❯ Fratello – Chapter 4

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Fratello

Part Four

Sunnydale,
Evening.

Spike had not been planning to have the night of his unlife.

He had been planning to stay in with Drusilla and watch the telly, sipping on a warm mug of blood. Everyone knew that Halloween was a quiet night for the undead and demonic, so he planned to cuddle up with his Dru and watch ‘It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown’ which gave her the giggles, for some reason.

But the minions that he had sent out for some take-away came back with some interesting news. There was weird magic in the air, causing people to become the costumes they were wearing.

Spike thought about going out for a look-see, but the idea of going up against magical cops, cowboys, monsters and demons that didn’t follow the normal rules didn’t have much appeal. He had his Dru and blood to drink, why mess with that?

It wasn’t until Dalton came in and told him that the Slayer had been affected by the spell that his interest was grabbed. And once he heard from the studious vampire that the bloody Slayer was now a helpless eighteenth century lady, he jumped to his feet and made ready to leave. It was only Dru’s whimpering that caused him to pause.

He knew that Dru was a few quarts short of a keg, but he also knew that her occasional feelings and visions had a disturbing tendency to become true. That was one of the reasons the Poofer had turned her. . . that and that he was a sadistic bastard who enjoyed torturing the innocent girl Dru had once been.

What was different now was that Dru was muttering something in what he recognized was Italian. He knew enough of the language to buy a pack of cigs, but not much beyond that.

Kneeling down in front of her, he gently shook her. « Ducks, what’s wrong? What are you Seeing? »

The dark haired vampire’s eyes slowly focused on him, and Spike could see the fear pooling in them. « The two faced man is angry, a dark man was playing with his toys and he is not pleased. »

Spike sighed to himself. The bad part of Drusilla’s Gift was twofold. There was a lot of dross he had to go through to find the gold nuggets of information that Dru’s visions produced. That and the fact that Dru never gave a straight answer regarding her visions. At least this wasn’t as bad as the time that the cheese man told her that Prague was a nice place to visit in the spring.

« Angry he is, the glorious one wants to tear down the pretty house of cards, and the two faced man wants to stop her. »

Drusilla looked sharply at Spike, the insanity clearing for a moment. « Death has a sibling, they walk tonight, the yin and the yang of this world. Not of the same blood, their love will shake the Earth, for they are of the true power of the Heavens. »

« What power is that, luv? » Spike was getting a little concerned. The clearer the description from Dru about her visions, the more likely they were to come true.

« Chance. . . Luck. . . .Chaos. They are the loose shoe nail that throws the rider from his horse, the plan overheard that loses the battle, the black ice that caused you to slip. » Drusilla giggled and began to rock back and forth.

Spike stood and looked at his sire. She was more batty than a belfry, to be sure, but only a fool disregarded her mad ramblings. It was like playing Russian roulette with a pistol that someone else loaded. It could be empty, it could have one bullet, it could be full. But going against a True Vision, which this may or may not be, was a fine way to get your head blown off.

« Dru, the Slayer is out there under this spell. This may be the best chance we get to take her out. »

« And a proper lady she is. Tea and crumpets, needles and thread. Waiting for her White Knight to save her. »

Spike had not made it to Master Vampire status by being foolhardy. Impatience was a problem he had, but generally he knew when he should wait and when he should go charging in. The trick was knowing when was the time. Right now was the chance to bag a third Slayer with hardly any work at all. But if the Chaos his Dru had warned about came to pass, all bets were off.

Looking down at Drusilla, Spike thought of a motto he had seen once on a hat badge once, on a sand colored beret he had seen at a military curio store. He asked the clerk about it, thinking that the badge looked pretty cool.

What he had though was a winged dagger was actually the Sword of Damocles, a sword that had been suspended over someone’s head by a thin thread. The wings were actually flames, as the sword fell from the heavens. Spike never forgot the motto written on a scroll across it.

Who Dares Wins.

« Ducks, I’m going to get some cigs and a pint. I’ll be back in a while. » Bending down, Spike kissed Drusilla on the forehead.

Watching as Spike and a group of minions left the room, leaving only Dalton to care for her, Drusilla began to softly sing.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
to save a wretch like me.
I once was Lost, but now I am Found,
was Blind, but now I See. . .

Now Spike had everything the way it should be. Finding the Slayer had been a bit of work, but now the four vampires he had with him were surrounding the hysterical girl. He had almost not recognized the Slayer, but under the stench of magic he could smell the scent of the vanilla shampoo the girl favored. It was her, all right.

