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New Year's Eve, Sunnydale

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New Year's Eve, and the following day, were surprisingly quiet, in Sunnydale.

At least, it was surprising if you were new to the area. To those that had survived the town for more than a few months, it made perfect sense.

Vampires, of course, didn't care what the date was, or the year particularly. Nights blended together, particularly in a southern California town that only knew what winter was if the Powers That Be were performing miracles. It was just another night, to the vampires, and by and large they probably would have been delighted with New Year's Eve parties. Drunk partygoers were not only tastier, they were much easier to lead off somewhere quiet to feed on.

And that was what had started the change. In Sunnydale, New Year's Eve wasn't about welcoming a new year. It was about having survived the last one. And one did not survive Sunnydale by drinking enough that walking off with someone you'd barely met sounded like a good idea. And one celebrated survival by staying home, behind locked doors, having a quiet drink with good friends who'd survived along with you and raising a toast to the ones that hadn't made it. Not a lot of cheap champagne and loud music. A glass of really good wine, or aged scotch, and time spent not with strangers but with those who'd been there and understood what no one outside Sunnydale would ever believe. And sometimes reminiscing about being able to afford somewhere else. Somewhere where vampires and demons were just children's stories, never believed.

Another year not murdered in the street. Congratulations. Hope we can do this again next year.

The parties dwindled to quiet affairs, and the vampires eventually learned that prey was thin on the ground. After a few years as a vampire, most of the ones that stayed (and weren't staked) learned that the way to celebrate was to stock up by raiding a blood bank, and just hold a party at home with the rest of the nest, rather than waste time and energy hunting prey that was by and large safe behind its thresholds.

And then Buffy had come to Sunnydale. Buffy, who had come to hate any kind of party as an invitation to misery. The Slayer didn't take days off, and treated vampire New Year's Eve parties as easy kills, vampires who'd laced their blood with liquor being easy to take on even in large numbers, loud music to hide the sound of dusting.

Buffy taught the vampires to see the new year not merely as a night of poor hunting, but to see it just the way the humans did. A marker, another year survived. The parties among the vampires dwindled, replaced by reflections of the human celebration. Quiet nights with stolen blood, talking about the good old days when the hunting was easy and the Slayer, somewhere very much Not Here.

Another year not dusted. Congratulations. Hope we can do this again next year.