CONTENT: There will be some violence...some sexual content (though I don't think there is going to be actual sex)...some cursing
SPOILERS: For the other stories in The Sighing Game series

SUMMARY: The sequel to The Morning After. I HIGHLY suggest that you read the previous parts of the series, The Sighing Game, Nights Like These and The Morning After before reading this one. This story heavily depends on the other parts and I can almost guarantee that you will not know exactly what's going on if you start the series with this one instead of with the others.
This part of the series picks up exactly where The Morning After left off. Buffy and Angel have just had sex for the first time. In this part they will be stuck in the middle of a war between the Anointed One and Spike and Dru. Unfortunately, Buffy is having more trouble than she expected with her fading vampire tendencies.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own the lovely characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer...I don't even own the ugly ones. Joss Whedon, the Wb and Fox have that privilege. All I own is the messed up timeline of this series, and the ideas that I've hatched from my brain.
THANKS: To everyone who has supported me with this series...and to all my beta-readers for putting up with my incredible slowness:)
And special thanks to Dare for staying up way past her bedtime to listen to my incoherent plot ramblings.
NOTE: This is really long...but I beg you to read it. It's sort of necessary because this story and the rest of the Sighing Game series are NON CANON.

The timeline of this series is seriously skewed compared with the normal timeline of the show. In my little world Buffy killed the Master right after the Angel episode...so I guess you can consider that none of the episodes between Angel and Prophecy Girl happened. And after Prophecy Girl it is totally non-canon. Also I started this whole thing before the second season, so this is set in the first season...it's before school has let out.

In my world having sex doesn't cause Angel to lose his soul...I've always thought that was ridiculous. In this series he can't LOSE his soul. But he can become evil if his demon regains control. The difference is that his soul would still be present..still fighting to regain control.

Also...the Xander/Willow issue. I started this series before we knew Oz existed..and before Cordy became more than the resident bitca. At that time I wanted Willow and Xander to be together, so in The Morning After I had that happen. Now I think Willow is better off with Oz. BUT..for the purposes of this story I have to go with what I have built in the rest of the series. In this series Willow has never met Oz.

Spike and Dru are being introduced into the story. I've tried to keep their introduction close to how they were introduced on the show...so the scene should remind you of School Hard. However...it's not exactly the same because I'm going in a different direction.

we now return you to your regularly scheduled story...

Parts in * * represent thoughts.

High Noon

by: Rebecca Carefoot

Part 1: Afterglow

Buffy woke slowly, her mind struggling to figure out where she was. It wasn't her own room. Her eyes fluttered open, definitely not her own room. She shifted a little, turning her head. Not her own room, and there was someone in the bed with her. In a rush, it all came back to her. She was at Angel's. They had slept together. The corners of her mouth turned up into a smile as she remembered.

She watched him sleeping, his body lying still next to hers, naked under the red blanket. Her eyes traced over him, the curve of his eyelashes at the end of his closed eyelids, the slope of his nose, the fullness of his lower lip. She followed the line of his chin down to his neck, her eyes resting on the hollow of his throat. With a happy sigh, she resisted the urge to kiss that little dip in the flesh of his throat. *I shouldn't wake him,* she told herself. *He looks so peaceful there.* She settled for scooting close to him, curling her body against his still form. Resting her head on his chest, she realized that he wasn't breathing. After one brief moment of panic, she remembered that he didn't breathe.

*It's strange,* she decided. *But somehow I don't care.* She wondered about herself a little then. She had the feeling it should have bothered her a little. After all, it was sort of like sleeping beside a corpse. She thought back to Xander's harsh words a few days earlier. *You've kissed a corpse, would you sleep with one too?* the words echoed a little in her mind, the way they had echoed in the shocked silence of the library. It had bothered her then....why didn't it bother her now? *Because it's Angel,* she realized. *It doesn't matter if he doesn't breathe...or if he drinks blood. He's my Angel and I love him.*

She wiggled a little, snuggling herself against the vampire more comfortably. It felt good to be here with him. It felt good to have him next to her in the bed. His presence was so solid and real beside her. She smiled. She felt safe with him next to her.