Spike almost felt bad for the bint, but he had learned a long time ago to always take advantage of what dropped into his hands. Once he dealt with her, not only would he get a power boost from the blood, but he would be third in line on the Slayer Killer list, behind only The Master and Kakistos.

« Let her go!!! Don’t hurt her!!! » Some red-headed chit in skimpy clothing screamed at them as she ran up and stopped a few meters away. « Don’t do it!!! »

Spike raised his head from the neck of the sobbing Slayer. Glaring at his minions, he jerked his head toward the red-head and snarled. « There’s your dinner, now shut her up so I can eat. »

Two vampires rushed the red-head and tried to grab her, but their hands actually past *through* the girl. Shocked. they tried again, with the same results. As one turned to the other and began to say « She’s a ghost? », his words were drowned out by a loud stuttering roar. All the vampires were shocked as the first vampire’s head blew apart and then the rest of him turned to dust.

Spinning to the sound of the roar, they could see a man in a suit walking toward them, some kind of futuristic machine gun at his shoulder. As they registered what they were seeing, the gun at the man’s shoulder roared again and the second vampire staggered as his head exploded and his body dusted.

« Kill him! Kill the git! » Spike screamed at his two remaining minions as his arm tightened around the Slayer. He had no illusions as to the likely success of his orders, but it would buy him time to escape with the Slayer.

Just as he was turning to get away from the slaughter, something hit him in the small of the back hard, causing him to stagger and almost fall. Only the fact that he had been turning kept his spine from being snapped in two.

Completing the turn, Spike was shocked to see a young girl in a school uniform in a crouched ready position. From the strength of the hit, Spike had been expecting to see a demon, but this bit looked like she was barely in high school.

« Let go of the girl. » The girl had a faint Italian accent, and for some reason Spike’s blood ran even colder.

« Like Hell!!! » Spike looked around frantically, but all he saw was the red-headed ghost and the guy in the suit. He had slung his machine gun and was now aiming a large pistol at Spike. The minions were nowhere in sight, probably dust now.

« You are in no position to argue, your men are dead and we have you triangulated. » The man’s voice was cold, confident, and had the same Italian accent.

« You make a move and I’ll snap this bint’s neck! Back off!!! » Spike grabbed the Slayer’s chin in one hand and her shoulder with the other. With one hard pull, not only would her neck break, but her head could very probably be torn off her body.

« You kill the girl and you will be dust a moment later. » The man had moved closer, standing a mere three meters away, holding his pistol in a perfect marksman stance.

Spike had been in worst situations before, but he was hard-pressed to come up with one right now. There was a heavily armed marksman in front of him, and an unknown threat behind him. He was holding a hostage, but that was the only thing keeping him in one piece right now. There was cover behind him, but he had to get past the chit.

Thinking furiously, Spike came up with a plan. It had a decent chance of working, but it depended on two factors he had not shown yet.

« Look mate, I just wanted a nibble, but hey, no harm no foul, right? » Spike moved his hands so they were both on the Slayer’s shoulders. « Let’s just call it square and leave it at that? »

The man saw that Spike had moved his hands from the Slayer’s neck and relaxed a fraction, his pistol muzzle dipping the merest bit. That was the mistake Spike had been waiting for.

Pushing as hard as he could, Spike threw the Slayer at the man, who barely had time to yank his pistol out of the way before the girl impacted against him, causing them both to fall to the ground. Spike barely saw this, as he spun and ran full speed toward the girl behind him, intending to run her over and keep going. But to his shock, the girl spun in place and kicked him in the chest, not only halting his forward motion, but throwing him back again.

Spike was barely able to keep his footing when the bit charged him, unleashing a snap kick that nearly took his head off. Dodging with an inch to spare, he responded with a kung fu punch combination that should have reduced her ribs to powder, but the bit slipped right and left, evading the crushing blows as though she could read his moves as soon as he started to move.

Letting his true demonic face show, Spike immediately attacked again with as much speed and strength that he could muster. The girl instantly responded, her punches, kicks and evasions flashing out almost too fast to follow.

As the two combatants were locked in their lethal dance, Spike automatically catalogued the moves in the girl’s fighting style. It looked like a military derivative, with the dodges and evasions from aikido, the kicks from tai kwon do, and the punches and blocks from krav maga and shokotan karate. Spike was dead certain about the last; the bit’s punches had nearly blasted through his blocks, even with vampire strength.

