DISCLAIMER: This all belongs the geniuses at Eidos and Mutant Enemy – none of which includes my humble self, I'm making absolutely no money from this, just enjoyment and a strange imagination.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: In this story, Buffy has just turned 18; Lara Croft is 24; and the rest of the gang are all between the age of 17 and 18. Also Willow was more seriously injured in the Angel attack on the Sunnydale High. There are also a couple of changes to Buffy's character as well.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2: For all W/T fans (myself included) – be patient, they take awhile to get going, but once they do – you will be satisfied.
AUTHOR'S NOTE 3: The Diner is of course named after the best band in the world!!
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

In the Shadow of Darkness
By Crazed Attourney


"In the place where darkness and light meet the shadow is King"


"Only in the darkness of shadows can all hope die."

Los Angeles

The sleek silver car spun violently in the darkness, its engine choked in pain and its wheels spun and smoked in angry protest.

"Go!" An English accented voice snapped in desperation.

"B-B-B…" A younger, feminine voice stuttered in panic.

"Go – just fucking go, don't look back – don't go home, just run." The Englishman's voice pleaded. "I'll follow – okay." He offered weakly, trying to keep the lie from his eyes. "Look my accounts will last for another day – clear them out, and run as far as you fucking can. I will follow you, but I need you to run – will you do this for me?" The man almost begged.

The hooded girl nodded quickly, taking the slim leather wallet.

The car rocked, and glass shattered – and an arm of twisting shadows groped blindly inside. The girl squeaked in absolute terror, but the man moved with almost supernatural speed – a long stiletto blade pinned the arm to the car roof and using his full weight he forced his door open.

An inhuman wail accompanied the dull thud of muscle and bone shattering.

The man threw open the girls door, and roughly pushed her to the pavement. "Run!" He screamed as she fell.

The man watched with sad eyes as the girl disappeared awkwardly into the darkness of a nearby alley, as quickly as it appeared the emotion was lost as a hard, anger engulfed them. He quickly thrust twice against the door, giving him just enough room to leave the vehicle.

He stared coldly at the slumped form pinned to the side of his car; it was basically human but bathed in a shifting cloak of shadows, giving it an almost ghostly appearance.

His temper snapped when it whimpered in pain – his heavy shoes crunching against the heavy, hidden body.

Something hissed behind him, shattering the red mist that had filled his mind, and he was turning as a second shadow moved to grab him, and buried a stake deep into swirling planes of darkness that made up the demon's chest.

It hissed in triumph before a vicious palm to its face brought it up short, while a follow up punch drove the stake deeper into its chest causing it to rear in agony. The man moved quickly, gripping the shifting form around its upper body and using all his strength to throw the heavy form onto the car's bonnet and into harsh glare of its headlights.

The cloak of shadows disappeared as the bright lights engulfed it – revealing a large vampire beneath, its eyes wide with fear and hate as it suddenly exploded into dust.

The man punched out the car's back window, pulling out two pistols from the backseat – one awkward and bulky, the other sleek and deadly.

A flare lanced tore through the night like a white-hot star – and a shadow burst into flame, and three further shadows were revealed in their true form – four shots rang out and four demons died.

A form flickered and the man flew backwards, flying backwards into a nearby wall, landing with a wet, bone-crunching thud.

The wall shuddered and cracked.

The man fought against the darkness that threatened to engulf him, he could feel the warmth of his own blood trickle down his cheeks and chin.

A cold voice chuckled in the darkness as he rose groggily to his feet. "Ah you were doing so well." The deadly, feminine tone teased.

"Still am." The Englishman choked, spitting up his own blood.

"No – I don't think so." The night twisted as over a dozen shadows solidified around him. "Now I have a dilemma – do I turn you or kill you?" The largest of the shadow vampires moved towards him, its hands gently caressing his face before gripping his neck and lifting him effortlessly from the ground.

"Neither." He choked out.

"I don't believe there's a third option." The voice hissed, the shadows around its head shifted as if the vampire beneath had cocked its head in confusion.

"We all die together." He spat as a flare exploded on the ground at his feet - the vampire that held screamed in agony as fire engulfed them. The demons around them turned away from the searing heat as the light tore their protective cloaks of darkness to shreds.

The demons nearest the car heard it first – their eyes glowed with terror as the car hissed and jumped slightly, before exploding into thousands of superheated shards tearing the demons apart.

Her muscles felt as if they were made of acid, whilst her lungs choked in agony as she gulped down the cool night air into her burning lungs, and she could barely see as tears and tiredness dulled her blue eyes. Up ahead a 24-hour Diner burned brightly against the dull darkened streets and shops that surrounded it.

Her companions voice filled her head – 'they won't go near the light – any light.' And she needed to rest, and to eat, and then she could move on.

She pushed heavily against the door, slumping into the nearest seat.

Her body suddenly felt as if were one giant bruise of pain and her muscles trembled, and the world began to spin – she could feel her stomach turn as her adrenaline began to ebb.

A pretty, blonde waitress approached. "Hi I'm Buffy – how ca…" The voice though seemed to come from a great distance and a mixture black and red engulfed her vision as she slipped into unconsciousness.


Part One – Seeing Shadows.

"In darkness, the shadows shall know freedom…"

SIS (Mi6) Headquarters, London – 3 days later

The young woman stared blankly out of the huge windows, barely noticing the panoramic view of London in the late summer sun that spread out before her. Her dark eyes were dull, almost lifeless – as if robbed of some spark, and consumed by grief.

"Lady Croft?" A cultured, English voice gently broke into her consciousness.

"Hmm – w-w-what…s-sorry." She stumbled.

The older man smiled kindly at the young women. "Is there anything I can get you?"

"N-no – y-yes…John why am I here?" I'm in pain, she growled silently.

"I wanted to talk about your uncle." He said gently, wincing at the pain and hate that the young aristocrat threw at him.

"What about him?" She snapped, her body tensing as if unsure whether to lash out in anger or collapse back into her grief.

The elder spy held his hands out in a calming gesture, he shook his head slightly at the darkness he saw in the young women, as a friend of the family he'd watched an awkward girl grow into a fiery adventuress – somewhere between the amazons of legend and the tomb raiders of Hollywood blockbusters, in fact so much like her father and uncle.

"Do you know why Gregory went to America?" He asked gently.

Lara hugged herself briefly before shaking her head.

"I didn't think so." He sighed sadly. "It wasn't for us – do you remember your cousin Tara?"

Lara nodded, smiling briefly at the memory of a sweet, but terribly shy blond girl staring in mute fascination at her father's collection of ancient treasures.

"Six months ago, Gregory was in San Francisco on holiday and he ran into your cousin and her family – he hadn't seen her since your Aunt's funeral." His fingers flexed nervously as he brought another family death – his voice hardened as he continued. "And he didn't like what he saw – not at all…Thank you Angie."

He smiled as he secretary placed a steaming mug of tea in front of him; he waited for her to leave before continuing. "He became obsessed about returning her to the Croft fold – you know how single-minded he could be."

For a moment they shared a small smile as memories of Gregory Croft's obsessive nature, whether it was achieving the perfect cast game fishing on the River Test or his dogged determination to win the heart of a girl who'd caught his eye. "He tracked her to Los Angeles and took a leave of absence – he succeeded, but he discovered something else…you know of the Cerebus department?"

Lara nodded, answering mechanically. "They deal with supernatural threats – Uncle Gregory had recently been assigned to head-up their Operations section. Why?"

Gregory, old man – for a spy you were lousy at secrets, he mused. "A few days ago he contacted me, he was quite agitated. He said he'd discovered something – something that needed Cerebus' intervention. I sent out a team – but it was too late…" He trailed of abruptly; the team had arrived just a few hours too late.

"What does this have to do with me?" Lara hissed into the silence that had descended.

"I need…no I would like you to out to LA and look into your uncles death." The spy asked softly.

Lara stood up sharply, sending her chair flying as she lunged towards the spy. "You. Want. Me. To. Look. Into. His. Death?" She hissed out the words, her anger dripping from every word and her dark eyes flashing with hate.

"Lara…my hands are tied – the team found nothing." He snapped standing to meet the young woman's anger. "The police are saying it was a carjacking that went wrong – I can't do a damn thing!"

"Why me?" She pleaded.

"Gregory was terrified when he called – he didn't get scared Lara, I need to know what happened – and I want those who did this too him stopped." His voice broke as held Lara's eyes, his as angry as her own. "Lara, you can do what I cannot."

"I don't know if I can…" She whispered, her anger disappearing quickly into grief once more.

