Revenant

Revenant

by Mel Odom

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

$6.99

Overview

When a Chinese gang hits Sunnydale, racial tensions in the community are sparked. Buffy has seen the baddies skae down Willy the Snitch, so naturally her Slayer senses are up. But to Willow, the situation poses a more personal threat. Her new friend Jia Li has been feeling the backlash from this cross-cultural hostility—and it's tearing her family apart. Jia remains true to her ancient cultural heritage, but her brother, the angry, outspoken Lok, is ready to toss out old Chinese customs for the modern American lifestyle. And he's willing to use the occult for just that purpose.

Suddenly, a beautiful martial-arts warrior arrives on the scene. It's impossible to tell where her allegiance lies, but Xander—whose romances are becoming habitually complicated—is smitten, Giles is in full research mode, and before long, Buffy is wondering who's behind the gang warfare. Is supernatural evil brewing?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743400350
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 01/02/2001
Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Series
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.95(d)
Age Range: 16 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"She was afraid," Willow Rosenberg said as she carefully made her way through the graveyard. Full night had descended an hour ago, and moonlight cast harsh black shadows of tombstones and crypts on the gray-lit cemetery grounds. Except for the places where families with flashlights and lanterns were gathered around the graves and tombs.

She pulled at the dark green sweater she wore in an effort to ward off the chill sweeping in across Sunnydale from the Pacific Ocean. It didn't help. Goosebumps still formed on top of goosebumps, and she didn't really think it was just the cold wind.

Part of the fear that filled her was from the graveyard. No matter how well-kept and clean looking a graveyard is, she thought, the whole Better Homes & Gardens thing just kind of goes out the window when you know a vampire or some other creepy creature could be clawing its way up from a grave at any moment to suck your blood or try to steal your soul.

The instant she realized that, Willow felt a little ashamed, especially when she noticed all the light from the flashlights and lanterns scattered around them in the graveyard. The families were all so busy. Tonight was a special night for the family members visiting the cemetery, a night of respect and love. The thought of a bereaved ancestor equipped with talons and fangs actually popping up from one of the crypts was just — just —

Willow giggled — a high, thin, nervous sound — before she clapped a hand over her mouth. She whipped her head around and glanced at her companions to see if they'd noticed.

Buffy Summers, blond and petite and wearing a to-die-for black calf-length leathercoat, looked at her friend with concern. "Are you okay, Will?"

"I did that out loud, didn't I?" Willow asked, face burning with embarrassment under her hand. She could face down vampires and dread demons, but a social faux pas could still unnerve her.

Buffy hesitated and glanced at Angel, obviously not wanting to be the bearer of bad news.

Angel hesitated, then shrugged and gave a quick nod. "Yeah. Maybe a little."

"Oh. Sorry."

"It's okay," Angel said. "No harm done. I don't think anyone heard you but us." Tall and broad-shouldered, Angel's dark eyes reflected far-off thoughts and a total familiarity with guilt and pain.

After all, Willow thought, being a vampire for over two hundred years, killing hundreds of people, then getting your soul back doesn't contribute to a happy, carefree existence. Or even a happy, carefree nonexistence. Or after-existence. Whatever.

"It's just this place," Willow said, "and all these people out here cleaning graves." She indicated all the families working on different grave sites. It was the first time she'd ever seen 409 and Fantastik spray cleaners, dishwashing gloves, and mops at a graveyard, and it was jarring. Some of the visitors just used brooms to sweep the grave sites and rake the leaves.

Buffy looked around and nodded. "All this neat-freakishness is really creeping me out. Earlier, a little old grandmother behind me pulled out a spray bottle and hiss-hissed a couple times and I almost clocked her before I realized she wasn't a vampire."

"That would have been not good," Willow agreed.

Buffy seemed a little perturbed at making the mistake, which Willow understood completely. Making mistakes equals unfun.

"You never really notice how much a spray bottle sounds like a vampire till you hear it in a graveyard," Buffy said. She knew a lot about vampires, and she was still learning about demons and other things that hunted, haunted, and otherwise lurked around the Hellmouth that Sunnydale had been built on.

She was the Slayer, the girl born to be the Chosen One, equipped with powers and abilities that allowed her to combat vampires and other deadly creatures. Those powers, however, didn't keep her from getting killed. Slayers, as a general rule, didn't die of old age.

