Pain was the first thing that registered in Blair's
mind as he woke up. That, and the weird lighting in the room.
He heard some sort of dripping water, and used that to help focus
his mind enough to rouse himself to consciousness. Only one eye
opened fully, the other swollen from what apparently was a black
eye that covered a good portion of his face. He looked around
and saw that he was in some sort of underground cavern that was
lit only by candles. Then he remembered: vampires. High School.
The Assistant Principal and two big ugly guys with fangs. He wondered
if they had made him into a vampire, and he tried to feel his
neck to see if there were three holes in it.
It was at that point that a second realization hit him: he was
tied to the wall, bound at the hands and feet with some kind of
rope. He pulled at it, but it wouldn't budge. [Like that's a surprise,]
he thought. Leaning his head back against the cold, damp wall,
he sighed. If Jim got him out of this one alive, he would _never_
question the big man's instincts ever again.
He then stiffened nervously as he heard footsteps coming down
the hall. The nerves did reassure him, though, that he probably
hadn't been made into a vampire. Yet. In his mind, Blair screamed,
[Jim, man, where are you? It's time to come and do the Blessed
Protector to the rescue thing again!]
Judas appeared at the entrance to the cavern, smiling broadly
and making no moves to try and hide his vampire appearance. Red
eyes glowed as he looked over the man who would become their new
brother soon. "Well, well, well," Judas declared to
the vampires who were coming in behind him, "our new friend
is awake! Good afternoon, Professor. How are you feeling?"
"Alive," Blair spat out in response, hoping it would
come out as an insult. He regretted wishing he could get a chance
to study vampire culture when he first realized it existed. Now
that he was up close and personal with it, his only desire was
to get as far away from vampires, and Sunnydale, as he possibly
He just hoped that, once he escaped, he would be able to see the
Judas clucked his disapproval at the comment. "Well, don't
worry, my young friend. You won't have to deal with _that_ for
much longer." The Son of Ra tilted his head in a gesture,
that was, to Blair, uncannily familiar. A shiver ran down the
anthropologist's spine as Judas declared, "your friend seems
to be doing quite well. From what I can hear, he and his little
'companion' have disposed of quite a few of my men. I had thought
they wouldn't make it here for our little ceremony, but perhaps
I was mistaken. Maybe, if they do get here, you can bring your
friend across, hmmm?"
"Never," declared Blair, "the Slayer will destroy
Judas replied in mock horror, "The Slayer?!? You mean that
tiny little girl with your friend _is_the_Slayer?!?" He sucked
in an exaggerated gasp as he told the small group of vampires
now making their way into the chamber, "the Slayer's with
his friend, everyone! The Slayer's with him! Oh no, we're all
going to die!" As the other vampires' sinister laughter echoed
through the cavern, Judas hissed, "of course we know she's
the Slayer, you impudent little fool! Do you think that makes
any difference to me? No! The blessing of Ra has protected us
from a hundred Slayers, what makes you think this one's any different?"
A familiar female voice replied, "because I've got something
those other girls didn't have."
Blair and Judas turned to see Buffy standing in the entrance to
the cave, her clothes splattered in blood and her face projecting
the most confidence of anyone Blair had ever seen. He had a feeling
his chances for survival just improved considerably.
Insulted at the arrogance of the girl in front of him, Judas replied,
"oh really? And what's that? Your keen fashion sense?"
Buffy glanced behind her, and confidently pointed out, "no--him,"
as Jim walked up behind her. The Sentinel seemed an almost mythically
large figure next to the diminutive Slayer: strong, brave, and
carrying a _really_ big crossbow. His clothes, too, were liberally
splattered in blood, and Blair wondered how many vampires had
had to get past in order to get to him.
Those thoughts ceased, however, as Judas stepped back toward him
and reached for his neck. At that exact moment, Blair realized
that he didn't care how many vampires Jim had killed he only wanted
to make sure that Jim killed this one before he took too much
blood---"Jim!!!!" he screamed, "help!!!"