"Of course you can…" He took a deep breath. "There's another reason – Gregory said he found Tara, that he'd rescued her, they only found him – she may well still be alive and well…"

Or in serious trouble, Lara's mind finished the thought that the spy could not – on the outside she just nodded and held out her hand.

Buffy Summers' Apartment, Los Angeles – 2 Days Earlier

Buffy balanced herself precariously on the arm of her battered couch as she watched the other blonde sleep – her face quiet and still, almost innocent in the embrace of slumber. It was so different to the fear the slayer had seen the previous night in the girl's face – the dark hollow terror of some who had survived, it was a fear she'd seen so often on the faces of those who come into contact with the demon world.

And that was what Buffy had believed had happened to the other girl – until she'd seen the scars that were brutally painted across her skin. The girl – who's name she'd discovered was Tara – had gone barely moved since she'd collapsed in the Diner, it had taken both the Slayer and the Chef combined to carry the limp form to her nearby department. "Hey – Good morning." Buffy whispered gently as Tara began to waken.

Blue eyes snapped open, fearfully darting around the room. "Hey, Hey, don't worry, it's okay." Buffy reassured quickly as the girl began to panic in terror, with her enhanced strength she held the blonde gently, but firmly – waiting for the panic to recede.

"It's okay – it's okay." The blonde slayer whispered over and over again – finally pulling the girl into her arms when terror gave way to tears of pain. "Shh…Shh…Shh." She hummed as she rocked the shuddering form.

Tara's body stilled after what seemed like an age. "W-w-w-where a-am I?" The other blonde's stuttered softly.

"My apartment." Buffy answered softly, then with a grin, "well okay – hovel."

"I-I-its n-not t-that b-bad." Tara answered automatically, barely noticing the mess that lined the apartment's tiny living room.

"Thank you." Buffy smiled softly. "I'm Buffy."

"T-T-T-Tara M-M-Maclay." The other blonde stammered weakly. "W-what h-happened?"

"You don't remember?" Buffy asked with surprised.

"I w-was r-running…a-and…oh g-god I d-don't remember." Tara choked out weakly, rapidly shaking her head.

"You don't remember coming into the Diner?" Buffy pressed the lost hope gently.

Tara eyes widened suddenly, "m-m-m-m-my u-uncle, h-have y-you s-s-seen h-him?" She all but pleaded.

"No." Buffy said simply – not knowing whether this was good or bad news. "I'm sorry." The slayer followed weakly, as she was given her answer.

"H-h-h-he s-said, h-he'd f-f-f-f-follow." Tara stammered out through her tears.

"I'm sorry." Buffy whispered again, moving to cradle the weeping girl again.

"H-he p-promised." Her words were half way between grief and anger – and the slayer felt her own tears begin to fall, as the images of her own broken promises filled her mind, from Angel's confused, terror filled-face as she kissed him one last time before she sent him to hell, or her friends' broken, tortured bodies after Angel's vampires had attacked.

"I know – I know." The blonde slayer whispered in answer, though deep down knowing there was no answer she could give. "Hey look at us." Buffy smiled weakly, wiping her eyes firmly trying to clear the free flowing tears, "would you like a cup of tea or anything – it'll make you feel better."

"P-please." Tara giggled slightly as she watched the other blonde get up quickly, as if slightly embarrassed and began to quickly, clumsily make tea in the small kitchenette.

"What?" Buffy frowned, her enhanced hearing picking up the unexpected sound.

The other blonde's face darkened quickly. "N-n-nothing."

"Come on?" The slayer pressed without thinking.

"Y-y-you re-rem-r-re…reminded m-me of m-my u-uncle." Tara dropped her head sadly.

"I'm sorry." Buffy answered guiltily.

"No…No it's o-okay, h-he c-could b-be s-s-s-so E-English at t-times." Tara was surprised by the sudden burst of warm laughter that exploded from the other woman.

"I was wasn't I?" Buffy said through her laughter. "I have a friend who's English and he's like…ah emotion…ah English…help…then out pops the tea and scones."

Both young women began to laugh heavily at the image, before falling into harsh, almost painful fits of emotional laughter. "Oh god…" Buffy groaned in pain as she slowly regain control. "…I think we needed that."

Gregory Croft's Apartment, Beverly Hills – 2 days later

"…And you haven't touched anything?" Lara asked her companion again, surprised at the chaos that now inhabited her usually fastidious uncle's large apartment.

"No." Her dark clothed companion all but snapped. "London was very clear about that."

"The police?" Lara pressed – the apartment resembled the aftermath of a natural disaster; papers and furniture had been angrily ripped apart and left were they fell.

The man shrugged, "unlikely – they've been most co-operative."

"The what the fuck did this?" The dark haired aristocrat sighed in frustration.

"We don't know – there's nothing, perhaps…"

"No, Gregory wouldn't do this." Lara interrupted him harshly, while both Lara and her father had inherited the Croft temper, Gregory had not – his was colder, more meticulous, more controlled.

"Then we can't explain it." Her companion answered with a barely concealed sneer.

"I thought that what you were good at – the unexplained." Lara teased nastily, enjoying herself as she watched his eyes blaze with annoyance, he didn't like it that she knew who he was – fucking spys! She snapped in her head.

She carefully picked through the rubble of the apartment, there was very little of anything left.

She frowned – and took two steps backwards and then forward again.

She kept repeating the movement, two steps back – two forward. "Wha…"

The fire in her eyes stopped her companion in his tracks – she thought she could just hear something.

Squeak - There it was! Quickly she fell to the floor tearing at the carpet. "Knife – do you have a knife?" She snapped at the spy.

"Thanks." She snarled dismissively as he passed her a thin, wicked looking stiletto-like blade. She tore at the heavy carpet with her fingers and the blade, before if gave way with a dull rip.

"Gotcha." A section of floorboards had been carefully removed and replaced – underneath was a large white hatbox, and written on it in her uncle's small neat handwriting were two words – 'Hello Lara.'

E-Street Diner, Los Angeles – 2 days later

Buffy let out a groan that was part pain and part relief as she eased herself into the booth; the small diner had been desperately busy throughout the day.

"A-are you o-okay?" Tara asked softly as she sipped at a milkshake.

"Feet – sore. Moving – bad." The other blonde whimpered pathetically.

Tara giggled slightly.

"Oh go ahead mock my pain." Buffy pouted sarcastically.

"O-o-k-kay." Tara ginned, earning an annoyed look from the waitress. "W-was it t-that b-bad?"

"The pits – three people didn't turn up today, so guess who had to work the tills, wait tables and tidy up?" Buffy's hazel's eyes flashed with indignation.

"B-Buffy S-S-Sumers." Tara responded sympathetically.

"Got it in one." Buffy groaned, slipping of her ugly white shoes with a squeak of pain. "How was your day?"

"I b-brought m-my t-ticket." Tara mumbled softly, hiding behind her hair.

"W-when?" Buffy let out an uncharacteristic stutter.

"T-tomorrow m-morning." For the last six days the other blonde had been making plans, determined to keep the promise she'd made to her uncle, but to her great surprise she found herself unwilling to leave the shorter blonde.

"A-are you sure?" Buffy asked hopefully, a part of her had very quickly grown fond of the shy woman who shared her sofa – enjoying her soft presence and gentle humour.

"I've g-got t-to go – t-they m-m-might f-find me." Tara argued softly, though she was unable to meet Buffy's eyes.

"Your safe w-with me." Buffy mumbled.

"I c-can't…w-won't…the…" Tara blushed heavily, unable to finish her statement.

"Hey I understand." Buffy reassured. "But we gonna do something fun tonight – a proper send off, okay?"

Maclay Residence, Los Angeles – Earlier the same day.

Lara adjusted the old fashioned trilby to keep more of the sun out of her eyes – her uncles final present felt comfortable and safe over her thick dark hair. Though she couldn't help but shudder at the endless suburbia that stretched out around her, surrounded by the never-ending blue skies of a Southern California morning. The unending monotony made her long for the cool greens of the Oxford countryside, or the dusty ruin filled plains of the Egyptian desert – even the eclectic streets of London would have eased her heart at that precise moment.

God – Aunty how did you live like this? She mused sadly in her mind, as knocked on her uncle-in-law's blandly painted door.

"What do you want?" A voice snarled from the darkness, as the door opened slightly.

"I'd like to see Tara please." Lara asked with a cool, politeness.

"She's not here." The door shut violently.

Lara banged violently on the door.

"Loo…ahhh." The voice barked in pain as the tall, dark haired Englishwoman kicked it open. Lara instantly recognised the small man on the floor as her uncle-in-law.

"Hello Michael." She sneered.

"Who the fuck are you?" He barked angrily as he scrambled to her feet.

