BEWARE THE DEADLY SIGN
SPN BtVS Xover
Chapter 2 Cleveland, Ohio
"Dammit, where are they all COMING from
Buffy Summers ducked beneath the l'ymptz demon's fourth barbed tentacle, tucked into a roll that carried her behind its ten-foot reach, and leaped back to her feet. The Slayer's Scythe held ready, she dared not take her eyes off her enemy long enough to pull her sweaty, waist-length blonde hair back into its ponytail. Maybe it's time for a haircut,
the Slayer thought. A short and practical one, like Willow's or Dawn's. I haven't had time lately to take care of it anyway. Hell, I haven't had time the past year to pass gas, let alone primp. Or earn a paycheck. Or shop. Or sleep. Not necessarily in order of priority there. Who am I kidding? I don’t have time to go to a salon. If I did, I’d get a full-out, deluxe manicure before I did anything else! Damn, there’s another nail broken to the quick!
An upwards sweep of the scythe took the last two feet off a swinging tentacle. The creature roared its pain and pulled its extremities in close to its body. Given a moment to catch her breath, Buffy risked looking to her right, where Xander Harris and Buffy’s sister, Dawn, had their hands full with the demon's three companions--two vampires and ... something else.
The three Scoobies were cold and tired, especially the three without the gifts of a Slayer. Worn ragged by six hours of patrol, they--or rather, Dawn--had quite literally stumbled upon a six-tentacled l'ymptz demon, three vampires, a (probably normal) teenage boy, and a black, smoky-cloudy-thingy. The former Key of Dagon had tripped over the boy's feet and sprawled across his legs even as the fog finished sliding down a teen's throat.
His horse-ish face covered in a nauseating blend of raging acne and blood, the boy rolled to his feet with inhuman speed. Normally pale blue eyes flared satanic red. The beast faced the l'ymptz demon, his voice a blend of a teenager's pubertal break and a demonic growl.
"Let the vampires feed on her then you can eat the carcass."
"Uhhh, no." The Slayer stepped into the indirect light of a street lamp, scythe in one hand and a stake in the other. "So not going to happen."
"Think of it this way," the tall, slender, dark-haired man with the eye patch sneered, "you wouldn't get much off her. She's all skin and bone."
Dawn glared daggers as she pulled two hand axes out of her heavy khaki shoulder bag. "Not helping, Xander!"
That was ten full minutes in the past. One vampire was dusted, but the other two still fought. The l'ymptz demon kept the Slayer occupied while the remaining beasts steadily wore down her human companions. The three Scoobies--originally from Sunnydale, California, former home of the world's most active Hellmouth--were locked in combat with the creatures, and Buffy Summers raged. Enough already! I am sweaty, tired, cold to my bones, and I want my bed. NOW!
The Slayer darted in under the tentacles long enough to leg-sweep the l'ymptz demon onto its back. Before it could reorient its many arms, Buffy raised the scythe and slashed it across the long, narrow stalk of a throat between iridescent blue, overlapping scales. The l'ymptz flailed around in a jerky death dance. One demon down. Two vampires and another demon to go.
"Whoa, so not of the good!" Xander yelled. "Yo, Buffster! Could use some help here!"
Buffy turned. Dawn lay on the ground, a hand to her forehead and a glassy glaze in her eyes. Xander straddled the younger fighter's legs and slashed at the nearest vamp with the business end of his battle axe, only to be harried from the other side by the second vampire. The possessed teenager stood off to one side and watched the fight.
Buffy threw her last stake underhanded and from a bizarre angle, but the blow was effective nevertheless. The nearest vampire crumbled to silver-gray ash.
Before the dust could settle, Buffy grabbed a tube of metal off the street--someone’s rusted muffler. Dashing forward like a running back headed for the open goal line, she rammed it into the last vampire's midsection, drilling the broken pipe into the stone wall behind it. Impaled, the beast could only wiggle, hiss, and scream.