The Sentinel was by his Guide's side in a heartbeat, ripping Judas
away from Blair's neck like the ancient vampire was a deer tick
about to give the young anthropologist Lyme disease. Before Jim
even thought about it, he fired the crossbow in his hand, hitting
the vampire and sending him staggering back into the reflecting
Unfortunately, Jim had missed Judas' heart, and the vampire slowly
rose up from the pool, pulling the arrow out of his stomach. He
hissed at Jim, "you missed, Protector," and lunged for
Buffy wasn't about to give the Son of Ra another chance at getting
the Sentinel or his weakened Guide, now passed out on the floor
after Jim had loosened the ropes around his wrists and ankles.
Seeing the other vampires moving forward to protect their Master,
Buffy cried out to Jim, "I'll take care of this creep--you
get the rest of them for me, okay?"
Jim yelled out in response, "got it," as his Sentinel
instincts kicked in full force. Isolating the soft heartbeats
of each individual vampire, he picked them off one by one, the
half-dozen or so vampires in the cave each turning into piles
of dust as they hit the ground. As the last one disappeared, Jim
resisted the urge to blow at the tip of his crossbow as he commented,
like ducks in a shooting gallery."
Seeing Blair was safe, he looked over to Buffy, who seemed to
be getting herself backed into the corner by the Son of Ra. She
was fighting well, throwing a barrage of kicks and punches at
him, but the ancient vampire seemed to be able to be able to anticipate
each move and dodge it quickly.
Now backed into a corner, Buffy whispered, a bit nervously, "what
are you going to do with me?"
Hearing the defeat and fear in the Slayer's voice, Jim leaped
over the reflecting pool and sprinted silently over to the corner
where the Master was about to take Buffy. Before the Son of Ra
even had the chance to react, Jim took a wooden stake from the
back of this pants and staked Judas soundly in the back, piercing
the heart with little trouble.
Feeling the life draining out of him, Judas turned around to face
his killer, who smirked, "who knows? She's turning sixteen
soon. Maybe you can fill the ashtray in her first car."
The Son of Ra, one of the oldest vampires in recorded lore, then
fell at their feet, turning instantly into a pile of dust.
Buffy let out the breath she hadn't realized she was holding and
fell into Jim's arms, sobbing and exhausted. Jim stroked her hair
as he held her, instinctively soothing, "shhhh, shhhh, Buffy,
it's okay. It's over. They're gone now."
Now quickly regaining her composure, Buffy stepped back from the
Sentinel's embrace. As he loosened his grip on her, he immediately
remembered Blair, and ran over to the form of his unconscious
Guide. He listened for Blair's heartbeat; it was erratic, but
strong and getting stronger. Since he couldn't sort through the
smells of the dead vampires, he checked for the only other thing
he could think of --
--and instantly relaxed as he heard and felt his partner's shallow
breathing. Whatever that vampire had done to him, he hadn't brought
him across. Blair definitely needed a doctor, soon, but Jim was
confident that his friend was going to make it.
Picking up the younger man's unconscious form, he carried Blair
out of the caverns to the grounds of the cemetery, where he knew
Giles was waiting with his car. He had heard the Watcher almost
as soon as he and Buffy had left the school, but he decided that,
as long as Giles stayed out of the way, it wasn't worth trying
to drive him off or telling Buffy about him.
After all, someone was going to have to help Buffy come up with
a story to explain this to her mother.
It was a quiet Saturday morning in Sunnydale.