Growing increasingly panicked, Spike unleashed his fastest assault yet, using every bit of speed his undead body could produce. His arms blurring, Spike went through every attack combination in his repertoire, pulling out every trick he could from the styles he had studied, ranging from pencak silat to cockney street fighting.

Finally, the girl’s guard slipped the tiniest bit, and Spike immediately took advantage of it. His left fist brushed past the bit’s rising block and crashed into her right cheek, throwing the girl back ten feet before falling like a sack of potatoes.

Spike spun in place and was ready to run as fast and as far as he could, as long he could get away from that inhuman girl, when he stopped dead in his tracks. The man in the suit had apparently reloaded his machine gun, as it was pointed right at his face. But when the man spoke, it was not toward Spike.

« Henrietta, what was taking you so long? »

« This is the first time I have fought someone was close to my skill level who was not a fratello, » came the soft reply.

Turning so that he could keep an eye on the man, Spike was shocked to see the bit back up and under her own power. The blow he had landed should have crushed half the bones in her skull; instead he saw the merest reddish splotch on her face.

« What the Hell are you people!?!? Spike roared, his unbeating heart constricting in his chest. The blow that had connected would have leveled a mid-level demon. This girl looked like someone had barely tagged her.

« Would you believe we are just tourists here? » The girl asked semi-seriously. Seeing the look of disbelief on the vampire’s face, the girl continued. « We do not know where we are or how we got here. What we do know is that you prey upon the weak and the helpless. You are what we destroy. »

‘They’re bloody anime characters, that’s why she’s so damn fast,’ Spike thought to himself. ‘Must be from some action story. I’ve gotta get the Hell away from them!!!’

« What country are you supposed to be from, anyway? You don’t sound like Yanks. » Spike carefully placed his feet, bracing himself.

« We are from Italia. » Guiseppe might have said more, but Spike suddenly launched himself at him, willing to risk being shot rather than go hand-to-hand again with the girl. Guiseppe, not being caught off-guard again, fired a four round burst into the oncoming vampire’s chest.

Spike fell to the ground in a screaming heap. Or nearly screaming, as the 5.7mm rounds had tumbled and shredded his lungs and ribs. One slug smashed into his spine and cut the spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

After a long moment of strangely burning numbness, Spike felt someone kick him in the side and roll him over on his back, to be greeted by the sight of the two looking down at him.

« You should not have done that, mister vampire. Guiseppe is a very good shot. » The girl looked kind of sad at what had happened. Reaching behind her back, the girl produced a kukri knife, the curved blade three-quarters the size of a normal one, but effective looking none the less.

Dropping to one knee beside the crippled vampire, the girl raised the blade to shoulder height. Fixing her eyes on his, she softly murmured « I’m sorry, » before doing an expert twirling slash at his neck.

William the Bloody ignored the gleaming blade coming toward him. Instead, the last thing he saw before the darkness claimed him was the bright hazel green eyes of his executioner.

Sunnydale High School Library
The Next Day
Early Morning

Xander Harris tried not to be obvious about his watching Dawn Summers, but he had the feeling he was failing miserably. Dawn was doing a superb job of doing the same, however.

After they had taken out Spike the night before, Giles had driven up in his crappy old Citroen car and Willow had explained everything that had happened. Figuring out that their costumes had been involved in the magic that had taken place that night, they decided that further investigation was needed.

Upon arriving at the costume shop, Guiseppe and Henrietta had performed a forced hostile entry with their weapons at the ready. Giles had come in behind them, visibly nervous about the display of firearms by the pair. But it had turned out that the forced entry had been unnecessary.

After a quick search of the deserted sales area of the store, the trio had found their subject in the back stock room. Ethan Rayne had been laying dead on the floor of the stock room, a look of shock and horror etched on his face. The pieces of a bust that Giles had recognized of that of Janus, Roman God of Chaos, was scattered in front of him.

Giles theorized that Rayne had attempted to cast a chaos spell and had invoked the ancient god to power the spell. But for some unknown reason, perhaps the fact that they were on the Hellmouth, the spell had literally blown up in Rayne’s face. It appeared that the spell had gone into effect anyway, as evidenced by the events of the night.

After Giles had finished his search of the stock room for any other dangerous magical artifacts, the trio had returned to Giles’ car, where a nervous ghost and a woozy noblewoman had been waiting for them. Giles had just begun to explain what had happened to Willow when Xander’s watch beeped, signaling that it was now 12:00 AM, midnight.