"I'm hurt – you don't remember me." She asked with mock hurt, hardly able to keep the smirk off of her face as she saw the man's bruised and battered face. "I'm your niece from England – Lara Croft."

"Croft – fuck, haven't you done enough." He growled.

"I don't think my family can ever do enough to you." She growled viciously – the memory of the abuses that this family had inflicted upon her cousin, all outlined in her uncle's neat cold hand, were clear in her mind. "Don't even think it."

A young, light haired man quivered at the gun that had suddenly appeared in his face, the baseball bat quivering uselessly in his hands. "Hi Donnie – remember me."

The pistol lashed violently across his head – a leather clad knee slammed into his groin and face, leaving a heavy, boneless lump on the floor at his father's feet.

"Now from the look of things – you had another visitor from England recently, my uncle Gregory perhaps?" Lara asked coldly.

"Yeah – what of it." The elder Maclay spat as he moved to help his unconscious son.

"When was he here?"

"About a week ago – took my bitch of a daughter with him." He growled – his eyes suddenly widened in pain as a fist full of pistol slammed into his stomach, driving the air from his body.

"There's no need to be rude is there," Lara tutted evilly. "You happen to follow him did you – run him off the road and take her back did you." Her fist clenched tightly around the cool metal in her hand.

"No…no." Michael Maclay gasped out loudly, fear touching his voice.

"And why not?" Lara sneered.

"H-he made it very clear what would happen if we came near him…or her." Michael's eyes darted fearfully to his sons form, and from that look alone Lara believed him – suppressing a shudder at how Gregory had gotten his message across.

"Do you mind if I take a look around – just to be sure."

"Yes – then just fuck off." He barked, though Lara took no notice of him as she began what she already knew was a pointless task.

Warehouse, near the E-Street Diner – later the same day

She sat blindly watching the sun hang upon the horizon, surrounded by a mixture of light, darkness and all the shadows in-between, in that confused mixture she existed – partly bathed in a cloak of shadows, partly lost in the darkness and finally partly revealed in all her tortured glory. Her face was revealed completely, itself a mixture of blackened skin and weeping sores, her hair had been burnt to the twisted fleas and her eyes were blinded white.

"Mistress." A voice whispered in the darkness.

She gurgled in response, her blind eyes searching for the voice.

"Mistress – we've brought you food." The voice hissed again, and a shadow wreathed hand solidified into a blackened claw as she groped for the offering.

Another voice whimpered in fear, as shadows became men in the late afternoon sun, dragging a young man and woman with them.

A blade glinted, and the man's scream became a wet, whimpering gurgle – almost gentle hand guided the broken demon's mouth to the gushing blood.

Near the E-Street Diner – Early evening, later the same day

Areas of the road itself were still closed – highlighted by the four large circles of blackened and twisted asphalt, debris from the explosion was still imbedded in the surrounded walls, whilst shop windows were awkwardly boarded up by cheap wood.

"He put one hell of a fight." Lara's companion whistled.

Lara ignored him. "Do we know what caused the burns?"

The dark clothed spy nodded, "flares."

"Flares?" Lara asked in surprise.

"Yeah – people reported seeing a series of very bright lights before hearing the explosion." He answered mechanically.

"What the hell were you doing?" Lara asked in annoyance – the notes that Gregory had left were in code and as yet made absolutely no sense to her.

"Sorry." Her companion stuttered slightly, moving away from the burns.

"Not you." Lara frowned in annoyance. "Do you know where this goes?" She asked quickly, pointed down the alley immediately behind the largest of the road burns.

"A few shops – a diner I think." He frowned as the young aristocrat ignored him and moved quickly down the road.

E-Street Diner – same time

"Hiya," Buffy grinned as she took in the other girl, "you look great!"

Tara blushed under the compliment – the taller blonde was wearing a simple, lightly coloured top with a matching dress, highlighting her figure and light hair and eyes. "S-s-so d-do y-you."

"Why thank-you." Buffy beamed happily. "So do you want to eat before painting the town red?"

Tara nodded slightly as she slid into one of the booths, waving to a nearby waitress. "Hi Buff – Tar, what can I get ya?"

"Burger – medium, fries, salad and a coke." Buffy grinned, one of the advantages of being the slayer was that she could pretty much eat anything without fear, she also liked the funny looks she received because of it.

"C-can I h-have the c-chicken c-club and a c-coke p-puh-please." Tara hid behind her hair as she stuttered out her order.

"Course hon." The Diner's other waitress winked at the two girls.

"You shouldn't do that ya know." Buffy admonished lightly.

"P-pardon." Tara's eyes widened slightly at the slayer's words.

"Hide your face – you're too pretty for that." Buffy grinned at the embarrassed blush across Tara's face.

"I'm n-n-n-n-not."

"Well I say you are – and I'm treating you tonight, you're not allowed to argue." Buffy said lightly, but firmly.

"Okay." Tara breathed out quickly.

"Good – now what'cha wanna do? Film, Club or both – try and pick up a couple of hot bods." Buffy teased, once again causing the other blonde to blush.


"Tara!" A clipped English accent called loudly with surprised.

The blonde girl frowned at first not recognising the taller women, but then an image of an awkward tomboy-ish brunette filled her mind. "L-L-Lara…"Tara stammered suddenly and in equal surprise, as she recognised the Englishwomen from her past. "W-what a-a…"

Her sentence descended into a squeak as strong arms pressed her into a warm, but stifling embrace. "God I've been looking everywhere for you." Lara rushed out.

"F-For m-me?"

"Yes." Lara answered firmly, brushing her cousin's her from her face – taking her first good look at her in almost eight years.

"What…Why…How." Tara responded slightly fearfully.

"It doesn't matter." Lara answered firmly – not noticing her cousin's companion frown and stand.

"Hi I'm Buffy – who are you?" The slayer's eyes narrowed, the dark haired women was stunningly attractive, the long coat and old-fashioned hat could hide the slender, but curvaceous body the woman possessed – but her well honed instincts instantly recognised the air of danger that hung around the women.

"Lara Croft – you?" The dark eyes appraised the small blonde standing just in front of her, attractive and feminine, but she too instantly recognised the air of danger that around the women in front of her.

"I'm Buffy Summers – Tara's friend."

"Good – I'm Tara's family."

"That's not encouraging." Buffy grinned dangerously.

Lara frowned; this was not going as she planned. "I know – but it's okay." She stood to meet cool stare on the other woman's face.

"Maybe, but I want to hear Tara tell me that – Tara?" Buffy said as coldly as her stare, feeling protective of her new friend.

"I-it's f-f-fin…"

"What's going on here?" Lara's companion stammered as he burst into the Diner.

"It's fine – just a few crossed wires." Lara said calmly, not quite understanding where and why this was going wrong.

"Are you sure?" He pressed hovering over Buffy, not liking the way the girl was standing or the air that she gave off.


"Don't even think it." Buffy growled as she felt the shadow loom into her personal space.

"Or wh…" He sneered.

"This." Buffy spun catching him by the throat – lifting his taller, heavier frame as if it was nothing.

"S-s-s-stop p-p-please!" Tara stammered fearfully, the anger echoing in her mind.

"Tara – sorry – wait." Buffy and Lara stammered together as they watched the shy blond stumble out of the diner.

"Oh shit!" They spoke together again.

Alleyway, near the E-Street Diner – same time

"Tara!" Lara shouted as she moved through the shadow filled alleyway.

"Tara!" Buffy shouted beside the taller women. "Look I'm sorry – it's just I've seen what her family did, and I…"

"Shh." Lara snapped. "Something's not right."

"Hey – Hey, you're right." Buffy agreed quickly and quietly, her senses tingling like mad as they moved through the alley. "There's something here."

Lara nodded – a whimper and a hiss echoed just ahead of them.

Buffy eased a stake into her hand, not surprised when she saw a pistol in the other women's hand. "On three." The slayer mouthed, as soon as she saw the nod – she began the countdown in her head. "Now."

Their actions were almost instinctive, Lara went low – catching Tara's trembling form, ripping it from the dark form that held her, Buffy on the other hand went high catching the dark form fully in the chest – driving them both to the floor.

The two forms rose together – Buffy's eyes widened in shock at the solid mass of shadows in front of her, she moved quickly despite her cold astonishment, unleashing a high spinning kicks that knocked the shifting form into the darkness.

Continuing the smooth move, she lashed out with the stake hoping to drive into the forms heart – the stake passed through nothing.

"Wha…" The shadows returning driving her to the floor, what appeared to his fists began to slam into her face and chest.

Shots rang out, and the pressure eased from her chest.