Angel stirred a little in his sleep. Something rested on his chest comfortably, and he felt the silky softness of hair tickling against his skin. He opened his eyes, peering down at the girl that lay nestled next to him. Buffy. He felt his soul sing with the nearness of her, her warmness, the feeling of skin on skin. To have her trust him enough to sleep vulnerable in his arms, to have her beside him without even the barrier of clothes between them made him so happy he thought his heart would burst. He wrapped his arm around her, holding her close to him. He felt her shift against him and stared down into her face, which was turned up to look at him. Her eyes smiled at him, and she rose up a little to gently bite the underside of his chin. Then she lowered her head to kiss the hollow of his throat.

His hand stroked her bare skin softly, as if reassuring himself that she was real. She shivered a little, then moved from his throat to his mouth, kissing him tenderly. He rolled over onto his side, wrapping his other arm around her and deepening the kiss. She smiled at him when he finally broke the connection.

"Good morning," she whispered into his mouth, before kissing him again.

* * * * * * * * *
Outside, the moon shone down on a world covered by night. The peacefulness of night was shattered by the shrill squealing of tires and the roaring of a black Cadillac’s engine as the car tore down the street. It took a corner dangerously fast, rising up onto two wheels. Then it steadied and passed down the residential streets of Sunnydale, the growl of its engine fading into the distance. Inside their houses people stirred uneasily, not knowing the danger that had passed them by, like a dream disappearing into the night.

The car screeched to a halt, narrowly missing a tree. A man climbed out of the vehicle, his short blonde hair reflecting the light of the moon. He lifted a lit cigarette to his lips, took a long drag, and blew the smoke leisurely into the night. Then he dropped the cigarette on the ground and stubbed it out with the heel of his black combat boots. He straightened the long black leather trench coat he wore, somehow filling even that mundane motion with menace. He ran painted fingernails through his closely-cropped hair and turned away from the car.

With a grin ,he headed toward the warehouse that stood just a few feet from where the car had stopped. It was the bad side of town, as bad as a town called Sunnydale could get anyway. As he passed under one of the few streetlights that lit the area, the ridges around his eyes stood out in broad relief. The light glinted off the fangs that filled his grinning mouth. Then his mouth snapped shut, growing serious.

He reached the door of the warehouse and yanked it open. It clanged loudly against the metal wall of the warehouse and every eye in the place turned to him.

* * * * * * * *
Colin, the Anointed One, sat on a makeshift dais, surrounded by vampire flunkies. He and the others had moved to this warehouse the night before, when they had been burned out of the caverns by the Slayer and her lover, the Penitent One, Angel.

The small boy's lip curled in disgust. The thought of a vampire choosing the company of a _human_ over the company of his own kind...over the power that had been offered to him. It was an abomination. *Angel has to be eradicated,* the boy decided, an evil light filling his eyes as he imagined burning the soul right out of the traitor.

A loud clang interrupted his thoughts of vengeance, and he turned to face the intruder.

The platinum blonde vampire stalked into the room, stopping in front of the small boy on the dais. The other vampires crowded around the boy protectively, watching the intruder warily. To everyone's surprise, the vampire rocked back on his heels and smiled.

"You must be that Anointed guy," he said with a grin, a cockney British accent flavoring his words.

"Who are you?" the Anointed One asked coldly.

"Name's Spike," he said, nodding in the boy's direction. "Nice place you got here." His eyes ran over the interior of the warehouse, taking in everything from the iron catwalks above to the dank cement floor they stood on. "Not exactly what I'd call homey...but with a little work..." He trailed off, bringing his attention back to the boy who watched him warily.

"What do you want?" Colin asked him, frowning impatiently. Spike opened his mouth to speak, but paused as he heard someone else enter the room. Knowing who it was without looking, he turned to her, his face morphing into its human visage as he did so.

"Drusilla," he said sweetly as a dark haired woman entered the room. Her pale face was wan and hungry, her eyes shockingly large. Her long dark hair contrasted with the white satin of her empire waist dress. She drifted into the room, more like floating than walking. There was an otherworldliness about her, as if she saw things others did not. She stared around the room, then moved to join Spike.

"Are they nice people, Spike?" she asked. Her voice was British as well, but somehow more refined than her companion's. When she spoke, the other vampires felt as though something had crawled up their spines. The sweet, plaintive tone of her voice seemed to creep inside each one of them.

