vigorously.

"I bet it's that bloody government agent we keep bumping into, well that Buffy does, anyway. He must have followed us down here, stupid man", Giles grunted between sword swings.

There was another shout in the distance, and the leader of the demons suddenly seemed to realise they were trapped between two forces. It turned abruptly, and began to run from the Slayer and her friends, straight towards the voice beyond, followed closely by its two companions.

"Hey, they're giving up! Come on, we can chase them right out of the tunnel", Xander said.

"They're going to run straight into that government idiot".

"So?" said Buffy, lowering her spear, a little out of breath. "He can look after himself, surely? He'll have a gun".

"Almost certainly", Giles responded, "but he's outnumbered. And you don't seriously think a few little bullets are going to be enough to stop those three, do you?"

"Oh. Hadn't thought of that. Hey. Guess we'd better go lend a hand, then".

The words were hardly out of her mouth when another voice, this time a woman's, also called to the creatures to halt and throw down their weapons. After a few seconds this was followed by one warning shot, and then a whole fusillade.

The Slayerettes unanimously hurled themselves down into the dirt and puddles on the floor of the storm drain as bullets spanged dramatically about over their heads. Xander clung fervently to the nearest person, who happened to be Giles, Buffy rolled over to shield Willow, and Cordelia cowered behind all of them, shrieking. Above the row, Giles heard someone in the distance shouting to a second person to get back down the tunnel to the ladder, and the three demons howled their anger and chased after them.

A last bullet whined overhead, ricocheted crisply twice and bounced metallically a couple of times on the floor of the tunnel.

Cordelia screamed shrilly.

"I've been hit. I've been wounded. I'm bleeding! I'm dying!"

Giles cautiously lifted his head to check the tunnel, detached himself from Xander's clutches, and crawled over to her to check for injuries.

"Hey! Hands! Hands, mister!" Cordelia suddenly exclaimed, to his surprise.

"Can't see any injuries from here", Buffy told him. "Where were you hit, Cordy?"

"In the shoulder. I'm going to die, aren't I? Oh God, I'm still a virgin and I'm going to die without ever having done it".

"Oh, gross! T.M.I., T.M.I.!!" Willow exclaimed, covering her ears with her hands. Then she added "I can't see any blood".

"A virgin? That's not what it says on the wall in the men's room at school", Xander muttered quietly to himself, but hardly anyone else noticed.

"I was hit", Cordelia insisted. "I'm dying!"

"A dying duck's more like it!" Giles told her scathingly. "Look, here's the bullet - it was spent, and just dropped onto you and then fell to the ground".

"Boy, are you lucky", Xander said. "Can I have it as a souvenir?"

"Hell, no!" exclaimed Cordelia, sitting up smartly and grabbing it off Giles. "You get yourself shot and get your own damned souvenir. Or even better, just get shot! Do us all a favour!"

"Children, children!" Giles said wearily. "Please don't bicker. We've got to go and be the seventh cavalry ourselves now. There seem to be at least two FBI agents who need rescuing from nasty scaly blue-green demons before they come to a sticky end without even knowing what hit them".

"Hopefully we can achieve that without them even finding out", Buffy said optimistically, bouncing to her feet. "Come on, gang. We have things to do and people to see - like monsters to fight, and morons to save".

"What about the vampires we were really after?" Willow asked.

"You don't seriously think they're still hanging around after all this racket do you, Will?"

"We'll have to leave them for tomorrow night", Giles told her. "Buffy's right, they're long gone by now".

"Yay for me! Saddle up, guys! Hiyo Silver, away!"

Giles shook his head, brushing the dirt from his jacket as he followed the four youngsters.

'I'm getting too old for this', he told himself. 'Sod the bloody FBI!'

Pt 7: "Scary Monsters".

"Get up the ladder, quick!"

Mulder hurriedly glanced back over his shoulder at the three tall creatures shambling rapidly towards them out of the gloom down in the tunnel, and gave Scully a mighty boost that shot her out of the manhole and sent her sprawling on the grass in the moonlight. Then he lunged for the bottom rung and desperately started to haul himself up the ladder out of reach.

Just as he neared the top, something sharp sliced a piece off the heel of his shoe and nicked his calf. Swearing under his breath, he scrambled up the last few rungs, fell out of the manhole, and staggered away after his partner, fumbling in his pocket for the spare magazine for his pistol. He looked back for his pursuer, the top half of which, or whom, was already visible above the ground waving its sword, and realised with a nasty sinking feeling that the shiny little rectangular object he could just make out on the grass between them was his extra ammunition clip.

Scully fumbled with her own reload, aimed and fired once. He supposed it must have missed, because it had no visible effect. She tried to steady her breathing, squeezed the trigger again carefully, but nothing happened - her gun had jammed.

"Run, Mulder!"

Now all three of the monsters were above ground, so the two agents turned and fled, and the creatures came lumbering after them.

"Where did we leave the car?"

Mulder pointed a little to their right, where he could see the cemetery gates in the distance, and they both changed direction.

"I can't believe this is really happening - it's like something out of one of your old horror movies!" Scully exclaimed breathlessly. "And I think they're catching up with us".

"Don't talk. Keep going! Run!" Mulder panted, weaving between the burial plots like a football player dodging through the opposition, going for a touchdown.

"Anyway, which horror picture were you thinking of?" he added as they ran. "One of the old British 'Hammer Films' ones?"

Unfortunately, it's never a good idea to be thinking about one small insignificant matter while you're doing something else of life-and-death importance, as Mulder was suddenly reminded.

He caught his foot on something and fell heavily.

Scully turned back to grab him by the arm and help him scramble up... and found herself face to face with the leading creature.

Despite the poor light, she could see every detail of its reptilian skin - very like a lizard's but with tufts of wiry hair poking out here and there between the scales, and it seemed to have a sort of acrid smell, a little like scorched plastic perhaps. Its peculiar yellow triangular-pupilled eyes stared down at her from its great height, and a chill went up her spine, right to the top of her scalp.

She couldn't move.

Time froze.

Then the thing seemed to grin - she saw acres of teeth, and was enveloped by a waft of bad breath which could have killed at forty paces. Slowly it lifted its sword, preparing to strike... and then, with a good solid thud, a spear point suddenly appeared, sticking at least two feet right out from its chest.

The creature looked down, gave a sort of plaintive, astonished grunt, and fell forward flat on its ugly face, stone dead, right on top of her.

"Yay! B-bulls eye!" someone exclaimed nearby, a girl's voice.

"Hey! I'm not playing you at darts again, Buffy. It would be no contest!" someone else responded, a young man this time.

"Damn, I'm good though, aren't I?" That was another girl.

The last thought floating through Scully's mind as she passed out was "Looks like the cavalry's here!"

"'Ware the others!" Xander said sharply, and the Slayerettes quickly turned and split into two groups - Buffy and Xander as one, Giles, Willow and Cordelia the other.

The demon facing Giles raised its weapon, a vicious short-handled battleaxe, and with room now to swing freely, Giles hacked and slashed vigorously at it with his own sword. The creature's left arm flew off, cartwheeling away into the shadows, spraying and spattering everyone within reach with bright green blood as it went, at least Willow supposed she must think of it as blood.

Cordelia gave a little shriek of rage and disgust at the mess it suddenly made of her clothes, so angry that any actual words she tried to utter were really more or less completely incoherent.

Giles slowly drew back his long broadsword again, and with a big smile said "Now sonny, this is going to hurt you a lot more than it's going to hurt me!"

The astonished demon looked up from the raw spurting stump of its arm. Giles' sword cut through the cool night air with a sharp whizzing sound which ended in a dull 'Thwump', and the creature's head shot right up high into the air, came down and bounced a couple of times, and finally rolled to a halt right at Mulder's feet.

"Wow! Conan the Librarian! Way cool, or what?" Xander exclaimed, much impressed.

"Buffy, look out!" Willow said quickly. There was an enraged bellow from behind her, and Buffy turned back from watching Giles to find that her own opponent had just yanked a headstone right up out of the ground. It raised the thing over its head and hurled it - straight towards Agent Fox Mulder!

There was really only one thing Buffy could do - she leaped forwards and caught it in mid-flight! She clutched it to her chest, staggered back several paces, and then slowly straightened up.

She glanced down at herself, and then at the inscription on the slab, and then she looked the amazed demon straight in the eye.

"Now I'm annoyed", she said quietly. "You know who's this is? It's Principal Flutie's. There was little enough of him left in the first place, but nooo-ooo... you couldn't leave well alone, could you? You had to pull up his grave marker, you... you... vandal!". She almost spat the word out at the demon.

"And while we're about it", she added, "there's another thing. I only bought this top this afternoon after school. It's brand new, and now it's completely ruined. What have you got to say for yourself about that? Am I going to get an apology before I kill you?"

Baffled, the creature could only snarl at her - "Grrrrrr!"

"Right", said Buffy calmly. "If that's all you've got to say for yourself, mister ugly, here's your gravestone back!", and she raised it high over her head and smashed the thing into its face. There was a muffled "Aaaaaargh!" and the third and last demon fell over backwards, utterly crushed.

"Yay! Goodies 3, Baddies 0!" exclaimed Xander.

Giles, Willow, and even Cordelia (distracted for one moment from her own fashion woes) stood and clapped enthusiastically.

"That's the way to do it!" Buffy said, dusting her hands on the seat of her pants, not even slightly out of breath. "Ugly brutes, aren't they? Any idea what sort they are, Giles?"

Her Watcher gazed at the remains strewn about like the debris of a very good party, and shook his head.

"I don't recognise the type. I'll have to have a session with my reference books later tonight, or perhaps tomorrow. I'm sure they're only minor - they didn't even seem to have any proper speech so far as I could tell".

"B-but do you think they were after us, or just happened to be passing by?" said Willow.

"I'll bet they were called up and set on us by those two vamps we were hunting", Xander said. "Something to keep us occupied while they get up to mischief somewhere else".

Buffy nodded, looking thoughtful.

"You mean it was... Oh, what's the word I want? Um, Giles, help me out here will you, please? I keep thinking of a detour, but I'm sure that's not the right word".

Slightly puzzled, the Watcher looked at his Slayer thoughtfully for a moment, wondering if perhaps the impact of the gravestone had caught her on the head. Then he realised she probably just couldn't remember the right word, and was trying to get it by association.

"You mean a diversion, Buffy".

"One of them. Right. Whatever".

Xander contemplated the two FBI agents still sprawled on the neatly mown grass.

"Perhaps these two guys might be able to tell us something", he said.

Scully came-to slowly. It was still night time, and she found that her head was resting comfortably in someone's lap. It's owner, a long haired teenage girl, a red head like herself, was looking down at her with a concerned expression. Around her were several other youngsters, members of the group of people who'd been down in the tunnel, she supposed. Her partner, Mulder, was kneeling on the grass beside her, also looking anxious, and there was another older man, who wore glasses, standing just behind him.

"What happened? Sorry, stupid question, I know".

"That's all right. It's traditional", the older man reassured her. He had a rather nice English accent, she thought irrelevantly.

"Hi, ma'am. I'm Willow. How are you feeling?" the red headed girl said. "Are you hurt"?

Scully smiled up at her rather weakly, and tried to sit up. Mulder put out a hand to help her.

"Hi, Willow. I'm Dana Scully. I'm OK, thank you. Honestly, Mulder, I am, just a bit winded perhaps. Really, I'm fine - I think".

She looked round, and there on the grass a few feet away the glazed dead eyes of the second monster stared in her direction, looking blankly somewhere a little over her shoulder. She shuddered.

"Ugh! Now I remember! What the hell is that thing? Not an actual alien, surely?" she asked Mulder quietly.

"We know Agent Mouldy came here expecting to find aliens and flying saucers", the blonde girl said. She was standing with hands on hips, silhouetted dramatically by the cemetery's lights behind her.

Mulder looked up at her quickly. He recognised her as the girl Buffy Summers, who he'd spoken with the evening before. Then he realised that all five of them were exactly the same group of people he'd met out in the country two days back.

"How did you know about that?"

"We heard you talking. To Tweeedledum and Tweedledee", she replied. "But these are not aliens".

"At least, not in the sense you were thinking", the red headed girl called Willow said.

'So it _was_ you last night', thought Mulder, but didn't actually say anything out loud. 'I wonder who the heavy was?'

"Well", said Scully, "if those aren't aliens, then what the hell are they?"

The man with the glasses started to say something. Scully now recognised him as the teacher Mr Giles, who she'd first seen in his car, driving by only about half an hour before - who wore a tweed jacket even in early fall in California. However, the boy called Xander interrupted him.

"Monsters, demons. They're the sort of things you believed lived under your bed when you were little. When you grew up you thought you knew better, but you were wrong. They are real - they actually exist".

"And you'd better watch out, because there are other things, too", the red head added cheerfully.

"Be afraid, be very afraid", the teenage boy said in a mock solemn tone.

Then the third girl, whose long dark hair was covered in a strange green slime, said in a snippy tone of voice "So what's your problem? Have you never seen a demon before?"

Mulder reached out to touch the severed head cautiously, and shook his head.

"Not even a dead one".

Everyone instantly came back with the same response:

"Best sort".

Part 8: "Interview With A Vampire Slayer, Pt 1".

"What the hell are you going to do with that, Scully?"

"Dissect it. If I leave it until morning it will probably have rotted away completely".

"It smells as though it has already. Did you have to unwrap it here in my room?"