The grave cleaning went on around them, with appropriate sounds of scrubbing and sweeping and raking. The activity filled the cemetery with unaccustomed noise, which somehow made it creepier. Most cemeteries Willow visited were quiet — at least until all the growling and gnashing of teeth started as vampires dug their way out of their graves before they went out hunting for victims.

"You said your friend was afraid," Angel reminded her.

"Well, she is," Willow confirmed, brushing a lock of auburn hair from her face.

"She told you that?" Angel asked.

"No. I could just tell."

Angel glanced around, appearing uneasy.

Willow knew he was looking for the thing to be afraid of. "She didn't tell me what she was afraid of. Exactly."

Angel looked back at her, obviously waiting.

"You know how you can just kind of tell things about a person?" Willow asked, trying to defend her statement. "Like when someone says they broke up with their boyfriend, but you know they're not telling the truth? That really he dumped her?"

A total lack of comprehension showed in Angel's dark eyes.

"Don't worry about it," Buffy said to Willow, then turned to Angel. "It's not a guy power."

Angel nodded, then glanced at Willow again. "So your friend told you she wasn't afraid to come to the cemetery tonight? Only you knew that she was."

"Not quite." Willow took a deep breath. Why is it guys just never can get the easy things in life? Like basic uncommunicated communication? The things you aren't supposed to know, but do, but also understand you're not supposed to talk about. At least, not with that person who told you, but really didn't tell you. "She told me she was afraid."

"Which means she wasn't," Angel said, trying desperately to catch up to the logic.

"No," Willow replied, "Jia Li told me she was afraid, trying to let me think it was all a big joke so I wouldn't notice she was trying to act like she wasn't afraid when she really was."

Angel gave her a crinkly-eyed, crooked-lipped huh? expression that sort of reminded Willow of a confused, whipped puppy. Not that Willow would ever whip a puppy, but she'd seen them scared before. Oz, her boyfriend, got that look every now and then right before he turned into a werewolf. It was always a moment of serious cuteness that was cut short by the I'm-a-ravenous-beast-gonna-swallow-your-head growl.

"Look, guys, at this rate I'm going to need a scorecard." Angel was definitely lost, but he didn't sound aggravated, which was way cool in Willow's book.

Buffy smiled up at him and put her arm through his. "We're here to check on Willow's friend. Just to make sure nothing weird or creepy is out here to get her."

Angel nodded. "Okay. I can deal."

"We," Buffy corrected. "We can deal. I asked you along, remember? So technically this is my party."

"Sure," Angel said.

Buffy grinned at him. "But don't worry. Tonight I'm feeling generous. I promise to share any creepy things we come across."

"Vampires aren't exactly party favors," Willow pointed out, not feeling as confident as her friend. But that was the Buffy she knew, the one always ready with a joke or a comeback. Well, ready most of the time, and funny most of the time.

"Oh, I don't know," Buffy said, taking her stake from her coat pocket. "When they meet Mr. Pointy and explode into dust, they kind of remind me of piñatas. Only without the treats." She returned the stake to its hiding place.

"Do you know where your friend is?" Angel asked.

Willow pointed ahead. "At that end of the graveyard. I checked the graveyard plot location records on my computer when I got home from school. The family grave is down that way." She started walking again and they followed.

"What's your friend's name?" Angel prompted.

Willow let out her breath, thinking calm thoughts. "Jia Li."

"Jia Li what?"

"Jia Li Rong," Willow said. "That's why I thought I had the right grave."

"Because it was the only Rong one?"

Buffy waved at the dozens of graves around them. "If there's only one right grave, there's a whole lot of wrong ones."

"Willow looked up the Rong grave," Angel explained. "R-O-N-G. Rong."

Buffy blinked. "Oh."

"It's a Chinese name," Willow explained. "Jia Li is Chinese."

The Emerald Lotus Cemetery wasn't just for Chinese families, Willow knew from her research earlier. It wasn't even only for Asian families. But back when this section of Sunnydale was being built, there were a lot of Chinese families who worked on railroads in the nineteenth century and settled in the area. There had been a lot of prejudice back in those days and there had been separate graveyards. Now, the Emerald Lotus Cemetery was a historical landmark from early Sunnydale.

