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The Claws That Catch

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Dragonfly Effect". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Now that there's a Slayer, a Dragon-Half and a Magical Girl on the Hellmouth, things should start getting a lot safer...right? (Rated FR15 for some violence)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > Dragon HalfEarnestScribblerFR15211,65512607,65531 Jan 0918 Dec 09No

Virgin Territory

I want to thank everyone who said such kind things about "Buff the Magic…um, yeah."

It was my first fanfiction in nearly twenty years, and I had forgotten how much fun it can be. Many of you started clamoring for a sequel even before I posted the last chapter. So…here you go.

Standard Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the creation of Joss Whedon and is owned by Fox Television (I think. If I'm wrong, smack me). Dragon Half is the creation of Ryūsuke Mita, and I'm not sure who owns it. Whatever, this is a work of fanfiction, use of the intellectual property is unauthorized and not for profit, yadda yadda. We all know the drill. Let's mush on.



Virgin Territory

The classroom went dark as Dr. Gregory turned off the slide projector. A moment later, he turned on the room lights and everything flickered back into view. He put his hands behind his back and walked down the aisle.

"If you did the homework," he said, "you should all be able to tell me the two ways that ants communicate."

He crossed his arms and turned to face the nearest student.

"Miss Young?"

Kendra actually liked biology class. Many of the animals and insects she was learning about had things in common with demon and monster species she'd studied, and this new knowledge could give her valuable insights into their vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

The problem was, of course, that when she wasn't training, she was going on nightly patrols; it was hard to find the time to do the homework. Still, she did her best.

"Smell," she said.

"Good. And?"

Kendra knit her brow and thought furiously. Finally she sighed.

"I'm sorry, sir," she said. "I don't know."

Dr. Gregory sighed as well. He turned and spoke to the class.

"Anyone else?"

Buffy tentatively raised her hand.

"Miss Summers?"

"Touch," the blonde said confidently.

"Very good," Dr. Gregory replied.

"Tell you what I'd like to touch," muttered a boy who was sitting near the back.

"I'm sorry, Blaine," the teacher said. "Did you say something?"

The boy stammered and fell silent.

The bell rang, signaling the end of the school day, and Dr. Gregory raised his voice over the scraping of lab stools and the rustling of books being put away.

"Okay, people, the homework is Chapters Six through Eight. See you next time."

"Miss Young, do you have a minute?" he said as the Slayer was turning to go.



Outside in the hallway, Jesse leaned against a locker.

"I'm gonna wait for Kendra," he said.

"Have fun," Buffy replied, "but I've got practice."

While their friend hurried off down the hall, Xander and Willow exchanged glances and shrugs. They settled down to wait with Jesse.



"I'll be honest, Miss Young," Dr. Gregory said. "I don't think you're doing your best here. You don't make many mistakes, but you should know more answers than you seem to."

"I'm sorry, sir," Kendra replied. "I did de readin', but I've been…" She wasn't sure what to say she'd been.

"Preoccupied?" the teacher suggested.

"Aye, dat," Kendra replied. "Me uncle…it's been little more dan a mont'."

Dr. Gregory nodded sympathetically.

"Believe me, I understand," he said. "If you ever want to talk about it, we have a councilor on the staff. Or you can come to me, if anything's troubling you." He waited attentively for her response.

Kendra hesitated for a moment. As Mr. Giles had predicted, saying she was still grieving for her uncle had, up to now, been enough to get people to change the subject. They hadn't discussed what to do when it wasn't.

"T'ank you, sir," Kendra finally said, "but dere's no need."

Dr. Gregory pondered his enigmatic student. There was something she wasn't saying, he was certain of it.

"And everything's all right at home? Your guardian is…treating you well?"

But the girl didn't seem to be listening. She was looking past him, seemingly at the closet in the corner of the room.

"Oh," she suddenly said, "yes. Everyt'ing's…" She seemed distracted again. "Everyt'ing's fine."

"Well, if you're sure," Dr. Gregory sighed.

"I've no complaints," Kendra told him.

"Well, I guess that's all then. Chapters Six through Eight."

Kendra picked up her books and nodded farewell to Dr. Gregory. She paused at the classroom door for another glance at the closet before leaving.



