Chapter Three--Saving Private Harris


Sunnydale High School Library, 3:04 a.m.

"I was just out there, Giles, I didn't see either one of them." Buffy muttered worriedly.

"Perhaps, they took a break."

Buffy turned to him, "come on, Giles, I know Cordelia's a flake and Xander doesn't always make the best decisions, but they wouldn't do that while patrolling."

Giles nodded, "yes, yes, I suppose you're right," he paused and removed his glasses, rubbing at the bridge of his nose, "we should go look for them. I'll call Willow and Oz and, uhm, perhaps, you might call Angel," he offered hesitantly, not quite sure where her relationship with the vampire stood.

Buffy frowned, lost in thought for a moment. She turned and headed for the library door, "uh, yeah, call Willow and Oz -- and Angel, too. I wanna go check out Spike and Druscilla, see if maybe they have something to do with this."

"What makes you think --" he began.

"-- Just a feeling," Buffy interrupted; Giles nodded and then continued, "all right then, Willow and Oz can check out the morgue and well, wherever else we can think of."

"Try a broom closet, " Buffy muttered as she opened the doors.

"Buffy?" Giles questioned. She looked back at him with a heavy sigh, "never mind, just wishful thinking on my part. I'll see you later."

"Yes, yes, goodbye, then," he called out to her as she whisked out of the library. He walked over to the checkout desk and picked up the phone, hoping silently that Willow would be the one to answer.

~~~

Spike and Druscilla's Lair, 3:32 a.m.

Buffy crept quietly in the dark, moving towards the muttered voices she heard indistinctly in the distance. Sidling alongside some boxes, she knelt down quietly, taking care to not make a sound. She could now recognize the speakers -- Spike, Druscilla and Cordelia? -- and could make out their words.

"I don't know what's going on?" Spike barked angrily.

"But you're the vampire. I mean, you've been a vampire for, like, five hundred years or something, right?" Cordelia demanded.

"Not quite five hundred," he corrected quietly.

"Whatever," she dismissed him casually, "the point is, you *should* know what's going on here. Why is Xander not a vampire now, like me?"

Buffy eyes widened in shock and she sank back down, sitting on the floor. Her mouth fell open and tears pricked at her eyes. She held a hand up to her face and breathed deeply.

Cordelia was a vampire.

Buffy shook her head in denial, but the thought repeated in her mind.

Cordelia was a vampire.

Oh, my God! She suddenly thought . . . Xander. What did Cordelia --

Cordelia was a vampire! -- say about Xander?

"Spike, listen to me, you better figure out what's wrong with Xander because I am *not* going through eternity without him. He's mine!" Cordelia -- the vampire -- cried.

Buffy carefully peered around the edges of her hiding place and took in the view of Spike and Cordelia facing one another in anger and frustration. She didn't see Druscilla. Then she heard a slight moan, and turning towards the bottom of the stairs, she saw Druscilla sitting down with Xander -- an unconscious, bloody Xander -- lying in her lap.

"And get your bitch away from him!" Cordelia demanded, obviously sharing Buffy's view. Druscilla rolled her eyes and gracefully rose to her feet, carelessly dropping Xander's head on the floor; he moaned again. Buffy, from her hiding spot, winced.

"Spike, I don't like her," wailed Druscilla.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, before turning to his vampire love with a strained smile, "now, pet, she's just upset because something is wrong with her boyfriend," he paused and said to himself, "what? I haven't a bloody clue."

"Well, don't you have books or something. Giles always has books . . . for everything." Spike and Druscilla shared a look of commiseration and then faced the freshly-made vampire. "We have a few books," Spike offered tentatively, loathe to admit that the competition had one up on them.

"Well, then let's go check it out and find out what's wrong with Xander," Cordelia remarked acidly. Spike looked back at Xander's slumped form, "he's all right, I guess," he murmured to Dru and Cordelia as they left the room.

Above them, Buffy breathed a sigh of relief and sent a quick "thank you" to God, before descending carefully down to where Xander lay.

The closer she got to him, the louder his moans were and she flinched with each one, certain that the next one would send Cordelia -- my God, Cordelia is a vampire! -- rushing back to him. She reached his side and carefully began wiping some of the blood away from his mouth.

"Xander!" she whispered softly. "Xander!" she repeated and still got no response. She knelt closer down and began to shake him; leaning in, she spoke directly in his ear, "Xander, it's Buffy -- you gotta wake up, we gotta get out of here, while you're still," she paused, "you."

His eyelashes fluttered and a quiet, "Buff," emerged from his throat.

"Xander!" she cried softly, "come on, yeah, it's me, Buffy."

He opened his eyes and smiled upon seeing her, "Buffy," he said and then his eyes widened and he tried to sit up, grabbing her upper arm, "Cordy's a vampire!"

"Ssh!," she held a finger up to his lips and then responded softly, "I know," she paused and met his gaze, "Xander, we have to leave. Now. " He nodded shakily, and grunted softly as she loped an arm around his waist. They stood up, Xander holding onto her and managing to stay on his feet -- but the effort it was costing him was obvious by his grip on her and the sweat beading his chalk-white face.

She smiled at him, "we can do this."

Again, he nodded and they carefully made their way out as quickly as possible.