"Jai Li said she always liked the name Mandy," Willow said. "Her mom liked Barry Manilow and was always singing that song. Jia Li says the only reason her mother didn't name her Mandy was because of her father. Her father didn't like American names."

"Well, that kind of works out," Buffy said. "Mandy Rong just sounds that way. Jia Li Rong sounds way cooler."

"That's what I told her." Willow smiled, glad to find something they could agree on.

They walked through the graveyard, passing a number of graves that showed signs of cleaning. Several of them had imitation paper money, small rice cakes, and other items decorating the graves. Families stood around grave sites and sang or talked or prayed quietly. Candle flames on top of tombstones fluttered in the wind.

"What's with all the cleaning?" Buffy asked.

"It's April fifth," Willow replied.

"Okay, and..."

The path Willow was following dead-ended at a huge crypt constructed of gray and black stone. Going around to the left would have meant intruding on a family ceremony that included several weeping members. Willow guessed that this ancestor was recently departed. Choosing not to interrupt, she headed around the crypt to the right, toward the shadows at the back of the cemetery.

"April fifth this year," Willow explained, "is Ching Ming." At their identical, prompting looks, she went on. "Ching Ming is the traditional Chinese grave-sweeping day. Kind of like Memorial Day here. Only with cleaning and munchies." At the end of the crypt, the path wound around to the ten-foot tall honeysuckle-covered wrought iron fence. Dark forest lay beyond the fence, and farther beyond that were the lights of downtown Sunnydale.

"What is your friend afraid of?"

"She's never visited this ancestor's grave before." Willow turned and walked along the fence. The heady honeysuckle scent was almost overpowering.

"So?"

"So," Willow said, brushing some of the honeysuckle aside so she could pass more easily, "she's afraid."

"Of what?"

"Her ancestor."

"If this great-great-great-great-granduncle died one hundred and fifty years ago," Buffy said, "I don't think he's going to be much of a threat. Unless he's a vampire."

"Nope." At least, Willow was pretty sure he wasn't a vampire.

"And," Buffy went on, "why would he want to hurt Jia Li? They didn't even know each other."

"No, but Jia Li's ancestor was killed or murdered."

"Still in the dark here," Buffy said. "More than just the shadowy, crawling with honeysuckle, end of the graveyard dark, I mean."

"There's a Chinese belief," Angel put in quietly, "that if a person is murdered or dies an untimely death he or she will return as a hungry ghost, an orphan soul doomed to wander as a semiconscious entity."

"Now there's a real career goal," Buffy commented.

"But the bad part is," Willow said, "that hungry ghosts, also called guei in Chinese, are resentful and confused. They try to take out their frustration by injuring or possessing the bodies of family members because they haven't seen to it their souls are put to rest. The Chinese even have a special ceremony in October to deal with the guei."

"Getting a really gross picture of the gooey in my mind," Buffy said.

"They're not really a problem," Willow said. "At least, not after you exorcised them or conducted the ceremony of Universal Salvation." She shrugged. "I guess I researched a little extra on the Internet."

"Bonus points, overachiever. So Jia Li is afraid of visiting this ancestor's grave exactly why?"

"She didn't say, but I guess it's because she's afraid that he could turn out to be a hungry ghost. None of the family has ever been here before. They moved here just before Christmas."

"Really?"

"Yeah," Willow said. "Her brother, Lok?"

"I know Lok Rong."

The disgusted tone in Buffy's voice told Willow that her friend really had met Lok. He kind of left that impression on nearly everybody — especially girls. "Well, Lok was getting into some trouble over there and Jia Li's dad got the opportunity to set up business here. So they moved."

"That's cool. So what kind of business?"

"A restaurant. The Topaz Dragon."

"I've heard of it. Haven't been there."

Willow stepped over a pothole. "Oh, you should go there sometime. They've got really great food."

"I will."

Angel cleared his throat, which was kind of tricky, Willow thought, because as a vampire he didn't need to breathe, so probably throat clearing wasn't a thing he did very often.

"Maybe we could stick to the agenda here just a little longer," Angel suggested. "How did the ancestor die?"

"Don't know. Didn't ask. That seemed kind of personal. Just picked up on the fear factor I was getting from Jia Li and did a little snooping. I thought since you guys were going to be on patrol tonight anyway that it would be no big deal to swing by here, make sure everything was okay." Willow continued making her way along the fence, conscious of the fact that as carefully as she went, she was the only one making noise. Buffy and Angel moved as silently as shadows. "She's my friend."

