Alternate Universe: Unexpected
Story Title: Miles To Go Before I Sleep

Chapter Title:


King of Anything

Chapter Summary:


Spike asserts his authority as the head of the Scoobies; Buffy, as expected, fights it.


Time line:

April 2011


Click here to view history timeline and key dates.



Music Referenced: King of Anything - Sara Bareilles

Some Screencaps courtesy of Broken Innocence (others from ScreenCap Paradise which is, sadly, no more).

Thanks: To u2fan2005 and epd4 for their suggestions, corrections, and help betaing this chapter. Thanks also to PaganBaby for her review of this chapter and her encouragement, and, last but not least, to Anona for her grammatical and punctuation corrections, wonderful commentary, and final review. Final thanks to Capella42 for her insightful suggestions that made the whole story better. All mistakes are mine because I simply cannot stop fiddling right up to the last moment.
Rating / Warnings:

NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, sex, adult themes, and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY.

Early morning hours next day, Sunday, April 17th, 2011, Gift-less Dimension:


Spike woke in the cold, strong arms of his lover, as he’d done for the last ten years, but this time was different. The dream he’d had of a wild, wanton, passionate Buffy warmed him from the inside out.  She filled his dreams and fantasies often over the years, that wasn’t so unusual, but this dream was so different from the others that it almost frightened him.  She was more than he’d ever before imagined she could be – a dark princess, a passionate lover, an animal.  Was it her proximity that had brought on the crazed and brutal dream of her making love not only to him, but his twin? Was her presence here enough to take him to a place that he had never ventured before?  Spike shuddered at the memory of the dream and stroked his cock – hard again despite the hours of sex he’d had with Riley earlier.


Spike’s mind wandered as his hand fondled and caressed his erection, swirling the slick pearl of pre-cum around the head with his thumb. Riley had been summarily pissed off when Spike got back to base with Buffy the previous day.  There was unveiled jealousy in the red eyes of his childe, his lover, and Spike didn’t like it one bit. He did not belong to Riley; Riley belonged to him.  Spike gave Finn more leeway than most, as long as it was done in private, but that didn’t make him happy about his lover’s tirade …


Yesterday within minutes of returning to base:


“What the hell is going on, Spike?” Riley demanded after Spike ushered him into one of the few private offices that hadn’t been turned into a storage room. Spike closed the door, leaving the Slayer and her daughter in the hall outside. “Where have you been? Who the hell is that out in the hall?” Finn fired off at him angrily, his red, demon eyes flaring brightly. “And what in God’s name happened to your hair!?”


Spike took a deep breath to try and stay calm before answering him. “It’s Buffy and her daughter … not our Buffy, mind you – another one. Just as annoying and bossy, but from a different dimension,” Spike began to explain.


“How … what … when …” Finn stammered in frustration.


“They fell in a portal and ended up 'ere – wasn’t on purpose. She knows where the portal is; we just need to suss out how to get them back through it. It’s over that bloody bug pit at ground zero,” Spike told Riley. “Bob tried to eat them. Reckon he found the Slayer a might too gristly for his liking.”


Riley ignored Spike’s attempt to lighten the mood. “When?” he asked, searching Spike’s face for some hope that his sire hadn’t spent the whole night with … her.


Spike planted his hands on his hips and faced his childe. Finn was upset – ok, he got that, but he really didn’t like the insinuation behind the one-word question. “Yesterday. I found ‘em at the altar and tracked ‘em to the house.”


“And you’ve been with her ever since then?” Riley’s voice rose in pitch until he sounded like a petulant child. “You cut and bleached your hair for her! All this time I was worried about you and you’ve been playing house with her?” Finn shot back with no veil at all to the accusation in his voice.


“OI! Where I go, what I do, and who the bloody hell I do it with are my business,” Spike growled, moving a step closer to him. Riley towered over his sire physically, but still backed up a step when Spike moved in.


Riley swallowed back his anger and jealousy, then asked, “Why are they here?”  The question was full of suspicion. “She’s here for you, isn’t she?”


“Noooo,” Spike droned. “I told ya, they fell in a portal … this ain’t a holiday hotspot or the bloody Dating Game,” Spike retorted sarcastically.


“What are you going to … do with her?”


Spike sucked in an exasperated breath and huffed it out loudly. “Told ya, find a way to get ‘em back through the portal … send ‘em ‘ome.”


“Are you … going with her?”


“Nooo,” Spike spoke slowly, as if Finn didn’t have all his faculties.


“The Reds are in an uproar. It’s because of her, isn’t it?” Riley questioned, eyeing the door as if he could see Buffy and Annie out in the hall.


“Reckon so.”


“Spike! She’s gonna get us killed! Just toss them out of here! When the Reds figure out where she is, they’re gonna launch an all-out assault!” Finn advised adamantly. “If the different clans find a common goal that can motivate them to work together, we’re done for. And I’m thinking a Slayer in the mix is a damn good goal to make them pool their resources.”


Spike’s brow’s shot up in surprise at his childe. “Toss Buffy and the girl out? Kill them then? That’s what you want me t’ do?”


“Yes! She doesn’t belong here! She’s not our responsibility!” Finn began, trying to stay calm, but his emotions got the better of him. His words started coming out fast and hot as his anger and frustration boiled over. “Can’t you remember how she treated us? Both of us! That bitch used us for what she wanted and tossed us away when we weren’t convenient anymore! It was nothing but take, take, take with her! And now what? All’s forgiven? You’re just gonna pick up where you left off, being her pet vampire? Stealing her undies and panting around her like a pathetic fool, waiting for her to toss you a crumb?”


Riley desired her, just as Spike did, but at the same time she was a threat to him. While she was dead, she was a beautiful fantasy for them both; now that she was flesh and bone, in Riley’s eyes, she was a competitor for Spike’s attention. He needed Spike to get rid of her. Then they could settle back into what had become a comfortable routine of strikes and parries between their small group of ‘freedom fighters’ and the hordes of demons that infested Sunnydale. Riley liked comfortable routines. They had been ingrained in him since an early age on his parents’ farm and drilled into every cell in his body in the Army. He abhorred change, and the Slayer being here was sure to bring about change. Riley held no illusions; Buffy was his sire’s one true desire, just as she had been his at one time. If Spike chose her, where would that leave the half-breed vamp? Out in the cold, Riley concluded quickly.


“She’ll ruin everything!” he continued. “She’s here to take what little we have left! It’s her or us, Spike,” Finn told him pleadingly, moving forward one tentative step towards his sire. “You have to give her to the Reds … it’s the only way to keep the community safe. It’s for the greater good!”