"Do you really think she's gonna want to play?" Xander asked. "After getting a dose of Andrew in full prima donna mode?"

"Well, he's a roleplayer. He's been playing a paladin, and he says everything in character. He says he wants to try a bard this time; should be a lot more easy-going."

Xander frowned. "You say Andrew's playing a bard?"

"Yeah."

"That's kind of like a minstrel, right?"

"Kind of."

"I've only met him once or twice, but…isn't this the guy who pretty much stays in character for the entire game?"

"Pretty much," Jesse said, wondering where this was going.

"And you're gonna let him play a character who sings?"

"That does strike me as unwise," Willow pointed out.

Jesse blinked, frowned, and looked at the floor.

"Maybe I can get him to play a druid," he muttered.

The nearby classroom door opened and Kendra came out, looking thoughtful.

"Hey," Jesse greeted her as she approached. "What did he want?"

"I'm not certain," Kendra replied. She stood looking back at the door.

"So, are we outta here?" Xander prompted.

Kendra nodded and turned to follow them, but stopped and looked back again.

"Somet'in's not right," she whispered.



Dr. Gregory was sorting slides on his illuminated desktop. Absorbed in the task as he was, he didn't notice the closet door slowly swing open. He didn't hear anything quietly sidling up to his right and slightly behind him. He reached for another slide…

"No!!"

Startled, he looked up and saw Kendra Young running full tilt up the aisle between the lab tables, her eyes fixed on something to his right. He turned his head, gasped, and recoiled in horror.

He toppled from his stool and fell back, just in time to avoid the scythelike mantis claw as it whipped through the air in front of his face. He hit the floor hard, knocking the breath out of him, as Kendra vaulted over the last table and kicked the huge insect demon with both feet.

As the creature fell back against the chalkboard, Xander, Willow and Jesse piled in through the door from the hall.

"Bug!" Xander cried. "Really big bug!!"

As the mantis lunged forward, Kendra took a combat-ready stance, but the demon swept a claw sideways, backhanding her over the lab table she'd just vaulted. Stunned, she fell to the floor.

Dr. Gregory was gasping for breath, every movement sending shooting pains through his shoulders, ribs and spine, but it didn't stop him from flipping over and dragging himself away by his hands. He felt something hook his ankle and drag him backward.

Willow dropped her books and slapped her hand on one of the pockets of her skirt. The watch chain made it easy to whip the locket out and throw it into the air.

"Silver Heart Magic," she cried, "Awaken!"

And the world went away…



The science teacher's vision was blurring, and not just because he'd lost his glasses. His blood was rushing in his ears, gray spots were dancing in front of his eyes, and he knew he was about to pass out. That was pretty much all he knew; his mind was refusing to process what he'd seen. Behind him, the creature raised one claw, poised to strike.

"Cloud Zephyr!!" a voice rang out.

Instantly, a stiff but gentle breeze began swirling around Dr. Gregory, and he floated up off the floor and away. The monster's claw struck the linoleum, cracking it, as its intended victim hurtled across the classroom, surrounded by wisps of mist. He was headed toward the back of the room, where Xander, Jesse and a white-haired girl in a white minidress and witch hat were waiting.

"Catch him!" Willow called to the boys. She flicked her wand in their direction, and the cloud-borne teacher angled in their direction. They braced themselves and intercepted the flying academic, who promptly collapsed in their arms.

"Get him outta here," Willow called over her shoulder as she hurried forward.

She stopped as the giant insect lurched towards her. It tilted its head to one side as it fixed its gaze on her. A voice issued forth from its inhuman throat; a voice that sounded like a woman's.

"You've got to be kidding," it said.

Willow threw her hands up in frustration.

"Why does everybody keep saying that?" she demanded.

Kendra suddenly sprang to her feet and swung a lab stool at the monster's thorax. The impact cracked its carapace, and a green liquid oozed out. As it staggered back, another blow hit one of its eyes, crushing several facets.

But then it hooked the blade of one claw in the support struts of the stool and jerked the improvised weapon out of the Slayer's grasp. The stool flew across the room straight toward Willow. The white-clad witch waved her wand, causing more cloud wisps to surround the stool and deflect it.

