Title: The Slayer's Hunter
Author: Robyn the Snowshoe Hare
E-mail: snowshoe16@hotmail.com
Part: 12/?
Disclaimer: See previous parts.

Author's Notes: Thanks to Gaius Petronius and MMT for their excellent beta readings and commetns, and Charity aka Taygeta and Jai L. for their inspirational nagging. And Joel the Peppermint Whale, who I bet never expected to make a guest appearence as a vampire. {grin}


Willow held her cup of tea tightly, trying to focus on the warmth that it offered. Oz was sitting next to her, taking long sips of his coffee. Neither of them looked at the man at the other end of the table, who gazed back at them with fathomless dark eyes. Taking a drink of her tea for strength, Willow began speaking.

"You know better than us what happened on Buffy's twentieth birthday. She found out the next day that you had lost your soul, and she was devastated, but we managed to defeat the Judge. She refused to tell us most of the things that you did to hurt her over the next few weeks, but we saw a few that she couldn't hide from us. A few of the letters you left, Theresa, and a few things that I'd rather forget.

It was about a month after Ms. Calendar's death that Buffy...well, she fainted a few times, and she was throwing up in the morning. I was the first one that she told. We lived in a small apartment off- campus with Cordelia at the time, and one day after classes she asked me for help. She had just taken one of those home-pregnancy tests, and it had come up positive. I told her to try it again, since those things always have a margin of error, but she had already tried four others, from four other brands, before she told me. All had said the same thing."

For a moment Willow paused, remembering those frantic moments. Shaking off the memories of the past, she continued, holding Oz's hand for support.

"We told Cordelia, and she made an appointment with an obstetrician for Buffy. We both went with her, so we were there when the doctor told her that she was three months pregnant....

Seventeen years earlier....

...."Oh, God." murmered Cordelia, placing a comforting arm around Buffy, who had gone white as a sheet.

"I take it that this is not a planned pregnancy?" the doctor asked. The icy glares from Cordelia and Willow plainly answered him. With a vaguely sympathetic nod, the doctor handed Buffy some brochures, and walked out of the room. Glancing at the brightly colored papers, Willow noted that they were on either abortion or adoption.

"Three months," mused Cordelia, "that means that it was right after Angel...well, right after your birthday. So who is the father?"

In a dull voice, Buffy replied, "Angel is."

"But, I thought you said that vampires can't have kids!" Willow said.

"Apparently they can." Buffy noted wryly, placing a hand on her abdomen. "It looks like I won't be picking out any spring courses." A look of pain came over her face as she said that, and Willow remembered how proud Buffy had been to be accepted into college, and how for the first time she had really enjoyed learning.

"Buffy, there are other options." Cordelia said carefully, gesturing to the brochures. Mutely, Buffy shook her head.

"At least spend a few days thinking it over." Willow put in. "You're in college! To have the baby, you'd have to drop out, and then how would you support yourself and the baby? And what about the Slaying? Or Giles, how are you going to tell Giles?" Willow paused for a moment, hating her self-imposed role as the devil's advocate, and what she said next made her feel like pond scum, but she had to say it. "Or what about Angelus? He's trying to drive you insane! Won't he try to hurt the baby if he finds out?"

Buffy nodded grimly. "Yes, he would. And I don't know how I'm going to support both of us, or how I'm going to tell Giles, or how I'm going to handle the Slaying. But I've been thinking about all of this since I took that test, basically 24/7. And the one thing that I do know is that I can't abort this baby. And adoption is out of the question."

As Willow and Cordelia opened their mouths to protest, Buffy quickly explained her reasoning. "This baby is half-vampire! The best we can do for him is to keep him with people who will understand his background, and love him for what he is."

"Him?" Cordelia asked softly. Buffy looked slightly surprised at her inadvertant lapse, but explained, "Ever since that night, I've been having dreams. They all start out differently, but end the same. Somehow I'll always be standing, and then this hooded figure will hand me a baby boy. Suddenly voices everywhere will be whispering, 'The Hunter, the Hunter', but I can't see anyone except the baby and the figure. Then the figure will pull back its hood, and it's Angelus. Then I'll be surrounded by fire, and Angelus will start laughing. Then I wake up."

Willow couldn't find anything to say, but it was Cordelia who knew what to do. Reaching out, the dark-haired girl enfolded Buffy in a comforting hug, and whispered, "It's going to be all right, Buffy. We'll help you.....

