Buffy the Vampire Slayer was created by Joss Whedon. The crossover series (named at the end of Chapter One to avoid spoilers) was created by Ryūsuke Mita. Not sure who owns the rights to these properties, but I don't, and don't pretend that I do. I acknowledge all copyrights.
I make heavy use of canon dialog in the first few chapters, because events closely parallel those of BtVS at first. Also, in at least one later chapter I'll be quoting a line from an episode of Tenchi Muyo just because it's so cool (but it's not a Tenchi Muyo crossover).Buff the Magic...um, yeah.
School hadn’t started yet, but the front walk was packed with thronging kids. Some were meeting up and horsing around, while others were making their way to their classrooms, looking to beat the rush. All in all, a typical morning at Sunnydale High.
Between the school buses, cars were dropping kids off, including a black SUV that had never been there before. It pulled up, and Buffy Summers regarded her new school dubiously.
"Have fun," said Joyce as she shifted into park. "I know you’re gonna make friends right away; just think positive."
Buffy smiled back and slipped out of her seat.
Buffy, just about to close the door, stopped and looked back inside. Joyce was smiling nervously, a bit embarrassed and apologetic to say it:
"I love you."
Buffy winced and glanced around to see if anyone had heard. When it didn’t look like anyone had, she silently mouthed the words love you too
in reply. Then she closed the door and turned to face the building. She drew a deep breath, blew it out and strode towards the stairs.
In the car, Joyce watched her go. Oh, Buffy,
she thought. I couldn’t love you more if you really were my daughter.
She turned to face forward and closed her eyes, thereby missing the sight of a boy on a skateboard crashing into the railing. I just wish your real mother could see you now. She’d be so proud...
An impatient honk from behind shook her out of her reverie. She put the SUV into drive and pulled out.
"Buffy Summers," said Principal Flutie, "Sophomore, late of Hemery High in Los Angeles." He sat at his desk and leafed through the folder. "Member of the Cheer Squad, Prom Princess, Fiesta Queen, very impressive display of school spirit. Academic history..." He pursed his lips, trying to find a kind way to say it. "Passable," he finally selected. He favored her with a vague smile. "Welcome to Sunnydale High," he said.
"Thanks," Buffy smiled back. He seemed to be waiting for more, so she added, "I’m really looking forward to it. Especially after..." She looked down at her hands, folded in her lap.
At this, Flutie blinked, his expression uncertain. "After...?"
"After what happened."
"Perfectly understandable," the principal replied as he tried to pretend he wasn’t glancing down at the file in search of a clue. "Lots of teenagers go through experiences like, like…woah." He stopped pretending and picked up the page he was looking at.
Buffy’s smile weakened as Flutie dropped the page and searched through the folder. He quickly found the photocopy of the police report, and she knew what was coming next. Knew it, dreaded it, and was powerless to stop it.
Flutie skimmed through the report, his expression intense. He slowly put the page back in the file, then raised his eyes to meet hers.
And there it was. The pity. Ever since that night, Buffy had learned to cope with a lot. But the one thing she’d really learned to hate was the pity.
"You poor kid," Flutie began.
"Mr. Flutie –"
"All the kids here are free to call me 'Bob.'"
Buffy sighed. "Mr. Flutie, I’m okay. Really. I mean, yes, it was horrible. Terrifying, and, and some of my classmates were killed. But a bunch of us dove under the punch table at the first sign of trouble, and we didn’t come out until the fighting was over."
"They burned down the gym," the principal pointed out.
"They did. But by that time, the police were outside, and we all got out safely. And I saw a counselor for a couple of weeks, and I learned to deal with it. I don’t have nightmares…well, not any more," she admitted, "and I need to put it behind me. Please, Mr. Flutie, just pretend you never saw that report."
Flutie picked up the report again and looked at it.
"Did they ever find any of the gang?" he asked. "Or the girl who, it says here, was fighting them?"