"We're getting along," he answered her casually.

Spike entwined her fingers in his own, ignoring the rest of the room. His eyes saw only her as she pressed herself against him, nearly kissing him. When she drew back, she traced one of her long, painted fingernails along his cheek, drawing blood which she then licked from his face. He shuddered a little, lost in the dark pools of her eyes and the feel of her body in his hands. They stood a moment longer, lost in each other, before turning back to the rest of the vampires around them.

"Me and Dru," Spike began, leaning his head against hers. "We're moving in."

"You will join me," the Anointed One answered. It was not a question.

"No, I don't think you're getting it, mate," Spike replied flippantly. "We're taking over." He ignored the chorus of growls that arose from the vampires surrounding the Anointed One.

"He has power, Spike," Drusilla said, in an almost whisper. "I can feel it on my skin like pinpricks. I'm cold, Spike," her voice lowered to a whimper. Immediately, Spike stripped off his long leather coat and draped it around Drusilla's body. He pulled her closer to him protectively.

"I'm here, baby," he told her. She smiled at him.

"I'm a Princess," she declared with a smile.

"That you are, sweet," he responded, looking into her large eyes. Abruptly, he turned back to face Colin. "I'm not asking for your permission. We're taking you down." He turned his gaze on the other vampires. "Any of you want to join us...I'm taking volunteers. But with or without you blokes, we're getting rid of him." He nodded back towards the Anointed One as he said the word him. "Me and Dru...we do things a little differently. None of this ritual crap. We like to have a little fun. Any of you like his way better...it'll go badly for you when we take him out." Spike could see the doubt that entered into several of the vampires' faces. They agreed with him. Many of them were young and tired of ritual. He nodded once, grabbed Drusilla's hand and headed for the door. They would come to him.

One of Colin's more loyal, and foolhardy, followers rushed at the pair as they headed for the door. The vampire's mouth was open; his hands extended to grab Spike and throw him to the ground. He never got the chance. Without even needing to turn or let go of Dru's hand, Spike's fist flew up and connected with the other vampire's face. The silence of the room was broken by the crunch of bone, as the vampire's nose broke. That noise was quickly followed by the thump of the vampire's body hitting the ground.

Unbothered, Spike continued walking, still holding Drusilla's hand in his own.

The Anointed One watched the pair as they left. *This is going to be interesting,* he murmured.

* * * * * * * *
Xander looked over at the girl who walked beside him, her red hair gleaming under the street lights that lit their way. As if she could feel his gaze on her, Willow turned to smile up at him. She swung their joined hands happily.

"What are you thinking?" she asked.

"That I had a good time tonight," Xander answered, holding on to her hand a little tighter.

"Really?" Willow asked in disbelief. "I was bored out of my mind." Xander looked at her in surprise, his eyes growing wide with fear.

"What?" he managed to choke. "Well..I..I." His stammering stopped as he saw the smile that blossomed on his companion's face. "Will?" he asked. She just grinned at him, elbowing him lightly in the ribs.

"I was kidding," she explained with a giggle. "I kind of like this," she said thoughtfully. "I can destroy you with just a few words." She allowed evil laughter to bubble from her throat. "Ahhh..the power." Xander couldn't stop the grin that spread across his face.

"You'll live to regret this," he promised her. "For I am Joke Boy, and your crimes must not go unpunished." Willow stopped laughing abruptly. A jolt of fear ran through Xander, then he realized that she was joking and relaxed.

"Is that so?" she asked. "And just how are you going to punish me for my crimes?" She stopped walking, pulling her hand from his grasp and placing it on her hip.

"I'll give you a spanking, you naughty girl," Xander declared, shaking his finger in her face.

"Oooh," Willow breathed, "Kinky." Xander blushed, slightly amazed to hear those words from Willow's mouth, and shook his head.

"You're right," he agreed. "You'd enjoy that too much. Maybe I'll just tickle you until you beg for mercy...what do you think about that?" Willow widened her eyes in mock terror.