Present Day....

....Willow rubbed her forehead, lost in memories that she had buried for years. Not looking at the vampire sitting across from her, or at her husband sitting next to her, she continued.

"Buffy told Giles the next day. Cordelia and I offered to go with her, but she said that this was something she had to do alone. Cordy and I stuck around, and peeked in through the window to his office. We couldn't hear what they were saying, but they talked for an hour. Giles wasn't happy, far from it, but he respected her decision and he agreed to help." Willow sighed softly, remembering. Gently placing a hand on his wife's shoulder, Oz continued the story for her.

"Xander and I found out about all of this two days later. We'd been at an LA movie premiere that I had won tickets to over the radio, and none of the girls were very eager to see Scream 4. We walked into the girls' apartment to tell them about it, and found quite a surprise waiting for us." Oz grinned slightly, remembering their reactions at what they had seen.

"Cordelia had found some of her mom's old maternity clothes, and Willow had gone through all of our attics, and somehow managed to find about a boxload of old baby clothes. Kendra had taken the first flight she could find that was headed to California after Giles called her with the news, and had found a pile of baby books somewhere. The three of them had put together a baby shower for Buffy, and Xander and I walked right into it." Picking up the thread of the story, Willow smoothly continued.

"Cordy dragged Xander out into the hall to tell him, and I pulled Oz into the bathroom. The two of us had gotten engaged a few weeks ago, but hadn't told anyone, so we decided to use the news to try and salvage the party. It did, but meanwhile Cordelia told Xander everything, and she told me later what his reaction was." Willow paused for a moment to take a drink of tea, and Angel spoke for the first time.

"Let me guess," the vampire said, "he wanted to run right out and stake me." He was surprised at the chilling glares that both sent him.

"Actually," Willow said pointedly, "his first worries were about Buffy. Most of us had always assumed that his feelings for her had just been a crush that had faded back in high school. But it turned out that he had always loved her, *really* loved her. He and Cordelia had broken up in freshman year of college, and they had both dated other people, but somehow through everything, he still loved Buffy."

Looking carefully at the vampire as his wife spoke, Oz could see the flicker of jealousy in Angel's eyes at the mention of Xander's feelings for Buffy. Unknowing, Willow continued. "The next day, Xander proposed to Buffy. At first, she turned him down. She knew that she didn't love him the way that he wanted, and she didn't want him to throw away his future. But he kept after her. He had gotten his associates degree, and he dropped out of college to get a job. Buffy was about four months pregnant, and hadn't gone back for the spring semester, when she finally accepted.

The wedding was held two weeks later, which actually wasn't too hard to arrange since Buffy and Xander couldn't afford to have anything fancy, and Xander's mom refused to help in any way. It was Giles who really saved the day, when they were living pretty much month-to- month. They sold Buffy's old house, which she had inherited when her mom died in that car crash, and used the money to pay in full for a smaller house, which they got a bargain for, so that no matter what happened, they wouldn't have to worry about rent or a mortgage. The new house was a fixer upper, so all of their spare time was spent working on it themselves. It was when they moved in that you found out about everything."

Willow shivered, and skipped ahead. Angel didn't protest, as the events that she was skipping were burned into his memory.

"Oz and I had both gotten our teaching licenses by this time, and had started working. We got married, and our families helped us buy a house on the same street as Buffy and Xander. This was when Buffy was around six months pregnant, and Cordelia and her boyfriend Mark had just gotten engaged."

Angel noticed that, at the mention of Mark, both Willow and Oz frowned slightly, but put it out of mind as Willow continued.

"Cordy and I both found out we were pregnant at the same time, and for a while Giles was convinced that it had to be part of a prophesy or something like that, and buried himself in his books."

Willow smiled, and Oz threw in a casual comment, "Of course, the rest of us just refered to all the pregnancies as the 'bitching powers of the Hellmouth'." The couple exchanged a smile over the old joke.

Looking up again at Angel, Willow saw that he was in the same position as he had been at the beginning of the narration. With a glance at the clock, she realized that she would have to hurry up if she wanted him out of the house with a comfortable margin until dawn, which she most certainly did. Tomorrow was the night before the full moon, and she would have enough problems getting her oldest son out of the house in time to chain her husband and younger son without having to worry about a 260-year-old murdering vampire already down there. She continued, but hurrying to the end, thought she hated to even think about the events of that night.

