Buffy stared at the sheet of paper in front of her. This was where it got hard. It had seemed like such a good idea to share information with Angel. And she still believed that it was a good idea. But if it was to be meaningful, she had to share all information that might be useful to him, not just pick and choose based on her own selfish inclinations. She really didn’t want to tell him about Dracula, but it might be important (change that to vital) for him to know.
They had exchanged a couple of desultory letters over the summer – there just hadn’t been much to write about after the big blow-ups with Adam and Vocah, respectively. She had found out about Dennis, the ghost living with Cordy. She smiled reminiscently. She could just imagine Cordy ordering Dennis around – almost like having one of the servants Cordy had had in her old life. Buffy was sure Dennis had resources for getting back at Cordy if she got too impossible. Otherwise, there hadn’t been much to say. Buffy didn’t want to write about having picnics on the beach with Riley and the Scoobies – that was too much like rubbing Angel’s nose in her relationship with another man, not to mention the whole sunlight thing. Life at home with Mom and Dawn was boring – nothing to say there. She knew Angel was being very careful about what he wrote – trying to keep things casual and impersonal on his end. The result was pretty much – not boring (nothing that Angel wrote could bore Buffy) – but not very exciting, to say the least. And she was sure her letters had been no better.
But now she did have something to write about. Something that Angel maybe could tell her more about, if he chose to. She was willing to bet that Angel and Dracula had crossed paths at least once in the past. She frowned. Sitting here staring at the paper wouldn’t get it written. She picked up the pen.
Angel picked up the letter from the pile of mail on Cordelia’s table. As always, his unbeating heart leapt at the sight of her handwriting. And, as always, he reminded himself that she thought of him as just a friend now. And he never knew when she might write to say that she had changed her mind about corresponding – that it was too hard, too reminiscent of old pains. But not this time, he hoped.
Well, I guess the summer lull is over, because things have started happening again. The story I have to tell you this time is pretty freaky, and there are parts you may not be too happy about. Fair warning!
To make a long story short, Dracula appeared here in Sunnydale. Yes, the Dracula! In all his glory. He pretty much put the whammy on Xander, made him into a minion (but not the undead kind, thank God). And he tried to seduce me by bringing me under his thrall. I hate to admit it, but he succeeded to a certain extent. Fortunately, I came to my senses before it was too late.
//Angel dropped the letter into his lap. What did she mean, ‘seduced’? And ‘to a certain extent’? He saw red for a moment, then breathed deeply, in and out. The unaccustomed, unnecessary action always served to help him regain control.//
As I’m sure you know, you can’t kill Dracula. Or at least, not by the normal methods (although he did seem a little leery of fire). I staked him several times, but he always came back. He finally took the hint and left – I hope for good! But he certainly has some amazing powers – besides the “can’t be destroyed” thing. He could turn into an animal or a bat, seep into rooms as a wisp of smoke (that’s how he got to me), and of course, reconstitute himself. No wonder he’s such a legend.
So, Angel, have you ever met Dracula? If so, tell me about him. I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of him. And if he’s in the area now, he may turn up in LA too.
//Angel lowered the letter thoughtfully. Yes, he had met Dracula. More than a hundred years ago, when he and Darla were wandering through Eastern Europe, they had come across Dracula one night in a small Transylvanian town. He had thought that Dracula rarely left that area. Apparently the tale of a Slayer who was better – and longer-lived – than most had reached him, even there. And he had come to see for himself.
Well, he had seen. Pride swelled through Angel. Not many would have been able to resist Dracula. Certainly, he and Darla had not been able to. He had been a willing assistant to the dark Count for several months. And Darla – well, Darla certainly seemed to have some new tricks in bed when they finally left.
