The vampire lifted his victim off the ground, one meaty hand clenched around her throat. She kicked her feet lamely and tried to call out, but the sound died, becoming an inarticulate guttural noise. Her hands scrabbled at the one that was slowly crushing her windpipe, but the motion was ineffectual and its frantic nature only served to drain what little oxygen was left in her lungs. Her struggling became weaker and her arms dropped to her sides, hanging limply as she slowly lost consciousness. With a hungry growl, the vampire bared his fangs and dipped his head towards her exposed neck.
The look of anticipation that crossed his demonic features quickly became one of alarm and disbelief as he crumbled to dust around the stake that had punctured his heart from the rear. The woman tumbled to the ground, coughing as she rested on one elbow and looked up at her savior.
"Willow, you okay?"
The redhead nodded, her throat still too sore to comfortably form words. She massaged the bruised flesh and glared at the spot where the vampire had been just moments before with profound indignity.
"A little help over here!" a voice called out from across the graveyard, and Willow's rescuer immediately ran towards it. Xander was cornered against a large, ornately carved crypt by three more vampires, all female and much less brawny than the first but making up for the lesser physical bulk with speed and agility. Every time Xander would try to duck around one to get into a more favorable position, the vampires would sense his movement and counter it. Every tentative thrust of the longsword he gripped tightly in both hands was met with a dodge and a cruel sneer. The vampires were clearly playing with their food, and it was only a matter of time before they became bored and decided to end the game.
Xander's usually jovial face was marred with fear and concern as his lone eye darted from one vampire to the next and then back again, never resting in one place for long. "I don't suppose you ladies are just looking for a fourth to play Bridge..?" he asked hopefully. An inhuman snarl was his only response. "Didn't think so," Xander said with a grim smile.
This seemed to act as some sort of trigger to the trio of vampires, and as one they leapt at the carpenter. Xander just had time to give a short, womanly scream as he swung his sword in a wild, desperate arc. It hit nothing, and one of the vampires batted it out of his hand. As the vampires converged on their prey the sword went flying, sailing through the air and landing solidly in an outstretched palm. Fingers closed around the hilt without missing a beat as the figure strode with absolute confidence towards the vampires, who were attempting to pin down a squirming, struggling Xander.
"Hey!" the figure called out, and the vampires looked up, startled at the interruption. "You skanks feel up to a real challenge, or do you only get off on gang banging weak and defenseless guys?"
"Weak?" came an offended voice from somewhere on the ground. "I had them right where they wanted me."
With an enraged animal yell, the vampires abandoned Xander and leapt at the newcomer. A flash of steel, then a second and a third, and soon three heads hit the ground and bounced, turning to dust along with their now useless bodies. Tossing the sword away, the figure extended a hand towards Xander, easily pulling him to his feet. He brushed off his jeans, smiling his appreciation for the timely rescue. "Was that all of 'em?" he asked.
"Not quite," was the reply. "There's still one more." In a blur of motion, a mini-crossbow appeared in the figure's hands. The trigger was pulled instantly, and a bolt flew several yards before embedding itself with deadly accuracy in the chest of the final vampire. The dust rained down on the blonde who had been just moments away from becoming its midnight snack.
Buffy coughed and patted her clothes, sending clouds of dust flying into the air. "Nice moves, Dawn," she said with great respect and admiration.
Dawn flashed a toothy grin, slinging the crossbow back over her shoulder. "All in a days work," she said nonchalantly. She walked a few paces away from Xander, coming face-to-face with a young man, dressed in tight black leather pants and a thin, filmy white shirt that lay open and flapping in the sudden breeze that sprang up. He was all chiseled jaw and chest, and looked at the girl with burning passion and undying love.
"Oh Dawn," he whispered, bending down and sweeping her into a blazing kiss that seemed to last for days. Finally they broke apart, Dawn's eyes heavy-lidded and unfocused. "Do you want Raisin Bran or Corn Pops?" he asked.
Dawn's eyes snapped open and she looked around in confusion. She was lying in her bed, her arms curled around her pillow and her hair tousled.
"Dawnie! Breakfast! C'mon, let's go!" Willow's voice called from downstairs.
"Your Pops are gettin' all mushy!" yelled Xander.
Glancing at her clock, Dawn saw that it read 7:08 AM. With a groan, she grabbed the covers and pulled them over her head. "Buffy's so lucky she doesn't have to deal with stuff like this."
Buffy was jolted awake by the unpleasant stinging slap of a wet sock falling onto her face. With a splutter she sat upright in the tiny bed, her hands clawing at the unknown and rather damp assailant. The offending item in hand, she clenched it tightly and glared up at the girl standing a few feet away who was depositing an armload of equally wet articles of clothing unceremoniously on the bed next to Buffy's. The girl remained oblivious, draping clothes on the radiator, the headboard, the lamp ... any place airy or slightly warm. Buffy rolled her eyes and dropped the sock to the ground where it landed with a sick squelch on the throw rug between the two beds. She laid down again, pulling the covers over her head.