"I'm always there for a friend, Will," Buffy said. "Even a friend of a friend. You know that."

Yeah, but I also know you were looking for some alone-time with Angel, Willow thought. She felt bad about interrupting that because her friends already had enough hardships in their lives without her asking them along on what might ultimately be a snipe hunt.

Since Angel's return to living — as living as living could be for a vampire cursed with having his soul returned along with the memory of all the terrible things he'd done while he'd been without it — and to Sunnydale, his relationship with Buffy had been tense at best. They loved each other without question, but they had to constantly be aware of what that love would do to them if they allowed it to take over their lives again.

"Did you tell Oz you were coming out here?" Buffy asked.

Oz and Dingoes Ate My Baby were playing at the Bronze tonight. "Yeah. If he'd been able to get free, he said he'd have come with me. He didn't want me to go by myself. I told him you guys were going with me and he chilled. He figured as long as I was with you, I'd be fine."

"Maybe not." A shadowy figure stepped from the honeysuckle where it had been hiding. He was over six feet tall, dressed in a mud-stained Pacific Gas & Electric uniform. His hard hat sat on his head at a rakish angle, but the predatory features beneath it were pure vampire.

Three other men, also dressed in torn and ragged PG&E uniforms, fell in behind the first. They grinned, and a flashlight wielded by one of the distant grave cleaners caught them full across the mouth for just an instant, illuminating the massive fangs.

Willow stopped abruptly only a few feet away, heart pounding in her chest. No matter how many times you faced vampires, there was no way to really get used to it. "Buffy, do you remember the power company workers that got trapped in the mudslide a few weeks ago and have been missing ever since?" She pointed. "I think we found them."

"No way, girl," the lead vampire said. "We found you first. I told my buddies that this old cemetery would be jumping tonight with it being Ching Ming Day and all." High ridges formed along his cheekbones and forehead, and around his cruelly curved mouth. His eyes burned with catlike intensity. "Figured we'd dig up something to snack on."

"That's too bad," Buffy said, stepping up beside Willow with Mr. Pointy hidden at her side. "The kitchen is closed."

Copyright © 2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

First Chapter

Chapter 1

"She was afraid," Willow Rosenberg said as she carefully made her way through the graveyard. Full night had descended an hour ago, and moonlight cast harsh black shadows of tombstones and crypts on the gray-lit cemetery grounds. Except for the places where families with flashlights and lanterns were gathered around the graves and tombs.

She pulled at the dark green sweater she wore in an effort to ward off the chill sweeping in across Sunnydale from the Pacific Ocean. It didn't help. Goosebumps still formed on top of goosebumps, and she didn't really think it was just the cold wind.

Part of the fear that filled her was from the graveyard. No matter how well-kept and clean looking a graveyard is, she thought, the whole Better Homes & Gardens thing just kind of goes out the window when you know a vampire or some other creepy creature could be clawing its way up from a grave at any moment to suck your blood or try to steal your soul.

The instant she realized that, Willow felt a little ashamed, especially when she noticed all the light from the flashlights and lanterns scattered around them in the graveyard. The families were all so busy. Tonight was a special night for the family members visiting the cemetery, a night of respect and love. The thought of a bereaved ancestor equipped with talons and fangs actually popping up from one of the crypts was just — just —

Willow giggled — a high, thin, nervous sound — before she clapped a hand over her mouth. She whipped her head around and glanced at her companions to see if they'd noticed.

Buffy Summers, blond and petite and wearing a to-die-for black calf-length leather coat, looked at her friend with concern. "Are you okay, Will?"

"I did that out loud, didn't I?" Willow asked, face burning with embarrassment under her hand. She could face down vampires and dread demons, but a social faux pas could still unnerve her.

Buffy hesitated and glanced at Angel, obviously not wanting to be the bearer of bad news.

Angel hesitated, then shrugged and gave a quick nod. "Yeah. Maybe a little."

"Oh. Sorry."

"It's okay," Angel said. "No harm done. I don't think anyone heard you but us." Tall and broad-shouldered, Angel's dark eyes reflected far-off thoughts and a total familiarity with guilt and pain.