"No. She wasn’t a student there, that’s all anyone can agree on."
Flutie slipped the report into the back of the file and closed it.
"Well. Certain members of the faculty are going to have to know, but I suppose there’s no need to announce it over the PA system. As long as you really have put it behind you. It’s good that you got counseling. If you ever have trouble coping, we have some excellent counselors here. You’ll find we’re always ready to give you a hug. Although not a real hug, because there’s no touching here. We’re very sensitive to wrong touching."
"Thanks, Mr. Flutie. Bob."
Mr. Flutie winced, and his smile became brittle.
"Mr. Flutie," Buffy hastily amended. The principal's smile smoothed out, and he nodded his welcome once more.
"Willow," Cordelia said, "nice dress. It’s good to know you’ve seen the softer side of Sears," and just like that, Buffy’s plans came crashing down. They weren’t very major plans, but the new girl had thought she’d be making friends with Cordelia and her hangers-on, and all of a sudden she knew she wouldn’t.
When Willow replied, "well, my Mom picked it out," Buffy winced inwardly. She knew what was coming, and Cordelia did not spare the venom. As the redhead crept away and the brunette advised Buffy about avoiding “losers,” Buffy thought about what she herself had been like before that fateful prom night. She knew now which girl she’d rather have as a friend.
Buffy pushed open the door of the library. It was large, empty, and a little spooky. "Hello?" she called out. "Anybody here?"
She stopped at the counter, where a newspaper had a headline circled in red. Local boys still missing,
it said. She skimmed the article, but it didn’t say much. She sighed and looked around. There was an itch between her shoulder blades, and a burning feeling in her chest. Hearing a murmuring from a closed door, she stepped up to it and prepared to knock.
"…the influx of…" she heard through the door, the rest muffled. Then, "it’s been building for years." The voice had a British accent.
She so didn’t have time for this. She raised her hand and rapped on the door.
"Blast. Just a moment," the voice inside said. Then, "Yes? Can I help you?"
Buffy opened the door and gave the tweed-clad man behind the desk a little wave. He’d been on the phone, but had covered the mouthpiece with one hand.
"Hi," said Buffy, "I need some…well, books. I’m new."
"Ah. Textbooks. Yes."
"Great. I need Perspectives on
"Do you have a list?"
"Um. Yeah, right here."
"Just leave it on my desk, would you, and come back in…shall we say half an hour? I’m sorry, but this is an overseas call, and it’s rather important."
"Um. Sure. Thanks." She dropped the list in front of him and turned to go.
"Close the door, please," said the librarian.
Buffy closed the door. "'Scuse much," she muttered, "rude or anything?”
She headed for the hallway. Her back was itching even more, and there was a dull throbbing on the sides of her head, just above her ears. Just as well she was leaving – this place was making her way too tense!
Seated at his desk, Rupert Giles returned to his call. "All the signs," he said, "point to a-an upcoming mystical event. A major one. Soon. Days at most."
"That’s as may be," replied the voice of Roger Wyndham-Price, "but unless you can give us something more concrete, we really cannot justify sending the Slayer to Sunnydale. She was in Los Angeles only a few months ago, you know, and there is a great deal of demonic activity in Cleveland…"
Buffy paled. "What?" she demanded.
Lunch period had been going better than the morning. Buffy had approached Willow about helping her catch up to the school year, and then she’d met the redhead’s friends Xander and Jesse – the former for the second time. The odd feelings she’d gotten in the library had vanished as soon as she left; she was enjoying the boys’ banter and just starting to feel at ease when Cordelia interrupted to tell her about a dead guy found in the girls' locker room.
"Some guy," the cheerleader told her, "was stuffed in Aura’s locker."
"Way dead. Completely dead."
"So, not just a little dead then?" Xander interjected.
"Don't you have an elsewhere to be?"
"Oh, God," Buffy moaned, "Forget cows -- Mom's gonna have a rhinoceros."