"The fridge in mine isn't working, Mulder, and I need to examine the specimen as thoroughly as I can before it disintegrates. Did you bring a camera with you?"

"No, sorry. We'll just have to improvise. I think they might have some of those disposable ones for sale at the Reception desk. Shall I go and get one?"

"Yes, but make it several. It's going to be a long session, and then, don't forget, in the morning we have to go and interview those kids and their librarian".

Shaking his head, Mulder wandered off to find the front desk, which was in the owner's house, about fifty yards up the hill from the motel cabins, but Scully couldn't understand why he was laughing quietly to himself when he came back.

"What's so funny, then?" She didn't look up.

"You should have seen the proprietor's face when I said I wanted half a dozen of his disposable cameras at half past one in the morning. I could tell exactly what he was thinking".

There was a loud snort from Scully who had her back to him, bending over the specimen they'd retrieved from the fight in the cemetery - the severed head of a demon - or alien, or whatever it might actually turn out to be.

"We won't exactly be taking the pictures he's thinking of, but it will be an all-nighter", she said. Then after a moment or two she continued "Are there any pliers in the tool kit in your car?"

Mulder went out and brought back almost the entire contents of the trunk with him, dumped everything in a heap in the corner of the room, and had a good rummage round until he found what Scully wanted.

"You could also help by taking notes for me", she then added.

Without comment Mulder dug in his bag and produced a large yellow legal pad and a shiny new ballpoint to write with.

Scully noticed it out of the corner of her eye, looked round, smiled and said "Parker?"

"Yes, M'Lady".

"What's the sitch, Giles? What are we going to tell them?"

"I don't know, Buffy. They already know far too much. If we aren't careful about what we say, the whole town might end up being flooded with FBI and Special Forces, and all Hell could break loose".

"What, again?. Can't say I like that idea, much. At least at the moment we've got things under control here, more or less..."

"...but if they start interfering..." Giles shrugged.

"These two have seen so much that they're practically honorary Slayerettes already", Willow observed. "Any more and we'll have to form an official club, and have a president, a membership secretary, and a secret handshake".

"Not even that'll stay secret for long round here, now", Xander muttered to himself.

"God forbid", said Giles, appalled. "Belonging to one secret organisation is more than enough for me. When the Watchers' Council find out about last night they'll go... Well, I don't really know what they'll do. It's strictly against the Council's Charter to discuss things with anyone who isn't either a Council member, a Watcher or a Slayer. Even you others aren't really supposed to be aware of who Buffy is or what we do, and most especially why".

He sounded pretty miserable and worried, and kept taking off his glasses and starting to polish them vigorously, and then forgetting what he was doing.

"Well, we do know, and there's nothing they can do about it, is there?" Willow said firmly.

"And we help Buffy, watch her back, help out with the slayage and stuff", Xander pointed out. "We've dusted a few vamps each, and dealt with a demon or two, just on our own without the Buffster, like when she's been busy elsewhere, or away on vacation. After all, even the Slayer can't be in two places at once".

"Hey, I help too, don't I?" Cordelia demanded.

"Yes, absolutely, Cordy, even when you _are_ covered in green goo. We rely on you for fashion tips, colour matching, what today's 'in' style of dagger is, all that sort of thing", Xander said.

"Like what goes with slime green, for instance", Willow added wickedly, and ducked behind Xander, out of her reach.

"Please be serious, all of you", Giles said. "They could be here any minute, and we haven't even thought about what we say, or don't".

"We'll just have to wait for them to turn up, and see what questions they ask us", Willow said sensibly.

"And for goodness sake..." Giles started to say.

"...Nobody mention the Hellmouth!" everyone else said together.

As if on cue, the library doors swung open with a bang, and a short, angry, self-important, bald little man stood there, looking exactly like a bad-tempered garden gnome who's just lost his fishing rod. Behind him were a vaguely embarrassed looking couple, who they recognised immediately.

Principal Snyder marched in like a stunted storm trooper and stamped to a halt in front of the little group.

"Well, well, well. Here's Mr. Giles and friends. Particularly one young friend", he barked. "Miss Summers, you've only been back two weeks and already the FBI wants to talk to you".

"She is merely assisting the FBI with their enquiries", Giles said stiffly, using a very British turn of phrase. Unfortunately it wasn't a particularly good choice of words - in Britain, at least, it actually implies being detained for questioning.

Almost as if he knew that, Principal Snyder's scowl was transformed instantly to a fiendish grin of baleful delight. He was like an alley cat for whom someone had just put down a whole roast chicken smothered in double cream. He looked so pleased with himself that even his back teeth got to see daylight.

"Yes, Principal Snyder. They've come to interview us because they think I may have seen the missing agents they're looking for".

The words came straight out of Buffy's mouth without any intervention from her brain, and it was pure delight (for them all) to see Snyder's expression suddenly change in a few seconds through suspicion, dismay, shock, and confusion to baffled disappointment, as his ambition of finding an excuse to expel her suddenly receded into the distance like a land speed record attempt across the Bonneville Salt Flats.

"Thank you for your help, Principal Snyder. We'll take it from here", and Mulder was shaking the confused little man by the hand and ushering him towards the door before he knew what was happening to him.

"He really doesn't like you very much, does he, Fluffy?" said Scully as the doors closed behind him.

"Tell me about it, Agent Skuller", Buffy responded, smiling slightly to herself, absent mindedly watching the library doors swing gently to and fro, until they finally came to rest.

"I don't think he's liked anybody since his first date gave him the kiss-off in sixth grade", Xander said.

"If he ever even had a f-first date", Willow added.

"In my opinion the man's nothing but a power crazed, masochistic little insect, and an obnoxious little creep", Giles said, coldly furious, "and it is my fervent ambition, one day, to be able to tell him so to his face", and he firmly replaced his glasses.

"Woo-hoo! Go Giles! We're right with you, man!"

"So, you're all quite convinced they're not from other worlds, then?"

They were sitting at the table in the middle of the Sunnydale High School library, the two FBI agents across from the Slayerettes.

"We know they're not", Buffy said firmly. "No flying saucers here in Sunnydale I'm afraid, Agent Mouldy".

"So if they're not aliens, what do you think last night's creatures are?" Mulder said.

"Would you believe demons?" Willow said diffidently.

"That's what you said last night, isn't it? I'm afraid I'm finding it a little difficult to believe, though".

"Believe", said Buffy firmly.

"OK then, if they are, where do they come from?"

"Other dimensions", she told him, looking him straight in the eye.

"Or maybe Los Angeles", Xander added.

"Really? So how do they get here? Not by Greyhound, surely?" Scully asked, carefully keeping her expression neutral. "And why here?"

"It's just a rather weird little town", Giles commented noncommittally. He really didn't want to give away anything he didn't absolutely have to.

"Oh yes, Sunnydale is _very_ different", Buffy agreed, with a little smile.

"And how and why? Perhaps because the hills are alive with the sound of - magic?" Willow suggested. "The normal laws of physics do work here, but they're not exclusively in charge".

"Luckily we don't have to deal with a whole lot of demons. Not too many of them seem to have found this place yet. Our main problem is vampires", Buffy said.

"Oh, yes", Mulder said, leaning back in his chair with a slight smile. "I saw the garlic and crucifixes in the prowl cars when I visited Police Headquarters". He didn't sound particularly convinced, or even dismissive. He sounded, if anything, rather amused.

"You _really_ don't believe in vampires, do you?" Buffy said.

"Or in fact any of this", Giles said added. He sounded a little as if he was offended that such an obviously intelligent man as Fox Mulder could find it so difficult to believe his own eyes, but of course one had to remember that this was quite a common state of affairs in Sunnydale.

"No, I'm afraid not. My own theory is that they're just a sort of mythological construct", Mulder said, "the product of a mixture of devout religiousness and deepest superstition".

"Those two ideas are not necessarily mutually exclusive, though, are they?" Giles pointed out. "And that definition fits the entire history of the Christian Church rather well, don't you think?"

"Fair comment, Mr Giles", Mulder replied, nodding, "but I still tend to believe that these stories about the undead walking and talking are probably just a way for people to rationalise their fears of the unknown. Either that, or they may just be a misinterpretation of some other phenomenon, like, for instance, zombieism. They can't possibly be based on reality. The Boogie Man and other childhood creatures of the night like that cannot really exist - whereas we know that alien visitors do. And that they're here".

Scully sat silent while Mulder made his familiar little speech.

She was the one who had been up to her elbows in green gore, dissecting a rapidly disintegrating head severed from a creature of the night, which had finally driven them both out of Mulder's room at three in the morning with its stench. Mulder had spent the rest of the night asleep on the couch in her motel cabin, while she slept on the bed.

She had also not forgotten the previous evening's expedition to the cemetery, and looking up to see a spear suddenly poke out of the chest of the very real creature that had been about to finish her off with a very real and sharp sword!

"Have you actually seen these aliens for yourselves?" Giles asked, genuinely interested, and Mulder nodded again slightly. "You see, from our perspective, _they_ are the things that don't exist, whereas we might encounter a vampire or a demon almost any night of the week here in Sunnydale. As you've both seen for yourselves", he added.

"We know the death rate in Sunnydale is much higher than normal for a town of this size", Scully said. "You're telling us that things like those we encountered yesterday evening stalk the streets after dark every night? That they're responsible?"

The Slayerettes looked doubtfully at each other, and at Giles, hoping for a lead. How much more should they tell these strange FBI people?

"Oh, we have vampires and demons like some people have mice", Xander said cheerfully. "Or maybe cockroaches".

"And even vampires have to feed, I suppose", Buffy added after a moment. "But it's my job to stop them!"

Part 9: Interview With A Vampire Slayer, Pt 2

"So you kill the vampires and demons, Buffy? Or slay them, as you call it. Why you? What makes it your job?" Scully asked.

Buffy glanced at Giles, who shook his head very slightly in warning.

She shrugged. "If you knew they were out there, attacking and killing people, maybe your friends from High School and so on, wouldn't you do something about it?"

"But I don't understand. Why you and your friends, Buffy? Why should it be you?"

"It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it", she said.

"So you just go out and hunt down and kill these monsters. For fun?" said Scully sternly.

"Oh, no. Of course not" Buffy replied, frowning. "Look, Agent Skuller, this isn't a game for us, this is serious stuff. Last night, those three demons were hunting us. If they'd left us alone it would have been fine, but _they_ attacked _us_, don't forget. And then they went for you", she added. "Remember?"

"We did sort of save your lives", Willow pointed out diffidently.

"Yes, and did we get a 'thank you' for it, I'd like to know?" Cordelia said sharply. "I think not".

"Right. And after last night's fun and games, we didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition", Xander said, a little indignant.

"And not a comfy chair in sight", Mulder murmured to himself with a slight smile, and glancing round the library.

"What about the police? Isn't that their job?" Scully persisted.

"Have you actually met our Sunnydale police force?" Giles said. He sounded quite scathing. "I doubt if they could find their own rear ends with both hands and a mirror".

"Right. And a book of instructions!" said Xander.

"In extra large print!" Willow added.

"Yeah. Dopey, much?" Cordelia put in. "All they're good for is handing out traffic citations".

"Yes. Somehow the word 'useless' comes to mind", said Giles. "I think, on the whole, they probably find it's sometimes more convenient, and safer, for them to turn a blind eye and let things take care of themselves, in the hope that the problems will all have gone away by morning of their own accord, rather like a bad dream", he continued.

"So that means it's up to us to take care of things", Willow said.

"Slayerettes to the rescue!" exclaimed Xander.

"Xander!" Giles exclaimed, but it was too late, the words were out.

"Slayerettes?" Scully said. "Is that what you call yourselves? - Slayerettes? Why that name?"

"Because we slay vampires, of course", Buffy said quickly.

"And so I deduce you call yourself the Slayer", Mulder said slowly, nodding to himself. "You were really the one in charge last night, weren't you? I saw you catch that tombstone thrown at me. Impressive".

Giles sighed. This was not going as well as could be expected. They were all giving away far too much information to these two.

"And you and your Slayerettes took care of three seven foot... er... demons", Scully said.

"With knobs on!" Xander chimed in.

"That's us", said Willow. "We hunt down the ghoulies and ghosties and long leggetty b-beasties, and things that go bump in the night".

"Sounds like the Scooby Doo cartoons", said Mulder, with a smile.

"You watch way too much television", Scully told him.

"Oh yes, I've seen those too", Giles remarked, to the Slayerettes' surprise. They knew very little of his personal tastes in such things - they weren't even sure he actually owned a television set. So far as they knew, his favourite, and almost his only, topic of conversation was Buffy's mission to hunt down and eliminate vampires and demons.

"For research purposes only, you understand", he added for the others' benefit.

"Yeah, yeah", they all said, grinning broadly. Old Giles a cartoon freak, just like any normal person! Who'd have thought it?

"But it's basically just the same adventure every week, though", he continued, almost as if he was talking to himself. "And I'm sure they were really originally based on the Famous Five stories".

Everybody sitting round the table looked at him blankly, save one.

"Oh, yes, The Famous Five. I remember them", Mulder said slowly, surprising even Giles. He gazed into the middle distance, calling up old memories.

"British kids' adventure story series, weren't they? There was a strange craze for them among the students when I was an undergraduate at Balliol College, Oxford - 2 boys, 2 girls and a dog, wasn't it? Finding treasure, or smugglers, or kidnappers or some such?"

"So now we're the Famous Five? Nice name - I like it!" said Willow.