After all, Willow thought, being a vampire for over two hundred years, killing hundreds of people, then getting your soul back doesn't contribute to a happy, carefree existence. Or even a happy, carefree nonexistence. Or after-existence. Whatever.

"It's just this place," Willow said, "and all these people out here cleaning graves." She indicated all the families working on different grave sites. It was the first time she'd ever seen 409 and Fantastik spray cleaners, dishwashing gloves, and mops at a graveyard, and it was jarring. Some of the visitors just used brooms to sweep the grave sites and rake the leaves.

Buffy looked around and nodded. "All this neat-freakishness is really creeping me out. Earlier, a little old grandmother behind me pulled out a spray bottle and hiss-hissed a couple times and I almost clocked her before I realized she wasn't a vampire."

"That would have been not good," Willow agreed.

Buffy seemed a little perturbed at making the mistake, which Willow understood completely. Making mistakes equals unfun.

"You never really notice how much a spray bottle sounds like a vampire till you hear it in a graveyard," Buffy said. She knew a lot about vampires, and she was still learning about demons and other things that hunted, haunted, and otherwise lurked around the Hellmouth that Sunnydale had been built on.

She was the Slayer, the girl born to be the Chosen One, equipped with powers and abilities that allowed her to combat vampires and other deadly creatures. Those powers, however, didn't keep her from getting killed. Slayers, as a general rule, didn't die of old age.

The grave cleaning went on around them, with appropriate sounds of scrubbing and sweeping and raking. The activity filled the cemetery with unaccustomed noise, which somehow made it creepier. Most cemeteries Willow visited were quiet — at least until all the growling and gnashing of teeth started as vampires dug their way out of their graves before they went out hunting for victims.

"You said your friend was afraid," Angel reminded her.

"Well, she is," Willow confirmed, brushing a lock of auburn hair from her face.

"She told you that?" Angel asked.

"No. I could just tell."

Angel glanced around, appearing uneasy.

Willow knew he was looking for the thing to be afraid of. "She didn't tell me what she was afraid of. Exactly."

Angel looked back at her, obviously waiting.

"You know how you can just kind of tell things about a person?" Willow asked, trying to defend her statement. "Like when someone says they broke up with their boyfriend, but you know they're not telling the truth? That really he dumped her?"

A total lack of comprehension showed in Angel's dark eyes.

"Don't worry about it," Buffy said to Willow, then turned to Angel. "It's not a guy power."

Angel nodded, then glanced at Willow again. "So your friend told you she wasn't afraid to come to the cemetery tonight? Only you knew that she was."

"Not quite." Willow took a deep breath. Why is it guys just never can get the easy things in life? Like basic uncommunicated communication? The things you aren't supposed to know, but do, but also understand you're not supposed to talk about. At least, not with that person who told you, but really didn't tell you. "She told me she was afraid."

"Which means she wasn't," Angel said, trying desperately to catch up to the logic.

"No," Willow replied, "Jia Li told me she was afraid, trying to let me think it was all a big joke so I wouldn't notice she was trying to act like she wasn't afraid when she really was."

Angel gave her a crinkly-eyed, crooked-lipped huh? expression that sort of reminded Willow of a confused, whipped puppy. Not that Willow would ever whip a puppy, but she'd seen them scared before. Oz, her boyfriend, got that look every now and then right before he turned into a werewolf. It was always a moment of serious cuteness that was cut short by the I'm-a-ravenous-beast-gonna-swallow-your-head growl.

"Look, guys, at this rate I'm going to need a scorecard." Angel was definitely lost, but he didn't sound aggravated, which was way cool in Willow's book.

Buffy smiled up at him and put her arm through his. "We're here to check on Willow's friend. Just to make sure nothing weird or creepy is out here to get her."

Angel nodded. "Okay. I can deal."

"We," Buffy corrected. "We can deal. I asked you along, remember? So technically this is my party."

"Sure," Angel said.

Buffy grinned at him. "But don't worry. Tonight I'm feeling generous. I promise to share any creepy things we come across."

"Vampires aren't exactly party favors," Willow pointed out, not feeling as confident as her friend. But that was the Buffy she knew, the one always ready with a joke or a comeback. Well, ready most of the time, and funny most of the time.