"Well, this kind of thing doesn't usually happen," Willow offered.
"You don’t get it," Buffy replied. "This is why we moved out here in the first place, to get away from LA. After –" she broke off. "After…something we heard about."
"Whatever," Cordelia snapped as she walked off.
"Something you heard about?" Jesse asked skeptically.
"Well, something Mom heard about." Her three new friends just looked at her, waiting for her to continue. "I was there," she finally admitted.
"Oh!" Willow said. "I remember reading something in the paper…Buffy, are you talking about Hemery High?"
"No," Buffy said firmly. "I’m actually not
talking about Hemery High. Ever."
She glanced from one curious face to another. "Please?" she asked.
Sixth period had ended, and the carpools and school buses had come and gone. Rupert Giles came back to the library and opened the book cage. This was where he kept the more dangerous tomes, such as the Black Chronicles or the Diaries of Hans Kelber. He grabbed an armful of books and laid them out across one of the tables. He had a lot of work to do, and no real idea where to start.
For several hours he read, took notes, cross-referenced, and discarded. Now, with the last dim rays of the setting sun making the skylight gleam, he had his jacket off, his tie loosened and his shirtsleeves rolled up. He sipped at his tea and read another passage in turgid Latin. With a sigh, he set that book aside as well. Another dead end.
From somewhere in the stacks, he heard a noise. He looked up sharply, listening. After a moment, he heard it again. A quiet step, and a shadowy glimpse of something moving. He set down his teacup and groped for his jacket, trying to find the cross in the inside pocket without taking his eyes off the movement.
"Who’s there?" he demanded.
"I know what you’re thinking," said a quiet voice from the stacks. "But it’s okay. I don’t bite."
"And yet," Giles replied, rising to his feet, "you seem reluctant to show yourself."
"Didn’t want to startle you," his visitor said. He stepped forward, into the light. He was a tall, slim brunette with angular features and dark clothing. He glanced at the simple wooden cross gripped in the librarian’s right hand.
"You won’t need that," he smirked.
"You’ll pardon me if I remain skeptical on that point."
"No problem. I’ve got one myself." He took a jewel box from his inside pocket and tossed it to Giles. Giles caught it in one hand and flipped it open. Inside was a plain silver cross. Nodding, he snapped the box closed and dropped his own cross to the table.
"Fair enough," he said as he tossed the box back. "Why are you here?"
For answer, the stranger waved his hand at the assembled books, now spread out over both tables.
"You’ve seen the signs, I guess," he said. "But by the look of things, you still haven’t found the prophecy."
Giles said nothing.
"It’s mentioned in the Analects of Aurelius."
"They say," Giles replied coolly, "that no living man has ever seen a copy of that."
"They're right. But fragments come to light sometimes. One of them mentions something called the Harvest. 'When the blood of men will flow as wine, the Earth shall belong to the Old Ones, Hell itself will blah blah blah…'" The stranger chuckled. "Aurelius could really be pretentious when he set his mind to it."
"The Harvest," Giles mused, knitting his brow. That sounded familiar, if he could just—
"Dramius. Volume five."
"Of course!" Giles exclaimed, grabbing up the volume. He started to leaf through it. "Do you remember what page --" But when he looked up to finish his question, the stranger was gone.
Buffy checked herself out in the mirror. Blue blouse over a tank top, with black slacks. Not too slutty, not too twee, just right for dancing. Perfect.
"Knock knock," said Joyce at the door.
"Oh, hi Mom."
"You’re going out?"
"Yeah. I’m going to a club." Buffy considered her hair. Up, or straight? Up, she decided.
"Will there be boys there?"
"No, Mom. It’s a nun club."
"Well…be careful, all right?"
Joyce sat on the edge of Buffy’s bed and picked up Mr. Gordo. "Sunnydale is a long way from LA, I know, but still."