And Buffy knew that, for a little while, she had nothing to worry
Jim and Blair were leaving that morning, since Blair had finally
been released from the hospital the night before. They had kept
the anthropologist a couple of days, treating him for the symptoms
of mild anemia. Jim had started to worry that Blair might have
been permanently injured until Buffy had explained that an unfinished
vampire attack often presented himself in that way, and that the
symptoms wore off with a couple of days of bed rest. Nevertheless,
Jim kept an almost constant watch by the younger man's bedside,
stubbornly wanting to make sure for himself that Blair would be
Buffy had not spoken to Giles or Jim in those two days since the
attack, preferring instead to try to relax and live the life of
a normal teenager for a couple of days. After the Master had died,
she had had a full week of peace and quiet, a week that she had
cherished greatly. She had hoped for, and ended up getting, a
quiet, uneventful evening for the past two nights. She knew that
there were some things about that night that needed to be explained,
and she was sure they would go over them in great detail. They
had agreed to give everyone a breather, and that they would _all_
get together once Blair was released from the hospital. "After
all," Giles had stated, "considering the man's boundless
curiosity, I know that if I don't wait until he's around to try
and puzzle things out, I'm simply going to have to explain it
to him again anyway. And you know how I hate repeating myself
She enjoyed the warm morning air as she turned the corner, heading
for Giles' house. The group had agreed that, once Blair was released
from the hospital, they would meet there one last time before
the two men went home to Cascade. Recognizing the truck, Buffy
called out, "Jim!" and ran to greet him.
Jim smiled as he saw the young Slayer sprint to the truck with
blazing fast speed and throw her arms around his neck. Laughing,
he greeted her, "hi yourself, Tiger! Want to let go of me
while I still have an airway?"
Buffy stepped back, apologetic. "Sorry, sometimes I
don't know your own strength? I can relate."
He went around to the other side of the truck and let out his
partner, who had been patiently waiting for him to open the door.
The younger man had almost recovered from the vampire attack,
but he was still a bit weak, and he knew that if he didn't put
up with Jim's mothering now, he was going to have to do it in
Cascade, and he wanted to get back to a normal life the minute
he got off the plane. Well at least, as normal as it got for them.
Giles had heard the commotion outside, and stood at the doorway,
waiting for his wayward warriors to come inside. He had had some
idea of what went on in the caverns that night, but he wanted
to hear it from them for himself, in order to get an accurate
picture of this extraordinary experience for his journals. And
judging from the fact that Jim had insisted on having this meeting
before the pair went back to Cascade, he had a feeling the Sentinel
had some questions he wanted answers to, as well.
Buffy and Jim walked slowly up the path to Giles' door, keeping
up with the slow pace that Blair had set. As the librarian greeted
the trio, he ushered them inside to the couch, offering them each
a cup of coffee or tea and one of several pastries, which each
person generously enjoyed.
Having gotten a cup of tea for himself, he sat down and began,
"so, let's start at the beginning. Buffy, what exactly convinced
you so quickly that Jim needed to go with you that night?"
Buffy immediately replied, "he twisted my arm."
Knowing the now familiar expression, Giles exclaimed confused,
"how? He barely said anything that night."
Realizing that Giles was, for once, not thinking literally, Buffy
clarified, "no, Giles, you don't understand. He really did
twist my arm. Nearly tore it clean off."
Wide eyed, Giles exclaimed, "really?!?!?" Buffy nodded.
Giles sat back in his chair, amazed. Sure, the man looked strong,
but he had no idea that the Sentinel, or any Sentinel, for that
matter, had that kind of strength. He thought for sure that Buffy
was the only one in the world who had.
Picking up on the idea that what he had experienced was unusual
to them, Jim commented, "I don't know what happened. Once
we figured out where Blair was, it was almost like I was zoned
out or something. That nothing, and no one, was going to stop
me from protecting Blair."
Blair sat up as he heard that comment from Jim, his curiosity
piqued. "You were that focused, Jim?"
Jim nodded. "Yeah chief, I was. Everything was on overdrive,
but I was in control of it, you know? Almost like if you were
there with me."
Giles started to think out loud, "I had heard of the power
of the Sentinel-Guide bond, but this is incredible
Realizing that he had voice the comment out loud and now had the
full attention of the room, Giles asked Blair, surprised, "you
haven't read much about the Sentinel-Guide relationship, have
Blair shook his head. "Most of Burton's research that I've
found had focused primarily on Sentinels."
Giles went to his shelves and pulled out a book. Handing it to
Blair, he declared, "I think you might find this book useful
in your work."
The book had no title, but as Blair flipped through the pages,
he recognized that this was an