Giles watched helplessly as the four teens stiffened, shuddered for a moment, and then collapsed to the ground. Xander and Dawn recovered almost immediately, but Willow and Buffy were weakened by what had taken place, and were carried to Giles’ car. Giles and Xander had been occupied with caring for Willow, who was barely conscious, so they did not realize that Dawn picked up and carried her older sister effortlessly to the car.

After taking Buffy and Dawn to their home, and explaining to their frantic mother that they had taken shelter at the school during the ‘disturbances’ that had occurred while the children had been trick-or-treating, Giles, Xander and Willow had helped other school staff round up the various lost and crying elementary school children wandering the streets and reuniting them with their families. After all the children had been accounted for and returned, Giles had dropped off Xander and Willow at their homes to try and get some rest in the few hours left before school started the following day.

Xander had barely enough energy to strip off his suit and carefully hang it up before he collapsed on his bed. His sleep had not been a restful one, as memories that he knew were not his own flooded his dreams that night.

. . .Growing up the younger son of a well-to-do family in Italy. . .

. . .The horror of his young sister and his older brother’s fiancée being killing by a terrorist bombing while he was serving in the Carabinieri. . .

. . .His decision to join SISDE’s anti-terrorist unit. His recruitment into the Social Welfare Agency and the Section Two counter-terror unit. . .

. . .His revulsion upon hearing of the cyborg project and its subjects. His grudging acceptance of the goals of the project. . .

. . .Looking through the observation window and seeing the mind-numbed little girl in the hospital ward, witness and victim to unspeakable horrors, now a orphaned triple amputee and suicidally depressed. His older brother, now the field commander in Section Two, whispering that he could make it better for the girl. . .

. . .Elsa and Lauro’s deaths, and how Henrietta demonstrated to the two Section One agents who caused them and why. . .

After tossing and turning for a couple of hours, Xander finally gave in to the inevitable and got up to go to school. After staring at the clothes hanging in his closet for a minute, Xander finally selected a dark blue polo shirt and khaki slacks instead of his normal loud shirt and jeans. For some reason, he did not find dressing that way appealing anymore. A light khaki jacket completed the outfit.

Getting to the library early, Xander expected to be there alone, before Giles normally arrived. He was surprised therefore to see Dawn sitting at the big table, carefully flipping through one of Giles’ ancient tomes.

« Good morning, Xander, » the younger girl greeted him absentmindedly. Or it would have been if Xander had not seen Dawn’s eyes carefully watching him from under her bangs. « How are you feeling this morning? »

« Not so great. Didn’t get much sleep, decided to came in and talk with Giles before class. » Xander had sat down in front of her. « How are you feeling, Dawnie? »

« Dawn. Please call me Dawn. » She raised her head up from the book she had been looking at and gazed at him with her hazel green eyes. « I feel rather good, actually. I didn’t need any sleep once I got home, so I read for a while and decided to come to school once the sun rose. » For some reason, Dawn had a faint accent to her speech, barely noticeable to anyone but her family and friends.

« How much do you remember about Henrietta? » Xander dreaded asking this question, but it had to be done.

« Everything. All her training. The missions she was on. Her life at Section Two. » Dawn’s gaze did not waver from Xander. « I don’t remember her life from before she joined Section Two, just the generalities, if that’s what you are asking. »

« Yeah. » Xander felt a bit of relief at that news. The actual memories of the attack on Henrietta’s family were not something he would wish on his worst enemy. « Anything else? »

« You already know about our equipment. » For some reason, the weapons and ammo had remained after the spell had dissipated. Xander had stashed the violin case with the submachine gun and the grenades in a secure place, but Dawn had insisted on keeping her personal weapons the night before, and Xander had not been eager to force the issue with her sister and mother nearby. He kept his set as well, but was only carrying the combat folder knife and a stake right now.

Dawn slowly stood up from the table, revealing what she was wearing. It was not the outfit from the night before, but it came close. She was wearing a white short sleeved blouse that was open at the collar and a skirt that that came to just above her knees. On anyone else the outfit would have looked almost plain, but on Dawn it only served to emphasize the curves on her slender body, as well as make her legs seem almost impossibly long.