Angel thought he would be able to resist Dracula now. He knew what the vampire was and could do. But he hoped that Dracula wouldn’t come to LA. And that he had gotten his fill of Sunnydale. But Angel knew that he needed to write Buffy and tell her his own story about meeting Dracula.//
Anyway, Dracula said some things to me that kind of opened my eyes. Ever since the spell where we called on the First Slayer, I’ve been going out every night hunting. Before that I had been pretty much blowing it off. Hunting! That’s what Dracula called it, and he was right. It’s like an itch that I can only scratch by killing a vampire. I can’t sleep until I’ve done a sweep. Dracula seemed to understand me better than I do myself. And he talked about the darkness in me. It’s taken some time, but I’ve come to understand that he’s right. The dream I had after the First Slayer spell had already started me thinking. I need to understand myself and my powers much better than I do now. So, I’ve asked Giles to start training me again, and we’re going to study to try to find out what we can. He’s going to be my Watcher again. If I can understand my powers, maybe I can be better, stronger somehow.
//Angel lowered the letter again. He was glad she was working closely with Giles again. He had worried that she was getting too unfocused, too casual about the whole Slayer thing. He knew he was partly to blame for that – his leaving was bound to have been hard on her, and his admonition that she needed to live a more normal life was sure to have contributed. Add in the distractions of college and a new boyfriend, and you had a recipe for possible disaster. She was right – she needed to find herself on a new level. Buffy had plenty of self-confidence in the Slayer arena, but she was not so confident in the area of human relationships. If she could integrate her various selves into a strong, coherent whole, with a true understanding of her superhuman powers, she would be a Slayer like none other seen before. Angel was confident of that.//
I guess you want to know what Dracula did to me. This is the part you’re not going to like, and I’m really ashamed to tell you. My only excuse is that he had me pretty well under his spell. For one thing, he bit me. And I have to admit that I enjoyed it. Dracula also told me that if I would taste his blood, I would have a new understanding of the dark side of myself. He swore it wouldn’t turn me into a vampire. So I did it. And that’s what really broke the spell – not what he intended, I’m sure. But I have to know, Angel. Was he right? What might this do to me? Can you tell me anything?
//Angel focused on his breathing. The rage that he had felt before was nothing compared to what swept through him now. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. Finally, he felt a semblance of calm return. Dracula had been right – Buffy wouldn’t turn just from tasting his blood, unless she had died immediately after. But for all she knew, he could have been lying to her. ‘Remember his power,’ Angel reminded himself. ‘She was strong enough to eventually free herself from his domination. That was more than you could do. She had no choice if she was under his thrall at the time.’ His rage rose once again as he thought about Dracula feeding off Buffy. Once again, he pushed it back down.
Sighing, he leaned back into the couch cushions and closed his eyes. The memory of what it was like to drink the blood of a Slayer rose in his mind, accompanied as always by mingled feelings of revulsion and love. She had forced him to drink from her to save his life. She had trusted him and he had almost betrayed that trust. Never mind that ‘force’ was the operative word here. He still shouldn’t have done it. But it had been an incredible experience – to feel her power, her love, her specialness, all sliding down his throat in her blood. And he couldn’t help but feel a little thrill of pride, no matter how he tried not to, that she would bear his mark until the end of her days. But he wondered what she felt when she looked at it. ‘Does she hate me when she sees it? Or does she feel what I do – love and regret?’
He knew the Master had bitten her before he ‘killed’ her at the end of her sophomore year. Now Dracula. And it was this that concerned him. Three vampires had now tasted her blood. Three was a magical number. He had no idea what the consequences of this would be, but he was sure that there would be some. Should he tell her? ‘Tell her what?’ he muttered. ‘You don’t know what to tell her. Maybe I better call Giles.’//
Oh, by the way, Giles has bought the Magic Shop. We’ve all tried to warn him about the high mortality rate of owners of the Magic Shop, but he just laughs. I think he was really bored last year, with nothing to do. And, of course, I wasn’t helping by being so dismissive of the whole Slayer thing, keeping him in the dark about the Initiative, and so forth. Anyway, we’ve got a new hangout. There’s room in the back for us to train, and it will give him a new interest. He says it won’t be that different from when he was running the library – the only difference is that people will pay for what they don’t return.