When Finn got within arm’s reach, Spike swung an iron fist at his face. The blond’s knuckles battered Finn’s jaw, rocking the larger demon’s head to the side and sending a geyser of blood spraying across the room and painting the far wall with a splattering of crimson. Finn dropped down to one knee as his head spun from the impact. He wiped at the blood that covered his mouth and closed his eyes to try and get the floor to stop tilting.


Spike bent over him, his mouth right next to his childe’s ear. Spike’s voice was a threatening growl that rumbled from deep within him. “Nothing happens to those girls. Nothing! I’m in bloody charge here, not you. Never forget who made you. You belong to me. I do not belong to you. Am I makin’ myself clear?”


Riley nodded as he licked the blood off his lips, his eyes glued down on the floor.


Spike stood back up and ran a hand through his curls then began stalking away from his childe. Spike’s anger seethed just below the surface; it was starting to get the better of him. He had to get away from Finn before he did something rash that he couldn’t undo.


“She’ll be the end of you.” Riley’s voice quavered, it was barely a whisper.


“Then so be it,” Spike replied, his voice just as low but determined, steadfast. He opened the door and stepped out, leaving Riley alone in the empty office.




Spike didn’t love Finn; in fact, as Buffy herself pointed out, he hated him. But that didn’t matter – Spike wasn’t looking for someone to love. His heart belonged to one person and that person was gone, or had been until the previous day.  Spike used Riley for what he needed – a strong fighter, someone to help protect Dawn and the others, a second in command whom he could count on to follow his orders to the letter without argument or question, and, truth be told, a whipping boy.  Just as he’d used Harmony to strike out against all of womankind after Dru left him broken and alone in the world, he used Riley the same way since Buffy ‘left’.  There was no romance or tenderness in their relationship; it certainly wasn’t about love – a lot of it was about pain. How much Spike could inflict and how much Riley could take, and, when Spike chose, vice versa.


Pain was the thing that reminded Spike that he was alive … or undead, at any rate. Physical pain took his mind off the guilt, off the emotional scars that surrounded his heart, off his inability to save Buffy.  Even ten years later, those wounds burnt inside him as if the red-hot brand of failure had just been pressed against his unbeating heart. It seared him every day with the knowledge that, when she needed him most, he’d let her down.  He’d killed two Slayers in his unlife, defeated untold vamps and demons over the last century, but one little Reptilian Demon bested him without breaking a proverbial sweat. Pathetic.


Spike had let himself get caught up in the joy of Buffy for a few wondrous hours the previous day, but Riley had been right about one thing – she couldn’t stay.  And for that truth, Riley paid dearly last night.  Spike took the frustration, anger, and guilt that had built up over the years and aimed it directly at his whipping boy.  Somehow it became Riley’s fault that she had come back to tear the painful scabs off his wounded heart, and it was his fault that she couldn’t stay to help heal them again. 


Spike realized quickly he had to close down emotionally, keep the Slayer at arm’s length. He needed to treat her with the cool detachment he used with the other fighters under his command. He couldn’t let his heart fall into that trap again. He honestly wasn’t sure how many times it could be ripped apart, torn from his chest, and he’d still survive. He needed to protect himself, shield his heart; he still had a mission to do: keep Dawn safe. He’d given his word to a lady.


He would never toss Buffy out on her own into a world in which she had no capacity to survive, but he vowed that he would get her back to her home – soon. He wasn’t sure how long he could keep his heart in the deep freeze and the fluttering in his chest from returning. But, he knew, if he let it warm to her again, it would only bleed a deeper shade of misery when she inevitably left and went back to her fairy tale life – a life that Spike could only touch in his dreams now and for the rest of eternity.


Now, as Spike lay in the bed next to Riley, he closed his eyes and tried to fall back into that dream he’d been in before. He longed to feel the water washing over him, to feel Buffy’s flesh hot against his; he tried to hear that scream of rapture even as he tugged her hair violently and rode her to oblivion. Spike’s hips jerked and he pumped his cock faster and harder, squeezing painfully around his girth just as Buffy had done. Spike’s growl rumbled through his body as his cum shot up, covering his flat, hard stomach and chest in powerful bursts of desire.


“Buffy…love you so bloody much,” he moaned to his dream lover as he found his release, his eyes still clamped shut as a vision of her as a beautiful mermaid swam through his mind.




Buffy opened her eyes and her gaze was drawn immediately towards the quilt that hung over their door. Her eyes met Spike’s across the short distance, as if her gaze had been pulled by a magnet directly to his. He was leaning against the wall just inside the quilted entryway, watching her as she slept. She’d actually been only half-asleep, still caught up in the pleasure of the erotic dream she’d had. She’d been trying to lure her mind back there, but wasn’t having any luck. Buffy suddenly realized that her hand was in a very NC-17 place under the soft fabric of her panties and she jerked her hand away from her wet mound, still keeping her eyes locked on Spike’s. Even with the sheet covering her, she knew it was quite evident what she’d been doing in her sleep.


She expected a smirk, or for him to run his tongue across his teeth, a lewd remark perhaps or a cocked brow at the very least. He did none of those things. His expression was unreadable – and she knew all of Spike’s expressions, but this was something she wasn’t sure she’d seen before. Guarded, veiled – whatever he was thinking wasn’t reflected in his eyes or his body language. Then it dawned on her … cold. His expression was cold indifference.


“Spike…” Buffy started softly, sitting up. She needed to find out what had changed since the previous day.


Spike pushed off the wall at his back and turned to leave. “Patrol leaves in an hour. If you want t’ play ‘Slayer’ and go, ya better get a move on,” he offered flatly over his shoulder. Then he pushed the quilt back and stepped out into the harsh white light of the hallway and he was gone.


Buffy shivered. Not from the temperature in the room, which was actually warm, but from the deep freeze he was directing at her.  What had made him change so drastically in such a short time? Yesterday at the house on Revello and then later on the trip to the vineyard he was anything but indifferent. He cried, he laughed, he teased, he quipped, he made fun of her; he was even angry for a time as he told her to trust no one – heck, at first he’d even tried to kill her – but there was no indifference.


Buffy looked at the clock. 11:01am it read. They’d slept past breakfast by a long shot. Buffy pulled on her jeans and shoes and woke Annie and they went out in search of the bathroom and canned green beans.


“Can I go with you?” Annie asked as they headed towards the cafeteria.


“You are with me,” Buffy pointed out.


“No, I mean later, on patrol,” Annie clarified.