"Hunter was born during the day, thankfully, and Xander and Buffy went home before night fell, along with their son. Luckily, Chris Eps had just finished his residency, and stayed with them for a few days to keep an eye on Buffy and the baby. Our son Jesse was born a few months later, followed by Cordelia's son Trevor. Things continued well, and we were all pretty happy. Buffy got a job teaching self-defense courses, and Xander eventually became the manager of his office.

"Buffy started Slaying again regularly after Hunter was born, and she and Kendra were the scourges of the Hellmouth for almost four years, until Kendra was killed by Drusilla when that psycho was trying to harness the Hellmouth's energy. After we took down Drusilla, things were very quiet for almost two years, until.." Willow trailed off, unable to continue to the last event. Oz pulled her close to him, also unable to speak of what had been the worst night of both their lives.

Leaning forward, Angel prompted them, unable to wait for the knowledge that he needed. "I have to know, who was the child that I killed that night, if it wasn't Hunter?"

Willow began to cry silently, and Oz gently removed his arm from her as he got up and walked slowly over to the mantelpiece, where several framed photos stood. Picking one up, he spoke softly, almost to himself.

"Hunter hated haircuts. It was so much trouble giving him one that Xander and Buffy tended to put it off until it was absolutely necessary. The night of his birthday, he was more than due for one. He was also very small for his age, and was shorter than everyone else his age until he was in eighth grade, when he suddenly shot up."

Turning, Oz walked over to Angel, and handed him the photograph. Looking at it, Angel saw that it was a picture of a little girl with long brown braids and a cheerful smile. Not making the connection, Angel looked at Oz questioningly.

Oz returned to his seat, where he put both of his arms around Willow, who buried her face in his shoulder. When he spoke, his voice was torn with pain.

"Our daughter Jenny was born the year that Hunter and Jesse turned two. That picture was taken about a month before Hunter's eighth birtday. A few days after it was taken, a school bully stuck a fistful of gum and burrs into her braids, and we had to cut her hair as short as a boy's. During Hunter's birthday party, her brother spilled a cup of juice on her, and we put her in some spare clothes of Hunter's. The party lasted past dusk, and we left Jesse to sleep over with Hunter, but Jenny had to get a shot at the doctor's the next morning, and we decided to take her home." Oz's eyes were no longer dry, and he wiped them with the back of his sleeve as he continued. "Buffy and Xander walked with us, and when Willow got tired, Buffy carried Jenny. You ambushed us about two minutes before we would've reached our house."

Angel realized what he had done, and all he could do was whisper, "Oh, my God."

Oz glared at him coldly. When he spoke, his voice was tightly controlled, and it was clear that it was all he could do to restrain himself from jumping for the vampire's throat.

"You killed my daughter, you murdering son of a bitch. We've told you what you asked to know! Now get out of my house and don't EVER come near any member of my family again, or full moon or not I'll tear you apart!"

Wordlessly, Angel stood and slid quickly out the door, leaving the two parents to grieve over their long-dead child.

Kari muffled a yawn and leaned forward to fiddle with the radio dial. Tobin glanced over at her, and smoothly shifted gears. Everyone always asked Kari why she went anywhere in Tobin's 'coffin on wheels', and while she never answered them, the truth was that Tobin was an excellent driver, and she knew her car's neurotic habits would be better than anyone else. If the Jeep wasn't safe to drive, then Tobin wouldn't let anyone in it.

But riding in the Jeep had some severe drawbacks, one of which was that the radio could only pick up the oldies station. As the opening words of "The Way" began to play, Kari turned to her old friend with a guarded expression.

"So," she said, "what did you do to Snyder to get him back for putting you in detention?"

"Do to him? Why, Kari, where's the trust?" Tobin responded, her face a perfect mask of hurt innocence.

"I know you better than that. Now, give. I'd like to know what to deny tomorrow."

Tobin smirked, and the look of contentment in her eyes reminded Kari of her cat after it had caught a bird. "Well, his answering machine in his office should be quite full tomorrow."

"What did you do?"

"I put a little ad online with his phone number attached. He should be getting calls from some really perverted individuals."

"What else?" Kari asked.

"What do you mean?"

"That's still a bit too low-key for you. Plus the fact that there's a weedwacker in your backseat."