Walking around the table, Dawn stopped in front of Xander, who had also come to his feet. « It seems like I kept Henrietta’s physical abilities. Want me to try for another back flip? »

« No!!! » Xander took a giant step back and held his hands up in a warding gesture. « It’s ok, really. »

Dawn gave a half smile that suddenly faded from her face. She took a half step that left her just out of arms reach of Xander. « You’re not. . . frightened of me, are you? Of what I did last night? »

Xander stood his ground, even though his gut was telling him to run far away. « I’m not frightened of you, Dawnie. I’m just afraid that what you might be feeling is not really you. That it’s just remains of the spell. »

*flashback*

« Any questions? »

Both the cyborg girl and the ghost girl shook their heads. Guiseppe had given a quick field brief on vampires to Henrietta, which she had absorbed without comment. He then outlined his plan to rescue the Slayer girl, setting the ghost girl to be the first distraction, himself as the second distraction and the frontal assault, tasked with killing as many vampires as possible, and Henrietta as the flanking attack, tasked with rescuing the girl and then cleaning up whatever was left. Henrietta had been unhappy that she would not be at his side during the attack, but agreed with his plan.

« Miss, take your position please. » The ghost girl nodded again and moved off. She was to run in front of the vampires in 60 seconds, after which Guiseppe would start his own attack.

Checking the P90 to make sure it was fully loaded, he made sure that he had a spare 50 round magazine and a couple of mini-shock grenades in his pockets. Guiseppe looked up to see that Henrietta was still standing in front of him.

« Is there something else, Henrietta? » Guiseppe could see that the cyborg girl was nervous about something.

« I’m sorry, Guiseppe. » The girl took a half step forward. Given her new body and height, Henrietta was almost face-to-face with him. « There is something I must do. »

Moving too fast for him to react, Henrietta leaned forward and kissed Guiseppe on the lips. The kiss lasted for only a few seconds, and was fairly inexperienced, but he could feel the heat and emotion radiating off the girl, as though she was pouring everything she had into it.

« I’m sorry, Guiseppe! I had to do it! » The girl took a step back, fear on her face. « I have had these feelings for as long as I have known you, but they are stronger now. I protect you with my life. I would rather die than let you get hurt! But I can’t tell you that I. . . that I. . . » Tears started to stream down her cheeks.

Guiseppe watched wide-eyed as Henrietta clenched her hands and bowed her head. After a moment she snapped her head up, her blazing green eyes almost glowing in the dark of night.

« I love you, Guiseppe!!! Even if you don’t feel the same toward me, I love you!!! I will love you until the day I die!!! »

With a choked sob, Henrietta pulled herself together. « I have to go, Willow is about to start the distraction. » Spinning around, she disappeared into darkness.

Frozen for a second, Guiseppe moved as he realized that she was right, that that assault was about to start. Bringing the SMG to the ready position, he moved forward.

Softly, so that even he could barely hear it, Guiseppe whispered to himself.

« I love you too, Henrietta. I will love you until the day I die. »

*end flashback*

Dawn took another half step forward. « I told you, don’t call me Dawnie. I’m Dawn Summers. It would do you well to remember that. »

Xander was frozen in place as Dawn stopped right in front of him, just like the night before. « I remember how I felt about you before the spell last night. I remember how Henrietta felt about Guiseppe. And I know how I feel for you now. »

« And? » Xander was barely able to choke the word out.

« I had a massive crush on you before last night. Henrietta loves Guiseppe with all her heart and soul. And now. . . »

« And now you want to spend the rest of your life with him. »

Xander and Dawn whirled around at the sound of the female voice coming from the stacks. Even as they turned, Dawn stepped in front of Xander, getting between him and the voice as Xander’s hand went under his jacket.

« Linked but not joined. Fated but not destined. Two that can act as one. What more can be asked of the gods? » Two cloaked and hooded figures stepped out of the stacks. One was holding a crossbow but was carrying it at a low ready position, not pointed directly at the two teens. The other figure took one more step and then stopped, a few feet from the pair.

« Rejoice, for you have been blessed by the Powers, so that you can do more than you have thought possible. » The leading figure lowered the hood and showed her face.

« Drusilla. » While Xander softly said the name in disbelief, Dawn almost growled it. She took one step forward, her hands flexing in preparation.

« No, no, no, no time for that my dearie. I do not come to harm you, I merely bring news for you. A messenger, if you will. »

« Most messengers don’t bring armed back-up, Drusilla. » Xander placed his hand on Dawn’s shoulder, halting her advance.

« Dalton? He is here to keep certain people from acting precipitously. » Drusilla leaned forward and placed a finger across her lips, looking like she was about to reveal a secret. « Some of your group has been know to act before they think. »

« What do you want, Drusilla? » Dawn’s tone was almost polite, if it was not detracted by the ready stance she had automatically taken.

