In The Night
Disclaimer: I do not own the television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or the movie The Descent, nor any of the characters from the Anita Blake books. No copyright infringement intended. No profit is gained. BTVS belongs to Joss. Anita Blake and her cohort belong to Laurell K. Hamilton.
Summary: “The worst thing that can happen to you has already happened.” *-*-*-*
She wakes up to blue lights flashing across the room. She tastes the air and knows that new humans have been downstairs whilst she slept. That they made it to the stairs and then turned tail and fled.
Curling out of her pile of clothes from the ransacked wardrobe she peers cautiously out of the window and takes in the sea of cars and officers surrounding the house.
Among them she spots Anita, dark curling hair blowing in the wind as she talks anxiously to a man as tall and still as a golem, a frown on his face. They are both waving their hands towards the house as they argue, as if it is a plane they are attempting to land. Badly.
She checks the windows on the other side of the bedroom. There are a handful of officers in the garden too and none of them look happy to be there. Infact they look downright miserable, and she knows miserable people have a habit of shooting at the things they are frightened of.
She wonders if they have actually come for her, or if they have come because the house stinks of death and the couple in the bed have stiffened and turned grey, the bed soaking up their liquefying remains as they begin to rot.
She decides it is probably the latter.
She contemplates the doors. Once, perhaps, in the very distant past she could have stretched her face and shrunk in her body until she appeared just a harmless little valley cheerleader and rushed out of the door to the cops crying and pretending that the man with the gun had murdered her parents and she was so glad they were here and please please please could someone take her away from all the blood and all the death.
And the police, disarmed and taken in by her sweet blonde looks and distraught face would have helped her and coddled her until she could slip way unnoticed from the house of carnage.
But the girl who could do that is long dead.
In her place is a woman who does not play the lost innocent for anyone, not even in pretence. Not anymore. She was sick of lies and pretending before she even became Sarah, before she met the crawlers.
Living with the monsters had made her appreciate honesty, even if it was the kind of honesty that looked and smelled horrific and had teeth that would rip out your throat and then play with your entrails whilst you took your last few breaths.
So she looks to the skylight instead.
One quick jump and she is clinging to the lighting fixture, because no matter how dextrous she is and no matter how long she spent upside down clinging to rocks in the cave, she cannot cling onto the smooth plastered surface of the ceiling. There is simply nothing for her to hang onto. So the lamp it is.
Hanging upside down by her left leg, muscles loose and relaxed, she uses her right big toe to undo the skylight latch and slide the window down. Another flick of her foot and she has swung herself round and out, onto the black slates of the roof.
Blending seamlessly into the shadows she slides all the way down and drops silently into next door’s garden. From there on it is simply a matter of jumping garden fences until she is far enough away that she cannot hear sirens or smell policemen.
She finds herself in the back alley of a supermarket.
The stench of human food, so sweet and metallic to her nose is almost overwhelming, but then she picks up the soothing scent of blood.
Down near the entrance to the car park a vampire has a woman pinned against a wall as he sucks at her neck. The Slayer smiles and the vampire is staked silently with a piece of broken boxing that has been left stacked haphazardly outside.
He is young and stupid, but she is surprised when he doesn’t explode in a cloud of ashes like he’s supposed to.
She leans down closer to examine the corpse. She presses her head to his chest and she can feel the last remnants of a soul. But a soul barely there, clinging on by a shred. A soul that clearly did not stop him from feeding off the unwilling.
Slayer code appeased, she pulls her makeshift stake out of the body. She slams it back into his head, just in case this new kind of vampire need their brains destroying too. Then she sticks it back in his chest for good measure, wiggling it around so that his heart is merely a pulpy mass of muscle and blood.
Decapitates him because she can.
She licks the blood from her fingers and turns to the terrified victim. She has slumped down to the alley floor, back against the wall, hand pressed against her bleeding neck. But she’s only lost a few mouthfuls of blood. She’ll live.
The Slayer comes closer to her and holds out her hand but the woman shrinks away.
“Please! Don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me!” she whimpers and the Slayer sighs.
When you bring death as a gift, you don’t get invited to many parties.
The woman holds out her handbag desperately, as the Slayer simply sits on her haunches and watches her.
“Here! Take this! Take the money, take it all. Just please leave me alone!” She almost thrusts the bag into the Slayer’s hands.
Opening the bag she rifles shamelessly through the woman’s belongings, pulling out lipstick and tissues and cards and old receipts before coming to her purse. She discards that too before her hands finally close around the shiny little silver object. She remembers you had to press three numbers for help. Three numbers and people would come. People with blue lights. She presses the buttons she thinks she recalls and hopes they haven’t changed them whilst she’s been underground.