"Oh no," she whimpered, "Anything but that." Xander's grin widened as he reached for her. With a shriek, she darted out of his grasp, running down the sidewalk. He caught her in the middle of the deserted street, and with skillful fingers sent her into convulsions of giggles. She squirmed in his grasp, but he refused to let her go. Sliding her fingers up his ribs, she decided to fight tickling with tickling. The dark haired boy jerked violently under her touch, and lost all thought of tickling her in an attempt to escape. Panting from her exertions, Willow stopped tickling, suddenly very aware of the closeness of their bodies.

Xander looked down into her upturned face and leaned closer. Their lips met for a moment, and Xander saw a blinding light. *The light is coming closer,* his brain sluggishly realized. Acting on instinct alone, Xander broke the kiss, and pulled Willow down to the ground with him. They rolled to the edge of the road and lay in a heap as they watched a black Cadillac roar over the spot where they had been standing just seconds before.

Willow looked at the retreating car in shock. *We almost died,* her mind screamed. She looked shakily at Xander, who slowly stood up and pulled her with him.

"Are you okay?" he asked worriedly.

"Uhhmmhh," she struggled to speak. Finally she settled for nodding and nervously cleared her throat. "That was close," she whispered. Xander nodded, grabbing her hand in an attempt to reassure himself that she was ok. She took a step towards him, and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer to him.

"I thought I lost you," he said seriously. She slid her arms around him, hugging him back.

"But you didn't," she assured him. She looked up into his face. "We're on the Hellmouth, we face death everyday. Can you imagine how weird it would have been if we had died because of something so totally un-supernatural?" Xander shook his head, not even wanting to think about it. *Willow dead...* He couldn't wrap his mind around that concept. *Willow can't die,* he thought. *She can't leave me.* He held her a little tighter, and hoped he would be able to protect her.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

"Um...Angel," Buffy said softly, pulling away from a kiss that was quickly growing heated.

"Hmmmm?" he grunted questioningly.

"I really hate to bring this up, but it's a school night. Which means I have to go to school tomorrow," Buffy explained.

"Today," Angel corrected.

"What?" she asked.

"It's past midnight," he said. "That means tomorrow is today." She nodded slowly.

"You're kind of a dork," she declared. "Do you realize this?" He grinned at her and ran his fingers down the side of her face.

"You're kind of beautiful," he told her. "Do you realize this?" She felt her heart skip a beat at his words and pulled him to her for another kiss. She felt his hands slide down her back as he deepened the kiss, and she basked in the feel of his touch for a moment. Reluctantly, she pulled away.

"School.." she said unwillingly. "I should get dressed and go home." He nodded, his fingers playing teasingly over her back. She tried to ignore him as she continued to speak. "Because if I get home and change clothes, my mom will just think that I got back late from Willow's." He nodded again, now holding her hand in his, massaging her palm. "You do realize you're not helping..." she told him. He nodded again, a mischievous smile on his lips. Exercising all her self-control, she resisted the urge to kiss him. Instead, she pulled her hand from his and climbed out of the bed.

She felt his eyes on her naked body and resisted the urge to run to bathroom and cover herself with a towel. Her hand closed around his, and the little blonde Slayer yanked her vampire lover out of bed, pushing him towards the bathroom.

"Take a shower," she ordered him, ignoring his weak protests.

"Do you want to join me?" he asked with a grin, as she shut the door on him.

"Well, yeah. Of course I do," she muttered to herself, then she continued out loud. "You can take a shower by yourself, you're a big boy now." She heard him laugh as he turned on the water.

In a few minutes she was dressed in the outfit she had worn the day before, and her picnic basket was packed with all the leftovers of their dinner as well as her little white negligee. *Now what?* she wondered to herself. *I'm not going to leave without saying goodbye.* Her stomach growled softly, and she headed toward the fridge. It was a little early for breakfast, but she decided she didn't care. Opening the fridge, her eyes were met by the sight of several blood bags hanging in a row and not much else. Before she fully realized what she was doing, her hand reached out and grabbed a bag. Buffy hesitated. *I wasn't going to drink it myself was I? I was going to heat it up for Angel...* But she wasn't really sure. Banishing the thoughts, Buffy found a pot and poured the blood into it, stirring it as it heated.