« I felt it, you know. I felt it when you killed my William. I had warned him that Death was walking the night, but he went out anyway. Now he will be part of the dark forever, my poor Spike, » Drusilla casually stepped over to a chair and sat down, looking like nothing more than a proper Victorian lady.

« But when I was crying alone in my lair, I heard a voice. This was not like the stars that speak to me, it was calm and sure and gave me a warm feeling here. » Drusilla laid her hand upon her chest. « This voice told me that I had a choice to make, and he gave me a vision to show what could happen. »

« I had to decide, did I want to live or die? I saw myself hiding in my lair, slowly starving to death, killed by the Slayer when I finally came out to feed. Or do I let him join part of him to me and help heal my body and mind, and help those who would need it? To help those that would be helping, and guide them on the right path? »

Drusilla tilted her head slightly. « You do not really know what happened last night, the whys and the what-fors of the magic that affected you? » Both Xander and Dawn shook their heads. « Do you know what the greatest power that exist is? »

« I take it it’s not love? » Xander could not help the wisecrack.

« No dear boy. It is not love that caused a comet to hit this world and kill the great lizards. It is not love that that formed the mountains and the seas. Love can drive *people*, but love does not push the boulder off the cliff. »

« The greatest power is Chaos. Chaos causes plants to grow. Chaos causes the rivers to flow. Chaos is in every living and moving thing in this world. Without Chaos, there would be no light, no love, no life. »

« Janus. » It was almost a whisper, but they all heard Dawn speak. « Janus is who spoke to you. »

« Correct, dearie. That nasty man last night called on his power to perform his spell, but he was not pleased by what he intended. That is why he changed what happened, why things are now how they are. »

« You’re saying that these changes are permanent? » Xander could not keep the shock out of his voice.

« Only you two, and it is not what you think. There are two beliefs that he lives by, and that is why you have to make the decision for yourself. »

« Alexander, what is the one gift that the Creator gave Man that no other creature possesses? It is a gift that even the Angels did not receive, one that caused the War in Heaven. »

« Free Will. » Xander didn’t know how but the answer popped into his head. « Man can control who he is and what he can do. »

« Correct! » Drusilla clapped her hands together. « By living within the beliefs of Free Will and Chaos, Janus has given you powers and skills so that you can help others and each other. But you have to decide that you want to do it. Janus is not going to make you do what you do not want to. But he can present you with the choice, and show you what can result because of it. And only the two of you can make this choice, you can not ask others for their help in this decision. »

Drusilla stood up and smoothed the wrinkles from her gown. « Last night Janus showed you how you can help those that can not help themselves. But he also showed you what can happen when people abuse the powers that they do have. Even if it did not happen to you, you have the memories of it. »

« One more thing. The feelings you have now are essentially the same as they were before. The feelings of who you were last night were of those people. The only things that have changed is that you can see what can become, and you may now react somewhat differently because of it. »

Drusilla stepped toward the stacks and the other waiting vampire. « Consider your choices carefully. Right or wrong, yes or no, your actions will always have repercussions. And when you two have made your choices, I will know and find you. I promise no harm will befall you either way. »

« Wait. » Dawn’s voice caused Drusilla to halt in place. « I already know what my decision is. I want to do this. »

Drusilla turned and faced the pair again. « And you, Alexander? Do you already know what you will choose? »

« Yes. » Xander stepped up beside Dawn on her right. « There really was not much of a choice, even if Dawn wasn’t involved. »

Raising a finger, Drusilla focused intently on Xander. « This decision should not be made out of obligation or fear, Alexander. *You* alone have to *want* to do this. »

“I do. I’m in.” Xander looked back at the vampire and spoke with total conviction.

“If you are both agreeing,” Drusilla saw that the two teens nodded in agreement, “Then by the power invested in me by Janus, the Roman God of Chaos and of the Past and Future, I now pronounce you. . .” Drusilla saw the two teens’ eyes get huge, “. . .Champion and Companion.”

Given the face fault that nearly dropped the two teens to the floor, Drusilla could not help but laugh, a silvery giggle that was at odds with her reputation. “Oh you two, you should have seen the looks on your faces!” Drusilla continued to laugh as Xander and Dawn pulled themselves together.

“I will return in a few days time to discuss what needs to be done, but for now tell no one of your powers or our arrangement. They may not understand.” The two teens nodded again in agreement.

Raising her hood again, Drusilla stepped into the stacks, the other vampire following her. « Farewell, brave warriors, » her voice floated out of the stacks as she disappeared into the shadows.

Fratello – Chapter 3