“No. You’re too young; it’s too dangerous. You just stay here and wait for me.”


“But, Mom … I don’t like it here. I don’t want to stay here alone. I want to stay with you,” Annie pleaded.


“No. End of discussion,” Buffy stated flatly as they entered the large pantry that held the canned goods.


In the back of the pantry, pushed far to the back of the bottom shelf, Annie found a can of yams – waaay better than green beans. Now all they needed was a can opener.  Out in the cafeteria Buffy literally ran into Riley as she came out of the storeroom.


“Oh! Sorry!” Buffy apologized before she'd even realized who she bumped into.  Wow, had he always been that tall or had he actually grown as a vampire?


Riley only looked at her with disdain then turned to continue his original trek. Buffy thought it looked like he was limping slightly, but didn’t dwell on it.


“Ummm … could you tell me where the can openers are?” Buffy asked, ignoring his obvious displeasure with her, and holding up the cans; one of yams and and one of green beans.


Riley stopped, turned around sharply, and glared at her a moment. After apparently coming to some decision, he took one long stride back towards them, grabbing first one, then the other can from her hands, bringing up his demon and swiftly opening both cans for her.


He handed them back without a word, turning on his heel and moving away again. He was definitely limping, and she noticed he was holding one side of his ribcage, as if he had bruised or cracked ribs.


“Aren’t you handy? Kinda like a Swiss Army knife on legs,” Buffy muttered, rolling her eyes.


She sat the cans down on the closest table and went in search of a fork or spoon or something. By the time she got back, Annie had lost patience as was just picking up one of the soft yams from the can with her fingers and dangling it over her mouth.  At the same time, Spike strode into the cafeteria in search of Riley, who had disappeared on him. He was supposed to be checking with the kitchen manger to see if there were any special requests for them to try and retrieve from the ship's hold. How that could take fifteen minutes, Spike didn’t know.


Just before Annie dropped the yam into her mouth, Spike reached the table where she and Buffy were sitting. In that instant, an unusual smell met his nostrils.  He looked at the girl and the can she was eating from, and lashed out immediately, knocking the can and the vegetable in her hand to the floor.


“Hey!” Buffy yelled as Annie backed up in fear and surprise. The girl fell over backwards as she tried to slide her chair away faster than its feet would go on the tile floor.


“What the hell, Spike?” Buffy demanded as she moved over to help her daughter up and make sure she was alright.


“It’s spoiled, Slayer! Botulism,” Spike explained. “Can’t you see the bloody bottom bulged out? Ain’t you got one lick a sense between them pretty little ears?”


Buffy looked at the empty can that now lay on the floor with wide eyes. The bottom was bulged out; it never even occurred to her. She’d heard of that before, but had never seen it, not once in her whole life.


“Oh, God …” Buffy muttered looking at Annie. “Did you eat any of it?”


Annie shook her head ‘no’ as she looked from the mess on the floor to Spike and then to her mother. “What is it?”


“Poison’s what it is. A bloody bacteria that’d ruin your day, no doubt – someone like you, platelet size, might kill ya’,” Spike explained tersely.


Annie made an ‘eeek’ face and assured her mom, “I didn’t eat any.”


“Riley…” Buffy growled as she looked around in the direction he went.


“He didn’t put it in there, Slayer – just old, spoilt rations,” Spike pointed out.


“No, but he opened the can for me. He would’ve known it was in there, just like you did,” Buffy asserted as she started towards the door he went through.


Spike caught her before she was halfway there. “Not your place, Slayer,” he informed her flatly.


“What?! Are you kidding me? It’s my daughter he almost killed! I think that makes it my place to kick his glowy, red ass!” Buffy argued.


Spike shook his head sternly. “You may be used t’ being in charge where you come from, but you ain’t here – I am. Go sit the hell down and eat. We leave in thirty minutes, get your gear and be ready. Don’t have any flak jackets that’ll fit the girl, she’ll just have to wear the smallest one we got.”


“What? Annie’s not coming on a patrol down to the docks and into a fight with who-knows-what!” Buffy contended.


Spike raised his brows. “Where do you suppose she’s gonna stay, then?”


“Here – in our room …”


“Ya know, you aren’t the brightest bloody bulb in the box, are ya, Slayer? Do the words ‘trust no one’ have any meanin’ to you at all? There’re near-abouts thirty people down here, I reckon. I don’t pretend t’ know most of ‘em, don’t care to.  Do you figure they all survived and made it to us due to their sparklin’ personalities and kind hearts?” Spike queried harshly. “You gonna leave your little girl here alone with ‘em? You might not’ve noticed, but there ain’t a lock on your door, Slayer.”


“Oh, I noticed, Spike,” Buffy spat back at him. “You think she’d be safer facing red-eyed demons and giant bats than staying here?” Buffy questioned angrily.


“She’ll be with five of the strongest fighters there are … plus you,” he told her, adding the last words as if they were an afterthought. “Here, she’ll be alone. You do the bloody math,” Spike asserted, turning on his heel and heading away, following Riley’s scent towards the door to the kitchen.


Buffy huffed and crossed her arms over her chest, stomping one foot down for good measure as he stormed away from her. “Fucking know-it-all vampire…” she grumbled. “‘You do the bloody math’,” she sneered, mocking him, as she started back towards Annie. Well, at least the indifference was gone … now he was just being plain ole snarky and rude.


“Here,” Buffy began, pushing the can of green beans towards her daughter, “…eat this. I guess you get to go on patrol.”


Annie ducked her head, letting her hair fall over her face, as a satisfied smile spread over her lips.




Buffy and Annie stood in the door of the cafeteria as Buffy tried to figure out just where she was supposed to go to ‘gear up’.  Thankfully, the one normal person in the whole place came out of a room just down the hallway and started walking towards them.


“Oz!” Buffy called with relief. “Where am I supposed to ‘gear up’?”


“The armory,” he answered as he kept walking.


Buffy and Annie fell into step behind him.


“Right. The armory,” Buffy confirmed. “Ummmm … where’s the armory?”




“Right … I don’t suppose that’s where you’re going, is it?” Buffy asked hopefully.


Oz stopped and seemed to be pondering that question a moment. “If I say ‘yes’ … then would that mean that is where I’m heading or not? Those positive negatives always get me.”


“Can you take us to the armory?” Buffy asked simply.


Oz gave her a curt nod. “That I can answer with confidence. Yes.”