"Long way? Mom, it’s two hours on the freeway to Nieman Marcus!" She carefully didn’t mention the scare at school today. Principal Flutie had come on the PA during fifth period to announce the Police Department’s findings: An extremely tasteless college prank, using a realistic mannequin from the University’s anatomy lab. Totally not worth upsetting Mom about.
"Anyway, you were right. I made some friends right away. We’re meeting there."
"That’s great, honey! Tell me about them."
Giles strode up the hallway to the library, carrying a cup of takeout coffee in one hand and a bag containing two bagels and a jelly doughnut in the other. He shifted the bag, fished out a key and opened the library door.
Placing the takeout on the table, he sank wearily into his seat. He took the cover off the cup and stirred in two sugars with a plastic spoon, then started on his first cautious sip.
Giles swallowed convulsively at the sound of the stranger’s voice. With a wince of pain, he carefully set the cup down.
"Please don’t do that when I have a mouthful of…extremely hot coffee," he gasped.
"Sorry," said the other as he stepped out of the stacks. It was the same man who’d spoken to him before, and he didn’t sound all that sorry, either. "I’ve been doing some research over at Sunnydale Public Library," he explained, holding up a sheaf of papers.
Giles had fished out a bagel and was reaching for a spiral-bound notebook with his other hand, but now he paused. "Doesn’t Sunnydale Public close at eight o’clock on Thursdays?" he asked.
The stranger hesitated, then shrugged. "Bribed a librarian," he said. Giles stared at him suspiciously until he added, "you know what they make a year?"
"Oddly enough, I do," Giles retorted. "What did you find?"
His mysterious visitor descended the stairs and handed over the papers. "Old newspaper articles," he said. "I photocopied the most interesting ones."
Giles flipped through a few of them, then took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
"Look," he said, "I’ve been at this for hours, and it’s…" he tried to focus on his watch. "It’s half-past the blurry number already. Can you summarize these, Mister…I’m sorry, what was your name?"
Now the stranger paused. He looked uncomfortable.
"Just invent a suitable pseudonym, will you," Giles said wearily. "Something better than Hey You."
"Call me Angel," the stranger finally decided. He picked up the photocopies. "Basically," he said, "there was this rash of murders in nineteen thirty-seven. Throats, blood, do I need to spell it out? And then came a massive earthquake that buried half the town, and they just stopped."
"Earthquake? Let me see that." Giles studied the article in question, noting the date especially. He picked up his notebook and studied some of the things he'd jotted down.
"It’s all coming together," he said in a grim voice.
"Bad?" Angel asked.
"I’ll see what else I can find out," Angel replied.
"Look," said Giles, "I need to ask you --" But he was once more talking to the empty air. "That’s intensely irritating," he muttered, turning his attention back to the article.
Willow was waiting for Buffy at the entrance to the Bronze. They went in and met the boys, ordered their sodas, and claimed a pair of couches in one corner of the club. Buffy told them about life in LA, and they told her about life in Sunnydale. Then she made them get up on the dance floor with her, but after spending two songs shuffling in place, Willow managed to persuade them to sit down again.
Buffy was just explaining her "seize the moment" philosophy to her new friends when she broke off and said, "Oh, God. Check out Rip Van Crockett over there."
The three turned their heads. "You’ll have to help us out," Xander admitted.
"In the red jacket, over by the bar, talking to that blonde girl."
"That’s Harmony," Willow supplied. "One of Cordelia’s gang."
"Don’t recognize the guy, though," Jesse added.
"Well, whoever he is, he clearly thinks he’s cool," Xander concluded. "And you say he’s mockworthy? Mock away, Ms. Blackwell, mock away."
"Okay, first of all, he’s got the sleeves rolled up. And that’s a pastel shirt
. Deal with that outfit for a moment."
"It’s…not the look any more?" Willow guessed.
"Not since before I was on solid foods!" Buffy replied. "Watch something besides Miami Vice reruns, guy; you look like DeBarge."