"Oh, I don't know," Buffy said, taking her stake from her coat pocket. "When they meet Mr. Pointy and explode into dust, they kind of remind me of piñatas. Only without the treats." She returned the stake to its hiding place.

"Do you know where your friend is?" Angel asked.

Willow pointed ahead. "At that end of the graveyard. I checked the graveyard plot location records on my computer when I got home from school. The family grave is down that way." She started walking again and they followed.

"What's your friend's name?" Angel prompted.

Willow let out her breath, thinking calm thoughts. "Jia Li."

"Jia Li what?"

"Jia Li Rong," Willow said. "That's why I thought I had the right grave."

"Because it was the only Rong one?"

Buffy waved at the dozens of graves around them. "If there's only one right grave, there's a whole lot of wrong ones."

"Willow looked up the Rong grave," Angel explained. "R-O-N-G. Rong."

Buffy blinked. "Oh."

"It's a Chinese name," Willow explained. "Jia Li is Chinese."

The Emerald Lotus Cemetery wasn't just for Chinese families, Willow knew from her research earlier. It wasn't even only for Asian families. But back when this section of Sunnydale was being built, there were a lot of Chinese families who worked on railroads in the nineteenth century and settled in the area. There had been a lot of prejudice back in those days and there had been separate graveyards. Now, the Emerald Lotus Cemetery was a historical landmark from early Sunnydale.

"Jai Li said she always liked the name Mandy," Willow said. "Her mom liked Barry Manilow and was always singing that song. Jia Li says the only reason her mother didn't name her Mandy was because of her father. Her father didn't like American names."

"Well, that kind of works out," Buffy said. "Mandy Rong just sounds that way. Jia Li Rong sounds way cooler."

"That's what I told her." Willow smiled, glad to find something they could agree on.

They walked through the graveyard, passing a number of graves that showed signs of cleaning. Several of them had imitation paper money, small rice cakes, and other items decorating the graves. Families stood around grave sites and sang or talked or prayed quietly. Candle flames on top of tombstones fluttered in the wind.

"What's with all the cleaning?" Buffy asked.

"It's April fifth," Willow replied.

"Okay, and..."

The path Willow was following dead-ended at a huge crypt constructed of gray and black stone. Going around to the left would have meant intruding on a family ceremony that included several weeping members. Willow guessed that this ancestor was recently departed. Choosing not to interrupt, she headed around the crypt to the right, toward the shadows at the back of the cemetery.

"April fifth this year," Willow explained, "is Ching Ming." At their identical, prompting looks, she went on. "Ching Ming is the traditional Chinese grave-sweeping day. Kind of like Memorial Day here. Only with cleaning and munchies." At the end of the crypt, the path wound around to the ten-foot tall honeysuckle-covered wrought iron fence. Dark forest lay beyond the fence, and farther beyond that were the lights of downtown Sunnydale.

"What is your friend afraid of?"

"She's never visited this ancestor's grave before." Willow turned and walked along the fence. The heady honeysuckle scent was almost overpowering.

"So?"

"So," Willow said, brushing some of the honeysuckle aside so she could pass more easily, "she's afraid."

"Of what?"

"Her ancestor."

"If this great-great-great-great-granduncle died one hundred and fifty years ago," Buffy said, "I don't think he's going to be much of a threat. Unless he's a vampire."

"Nope." At least, Willow was pretty sure he wasn't a vampire.

"And," Buffy went on, "why would he want to hurt Jia Li? They didn't even know each other."

"No, but Jia Li's ancestor was killed or murdered."

"Still in the dark here," Buffy said. "More than just the shadowy, crawling with honeysuckle, end of the graveyard dark, I mean."

"There's a Chinese belief," Angel put in quietly, "that if a person is murdered or dies an untimely death he or she will return as a hungry ghost, an orphan soul doomed to wander as a semiconscious entity."

"Now there's a real career goal," Buffy commented.

"But the bad part is," Willow said, "that hungry ghosts, also called guei in Chinese, are resentful and confused. They try to take out their frustration by injuring or possessing the bodies of family members because they haven't seen to it their souls are put to rest. The Chinese even have a special ceremony in October to deal with the guei."

"Getting a really gross picture of the gooey in my mind," Buffy said.

"They're not really a problem," Willow said. "At least, not after you exorcised them or conducted the ceremony of Universal Salvation." She shrugged. "I guess I researched a little extra on the Internet."

