I hear her footsteps before I see her. Her combat boots making a soft thump with each step she takes. As she walks down the stairs I tense and huddle against the wall, trying to make myself as small as possible.
“Well?” I hear her say softly. “What do we have here?”
Her voice is different, light but with a hard don’t mess with me edge. It’s not Willow I realize, it’s someone else. I glance up slowly and see a small blonde young woman standing on the other side of the bars. Her hair is pulled back in a long braid, her eyes are rimmed with hard black makeup and there is a nasty scar across her lips, but it is her. She is far from the young vulnerable teenager I saw outside that high school all those years ago.
She starts to turn, her hazel eyes dismissing me with a swift glance and a toss of her head. I can’t let her go…
“Buffy,” I whisper, raising my head slightly, “Buffy Summers?”
I see her shoulders tense and she turns to face me. “How did you know my name?” she asks, her voice like steel.
I swallow and make myself meet her eyes; they are full of pain and show a maturity beyond her years. What the hell happened to this girl? She used to be so full of life, so bubbly and happy?
“I’ve been waiting,” I tell her honestly, unable to lie, “he sent me here to help you. But you never came…” I take an unneeded breath. “I’ve been waiting. Then the harvest came and when the Master rose they locked me in here. I’ve been here ever since.”
She looks at me with suspicion, but also curiosity. “Why would he do that?” she asks confused, “why not kill you?”
She doesn’t know what I am, I realize suddenly. She doesn’t know that I am a vampire. I pause and gather my thoughts. “They keep me here to punish me,” I say.
She looks a little surprised at my answer. “Uh huh..” she mutters softly, the sound skeptical.
“Please…” I mutter, “I can help you,” I say softly.
She hesitates; I know she is used to working alone. She takes a few steps forward and kicks out violently against the lock on the door. It snaps instantly and sends the door crashing into the stonewall. A few chunks of granite and mortar fall to the floor and a cloud of dust floats into the air.
She walks confidently inside and strides over to me. She grabs the chains and starts to tug. As she leans forward the cross around her neck swings forward towards me. I jerk back in fear and pain.
She frowns and immediately drops the chains. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me! She exclaims in disgust turning away.
“No!” I yell as she walks away, “please… I won’t hurt you!”
Buffy turns towards me again, an incredulous look on her face “And why should I believe you?” she asks.
I struggle to my feet, my muscles aching and sore. I stand up to my full height and notice her eyes widen slightly as I tower over her small frame. I slowly unbutton my shirt, wincing as the material brushes against my wounds. I pull the cotton back and show her the burns and cuts across my chest.
“Believe me,” I practically growl, “I want to kill them just as much as you do.”
I’m astonished, but as her eyes involuntary flicker down to my bare chest, I hear her heart flutter and watch as a blush slowly creeps up her cheeks.
She looks away suddenly and takes a deep breath. When she turns back to me she avoids looking me in the eye. “Ok…well. You better not try anything!” she tells me as she turns and walks out of the cell.
I pause. “Ah…Buffy?”
I hold my arms out in front of me. “The chains?” I ask.
“Oh…right,” she mutters, starting to blush all over again.