"Well, I wouldn't exactly call Cordy a dog, though she can be a bitch sometimes", Buffy said, leaving Cordelia temporarily speechless, quite an achievement in itself.

"This is one of those British 'growing up' things, isn't it?" Xander asked doubtfully, sounding a little confused.

"Yes" Mulder said. "It was the cool thing at Oxford University in the 80's for some peculiar reason. It would have made an interesting subject for my psychology thesis, if I hadn't already decided on one", he added thoughtfully.

"When I was there in the early 70's the 'in' thing was magic", Giles said, and then looked as if he wished he'd not mentioned it.

"Oh yes. The hills are alive with it", Mulder quoted, and Willow went bright pink with embarrassment.

At this point there was a natural pause in the conversation while everyone seemed to be thinking their own thoughts and wondering what to say next.

"So", said Giles eventually, "um... these aliens, then. Little green men?"

"Not really", Mulder said. "Big, strong, but they do have green blood".

"Ah, I see. That sounds very like what we met last night. I can quite see the reason for the confusion. You've actually met some of these aliens then?"

Mulder in his turn thought about things - how much to say, how much he could find out from these people.

"Sort of", he said eventually, cautiously. "But their blood is lethal to us, and they can change shape".

"Oh, oh, oh! So that's why when the FBI vamp went into game face the other night, you thought he was one!" Buffy exclaimed.

"Excuse me?"

Mulder and Scully both looked blankly at her, as if she had just spoken to them in a foreign language.

"We have specialist technical terms in our field of operations", Giles said smiling slightly, "as I imagine you do in yours. Willow, would you like to translate, or shall I?"

"Hey, Slayer here! Don't I qualify?"

"I thought Willow might be more adept at the technical explanations, Buffy", Giles told her.

"Oh, OK. Me no think, me just kill", Buffy said in her best dull low-IQ voice.

"Yeah. Little Miss Whirlwind Blood-and-Guts 1997, much?" Cordelia commented.

"And you do it superbly, Buff", Xander reassured her.

"Thank you, Xander. Glad to know _someone_ has confidence in me".

"Er, yes. Thank you", Giles said, furiously polishing his glasses again.

'If he does that frequently enough', Scully thought to herself, 'he'll never need to go to an optician again - he'll polish himself a new lens prescription without noticing'.

"'Game face' is our term for a vampire when he's showing his vampire face. Some of the time they can look quite like normal people, then when they start to hunt, or they're about to feed, their faces get all bumpy and their fangs appear", Willow told them. "Buffy told us about what happened to you when you met those two the night before last".

"So it _was_ you I saw when I was attacked", Mulder said to the Slayer.

"You weren't attacked", Buffy said sharply. "You were rescued. There's a difference. Those two vamps, they _were_ your missing FBI men, weren't they?"

Mulder nodded.

"Right, well another ten seconds and you'd have been turned, just like them".

"Turned?" Scully said uncertainly, pricking her ears up.

"Yes. Into a vampire - just like them".

"What, one bite and you're dead?"

"Well, barring a little mutual blood sucking, which is gross, but essential from their point of view, that's it".

"It's actually a touch more complex...", Giles interposed.

"...But not so's you'd have time to notice", Willow said firmly.

Scully looked quite shocked.

"It's as quick as that?"

"Quicker", Buffy answered. "They're stronger than you, nearly invulnerable, and there are only three ways to kill one. Putting a stake through its heart, cutting its head off, setting it on fire, and exposing it to sunlight".

"That's four ways, Buff", Xander pointed out.

"So bite me! Four ways then, Agents Mouldy & Skuller. Oh, and they don't like crosses or holy water, of course. But I expect you already knew that".

"What about garlic? Isn't that traditionally supposed to be a defence against the undead?"

"The only moderately safe profession in Sunnydale is that of French chef", Giles said with a wry smile. "But I wouldn't stake your life on it, if I were you", he added.

"That explains the decorations in the prowl cars", Mulder said to Scully.

"Oh, you noticed those too", Giles said. "Yes, garlic helps, but don't ask me why".

"So how many vampires do you think there are in Sunnydale?" Scully asked them.

"How long is a piece of string?" Xander riposted brightly. Then he looked puzzled, frowned and leaned over to whisper something in Willow's ear.

"Twice as long as half a piece", they heard her whisper back.

Mulder shook his head.

"I'm finding it difficult to comprehend - the idea that dead people can actually walk around..," he said. "Or are they really dead at all?"

"Oh, they're dead all right, or do I mean un-alive? Or rather undead. Oh dear, now I'm getting a little confused myself", said Giles.

Xander clarified it admirably: "It's life, Agent Mouldy, but not as you know it!"

"Look", said Buffy, in the hope of explaining things. "Here in Sunnydale there are three ways of dying - permanently, temporarily, and being vamped. Number 2 is the only one I can talk about from personal experience, and I don't recommend it".

The two FBI agents looked hard at her, and she suddenly felt embarrassed.

"It's a long story", Giles started to say...

"...And I'm too short", she finished. "'Nuff said?"

Mulder nodded his agreement. Scully shrugged.

"So what was happening last night?" she asked.

"I guess you were following us, after the previous night's little fracas, weren't you?" Buffy said accusingly.

"It's a dirty job..."

"Yeah, yeah. We get the picture", the Slayer said tiredly.

"Yes, we see", the other Slayerettes chorused.

"Let me try to explain it for you", Giles said, taking up the story. "We had deduced that when the two FBI vampires disappeared they'd gone down into the storm drains that run under the whole town - and that's another whole story in itself. They use it as a way to get about safely during daylight hours, like a freeway, and they have dwellings down there, which we term 'nests'. We were hoping we could find where they were living, and if we could, either kill them, we call it 'dusting' them, or, if they weren't at home, work out how to get them when they would be down there during daylight over the coming weekend".

"And you right royally screwed that one up for us", Cordelia said. "Clever, not!"

"I don't think that's entirely fair, Cordelia", Willow commented. "It seems the vamps had probably recruited those demons, intending to ambush us. Trap us down in the tunnel and attack us from front and rear. Instead of which the vamps didn't show, and the demons were trapped instead".

"And came to a very sticky end!" Mulder said with a smile.

"Ew! Don't talk to me about sticky!" Cordelia complained. "That dress was ruined. And I'll never get the stains out of my new leather boots - I'll have to get them dyed".

"You should know what to wear by now when you're out on a night's patrolling, Cordy", Xander told her. "Anyway, we all got a fair share of the green blood, thank you very much".

Part 10: "Interview With A Vampire Slayer, Pt 3"

"So, Mr. Giles. How come you know so much about these demons and vampires and things?" Mulder asked.

"Oh, well you must realise that under the circumstances I've obviously had to do a considerable amount of research on the subject. I have a certain number of reference books... upstairs in the restricted section", Giles said vaguely.

Mulder looked at the upper floor of the library with interest. This was just the sort of thing he loved - new information on the weird and wonderful. After all, one never knew what stray or unusual fact might one day illuminate some baffling detail of an X File.

"I'd like to see, if I may".

Giles looked at him thoughtfully for a moment, considering the request, and then nodded, perhaps a trifle reluctantly.

"Giles!" Willow said urgently, and she tugged at his sleeve, but he ignored her.

The two men got up and left the others, and climbed the short curving flight of stairs to the upper level, leaving her gazing anxiously after them.

Giles led Mulder through to the back of the stacks where the collection of Watchers books was kept - his own specialist library for reference and research purposes, normally only accessible to himself and the other Slayerettes.

"Why do you keep them in cages - are they very valuable? Do you have trouble with the kids at this school trying to steal them?"

"Possibly I might, if they knew about them, but I think I'm more afraid that the books themselves might get loose!" Giles said enigmatically.

"And then there's this other type that only eats..."

"Mr. Giles, I'm sorry to interrupt. All this is utterly fascinating, but what about the things, sorry demons, that attacked us? What can you tell me about them? Are you able to identify them?"

"I think so. Grab these last few books and we'll rejoin the others".

Giles dumped an unexpectedly large pile of heavy leather bound volumes into Mulder's unsuspecting arms, and taking a few of the smaller ones himself, he led the way back downstairs again.

"Nice book collection", Scully commented dryly as they deposited their cargo in an untidy heap on the table in front of her. "Antiques? Rummage sale? Goodwill store?"

"Giles", Willow said urgently, trying to keep her voice down as much as possible. "Are you sure it's such a good idea to be showing them all this stuff?"

"It's all right, Willow", Giles replied, equally quietly. "I've thought about it carefully, and I've decided that it's important they comprehend the situation here properly. After all, in the end it's their people that we've got to track down and deal with, and I think they really ought to understand just a little bit about the state of things here in Sunnydale".

"So what happened to not telling them too much, then?"

"Don't worry, Willow. I'm sure it'll be fine", Giles said, trying to reassure her, and he polished his glasses for perhaps the twentieth time that morning. "Don't make a fuss, there's a good girl".

"I'm _not_ fussing", she muttered to herself, and slumped back in her seat, still looking very worried and unhappy about it. "Nobody except me seems to care that all this was supposed to be kept secret". Then she added, equally quietly, "And for that matter, why does everybody always think of me as a goody good girl? I can be b-bad too, I'm sure I can. I just need the right opportunity".

"Look, isn't that rather like our three little piggies? Oh no, sorry. They've got tails".

"Don't mention pigs to me!" Xander exclaimed, remembering the episode from the previous year, which had resulted in the school's mascot suffering the fate of all pigs, but without the benefit of a frying pan.

"Ew! I can't look a bacon sandwich in the face even now!" Cordelia said.

"That's because you're supposed to be on a diet", Xander pointed out, and Cordy stuck her tongue out at him.

"Neither can I", said Willow.

"Why not?" Xander asked.

"Kosher, much?" Buffy reminded him.

"Stop it, all of you", Giles said firmly.

"Yes, do stop. Please, please stop", said Mulder unexpectedly, and groaned melodramatically.

"Why, what's wrong Agent Mulder? Aren't you feeling well?"

"He missed breakfast this morning for an extra ten minutes in bed", Scully told them. She was grinning broadly, trying not to laugh but not very hard.

"Bed? said Mulder. "Bed? I was sleeping on the couch, which may I point out was six inches too short. You were the one in bed".

Everyone suddenly tried not to look at all interested in the FBI's domestic arrangements when out on assignment.

"The demon head stank us out of Mulder's motel room", Scully explained. "I tried to do an autopsy before the whole thing disintegrated, but it was decaying visibly as we worked. I don't know how to describe the smell - it was like something from your worst nightmares, plus half a dozen rancid skunks. In the end it was utterly unbearable, and we had to retreat", she finished.

"Was there anything left of it this morning?" Buffy asked. "I've sometimes wondered whether there's ever anything for the trash collectors, or the police, to clear up the next day".

Scully pulled a face.

"There was nothing left of the head when I looked except a lump of shiny goo at the bottom of the bucket. I'd dowsed it in formaldehyde, but without proper refrigeration I don't actually think I've much hope of getting anything useable back to the labs at Quantico".

"I think I may have found the ones we're looking for", Giles announced suddenly. During the last few minutes he'd been leafing through a smallish red book which had its title in silver lettering riveted to the front cover. Now he was looking at an old woodcut depicting a group of monsters which each had a number of long thick projections sticking out of the tops of their heads.

"That's them", Buffy said.

"Definitely. Look at those crests. Does it tell us what they're called?" asked Willow.

To their surprise Giles "ummed" and "ahh'd" for a bit. Then he sort of laughed, and said "Oh dear". He looked mildly disconcerted.

"What is it, Giles? Don't they have a name?" Willow asked again.

"Well yes, they do. They're Sumerian demons I think, or at least they are mentioned in some Sumerian myths. They were in texts written in cuneiform on clay tablets dug up by Sir Max Mallowan near Babylon, some time in the nineteen thirties. The tablets themselves are now in the British Museum.

"Pretty ordinary stuff really", he continued, "but apparently they, the demons that is, originally came from somewhere else - I mean another hell dimension, and there's no way for us to pronounce that name - their real name". He paused, looking perhaps a little embarrassed. "But I can tell you roughly what it means".

They all looked at him expectantly. He shrugged.

"It just means 'knob-head'".

Buffy looked up sharply. There had been a peculiar expression in his voice, and to her astonishment she realised that her Watcher, the ever serious Mr. Rupert Giles, was smirking!

There was a short interval of silence, broken after a moment by a quiet gurgle from Mulder. Then someone sniggered.

Everyone else watched as Mulder struggled manfully, but in the end it burst out - as an explosion of helpless laughter.

The next thing anyone knew was that Giles and Xander were both similarly afflicted, and all three men were laughing like drains. Worse, each time one of them started to regain control of themselves, they would look at one another and that would set them all off again.

This went on for several long minutes, until they were all too exhausted to continue, and the library was finally quiet again.

The women meanwhile just sat there, stone faced, looking at each other. Eventually, in the silence that followed, someone spoke for all of them - just a single word, imbued with the deepest feeling.

"Men!" said Cordelia.

"Well, really!" said Buffy, in agreement, unconsciously sounding just like Shirley Temple.

"I'm speechless", Willow announced, contradicting herself by doing so.

Scully looked at her partner and slowly shook her head.

"Mulder", she said, "you have a dirty mind. What am I going to do with you?"

"Hey! Hello-o! Slayer here!" said Buffy after a moment. "If everyone's done with the locker room humour, guys? I think we're losing sight of the purpose of us all being here, namely two renegade FBI agents who've been turned into vampires. I just thought I ought to point this out", she added.