Tobin grinned. "Oh, I'll have to remember to get that out of there before school tomorrow." seeing the expression on Kari's face, Tobin hastily continued. "Tomorrow morning, the students and faculty should discover that some truly depraved individual spelt something not-too- flattering about Principal Snyder on the school's main lawn. I have, of course, no idea why anyone would do such a thing."

"Anything else?"

"Of course," Tobin said cheerily, "but if I told you, than you wouldn't have the necessary look of shock that's going to be essential in my alibi."

Kari gave an exasperated sigh, and for a few minutes the only sound in the car was the muffled lyrics to "Tubthumping".

Finally, Tobin broke the silence. "So, are things all quiet on the Western Front?"

"Nah. My parents are fighting again." Kari said. Her parents had been battling off and on for the last year, and as a result she tried to stay out of the house as much as possible.

"I'd say you could stay over at my house until it all blows over, but we don't have any room."

Kari looked over at her friend in surprise. "But I just asked you this morning, and you said that it was just you and your parents."

Carefully shifting gears, Tobin gave her a sardonic grin. "Very interesting story there. Some environmental bill just got introduced to the House, so my dad will be leaving on a flight with the rest of his Republican friends to oppose it, and my mom will be heading off in a van with her environmental squad to push it through."

"You know," Kari commented, "whoever says that opposites attract has apparently met your parents."

"Tell me about it. So anyway, they don't want to leave me at home unattended, something about an adult being present in case police show up, so they manage to con big brother TJ to spend his college break at home. Then, realizing that he'll just spend all week locked in his room drawing blueprints for his architectural class, they call up the other college boy. So Terence agreed to come home."

"What's his major again?" Like many people, Kari had trouble remembering which of Tobin's five brothers was which. The fact that all of their names began with a 'T' had never helped very much.

"This week I think it's philosophy. I'm not sure, though."

"So TJ and Terence are home. That only fills up two of your house's three extra rooms. Plus there is always extra room on your floor."

"I'm not done yet. It gets better. Todd is home too."

"TODD? He lives in an apartment right next to the hospital!" Kari couldn't think of any reason for Todd to be back home, as his residency at Sunnydale General was made easier by his easy commute.

"Paint." Tobin said cryptically.

"Pardon? I'm not making the connection."

Tobin elaborated, "His landlord is having the whole building re- painted, and Todd discovered that the paint fumes don't agree with him. So he came back to the house and reclaimed his old room. Anyway, this was all before I got home from school. By the time I got home, Theo had pulled up."

"What's Theo doing back? I thought he just got ordained."

"Oh, he did. Apparently he felt that the only way the rest of the family was getting to heaven was if he spent his lifetime praying for us."

"How did his fiance take the news that he wanted to become a priest?"

"Not very well, as I recall. So when I got home, I had the joy of seeing my four older brothers, whom I had thought were finally out of the house for good, sitting around the table playing poker while my mom and dad juggled about two cel-phones each, trying to figure out how to completely undermine each other's political position."

"Why do I get the feeling that it gets better?"

"You've known my family too long. And it does. Tom's wife just filed for divorce."


"He told her he needed more space, so she locked him out of the house."


"You can certainly say that. Apparently this was right before he had to handle a press meeting for the governor. So he shows up, and everyone is waiting for this wonderful PR man to save the day yet again, and instead he has a complete breakdown, on camera! They'll be playing the footage again on the morning news, but Theo promised to tape the evening news for me, so I probably already have a copy."

Kari absently rubbed her head. Hearing about Tobin's family was usually enough to give her a severe headache, and this was no exception. "So let me get this straight, within the course of one day all five of your older brothers end up coming to stay at your house for a while? How old are they?"

"Terence is twenty-one, TJ is twenty-three, Todd is twenty-six, and Theo and Tom are twenty-eight, that whole twin thing."

"This is starting to sound like a movie script."

"They say the world is all a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing."

"Maybe that's why it's hard to tell if we're in a tragedy or a farce."

"We need more special effects and dance numbers." Tobin said with a grin as she slowed at a stop sign. As she tried to continue forward, though, the engine stalled. Kari groaned as Tobin tried again, with the same result. With a quick quirk of her eyebrows, Tobin popped the hood and climbed out of the car. With the coordinated movements that hinted at many such occurances, Kari grabbed the jar of anti-freeze and the flashlights, and got out to join Tobin at the hood of the car.