The armory was a large, fenced-in space in the huge ‘fish-bowl’, common area of the old Initiative complex.  Tara and Xander were already there and ‘geared up’. Tara found a small flak jacket for Annie to wear and tightened it on her as well as she could, then she took Buffy inside to let her pick out weapons. Weapons! Shoot! She had to go back to her room and get the scythe!  Buffy got ‘geared up,’ then headed back to their room to retrieve her weapon. She also had a stun gun and a stake on her belt, along with a flak jacket of her own. 


She left Annie there, admonishing her, “Don’t talk to strangers … don’t talk to people you know, either – just don’t talk to anyone. Stay here until I get back. Don’t move.”


Oz came up next to the girl as Buffy sprinted away.  “So, what’s your name?”


“I’m not supposed to talk to anyone,” Annie replied sheepishly.


“Then why are you talking to me?” Oz questioned.


Annie frowned. “So I could tell you why I wasn’t talking to you.”


Oz nodded. “Makes sense.”


“Right then,” Spike started as he walked up to the assembled group and raked his eyes over them swiftly. He stopped when he got to Annie. “Why doesn’t the girl have a gun or a stake … somethin'?”


“Buffy said ‘no’,” Tara offered.


“Buffy?! Is Buffy in bloody charge 'ere? Get the girl a soddin’ stun gun and a stake!” Spike ordered.


Annie fidgeted with the flak jacket, shifting nervously from foot to foot – she knew her mom was not gonna be happy with this. Spike bent down so he could look into her eyes. “You ever stake a vamp, Platelet?”


Annie shook her head ‘no’.


“Right then, time you learned, innit?” Spike questioned as he stood up and waved Riley over.


Annie shrugged but didn’t say anything.


“See this here? Red eyes?” Spike asked and Annie looked up at Riley, then back to Spike and nodded. Tara handed Spike the stake she’d gotten for Annie. “You right-handed?” he asked the girl.


Annie worried her bottom lip with her teeth anxiously and nodded in reply.


“That’s brilliant then. You see one ‘a these Reds and the stake goes in the left eye – just straight across with your right hand, see, like this.” Spike pushed Riley down onto his knees in front of Annie, put the stake in her right hand, and guided it up in front of Riley’s left eye. “Jab in hard, as hard as you can, yeah? Aim right for the center of the red… Got it?”


Annie nodded as her eyes darted from Riley to Spike to the stake he had put in her hand.


“Now this … this’ll put ‘em down for ya’ – easier to stake when they’re down, yeah?” Spike continued, taking the stun gun from Tara. Spike removed the stake from Annie’s hand and replaced it with the stun gun. “Go for the chest or the balls ... either one‘ll knock ‘em down,” Spike explained, covering her hand with his as Annie held the stun gun.


A blush rose up her cheeks as Annie’s eyes dropped to Riley’s crotch, then darted back up to stare at his chest.


“Pull the trigger, get a feel for it,” he advised.


Annie did as he said, pulling the trigger with her forefinger. The power of it crackled loudly and blue bolts of electricity jumped back and forth on the end of the gun.


“Good – now, ya do that and just…” Spike shoved her hand forward into Riley’s chest. The vamp shuddered and convulsed then fell backwards onto the hard concrete. “See?” Spike offered with a smile, “Humpty Dumpty falls down.”


“What the hell is going on?” Buffy demanded as she walked up and saw the last of the lesson.


Spike stood up and addressed Tara. “Get her properly geared up,” he told the white witch, cocking his head at Annie and ignoring Buffy.


“What are you doing?” Buffy demanded again.


“You’re late, Slayer,” Spike addressed her, ignoring her objections and questions. “Noon means bloody noon. The big hand and the little hand are both pointing up to the big twelve at the top.”


“Get that shit off my daughter,” Buffy growled at him.


“No. She’s goin’ on patrol; she needs to be able to protect herself,” Spike retorted angrily.


“You said there were five strong fighters going that could protect her,” Buffy reminded him. “And me,” she added sarcastically.


“Yeah, and what if there are six nasties? It’s time you both grew up. This is war. There’s no bloody age limit. There’s no mark on the wall at the start of the line that stays you must be this tall to ride,” Spike quipped tersely, holding his hand out about an inch taller than Annie. “If you don’t want ‘er to go, then you can bloody well stay here with ‘er and knit booties,” Spike informed her. “Some of us have a job t’ do.”


“When did you get to be such an ass, Spike?” Buffy questioned, barely able to keep her anger in check.


“When I got put in charge o’ keeping these people alive,” Spike shot back before turning on his heel and striding towards the sewer entrance, his duster billowing out behind him as he went.


“Get 'im up and let’s go,” he ordered no one in particular as he strode away.


Xander and Oz helped Riley back to his feet and they all started following Spike. Buffy looked at Annie, now wearing a flak jacket with a stake and a stun gun strapped to a belt at her waist. She narrowed her eyes angrily, glaring daggers at Spike’s back as he continued walking, the others right behind him.


Buffy rolled her eyes to the ceiling and blew out a loud breath. Her brain told her to take the gear off and just take Annie and go back to their room and wait. Her instinct, her inner-Slayer, urged her to go with the group. This was her Calling. This is what she did. She could help them. Maybe she could make a difference. Maybe her being with them could keep someone from dying today.


Buffy suddenly knew what an addiction felt like. She’d never smoked or took drugs or drank to extreme; she’d never been hooked on anything but chocolate … and, ok, maybe Spike. But at this moment her ‘addiction’ to being a Slayer was overpowering her good sense. She fought the overwhelming feeling of need that demanded she go with the fighters. It was irrational; it was crazy to take Annie on a patrol in a world full of demons, she admonished herself. She didn’t even take Annie on patrol at home.


“It’s ok, Mom … I can do it,” Annie assured her, effectively driving a stake into the heart of Buffy’s internal debate and reducing it to dust.


Buffy sighed heavily as her compulsion to help rejoiced in victory.


“Don’t do anything unless you have no choice – defend yourself, don’t … don’t pick a fight,” Buffy advised sternly. “Stay next to me or Spike – no one else.”


Annie nodded her agreement, her face suitably serious, and she and Buffy ran to catch up with the others.



Because ‘mojoing’ a big sea monster away would leave Tara too weak to fight afterwards, the group’s first stop was the Mexican Reefer and the Jacks that Oz reported were trying to summon something.  Buffy finally figured out the name of the ship – it was a refrigerated cargo ship, a ‘reefer’, out of … where else? Mexico.  After making it through the sewers to the docks and running into nothing more than a few of those big rat demons, Buffy was feeling a little more confident in her choice to come and bring Annie.  That changed as they got closer to the ship, however.


