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A Perfect Gentleman

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The demon reeled for a second, staggering back and colliding with an already-loose gravestone. For a moment, Buffy thought it might fall over and provide her the chance for a sudden, killing blow, but it recovered and launched itself at her a second time.

The hulking, gross-looking, faceless creature was a dirty shade of grey and covered in sharp spines like some kind of giant, demented hedgehog. Identifying it would be a yet another job for Giles and Willow- currently hunkered down in the school library researching William the Bloody after his attention-grabbing appearance at parents' night a couple of days ago.

The huge demon slashed at her chest with its claws - they were longer than the spikes on its back and covered in a sort of weird yellow goo. The attack tore her shirt; only her quick hop backward prevented a far more serious injury. She swore, then rolled backwards out of range of the hedgehog-thing's grasp. To say it was giving her a run for her money was a bit of an understatement.

She was still wigged after having to help her mom escape a horde of vampires. Keeping her identity a secret was getting harder, and the stakes (pun not intended) seemed to keep getting higher. Despite the positive way they left things, Buffy couldn't help but think she had to be a bit suspicious about her daughter's unexpected people management and gymnastics skills.

She shook her head in an attempt to clear it. What was wrong with her? She was facing an unknown, creepier-than-usual demon in a dark cemetery and she was worrying about - what? Her secret identity? Her relationship with her mom? Hardly a priority right now.

She redoubled her attack, hoping to force the creature back, but it met her blow for blow and she realised she was starting to tire. She fought the feeling, controlled her breathing and did a front flip over the demon's head, forcing it to turn round, and as it was spinning she roundhouse kicked its legs from under it.

It fell and she tried to stab it in what she hoped was its chest, but the long dagger skittered off what seemed like a rock-hard carapace. Buffy swore and withdrew again as the beast lumbered back to its feet.

-----

In the shadows, hidden by a willow tree, Spike took another drag on his cigarette as he watched the girl fight. He wanted to get as much research time in the bag as possible before he had his long-awaited showdown with the Slayer. From what he could see they'd be well-matched, and he was itching with anticipation and excitement. It would be another glorious, one-on-one battle against a truly worthy and formidable opponent, something he'd been waiting for since 1977.

He wondered what trophy he would take from her. Certainly not an item of clothing: he wasn't sure that ripped, strappy top that was barely containing her perky tits would suit him quite as well as Nikki Wood's leather duster.

-----

Buffy rounded on the demon again, panting. She couldn't get close enough to do any real damage as it was so damn spiky. Plus it had stamina for days. She was just wondering whether to beat a tactical retreat and run back to her Watcher for some demon research and an energy drink when it suddenly howled and lunged forward, using its four scything claws to slash wildly at her exposed stomach.

She stumbled, fell, and dropped her hand to her midriff. Blood spurted between her fingers and onto the grass, landing at the demon's feet. Somehow, despite not having a visible mouth, it made a blaring, trumpeting noise of triumph and lifted its other forelimb to finish the job. "Great", murmured Buffy softly. She tried to roll out of the way but her limbs wouldn't obey her.

She felt like a broken marionette.

Instead, while her life's blood continued to drain onto the ground, all she could do was shuffle backwards like a wounded animal. As the creature's claws descended all she could think about was her mother, how sad she'd be, how she should have told her....

Her train of thought was suddenly derailed as something in a long leather jacket barrelled into the side of the demon, knocking it off its feet and into a large stone sarcophagus that immediately broke in two. The dazed creature struggled slowly to its feet, but discovered Spike standing above it on one half of the broken tomb. The master vampire was in game face and he just laughed, full of amusement at his own skill, then reached down, placed his palms on either side of the lumpy, tulip-like protuberance on top of its body and snapped its neck.

The thing collapsed to the ground, immediately dissolving into a puddle of bile-yellow ichor.

Spike chuckled again, then jumped down and walked across to the Slayer. How dare some mindless beast of a demon attempt to steal away his chance at a legendary showdown? The Slayer was his to kill, no one else's. His alone.

Drawing closer to her, however, he realised that it might not be up to him after all. The girl was grievously hurt, her hand clasped to her stomach which was oozing a mixture of blood and the pus-like substance from four deep, serrated gashes. She appeared to be unconscious.

The smell of her blood made him twitch and tingle all over. He licked his lips: he could just drain her, drink her up now, fill his stomach with her power and glory.

He sighed and shook off his game face, his features reverting back to human. Not like this. He didn't want to drink from her unless he was the one who delivered the coup de grace by besting her in a fair fight. He was no scavenger.

He wanted to look into the defeated Slayer's eyes as he sucked out her life force, watching the light fade and the spark inside her sputter out. He wouldn't consume another demon's leavings like a bottom-feeding fledgling.

He huffed in frustration at the unexpected turn the evening had taken, then reached down and picked up the injured woman, cradling her in his arms before stalking off into the night.