"The reason, not the purpose", Giles corrected her, absent mindedly straightening his glasses.

"OK, OK, Mr Grammar man, but you must admit she's right", Xander said. "Why are we here?"

'Ah, the Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything, to which the Answer is _not_ 42', Mulder thought to himself.

"Our mission, should we care to accept it, is to find and finish off these two new members of the Fang Gang", Buffy said. "But we aren't going to do it by sitting here on our butts making smutty jokes, even if it does mean I get to miss double chemistry!"

"Just a moment, please", Scully said quietly. "If possible we'd like to try to talk to them before we take any sort of irretrievable action. For one thing we ought to attempt to find out what happened to them in the first place".

"Well, du-uh!" said Cordelia. "Isn't that obvious? Even I can tell you that! One of them was bitten by a vamp that attacked him when he arrived, and then the other was recruited by the first".

"Short and simple. That's quite probably exactly what happened. Very good, Cordelia", Giles said. "After all, the second agent would simply go up to the first one when they met..."

"'...Et Robert est ton oncle'", said Willow. "After all, he wouldn't have known anything had happened to his friend until it was much too late".

"So how do we go about finding them?" said Mulder. "I'm assuming they will have already heard about last night's encounter, and made themselves scarce".

"Yes, they'll have moved house, so to speak", Giles said. "Finding them may be somewhat of a problem".

"Not necessarily - Angel can probably help us".

"You know how I feel about relying on Angel, Buffy. I'm fully aware you believe you can trust him implicitly, but we must still keep in mind the fact that he is one of them".

"Who is Angel?" Mulder asked.

"Ah! Who is Dead Boy? Good question", Xander answered. "If only we knew for sure".

"Angel's a vampire, but he's a good guy. He helps us - well sometimes. He drove you back to your motel the other night after you encountered Tweedledum and Tweedledee", Buffy explained.

'Aha, the heavy', thought Mulder, making a mental note to enlighten Scully later, when they were alone again.

"He's a vampire?" Scully sounded confused. "There are good vampires? I thought..."

"It seems there are exceptions to every rule", Giles said stiffly. "Even the one that says the undead are all evil bloodsuckers and must be staked at the earliest opportunity. At least, he's not shown us otherwise so far".

It was obvious from the way he spoke that he would rather wash his mouth out with soap than freely admit the matter. Also that in fact he trusted Angel about as far as he could throw him.

"So if you have a spy in the enemy's camp, how do you contact him? Or is a vampire 'it'?" Scully asked.

"Him", Buffy said firmly. "Angel is 'him'. And we can trust him absolutely. He's not really a spy - to the others he's just another vampire. They all seem to be aware he knows us, but they leave him alone for some reason".

"Maybe we could go visit him now", Willow suggested eagerly. "Buffy knows where he lives".

"He sleeps during the daytime", Buffy said to Mulder and Scully by way of explanation. "But he won't want us all turning up unannounced. Anyway, someone else might see us".

Willow and Xander looked a little disappointed; they would both quite like to know a little more about Angel themselves, and an expedition to visit him during the day would be a great way of getting out of some more classes, something Xander was always particularly happy to do, though Willow slightly less so. Also it would admirably piss off Principal Snyder, which would be a definite bonus in anybody's book.

"How about I go visit him after school this afternoon? I can fix up for him to meet us all later this evening, after sunset. OK?"

"He drove me back?" Mulder said doubtfully, harking back to something Buffy had said a moment or two earlier.

"You banged your head on a gravestone when he dragged you out of your 'friend's' clutches".

"That explains how you came by the headache you had yesterday morning when I rang you up", Scully said. "You suspected something of the sort, didn't you?. And there was me thinking you'd really been out on the town!"

"Hm. And daytime would certainly be best for reconnoitring a potential battlefield, wouldn't it?" Mulder pointed out. "No other vampires about to bump into. I think we ought to do that first".

Everyone else immediately nodded in agreement, except Giles - those who could already see where this was might lead, somewhat more vigorously than the others.

"So?" said Mulder. "Shall we? What will your Principal say?"

"I say 'Yes', to the first question, and 'Who cares?' to the second", Xander said with obvious enthusiasm.

"Hear, hear".

Giles looked uncertain. Eventually he shrugged and reluctantly agreed, so they all got up and began to troop out of the library. However, just as they got to the doorway they ran straight into Principal Snyder, apparently snooping on his three current most problematic pupils. Cordelia of course had never caused him any trouble, though, as an eternal pessimist, he always considered there to be a first time for everything. He was looking forward to that.

"And where do you think you're all going? Recess is over, Miss Summers".

Once again Buffy's mouth opened and words came out without her engaging her brain.

"We've all been deputised by the FBI to look for the missing agents, and they want us to go and take part in the search right away", she said.

At the back of the group, Mulder nodded slightly in confirmation.

Snyder glared at her mutely, and if looks could have killed, Buffy would have been crispy overdone toast before you could say 'vampire', or 'discipline', or even 'detention'.

Then, very rashly, as she walked past him, she _extremely_ quietly, under her breath, made an anatomically impossible suggestion for him to try, to pass the time till they came back. The little man immediately went deep purple in the face. Veins stood out like a map of the tributaries of the Mississippi. He looked as if he was about to burst into flames, and said loudly "I heard that, Miss Summers!"

Before he could get another word out, Scully, who was directly behind Buffy, stopped and looked him right in the eye.

"No you didn't!" she said firmly. Snyder's mouth fell open in astonishment, and he abruptly went as white as a sheet.

Last in line, Mulder hung back until his partner was out of the library door, then leaned over, grinned wickedly, and added "...but maybe you should try it anyway!" as the others moved off out of earshot down the school hallway.

Part 11: "Dangerous Moonlight".

"Vampires? You kill them, they disintegrate - turn to dust. It's traditional", said Giles over his shoulder, as he led them in at the gates of the cemetery, leaving the cars parked out on the road. Everyone was carrying at least one weapon of some kind, some of them considerably more.

"So that's why Buffy used the term 'dusting'?" Scully said.

"Not like in the movies, then", Mulder commented. "Bela Lugosi, eat your heart out!"

"That Abraham Stoker has a lot to answer for", Giles said shortly. "If I ever come across him in the next life, he'll get a mouthful from me, I can assure you!"

"Not blood, I hope!" said Buffy with a grin.

"Who he?" Xander asked quietly, since he didn't want to display his ignorance too obviously.

"He wrote 'Dracula'", Willow whispered back.

"Oh, that old thing", said Xander dismissively. "I thought it was just a movie".

It was a good thing Giles didn't hear him.

"How are your unarmed combat skills, Agent Skuller?" Buffy asked her. "It's no use trying to shoot a vampire, you know. Bullets won't kill a vamp - you might as well throw pennies or doughnuts at them. Anyway, people with guns bother me".

"Mmmm, doughnuts", murmured Xander.

"So what do you use besides old fashioned hand weapons, like swords and axes and spears, if you can't shoot them?"

"So far as I'm concerned, the very best thing for an undead American is an eighteen inch wooden stake, nicely sharpened, with you on the blunt end, and them on the pointy", said Buffy. "Second best is a crossbow, or a longbow like mine, with wooden arrows. You just gotta remember, you have to be sure to get them right in the heart".

"Mmm, steak", murmured Xander.

"I think I can probably remember that", Scully said soberly. "By the way, I don't think I ever really thanked you properly for last night".

"No problemo. Just doin' m'job, ma'am - saving the day is what I do best. Isn't it, Giles?".

They walked slowly past the Alpert mausoleum, close to where Mulder had first encountered his erstwhile FBI colleagues. Everyone's eyes were peeled for trouble like fresh grapes, those of the two agents were practically out on stalks.

"So where's the Acid Queen tonight?" Willow asked Xander quietly. "D'you think she's decided not to come?"

"Well she wasn't waiting for us, and there was no sign of her car", he said, "so I think she must be at home washing her hair - again. She's been complaining to me about the green goo all day between every class, on the hour every hour, how she's sure she hasn't got it all out yet".

"Well it did have a pretty high ick factor, didn't it? But I think I'm rather grateful on the whole - that girl talks of nothing but herself. Y'know, sometimes I'm certain there's really nothing in her head except air".

"Or hair. Or do I mean more hair?" said Xander.

That cracked them up, and they had to 'shush' each other again before any possible nearby vamps heard them.

"You know, I could swear that when I came-to, you were holding my hand", said Scully.

Mulder had the grace to look mildly embarrassed.

"Just checking your pulse, Doctor Scully", he said.

They passed close to an extensive clump of pine trees. Buffy peered into the shadows with her Slayer enhanced vision, straining to see if anyone was lurking among them, watching.

Giles commented that he hadn't known the FBI were interested in the supernatural, magic, that sort of thing.

"Actually, like most investigators, we try to find logical, scientific explanations for things, especially if there's been a crime", Scully replied. "But the 'unusual' is Mulder's specialty".

"You still don't seem to be entirely convinced by all of this, Agent Mulder", Giles said.

"I rather like to see things for myself", Mulder told him. "Solid evidence is essential, every time".

"Not that you can always believe what you see", Scully pointed out from behind him, where she and Buffy were now walking together. Last in line were Xander and Willow, bringing up the rear.

""We're here - this is it", Buffy said, and they all stopped, those behind bumping into the ones in front, just like a line of railway wagons in a shunting yard.

"This is where last night's little fracas occurred".

"Well, I'll believe it if you say so, Buff", Xander said slowly, "but if it is then, er... where's the manhole gone?"

"Are you quite sure this is where we were last night?"

"Yes, Giles. There's Principal Flutie's grave - look, the cemetery workers have already put up a temporary marker, see? The access hatch down to the tunnels was over there...", Buffy pointed, and hesitated, puzzled.

"...Where that nice new grave is?" Xander finished for her. "How can that be?"

"Maybe the vamps buried the remains of the demons we killed?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Buffy. They would never bother with a thing like that. Vampires don't give two hoots what happens to anyone else, not even their fellow vampires", Giles reminded her. "Perhaps they're simply trying to confuse us".

"Well, they're succeeding", said Willow. "This is weird". She wrapped her arms round herself for comfort. "It's creeping me out slightly".

Mulder stood looking round at the graves, which stretched out in all directions. He was frowning slightly.

"What is it?" Scully asked.

"Well, it occurs to me that by blocking off the entrance to their tunnels, not only do they stop us getting down there to find them, but they stop us from using it as an escape route if they attack us up here" Mulder said thoughtfully.

"Good point!" said Giles.

"Oh, he's not just a pretty face", Scully said with a little smile.

"So-o, we're expecting to be attacked any minute?" Willow said a trifle nervously, scanning the cemetery for signs of movement.

Everyone peered round them into the shadows cast by the lights along the footpaths, at the clumps of trees and bushes lurking darkly at the edges of their vision, at the vague rectangular shapes of the mausolea hulking like half-seen creatures in the gloom, waiting, waiting.

"Uh, has anybody noticed that there's been a whole lot of funerals here today?" Xander observed to no one in particular. "Look at all those nice new graves".

"Brrr! Cheerful, much? Quite gives me the shivers!", said Willow.

Scully said nothing, but checked the automatic in its holster on her belt.

"I think we should do a sweep through the area to see if there's any trace of vampires. Perhaps, Buffy, you could have a bit of a scout round first?"

"Sure, Giles. Colour me gone!" and she slipped silently away into the darkness, the bow slung over her shoulder making her look like an escapee from an episode of 'Robin Hood'.

"What if we don't find anything tonight, Mr. Giles?"

"Don't worry, Agent Mulder. If there are any vampires or demons in the area, Buffy's bound to find them - she's particularly good at that".

There was a slight rustling in the nearby stand of trees, and a voice said quietly, "Oh, they're here all right - I can hear them", which made them all jump. "They're watching you, just waiting for an opportunity. I hope you're ready for them". The speaker was a tall heavily built figure wearing a long dark coat, who stepped noiselessly out of the shadows.

"Oh. Ah. Angel. How nice to see you", Giles said, not really meaning a word of it, but all the same glad of a potential extra combatant on their side.

"I'm sure you are, Giles. But never mind that - there's a small army of bad guys somewhere around, all ready to attack you. It wasn't really a very good idea to split your forces and let Buffy go off on her own".

"Will she be OK? Should we go after her?" Willow said a trifle anxiously.

"Oh, she'll be fine. You know the Slayer - she can take care of herself. Trouble is you're now a fighter short!" He nodded to Mulder and asked casually "How's the headache?".

After an endless, nervous few minutes, that to some of them seemed much longer, there was a vigorous crackling of broken twigs from the bushes behind them. Everyone swung round together to face whatever might be about to come charging out at them, and grasped their weapons more firmly. Then Buffy stepped out from the shadows with a big smile on her face.

"I think I just met one of the guys you're looking for", she announced. She looked very pleased with herself.

"Which one?" Mulder asked.

"Oh, sorry. Didn't stop to ask his name. Either Tweedledum or Tweedledee, I guess", she said casually. "We didn't really have time to introduce ourselves and get properly acquainted - he tried to bite me, so I dusted him".

"So, one down", Giles said quietly, with obvious satisfaction in his voice. "Was he on his own?"

Buffy nodded, unslung her bow, and gave the bowstring a firm pull to check the tension.

"Damn", said Mulder. "I hoped we'd be able to talk to them, possibly work out some way to help them, or at least find out something about them, maybe what happened to them".

"There's no helping them - they are dead", Giles reminded him sombrely.