With Spike and Riley in the lead, the group skulked around in the darkest shadows along the sides of old canneries, warehouses, and defunct import/export businesses, working their way to the wharf where the Mexican Reefer was moored. With annoying frequency, either one or the other of the leaders would hold up a fist as they went, and everyone, except Buffy and Annie, would immediately freeze in their tracks, even if that meant one foot was up in the air. It was like a game of ‘Stop! and Go!’ that Buffy used to play in elementary school, only no one told her beforehand the rules of the game.  After a couple of scornful glares from Spike when she and Annie didn’t stop immediately on his hand signal, the two newcomers figured it out.  Buffy hoped she got a chance to get near Spike during this outing … she so wanted to punch him in nose. She hadn’t had such an overwhelming desire to do that in a really long time.


Spike and Riley took out several of the vampire sentries that were patrolling near the target ship – Buffy was actually impressed. They took them out silently and quickly, Spike by slicing their heads off with the blessed sword, and Riley by simply slipping up behind them and twisting and ripping their heads off with his bare hands.  Despite being subordinate to Spike, Riley, she figured out quickly, was not only larger, but actually much stronger, apparently from being half Jack O’ Lantern vamp.  Buffy also noticed that Riley had a cut lip and a large bruise on his right cheek that he hadn’t had earlier when he’d opened the cans for her. Apparently they were wounds inflicted as punishment by Spike, despite the fact that he could rip Spike’s head off with little effort.


As they got closer to the ship, there was a wide expanse of open ground they had to cover to get to the gangplank. Riley and Xander shifted to the back of the group as everyone started to move across the unprotected ground. The two men in back drew expanding batons from their boots and held them at the ready. The weapons reminded Buffy of the batons that the guards in the dungeon used, but these were tipped with sharp wooden stakes on one end. Buffy and Annie followed the others, ducking down as low as they could as they ran in the perpetual twilight across the wide wharf towards the ship.


Suddenly, she heard the unmistakable flapping of a giant bat’s wings and she turned just in time to see Xander embed his wood-tipped baton in the large beast’s heart. Except for a short squeal of surprised pain from the bat and the ‘whoosh’ as it turned into dust, there was no sound. No one made any remarks: no quips, no congratulations, no exclamations of surprise or jubilation. Everyone, including Xander, simply kept moving as if that was the most natural thing in the world – something that happened every day. Buffy supposed it probably was.


The group finally made it to the gangway. Moving silently, they filed up to the deck of the large ship. Once on the deck, Oz took point, being more familiar with the layout than the others. The whole team worked seamlessly as a unit without saying a single word. Hand signals helped, but mostly it was just intuition from years of fighting together that had honed them into one cohesive, efficient, and deadly unit.


Oz moved slowly down the deck towards the entryway that led to the hold at the back of the ship. He’d been on all the ships docked here hundreds of times over the years. He knew their layout, where the best hiding places were, and what cargo was on each one.  He’d shown up in Sunnydale about a month after the demons took over. News of the infestation of ‘gangs on PCP’ in the area had spread first through California, then the nation, the world, and finally to the remote village where he was living with the monks in Tibet as he continued to work on harnessing and controlling his inner wolf. 


He’d tried to call Willow, then Buffy, and the Magic Box, but got nothing but ‘out of service’ messages. By the time he’d gotten here, the ‘gang infestation’ had spread at least to L.A. to the north and Palo Verde to the east … he didn’t know how far it had gone to the south. The government was mobilizing the National Guard and evacuating people from the path of the ‘crazed drug-addicts’; whether they had succeeded in containing the demons, no one here knew.  Some people had attempted the perilous journey to escape, but, as Spike told Buffy, no one ever came back, so they didn’t know if they had made it or had simply been killed.  All communications to the outside world had been cut off long ago, no phone lines or cable lines … they couldn’t even get in any radio or TV signals.   


Oz had lucked out when he’d arrived, going straight to the Magic Box. He found Xander and Spike there gathering all the weapons and magical supplies to bring back to their new base camp under the university campus.  He’d never really cared for living in the old Initiative, however. Memories of the torture he’d faced there when they’d captured him as a werewolf tended to haunt him, so he made his own way. Then, as now, he stayed mostly around the docks where food was plentiful and there were lots of secure places to hide inside the large ships.  He’d check in from time to time with the group and let them know if he saw things that needed their attention.  Oz did have one of the shortwave radios the group used, and Spike could reach him if there was some kind of mission the wolf could help with.


During the years he spent as a solitary man, Oz had mastered the ability to control his inner demon. He could now call on the wolf pretty much at will, regardless of the moon, and was able to keep his human side in control of the monster.  That had gotten him out of many a tight scrape with the Reds and the other lesser demons that had once been here. 


When the Turok-Han started pouring out of the Hellmouth, he, as the wolf, and Spike, with Buffy’s blessed sword, were the only two that could actually defeat any of the uber-vamps with any real regularity.  Luckily, the Reds saw the Turok-Han as a threat to their domain and the two vampire species set to killing each other off, saving the Scoobies the trouble. Unfortunately, neither side completely succeeded in their mission to wipe the other out. But, the numbers were thinned considerably, as were the populations of the lesser demons who got caught in the crossfire.


Buffy watched as Oz led them along the deck, hugging the bulkhead of the hold as he went.  At a break in the bulkhead, he paused a moment, then signaled for Spike to come forward. With nothing more than brief hand signals, Spike nodded his understanding and stood at the ready with his sword drawn back. Within just a few seconds, one of the tall, wiry vampires stepped out from the break in the wall, which Buffy assumed was a passageway leading deeper into the ship, and Spike decapitated it with one swift and silent blow.  The head and body collapsed, bursting into red glittery dust before either part hit the ground.


Satisfied, Oz moved on, past that passageway and all the way to the back of the ship, and the others followed.  Near the aft, starboard hold, Oz again signaled with his hands in sort of a circular motion that Buffy took to mean they should split up and circle the room they were about to enter. She kept Annie in front of her, Xander was still behind her, and Riley was behind him. In front of Annie was Tara, then Spike, with Oz, of course, in the lead.


Oz opened the door slowly, trying to minimize the creaking from the rusty hinges, and each warrior stepped into the breach. Spike went to right, Tara to the left, Buffy guided Annie right, following Spike, Xander left, Riley right, and finally Oz stepped in last and went to the left. The group kept low, ducking behind crates that had once held some kind of refrigerated cargo – it smelled like rotten oranges … dried, rotten oranges.  Buffy figured it could be worse.  Buffy stole a peek over one of the crates and saw that the cargo hold was quite deep. Someone – the vampires, she assumed, had arranged all the crates in a large circle, piling one atop the other to form an amphitheater of sorts. It reminded her of the large lecture halls at the college.  It would require leaping about four feet down at a time, but one could actually descend down the crates like tall stairs to the floor at the bottom. Of course, for the tall, long-limbed vampires, those steps were probably just about right.  