Over by the bar, Harmony was joined by Cordelia, who sneered at the red-jacketed guy and said something scathing. The two girls went off somewhere, while red-jacket started scoping out the bar once more.
"Still in the game, though," Xander said. "Makes me feel better about being a dork."
Suddenly, the four of them sat back in their seats and stared at their drinks.
"Did he just notice us looking at him?" Xander asked.
"Yuh-huh," Buffy replied.
"And is he coming over?"
Buffy glanced towards the bar without raising her head.
"Yuh-huh," she whispered.
Xander took a deep breath. "I’m goin’ in," he said. He raised his head and smiled at the stranger as he arrived.
"Hi," said Xander. "We were just admiring your dress sense."
"Yeah," Jesse added. He gestured at Buffy. "Lucy here was just saying, there’s not many people can pull off that look these days."
The stranger turned to Buffy with a smile. "Well," he said, "that’s very nice of you. Mind if I sit?" He started to do so without waiting for a reply.
"Kind of," Buffy said before he could complete the action. He straightened up again, looking a bit surprised. "I’m sorry," Buffy continued, "but I’m new in town, just checking out the scene with a few new friends. I’m not ready to meet anyone else yet."
"I can be friends," said red-jacket. "You’d be amazed how friendly I can be."Now you’re just being creepy,
Buffy thought. Her headache was back, tension spots above her ears throbbing. There was a burning sensation in her chest, and the flesh was crawling all up and down her spine. She decided to cut her losses.
"Look," she said, "the truth is we were making fun of your outfit. Well, I was, they were just listening. It was childish, and I’m sorry, but I really don’t want to talk to you now. Okay?"
The stranger stared at her for several seconds, his expression unreadable. Finally he snorted "Whatever," and walked away. Buffy let out the breath she’d been holding.
"Okay, now I feel all guilty," Willow said.
"Don’t," Buffy replied. "It was my fault. Guys, can we get out of here? I don’t feel so good all of a sudden."
"I guess," Jesse said. "We coming back tomorrow night? No cover on Fridays."
"Hey," Xander protested, "it’s only nine. The night is young."
night is young," Willow pointed out.
"It doesn’t have to be this young, does it?"
"If we’re not going home," Buffy insisted, "can we at least get out of here? Someplace quieter?"
"Your Father’s Moustache," Willow said.
"It’s an ice cream bar," Jesse told Buffy. "It’s not far; just past Hamilton."
Buffy smiled. "Ice cream sounds good. I think I’ve got a little heartburn."
The red-jacketed pickup artist stood at the bar and watched them get up and head for the door. He caught the eye of a blonde girl in a catholic high school girl’s uniform and indicated the foursome with a jerk of his head. The girl nodded, and the two of them fell in behind their quarry as they left the club.
They were walking along, chatting and joking together, when they came to a corner under a streetlight. Someone entered the light from the direction they were heading and paused. Something about his posture conveyed a subtle sense of menace. The foursome hesitated, but were about to continue on when a woman stepped up next to the man.
"Something we can help you with?" Xander asked, trying to sound confident.
The man grinned and looked past them. Willow turned and looked behind, then gasped and grabbed Xander’s hand. The rest turned to look too, and saw Mr. Red Jacket and his blonde companion coming up behind them.
"No ice cream tonight," said the blonde. All four strangers had intense, predatory grins.
Willow's eyes went wide, and she took hold of Xander's arm. Xander and Jesse glanced at each other fearfully. Buffy’s headache suddenly flared, the spots above her ears feeling like something was stabbing into her skull.
"Thomas," the blonde said. "Marie."
Red Jacket and the other woman moved to flank Buffy and her friends, but both of them went to the same side of the intersection, leaving an opening to the left.
"Run!" Xander snapped, and they all took off down the street.
"Told you," Darla said. "Way easier than dragging them."