Taking the flashlight that Kari handed her, Tobin spent a few minutes poking around, looking for the problem. To her surprise, it was not the water pump, and the anti-freeze level was fine. Instead, it appeared that her battery was dead.

With an apologetic shrug, she turned to Kari. "We'll try to pop-start it, and if that doesn't work, we'll have to push it back to my house so one of my brothers can jump it."

"You're kidding, right?" Kari said.

"Hey, it's not that bad!" Tobin said defensively. "It's mostly flat from here to my house, and with two of us it shouldn't be too bad."

Kari just glared at her friend. "So how do we pop-start it?"

"Well," Tobin said, removing her jacket and rolling up her sleeves. "You get over on the passengers side, and I get over on the drivers side, and we both push the car as fast as we can, and then I jump in and pop the clutch. Sometimes, it'll work."

As Tobin started a countdown, Kari muttered to herself, "I should've walked with Julia and Mary. They're probably home by now."



The first thing Julia was aware of was the cold cement floor that she was lying on. Slowly, the sound of male voices filtered their way into her rattled brain. Opening her eyes, for a moment she couldn't see anything in the partial darkness. It looked like she was in some kind of basement room, where the only illumination came from the weak moonlight that trickled through a tiny window that was caked in dirt and mildew. Memory of the events in the cemetery came back to her in a rush, and she sat up quickly. Too quickly. For a moment all she could see were stars, and she fought the urge to vomit. Placing a hand on her throbbing head, she felt something sticky. Sniffing her hand tentatively, she gagged and again choked down bile. Her hand was covered in blood, and from the feel of it, her hair was caked in it.

So far this was not promising to be her best night ever. Julia took deep, careful breaths, knowing that if she didn't get a handle on this, she would start hyperventalating. Whatever trouble she was in, passing out wasn't going to make things any better.

After a moment or two of constant breathing, the pain in her head receded slightly. Turning her head to her right, she saw Mary. The thin redhead was curled in a tight ball, whimpering. Julia knew from experience that Mary wasn't the person you wanted to be stuck with in a crisis situation. Back in fourth grade, when Tobin had fallen out of a tree and broken her arm, Kari had been the one to run to call the paramedics, she had been the one to try and keep Tobin from moving, and Mary had been the one who stood there and screamed. In the end, the emergency crew had to sedate Mary for hysterics before they could even look at Tobin.

The scrape of a shoe against the concrete snapped Julia out of her thoughts, and she spun around. Or rather, tried to spin around. She had turned about halfway before the sharp ache in her head caught up with her, and once again she found herself gagging slightly.

~Hmm, note to self. Don't make sudden movements with a head wound.~

Once she trusted herself enough to open her eyes, she did so, only to be blinded by a piercingly bright flashlight.

"Listen, do you people mind pointing that thing away from my eyes? I don't appreciate being blinded by people who have just kidnapped me," she snapped, her mouth moving faster than her mind. Once her brain caught up, she gave a soft groan.

~Niiiiiice one, Julia. Let's piss off the people whose basement you are now stuck in. Really endear yourself to them.~

A soft chuckle echoed through the room as the flashlight moved away from her face, leaving her blinking frantically, trying to readjust her vision.

"Same old bitch, huh Julia? I guess some people never change." whispered a soft, and vaguely menacing voice which nevertheless struck her as naggingly familiar.

"Who are you?" she asked, unable to keep a slight tremor out of her voice.

"You don't remember? I'm hurt. Really." The hand holding the flashlight shifted so that the bright beam illuminated its bearer's face. A strangled gasp worked its way out of Julia's throat as she looked on a face that she had never expected to see in this life.

"Joel?" she whispered.

~No, you moron.~ her mind berated her. ~That *cannot* be Joel. He died almost five months ago. You went to his funeral, for criminy's sake! You've just suffered a head injury and you're delusional.~

"Give the girl a gold star!" he crowed with a mocking smile. "Maybe you're smarter than I thought. Not all that likely, though."

"Joel, what's going on? You're dead!"

"Actually, Jules, you're right. I am dead," her friend's familiar, boyish features melted away into sharp ridges and even sharper fangs, and his dark blue eyes became a buttery gold. Julia fell back slightly with a muffled shriek. With a speed and grace that he had never possessed in life, Joel leaped forward and grabbed a handfull of her blond hair, pulling her head back.

"But not quite as dead as you're going to be." he finished with a cold smirk as he moved in to strike.