*Is this even how you're supposed to heat blood?* she wondered to herself. *Or does he heat it at all? Oh well, warm blood seems more life-like so...* Her internal blood preparation debate grew scattered. *So...so I'll heat it and he can drink it out of a mug like coffee or something. This is too weird. Blood, coffee. Actually this smells really good.* Buffy realized where that train of thought was going and derailed it. As the blood grew warmer, it's vaguely metallic scent was filling the air, tantalizing. Buffy held her breath for as long as she could, then started breathing in through her mouth. That didn't help much, she could still taste the scent of the blood in her mouth.

The Slayer stared down into the swirling red liquid and felt a wave of hunger wash over her. Her knees went weak, but she managed to remain on her feet. She tried to step away, to turn off the stove and turn her back on the temptation. She couldn't. She was frozen, mesmerized by the steam rising from the now hot blood. Nervously, Buffy licked her lips, and her tongue met fangs. Panic began to rush through her, joining the deep hunger which possessed her.

Gritting her teeth, Buffy leaned forward and turned off the stove. Her hand hovered near the handle of the pot, disobeying her as she ordered it to return to her side. Inside her, an internal battle raged. Part of her screamed for her to get as far away from the blood as she could, the other part begged her to take a sip, just one little sip. Feeling like she was being torn apart, Buffy grabbed a cup from the pantry and poured the blood into it.

There was a little too much in the pot. It wouldn't all fit into the cup. *Such a small bit...what would be the harm. I'm just curious what it would taste like,* she told herself. *I'm a liar,* she admitted silently, as she raised the pot to her lips and drank.

The blood burned her mouth and tongue as she swallowed it, scalded her, but she didn't care. The pleasure that exploded through her as she drank intertwined with the pain until she could no longer tell one from the other. She put down the empty pot and reached for the cup. *It wasn't enough, I just need a little more.* A sound penetrated the haze that filled her mind. *Angel. He's done with his shower; he's coming here right now. He can't see me like this.* That thought allowed her to unwrap her fingers from the cup, and step back, drawing a shaky breath.

The taste of blood still lingered on her tongue, her own blood sang in her veins, calling for more. She shook her head, trying to clear the muddled thoughts, trying to bring herself some sort of clarity.

"Buffy?" Angel's voice called, breaking her concentration. Worry tinged his words. "Are you all right?" he asked. Buffy paused, gathering the strength to speak.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Your face," he answered cryptically. She continued to look at him blankly, so he continued. "You're vamped out..." he explained. Knowing she should have realized it, Buffy felt her face, traced the ridges with her fingertips.

"It was...it was the blood," she tried to explain. She motioned towards the cooling cup of blood on the counter. Angel's eyes widened.

"Did you drink any?" he asked, a harsh note invading his voice, as fear for her twisted in his gut. Her bloodlust having faded enough to allow her to speak, Buffy tried to explain.

"I was heating it up for you," she said. As she spoke she began to feel the dull pain in her mouth where the hot liquid had burnt her. The pain chased the odd tingling pleasure, the craving, away. "I just wanted a taste," she told him. Angel softened as she spoke, though worry still hid behind his eyes.

"We should tell Giles," he said firmly.

"Oh no," she begged. "Angel, can we not tell him yet? It was just a one time thing I think. And it's not vampire blood so it's not like it'll do something permanent." Her eyes pleaded with him as she continued. "Please, Angel...I just have so much to deal with already. I don't know if I can handle being nagged by my Watcher." Angel looked into her eyes and knew he couldn't deny her.

"If it EVER happens again we tell him," he demanded, catching her eyes with his.

"Absolutely," she promised, nodding her head in agreement. She grabbed the cup of blood off the counter and handed it to him, managing to let go with almost no hesitation at all. Angel stared at the crimson liquid swimming in the mug.

"I'll just drink it later," he promised.

"But I heated it," Buffy protested.

"I don't think it's a good idea," Angel said, looking at the vampiric visage that disguised Buffy's face.

"Fine," Buffy said, grabbing her things a little angrily.

"So now you're going to be mad at me?" he asked, following her as she headed for the door.

"I'm not mad, Angel," she assured, while trying to control the rage which began to tear at her. "I just have to go." Looking at his forlorn expression, Buffy felt the bubbling anger within her fade. She gave him a quick smile, which he returned. "I will see you tonight. Meet me in the cemetery; I'll be on patrol." She raised herself up onto her tiptoes and kissed him softly.