Xander pulled a stake from his belt and stepped forward. More dust floated on the night breeze. Okay,
Buffy smiled as she turned on the last remaining enemy. Let's get this done.
Dawn's hand disappeared into her shoulder bag only to resurface, fingers wrapped around a large water pistol. The brunette snap-aimed and released a spray of water.
The demon-possessed boy stumbled back, clawed at every scrap of skin touched by the liquid, and let out a hellish scream. Silver steam poured from every point of contact.
Dawn pumped her unoccupied hand in victory. "Holy water rules!"
Xander pulled on the mouth of the bag with a single finger. "What all do you have in there, the kitchen sink?"
Buffy grinned at her sister. "Have I ever told you I love that bag?"
"Yeah," Dawn said, "every time you sneak into my room to take for yourself."
"Enjoy this victory, Slayer," the demon warned. "Enjoy the time you have left. From what I hear, it won't be long now. Not long at all. Then your pretty white ass will be sitting in Hell and we'll see who comes out on top."
The beast threw its head back and let loose a malevolent growl which quickly rose to an ear-splitting, unearthly howl. Under normal circumstances, dogs for blocks around would have answered the sound; instead, there was utter silence. Even traffic noises, scarce as they were at that late hour, fell away.
Black fog boiled out of the boy's mouth for ten full seconds. Once clear of its mortal shell, the cloud gathered together, hovered for a instant then vanished skyward.
"Ew," Dawn scrunched up her face as she stared after the departed creature.
Buffy looked around at her friends and asked, "Is everyone okay?"
"One or two owchies," Xander answered for them all as he fingered the long, narrow slash across his left collarbone, "but nothing a little monkey blood and a long, hot shower won't cure. I'll need a new coat, though." He sighed. "Again."
Buffy, in full big-sister mode, gave Dawn a thorough look-see, just in case. Except for an unladylike coating of sweat, grime, vampire dust, and gore, she didn't appear to be hurt. The brunette rolled her eyes and swatted away her sister’s searching hands.
"Buffy, will you stop that? Like Xan-man said, we’re okay." The brunette, her expression saddened, stared at the corpse of the teenager boy. "Pug Ugly McCloud knew something. Something about you. What could it be?"
"Is it Tuesday?" Xander asked.
"Then don't worry about it."
"Look, sister-mine," Buffy said, "we've been fighting for nearly four hours straight. I say let's call it a night." The Slayer wiped the purple and green gore from her scythe, looked at her left wrist, and grimaced. "Damn, another broken wristwatch. Not to mention another hangnail! What time is it? I'm starving! Is it too late to order pizza?"
Xander wiped sweat from his face with a small towel. "Yes, Buffy, it is. It's ten minutes after five in the morning."
BtVS SPN BtVS SPN BtVS
Buffy placed the scythe in its customary place inside a black leather guitar case, closed the lid, and set it on the floor next to her queen-sized, cherrywood sleigh bed. Her weapon taken care of, she quickly shed her gory clothes and stuffed them into a plastic grocery bag that, in turn, was stuffed into the nearest trashcan. More cotton for the landfill. I only got to wear that outfit twice, now it's ruined.
After a long, hot shower, Buffy wrapped her hair in a towel, put on a worn pair of baby pink and white jogging shorts and a white tee-shirt, and headed for the Fun Room. The first-floor chamber was a bizarre combination of internet café, movie theater, game area, pleasure library (not to be confused with the Watcher's library on the third floor), lounge, and punching bag room. Running half the length of the Institute's eastern face, the walls were painted with peach and white swirls. Delicate, filigreed molding separated the walls from both the high arched ceiling and the Maplewood floor. Five large bay windows overlooked the spacious back yard; heavy mint green, peach and white curtains and creamy lace sheers let in the first rays of morning sunlight.
Buffy wasn't surprised to see her best friend, Willow Rosenberg, seated at the nearest computer. The red-haired witch slumped to the left, her cheek propped up on left hand, while her right idly tapped at the ergonomic keyboard. Willow's attention was only loosely settled on the results of her Google search.