Meanwhile, Kendra had retreated to the storage cabinets along one wall. She grabbed the handle and wrenched the lock open, grabbed a bottle from the shelf and twisted off the lid. She paused for a moment and stared in sick realization at the cracked carapace on the monster's thorax.

It was healing, even as she watched. The cracks filled out and vanished, and the crushed facets of its eyes were filling out as well.

Desperately, Kendra hurled the bottle of rubbing alcohol. It splattered across the mantis demon's head, soaking into the eyes. The creature made a warbling shriek and flailed its claws.

"Starburst Helix!" Willow cried, pointing her wand.

A helix of energy sprang from the tip of her wand and battered the mantis, fragmenting in a series of tiny explosions as it drove the monster back.

A moment later, Kendra came up behind the creature and swung a heavy metal tray at its neck, edgewise. She put everything she had into the blow, and she still barely managed to cut through. But cut through she did, and the insect body fell forward as the head went rolling across the floor.

Silence. Willow stood, wand ready, but there was no motion. She and Kendra both relaxed. As the Slayer stepped over the body on the floor, Willow prepared to summon her spellbook -- but then she stopped.

"There's no Victory Essence," the witch said. "Why isn't there any --"

The headless body of the mantis demon surged to its feet. One claw lashed forward, catching Kendra on the shoulder and pulling her back. The other gripped her opposite wrist painfully, making her drop the tray

Willow gasped and raised her wand, but hesitated for fear of hitting Kendra. At the top of the demon's neck, she could see a small lump forming and growing rapidly; a lump with antennae and compound eyes.



Dr. Gregory was not a large man, but he was fully grown and pretty heavy. Xander and Jesse had managed to get him into the hallway and several doors down before they had to sit him down against the wall and rest. While they were catching their breath, the science teacher began to revive.

"Praying mantis," he muttered deliriously. "Mantis Religiosa…"

"Don't worry about it," Xander said, patting the teacher on the shoulder. He and Jesse exchanged a worried look as the sounds of mayhem continued to reach them from down the hall.

"Related to Isoptera and Blattodea," Dr. Gregory mumbled, eyes still shut. "But not since the Cretaceous…"

Xander gave Jesse another worried look.

"I think he's gone bye-bye," he said.

"Decentralized nervous system," the teacher raved. "Almost impossible to kill…still active even after decapitation…"

After a moment of silence from the classroom, there was another crash.

"Willow," Xander muttered, even as Jesse muttered "Kendra."

"Complete dismemberment," Dr. Gregory mumbled, his head sinking toward his chest. "Only way…"

Both boys scrambled to their feet, but Xander was faster, and started running before Jesse was completely up.

"Stay with him," he snapped over his shoulder.

Jesse hesitated, then sat back down with a frustrated grunt. He glanced over at the teacher, but the latter was completely unconscious again.

"Relax," Jesse told him, "you're too tense."



Kendra grunted with the effort of shoving back with both feet against the floor. She gained just enough purchase to shift one foot behind her. Now she reached up with her free hand against the thing's back and heaved forward. A cry of pain, rage and triumph ripped out of her throat as she flipped the bug over her head to land on its back in front of her. It lost its grip, and she backpedaled furiously as it rolled over and struggled to its feet facing her.

Xander skidded back into the classroom and nearly crashed into Willow. He grabbed her shoulders, startling her for a moment, and muttered Dr. Gregory's words into her ear.

Meanwhile, Kendra was backed up against the teacher's lab table. She tried to duck right and left, but each time a claw scythed out to block her escape. The thing's head had grown fully back now.

Something suddenly pulled Kendra's feet out from under her, but caught her before she could hit her head on the table or fall to the floor. She was skimming through the air, feet first, between the mantis demon's splayed legs, surrounded by wisps of vapor.

As she approached Willow, the girl gestured with her wand, bringing Kendra to an upright position before releasing her from the Cloud Zephyr spell. The Slayer landed on her feet and spun around to face the demon, even as it turned more slowly to face its attackers.

"Cover me," said Willow, hopping up onto a table in the back of the room and scrambling to her feet. Kendra grabbed up another stool.