"Thanks." Buffy called to the dark clothed man, twisting out of the way to give him a clear line of fire – whilst she knew guns were useless against vampires, most demons found bullets as lethal as humans.

He kept firing at the form – ignoring the three women it advanced towards the man.

It leapt into the darkness again, disappearing briefly before enveloping them man in a cloak of shadows. He screamed as fangs tore out his throat.

Another form appeared behind the first – both descended on the feebly struggling spy, as Buffy turned to the two other women, "we need to get out of here now!" She cried.

"Oh yeah." Lara nodded quickly, shifting Tara's deadweight on her shoulders.

Buffy tripped as they approached the mouth of the alleyway – as a cold, hard hand twisted her ankle. "Fuck." She barked, twisting to crash her other foot into the shadowy form.

She leapt backwards onto her feet – wincing in agony as her ankle burned with pain. Thankfully she had landed just on the street her back resting just inside the light cat by a streetlamp.

One of the figures lurched towards her, and at the last she moved slightly out the way and the form flew into the light. And once again Buffy's eyes widened in shock as a vampire was revealed. "What the fuck."

It turned towards the voice – and its eyes this time were wide with fear, and the slayer pounced. Her face collapsed in agony, but her aim was perfect, the stake buried itself into its chest and it exploded into dust.

"Bitch." A harsh voice hissed, and a heavy weight crashed into her ankle – the same pain exploded on her lower back and stomach as a foot smashed into her again and again.

Shots rang out and for the first time in what seemed like an age a foot didn't crash into her body.

Buffy rolled further into the lamplight.

Lara advanced, calmly firing into the form that hovered over the slayer, the shadow hissed in pain – the shadow-like form, however, barely paused.

Hissing it advanced – half of its body appeared in the light before disappearing into the cloak again. Just as it reached the advancing Englishwoman, she ducked – her foot catching it in the stomach and head.

It doubled over – Lara attempted to slam her knee into it.

It caught and twisted, and she yelped in pain as she fell.

The fall was controlled by the demon; it slammed heavily into the hard ground.

Suddenly it reared back – a stake buried in it chest.

A heavy boot crushed the wood further into its chest, flipping it over and into a nearby streetlight – it burst into dust.

Buffy Summers' Apartment – 20 minutes later.

"Is she asleep?" Buffy groaned as she flopped down onto her bed.

"Yeah – Jesus that thing packed a punch." Lara groaned with equal pain.

"Tell me about it." Buffy whimpered as attempted to shrug off her coat.

"And the worst thing is – it can only get worse." Lara whimpered.

"Aha…good thing about being the slayer – the bruises will be gone tomorrow." Buffy crowed in delight, before a growl of frustration emerged as she once again failed to take her coat off.

"Let me get that." Lara moved slowly, but with a gentlemanly flourished eased Buffy's coat from her shoulders. "So you're the slayer eh?"

"Yeah – oh shit."

"Not meant to say – it'll be our secret." Lara whispered in Buffy's ear, carefully helping the slayer with her shirt.

"Good – any problems with that." Buffy teased – letting the taller women undress her.

"None, any other benefits?" Lara drawled – feeling the tingle adrenaline along her spine, and straight to her centre.

"Umm – maybe." Buffy grinned slightly, her own adrenaline thrumming through her body, grateful that despite the pain it was merely bruises and scraps from the fight.

"Such as." Lara drawled, teasing the expanse of skin that revealed.

"You'll have to find out." Buffy turned in the taller woman's arms – her own hands running gently over the torn silk shirt – dancing close to very generous swell of Lara's chest.

"And how should I do that?" Lara gulped as she felt Buffy's hot breath on her neck.

"Flowers are one way." Buffy moved away slightly, enjoying frustrated sigh that escaped the taller woman's mouth.

"Anything else." She pressed the slayer into the foot of the bed.

Buffy ripped Lara's shirt open – grinning with delight at the expanse of smooth, sun darkened skin that was revealed, and the way it trembled with barely controlled desire. "Vanilla ice cream."

Lara smirked, this time she stepped backwards and it was her turn to enjoy the frustrated growl that escaped the blonde's lips. She wiggled slightly, freeing her tight leather trousers revealing her long legs to slayer's hungry eyes. "Later maybe – but are you sure there's nothing else?"

"D-don't know." Buffy stammered through suddenly dry lips.

"That's a shame." Lara sighed, once again pressing the slayer into the bed – this time forcing her to lie down. Long agile fingers danced along Buffy's jeans. "Are you sure?" She teased, her lips a mere hair's breadth away from the blondes.

Buffy's arms wrapped around Lara's neck, "yep, maybe you'll just have to find out." Her voice was hoarse with desire.

Lara kissed her deeply, her tongue teasing the slayer's lips.

Buffy whimpered as the lips left hers.

"I take it'll need a long…" Buffy groaned as one of Lara's long legs slid between hers. "…detailed exploration."

"Shut up." Buffy growled, pulling Lara into a long hard kiss.

Buffy's Apartment – Early morning

The bed shuddered slightly, and Buffy awoke to the feel of cool air tickling her bare skin – she felt a lazy smile creep across her face. She stretched happily warming her happily tight muscles against the chill of the morning.

"Where are you going?" The blonde yawned, taking the slender silhouetted form of nighttime companion.

"Sorry – I didn't mea…" Lara mumbled uncomfortably.

"I'm glad you did." Buffy teased, moving against the other women's body – brushing aside her long hair to nip at the skin below.

Lara whimpered as the slayer's small, slender hands tickled her sides forestalling any comment.

"Where you going to leave?" Buffy nibbled Lara's ear; gently bringing up her hands to cup the brunette's chest with the lightest touches.

"No – were you going to leave?" She moved her hands away slightly as Lara attempted to press into the blonde's hands.

"Yes." Lara sighed with embarrassment.

"That was very naughty." Buffy pulled her hands away completely and let air slip between their bodies.

"I should go." The Englishwoman mumbled.

"Why?" Buffy huffed with a slight annoyance.

"T-this shouldn't have happened." Lara explained, embarrassed at the whole situation.

"Why?" Buffy growled, and she moved with a sudden, feline grace to rest on the taller woman's lap, pressing hard into the bed.

"W-What?" Lara stammered in surprised, shocked at the strength of the small blonde – a strength that held her absolutely in place.

"I asked why – why must you leave, why must we stop?" Buffy snapped.

"I shouldn't have – I t-took advantage of you." Lara blushed.

"Bullshit – you enjoyed it, I enjoyed it." Buffy barked, her hazel eyes flashed. "I think your just ashamed because of that – broke down your tough hide, got to you – made you enjoy something."

Lara struggled against the strong grip – trying not to meet the blazing eyes above her, eyes that had read so well and so quickly.

"That's it – isn't it?" Buffy asked again, this time softly supporting her words with light kisses along Lara's lips.

"Yes – h-how?"

"You got to me too." Buffy admitted gently before kissing the women beneath her – kicking the covers completely from bed, revealing her lover's glorious naked form.

Her mouth hungry possessed Lara's – tasting every warm millimetre of her mouth with her tongue. She broke of the kiss, moving teasingly down her chin, her neck and finally her upper chest – revelling in the jerky, frustrated movements that followed her teasing mouth.

"You're gonna have make it up to me – understand?" Buffy growled playfully. "And I'm very demanding."

Lara yelped as Buffy's hand dipped between her legs – her body jerked in delight at the knowing fingers that filled her centre.

The hand disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

"I'm very demanding – and you're going to have to work very hard." Buffy hummed against Lara's chest, her mouth hungrily suckling the large, soft mound. "Do you understand?"

Buffy's hand again darted between the brunette's legs, her fingertips tickling the soft hairs that bordered her centre – her hips jerked, wanting the fingers to return and dampen the fire they were igniting within her. "I said do you understand?"

"P-p-please." She stammered thickly with desire.

"Are you sure?" Her voice growled, her voice hoarse as she watched the long form beneath tremble and shake with lust.

"Yes!" Lara barked as Buffy's fingers slipped firmly into her warmth, and her lips descended.

Buffy's apartment – late morning.

"G-g-good m-morning." Tara blushed, unable to look at the smirking blonde.

"Hiya." Buffy greeted loudly – banging cupboards in a search for food. "Sleep well?"

"O-okay." Tara blushed deeply again. "I-is L-L-L-Lara a-w-w-w-wake?"

"No – she's really tired." Buffy shrugged – her nose crinkling with disgust as she picked up a piece of mouldy bread.

"I h-heard." Tara mumbled without thinking.

"Were we loud?" Buffy grinned – her enhanced hearing picking up the mumbled comment.