His arms crept around her, and he felt his pulse race as he tasted the hint of blood in her mouth. She buried her head in the curve of his neck.

"I love you," he whispered into her ear.

"I love you," she answered, tightening her arms around him before letting go.

He watched her go with some misgivings. He was more worried than he wanted to admit about the bloodlust. He knew exactly how tempting it could be, how easy to lose oneself in it. He hoped it was nothing. *I'm probably just being paranoid,* he assured himself. With an effort of will he closed the door, trying to force himself to trust her to take care of herself.

* * * * * * * * *
Buffy walked towards her house quickly. Her thoughts boiled in her brain, flying all over the place. Should she tell Giles about the bloodlust? She knew it was probably more than a 'one time thing.' She hadn't wanted Angel to worry about her, but she was getting a little worried herself. It had been so strong, and she'd had almost no control over it. But what was the point in telling Giles? The last time she had brought up her vampiric tendencies to him, he had dismissed it. He had told her to deal with it. Big help.

"So it comes down to this," she muttered. "Either all of us worry uselessly about this...or I worry uselessly about it to myself." *Great choices,* she thought sarcastically, *but there would be no point in telling Giles.* Still feeling slightly uneasy she continued walking, her thoughts veering in another direction. *So why the hell wouldn't Angel drink the blood in front of me?* she thought a little angrily. *Did he think he was protecting me?* Another thought insinuated itself into her brain. *Or did he just not want to share the blood with me? Maybe he thought that close together our bond would mean I could get the pleasure from his feeding the way I did once before...maybe...* Buffy tried to cut off her line of reasoning, tried to clear her thoughts of the ideas that clung tenaciously in her mind. She knew she was being paranoid, and irrational, and stupid, and she couldn't seem to stop herself.

Her agitated thoughts were interrupted as a vampire accosted her.

"Whose side are you on?" he asked her belligerently.

"What?" she asked, taken off guard by the unusual approach. The vampires usually just attacked her...and sometimes threw in a few threats or taunts for good measure.  The vampire licked his teeth nervously.

"Spike or Colin?" he asked, as if she were an idiot for not knowing what he was talking about. "Do you follow the Anointed One or the newcomer?" Buffy looked at him in confusion, slipping a stake out of her bag.

"Who's Spike?" she asked cautiously. The vampire studied her intently.

"Are you new in town?" he asked. "I don't think I've seen you around here before."

"Oh...I've been around for a while," Buffy said sweetly smiling. Her mind struggled to understand why the vampire was getting cuddly. Her mind reeled slightly as the answer hit her. *I'm still vamped out.* With the revelation, everything shifted into focus. "I keep to myself," she told the vampire. "So who's this Spike guy?" she asked, trying to get some useful information out of the sap before she killed him. He was staring at her again, this time more suspicious than curious.

"You seem very familiar," he said slowly. "Something about you..." He trailed off, then continued. "It reminds me of...of," He struggled to find the comparison, when he did his eyes flew wide. "The Slayer," he hissed, leaping at her. Buffy sighed and staked him in one smooth motion. She wiped the dust off her clothes and continued walking. *He couldn't have figured it out AFTER he told me what's up with this Spike guy?* she thought impatiently to herself.

She reached her house without further incident and sneaked in the window. She was pretty sure her mom wouldn't be up at three in the morning, but better safe than sorry. After dropping her things on the floor, her first stop was the bathroom. She stared into the blank mirror. *I could never get used to that,* she thought with a shudder. *Okay, remember what Angel told you,* she reminded herself. *Let the anger and emotions just wash away.* She closed her eyes and tried to empty her mind. Concentrating on her breathing, she felt calmer. Buffy swept her anger and suspicions away, and as she did, she felt something slip. When she opened her eyes she stared into her own face, her own blue-green eyes and blond hair, in the mirror.

She smiled, and her reflection answered with a smile of its own. *It's amazing how much I take something like a reflection for granted,* she thought, giving herself a little wave. The Slayer turned away from the mirror and dropped into her bed, grabbing a few hours of sleep before she had to get up for school.