Willow stood with her feet together, eyes half-closed, arms crossed at the wrist just in front of her face. Her left hand was making a mystic gesture, like a peace sign but with the fingers together, while the wand gripped in her right hand started to glow with a sparkling light.

Kendra charged out to face the demon, parrying its attacks with her stool as she retreated step by step. Willow held her pose as the wand glowed brighter. Her eyes snapped open.

"Whirling…" Willow intoned.

She raised her hands over her head, then spread them out at shoulder level, left hand holding the gesture and wand brightening still more.

"Crystal…" she said.

A half-turn, sliding her right foot back, brought her extended left hand out to point at the demon as her wand hand stretched out behind her.

"Snowflake…"

She swiveled at the hips, whipping both hands counter-clockwise until they'd swapped places as a shower of lights went spinning toward her target.

"Destruction!!"

The lights expanded as they passed over Kendra's head. Reaching a diameter of six inches, they resolved into flat, six-pointed crystals, no two alike, spinning madly as they closed in on their target. Willow held her pose, pointing her wand at the monster and concentrating.

Kendra fell back as the mantis demon waved its claws at the swarm. As the cloud of crystal shapes shot past, it became plain that they were razor-sharp. They sliced through the creature's shell, creating gashes that oozed green ichor.

The mantis prepared to close in again, only to discover that it wasn't over. Willow used her wand like an orchestra conductor's baton. The crystal snowflakes circled around and came back for another pass. And then another. Each time, they made a tighter circle, closing in and slicing.

Inevitably, they started to do some real damage. An antenna was sliced off, then the tip of one claw, then a foot. With another warbling cry, the mantis demon staggered back, oozing green from every cut, before falling to the floor. The crystals closed in tighter and tighter.

Then it was over. There was silence, except for the humming of the spinning crystals. They hovered in the air, slowing slightly, and then dropped to the floor and broke up into shards of ice.

Kendra slowly lowered the stool. She didn't relax this time.

"Okay," Willow said, "Two things. First…ewwww. Second, this time we got it."

She was looking at the area above the monster's remains, near the ceiling. The other two couldn't see the sparkling cloud of Victory Essence, but it was clear to her. She quickly summoned her spellbook into her left hand.



In that strange non-place full of pearlescent mists, Willow pointed her wand at the cloud.

"Victory Essence Conversion!" she cried out. As before, the cloud started spinning in response to her wand gesture, but this time only about half of it gathered.

"Type One: Transcription!" Willow called out, summoning the multi-forked lightning that inscribed a new spell in her book. She snapped the book closed and made it vanish; each conversion type could only be used once in a given instance.

"Type Two: Transformation!" she cried, and the second vortex started to spin around. It formed a cone, like a tornado, and arced toward her left hand. She held that hand out and let the energy swirl together and strike it. A moment later, the energy was gone, and there was a gleaming silver ring on her middle finger.

The cloud of Victory Essence was used up, and the mists faded as the world came back.



Xander came out into the hallway. He looked unsteady, and a bit green around the gills, but he nodded to Jesse.

"How is he?" he asked as he sank down on Dr. Gregory's other side.

As Jesse drew breath to answer, the teacher stirred. The boys watched him blink awake, puzzled to find himself in the hall.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Some a-hole thought he was funny," Xander said.

"Yeah," Jesse replied. "Jerkwad put on a giant bug suit and jumped out at you."

Dr. Gregory sighed. "I remember," he said. He levered himself up to a sitting position.

"Are you okay?" Jesse asked him.

"A little sore," the teacher replied.

Xander and Jesse each took an arm and helped him to his feet.

"No real damage," he said, "except to my ego. I can't believe I fainted like that."

"Neither could the guy," Jesse told him. "He thought you'd had a heart attack and died."

Willow and Kendra came out of the classroom. Willow was back in her normal outfit.

"Yeah," Xander said, speaking just loud enough for the girls to hear him, "he really freaked out. Thought he'd killed you. Then Willow started yelling stuff about felony homicide and how he'd be tried as an adult. He nearly dove out the window. Now that was funny."

"Sorry I missed it," Dr. Gregory replied.

"Yeah," Willow said, "but, but he deserved it. Doing something so juvenile to our favorite teacher like that."

