Blair noticed as Jim's eyes focused in concentration
and his jaw tensed up. No one else in the room would have picked
up on the subtle change in the Sentinel's focus, but Blair knew
all too well the consequences of what could happen if he was any
more than one step right behind Jim Ellison. He used his voice
to give Jim a balanced anchor to work from. "Jim? What is
"There's something different about this body." The Sentinel
drew in a deep breath, and noticed what it was that he smelled.
"Chief, I don't think this body is starting to decay like
it normally would." He started to take a look at the body,
and his attention was immediately drawn to the triangle of marks
on the girl's neck. He reached out to touch the marks, and traced
along the skin between the marks in a formation that would look
like a three-pointed star. It wasn't visible yet, but there seemed
to be some sort of scar that was moving its way up to the surface.
Which led him to realize something else about the girl's body:
there were things that were _moving_ in her body that shouldn't
As Jim jerked his hand back, Blair looked questioningly at his
partner. Jim hadn't zoned--or if he had, then the Sentinel is
getting better at pulling himself out of his own zone-outs because
Blair hadn't noticed a thing. He looked at the face of his partner,
whose eyes seemed to be widening by the second. Considering the
fact that nothing usually phased Jim Ellison, let alone caused
him to freak out, he decided he absolutely needed to know what
Jim felt when he touched the body. "Jim, what's going on?
What did you find out from the body?"
Jim pointed a cautious finger at the body, and Blair's eyes followed
Jim's arm until he was looking at the body himself.
A body whose eyes were blinking, a sinister yellow in color;
who was smiling, showing pointed fangs;
and who was getting up on what were supposedly dead legs to come
walking toward them.
Blair, who was getting used to being able to hold conversations
with raving lunatics in unusual situations, stammered out, "you're
ssssupposed to be--?"
"dead?" replied the late Michelle Chen. "As they
say, the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
She looked around at the unfamiliar surroundings and grinned wickedly,
"or in this case, maybe they weren't so exaggerated."
Jim asked the only thing that could come to his mind. "What
Michelle laughed wickedly. "You mean you don't know? You
two must be new in town."
"That's right," interrupted the new person in the conversation.
"Didn't your mama teach you to be nice to visitors?"
Jim and Blair looked over to see Buffy Summers, one of Willow
Rosenberg's friends from the high school, standing in the doorway
of the morgue, looking every inch like she had one heck of a chip
on her shoulder. If Jim weren't still in shock from seeing a dead
teenager holding a conversation with a live one, he would have
wondered if that attitude wasn't going to get the young woman
Michelle hissed at Buffy, "didn't yours teach you it's not
polite to interrupt?" She then rushed the Slayer, who promptly
sent the young female vampire to the floor by stepping out of
the way and hitting her across the neck with a clothesline strike.
Buffy then took out what looked to Blair like a wooden circus
tent spike and promptly shoved the spike into Michelle's heart.
The vampire convulsed for a instant, then turned to dust.
Buffy got up from her position next to where the vampire once
was and looked to face the cop and the grad student. "We
need to talk."
"I'll say," spat out Blair. It was all he could think
of at the moment.
"Can you meet me back at the high school library in, say,
Both men nodded, and Buffy turned and left, heading back to Giles'
car. Jim ran to catch her, "just where do you think you're
Buffy forced herself out of Jim's arm grip, and he was astounded
by how much strength she had, particularly considering her size.
She replied, "look, detective, I'm not going to try to skip
town or anything. It's just that what happened back there is going
to take some explanation and I'd rather not do it here."
Satisfied that he at least seemed to believe her she continued,
"Okay? So I'll see you in fifteen minutes at the library."
She then turned and left, headed for Giles' car and what she hoped
wouldn't be a lecture about killing vampires in front of 'innocents'
Blair found his way up to where his partner stood as they both
watched the young woman get in a car with the high school librarian.
As they watched the ancient car sputter and drive away, both men
wondered how the young high school girl was going to 'explain'
committing the murder of a formerly dead corpse in front of their
And why, and how, the body instantly turned to dust.
"So let me get this straight,"
commented Blair, "this place is known as the 'Mouth of Hell'
because of some sort of supernatural gateway that draws mystical
energy to it like a magnet. And because of this, your town is
overrun with all sorts of monsters, demons, witches and creatures,
but particularly with vampires?"
Giles, Buffy, Willow and Xander all nodded. Jim continued, "and
you," nodding his head to Buffy, "are the 'chosen' Vampire
Slayer, born with some sort of supernatural abilities that helps
you to locate and kill vampires?"
Buffy nodded as Blair picked up, "and you three back her
up by researching prophecies, helping her to train, finding things
she might need through whatever means necessary, and giving her
general moral support?" Giles, Willow and Xander nodded again.