The four vampires shifted their faces and started the chase.
Buffy and Jesse were keeping pace. Behind them, Willow was having trouble keeping up, but Xander was pulling her along by the hand. They could hear the footfalls of their pursuers, and Buffy risked a glance over her shoulder.
"They’re gaining!" she gasped.
To their left was the low wall that surrounded a cemetery. They were just about to pass the gate when one of their pursuers put on a burst of speed. He rocketed past them and suddenly turned, skidding to a stop in front of them. With another streetlight behind him, they couldn’t really see his face, but Buffy could have sworn his eyes were gleaming yellow as he stood in a crouching posture. He made a noise that humans shouldn’t be able to make; a kind of low, leonine growl. The teenagers yelled in terror as they desperately changed direction, turning to run through the conveniently open gate.
"Fish in a barrel," Thomas grinned.
"Really works up an appetite," Darla replied.
"They’re all for the Master," Thomas reminded her sternly.
"Yeah, yeah," Darla muttered.
Buffy looked back over her shoulder again. Their pursuers had fallen back, slowed by the necessity of weaving around the gravestones. Of course, Buffy had that problem herself; she looked forward again just in time to avoid falling over one. She glanced to her right, and pulled up short at the sudden realization that Xander, Jesse and Willow were not with her.
A frantic few seconds looking around enabled her to spot them, still together, running for a small copse of trees. She changed direction to catch up. But a huge man in black came out of nowhere, and she ran right into him with a startled shriek. He grabbed her arms just below the shoulders before she could get away.
"The innocent to the slaughter," he chuckled in a very deep voice.
Buffy struggled helplessly in his grip, her pinned-up hair coming loose and falling around her shoulders. He tightened his hold and lifted her off her feet. She kicked and flailed wildly until he shook her once, hard.
"That’s enough of that," he growled. "Your life is over. Try to meet its end with a measure of dignity."
He held her closer, his face less than a foot from hers, and even in the dim light she could see it clearly. The yellow eyes, the brow ridges, the mouth full of fangs.
"Feel free to scream, however," he gloated. "Music to my ears."
Pain and terror had pushed Buffy to the breaking point. The burning in her chest was like fire, the stabbing pains on the sides of her head felt like spikes being driven in, and it felt like her spine was writhing under her skin. It was all too much. She gasped in the deepest breath she could --
But what came out of her mouth wasn’t a scream. It was a blast of flame. A bright orange and yellow fireball that struck the huge creature full in the face. With a convulsive movement, he threw her down and staggered backward, batting at his burning head with his hands. His efforts only succeeded in setting his sleeves alight.
Buffy didn’t see that. She was clutching her head in her hands and crying out. The monster hadn’t injured her when he released her, but the pain in her head was intolerable. She lay on the ground, her eyes squeezed shut, and moaned.
She felt something against the palms of her hands. They were flat against her skull, but something was pressing on them. Through the pain, she realized that it wasn’t as if spikes were being driven into her head after all. They were being driven out.
The pain suddenly eased as a pair of hard, bony protrusions formed, jutting out from the sides of her head and immediately bending back and up. A stab of pain at the base of her spine flared up; the seam at the back of her pants tore open just below the belt line and a tail
thrust forth. But that pain faded just as fast. Her back still felt as though something were moving around under the skin, but at least she was able to get her feet under her and stand.
The huge man/monster’s screaming caught her attention. His entire upper torso was now wrapped in flame. He got his bearings and faced Buffy. She could still see his monstrous face within the fire, his eyes like glowing coals.
"You!" he screamed. "I’ll kill you!"
He charged forward, but before he could close, there was a sort of roaring whoosh noise, and his body dissolved into a cloud of dust and a sprinkle of burning ash.
Buffy stared at the spot where he’d vanished, gasping in terror, and then she turned and ran. She wasn’t even thinking about where she was going; her capacity for rational thought had broken down. She just needed to run. To run and run and run and never stop running and then run some more. She didn’t notice as her hair started changing color. She didn't even notice when two slits were torn open in the back of her shirt and a small pair of leathery wings slid out.