She giggled as Tara's eyes widened in utter shock, her face burning with embarrassment.

"Oh cookies." She clapped, "want one?"

"N-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-o-no." Tara stammered furiously barely able to form the word.

"'Kay." Buffy grinned, enjoying the sight of the flustered girl.

"I d-d-didn-n't k-know y-y-you w-were g-gay." Tara stammered into the awkward silence that had descended, only broken by the soft munching of the slayer eating.

"I'm not."

"B-but…" Tara frowned.

"I like both." Buffy said matter-of-factly, childishly picking out the filling of her cookie.

"Oh y-your b-b-bi…"

"Probably – I don't really think about it." Buffy shrugged, once again offering the other blonde the biscuit tin. "Giles – my watcher, says it something to do with being the slayer – seizing the moment in short time I'm cursed with."

"Y-your t-the s-slayer?"

"Umm." Buffy nodded through a full mouth. "You didn't guess – attacked by demons weren't a clue."

"I t-thought t-they w-w-were after m-me." Tara stammered out nervously.

"Why?" Buffy shifted to take a good look at the other girl.

"T-they k-k-k-k-killed m-m-my u-uncle." Tara squirmed under the intense gaze. "T-that's w-w-w-w-why I h-had t-to l-leave."

The biscuit tin crashed heavily to the floor. "Lara!" The slayer shouted loudly.

Buffy's Apartment

"Lara!" Buffy's voice broke into the Englishwoman's dreamless sleep like a torrent of cold water, and she lurched from the small bed, grabbing her pistol and bursting into the apartment's tiny living room.

"What! What is it?" She demanded – her hazy, sleep filled eyes groggily searching the room for danger.

The two blondes stared, open mouthed at Lara's entrance, her body was revealed in all its naked glory – Buffy started to giggle first, and that started Tara off – her almost pain-filled face broke with relief and joy and her laughter exploded outwards, and at that point Buffy's giggles began to deepen into laughter.

"What?" Lara demanded, her mind slow to catch up.

"D-Did y-you f-f-f-for-g-get s—me-thing." Buffy hiccupped through the laughter – gesturing widely at her.

"W-wha…oh shit." Lara mumbled, her heavy blush reaching down to her chest, as she desperately tried to cover herself.

"I-I-its o-ok-kay." Buffy stammered, trying to regain some composure, but the site of the brunette trying to cover herself with nothing but her arms and a pistol threatened to shatter what little control she had remaining. "J-just g-get d-dressed – p-please."

Nodding Lara turned – she stopped halfway through. "I can't." She mumbled suddenly, her blush deepening once again.

"W-why?" Buffy asked through deep, calming breaths.

"Y-you ripped…"

"Intheclosetshirtfit." Buffy squeaked out in a rush as memory of the previous night causing her to blush as well.

"A-are y-you okay?" Tara stammered softly when had returned to her normal colour.

"Yeah." Buffy answered absently. "Tea?"

"P-please – I'm s-s-sorry." She stammered – letting her hair cover her face.

"What did I say about that?" Buffy admonished slightly, her tone soft and teasing.

"I'm s-s-sorry." Tara stuttered again, hanging her head even lower.

She was surprised when gentle fingers suddenly lifted her chin. "You've got nothing to be sorry for." Buffy reassured gently.


"But nothing – you were scared." Buffy interrupted kindly. "And you didn't who…or what I am – you don't tell that kind of story to just anyone."

"I s-still s-sorry – I b-brought t-the…" Tara argued weakly, unable to accept the Slayer's kind words.

"So what did you want?" Lara mumbled as she re-entered the living room.

"Tara's got news about our friends from last night." Buffy answered handing Tara her tea – smirking at Lara's new look; tight black leather trousers mixed with a massive chequered shirt that hung down her thighs and covered her hands. Her smirk quickly became a frown when the Englishwoman purposefully sat as far from the slayer as the small room would allow.

"Oh what news." Lara asked absently, refusing to meet the stormy hazel eyes that hovered above her

"We were waiting for you." Buffy pouted, anger starting to creep into her voice.

"Good." Lara grinned suddenly, her long legs catching the slayer and pulling her into her lap, she took an almost guilty pleasure in the surprised squeak the blonde let out and convoluted balancing act to prevent her tea spilling.

"Tara - tell us what happened." Buffy prompted, grinning happily as she relaxed into the soft body beneath her.

"I'm n-not s-s-sure…" The other girl blushed, as she became the centre of attention.

"Start when you first saw Gregory." Lara encouraged.

"T-there w-was a k-knock at t-the d-door – I w-was in t-the k-k-kitchen…"

Maclay Residence – 8 days ago

She jumped as the heavy knocking echoed around the house – just stopping herself from dropping the families washing.

"Be careful sis." Her brother sneered nastily – nudging her violently, making her stumble and fall.

"…none of your business!" Their father's loud and suddenly nervous voice made Donnie pause in his bullying.

Tara heard a dull thump as if something heavy had hit the floor.

"Stay here." Donnie ordered through a frown. "Hey w…" Her brother's voice suddenly stopped, as if interrupted rather than distance, and she thought she heard a quiet whimper of pain replace it.

"Hey Tara." A soft English voice called, making her look up from the floor.

"H-h-h-hi." She stuttered, quickly looking down towards the ground again.

"You don't remember me do you?"

"Y-yes." She mumbled – his dark hair was more liberally sprinkled with grey than before and his face was more lined, but she still recognised the tall, slender man in front of her – her Uncle Gregory. Her mind was filled with hazy memories of a time before her stepfamily and of a house filled with strange objects, and of giants with shining brown eyes and easy laughter. "Y-y-you're U-U-Un-k-ker-uncle G-G-Gregory."

"Yeah – that's me." He confirmed gently, and she felt calloused hands lift her chin. "And you still shouldn't do that."


Her Uncle forestalled her words. "I want you to get your st…I told you not to move." His soft voice hardened abruptly and she shrank away from angry that echoed in his voice.

"I-I-I'm s-so…"

"You can…" Her father's equally angry voice cut through the kitchen.

"Michael." Gregory chuckled darkly, "I can do anything I fucking want – Tara is going to come with me, and the only thing you get to say is 'yes sir.'"

She looked up suddenly, she knew her eyes were wide and she could feel the joy bubbling in the pit of her stomach.

Her uncle's voice was soft again. "Tara I want you to pack some clothes and anything else you need – then meet me outside."


"Go now." His voice was still soft, but there was steel behind it that she could not disobey. "Now Michael, I think we need to clarify a few things."

Tara gently rang her fingers over her altar – it had been in her family for generations, and from the smooth shiny stains to the worn roughness of the stone its patchwork surface were like old friends to her touch; each with its own memory and emotion - the gravely, flaky divot where her first offering had gone wrong to the smooth edges where she'd prayed with her mother…

"Are you ready?" Her uncle's soft English voice broke into her thoughts.

"Y-yes." She nodded through heavy eyes.

"That's Lizzie's altar isn't it?" Gregory shook his head sadly, already knowing the answer. "You'll have to leave it."

"I k-know." She mumbled as she rose, grabbing her small bag feeling the tears beginning to slip down her cheeks.

Her stepfather was cradling an unconsciousness Donnie's head as they walked from the house – it was the only kindness she'd seen in him, a firm but gentle hand on her shoulder guided from her home.

Gregory's Apartment, Beverly Hills – Same day

"Welcome to yo…" Gregory's voice trailed off suddenly as he reached the door of his apartment, his well-honed instincts screamed in his head.

"W-wha…" A finger pressed firmly against her lips halted her words – her uncle mirrored the gesture against his own and she nodded in understanding.

Tara's eyes widened when Gregory smoothly pulled a pistol out from his coat, and attached a silencer to it. "Tara – you're a witch correct?" He whispered, when she nodded he continued. "Good – I want you to turn on every light in the apartment, and make them burn real bright – can you do that?"

"Y-ye-yes." She stammered nervously as she recognised the trace of fear in her uncle's cold, confident eyes.

"Good on five – stay her until I say." He counted down on his fingers, but she barely noticed – the magic was building within her and she was in another place. The building disappeared around her and she was surrounded by the intricate pattern of power cables, they surrounded her like a delicate spider's web, slowly beginning to glow as she fed them magic.

As the power built within her – she could feel her heart pound with excitement, her skinned tingle with anticipation and her mind flew free, the troubles of the world far below as she raced through clouds chasing the setting…

"Now." The world became a dizzying blur as she released the energy, and she felt empty as she felt leave her body, bile burned at her throat as she gagged as she forced herself to take deep, calming breaths.

As she clung to the wall for balance - she was dimly aware of a door breaking, and stuttering hiss of a gun firing.