Jim added, "and that thing that we encountered back there
is a special type of vampire that has all the other vampire characteristics
but is unaffected by daylight and Buffy's 'abilities' can't track
them?" Giles and company nodded again as Jim sat back down
next to his partner.
The Sentinel looked out the small library windows at the fading
sunlight. He didn't know what to believe. He had been constantly
checking the group from the time they started their outlandish
story for any signs that they might be lying, but he found none.
The librarian Giles had been working for almost two hours to explain
the town's complex "history" to the two men. Not only
was the man convinced he was telling the truth, as far as Jim
could tell, he was, in fact, desperately trying to make the two
men believe that the outlandish tale was what was really going
on in Sunnydale. He laughed to himself as he realized that was
how Blair first sounded to him when he first tried to explain
what was going on with Jim's senses. He had to find out what Blair's
impression of these guys was. He turned to his partner and whispered,
"so what do you think, chief?"
Blair whispered back, "vampire myths and the like are rampant
in all ancient cultures, Jim. The common belief is that those
myths were created to come up with plausible reasons that bad
As his voice trailed off, Jim knew he was holding something back,
Blair replied, "but then again, everyone told me Sentinels
were just a myth too."
[Touché,] thought Jim.
Blair added, "and nothing I've ever seen could be classified
in the same category of weird as what happened to us in the morgue
today. At this point, I'm willing to believe them--at least, until
a more plausible explanation comes along."
Jim let out a deep breath. He was hoping, at first, that maybe
this whole setup was an elaborate reuse set up by the vampire
cult to cover their tracks. But the more he thought about it,
the more he realized that Blair was right. [After all, it's a
lot harder to discount myths and legends when you're the actual
personification of one.] Jim turned to the group and announced,
"okay, we believe you."
As they all visibly relaxed, Jim continued, "so what now?"
Giles replied, "actually, we were hoping you could tell us."
The Watcher went over to the stacks and grabbed the book that
the 'Blessed Protector' prophecy came from. He flipped to the
prophecy and handed it to Blair to read.
The younger man read over the prophecy, his eyes growing wider
as he first scanned the page, then read the text in more detail.
He asked Giles, "you think this is talking about us?"
"I'm not exactly sure. I'm fairly certain that the first
part is talking about the Order of Ra, and 'will descend from
the clouds' and 'guided by wisdom and innocence' could certainly
be talking about you two."
Blair nodded in agreement. That much he could see as well.
Giles went on, "however, as unique as your pairing may be,
I don't see how it would fit into 'separate from the hunted'
Jim's attention drifted from Giles' explanation of the prophecy
as it focused on the new person who had just entered the room.
[If you could call it a person,] he thought. The man had a heartbeat,
but it was slower than a human heartbeat, and quieter, almost
as if it didn't need to pump quite as much blood as everyone else's
did. He didn't breathe, as far as Jim could hear, but the strangest
thing of all was the smell that pervaded the man's being like
a subtle cologne. The Sentinel recognized it immediately, because
he had smelled a similar scent that afternoon.
The man smelled like a corpse.
He drew his gun and leveled it at the dark-haired 'man', which
caused all conversation in the room to cease. He then asked, "who
The man looked at him with an absurd amount of calm and spoke
with a gentle voice, "you can call me Angel, and you can
put the gun away. Even if it were necessary, it's useless on me."
Buffy chimed in, "he's right, detective. Angel is a vampire.
But don't worry--he's on our side."
Jim re-attached the safety on his gun and put it in the holster,
allowing Angel to come into the room. After Buffy introduced the
vampire to Jim and Blair, she explained the story of how Angel
came to possess a soul, and how he, in turn, had been helping
Buffy find and destroy the others of his kind ever since she came
to Sunnydale. As the nervous tension in the room dissipated once
again, Angel asked, "so, detective, out of curiosity, how
could you tell I wasn't human?"
Jim looked at him with only half-surprise. "Excuse me?"
Angel replied, "one thing about vampires, detective, is that
we can often detect strong emotion in people, sometimes to the
point of reading minds. When I walked in the room, it was like
something almost instinctive kicked in, and you drew the gun on
me before you even really thought about it. I've never met a human
who could pick up on my other nature before it revealed itself."
The rest of the group looked at Jim and Blair with renewed curiosity.
Giles chimed in, "yes, detective, I think I'd like to know
that information myself."
Jim wasn't about to tell them about his senses, so he decided
to divert attention back to Angel. "What do you mean by your
Instantly, Angel's face changed from his attractive human features
to the twisted face of a demon. He hissed, "this is my other
Jim and Blair jumped back from the table in shock. Angel turned
his face to the floor, drew in a deep breath, and instantly his
face returned to human form. After Jim got his voice back, he
stammered out, "what was that?"