"Bonus points, overachiever. So Jia Li is afraid of visiting this ancestor's grave exactly why?"

"She didn't say, but I guess it's because she's afraid that he could turn out to be a hungry ghost. None of the family has ever been here before. They moved here just before Christmas."

"Really?"

"Yeah," Willow said. "Her brother, Lok?"

"I know Lok Rong."

The disgusted tone in Buffy's voice told Willow that her friend really had met Lok. He kind of left that impression on nearly everybody — especially girls. "Well, Lok was getting into some trouble over there and Jia Li's dad got the opportunity to set up business here. So they moved."

"That's cool. So what kind of business?"

"A restaurant. The Topaz Dragon."

"I've heard of it. Haven't been there."

Willow stepped over a pothole. "Oh, you should go there sometime. They've got really great food."

"I will."

Angel cleared his throat, which was kind of tricky, Willow thought, because as a vampire he didn't need to breathe, so probably throat clearing wasn't a thing he did very often.

"Maybe we could stick to the agenda here just a little longer," Angel suggested. "How did the ancestor die?"

"Don't know. Didn't ask. That seemed kind of personal. Just picked up on the fear factor I was getting from Jia Li and did a little snooping. I thought since you guys were going to be on patrol tonight anyway that it would be no big deal to swing by here, make sure everything was okay." Willow continued making her way along the fence, conscious of the fact that as carefully as she went, she was the only one making noise. Buffy and Angel moved as silently as shadows. "She's my friend."

"I'm always there for a friend, Will," Buffy said. "Even a friend of a friend. You know that."

Yeah, but I also know you were looking for some alone-time with Angel, Willow thought. She felt bad about interrupting that because her friends already had enough hardships in their lives without her asking them along on what might ultimately be a snipe hunt.

Since Angel's return to living — as living as living could be for a vampire cursed with having his soul returned along with the memory of all the terrible things he'd done while he'd been without it — and to Sunnydale, his relationship with Buffy had been tense at best. They loved each other without question, but they had to constantly be aware of what that love would do to them if they allowed it to take over their lives again.

"Did you tell Oz you were coming out here?" Buffy asked.

Oz and Dingoes Ate My Baby were playing at the Bronze tonight. "Yeah. If he'd been able to get free, he said he'd have come with me. He didn't want me to go by myself. I told him you guys were going with me and he chilled. He figured as long as I was with you, I'd be fine."

"Maybe not." A shadowy figure stepped from the honeysuckle where it had been hiding. He was over six feet tall, dressed in a mud-stained Pacific Gas & Electric uniform. His hard hat sat on his head at a rakish angle, but the predatory features beneath it were pure vampire.

Three other men, also dressed in torn and ragged PG&E uniforms, fell in behind the first. They grinned, and a flashlight wielded by one of the distant grave cleaners caught them full across the mouth for just an instant, illuminating the massive fangs.

Willow stopped abruptly only a few feet away, heart pounding in her chest. No matter how many times you faced vampires, there was no way to really get used to it. "Buffy, do you remember the power company workers that got trapped in the mudslide a few weeks ago and have been missing ever since?" She pointed. "I think we found them."

"No way, girl," the lead vampire said. "We found you first. I told my buddies that this old cemetery would be jumping tonight with it being Ching Ming Day and all." High ridges formed along his cheekbones and forehead, and around his cruelly curved mouth. His eyes burned with catlike intensity. "Figured we'd dig up something to snack on."

"That's too bad," Buffy said, stepping up beside Willow with Mr. Pointy hidden at her side. "The kitchen is closed."

Copyright © 2001 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Revenant 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wow, I have like 18 'Buffy' novels and i'm a big fan of Mel Odom's Buffy novels, But this one is the best one i have.It is a sleek, action packed, Suspence, Heart pounding, Edge of your chair rde.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this particular book out of all of the other Buffy the Vampire Slayer books I have read. With a fast moving plot the action never stops. I also thought the characters were well portrayed in this particular novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Since I'm a HUGE Buffy fan, i read all of the books - this was DEFINATELY a good one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Revenant, the first Buffy book of 2001 is a perfect start for the new year. If you haven't gotten it yet, then rush down to the bookstore and get your own copy!!!!!!!