"Tara…Tara!" Her uncle's voice called. "You can come in now."

The apartment was a mess, as if an angry storm had unleashed it fury in the tiny space – turning luxury into meaningless rubbish.

She let out a tiny gasp when she saw her uncle he was standing over a bleeding, whimpering body – its face was twisted with fear and pain. "Don't worry," Gregory reassured gently, his eyes never leaving the cowering form, "it can't hurt you – not while the light burns."

"W-what i-is i-it?" She gulped nervously, fear and crashing low after casting making her head pulse with pain.

"A shadow vampire." He answered absently. "It would appear that reports of their extinction have been exaggerated." He snorted at his own poor joke. "Could you see if there's any tea…"

He was interrupted as the hall light blew – both his and the demon's eyes widened in surprise.

Other lights in the apartment began to flare and flicker.

"Tara!" Gregory called in alarm as the demon lurched passed him; grabbing the startled girl around the neck.

"Drop the gun." Its gravely voice rumbled in her ear and she was surrounded by the stench of death.

"J-just let her go." Her uncle pleaded, his voice trembling with fear as the demon violently dragged Tara towards the dying lights, and the safety that the shadows provided.

"Drop the gun and I'll think about it." It hissed, and Tara could feel the confidence rise in its voice as its fangs tickled her skin.

"O-okay." The gun clattered to the floor – the demon was less than three steps away from the shadows, with the room's other lights stuttering ominously.

"She smells nice – all magic and fear." It hissed happily.

"You're going to let her go." Her all but begged – it was now only two steps away from the shadows.

"No I don't think so." Tara whimpered as clawed hands pulled her head back, ripping the hairs from her head exposing her neck to its sharp fangs.

"Fair enough." Gregory shrugged suddenly, and Tara felt the pressure ease on her head. "I'll just have to kill you now."

"Wha…" Gregory brought his right arm up suddenly, the cuffs of his jacket exploding as a gun burst into his hand.

Thunder boomed in her ear and something cold and sticky covered her face – as her vision turned to red she tried to scream but fear had stolen her voice.

"Tara move." Gregory ordered – the demon swayed behind her, just on the border of the shadows, its face destroyed.

The gun fired once more and the demon exploded into dust.

The apartment flared brightly for a moment before descending into darkness.

There was a distant rumble and the darkness rolled causing her to slowly climb back into consciousness. "Tara, Tara." A voice called urgently in her ear. "Come on – I need you awake now."


"Oh thank god." She recognised the relief in her uncle's voice.


"We're heading towards LAX – there's a safe house we can use until some colleagues of mine arrive." Gregory answered quickly, almost nervously and she realised they were in a car.


"Look I need you to focus okay." He snapped, "can you do that for me?"

"Y-y-y-yes." She stammered, trying to shrink into her seat at his harsh tone.

"Good – you had me worried." He sighed, his tone suddenly softer. "I need you to remember a few things for me – Major John Croft; Lara – a mirror will tell all; and they won't go near the light – any light. Now repeat them."

"M-major J-john C-croft, L-L-L-Lara – a m-mirror w-wi-will t-t-tell a-all; and t-they w-w-won't go n-near t-the l-l-light – any l-l-light." She stammered out.

"Good – again." Gregory ordered.

"M-m-major J-jo…" The car halted, and tires screeched.

"Fuck!" Gregory snarled – under the glare of the car headlight's vampire-like demons appeared from the shadows. "Say them again." He snapped as he threw the car violently into reverse.

Buffy' apartment – 8 days later

"…H-he m-made me g-get out f-five m-minutes l-l-later – it w-was t-the l-last I s-s-saw of h-him." Tara mumbled; tears beginning to fall again as she finished her story.

Arms enveloped her and she felt herself collapse into the soft body that accompanied them as she felt another's tears join her own.

Buffy looked away uncomfortably as the two women cried in each other's arms, unable to watch the emotion confronting her – an image of Giles making tea was faced with the emotional turmoil of the Scooby Gang filled her mind.

I need an American role-model, She chuckled softly.

"Are you okay?" Lara asked, lifting her head from Tara's blonde head.

"Yeah." Buffy shrugged. "You?" She asked as she reached across to touch the brunette.

"No, but I'll live." She sighed ruefully.

Buffy gently ran her fingers through the edges of Lara's hair, before leaning in and kissing a tear stained cheek. "Do you need anything?" She asked softly, not moving far from the other woman.

"I don't know – you, Tara, maybe – I don't know." She growled, standing up in frustration. "What where the messages again."

Tara sniffed, "M-m-maj-m-maj…"

"Hey, it's okay." Buffy slid beside the other blonde.

"Oh god Tara I'm sorry." Lara blushed kneeling before her cousin.

"Major John Croft; Lara – a mirror will reveal all; and they won't go near the light any light." Tara breathed out softly.

Lara leaned forward, pressing her lips to Tara's forehead tenderly. "Thank-you."

"Let's break it down – easiest first." Buffy began firmly. "They won't go near the light – any light. That's gotta be about these shadow vamps, when they're in the light they can be killed."

"Just like a normal vampire." Lara agreed, pacing slightly.

"But you can shot 'em – guns don't kill vamps, and sunlight obviously no effect." Buffy countered.

"No – Gregory's gun uses bullets laced with silver, and a wooden core, mine had no effect." Lara answered quickly.

"Cool." Buffy grinned at the thought of multi-slaying bullets. "Hold on – when they're shadowy, they're pretty invulnerable…"

"…And invisible when you pushed it into complete darkness." Lara interrupted quickly, remembering the previous night when Buffy's stake had passed through nothing during the fight. "Fuck – that doesn't make sense."

"Y-yes it d-does." Tara stammered weakly, quickly hiding behind her hair as the two women turned towards her.

"What do you mean?" Buffy and Lara encouraged together.

"The l-light k-k-kills s-sh-shadows, the d-darkn-ness h-hides them, in b-between t-they're in-inv-inv-i-i…c-can't b-be killed." Tara blushed deeply.

"Well that solves that." Buffy squeezed Tara's shoulder in a gesture of comfort and support.

"Yeah – next two don't make much sense." Lara huffed, grinning at her cousin with pride at her quick mind. "Did Gregory say anything else?"

Tara shook her head, blushing under their gaze. "N-no."

"Damn – does Major John Croft mean anything to you?" Buffy sighed in annoyance.

"No." Lara said with a frustrated huff. "No one in the family has joined the military in decades."

"Shit – what about: a mirror will reveal all?" Buffy quickly moved onto the third puzzle.

"Noth…wait, Gregory left me a message – I couldn't decipher it." She dragged a worn piece of paper from her back pocket. "Hello Lara, then gibberish – you got a hand mirror or something."

"Yep." Buffy disappeared into the bedroom, quickly returning with a small make-up case.

Lara pressed the paper to the case's tiny mirror – her mouth working as she tried to work out the riddle.

"Any luck?" Buffy asked gently, when Lara let out a frustrated growl.

"Yeah, but it doesn't make any sense." She spat almost angrily.


"And Kayne shall rise again." Lara shrugged.

Buffy suddenly hung her heads in her hands in defeat. "Do you know what this means? Books – old, dusty, boring books, the bane of a slayer's life."

The other women shared a confused look at the slayer's outburst. "Look I've got to go to work – the pair of you go to the nearest occult shop and buy books on prophecy and legends, and clothes…oh and food – I so don't have enough to feed you all."

The small blonde started to move quickly.

"You want us to stay?" Lara blurted in surprise.

"You don't want to?" Buffy's widened slightly fearfully.

"Er…erm…we…" Lara blushed under the pleading hazel orbs. "Yes."

Buffy fear evaporated as a huge smile spread across her face. "Really?"

"Yes." Lara stated again more firmly, matching the wide grin on the smaller woman. "One condition though."

"What?" Buffy eyes narrowed evilly.

"A date." Lara stood over the slayer, nipping teasingly at her lips.

"Okay – but you're going to have to make it up to me." Buffy grinned happily, treating the woman to a long hard kiss.

The Magic Hat, Central LA – Same day

"What about this one?" Lara called as she flicked through another heavy tome.

"I-it's a s-spellb-book." Tara frowned when she saw the title of the large, awkwardly shaped book.

"I know." Lara grumbled, rolling her eyes. "I meant for you."

"M-m-me." Tara's blue glowed with equal parts happiness and embarrassment.

"Yes you." The Englishwoman grinned happily. "You said you were a witch – don't you need potions, books and things."

Tara nodded.

"We'll you haven't got any have you?" Tara shook her, unable look her cousin in the eye as emotions danced erratically across her face. "Well go spoil yourself – get want you want, anything you want."