Then she tripped over a tree root and went sprawling. But instead of a painful belly flop into hard ground, she found herself swooping low over the grass and gaining altitude. That,
She was skimming along about ten feet up and getting higher. She swooped frantically around and between the trees, just enough self-control restored to keep from crashing, but still barely hanging on. But then she heard a sound. It was a sound that cut right through her panic, snapped her back to focus and gave her perfect clarity:
"Get off me! Oh God, get off of me!" Willow screamed, begged, pleaded. Darla let go of her feet as the other vampire hauled her to a standing position. He twisted one arm around behind her back and clamped his other hand over her mouth.
"Delightful," Darla said. "Makes me hungry."
"For the Master?" the male reminded her.
"One little taste won’t hurt anything," Darla purred. "Except her."
But just as Darla was stepping forward, something swooped down out of the night and rammed into her side with the speed of a runaway horse. She went sprawling.
Acting on reflex and instinct, Buffy snapped her wings close against her body as she hit the ground and rolled. If she hadn’t, she might have damaged them severely. As it was, the right one sent little shooting pains up her spine as she scrambled to her feet.
Darla growled, that deep rumble filling the air. She charged forward.
"No!" Buffy yelled as she flailed out in a clumsy backhand. It was a blow with no training or experience behind it, but it was a lucky shot, and Darla flew backward and vanished in the darkness.
The remaining vampire tripped Willow and dropped her to the ground. "Stay down," he snarled at her, and then warily moved toward Buffy. They were close enough to the edge of the cemetery for a streetlight to illuminate his face. Buffy took in the monstrous features and gasped as she realized where she’d seen them before.
"The same," she whispered. The same it was the same it was --
She jumped up, snapping her wings down to add to her altitude. Fifteen feet up, she grabbed a tree branch with one hand, then took hold of a smaller branch with the other hand and wrenched it free. Dropping back to the ground, she faced her opponent with the makeshift stake.
"I wonder what your blood tastes like," he said as he closed with her.
Buffy didn’t reply at all; she just moved in and stabbed with the tree branch. He grunted in pain and looked down at the piece of wood protruding from his solar plexus. Buffy took advantage of his momentary lapse of attention to punch him in the face and sweep his legs out from under him. She quickly pinned him to the ground with one foot in his stomach and yanked the branch free. This time, she aimed better. The branch thunked home in his heart, and he exploded into dust.
In the sudden island of calm, Buffy knelt on the grass and panted in exertion. Willow sat up and stared at her fearfully.
Buffy was quite a sight. Her hair was a foot longer, and no longer bleach-blonde. It was a fiery, coppery red, thick and naturally wavy. A pair of horns swept up and back from just above her ears, framing her skull in parallel. A pair of red reptilian wings was loosely folded behind her back. They were small; at full stretch they would only reach a few inches past her fingertips, but still: Red. Reptilian. Wings.
The two-foot-long tail covered in red scales was almost an afterthought.
Buffy turned her head to face Willow, and the latter could now see that Buffy’s once-green eyes had changed color as well. They were now a shimmering magenta.
Willow tried to crawl away face up.
"Willow, it’s me. It’s Buffy." Buffy stood up, but didn’t come any closer. "Are you all right?"
Willow just stared, trying not to hyperventilate. Then a new thought drove out the fear.
"Xander!" She gasped. "Where’s Xander?"
Buffy turned and frantically looked around while Willow scrambled to her feet. Unable to see any sign of her new friends, Buffy leaped into the air and spread her wings. It was ridiculous that they could support her weight, but they did -- though she could already tell they would only do so for a few minutes at a time. She circled the clearing about fifteen feet up, her senses alert, and then she saw it. She dropped back to the ground with a grunt and took off running, Willow hurrying after her as best she could.