Dr. Gregory hesitated. "Really?" he said. "Favorite?"

"Well, yeah," Willow replied.

"You're one of the few teachers here that really cares," Jesse told him.

Xander gave his two friends an incredulous look. He liked Dr. Gregory too, but something in him rebelled at the thought of any teacher being favored.

"What he said," he finally added.

"It was our pleasure t' help," Kendra finished.

There was a brief, awkward pause, which Xander jumped in to fill.

"So, Will," he said, "what did the classroom look like?"

Willow looked at him in momentary confusion.

"You know," he added, "when you went back in there after the guy had run off, to see what kind of damage he did to the room."

"Oh," Willow said. Then, realizing, "Oh! Yeah, he kinda trashed it a little. And he dropped a pile of some kind of organic refuse in the middle of the floor. Sorry," she added to Dr. Gregory.

"Could have been worse, I suppose," the teacher shrugged. "I'd better take a look, and then report this. Why don't you kids go on home? And listen…thanks so much for helping me."

"Our pleasure," Willow smiled.

They watched him head back to the classroom, then turned to leave.

"Okay," Xander said, "see, that was interesting. I mean, demons, vampires, witches, I thought I was getting a handle on things. But that…that was interesting. In the Chinese sense."

"Yeah," Willow said, shaking her head. "Buffy's really gonna be sorry she missed it."

"Then what are we standing around for?" Xander demanded. "Let's go tell her about it and get her all jealous."

"I need t' report it to me Watcher," said Kendra.

"Better yet," Xander replied. "I got five bucks on him saying 'gor blimey.'"

"Not all English are cockneys," Jesse said scornfully. "Two bucks says he's drinking tea when we come in, though."

"Ye're not comin'," Kendra told them. "De Slayer is supposed t' work alone. I'll make me report in private. And I'll not have ye mockin' him like dat."

"Hey, hey, nobody's mocking," Xander told her.

"You were mocking," Jesse said.

"I was," Xander confessed to Kendra, "but Jesse was only mocking me, so it's all good."

"No!" Kendra snapped, taking a backward step away from them. "It's none of it good!"

The three friends stopped walking and looked confused.

"I'm de Slayer," she said. "I have t' deal wit' t'ings like dat all me life. It's me callin'. It's me life. It's nae some amusin' hobby for amateurs!"

She turned and stalked off, walking fast enough that they'd have been hard pressed to keep up. But instead, they stood and watched her as she slammed open the door to the stairwell and barreled through. The echoes of the door swinging shut faded quickly and left the hall in silence.

"I'm thinking nerve strike," Xander said.



"Good heavens," Giles said.

He was half-sitting on the edge of the library table, his hands in his pockets. Kendra had just given her report; she stood at parade rest in the middle of the room.

Giles rose and paced slowly around the table, lost in thought. He sank into the chair where he'd been reading when the Slayer came in.

"It, it sounds rather like the creature poor old Carlyle was researching, just before he went mad," he said. "To think he was right."

He picked up his teacup and had a sip. Kendra looked at the teacup and remembered Jesse's joking comment; just for a moment, her lips twisted in a sour grimace.

"Well," Giles said, rising, "I see I shall have to make a transatlantic phone call. In the meantime, I've asked Miss Summers to come by so we can gauge her strength and combat skill. She should be here…" he glanced at his watch. "…any minute."

Kendra frowned slightly, her expression uncertain.

"Something troubles you?"

"No, sir."

Giles pondered her for a moment.

"Kendra," he said, "I may be your Watcher, but that's a, a recent development. You've been a Slayer for longer than I've known you. If, if you have an opinion, or you wish to share the benefit of your experience…you shouldn't hesitate. I can't promise I'll a-always agree with your words, but I believe it would be foolish of me not to listen."

"I…" Kendra hesitated. Giles had never seen her looking uncertain; he found it a bit disturbing.

”De Slayer is meant to work alone," she finally said. "I was taught from childhood dat I must avoid…entanglements wit' outsiders. Now…"

"Of course," Giles nodded. "Slayers and their Watchers are normally itinerant problem-solvers, there one day and gone the next. Under such circumstances, it makes sense to remain figures of mystery."

He folded his arms and half-sat at the edge of the table again.