"And Cordy already told you what probably happened", Buffy said. "She might have all the sensitivity and tact of a ham sandwich in a synagogue, but she's experienced a few things with us, and she did know what she was talking about. Though I hate like hell having to admit it", she added.

"Oh yeah. She may be stupid, but she's not _that_ stupid!" said Xander. "She just generally doesn't care about things unless they affect her own perfect life, but when they do, boy oh boy, then she lets you know _all_ about it".

"But to be fair, she's not usually one to run around like a headless chicken...", Giles added.

"...Though it was a close thing, wasn't it, just last week?" Willow concluded.

Xander and Buffy both nodded and smiled at the memory of Cordelia's narrow escape a few days earlier, when she'd been 'headhunted'.

"Can we think about tonight, please?"

Scully's sharp request brought them all back to the present with a bump.

"You say you've just killed one of our two missing agents, Miss Summers? Can you please describe exactly what happened?"

The tone of her voice made Buffy realise immediately that Scully was entirely serious, and back in her official FBI persona.

"Oh! Yes, Agent Scully. I'm sorry. I was jumped by two of the Fang Gang, about a hundred and fifty yards away, over in that direction. I got to see them both before they vamped out, went all bumpy face you know, and I recognised one of them from the pictures you showed us. It was definitely one of the two Angel and I surprised on Agent Mulder's first night here. It tried to bite me, so I had to defend myself..." She shrugged.

"I'm afraid that's definitely one of your colleagues accounted for, Agent Scully. There's only one way to deal with a vampire in those circumstances", Giles explained soberly. "You stake it, or it gets you - there's no other way. It's just self defence", he added quietly.

Scully gazed hard at Buffy for a moment and then nodded. Then both agents looked at Angel quizzically.

"What about him?"

"Special circumstances", Giles said. "Um... he has a soul".

The agents looked at each other, surprised, and then at Giles, then at Angel again, and lastly at Buffy, who said simply "Ordinary vampires don't have souls".

"But you do?" Scully said to Angel. "They told us about you, but to look at you, how do we tell?"

"Oh, believe me, he really is", Giles assured them, but with obvious reluctance. "You'll just have to take our word for it".

"No they don't. You want me to show you I'm a real, live, undead vampire? Now?" Angel asked, to their obvious surprise.

"Don't!" Buffy said sharply. "Please, Angel".

"It's OK. The rest of you have seen me do it before. I can't walk out into sunlight and burst into flames for you, Agent Scully, seeing what time of night it is, but how about my party piece?", and in an instant he'd gone into game face, right there in front of the two astonished FBI agents. He bared his fangs and snarled at them, and they both stepped back sharply and put their hands on their pistol butts.

"You want me to say cheese so you can get a picture?"

There was a moment's pause, everyone absolutely motionless, as if they were in the middle of a game of 'statues'.

Then Angel suddenly leaped forwards, arms outstretched. Willow screamed, Scully was knocked aside, and Buffy grabbed Mulder's right arm in a grip like King Kong's, immobilising him with his automatic halfway out of its holster.

"No!" she shouted. "Look!"

Behind him Angel dived on a couple of vampires which had sneaked up on the group out of the darkness, unnoticed. There was a loud crack as he broke one's neck, and the other one howled in rage like a dog. There was a brief melee on the ground, fists and feet flying, and then abruptly there was silence. Angel got to his feet, calmly brushing dust from his coat, turned round and let his 'game face' go back to normal.

"Everyone OK?"

People glanced at each other, and caught their breath. It was beginning to look as if it was going to be 'one of those nights'.

Then, "Hey, Buffy! Over there!" Xander exclaimed, pointing.

"And there, and there", Willow and Giles echoed.

Around them graves were slowly opening, like a time-lapse film of leaves unfolding.

"My God, look at them all, Mulder! There must be hundreds of them".

Part 12: "Grave Danger".

"Don't panic!" said Giles firmly. "Everybody stay calm".

'Don't panic?' thought Mulder, shaking his arm and wiggling his wrist where Buffy had grabbed him. 'With the dead rising to greet us?' At least the arm still seemed to be in more or less working condition.

'Don't panic?' thought Scully. 'Why the hell not? I hope to God these people know what they're doing!'

"OK, everyone get in a circle", Giles said, "and remember, we may be considerably outnumbered, but we don't want this to end up like St. Custard's Last Stand".

"Giles, I realise you probably still think of us all as bloody colonials, but have you no respect for American History?"

'Or Practical Maths?' wondered Mulder irrelevantly.

"Buffy, I'll have you know I am rather better acquainted with American History than most Americans are. Which is not saying very much", the librarian added under his breath.

As he was talking Giles had yanked open the weapons bag he'd been carrying, and now he was hastily passing out extra weapons, murmuring to himself as he did so "Here's-a-sword-for-the-Rat, here's-a-sword-for-the-Mole, here's-a-sword-for-the-Toad, here's-a-sword-for-the-Badger!"

When he noticed that, Mulder couldn't help but be amused. He listened to the banter between the Slayer and her Slayerettes, observing how calm yet alert and confident they all were, and realised that they must be following a routine they had experienced before and were well used to.

Somehow, he discovered that he didn't feel concerned or anxious any more. Rather, a sort of excitement came over him. He looked round at his partner to discover that the same feeling had apparently overtaken her too, and both of them were gripping their weapons with a more than average enthusiasm.

"Ready, everyone?"

There was a general murmur of assent, and they started to advance together as a group.

Mulder was now carrying a crossbow, cocked and ready, and Scully a crossbow pistol, each loaded with wooden bolts, of course. Scully glanced over at Mulder - he was now humming the famous bit from the 'William Tell Overture' to himself, and taking aim at the vampire scrambling out of the grave nearest to them.

"Remember to aim for the heart, Agent Skuller!" Buffy reminded her. "To your right! Quick!"

Scully quickly swung her aim away from the main bunch of graves. There to her right was one of the undead already out of the ground and advancing at a run, scattering fragments of earth from its clothes as it came. She aimed quickly yet carefully, her FBI firearms training automatically coming into play. She squeezed the trigger, and there was a sharp, snapping twang! In the dim light she couldn't really see the bolt zip towards its target, but the result was spectacularly successful. The vampire stumbled, clutched its chest, and dissolved into a shower of dust.

Scully gaped at where it had been, then there was a similar snapping twang from beside her, and Mulder exclaiming "Jesus-H-Christ-on-a-bicycle! Did you see that?"

"Reload", Xander's voice reminded them calmly, and they both hastily tugged on the cocking levers, and slapped new bolts into the groove.

Giles and the others were already engaging the advancing horde of re-animated corpses in combat. Buffy in particular had her own inimitable, spectacular, violent fighting style. She was punching the living daylights out of one vampire, and kicking the hell out of another one at the same time. Then, when she'd apparently punished that pair enough, she finished them both off with two brisk stabs of her stake, and briskly moved on to the next opponents to offer themselves up.

Xander and his axe were working overtime, and Scully saw that even her young fellow redhead, Willow, was doing good work, splashing any vampires within reach with something from a bottle that made them cry out and stagger back clutching their faces, giving Xander and Giles an easy target to chop off bumpy-faced heads unopposed. Dust was flying everywhere.

For a moment Scully couldn't quite understand what she was using - was it acid? Then she remembered someone's earlier remark about holy water.

And then someone seized her from behind.

Buffy heard Scully cry out, dusted her current opponent in a heartbeat, and sprinting across the grass, she dived on the vampire that was trying to force the female agent's head back and sideways, to bite her neck. As she did so Agent Mulder also grabbed it, dragging it down to prevent it from getting its teeth into Scully. The three of them went down in a tangled blur of arms and legs as Buffy and Mulder both pounded the luckless ex-citizen of Sunnydale.

"Bad choice there, sunshine hater!" Buffy quipped as she twisted its head round, and further round, and further round until there was a loud crack and it screeched.

"Eat your heart out, Regan MacNeil!"

Mulder looked round for something to finish it off with, and there on the grass, just within reach, was the stake Buffy had been using. She'd apparently dropped it in the melee. He seized it and plunged it into the vampire's back. It screeched and howled again, and swore at him, but didn't disintegrate.

"A little higher and to the left!" Buffy muttered through gritted teeth, still doing her best to wrench the creature's head clean off.

"Sorry", said Mulder, though not to the vampire, and had another go. There was a silent explosion, and he shouted "Bingo!" as they both fell on the grass, suddenly covered in dust.

"Well done", said Buffy, bounced to her feet and set off at a dead run for the next vamp, one which had just knocked Giles head over heels, causing him to drop his sword, and worse, his backup stake.

"Always remember 'It's behind you!'", she shouted over her shoulder as she charged into the brawl, and hurling the vampire against a tree, she grabbed up Giles's sword and chopped off its head, all in one smooth, continuous sequence of actions.

Now more vampires were appearing out of the ground, clambering out of the newly dug graves the Slayerettes had seen opening.

Giles scrambled to his feet, straightened his glasses, and looked around for someone or something to hit. His sword was gone, but he'd picked up his stake again, and, if necessary, the weapons bag still held a small selection of surprises.

A figure lunged at him out of the shadows under the nearest trees, but he twisted out of the way of its attack, putting out a foot to trip it with, and jabbed upwards at the passing vampire. To his dismay the stake snapped in two with a disconcerting 'crack!', and the pointed half flew off into the darkness.

"Oh, did the little man break his pretty stake then?" a voice said.

"Yes", Giles said calmly, shaking his head and sounding mildly regretful. "You can't get the wood, you know. You just can't get the wood". And then, as the shadowy figure reached out to grab him, he produced his 'spare' spare stake from the inside pocket of his tweed jacket, and smote firmly in the appropriate spot. After which a dustpan and brush was all that was required to deal with the remains of that particular individual!

"Hurt?" asked Mulder, offering a helping hand.

"Only my dignity", Scully answered, looking round for her crossbow pistol. She retrieved what was left of it and got to her feet.

"I'm still in one piece, thanks, which is more than the crossbow is".

"Here, have this!" It was Xander in hot pursuit of one of the enemy. He paused to pull the crowbar from his tool belt and handed it to her. "A good whack with that should slow them down. Then you", he looked at Mulder, "can do the necessary last rites. OK?"

"Got it!"

Scully took a firm hold of the cold steel pry bar with both hands, and shook it. It felt good. Xander patted her on the shoulder, said "That's my girl!" and ran off after the hastily receding vampire, shouting "Come back, you coward! I haven't finished with you yet!"

A moment later he came trotting back, grinning from ear to ear, saying "We gotta keep together. Like Giles said, 'We really don't want this to turn into Custer's Last Stand!'".

Scully laughed. "We certainly don't, Xander. Duck!" she added.

"Quack?" said Xander, puzzled. Then her meaning dawned on him and he hastily flung himself down under the swing of her crowbar, rolling to his feet again behind her as if he did this every other night. Which of course sometimes he did.

There was a crunching clang and a howl as Scully hit a home run, and another vamp staggered back, clutching its hands to its mouth and spitting out a copious shower of fragments of dental enamel.

"You broke all ma damned teeth, you bitch!" it exclaimed in muffled disbelief.

Scully shook her head in mock regret.

"Fangs ain't what they used to be", she said and shrugged. Then there was a snapping twang from beside her, and the remains of the vampire blew gently away on the night breeze.

"Where did Angel go?"

Giles paused, about to stake another vampire, which took the opportunity to hastily wriggle out of his grasp and do a runner.

"Damn! Was that the last one? It would have been my sixth tonight", he said, but he sounded only slightly irritated.

"Oh dear, the one that got away. Never mind Giles, you mustn't be greedy - five's quite a good score", Buffy told him.

Giles made a mildly rude response to that, and surveyed the battlefield, looking for the vampire that Xander delighted in referring to as Dead Boy, despite the fact that he knew it irritated the hell out of Buffy.

"I don't know where he went", he said. "I've been a bit busy recently. Didn't anyone happen to notice?"

There was a general shaking of heads and peering into the undergrowth, and Xander whistled for him as if he was a missing dog, which Mulder and Scully were greatly entertained by.

"Um... Did anyone notice who opened that grave?" It was Willow, and she was pointing at the remains of the mound of earth which had originally been disguising the presence of the manhole cover they'd expected to find on their arrival. Since there were no more vampires visible in the vicinity at present, everybody gathered round to gawp at the hole where the cover had been. The earth was scattered about, and the metal lid had apparently been flung violently away into the nearby trees - Buffy could see it had taken a great big chunk out of the bark of a pine.

"Three guesses what this means", said Xander.

'Two to spare then', Mulder thought to himself. 'That Angel is obviously at least as strong as Buffy. I suppose they must need to be, or one of them would cause serious injury to the other when they got into a clinch!'

Scully shone her flashlight down into the deep dark hole. There were the familiar rungs leading downwards, that they'd last seen as they scrambled hastily up them, only the night before. And at the bottom, on the tunnel floor, there was a small scatter of soil and a tattered wreath. She supposed that had been part of the camouflage. On the remains of the mound of earth at the lip of the hole was a torn label, presumably from the wreath.

Someone reached down and picked it up, looked at it for a moment, and silently handed it to Giles.

The Slayer peeked over his shoulder. It read 'Buffy Summers, RIP'! It wasn't signed.

"Oh, an optimist!" she exclaimed, and laughed, genuinely amused.

"What a nerve!" Willow exclaimed. She sounded quite offended.

That broke the suddenly sombre mood, and everybody burst out laughing.

"Right, never say die!" Giles said, and took off his glasses to give them a good polish.