She hands the cell back to the woman who takes it soundlessly, mouth open and eyes wide as if she can’t decide whether to faint or to scream.
Then the Slayer is gone as the call connects to the operator and the woman is suddenly babbling away about vampires and blonde girl saviours who move on all fours and have hands of death and very, very old eyes. *-*-*-*
The house is almost choked with evidence and the rooms are swarmed with armies of white suited techs with cameras and evidence bags and little brushes ready to dust for prints.
The corpses of the couple in the bed and the disgruntled suicidal ex are almost an afterthought for them. They’ve seen plenty of murders in their time and the greying sludgy bodies in the bedroom and the living room no longer hold any fascination, only faint disgust. What the investigators are really interested in is the creature they’re cataloguing who has taken no steps to disguise her presence.
But then, Anita thinks, why should she?
If she can take down a vampire like Jean Claude as though he is nothing but a child, then she’s hardly going to worry about human police. Anita doesn’t know whether to be grateful that she isn’t there so they can avoid a messy confrontation or worried because now the Executioner doesn’t know where she is.
The angry buzzing in her head that feels like Jean Claude tells her that the vampire is definitely feeling the latter.
Richard, she detects, is worried about the girl but beneath that she senses faint amusement that she’s so easily escaped away from the Circus.
The thought sparks irritation in her- he isn’t the one who has to deal with this- and her anger transmits itself towards him before she’s even realised. She senses the bristle of fur before he goes quiet.
And now she’s annoyed with herself for not being able to control her emotions better. At Richard for being so sensitive. At Jean-Claude for being the cause of these marks in the first place.
She takes a breath, slams the marks shut, and cocooned and alone once more inside her own head Anita turns back to the house. To the latest problem on her long list.
The white suited techs are flitting around the house like tiny white moths and Anita grabs one- a small, wiry pale girl with thick green specs and bright blue hair- before she can run away and grills her.
Slightly in awe of the Marshall, the tech babbles away, reeling off the impressive list of evidence that has accumulated in the house and as she speaks other techs gather round her, faces alive with what Anita suspects is a combination of horror and fascination and the sheer excitement of an unusual case.
“-and there’s her skin cells clogging the shower drain and her nail and hair clippings on the kitchen floor and-"
“That’s great,” says Anita, interrupting eventually because this could surely go on all night, but the technicians are looking fearful and she hesitates. “What’s wrong?”
“The footprints, they’re on the ceiling. On the ceiling.” The tech shakes her head in something Anita thinks is akin to awe. “I’ve never seen anything human or…or monster able to do that before.”
Anita shakes her own head and rubs her temples against the mounting migraine and lets the rest of the team get on with their jobs. After all, they have so much evidence to collect they’ll be processing this stuff for days. She cringes at the thought of all the paperwork and pulls off her latex gloves with a snap, balling them up and slipping them into her pocket as she leaves. Assured by an anonymous tech that they’ll send her the results of any evidence samples they analyse she heads to the car and is just reaching for her keys when her phone rings again.
Anita resigns herself to not getting into bed at a reasonable hour, answers her phone and gets in the car.*-*-*-*
The Slayer is still itching to kill something. Anything. One measly newborn vampire has done nothing but increase her thirst for violence, but all of the vampires she has come across after that first have been souled and civilised. Well, as civilised as vampires can be she thinks, watching from her rooftop perch as they walk amongst the humans in the streets and bars.
She cannot kill a souled being unless it trips up and she is eagle eyed, waiting, daring one of them to make a mistake.
But they do not.
Disappointed, she hunts the city streets and dispatches a small slime demon smothering a man in the back alley behind a convenience store.
At least this demon does what she expects and dissolves with a hiss into a puddle of dangerous looking blue goo. The victim this time looks so pleased to see her he faints. She pulls his cell out of his jacket pocket and places another call and then slinks away, hunger barely sated and frustration building.
She suddenly misses the crawlers. Misses the strange creatures who were nothing but monsters, who lived to feed on flesh and didn’t walk around in suits and pretending to be human and fit in and she feels the urge to scream.
So she does.
A loud aching cry of the wild, of the pure unadulterated thrill of living and hunting, of frustration and entrapment, of loss and sorrow. It is a wordless cry and when she has finished pouring her soul into her scream she sits in silence, waiting for the answering calls of wolves, of the wild, of the free and the uninhibited, of beasts and her kin.