Willow told me that he had about decided to go back to England, feeling that he was no longer needed in Sunnydale. Fortunately, I came to my senses (with Dracula’s help) and asked him to be my Watcher again before he told me that. I don’t think I would have had the courage to ask him, if I had known he wanted to leave. He’s given up so much for me – I know it’s his job, what he trained for, but it was still a big sacrifice to leave his country to live in a strange place and work with a stubborn teenager. If he had left, I think I would have thrown the whole Slayer thing over completely. I can’t imagine doing it without his help. But I think he was really pleased that I asked him to be my Watcher again. I know now that he had planned to tell me about going home that day, but I butted in first, as usual. I’m so glad I did. I talked to him about it later, and he convinced me that he really did want to stay now.
//Angel couldn’t imagine Sunnydale without Giles. He had been relieved that Buffy was working with him formally again, but he was even more relieved now that she had told him about this. It would have been disastrous for the Slayer, and for Buffy personally, if Giles had left. He didn’t think that Giles truly appreciated how deeply Buffy cared about him. He had all but taken the place of her father, and she looked on him as a mentor, guide, and friend. Giles probably had reasoned that people outgrow their mentors and guides, even Slayers, but in this case he was wrong. She would always need his advice and help – it was part of what made her such a successful Slayer.
Once more Angel was wracked with guilt over how he had treated Giles – killing his lover, torturing him – even though he had not been himself when he did it. Of his many evil deeds, killing Jenny Calendar would be one of the hardest for him to forgive himself for, if he ever did. But he would definitely call Giles – to tell him about his suspicions regarding the three vampire bites – but also to thank him for staying.//
Xander has had a little adventure too. A demon cast a spell that divided him into two people, which was interesting. I certainly couldn’t tell the difference – and of course, the reason why we couldn’t decide which was the real Xander was because they both were. I think he found out some things about himself, and I hope it will help his self-confidence. One of the Xanders was able to do some things that I don’t think Xander believed he could do. Because that Xander didn’t have the self-doubt of the other one, he was freed up to get what he wanted. Now that Xander knows that a part of him was able to do those things, I think he will get somewhere. It’s taken him a while to find himself (if he has). He went through an identity crisis because he was not going to college like the rest of us, and he had some pretty dead-end jobs because he didn’t think he could do anything better. I hope he’ll find a new direction now. At least, he’s moved out of his parents’ basement! He’s gotten a promotion at his construction job with more responsibility – that’s bound to be good for him!
//Angel chuckled. The experience had probably done Xander a world of good. Angel didn’t really blame the boy for the animosity between them. Xander had always been very protective of Buffy, and, in Angel’s case, he had had good reason to be. He had been a loyal friend to Buffy and Angel appreciated that. He hoped that things were looking up for the boy.//
Things are okay at home. Dawn is driving me crazy as usual. Her latest stunt is that she invited some vampires into the house. Okay, she was mad and not thinking, but still!! Only the fact that they were being led by Harmony saved us all. She’s so stupid that she failed to take advantage. As it was, Dawn wound up being kidnapped to lure me to their lair. I got most of them, but Harmony ran off, of course. I hope Dawn learned something from all this, but I doubt it. And Mom always seems to take her part. Sisters!! It just seems like lately that she’s always there, always bothering me. It was never this bad before. Maybe it’s just because she’s getting older. Please tell me I wasn’t that bad when I was her age – oh, yes, you didn’t know me yet when I was her age. Thank God!
//Angel frowned. There was something about that paragraph that bothered him, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Buffy ranting about her sister was common enough, wasn’t it? What was bothering him? He considered the letter for a minute, then shook his head. Maybe it would come to him later.//
Enough ranting. I don’t think there’s any other Hellmouthy news. Be careful there in L.A. – LA demons seem worse than Sunnydale’s. Tell Cordy and Wesley ‘hey’ for me. Any luck on finding a new office yet?
Angel folded the letter with a sigh. Answering it would not be easy, but then it probably hadn’t been easy for her to write it, either. If she could confess her adventures with Dracula, he guessed he could do it too. And in the meantime, he was definitely going to call Giles.