"Except to a vampire!" Xander responded instantly.

"Absolutely", Buffy said. "How about the one that's watching us from behind that tree, right at this moment? Think I can get it?"

"You have incredibly good eyesight", Mulder commented. "I can barely make it out".

"A bit far off in this low light, isn't it?" Scully asked. "I know you told Mulder you're Olympic standard, but...?"

"Na. Hey Giles, a little help here? Something from your magic bag?"

Buffy picked up her bow again from where it had been dropped during the hand-to-hand fighting, and notched an arrow on the string. Giles took something from the weapons bag, touched it to the arrow tip, and Buffy bent the bow as strongly as she could. It creaked under the strain, and Scully wondered if it could take the extreme stress. She remembered what else Mulder had told her about his first encounter with these young people, out on the road from the airport - how Buffy had already broken a bow that day.

"Fiat Lux! Sequere Vampirum!" said Giles, and added something else not in Latin, which neither Mulder nor Scully could make out. Then there was a deep twang and the arrow sped off into the darkness towards its target.

And as it did so the arrowhead blazed into life like an exotic firework.

It flashed across the grass like a tracer bullet, a little patch of light following it swiftly along the ground. The vampire could see it coming, and dodged hastily behind the tree. The FBI agents immediately assumed Buffy had missed, and that would be an end to it, but to their amazement the arrow suddenly swerved round the tree and disappeared. Their mouths dropped open.

There was a shriek, followed by a big gout of flame, and Buffy leaped in the air.

"Yay! Bulls eye!"

"It worked!", Willow exclaimed. "Wow, Giles, that was amazing!"

"I bet that you two wish your bullets could do that!" Xander said, grinning at Mulder and Scully, who quite obviously couldn't believe their eyes.

"Having fun, Buffy?" said a voice from somewhere below them. Everyone jumped, and then quickly looked down at the disembodied head which had just spoken to them from around the level of their knees.

It was Angel, and he was looking up at them all from the manhole. Just his head and shoulders were visible, and he looked for all the world like a satanic jack-in-the-box.

"You still want to find that second vampire agent, don't you?"

Everyone nodded in unison, particularly Mulder and Scully.

"Right then. Follow me", and the head sank from view and out of sight.

Part 13: "Another Fine Mess".

"How much further, guys? My feet are getting really tired", Willow said.

"And mine are soaking wet", replied Xander. "Plus I think I just stepped in something I'd rather not describe - but it definitely wasn't rainwater", he added.

"Would it be in order to say 'Ew!'?"


Everybody stopped, and became silent. They'd come to another fork in the tunnel. Buffy cocked her head to listen, and Scully saw her face screw up in concentration. After a moment the Slayer tapped the big vampire beside her on the shoulder and wordlessly pointed down the right hand branch. Angel raised an eyebrow, and she nodded firmly and punched his arm. He shrugged and moved off again in the direction she'd indicated. Everyone else followed as quietly as they could, all strung out in Indian file, but as close to each other as they could without treading on each other's heels.

They had been following Angel's nose for about fifteen minutes, but so far there'd been no clear trace of their quarry - the last FBI vamp and what they assumed was it's now greatly reduced gang of minions. At each side passage they'd come to they'd cautiously shone their flashlights into the opening and peered along the beams, but so far without result.

"Are you quite sure we're going in the right direction?" Willow asked diffidently. Angel and Buffy both looked back at her and nodded.

"I can smell them", the vampire said, "despite whatever else there may be in the air".

"But we're following Buffy's choice of direction now", Scully pointed out from just behind Willow.

"Yeah. I can hear something along this branch - I co}ldn't down Anged's choice", Buffy said quietly. "There's someone talking".

'Remarkably good hearing as well as incredible strength', Mulder thought to himself. 'Very interesting. I wonder how come?'

"How far off?" asked Giles.

"What are they saying?" and "Can you tell who?" Mulder and Scully asked simultaneously. "Is it our missing agent?"

"Too faint to tell. These tunnels can carry voices for miles, but all the echoes just completely confuse the sounds".

"All right. Everyone hush now. If we can hear them, they can hear us equally well, and we don't want to alert them to our presence", Giles said in a low voice. "We'd have to start all over again, and I don't think any of us wants that".

"Well, I for one want to get this dealt with tonight", whispered Buffy firmly, and Mulder and Scully both nodded vigorously in agreement.

"OK, keep close then. Follow me, and mind out - this side passage is a lot lower than the main tunnel we've just left", Angel told them.

They'd gone barely another two hundred yards, everyone stooping to avoid banging their heads on the tunnel roof, when Scully swore quietly, and stopped.

"What's wrong, Agent Scully?" Giles asked her.

She shook her flashlight. The light, which they could all now see was getting very dim, flickered and brightened for a moment, then died completely.

"Hey, Nancy Drew", said Buffy, sounding much amused. "Who forget to put new dry cells in before she came out tonight?"

Scully flushed, stuffed the now useless object in her jacket pocket, and wordlessly took the spare that Giles politely produced from his bag without comment and offered to her.

They resumed their cautious progress down the tunnel.

"Hey, Scully", Mulder said very quietly in her ear. "If you're Nancy Drew, I guess I must be one of the Hardy Brothers. But which one?"

"Oliver!" said Scully sharply. She was not in a good mood.

It took Mulder several minutes to work that one out.

After another five minutes, voices were clearly audible to everyone, and they had come to a place where the tunnel divided into half a dozen wider passages, each pointing in an entirely different direction, like the spread out fingers of a hand. Everyone had to wait as patiently as they could while Buffy and Angel went a little way down each in turn, trying to determine which one the voices were coming from. After the fourth or fifth the gang saw their flashlights waving, silently beckoning them to follow, and everyone trooped along after them.

"You're quite sure this is the right one?" Giles asked as the two groups joined up again.

"Yup", Willow said. "I can hear them, now. And I think one of them's a girl", she added, sounding quite surprised.

"There are female vamps, you know, Will", Xander said.

"Actually more than half the victims are women", Buffy said.

"Why is that?" Scully asked in a low voice.

"Two reasons, I guess. One is that they're not as strong as men..."

"...Oh. Right. Yes, thank you" said Scully. "I think I can deduce the rest. OK, I just wondered, because that data was one of the things I noticed among the statistics for Sunnydale before Mulder started out. It's also one of the classic warning signs of a possible serial killer".

"Well, that would be perfectly correct", Giles said. "All vampires are serial killers. They have to be, it's in their nature. That's how they survive - killing for human blood as often as they feel hungry. Sunnydale is absolutely crawling with them", he added, "as you may have noticed".

Almost imperceptibly, Scully shuddered.

"Um, you guys. That girl's voice sounds somewhat familiar", Willow said hesitantly.

"I agree", said Xander. "I'm beginning to have a nasty feeling about this".

The two agents looked at him enquiringly.

"I think I know why Cordelia didn't meet us at the cemetery gates as planned".

"OK. Stay here", said Buffy. "I'll go take a look".

She handed Giles her longbow, which he put back in the weapons bag, and took Scully's crossbow instead.

"Angel, please stay with them - I won't be long".

"Buffy, you will be careful?", Giles and Angel both said together, and then gave each other identically eloquent dirty looks.

"I'll be back!" she said in a gruff, mock-German accent, and giggled. "And turn off the flashlights, please guys", she added quietly in a more normal tone. "We don't want to attract attention to ourselves, do we?"

With that parting comment she moved to the inside of the tunnel's curve, and disappeared round the bend and out of sight. One by one everyone turned off their flashlights, and step by step the darkness became more and more impenetrable.

They started to wait.

Mulder decided to check how long it took before Buffy returned, looked at his watch, and realised that it was useless in the blackness, so he started to count his heartbeats.

He'd been doing this for several minutes, had lost count (twice) and had to start again, when he detected a slight movement next to him. Then somebody nudged him gently in the ribs.

"Scully? Is that you?" he murmured. There wasn't a direct reply, but a hand discreetly slipped itself into his and gave a slight squeeze. In the darkness Mulder smiled, and gently interlaced his fingers with hers in reply.

"Just checking your pulse", came a ghostly whisper.

"Guys? Anybody there?"

"No. I'm tucked up in bed, having an exciting dream about Amy Yip".

"Xander! I'm shocked".

"And I'm not really at home in bed, Willow. Unfortunately".

"I should hope not! I'd far rather you were here with me than with Amy Yip. With us, I mean", she hastily corrected herself, hoping he wouldn't notice.

"Yes, yes. We're all still here", Giles said impatiently. "Did you find anything?"

Everyone started to speak at once, and Buffy immediately had to shield her e yes from the sudden glare of all their flashlights.

"Woa, careful with those! OK, Giles. About two, three hundred yards further down the tunnel there are several chambers on each side. The vamps are using them as a series of nests".

"How many of them, Buffy? We need to know numbers".

"Sorry Giles, I couldn't see very well, but it sounded like a whole lot - a regular army of them. It looks like someone's been organising them. They seem to have guards out - they were patrolling up and down like they were soldiers or something. There was a lot of talking going on, especially in the second chamber on the left. I think they may have someone held prisoner there - it sounded like a woman".

"Just the one?" Giles asked, and the Slayer nodded.

"Was it...?" Xander said anxiously.

"I'm not absolutely certain - all the vamps were making a whole lot of noise and I couldn't hear properly, but I'm pretty sure that it was..."

She was interrupted by a distant scream.

"Cordelia!" exclaimed Xander. "It is! They're killing her. Come on!" and he charged off down the tunnel. Then - "Ow!"

There was a sudden thud and a certain amount of indistinct swearing, as Buffy dived for his legs and brought him down in a perfect flying tackle. She dragged him to his feet again but kept a firm grip on him with one hand and muffled his shouts with her other.

"Xander! Wait! We've got to have a plan!" Giles said hastily. "Buffy, which chamber is she in?"

"Second left - I told you already!" she said quickly.

Mulder stepped forward.

"Only a few vampires actually out in the tunnel?"

"Yeah", said Buffy. "Oh, hey! I see! We can trap most of them inside their nests while the others rescue Cordy. Right, let's go!"

"Come on, come on!" Xander mumbled in agonised impatience. "They could be draining her blood right now!"

'Would she notice?' Willow thought to herself, and then felt dreadfully guilty.

By this time the whole group had started moving along the tunnel, and was picking up speed. Meanwhile Mulder was frantically digging in his jacket pockets, and eventually produced a couple of small, dull green canisters, one of which he passed to Scully, who nodded her understanding.

"We'll deal with the first chamber on each side, once you've disposed of the guards out in the tunnel", he said quickly to Giles. "You take the second chamber with your friend in, and we'll move on to deal with the rest of the chambers if necessary".

"It seems your surviving ex-colleague has been organising as many vampires as he can get hold of, if the ambush back in the cemetery is anything to go by", Giles commented, drawing his sword as he ran. "Need any extra weapons?"

"We'll stick to what we cnow", Mulder rexlied, and briefly turned his flashlight on the canister so that the Englishman could see the stencilled lettering on it.

Giles laughed, a humourless sort of sound, and said simply "I hope you've got plenty more of those. Guaranteed to make every party... etc, etc".

Mulder patted his jacket and nodded.

"I called in at the National Guard Depot on the west side of town this afternoon. I think I picked up more than enough".

"You may need every one you've got, even so", said Giles. "Make the most of them".

A moment later there was a twang as Buffy disposed of the first of the guards with her crossbow. Then - mayhem!

Mulder briefly put his head round the doorjamb of the first chamber on his right. A whole crowd of vampires was in there, all of them arguing nineteen to the dozen, but luckily none were looking in his direction. He couldn't see anybody else, no non-vampires that is, so he pulled the pin from the canister he held, gently rolled it in at the doorway, and quickly pulled his head back.

There was a bright flash, and a satisfyingly loud explosion which made his ears ring, and a great big gout of flame and smoke billowed out past him into the tunnel. Faintly he could hear yelling and screaming, and a couple of figures came staggering out, burning furiously, and promptly collapsed into dust. Smoke went rglling along the(roof of the tunnel.

Behind him he heard another explosion, and a hot blast of smoke and debris came scorching by - Scully had apparently left it a little later to let her grenade go. He staggered, got his balance, and felt in his pocket for another. Someone, presumably Scully, pulled him along the tunnel, past the melee in the doorway of the next chamber, to be met by a crowd of vampires streaming out of the third and last one. For one frozen moment both parties stared at one another, then someone shouted "It must be the National Guard!", and all the surviving vampires promptly turned and fled.

"Be a pity to waste these, don't you think?" Scully said, taking another canister out of Mulder's jacket pocket, though Mulder could hardly hear her through the humming in his ears. He grinned, pulled out the pin of his own grenade and tossed it after them, aiming low and making it leap and skip down the tunnel like a stone flipped across a pond. Bounce, bounce, bounce it went, hopped into the air one last time, right into the receding pack of the undead, and went off with a huge blast of flame which scorched his eyebrows. Once again smoke rolled out along the tunnel ceiling, and as it cleared, they could see a small number of survivors trying to pick themselves up and stumble away as hastily as they could.

The two agents looked at each other.

"It's quite a way, can you throw that far?"

"Let's shorten the range a bit", said Scully, her eyes gleaming. They began to stride briskly down the tunnel.

"Don't get lost, now!" someone called out from behind them, and Mulder nonchalantly waved an acknowledging hand without looking back.

A moment or so later there were two or three more loud bangs, and then both Mulder and Scully came trotting back with big grins on their faces, looking around eagerly to see if there was anyone or anything else they could blow up.