Buffy ducked back down and kept moving, following Spike with Annie in front of her until Spike held up a closed fist – stop.  Buffy froze; so did Annie. Buffy held up her closed fist and Riley stopped as well. She watched as Spike found a place where he could stay low but look between two crates to see the floor below, and Buffy did the same.  Down in the very bottom of the hold, where the teacher would be if it were a lecture hall, was a group of the glowy-eyed vampires. Some were sitting at a table; others were standing nearby.  One seemed to be holding the attention of all the others as she worked on some papers in front of her. She went from a book, to a scroll, then wrote something down on yet another piece of paper while the others watched with curiosity.


Annie sidled in next to Buffy so she could see too, and the group of warriors watched the proceedings, each trying to figure out just exactly what the vamps were doing.  They didn’t seem to be casting spells or conjuring anything like Oz had assumed … although they could be researching a spell which they would use later.  It reminded Buffy of the old days in the library. Willow and Giles would be researching and the rest of them would be watching, or pretending like they were researching, while they waited for Willow and Giles to find the answer; at least, that’s what Buffy did.


“Oh my God,” Annie whispered as her eyes went wide with a sudden epiphany.


Buffy wrapped a hand over her daughter’s mouth and held her breath, but it was too late … the vamps had heard her. Their scarlet eyes looked up from the bookish vamp and locked directly on Buffy and Annie.  Buffy didn’t move, she didn’t let Annie move; neither of them breathed. It didn’t matter, they’d definitely heard her – several of them were starting this way.


“Bloody hell…” she heard Spike moan as he stood up and climbed up on the crate he’d been behind, drawing their attention. “Right then, who wants t’ die today?” he taunted them as he leapt down to the next crate with a grace and agility that gave Buffy pause.


She shook herself out of her Spike-trance and climbed up as he had done, as all the warriors were now doing. “Quiet. Stay down. Do not move,” she admonished Annie sternly and the girl nodded guiltily as she plastered one hand over her mouth.


The tall vamps raced up the crates like they were nothing. One of them threw her head back and let out a shrill battle cry, which Buffy assumed was meant to draw more of the creatures from elsewhere in the ship.  She cringed – she didn’t want to leave Annie alone there, but she’d rather fight the demons further away from her daughter, less chance of Annie being discovered or hurt.


With one last glance back at her daughter, Buffy leapt down one, then two, then three crates, drawing her scythe back as she went. The first vamp that reached her was met with a deadly accurate swing of her weapon, which severed its head cleanly from its shoulders. Even before the red sparkling dust could settle there was another one there. She could see from her peripheral vision that Spike and Riley were also engaged with two or three of the tall, extraordinarily strong vamps. Where had they all come from so quickly?  Then Buffy realized they were emerging from the crates themselves. Her heart sank. There had to be … hundreds of crates in here. Did they all have a vamp sleeping inside?


Buffy kicked one vamp that was standing on the crate below her in the jaw. She finally had the height advantage if she could keep them at least one step below her. Even as that one stumbled backwards and tumbled down the tall, make-shift stairs, another one lunged at her. Buffy swung, but missed its neck, severing one arm and embedding the scythe into its ribcage. She tugged hard to free her weapon, but the vamp grabbed the handle of the scythe with its other hand to keep her from pulling it back. She was afraid that she’d lost it – and without that she knew she stood little chance against these Otherworldly demons.  Poking sharp sticks through the heart of a vamp was one thing, but to try and get it into their eye seemed ridiculously impossible.


Buffy’s mind raced and she suddenly remembered the stun gun on her hip. She held onto the handle of the scythe with one hand, refusing to let go, and un-holstered the gun. She let the vamp pull her towards it, bringing the weapon up at the last moment and jamming the gun, with electricity jumping wildly on the end, into the Red’s chest.


The vamp shuddered and dropped to its knees in pain. Buffy yanked the scythe out of its torso and swung at its neck. It disintegrated with a hollow sighing sound and sparkling dust settled atop the crate it had been on. The glittery dust from that vamp had scarcely settled before three more were there. They were a little more wary now, but they were coming all the same. She holstered the gun again and held the scythe with both hands, her timing needed to be perfect. She waited. They each put one foot on the crate just below her and then they all three leapt as one, springing off their lower legs and sailing towards her. She swung hard in a wide arc, catching two of them cleanly in the neck and decapitating them. The third was hit in the shoulder, but fell onto the crate that she was standing on and Buffy drew back and came down on its neck with a savage blow.



Spike had worked his way over to her as he fought. He could see she was tiring, as were the other warriors. There were too many Reds for them to defeat. “Let’s go! Get out!” he screamed at her and the rest of them. He retreated back up to the top walkway that ran around the perimeter of the hold, grabbed Annie’s arm, and began dragging her out of the mêlée.


“No!” Annie yelled at him. “The book!” she exclaimed, pointing to the now abandoned table far below. “It’s the key to the Gem of Amarra! The scroll must be the decoder ring!” she told him hurriedly.


Spike’s brow furrowed and he looked down at the table. “The Gem of …” he muttered to himself before looking back at Annie. “Are you sure?”


“Yes! We have the same book at home, but not the scroll!” Annie assured him even as he swung his sword at the neck of an approaching vamp and dusted it.


“Finn!” Spike yelled at Riley, who was about ten feet away and engaged with several of the vamps. “Get everyone out!”


Riley didn’t acknowledge him, but Spike knew that he heard and would follow his order. Putting Annie back in her hiding place, he jumped up on the crates then back down to where the Slayer was still battling. “Get the girl and get out. Go back to base!” he ordered her as he took over fighting the vamps she’d been warring against.


“What about you?” Buffy questioned as she continued to swing the scythe at the necks of the approaching Reds.


“Can you ever do one blasted thing I say without questioning my bloody orders?” he huffed as he dusted another vamp.


“Maybe if you let someone in on your idiotic plans they wouldn’t blow up in your face so much!” Buffy shot back as the pair continued fighting the seemingly never-ending horde.


“My plans wouldn’t blow up if you would just do as I bloody well say!” he insisted. “Never had a problem with my plans ‘til you came back and mucked them up!”


“Oh, excuse me, Mr. Hitler! I didn’t mean to question your supreme authority!”