Buffy replied, surprised, "that was his 'vampire' face, detective."
Jim exclaimed, "but the one we saw this afternoon
Giles replied, "
was of a special sect called the Order
of Ra. As I mentioned before, they have been given special abilities
that allow them to hide their true nature. Evidently, that includes
the removal of most demonic features from their appearance."
Before anyone else could speak up, Angel interjected, "and
you still haven't answered my question, detective."
Jim wished for a moment that he was half as good at coming up
with an on-the-spot lie as his partner was. He decided to try
a truth that could be semi-plausible. "I couldn't hear you
breathing. That, added to an incident we experienced earlier this
evening and the conversation we were just having simply made me
a little nervous, that's all." He then tried to add a little
lie, "I didn't know you weren't human until Buffy said something."
Buffy, however, wasn't buying it. "Wait a second, you drew
your gun while Angel was still a good ten, maybe fifteen feet
away from you. No one could possibly hear anyone's breathing from
The second Buffy said, "
no one could possibly hear
separate from the hunted
' finally clicked into place
in Rupert Giles' mind. He voiced his realization, "unless
that person was a Sentinel."
Blair and Jim looked at the librarian in shock, while Buffy looked
simply confused. She asked, "Sentiwhat?"
Knowing that he would most likely need to explain the concept
to Buffy, Giles had already formulated an explanation in his mind.
"A Sentinel is someone who has one or more senses that are
enhanced far beyond normal human function. In pre-civilized cultures,
a Sentinel would warn the tribe of impending danger and help in
the search for food. His skills would normally be honed by extensive
periods of time in isolation, and he would be aided and advised
by a Guide who would help him to use his skills in a way that
best served the tribe." He hit his hand on the table and
declared, "I can't believe I didn't think of this before!"
Buffy mumbled that part of the prophecy to herself, "
of the hunters yet separate from the hunted
", as Jim
grabbed the book out of Blair's hand to read this prophecy for
Giles noticed the look on Blair's face. "I take it this information
is nothing new to the two of you, Mr. Sandburg?"
Blair shook his head slightly. "No, but I'm wondering how
you came across this information?"
"Before I came to this lovely town, Mr. Sandburg, I received
my degree from Oxford and worked as an Assistant Curator at the
British Museum. And considering my evening activities," nodding
his head over to his Slayer, "I can pass nothing off as mere
myth or superstition."
By this point, Jim had finished reading the prophecy, and rubbed
the bridge of his nose in frustration. The prophecy was fairly
obscure, but it was clear even to him that the two of them were
a close match to the description of the "Blessed Protector"
in the prophecy. And even though he still wasn't sure about this
whole 'vampire' thing, the five people in front of them were definitely
wrapped up in this somehow, and he was determined to find out
For some reason, Blair seemed to be swallowing this whole thing
hook, line and sinker, and it bothered Jim. He decided he'd wait,
though, and prod his partner for information once they had a chance
to get away from these kids and their bizarre guardians and take
the time to discuss things then. [In the meantime, Ellison,] he
thought, [just play along. Even if these guys talked about your
senses to anyone, who'd believe 'em?]
By this point, Buffy was just plain confused. Giles' explanation
of what a 'Sentinel' was had gone way over her head. [Enhanced
senses? Protect the tribe? Where does Giles think he is now, the
Amazon jungle or something?] One look at poor Xander's face and
she knew that he was undoubtedly just as lost, although Willow
seemed to be following the discussion actively and with great
interest. [Although who knows? With Willow, it's just as likely
that she's developed a major crush on that grad student.] A second
look at Willow's face cemented her opinion. [Yep, crush time.
But for those of us who want a clue as to what's going on
Buffy addressed the group, "Excuse me, but I think I lost
you guys right around the part about him having 'enhanced senses'.
Someone care to fill me in?"
Giles let out a long sigh. There were some days when he was convinced
that in the hands of the girl sitting before him, the world was
truly doomed. This was one of them.
Jim looked over at the young 'Slayer' and smiled. [Might as well
play this to the hilt.] "What's confusing you, Buffy?"
"Well, first off, this 'enhanced senses' thing. That means
that you have, like, superhuman hearing or something?"
Jim chuckled slightly at the 'superhero' analogy, and replied,
"you could call it that, yeah."
"And your other senses are just as strong?"
Buffy wrinkled her forehead in thought for a moment. She wasn't
quite sure how to prove Jim's claim was true. How could you test
to see if someone has superhuman senses, when you don't? After
all, when they give you a response, how can you tell they're not
just making it up? She leaned over to Angel, who was sitting next
to her, and whispered, "do you think they're telling the
Angel nodded, and whispered back, "I've known a couple of
Sentinels over the years, and this guy fits the bill, all right.