PART 14: "Down Among The Dead Men".

Meanwhile, at the instant of the first explosion, the Slayer and her companions had charged into the second chamber on the left and caught the enemy with their metaphorical pants down!

Xander immediately spotted Cordelia chained to the wall in one corner and made straight for her, hacking the head off one vamp with his axe on the way there, and wounding another. This left Buffy and Angel, Giles and Willow to deal with the rest of the vampires, at least a couple of dozen.

"Are you alright? Have they hurt you?" he asked anxiously, pulling the crowbar from his toolbelt, and immediately starting to try to loosen the hasps set in the wall.

"Where the bloody hell were you all?" Cordelia was almost crying, as he struggled to free her.

"We went to the main cemetery gates, just like last time, but you weren't there, so we simply thought you'd decided to stay home tonight", he growled, straining at the crowbar.

"You thought I'd stayed home? With real FBI agents to hang out with? Oh please!" Her voice rose to artistically indicate her astonishment. "Get real, Harris! I would never miss out on something like that! Anyway", she added "I went to where we agreed to meet, and you definitely weren't there".

"Yes we were. Ask the others - we parked both cars at the entrance to Restfield cemetery", Xander assured her. He hacked vigorously at the stonework, but it barely made a scratch.

"Restfield?" Cordy screeched. "I thought you said Westfield - that's where I went. But as soon as I got out of my car I was grabbed by vamps. I thought they were going to kill me right away, but for some reason they dragged me down here. Come on, Xander, hurry up and get me out of these chains - I am so not into bondage!"

"We did say Restfield, you dummy!" Buffy said tartly over Xander's shoulder. "Westfield is the road along the south side of the Lawns cemetery. You want a hand there, Xander?"

"No thanks, Buff. I can manage - I think". He jabbed at the wall again with the crowbar, but very little was happening.

"Yes, yes. Use your super strength please, Buffy", Cordelia interrupted. "Just get me out of here before this oaf tears my dress".

The Slayer looked at Xander, who shrugged and stepped aside. With both hands she took a firm hold of the chain fastening Cordelia to the wall, and pulled hard. There was a bang and a metallic clatter as the chain seemed to simply explode, and burst links flew everywhere. There was also a nasty ripping sound followed by an angry screech.

"You tore the arm right off my dress! Dammit Buffy, it's completely ruined!"

"Oh dear. So sorry", said Buffy, not entirely convincingly .

"Well, at least you're still alive and in one piece", said Giles, brushing a large amount of dust off his tweed trousers (he refused steadfastly to think of them as pants), and looking round to see if there were any more vamps to polish off. "Don't be such an ungrateful little cow, Cordelia!"

Cordelia's mouth fell open and she gaped at him in astonishment.

"We really have got better things to do than to have to rescue you, you know, you silly girl", he added brusquely.

Cordelia then managed to surprise them all by bursting into real tears, which gave Xander the perfect opportunity to comfort her, but which also meant he had to listen to her maudlin self-pity for a good ten minutes after that.

Mulder and Scully came into the chamber and had a look round. To their surprise the place now contained almost no vampires at all.

"Did anyone find our second agent?" Mulder asked.

"Over there".

Giles pointed mutely across the room at where three surviving vampires were being kept penned in the far corner by Angel, who held a cocked crossbow aimed at them, Willow with a large open bottle of holy water and a heavy silver crucifix, and Buffy, who had a sword in one hand and a stake in the other.

Apart from that there was just Xander Harris, who seemed to be trying to comfort the girl who'd been missing, Cordelia Chase, and a thick layer of dust scattered about all over everything.

"First time we've ever tried to take prisoners", Buffy said quietly, without taking her eyes off them for a single second.

"Not the first time we've ever managed to rescue anyone though, but certainly never against higher odds", Giles observed.

"Purple Hearts all round", one of the prisoners called out sarcastically. "Even for little Miss Posh. Those rats made you scream, didn't they?" He laughed.

Everyone else looked at Cordelia. Rats?

"Rats?" said Xander, as if hardly able to believe his ears. "You were screaming because of some rats? We thought you were being tortured, or having your blood sucked out of you, not just 'cos of some little old rats!" He sounded seriously disgusted.

"We didn't have time to get to the blood sucking, more's the pity", the vampire said, and laughed. "We were saving her for later. She's a tasty looking piece, isn't she? Nice and plump, just how I like them".

Luckily for him, and for her own peace of mind, Cordelia missed that last gem.

"So I don't like rats!" she said crossly. "And they were huge, the size of dogs!"

"It's all right, Cordelia. Everybody has something they can't stand. It's nothing to be ashamed of", Giles said, trying to make up for his earlier outburst.

Mulder turned back to look at the three captives again. The one sporting the remains of a government issue suit was obviously the leader, and must presumably therefore be the second of the two agents he'd been sent to find. Unfortunately the vampire was still in game face, so he couldn't tell which one he was.

"Are you Agent Evans, or Agent Feliciano?"

"Who wants to know?"

"I'm Agent Mulder of the FBI's Washington office, and this is Agent Scully. We were sent here to California to look for you and your colleague when you both went missing".

"Well, now you've found me, OK? I'm Evans. Or I was. I hope you like what you can see". The vampire slid down the wall into a sitting position and appeared to make himself comfortable. The other two moved a little aside at Angel's gestured instruction, and did the same.

Without having to be asked, the rest of the Slayerettes withdrew from the chamber, and they all huddled together out in the tunnel to allow the two agents some privacy. This was official business, and apart from acting as guards to keep Mulder and Scully safe from being attacked, there was no more they could do for the time being.

After a short discussion with the prisoners, both agents came out again and walked a little way down the tunnel with Giles so they could talk to him in confidence.

"Mr. Giles, you're the nearest we've got to an expert here".

Rupert Giles gave Mulder a funny look, but managed to hold his tongue. He wondered what 'experts' the FBI had back in Washington.

"What are the chances of getting our agent back to Los Angeles?"

"I would say 'not in your lifetime' ", Giles replied promptly. Mulder looked at him, a little confused.

"You mean...?"

"They're about the same as a snowball's survival in Hell", Giles elaborated. "Your lifetimes would be very short, I fear. Three vampires would arrive in Los Angeles", he continued, "or possibly none would arrive there at all. You have to remember, he's much, much stronger than you are, and totally invulnerable to bullets. Even if we tried tranquillising him, I'm afraid I really don't consider you have the experience to get him back in one piece. Or yourselves, in that situation".

"Oh", said Mulder, obviously disconcerted. "So what would you suggest we do?"

"We've never had this sort of thing come up before", Giles said. "We always kill them in hot blood, so to speak. Well on our part at any rate - theirs is always cold, of course".

He looked at the two agents for a long moment. Then - "Do you have any more of those grenades?" he asked quietly.

"Oh, I don't think we could do that", Scully exclaimed. "That would be execution, plain and simple!"

Giles sighed, and shrugged.

"They are dead already", he pointed out, "they just haven't stopped walking about yet".

He stopped and thought for a moment.

"Well, we can't let them all go - we'd only have to kill them another night". He sighed again, and shook his head regretfully. "And before we manage that, they could have killed any number of people, perhaps even turned some of them into more vampires. Frankly, Agent Mulder, Agent Scully, I don't see how we could allow that to happen".

In the chamber where Buffy and Angel were still guarding the prisoners, the atmosphere was strange, tense. The three vampires were now huddled together in the corner, talking very quietly.

Buffy looked at Angel, as if to say 'should we stop them?', but he just shrugged. She wondered what the two FBI agents were planning to do with their captives. Would they tell her to dust them? Would they try to take their guy back to Washington with them, or let them all go, or what?

By now several minutes had passed, and she was wondering what Mouldy and Skuller were doing. Probably Giles was having a long philosophical discussion with them, if she knew anything about him.

"Angel, will you be OK here for a moment? I just want to see what's the what outside".

Angel nodded, expressionless, and she lowered her sword and walked over to the door.

"Got your stake?"

Not thinking, Angel quickly patted his coat pocket to check, which meant he was only holding the crossbow in one hand, and it was not the one with its finger on the trigger. That was the moment the vamp that had been Agent Evans chose to lash out with his feet, catching Angel unawares and kicking his legs out from under him. The two others scrambled up as he fell heavily.

Buffy was already halfway out through the door, and looking at the people out in the tunnel when she heard the commotion. She spun round. There was a twang as Angel dropped the crossbow, and it went off. The bolt ricocheted off the ceiling, and she flinched as it skimmed past her face. The next instant someone outside swore vividly as they were hit.

For a couple of heartbeats Buffy didn't know which way to move - out into the tunnel to help the casualty, or back into the room to help Angel, but her instincts were already in command.

The fight lasted just as long as it took for her to drag Angel back onto his feet, and for the two of them to stake all three vamps.

Except that the third one, ex-Agent Evans, was already back on his feet too, and now holding the crossbow, reloaded with a fresh bolt and pointed at them.

Angel and the Slayer froze. If either of them moved, they were instant kebab - the bolt was equally deadly to both of them, vampire and high school girl.

"Go left, split his aim", Angel muttered. "I'll jump him, you stake him".

"No way - I'll jump him and you stake him!" Buffy replied.

"Dammit Buffy, don't argue with me. Just do it!"


"Yes. Now!"

"Oh, Hell! OK!"

Buffy jumped sideways, but the vamp anticipated her by immediately retreating into the doorway. Now neither she nor Angel were close enough, despite their enhanced strength and speed.

The ex-agent laughed and said "Mexican standoff, anyone?"

For a moment everyone stood very still, the three of them each looking first at one, and then at the other person in the chamber with them. Then Buffy started to chuckle.

"Hey, stupid much, or what?", she said.

The vamp frowned, and stared hard at her. Angel looked question marks in her direction. What was she up to?

Buffy put two fingers to her lips and blew as hard as she could. And when Buffy whistled, you could hear it right down in the harbour.

At the ear splitting sound, everyone outside in the tunnel looked up sharply from where they were clustered round Mulder, who was sitting on the ground with the stray crossbow bolt sticking in his thigh, swearing like a trooper, and with Scully all flustered and fussing round him in full Florence Nightingale mode.

"Bloody hell!" said Giles. He grabbed hold of the nearest available pointed wooden object, which happened to be the bolt in Mulder's leg, and yanked it out, took two steps to the doorway and plunged it straight into the last vamp's back, right through its heart.

"'And that", said he "is that!'", he said.

Part 15: "Our Town".

Fox Mulder thought he had never been as uncomfortable as he was at that moment. He was perched in a battered old shopping trolley with his wounded leg stuck out in front of him propped up on a pile of coats and jackets, being pushed through the tunnels back towards their point of entry in Restfield Cemetery. Every time the wheels bumped over any unevenness in the concrete floor, a fierce stabbing pain went through the injury, and it was a hard job to hold back the occasional groan.

It had soon been obvious that he could never have walked all the way back to the exit from the tunnels with a hole in his leg, even if Scully had been carrying some painkillers to give him (which unfortunately she wasn't), so when someone had found the battered and scorched old Wal-Mart trolley in a corner of one of the chambers they'd thrown the grenades into, everyone had jumped to the same solution simultaneously. It had been a lucky find all round, because up until that point they had been discussing taking turns in carrying him piggy back style. He had not been looking forwards to that. He knew that would have been considerably more painful than being trundled along like a week's shopping.

So now here he was, being wheeled down the tunnel by the young Slayerettes. Buffy Summers was out in front, acting as 'point', and Xander Harris was in 'tail end Charlie' position. Everyone else was taking it in turns to push. No one seemed to mind in the least, despite it's irritating habit of veering sideways without the slightest excuse, in the traditional manner of supermarket trolleys round the world.

The girl they'd rescued, Cordelia Chase, was conducting a desultory quarrel with young Xander, now that she'd got over her fright at being a prisoner in the hands of vampires, and at her encounter with rats. The argument seemed to consist mainly of her complaining "Why does this sort of thing always seem to happen to me?" It was plain enough to him that there was some sort of strange indefinite, undefined relationship between the two of them, even though they didn't seem to realise it themselves yet.

Mentally he classified her as a vapid little cow, probably with a rich father, for whom being popular was the epitome of teenaged achievement. He guessed that she was the type of girl who might possibly end up as a minor soap actress if she was extremely lucky, and got all the breaks.

Xander he decided was most likely the class clown, though one obviously much loved and trusted by the other Slayerettes. 'Not the brainy type. A manual job somewhere in his future, I would guess', Mulder thought.

As for Buffy Summers and her tame vampire boyfriend - a girl dedicated to killing vampires at any opportunity, in an emotional relationship with one? Now there as strange a situation as he had ever seen. It didn't occur to him that he himself was now accepting the concept of vampires without any question.

And what about the shy redhead, Willow? To him, she was perhaps the most interesting. And puzzling. He couldn't quite make her out. She seemed to have some of the characteristics of a possible genius - earnest, quiet, obviously very intelligent indeed. She was the psychological type who might go far - maybe even as far as working for the FBI herself one fine day, he thought, but only in some back-room expert capacity. However, quite what her field might be it was far too early to say - he'd not had any real opportunity to study her properly in the short time he'd been here in Sunnydale, and didn't have nearly enough data to work with. He'd somehow been rather busy, what with one thing and another.

And that left the British librarian, Mr Rupert Giles, he of the black flagged file. There was obviously far more to him and his position among this merry band than met even the keenest eye. 'Well, one day, one day. Finding out will be an interesting challenge', he told himself.