"But this," he pointed out, "is, is rather an unorthodox situation. Our stay in Sunnydale is an extended one; extended for how long is still a matter for conjecture. A certain amount of…social contact is probably unavoidable, and the possibility of forming alliances against the darkness becomes, well, practical for one thing."

Kendra looked pensively at the floor. She reluctantly nodded to herself.

"And for that matter," Giles continued, "one could hardly find more formidable allies than Miss Summers and Miss Rosenberg."

He unfolded his arms and rested his hands on the table's edge.

"There's also the mystery of their origins; something they have yet to explain. And since we cannot rule out the possibility that they are enemies, playing a long game, it would be best to keep them where we can observe them."

Kendra nodded again and met his eyes.

"I understand, sir," she said.

"Excellent. Well, while we're waiting for Miss Summers, why don't you help me set up the training equipment. Unless there's anything else troubling you?"

"No, sir, not'ing," Kendra said, feeling vaguely guilty and wondering why.



"Hi," Buffy said as she pushed open the library doors. "What's shakin'?"

She was wearing sweat pants and a tank top over a sports bra. She paused as the door swung closed behind her, eyeing the floor mat, the practice dummy and the large wooden block on casters.

"Whoa," she said, "bow to the dojo."

"Ah, Miss Summers," Giles said. "Welcome. We've just finished setting up."

"Cool," said the blonde. "I can't stay long; Mom said she'd hold dinner, but I don't like to keep her waiting." She gave a quick wave to the Slayer, who was standing near the book cage. "Hi, Kendra!" she chirped. "I hear you had some excitement earlier."

"Indeed we did," Giles replied as the Slayer stepped forward. "I suppose your friends told you."

"Yeah," Buffy nodded. "Sorry I missed it." She turned and touched Kendra's arm "You okay?" she asked.

"Quite well," Kendra said with her characteristic poise. "Are ye ready t' start?"

At Buffy's nod, Giles took charge. "This won't take long," he said. "We're just evaluating your capabilities today; we want to be certain Kendra doesn't injure you while training…or vice versa."

"Sounds like a plan. How do we start?"

Kendra stepped up to the large wooden block. The casters had been locked down so they wouldn't roll. The flat surface was just above waist height.

"Mr. Giles says we should begin wit' arm wrestlin'," she said. She gave Buffy a challenging stare, with just a hint of a smile.

Buffy smiled back. "Bring it on," she said.

"Before we begin," Giles interjected, "there's one matter I was wondering about…besides the obvious, are your capabilities any greater while you're in your…other form?"

Buffy considered her answer carefully.

"Well, I'm stronger," she said. "Maybe a little tougher. Mom says it's because of something about…I want to say muscle dentistry…"

"Density, perhaps," Giles said in a pained voice.

"Yeah, that," Buffy replied.

"I see. Well, it would be a good idea to evaluate your abilities in both forms, so perhaps later you could…"

Buffy shook her head. "I'd rather not, not today," she replied. "Like I said, I can't stay long. And I really wouldn't want any of the faculty to come in and see me all wingy and horny…and don't I wish I'd proofread that sentence before I said it?"

"As you prefer," Giles said, "but we should test your full abilities soon. Today's encounter might have been resolved quickly, but another menace may arise at any moment…and there's no guarantee that we'll be able to handle it with equal dispatch."



Night had fallen over Weatherly Park. The people who enjoyed the park by the light of day had all gone home, and now the only occupants were the homeless and destitute -- and those that preyed on them.

In the dim light, he stalked across the bike trail, eyes intent on his quarry and ears filled with the rush of sweet blood still flowing through veins. He hissed in pleasure, quietly, and his left hand clenched and unclenched in anticipation.

His right hand didn't move, mostly because he didn't have one. Instead, he sported a wicked contraption of wood and metal, fastened to the stump of his wrist with leather straps. Most of the metal was in the form of four wickedly curved, parallel blades.

He stepped out onto a bike trail and stood for a moment, savoring the anticipation. Soon the air would ring with screams of pain and terror, and the smell of blood would fill the air with its coppery tang. Soon…

As he moved forward to begin his holy work, he grimaced in annoyance as a figure appeared in the middle distance. It was a young woman, walking up the bike trail in a knee-length tan coat and Capri pants. Her wardrobe reeked of money, and ordinarily he'd have switched his attentions to her in a moment. But he could already tell, by the smell of her and the total silence of her internal organs, what she was.