Clad in blue pajamas and a purple terrycloth robe, Dawn had fallen across one of three sofas scattered around the room and was already sound asleep. Xander, comfortably settled into a plush brown leather recliner, struggled to concentrate on the Archie comic book that rested across his lap.
Buffy looked around for any other Slayers or Watchers.
"Has everyone made it back okay?"
Xander nodded. "I checked with Giles before I came down. The last patrol came in twenty-five before we did. From the sounds of things, they had an interesting night, as well. According to G-man’s admittedly brief report, and including the ones we brought down tonight, the six patrol groups killed four demons and forty-seven vampires since sunset last night. Rachel's patrol found another of those Pug-Ugly McCloudy things. Caught it in a Solomon whatchamacallit and exorcised that son-of-a-bitch's ass."
Buffy flopped down on the nearest couch, barely missing Dawn's feet. Every bone in her body ached. Hell, even her hair
hurt! Slayer healing would take care of everything by lunchtime but didn't do anything to ease the aches right after they were made.
"We can't keep up this pace. We're fighting more demons in a week than we used to take out in a month back in Sunnydale. It wasn't anywhere near this busy when we first moved to Cleveland. And these new demons are ... different."
"Can't argue with you there," Xander sighed, tossing the comic book on the lamp table to his right. "We're seeing ten times as many possessions, infestations, whatever the hell you call it, and fewer of the ... for want of a better word ... 'normal' demon. The Hellmouthy kind. I guess I shouldn't complain--my Latin's getting better with every exorcism."
Willow one-upped, "I can draw a perfect devil's trap in the dark."
Buffy rolled her eyes and asked, "What caused this change, and how can we close the barn doors?"
"Everything started going nutzoid about a year ago, right about the time there was all that demonic sign to the west. I think something happened then, something we don't know about. I vote we get a good night's--" Willow's eyes strayed to the brightening windows, "--or day's rather--sleep, then the Scoobies should take a road trip to Wyoming, see if we can find what it was."
Buffy shook her head and rolled her eyes. "So not helping, Will."
"Wait a sec, Buff," Xander cautioned. "Wills may have something. About the timetable of our increased demonic activity, at least." He shrugged one shoulder, only to grimace and rub a black and purple bruise on his left bicep. "I don't know yet about the road trip idea."
Willow folded her arms over her chest and leaned backwards in her chair. The backrest squealed in protest.
"I still swear I felt something about that time," she said. "Something arcane, something powerful. Something very much of the evilness happened."
"All this conjecture," Buffy said, "isn't getting us any closer to handling these demons. Even with the other slayers, I don't know how much longer we can keep going at our current pace. We've already lost Tessa, Carmalita, and Renee Anne from the Slayer side, as well as Abu, Jon-Jacque, Kevin, Tyler, and Tracy from the Watcher's group, and Jessica and Lisette from the Wiccans'. Between patrols, research, work, training, and/or classes, none of us is getting more than a couple hours' sleep each night." The senior slayer looked down on her sleeping sister. "Dawn's grades are slipping. So are most of the other girls'. We're making mistakes because we're exhausted. It's too early to start planning a road trip, but we can investigate to see if Willow might be onto something before we take off chasing wild hares."
Willow sighed and glanced toward her Xander-shaped friend. "Before she crashed, Dawn told me what that demon said ... about hearing something. Something about Buffy."
Buffy groaned and stretched before levering herself to her feet. "I'm not going to lose any sleep over his ravings, that's for sure. Speaking of sleep, I better grab my one hour of rest before I have to get up and head for work. Everyone else should go horizontal, too."
As the Slayer trudged up the spiral staircase toward second floor living quarters, Willow called after her, "Ni'-ni', Buffy. Sleep tight."
"You, too, Wills," Buffy replied, even though she knew the red-haired witch would still be at the computer when the Slayer left for work.