Buffy burst into another clearing, where Jesse lay unconscious while the two vampires called Thomas and Marie restrained the struggling Xander. Thomas punched the boy in the jaw to settle him while Marie let go and turned to face the transformed girl. Buffy was out of breath and quite tired. She seemed to have super-strength now, but even the little flying she’d done had been exhausting. Since Xander was in no immediate danger of dying, she paused to catch her breath.
"What we got here?" Marie grunted as she approached. For answer, Buffy took a deep breath and blew it out. Instead of the expected fireball, though, she only puffed out a tiny flicker of flame.
Thomas snickered. "Forget to refill on propane?" he asked.
"Fine," Buffy said nervously. "Brute force it is."
Xander was rattled but still conscious, so he noticed when Willow caught up and stopped at the edge of the clearing. He tried to wave her away, but he was still too dazed to make sense.
Buffy grimaced in dismay as she realized that she’d dropped her makeshift stake. That fire trick would sure have been useful, but she guessed it needed to recharge or something. There was only one thing for it.
"You don’t wanna get into this with me," Buffy warned. "I’m a hair-puller."
Marie growled and charged. She and Buffy grabbed each other and started grappling, but Buffy got the upper hand and wrapped her arms around the vampire’s head. They pulled back and forth a few times, and then, with a grunting yell, Buffy yanked.
There was a cracking, ripping sound, and she staggered back with something small in her arms while her opponent’s body fell over. Buffy had just enough time to realize that she’d torn the vampire’s head off before head and body both exploded into dust.
Thomas stepped back, considered his options, and took the better part of valor. As he vanished into the darkness, Willow ran over to Xander and hugged him hard.
Buffy stared at the dust clinging to her sleeves. "God, I think I’m gonna hurl," she said.
"Are you OK?" Willow asked.
Xander carefully wiggled his jaw back and forth. "I’ve had worse," he said weakly. "I’ve had worse at family reunions."
He gently disentangled himself from Willow’s arms and went to check on Jesse, who was just beginning to stir.
"What were those things?" Willow wondered.
"The same," Buffy muttered.
"They were the same. The same as at Hemery High. The press said it was a biker gang, but I was there. I saw them. They were the same."
Xander was helping Jesse sit up, but both of them were staring at Buffy. So was Willow.
"They were, they were biting kids’ necks, a-and drinking their blood, and when that girl stabbed them in the heart with a piece of wood, they…" she slapped at the dust on her sleeves. "I think…I think they were vampires."
Rupert Giles paced back and forth in the library. He’d put the books away and faxed his report to the Council almost an hour ago. Now came the part he hated. The waiting. He gave a start when the phone rang, but hurried into his office and picked up on the second ring.
"Mr. Giles?" said a familiar voice on the other end.
"Mr. Travers," he replied. "I-I didn’t expect --"
"Yes, well, Wyndham-Price woke me to show me your report. Excellent work."
"Th-thank you, sir." Giles allowed himself a small smile of pride. "Then…?"
"Go home and get some sleep," Travers told him. "Sam Zabuto will be arriving at Sunnydale Airport at four forty-seven tomorrow morning. Gate three. You’re to meet him there. And yes, he’s bringing the Slayer."
"Vampires," Xander said. "Oookay. Makes sense. Explains a lot, really." He got to his feet, not taking his eyes off Buffy for a moment. His expression was hard.
"Only leaves one question," Xander said. "What the Hell are you?"
Buffy’s self-control had been running on adrenaline. Now it started to break.
She gave a little gasping sob as the tears started to form. Her answer, when it came, was half strangled with fear.
"I don’t know."
Okay, so this is a crossover with Ryūsuke Mita's Dragon Half.
Those who are familiar with that work know that it's mainly a comedy, and I'm playing this more serious. But that's what came to mind when I read the challenge, so that's what I'm going with.
Feedback is welcome!