The ones I knew were both military, and they definitely fit the
big, strong, soldier type."
Jim leaned in, curious, and asked Angel, "you know other
Blair looked over at the trio. "You know another Sentinel?
Angel replied, "Blair, other than detective Ellison here,
I don't know any _living_ Sentinels. The last one I encountered
was about a hundred and fifty years ago. I tried to attack his
village, but he could sense me coming and got the people in the
village out before I could get there."
Blair asked, "Just how old _are_ you, Angel?"
"Around 243, give or take a couple of decades. You tend to
lose count after your 200th birthday."
Blair and Buffy both slumped back in their chairs in astonishment.
While Blair was shocked at Angel's true age, Buffy was amazed
that given the confused look on Giles' face, the only person who
heard her whispered conversation with Angel was Detective Ellison.
] She addressed the two men, "how did you know
what Angel had whispered to me? No one else in the room heard
it, and you two are sitting the furthest from us."
Jim pointed to his ear, while Blair replied casually, "unlike
Jim here, all of my senses are 'normal'. I've just hung around
Jim long enough to know that if Jim says he heard something, he
heard it. I've never even known him to lie to me once in the three
years we've known each other." Blair then remembered something
about what Angel just told him. "You said that the Sentinel
sensed you coming. Do you have any idea how?"
While Angel shook his head, Jim replied, "he probably smelled
Every human at the table sat up, attentive. This was definitely
a new one. Buffy asked, "excuse me, but exactly _what_ do
you mean by that?"
Giles chimed in, "yes, I've never heard anything about vampires
_smelling_ different than the general population."
Jim noticed the look on Blair's face--it was one of his 'Guide
looks' that meant he didn't smell it either, but he completely
trusted and accepted the fact that Jim had noticed something unusual.
Jim explained to the group, "when Angel first walked in,
I did notice that he wasn't breathing, but at first, I just thought
it was my senses short-circuiting on me or something. The most
distinguishing thing about him, though, was that he smelled like
Buffy almost looked worried. Two possibilities ran through her
mind, and neither was good: one, either Angel was wasting away
because his soul wasn't letting him feed, causing his body to
decay; or two, he _was_ feeding and lying to Buffy about it, and
if that were true, she'd probably have to kill him.
Remembering what little he knew about conventional vampire legends,
Blair remarked, "but I thought vampire's bodies don't decay,
as long as they're feeding regularly."
Jim realized he needed to clarify the statement. "Wait a
minute, chief. He didn't smell like a normal corpse." Suddenly
he put two and two together. "He smelled like Michelle's
Angel, who had been listening to the proceedings with increasing
interest, gawked at Jim's statement. "Your sense of smell
is _that_ good?"
Giles needed a little clarification on the inside conversation
Angel and Jim now seemed to be having. "Angel, would you
care to explain what you mean by that?"
Angel replied, "I'm sure you're aware that the humans and
animals give off pheromones to attract the opposite sex?"
Giles nodded. "Vampires have a different type of 'pheromones',
so to speak. This 'scent' helps us to distinguish between those
of our kind and humans, so that we're not trying to feed off each
other. My guess is, that's probably what the detective smelled
from both Michelle and myself, right?"
Jim nodded. "I think so. I can sometimes smell human pheromones,
so it would make sense that I would be able to smell something
like that as well, right, chief?"
Blair nodded in agreement. He then asked Jim, "was there
a difference between the smells you got from Angel and what you
got from Michelle?"
Jim shook his head. "Not anything substantially significant,
at least that I can remember."
Willow chimed in, "but even if the smells were different,
we would have to find another vampire from the Order to see if
the smell was a distinguishing characteristic, right?"
Jim, Angel and Blair all nodded. Xander spoke up, "so that
brings us back to square one: how do we find the vamps in this
Order of Ra?"
Jim replied, "good old fashioned police work. Blair and I
will go over to the station tomorrow, see if we can find out who's
just moved into town recently."
Buffy agreed, "good idea--once you've gotten a list of who's
new in town, you can use that supernose of yours to tell us if
any of those people smell like Michelle did."
Even Giles could see the Sentinel's reaction to Buffy's rather
stupid remark, so he quickly interjected, "oh my, would you
look at the time! If these children aren't home soon, their parents
are going to get quite suspicious, so I suggest we adjourn this
meeting for the evening."
One look at their watches forced all but Angel to agree. As long
as it was dark out, Angel pretty much didn't care about time.
It wasn't like he had anyone to answer to about his comings and
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