Sparing only a glance at the homeless man sleeping on the park bench, she stepped past him and stood gazing at the beweaponed vampire in frank appraisal.

"Get out of my way, fledgeling," he snarled. "That one will be mine tonight."

"Him?" Cordelia said, pointing her thumb at the sleeping human. "You can have him. Me, I'd actually prefer butcher's blood. At least I'd know where the pigs and cows had been."

The male vampire growled, but the deep rumble left Cordelia decidedly unimpressed.

"Stick to cow's blood," he told her. "It suits you. You're practically cattle yourself."

"Excuse you?" Cordelia demanded, her eyes narrowing.

"Dressing like them, trying to look like them. You're actually wearing makeup!" He raised his claw-hand and gestured with it.

"We are the superior beings," he said. "We have no need to --"

But Cordelia chimed in and spoke the words with him. "-- ape their worthless lives…"

She spoke the last words alone as the other fell silent.

"…nor cower on the surface and hide from the night," she finished.

"Y-you know the Analects of Aurelius?" he said. "You know, and you still…"

Once again, she interrupted, but this time without words. She simply drew her right hand out of her coat pocket and held up so he could see the back -- and the ring she wore on her middle finger. She smiled as he gaped at her in astonishment.

"Where did you get that?" he demanded.

"The Master placed it on my finger himself," she replied.

"Y… You lie," he feebly protested.

"Aren't you cute," Cordelia said. "I'd pinch your cheeks, but that would involve touching you."

She folded her arms and stepped nearer.

"You know," she said, "I never would have dreamed I would ever say this, to anyone...but let's talk about you for a minute."

The older vampire blinked in confusion.

"You've been trying to get back into the Master's good graces for how long now? A hundred and twenty years, isn't it?"

He shifted uncomfortably, but made no reply.

"So you carve them up when you feed. You have a blast and try to show how much you hold them in contempt. I guess you figure, what, you do that enough and he'll forgive you? How's that working out so far?"

"And you think you'd do any better?" he snarled back.

Cordelia brandished the ring again.

"I've been a vampire for five weeks," she smiled, "and I wear this on my right hand. What's on your right hand? Oh, wait, that's right."

He glared at her sullenly. He knew she was right, but he was being stubborn about it. She put her hands back in her pockets.

"A hundred and twenty years," she said, "and no progress. Maybe you should try, oh, I don't know, how about…the same damn thing yet again? That's sure to have completely different results this time."

When his shoulders sagged and he lowered his head, she knew she'd won the argument. Not that it was any surprise; Cordelia Chase always won.

"What would you have me do?" he asked.

"Whatever I tell you," she grinned back.

"What," she added as he looked up sharply at her, "you've got something to lose?"

He slowly nodded.

"I'll follow you," he said.

"Damn straight you will. You got a name?"

"The Master took it away," he said dubiously. "I've been forbidden another."

"Well, I've got to call you something," Cordelia mused. "How about…Fork Boy."

He stared at her incredulously.

"Fork Boy?" he repeated.

"Fork Boy. It's not a name, and you were clear about that, so Fork Boy it is. C'mon."

"Um," he said as she started to turn away.

"What now?"

"I haven't fed in a while," he confessed. "This one was going to be…"

Cordelia rolled her eyes and pulled a pair of driving gloves from her pockets. Pulling them on, she stepped over to the bench and grabbed the sleeping man's head with both hands.

Jerking awake, the human drew breath to yell, but it was too late. Cordelia twisted, and a hideous cracking noise filled the air.

"Drink up, Fork Boy," she said, brushing off her hands.



So, when I first started writing "Buff the Magic…um, yeah," I thought it would be a one-shot. But it was so much fun to write, and the reviews were so nice, that I realized I was going to have to do more. And then someone went and nominated it for some Crossing Over awards, and I knew I had to do more right away.

As always, reviews and commentary are welcome, so long as they are polite and respectful of what I was trying to do here, even if you think I failed to do it.
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