“Herr,” Spike corrected her.


“Hair?  There’s something in my hair?” she questioned, using one hand to run through her hair, even as the other fighters retreated from the large room and back out onto the deck.


Spike rolled his eyes, both warriors still swinging at the approaching vamps, injuring them, dusting them, or knocking them back down the stairs as they came within range. “Hitler wasn’t a bloody mister, Slayer – Herr Hitler! Did you attend high school at any point in your life? I know you were there for the parent-teacher night, but I mean actual lectures.”


“Very funny, Spike. I never took German … I took Spanish! Maybe I should call you Señor Franco instead.”


“Generalíssimo Franco,” Spike countered with a smirk.


“Yeah, well, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still valiantly holding on in his fight to remain dead!” Buffy quipped. “You on the other hand, are perilously close to getting on my last nerve and becoming un-undead.”


Spike gawped at her a moment, surprised she’d gotten his classic Saturday Night Live reference … from back when SNL was actually classic. He recovered quickly, though, turning back to the fight with the charging demons.


“And here we are back where we started this dance, where you threaten to dust me but never can quite get ‘round to it,” Spike shot back as he swung his blade and decapitated two of the approaching demons with one blow. “Better time management, pet, that’s what you need.”


“Who the hell died and made you the fucking king of the world?” Buffy retorted through clenched teeth as she continued swinging her weapon at the red-eyed vamps.


“You,” Spike informed her as he took a swipe at another vamp’s neck.


Suddenly more vamps attacked at once than the two could defend against. Two of the demons got past the swinging weapons of the warriors and knocked Buffy to the ground. One of the powerful demons tried to dig its long, talon-like nails into her chest in an effort to exhume her still-beating heart. Luckily for her, the beast’s nails couldn’t pierce the flak jacket. Buffy struck it in the jaw with her fist and its head jerked slightly to the left, then its bright red lips curled into a cruel smile.


“Sssslayer…” it hissed as it dropped its mouth down towrds her neck.


Buffy struggled under it as she raised the scythe and prepared to swing down on the vamp, hoping that she could stop the powerful weapon before it cut into her own flesh.  Before Buffy could swing, though, the vamp froze, its face contorted in pain, then burst into bright red glittery particles of dust which settled down and stuck to her damp skin.


“Wow, you could bottle this stuff and sell it as booty dust,” she quipped as she jumped back to her feet just as Spike drew his sword away and turned back to the still-approaching army of vamps.


“Get the bloody hell out, Slayer!” Spike insisted again. “I’ll be right behind ya.”


“No! You’ll be right with me – c’mon, Spike! Let’s go!” Buffy retorted.


“Bloody fucking hell, woman! I’d forgotten what a bloody bossy bitch you are! Can you do one soddin’ thing I say? Get the girl and go!”


Just then Annie started screaming. Some vamps had finally realized that they could come around from the other direction and surround the two remaining warriors. “Annie!” Buffy cried as she left Spike’s side and leapt with more power than she knew she had left in her up from crate to crate until she reached the top where Annie was hiding.


There were three vamps surrounding the girl. Annie was holding them at bay with the stun gun, its electricity crackling a warning the vamps understood perfectly as she swung it back and forth in an arc at them.  Buffy dove at the tall, red-eyed demons, but only managed to knock two of them away from Annie. The Slayer tumbled down onto the ground with the two large vamps, all three rolling to a stop against the wall of the hold a few feet away.


Before Buffy could find where she’d dropped the scythe or get to her feet, she was being hauled up by the nape of her neck like a kitten. The large male vampire held her up to his eye level and studied her like she was a bug, tilting his elongated head this way, then that.


“Put me down you overgrown beanstalk!” Buffy demanded as she kicked hard at the demon’s nether regions with her booted foot.


The vamp grunted slightly, but didn’t drop her. “Sssslayer…” he hissed at her and Buffy rolled her eyes.


“Do you all have lisps? Do they not have speech therapists where you come from?” she wondered as she pulled the stake from the scabbard at her side and stabbed the vamp in the eye … the wrong eye.


The creature screeched in pain and clutched at the stake with his free hand, but his grip never loosened on Buffy’s neck.


“Damn it…” Buffy muttered as she pulled the stake out and jabbed it in the other eye.


Finally she was dropped, covered again by a dusting of red glitter. But of course, it wasn’t over. The other vamp that she’d knocked down, a tall female dressed in a ridiculously small, ‘UC Sunnydale’ cheerleader uniform, was ready and waiting. The barely-dressed cheerleader hit the Slayer with an iron fist, sending Buffy flying into the air and hurtling backwards. She landed on the hard floor ten feet away with a bone-crunching thud. Buffy shook her head to clear the ringing in her ears and the stars that flashed in front of her eyes. Even through the pain that was shooting through her, she could hear Annie screaming again.


Buffy stumbled back to her feet, her eyes scanning the ground for the scythe, as she retrieved the stun gun from its holster at her side. The cheerleader-vamp that had thrown her took two long strides towards Buffy, her arm cocked back, ready to strike again. Buffy summoned her determination and jabbed the gun against the vamp’s bare midriff, ducking the vamp’s fist, and pulled the trigger. The large female crumpled down as her body convulsed with the voltage. Buffy sprinted past the downed demon back towards Annie, who was now shrieking uncontrollably.


The male vamp in front of the girl slapped the stun gun from her hand, sending it skittering across the floor and out of reach. The demon, who apparently fancied itself a flower-child, wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt over too-short blue jeans, picked the screaming and struggling girl up with one hand. The Woodstock-reject began to laugh gleefully just as Buffy reached them and tackled him around the hips, sending all three of them tumbling onto the ground and crashing against the wooden crates.  The hippie struck out at Buffy, whipping her head to the side with a savage blow as she struggled to get Annie back behind her. Before she could recover from that strike, the lovechild hit her again, just as she got Annie pushed out of the way. 


Buffy’s head was spinning and for a moment she wondered if it was still attached to her body or if it was actually rolling across the floor like a bowling ball. The hippie-vamp knocked the stunned Slayer onto her back and straddled her with its body. Buffy flailed wildly and tried to kick it off, but it was too strong and she was too disoriented and weary. She hit up at it with her fists, but her blows were ineffectual against the larger, stronger, and fresher adversary; she was nothing more than an annoyance to it.