~~~

Rupert Giles Apartment, 4:02 a.m.

"My God!" cried Giles as soon as he saw Xander. His face was still a deathly pale shade, his eyes were wide and almost glowing with fear, revulsion and most of all, an unearthly shock. His hair was sticky and matted with sweat, dust and the ends were coated with blood. His mouth was stained a dark red shade and thin, pale streaks of blood dripped in all different directions down his chin, his throat. There were blood specks on his ears, his shirt, and pants. It was obvious that someone -- probably Buffy, considering Xander's state -- had tried to remove some of the stains, but they had dried already and would take a good washing to get rid of.

In a daze, Xander fell down upon the sofa and leaned back, his eyes closing. It was then that Giles saw the evidence of that night's work. Three sets of fang marks were on the young man's throat. Two on the left and a single pair on the right; thin streaks of blood ran from each puncture wound. Giles turned to Buffy, she met his gaze and alongside the sadness he expected, was also confusion and anger.

"My girlfriend's a vampire," Xander announced hoarsely to the room in general, then he turned to Buffy. "Bet that's not something we ever thought we'd have in common, huh?" She shook her head and replied softly, "no."

"Buffy?" Giles questioned of his slayer.

"Cordelia," she paused and swallowed, "is a vampire. Spike or Druscilla made her. And they, I think all three of them, tried to make Xander, but it didn't happen. I don't understand. Giles," her voice broke slightly. She closed her eyes and bit her lip gingerly before continuing, "I don't understand. What is going on?"

"Gee, Buffy, you sound bummed that I didn't turn. Hey, maybe that's all I have to do to get my shot with you . . . become an undead, blood-sucking creature of the night!" He rose to his feet as his words ended on a shout. "God damnit!," he bellowed. "How? Why did this happen?" his voice faded as he fell back down on the sofa.

Buffy flinched and wrapped her arms tightly about herself, "I'm sorry," she offered solemnly, tears in her voice.

Xander turned and looked at her, "no, I'm sorry," he replied. "It's not your fault." He captured her gaze and she nodded, sniffling back tears. Their gazes held for a few minutes and she managed a small smile. Satisfied with that, he turned to the watcher. "Giles, what happened?" His anger seemed to have drained out of him and along with it, some of his tension. "I don't know," was all that Giles could offer.

"What do you mean, 'you don't know?" You know everything," his voice began to rise again, "you have books for every demon and supernatural thing that happens in this God-forsaken town. You *have* to know what happened."

"Xander," Giles began and then paused. He reached up and pulled off his glasses and motioned to the kitchen. "Buffy, why don't you get a wet rag so that you can wash some of, uh, some of the blood off of Xander."

"Okay." She glanced at Xander once more and then left the room.

"Giles?"

He turned to look at Xander, and his voice was full of confusion and dismay, "I don't know, Xander. I've never heard of this before. I've never read of this before. I have no idea at all as to why you are not a vampire. The marks are clearly on you. I -- I just don't know."

Buffy returned and silently sat down next to Xander.

"Maybe, I have an anti-vampire gene in my blood?" He offered half-seriously as Buffy began carefully wiping away the blood from his face and throat. Giles didn't respond and Xander could think of nothing more to add, so he was silent under Buffy's ministrations, and neither one questioned her doing this for him. Giles watched the two of them, a slight frown on his face.

"There's something," he began. Both Buffy and Xander looked up. "I, I don't know exactly, but I just know something is there. Right there. Damn!" He banged a fist against the mantle and both teens jumped slightly. "It's just there on the edge of my brain, but I can't wrap a coherent thought around it."

"Could there be an anti-vampire gene?" Buffy asked.

Giles turned absently to her, "uh, no. I mean, I've never heard of anything like that." He walked towards his bookshelf, muttering to himself. "Research, where do I look? Where do I begin?"

"Xander!" Buffy suddenly cried out. Giles looked at them. Buffy was hovering over Xander's slumped form. "What happened?"

"I don't know," she cried, "he just kinda passed out."

Giles shook his head, "My God, what have I been thinking? We have to get him to the hospital and now." Buffy nodded as the two worked together to get Xander standing between them. "Help me get him to the car and then leave a message for Willow and Oz. Once we have Xander checked in, you stay with him and I'll head to the library, do some research."

"It's a plan." Buffy looked down at Xander's face and a little sigh of anguish escaped her lips. "Oh, Xander," she whispered helplessly and Giles was lost in contemplation as he stared at her expression. Xander's immunity had something to do with Buffy's concern. He just couldn't put his finger on what or why.