"A-a-a-are y-y-you s-s-sure?" Tara asked in a daze, a morning filled with gifts and laughter was threatening to overwhelm the shy young woman. "B-but w-what a-ab-bout t-the v-v-vamp-pires?"

"We have plenty – now go chose." Lara shooed the blonde.

"I-it's t-to-too m-much." She stuttered faintly.

"It's not." Lara disagreed softly, raising her cousin's chin slightly to look into her eyes. "I…no, our family has money – a lot of money, and I know its not much help or comfort but use get a little joy out of it – you deserve it."

"T-th-tha-t-thank-y-you." Tara hiccupped through the tears that fell down her cheeks.

"Don't thank me." The other woman grinned weakly. "Now go – spend."

Over the next hour, Lara watched Tara shuffle around the dusty magic shop – at first the blonde was afraid to touch anything, her hand hovering over items as if they would bite, then small items – cheap or carefully measured, would make it to the counter. The owner, quickly recognised someone with knowledge and was soon hovering over the blonde, encouraging her and when Lara joined in Tara's resolve slowly crumbled.

"W-where are y-you going f-for your d-date?" Tara giggled as she placed yet another strangely coloured packet on the already precariously balance items.

"Don't know – dinner, dancing maybe." Lara shrugged.

"How v-very r-romantic." She teased back.

"I'll have you know I'm very romantic." She pouted, grinning internally as she noticed that Tara's stammer becoming less prominent as the day wore on.

"R-really, dinner and d-dancing – it'll be M-McDonalds and a D-disco Dave's." Tara giggled as Lara made an exaggerated wounded gesture.

"I'd never take a women there – I'm a fish 'n' chip supper followed by down the local for sawdust and Phil Collins impersonator kinda girl." Lara said with a melodramatic haughtiness.

"Y-you must h-have them b-begging." The blonde bumped the taller woman.

"I have my ways." The Englishwoman grinned evilly.

"Oh r-really – a s-silver t-tongue."

"Nope magic fingers." Tara's eyes widened as her cousin lunged at her tickling her mercilessly.

"St…stop…no…no…" She giggled and hiccupped breathlessly, trying to retaliate against the taller woman, but the agile form was just out of reach.

"Ahem." A voice coughed politely, crashing into the two girls play like a cold shower.

"Sorry." They both mumbled, through deep blushes.

"Don't worry." The shop owner smiled kindly at the pair, waving of their apologies. "Its just a gotta close the store – and ya kinda scaring the stiffs." He chuckled slightly, pointing to an older couple that were actively not staring at the two women.


"Please, we're an alternative religion shop, what did they expect – a gathering of the GOP tight ass society." The older couple quickly shuffled as the man's voice echoed around the store, some of the store's remaining browsers chuckled at his words, causing the couple the all but run from the store.

The shop owner beamed happily. "Can I say you two make a lovely couple?"

"Oh w-were n-not a c-c-couple." They stammered together.

He looked crestfallen, "you're sure?"

They nodded with almost identical expressions on their faces, "we're family." Lara added apologetically.

"I've got this really cute handfastening ceremony, it would've been so perfect." The man sighed heavily, "oh well – let's get your stuff packed."

Lara held the blonde back for a moment – she flexed her hands nervously before asking, "are you okay with me being gay?"

Blushing Tara nodded, "I'm g-gay t-too."

"Oh." Lara squeaked. "So I guess you're okay with it."

"A-are y-you okay w-with me b-being a w-witch?"

"Yeah – it's pretty cool." Lara offered the blonde her arm, before whispering conspiratorially, "Do you recon he'll know any good places to take Buffy?"

Tara nodded enthusiastically – that much she was sure was a given.

Buffy's Apartment – just past midnight

The wall seemed to shudder slightly as the two collided with it heavily – a groan escaped Buffy's lips as the move caused her and Lara break apart.

"I want you." Lara growled her dark eyes bright with lust – her breath coming in heavy pants as she pressed the smaller form against the wall.

"B-bed now." Buffy whimpered, her legs wrapping around Lara's slender waist pulling the brunette deeper into her body.

"Keys." Lara moaned, her mind filled with images of dark rooms and pulsing lights and a slender body moving against hers sparking rivers of passion deep within her.

"Back pocket." Buffy gasped as slender hands cupped her ass – hungrily she kissed her dark eyed lover, her hands moving inside her jacket and under clothes, stroking and teasing the firm, generous chest that lay beneath.

"Oh fuck!" Lara half gasped, half moaned as she felt her lover's small hands dance across the sensitive tips of her breast.

Buffy kissed the neck that was suddenly exposed to her.

Keys jangled – Lara pressed herself deeper into the wriggling slayer, her mind barely aware of anything but that small, firm body that was filling her entire universe.

"Thank…" Buffy's mouth reclaimed Lara's as the door finally popped open, neither aware of the dozing blonde on the couch as they stumbled towards the bedroom.

They tore at each other's clothes, twisted and turning on the bed.

Buffy let out an primal growl as her mouth descended to Lara's exposed breasts – her lover pulling her into the soft flesh as the blonde tore all but ripped the brunette's jeans from her body.

"Oh god." She moaned, her enhanced senses could smell Lara's arousal, hear her heart pounding in her chest; feel the heat of skin burning with desire against her own.

Their now naked bodies joined together – their centres touched.

They moaned as they rocked together.

Passion building.



They kissed gently in the afterglow of their passion; hands tickled their exposed skin. "My slayer." Lara whispered as she nuzzled Buffy's neck, nipping at the soft sensitive skin.

"My tomb raider." Buffy growled, flipping the older, taller women onto her back.

Lips brushed hers, before skipping lightly along her skin – her neck, her chest, her stomach – never lingering long, the kisses where almost ethereal in their touch.

Cool air touched her burning centre – a mouth claimed her.

Warehouse, near the E-Street Diner – Next Morning

She stretched lazily feeling the shadows that danced around twist and turn to her every thought, she giggled and hummed to herself as she twirled in the small warehouse's permanent twilight.

"Milady." A voice rasped.

"Yes." She answered absently, tracing her healed skin as she pirouetted into the few columns of light that were dotted throughout the room.

"We have found the survivor."

"What does one girl matter – Kayne will be returned to us soon, that is all that matters." The female demon shrugged unconcerned.

"She is a Croft."

"Do not speak that name." She hissed as she pounced on the speaker – her face was twisted with rage, her smooth features destroyed as her demon was unleashed.

"There is another." The voice whimpered fearfully.

"Two of the murderers? Two blasphemers?" Her eyes blazed a bright red, their depths twisting with a hateful fire.

"Y-y-yes." The other demon stuttered – trying to back away from the raging form in front of him.

"Bring them to me." She hissed – her body shuddering and the shadows snapping around her as she tried to control the fury within.

Buffy's Apartment – Same time

Buffy felt a tremor of excitement run along her spine a she watched her girlfriend sleep, gently brushing back loose locks of her dark brown hair to fully reveal her beautiful face. Her fingertips traced well defined features, skirting the full lips and defined cheeks with the lightest of touches, so as not to disturbing the sleeping woman. Buffy marvelled at how different Lara looked in sleep, her face was so relaxed and innocent – all the darkness that the slayer had seen beneath the surface was lost, and just the beautiful young woman remained.

"Hiya." Buffy whispered through a blissful smile as dark brown eyes flickered open.

"Ummm…morning." Lara yawned happily, stretching and snuggling against the smaller body she cradled in her arms.

"Good morning?" Buffy asked with a sigh, as she turned in the arms that held – letting the taller woman spoon her.

"Great morning." Lara whispered tenderly kissing the silken blonde hair.

"Ummm." Buffy agreed as she kissed the brunette fingers. "Like waking up like this."

"Really." Lara asked in surprise.

"Yep." Buffy said with a blissful grin – turning to kiss the Englishwoman. "You?"

"I don't know – I'm not normally like this." Lara admitted guiltily.

"Love 'em and leave 'em?" The slayer asked warily.

Lara nodded, suddenly pulling the blonde tightly against her body. "But not with you."

Buffy moaned as her lover claimed her lips in a deep, soft kiss.

"I've never had a proper girlfriend before…" Lara trailed off awkwardly.

"Neither have I, but I'd like that." The blonde said quickly with a weak, hopeful grin."


"To be your girlfriend…your lover…." The slayer answered cautiously, her fingers tracing nervously along Lara's skin.

"Me to." Buffy squeaked happily at the Englishwoman's words, capturing her lips in a deep almost loving kiss.

They could both feel the heat growing between them as the kiss deepened, and fingers began to caress and tease each other.