"STOP!" bellowed a voice from the doorway. Joel twisted slightly to look over, never loosening his grip on Julia. "What?" he asked in an irritated tone, as though someone had just interrupted him in the middle of a game that he was one point away from winning, not prevented him from killing a friend.

A thin man stepped into the room, his pale features becoming almost colorless in the dim light. "Your master made it very clear that neither girl was to be harmed until I had made the identification and reported back to him." his voice, tinged with a light Boston accent, seemed to slowly lose strength as he spoke, until the last words were spoken with dull hopelessness. It was hard to believe that this same man had halted Joel just moments before with only one word.

Joel gave another mocking smile and released Julia, his face smoothing itself back to the mask of youthful cheerfulness. She fell backwards, sobbing in terror at her near escape from whatever that...thing that Joel had been for a moment.

"So?" he asked in a disinterested tone. "Make the identification already. I'm bored."

The man stepped closer, and for a moment Julia found herself staring into a pair of seemingly depthless grey eyes. She got the impression of sadness, despair, and an almost overwhelming self-hatred.

"This is one," he said regretfully, "the redhead is another."

"Now was that so hard, Sean?" Joel asked. "So we now have Julia Meah and Mary Gawel in our custody. Whoop-de-doo. I'm sure the boss will be just tickled pink. Especially once we break the news to him that we only caught two out of four pigeons, despite the 'directions' given to us by his pet psychic." he gave Mary a disgusted nudge with his boot, and when she whimpered and cringed away, he cocked his foot back as though to kick her. Shocked out of her tears, Julia yelled angrily, "Joel, stop, damn it! What the hell do you want with us? What's going on?"

Joel shrugged nochelantly. Turning, he walked out the door. His voice echoed back into the room. "Oh, you'll find out." With another regretful look to her, the second man hurried out. The door, a large steel contraption, was shut after him with an omnious thud.

Long minutes crept by where all Julia did was crouch down and listen to her own breathing. When she was certain that neither of them would be coming back right away, she turned to her friend.

"Mary?" she whispered. When she got no response, she tried again. "Mary? Can you hear me? Come on, we have to get out of here." This time all she got was a whimper. Clearly Mary wasn't going to be any help.

Slowly getting to her feet, Julia put out her arms for balance and waited for the nausea that the movement caused to recede. When it finally did, she carefully made her way around the dim room, running her hands over the walls. Not that she expected a hidden door to be there for a convienent escape, but she had to try.

The one window was a good three feet above her head. Without Mary to help her, it might as well have been on the moon for all her ability to reach it. Angrily, she slammed her hand against the wall. Wincing in pain, she shook the little crumbles of cement that stuck to her hand.

~Wait a minute....crumbles of cement?~

Julia dropped to her knees and re-examined the wall. It was old, how old, she couldn't tell, and time and weather had taken their toll. Just picking at it, more of it crumbled off into her hand. Tapping at it thoughtfully, she considered her options for a moment.

~Tunneling through it is out of the question....but maybe...~

Reaching up to her bloodcaked hair, she removed a metal chopstick that she was currently using to keep her blond locks in an upsweep. Tentatively, then with more assurance, she used the chopstick to carve out a foothold in the crumbling cement. She then worked on another. Then another. She made a small path for herself as high as her arm could reach, then she held the chopstick between her teeth while she carefully used the holds to climb up the wall. Working desperately to keep her balance, she clung to the wall with one hand like some kind of deranged spider monkey while with her other she continued to make handhold after handhold, finally dragging herself up to the level of the window. Reaching out carefully with her left hand, she tried to open the tiny window. It was locked, the wood of the frame had rotted away to the point where it splintered easily in her hand.

~Someone up there must like me.~ she thought as she started clearing away the sharp glass and the remains of the wood. Turning, she hissed over her shoulder, "Mary!". No response. She tried again, a little louder. Again, nothing. Knowing she couldn't just leave Mary here, she prepared to descend. A sudden noise at the door made her freeze, though. Looking back, her night-adjusted eyes could see the handle start to turn.

Desperately, Julia tried to shimmy through the small window, ignoring the pain of the glass shards. Behind her, the metal door screeched open.

~Just another second...~

Julia had just managed to get her upper body through the window, with just her legs still inside the cell, when she heard a shout and the sound of running.

Running towards her.

~Just another second....~

Part 13