The trolley hit another bump, and his mental analysis was brutally terminated.

"Left", said Buffy firmly.

"No, straight ahead", Giles said, and pointed at some graffiti sprayed on the wall of the tunnel. 'Vampires live for ever!' one read. Another said 'Vampires rule!' A third, much fainter, read simply 'Kilroy Was...' and trailed off.

"I'm almost certain we passed those on the way in, earlier this evening". He took off his glasses to polish them. "I particularly noticed the inaccuracy of the first one". He smiled to himself at his little joke .

Buffy looked at the others to back her up, but mostly they just stood there and shrugged. Even Angel shook his head.

"Can we please make up our minds?" said Scully sharply. "We really need to get Mulder to ER as soon as possible".

"OK Giles, but if you're wrong, I reserve the right to say 'I told you so', and possibly even 'Nyaa nyaa, nya nyaa nyaa'", said Buffy, and set off down the centre tunnel as chosen by her Watcher. Some fifteen minutes later a familiar looking metal ladder came into view round the bend, and everyone heaved a mutual sigh of relief.

It took several minutes for them to haul Mulder up it without causing him more than the minimum of extra pain, Angel pulling him, and Buffy, last one out, pushing.

Puffing and panting she scrambled out onto the grass and stood up.

"Woo! Agent Mouldy, would the word 'diet' be overly offensive?" she said. Then it registered that no one was paying her any attention - they were all looking at their surroundings.

"Where are we?" Scully asked.

"I don't think we're in Kansas any more", said Willow slowly.

She was quite right - they were standing in the middle of a flower bed in a small area of decorative gardens in the centre of the downtown shopping mall, and a surprised and nervous pair of Sunnydale police officers were illuminating them with the headlights of their patrol car.

Almost exactly twenty four hours later, at about three in the morning, two cars quietly drew up outside 1630 Revello Drive. From one, an ageing Citroen ID, a middle aged man and a blonde teenager got out. From the other, a nondescript grey Ford sedan, a tall thin man and a trim red headed woman joined them, the man getting out of the passenger side of the car a little awkwardly, and walking with a pronounced limp.

"So this is where you live, Miss Summers?"

"Casa Buffy - where I lay my head down for a couple or three hours a night if I'm lucky. Between patrolling, and slaying, and training and school, that's my life. But I'm OK with that... I guess".

"It's a tough job", Scully observed quietly.

"...But someone's got to do it".

"How's the leg, Agent Mulder? Not so painful now, I hope?" Giles asked politely.

"I insisted he rest up in the hospital for at least 24 hours", said Scully.

"It's OK. The crossbow bolt missed all the important bits, luckily for me", Mulder said with a wry smile.

"I don't suppose my ripping it out to stake the last vampire with helped all that much", Giles said. "Again, I'm really, really sorry about that. It just happened to be the first thing to hand".

Mulder pulled a face and said he thought he would live.

"He hates hospitals, so I let him discharge himself", Scully told them. "I was able to assure them he'd be attended by a qualified doctor for his entire journey back to Washington".



"Oh", said Buffy.

Mulder leaned back and carefully perched himself on the hood of the Ford to take some of the weight off his injured leg. He stared at Giles intently until Giles was impelled to ask him why.

""Well, when I first encountered you, just the other day", he said thoughtfully, "I had this strange feeling we'd met before, or that I'd seen you somewhere. Unfortunately I still haven't been able to place the occasion. For some reason I've a definite feeling it was in England, but I've no idea when".

"You said you were at University there", Giles reminded him.

"Yes, but quite a few years after you. However, I did spend a year in a British public boarding school as an exchange student in my early teens". He frowned. "Somehow I associate the memory with music of some sort. Mean anything?"

After a moment, a smile began to spread slowly across Giles' face. He leaned forward towards Mulder, and spoke for a moment in a very low voice that even Buffy's keen hearing could not make out. Except for one word - "Bass".

Then Mulder laughed, and said "Yes, that must be it! We went up to London one half term - the date's right". He glanced at Buffy and added "Your kids - they don't know?"

Giles shook his head, but deliberately did not look at the Slayer. She mentally pigeonholed the item for future investigation.

"There's one last thing I'd like to check with you before we leave Sunnydale", Scully said. "It's just one of a number of strange anomalies we spotted in the data about Sunnydale before Mulder set out to come here, and that's the question of how many graveyards there really are in this town".

"Oh, just a baker's dozen", said Giles.

"So whoever typed the forty two cemeteries data into our database, that was simply a mistake? A typo?"

"A slip of the keypad I suppose. I believe it's known as 'finger trouble'. That's one of the many reasons why I hate computers - you never know if they've got things wrong until it's much too late", Giles said. "I don't think I'll ever quite come to terms with them. Give me a good reliable card index to cross reference any day of the week. At least a passing cosmic ray can't alter the information on them while you're not looking".

"Hey Giles - no fair" said Buffy. "I'm no science geek, but even I know that a computer can only work with what it's given. That would just have been human error, not the computer. Willow explained all about that to me last semester, before the summer break".

"Well, I for one will continue to let her use the school library's Devil's Machine. For myself I shall stick to the old fashioned kind of research - original documents, dusty volumes, and mysterious scrolls. Each to their own, I say".

"Talking of 'their own'", Buffy said, and sighed heavily. "You know I reckoned Snyder would find a way to get his own back on me? Right, well he did. This afternoon he appointed me in charge of the arrangements for the parents evening in a couple of days time".

"Oh, I can't wait to see that", Giles said, manfully ignoring her creative grammar. "I'm sure the responsibility will do you good, Buffy. It would give you a very useful sense of perspective, I feel". He took off his glasses, checked them for smudges, found none, and put them back on again.

"That's what you think. He said that he'd deliberately picked the two worst students in the school, that's me and Sheila - you know, the one that stabbed the horticulture tutor - and that if either one of us screws up she'll be expelled!"

"Oh, I don't think you need worry about that. I'm quite sure you'll do fine, if the last couple of days is anything to go by", said Scully with a smile.

"Really? Say, thanks!" Buffy said, genuinely surprised.

"So", said Giles, "I suppose you two are now off back to your Headquarters on the East Coast? I do hope you've enjoyed your visit to Sunnydale", he continued.

"Yeah. Sunnydale, _not_ twinned with Sunnybrook Farm. Not so much a tourist resort, more a last resort", Buffy quipped.

Then she added soberly "I'm really sorry we weren't able to save your two friends".

"You all did your best", said Scully. "No, far more than your best. I've a nasty feeling that if we'd not had your help we might easily have ended up just like them".

"Yes", said Buffy quietly. She paused briefly, and then asked "Did you get to collect your bag of dust?"

"Some for each of the widows, and some samples for our forensic labs", Scully replied. "Though I don't know quite what they'll be able to make of it".

Mulder had been listening in silence to their exchange. Now he looked up sharply, scanned their surroundings and said "Someone's watching us".

"Up there", said Scully, nodding towards an upstairs window looking out over the street. "I'd already spotted her".

Mulder followed her glance and could clearly make out a small freckled face with long hair in a centre parting peeping out at them over the window sill. For a moment his heart skipped a couple of beats, and the image of a different young girl overlaid what he could actually see. Scully discreetly put her hand on his.

Then he heard the Slayer saying wrathfully "That's my little sister! The brat, what's she doing in my bedroom? I'm going to ring her neck when I get hold of her".

"You've got to catch me first!" a clear young voice came floating through the cool night air. The face promptly vanished.

"Later", Buffy promised.

"Well, Washington's a long way", Scully said, "and I really don't feel like spending any more time in Sunnydale than I have to".

"Agreed", said Mulder. "We'd best be leaving while we're still in one piece, and with no further battle damage, if you see what I mean".

"Can't blame you", Buffy replied. "It was never my choice of home town, anyway". She said this looking sideways at Giles.

"Neither was it mine", he said quietly, "as well you know, but needs must when there are devils driving, if you know what I mean".

"So...er...thank you both for all your help. And your Slayerettes of course. It's been...um...an interesting visit", Scully said. Then she and Mulder soberly shook hands with both the Slayer and her Watcher, and got back into their car.

Mulder put his head out of the window for a moment.

"Please remember, Miss Summers - we were never here", he said.

"OK, Agent Mulder, Agent Scully. I'll hold that thought", she assured them both.

Giles and Buffy both nodded their agreement and stepped back from the car as Mulder rolled the window up again, and Scully started the engine.

"OK, Mulder? Comfy?"

He nodded, so Scully put the car into gear and they pulled smoothly away. The last thing either of them saw, reflected in the rear view mirror as they turned the corner at the upper end of Revello Drive, was Buffy waving goodbye to them.

Giles yawned.

"I'm not used to all these late nights. However I think we should be able to take things easy for a little while, don't you?"

"I wish! Whenever I think that, something unexpected always happens", Buffy said. "It's like it's a law of nature, or something".

"Murphy's Law", Giles told her, getting into the old Citroen. "And if the world ends before tomorrow, don't wake me up. I have simply got to catch up on some sleep".

"Huh. It _is_ tomorrow", said Buffy.

"Whatever", said Giles, yawning again. "Dammit, you see what you've done? I'm using American English myself now! Goodnight. Or good morning".

He started his car.

"D'you think we'll ever hear anything of them again?" Buffy asked.

Giles shook his head, casually dismissing the idea, and put the Citroen into gear with an awkward grating sound. Buffy said nothing as he pulled away and drove off down the road, leaving her looking very thoughtful, standing on the path leading up to the front door of 1630.

"So, no aliens, at least not this time. Are you disappointed?" asked Scully as they turned the corner.

Mulder considered the matter.

"No, not at all, not really - we got demons and vampires instead", he said after some thought. "They're nearly as good. And there's this strange sort of inert conspiracy of concealment by ignoring them - that the whole town is involved in, I mean".

"We'll find the truth one day", Scully said, "whatever it turns out to be".

"The truth", Mulder echoed thoughtfully.

"It's out there, somewhere, whatever it turns out to be", Scully assured him.

"Thanks Scully. I sometimes wonder. Maybe all this chasing to and fro across the country is just a waste of time". He shook his head, and tried to settle himself more comfortably in his seat for the drive down Highway One to LA to report.

"I know you don't really believe that, Mulder. You're tired, and your leg hurts, that's all. Do you need another painkiller?"

But Mulder didn't reply to her question. Instead he put his head back against the rest and closed his eyes, and Scully drove on through the deserted, sleeping streets of Sunnydale in silence for a while.

In fact she secretly felt quite relieved they were about to leave the strange little seaside town behind them. It had been a pretty bizarre few days, all told, and she reckoned they would be well out of it.

Then Mulder suddenly opened his eyes again and sat up. "That 'You Are Now Leaving Sunnydale' sign marks the city limits, doesn't it? Can you pull up a little way beyond it, please, Scully?"

Wondering why, Scully obliged, coming to a halt just past a small children's playground, and turned off the motor and the lights. Mulder rolled the window down again and let in the cool night air, and for a little while they just sat and listened to the absolute quiet.

"What is it, Mulder? Why have we stopped?", Scully said eventually. "You've been in a very funny mood ever since you arrived in Sunnydale".

"You're right, but I don't think it's just been me, Scully. For instance. Didn't you notice that Buffy Summers took to calling us by a strange version of our names? The two of them mixed up?"

"Yes? So?" Scully said slowly.

"Well, I noticed you were doing the same to her - you kept calling her Fluffy".

Scully looked slightly taken aback.

"Lighten up, Mulder. It was just a joke".

"Hmm. That's not like you, Scully, not like you at all. Still, OK", Mulder said, shaking his head slightly. Then he continued, "I'm just wondering that there may have been something about this place that's been affecting our behaviour".


Anything else either of them might have been about to say was lost as the hush was broken by the noisy approach of another car. It came careering into sight round the bend in the road and swept past them - a battered old classic 1958 Dodge DeSoto Fireflite, which smashed straight through the matching 'Welcome To Sunnydale' sign on the opposite side of the roadway, and screeched to a halt just down the street.

The two agents looked back and watched as the driver, a medium height, bleached blond, Billy Idol look-alike, got out, calm as you please, strolled to the kerb, produced an old Zippo lighter from the pocket of his ankle-length, black leather coat, and lit up a cigarette.

Mulder quietly and discreetly rolled his window up again.

"Shouldn't we...?" asked Scully. Mulder shook his head.

"It's half past three in the morning; as Buffy told us, this is Sunnydale and not Sunnybrook Farm, and we know the town is infested with vampires".

Scully got the point, restarted the car, and they pulled away as quietly as they could. The driver of the DeSoto apparently never even noticed them go.

"Home, sweet home", said Spike, and blew himself a perfect smoke ring.

The government issue grey Ford sedan joined Highway One and headed southeast as fast as it legally could, perhaps a little bit faster. For some time no one spoke.

Then, after a good half an hour, Scully said "So once again, apart from some samples of dust, we have no physical evidence to back up our reports, Mulder".

"We've still got those unprocessed films..."

"True". The thought of the dissection of the demon head could now make Scully smile, at least slightly.

"Even so, how are we going to explain all this to Assistant Director Skinner?" Mulder considered this for a little while.

"Oh, we'll think of something", he said eventually. "We just have to use our initiative".


AN2: I hope you've enjoyed it - I'm going to have a good long rest now. Maybe see you in 2004, when I come out of hibernation. Seasonal Salutations to all.

A Gentleman Of Leisure (aka AGOL)



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