A gentle knocking on the broke into their growing arousal, they parted gasping for breath as lust buzzed deep within their bodies.

"A-are y-you a-awake?" Tara's muffled cry came from the living room.

"Yes." They both growled in frustration – the door rattled slightly. "One sec." Buffy called, scrambling out of bed and grabbing two long t-shirts before returning to the bed.

The two women kissed deeply once more before shouting, "come in!"

"G-g-good m-m-morning." Tara blushed as she saw the two cuddling, semi-dressed women on the bed.

"Hiya." Buffy greeted with a delighted giggle, as she saw the toast and tea the other blonde was carrying – Lara waved as she sipped at the steaming drink.

The slayer leaned back against the brunette feeding her a small corner of toast – her fingers lingered as Lara's full lips caressed them.

"Do you want some?" Buffy asked as she pulled herself away from her lover's deep, dark eyes.

"I've e-eaten." A small half smile forming on her lips as she watched Buffy hurriedly munch on her breakfast.

"Cool – so today…research." Buffy's mouth curled at the thought.

Tara nodded, "w-we g-got a f-few b-books y-yesterday…"

"…Plus the web." Lara mumbled through of mouth full of breakfast. "Do you have to work?"

"Nope – a day of research with my girl and her family." Buffy shook her head emphatically.

Lara smiled sweetly at 'my girl.' "Well how about I take us all out for dinner tonight as a price for all your hard work."

Buffy's eyes perked up immediately, "perhaps we can go back to that club – see if we can a cutie for Tara."

"Perfect." Lara drawled with a wicked grin as her cousin turned a deep shade of red.

"N-n-n-n-n…" Tara stammered uncontrollably with embarrassment.

"That's settled then – to the books." Buffy cried.

Buffy's Apartment – late morning, same day

The blonde slayer growled in frustration; throwing her mobile onto the apartment's scruffy sofa in disgust. "Marcia didn't turn up for work – I gotta go cover her shift."

"For how long?" Lara pouted.

Buffy kissed the full lips lightly. "Not long – we're still be okay for dinner and dancing."

"W-wonderful." Tara stammered sarcastically.

"You mock now, but you thank me later." The slayer admonished jokily. "So what we got?"

"Not much." Lara sighed. "Kayne's hardly mentioned on the web, a few vague references to a lord of shadows but that's it."

"Tara?" Buffy sighed fatalistically.

"T-There's a l-l-little m-more." Tara's voice was only slightly more upbeat than her cousin's. "A p-powerful v-vampire, w-who c-c-could c-control s-shadows – b-but w-was k-killed in the early 18th Century."

"Fuck – can't they ever stay dead." Buffy spat angrily as images of the Master filled her mind, "do we know who killed him?"

"Y-yes." Tara stammered meekly, backing away slightly from the slayer's anger. "M-Major J-J-John C-C-Croft."

"And tips as to how?" Buffy asked – letting out a deep breath in an attempt to release her anger, throwing Tara an apologetic smile.

"N-no." Tara shook her head.

"We need to find out about this guy – look I'm going go, I'll see you later." She leaned into kiss her girlfriend – before squeezing Tara's shoulder.

Buffy's Apartment – late afternoon, same day

The slayer hummed happily to herself as she approached her apartment, after a light day at work her mind was filled with plans for the evening. Images of a dark room filled her mind, she could almost feel the music pulsing in her veins as she moved the soft, supple body of lover, she shuddered with delight eat rising in her centre.

She could feel the sly, almost seductive smile spread across her face.

She was looking forward to the evening, and she was already planning a little matchmaking for her blonde Wiccan friend.

As she approached her door popped open with a shuddering creek, and a sickening feeling opened in the pit of her stomach.

"Tara! Lara!" She shouted, pushing the door open – her hand automatically pulling a stake from her bag.

The apartment showed signs of a desperate struggle – furniture had been destroyed whilst torn clothes and paper littered the small spaces, and her enhanced senses picked up the smell of blood and gunpowder.

"Tara! Lara!" Please god be here! Her mind screamed.

A familiar feeling tickled the bottom of her spine, something between danger and death – her stake dug into dead flesh as she reacted to the threat.

The shadow hissed – its fist slamming the slayer into the wall.

The demon struck again, the demon's massive strength driving the breath from her body and darkness to the slayer's eyes - Buffy's head rang and the world spun itself into a torrid blur as pain enveloped her.

The Shadow Vampire crossed briefly into the light.

"Marcia." Buffy groaned in surprise instantly recognising the missing waitress.

The demon hissed again, casually picking up the slayer as if she weighed nothing – and she could smell the dank smell of death on the demon's breath as its fangs hovered over her throat.

With a bellow Buffy kicked against the wall and into the solid body in front of her – both of them stumbled backwards as her slayer-enhanced momentum drove them backwards.

Buffy twisted as they fell, landing half in half out a shaft of light.

"Where are they?" She barked, her fist striking the demon's face.

The shadow vampire laughed in response - bones crunched under the onslaught of blows.

"Where are they?" Buffy asked again and again – it began to choke on its own blood.

Buffy ripped the cross from her neck, forcing into the demon's broken mouth. "Where are they?"

Warehouse, near the E-Street diner – short time later

The beautiful brunette lay stretched out on the dirty floor – her perfect body was naked and covered in symbols painted in blood, glowing in the reflected light of a hundred tiny candles.

"You are very beautiful." A voice hissed against the darkness.

Lara whimpered against the foul tasting gag that filled her mouth as the twisted face of a vampire filled her world. A clawed hand traced itself along her form – her neck, her breasts, her stomach and finally brushing angst her centre. "But evil comes in so many forms."

"You disgust me – your vile, evil tainted line." A foot slammed into her head, and only the tight bindings that confined her kept her from flying across the building. "Your kind stole him from me – from the world."

The demon's voice suddenly softened, filled with happiness. "But he's coming back to us – Kayne shall rise again – and the first thing he tastes will be your sweet, innocent little witch."

"Do you think she's taste nice?" The demon's face hovered above her again. "I think so – but what about you. Your useless, no power, no magic – a pointless meal in an attractive wrapper."

The demon straddled her and a hot sticking liquid covered her face and chest – its vile smell caused her stomach to turn and her lungs strain for breath. "I think I'm going to let my men enjoy you – take pleasure in you, then I'm going to drain you – take you to the point of death, but I won't make you one of us. No you'll be a ghoul, our servant – a thing for our pleasure. You'll feel your soul die little by little each and every day."

The demon chuckled.

She clapped.

She clapped again.

As she turned the room exploded into searing balls of light.

A fist slammed into the demon's stomach and she flew through the air and into a burning flare.

"Oh god Lara!" Buffy's voice whimpered, as she scrabbled to free her lover – desperately trying to ignore the bruises and marks that lined the naked skin. "It's going to be okay – Tara help me."

The slayer's senses exploded again – knocking Tara aside she dove sideways as a heavy sabre sliced through the air.

"Whore – Bitch." The demon hissed, lashing out at the diving slayer.

The sword glinted in the searing light of the flares – the demon herself was covered in black stains as her skin bubbled and burned.

Buffy jinked and leaped, frantically trying to avoid the slashing blade – her small collection of stakes useless against the sharp, vicious weapon.

Slowly she was forced towards a wall. "I'm not going to kill you slayer – not yet, first I'm going to let you watch while I tear the whores apart with this blade – then I'm going slowly eat you alive, you'll live long enough to…"

"Thicken." Tara's voice filled the warehouse and suddenly the air shuddered around the demon – she struggled.

Her eyes widened as she realised she couldn't move.

"No, no, no!" She screamed as the slayer ripped the blade from her hands.

Buffy buried the blade deep into the demon's stomach, breaking the spell and forcing the demon to her knees – the blonde raised the blade high above her head.

Blood trickled from the demon's eyes and mouth, as she caught Buffy's eyes.

"He rises!" She chuckled as the blade fell.

The Hellmouth, Sunnydale – Same time

The blind monks bowed and chanted as the Hellmouth hissed around them – lightning burst from the pit, the air pulsed with magic and the ground shook beneath.

Shadows began to twist, merging in a pulsating ball that hovered above the Hellmouth.

They began to writhe as if consumed by rage and pain – contracting to form the shape of a man, whilst all around the Hellmouth screamed consuming the air with wave after wave flame.

The cavern exploded.

And only two things remained – one a dark haired, dark skinned woman who clapped silently with delight. The other was the huddled form of a naked man.

He looked up slowly, his black eyes glowing with power and his forked tongue rapidly tasting the air – a slow, evil grin spreading across his face.

To Be Continued

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