The vamp could smell victory. He threw his head back and let out a shrill (and apparently trademarked) war cry announcing his triumph over the Slayer. When the flower-child looked back down, preparing to drink from the one and only Slayer he had ever met, he suddenly gasped in shock. His ghoulish features glittered in the air, hanging there momentarily before giving way to gravity. Buffy choked on the dust she inhaled as she tried to sit up and waved a hand in front of her face to disburse the crimson motes so she could breathe. She expected to see Spike standing above her smirking, but what she saw instead was Annie. And she wasn’t smirking. She was terrified.


Her daughter clutched the stake tightly in her right hand, just as Spike had shown her, and had jabbed with all her strength into the vamp’s left eye when he'd dropped his gaze back down from the ceiling. Annie now looked like she was about to pass out, throw up, or both, her eyes wide with fear, her chest heaving with shallow, labored breaths. Buffy shook the cobwebs out of her brain and scrambled to her feet. Pulling Annie with her, she retrieved the stun gun the vamp had knocked from her daughter’s hand, as well as her scythe, and then turned to look for Spike.


He was all the way on the other side of the ‘arena’. The book and scroll that had been on the table were tucked under one arm as he fought towards the exit on the other side of the ship with the other.  More vamps were scampering up towards Buffy and Annie. There was no way she could get by them and make it over to help him.


“Let’s go,” Buffy commanded. She started dragging Annie by one hand as she held the scythe at the ready with the other.


“But Spike!” Annie objected, her eyes drawn to the platinum hair on the other side of the hold, which was easily visible even in the low light.


“He’ll be ok. He said to go, we need to go!” Buffy argued, pulling her along faster. Then they were out the door and on the deck. She couldn’t see any of the others – they must’ve followed orders and left the ship, gone back to base.  She started down the deck towards the gangplank, moving as quickly as her throbbing head would allow as she dragged her daughter behind. 


Just as they got to that passageway that bisected the deck, several of the tall Jacks stepped out, blocking their path. Buffy swung at one, dusting it, but the rest didn’t seem to even notice or care as they started towards the humans. Buffy began to back up, turning quickly to check for an escape route, when more of the Otherworld vamps came up from behind, trapping her and Annie between them.  The demons’ eyes glowed bright scarlet in the low light; it was beyond creepy and, with so many of them so close, the whole area looked like it was bathed in a fine layer of blood.


Buffy quickly looked over the edge – it was a good twenty foot drop to the dark water below and who knew what was in the water? It might be their only option though.


“Damn it…” Buffy murmured as she backed Annie up against the open railing of the ship and let go of her daughter's hand so she could hold the scythe with both hands, ready to strike.


“Take your stun gun,” Buffy directed her and Annie pulled the gun from the waistband of Buffy’s jeans where she’d stuck it when she picked it up.


“Annie, if anything happens to me, you’re gonna have to jump, ok? Jump feet first, hold your nose, then swim to the beach and find somewhere to hide. Spike will find you … ok? Someone will find you… don’t come out until someone you know comes to get you,” Buffy instructed.


“No, Mama … I don’t…” Annie began, looking down at the black water. It looked a million miles away.


“Do not argue with me! Do as I say!” Buffy commanded as she swung the scythe at the first vamp to come within reach then, out of habit, stabbed the stake into the chest of one coming from the other side


The vamp shrieked in pain, but didn’t dust. When it yelled, all the vamps on the deck descended on her at once.  Buffy went down in a heap as fists and feet hit and kicked at her mercilessly.


“JUMP!” she yelled at Annie as she tried to get back up, punching and jabbing with the scythe at the feet and legs of her attackers.


A steel-toed boot connected with Buffy’s chin, then another with her temple. Her head rocked on her shoulders and bright lights flashed in her field of vision. She couldn’t tell if Annie had jumped or if she was still there; she couldn’t see anything but feet kicking at her between bursts of stars exploding in front of her eyes from the pain.


She tried to stand, to get over the railing to jump herself, but the whole world seemed to be spinning and tilting. She could feel bones snapping in her ribs, her back, and her face as the vamps continued to punish her with a gleeful brutality.


“Annie …” she murmured, her voice barely audible, “…jump.”


Then one last boot crashed violently down on her forehead, cracking her skull, and the stars stopped exploding, everything stopped hurting, the world stopped spinning as a dark shroud began to descend over her.  Buffy fought to stay conscious and rolled away from the vamps who were now gloating over their prize, all of them screaming that shrill war cry announcing their victory.


As she rolled towards the side of the ship, she hit something solid that was blocking her path. She pushed harder, but it didn’t move; she pushed even harder, unable to focus on what it even was. Finally, whatever was blocking her disappeared. She flattened her body as she dragged herself on her stomach, headfirst, under the bottom rung of the railing and slid her torso over the edge and against the side of the ship.  One of the vamps grabbed her foot, trying to thwart her escape. Buffy kicked as hard as she could as she struggled to get away. She could feel herself starting to be pulled back up onto the deck and, at the last moment, her boot slid off her foot, freeing her. The Slayer tumbled head over heels towards the black water below.


Buffy’s only thought as she fell was to hold onto the scythe and she grasped it with both hands, holding it against her chest as she plummeted towards the abyss of dark water.  She hit with a violent slap that drove the air from her lungs and then she felt herself sinking. She tried to swim, to get back to the surface, but her limbs suddenly felt leaden and refused to cooperate. She took an involuntary breath, sucking the salty water into her lungs, then began to choke under the water, pulling more of the liquid in.


The darkness she’d been fighting now engulfed her under the waves. Her mind drifted with the current, lingering on the thing she worried about most – Annie … Had she jumped? Did she make it to the beach?  Please let her be alright. Please let Spike find her… please…




King of Anything - Sara Bareilles




Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)

Keep drinkin' coffee
Stare me down across the table
While I look outside

So many things I'd say if only I were able
But I just keep quiet
And count the cars that pass by

You've got opinions, man
We're all entitled to 'em
But I never asked

So let me thank you for time
And try to not waste any more of mine
Get out of here fast

I hate to break it you babe
But I'm not drowning
There's no one here to save

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you ing of anything

Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)

You sound so innocent
All full of good intent
You swear you know best

But you expect me to
Jump up on board with you
And ride off into your delusional sunset

I'm not the one who's lost
With no direction, oh
But you'll never see

You're so busy makin' maps
With my name on them in all caps
You've got the talkin' down, just not the listening

And who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

All my life
I've tried
To make everybody happy while I
Just hurt
And hide
Waitin' for someone to tell me it's my turn to decide

Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)
Oh (oh oh oh)

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

Who cares if you disagree
You are not me
Who made you king of anything
So you dare tell me who to be
Who died
And made you king of anything

Let me hold your crown, babe
Oh oh



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