There is no reply.
She almost, almost misses the Hellmouth. *-*-*-*
At the station, Anita is greeted in the interview room by a woman teetering on the edge of hysteria, her fingers wrapped tightly around a cup of the brown water the station calls coffee and making the styrofoam cup shake so badly that most of the lukewarm liquid is now in a pool on the table.
The woman hasn’t seemed to notice.
Instead she sits, chewing her lips, eyes wide and wary and flinching at the slightest noise. Her neck has a large dressing over what Anita knows is a bite wound, but aside from that and the obvious shock the woman looks mostly healthy.
Anita sits down carefully at the table but before she can even give her name, the woman (Jane Macey-Varlet, 33, a store assistant, single, living with her brother) is spilling out her story about the vampire that had lured her in and then pounced- the hungry, lean look on his face, her inability to leave, his eyes that shone the colour of death.
Jane grabs Anita’s hand suddenly and the coffee cup goes flying.
Anita’s fingers are squeezed so hard she thinks they’re going to be crushed, as the woman’s face flares to life as she talks of her blonde saviour/monster, who’d killed the vampire without a flicker of hesitation, without a shred of difficulty and Anita is just about to lose the feeling in her hand when there is an apologetic knock at the door.
A cop who looks as though he’s only just learnt how to shave, let alone handle a weapon, is telling her there’s another victim just arrived who’s also raving about some blonde haired crazy woman heroine and he’s asking for her.
So she gets the young man to sit with Jane the hand crusher and goes to speak with the next victim, rubbing the circulation back into her fingers as she goes.
This time the interview goes much more smoothly and Dominic Marquez, (45, banker, married, four kids and a mistress) whose suit has been partially burned away by something blue is simply wild eyed and shaking. He keeps his hands to himself. He also faints a lot and Anita has to keep plying him with coffee until the guy is practically humming in his seat as he describes the predator that saved him.
Several hours later and she hasn’t learned much more from either Jane or Dominic that she hadn’t previously known about their missing Slayer, except that she has a penchant for saving people and she’s ditched the ‘lived-in-a-hole-in-the-ground-for-years’ look for something approaching normal. Well as normal as a tiny silent barefoot blonde woman, wearing nothing but a black t-shirt, leggings and a fur wrap gets.
It doesn’t get her much further with knowing who exactly Slayer is, but it does give her a good description of what she’s wearing and what she looks like. And that she’s saving people. That ought to appease Jean Claude she hopes. The dead vampire might not help that but he was biting the unwilling so one way or another he would have ended up dead. The Slayer’s way is just quicker and involves less paperwork than the Executioner’s.
Cracking her neck, Anita decides that the pull of her bed and some sleep is getting too powerful to resist, so grabbing the nearest RPIT cop who passes, she hands him the interview tapes and gets him to post out the description of Slayer to all of the police departments, with strict instructions to merely observe and not apprehend before she leaves.
She makes sure her phone is switched off before she gets in the car.*-*-*-*
It is beginning to rain.
She tips her head up and lets the drops fall on her tongue, but not even the taste here is the same. Everything in this city tastes of metal and glass. She wrinkles her nose and instead sits on rooftops and watches TV through shop windows as the rain comes down harder.
She does not recognise the people or the names but she knows they are talking about the vampires and their rights and she watches them speak, fascinated, as she learns all about this new world she has missed whilst she was underground.
The Slayer in her is outraged. Sarah is tired. Buffy is conflicted. And the little girl she was centuries ago is lonely and confused.
The Slayer hates feeling so discordant within herself, so she leaves the flickering sets and moves on as the rain begins to bounce off the streets so that she is soaked through in seconds, her blonde hair plastered to her face, her fur mantle matted and speckled blue with demon blood. She shelters under a large tree in the park, the only bit of green she has found in this city of fake humans and fake monsters.
She misses her forests and caves of home where she knew what everything was.
A bear was a bear was a bear.
A crawler was a crawler was a crawler.
Here a vampire is a monster is a souled being is a victim.
She hunkers down further into the roots of the tree and pulls her fur around her, burying her head into her hands and pulling her knees up to her chest. Her feet are cold and vaguely she recognises she is not wearing any shoes. She digs her toes into the soil at her feet and lets out a little moan that could have been the beginning of a sob.
Instead, she curls up as best she can, screened by the foliage, and falls asleep as the rain drums down around her.*-*-*-*
Meanwhile, Anta is stumbling into her bed. She’s so tired she doesn’t even bother to undress, just shucks off her shoes and jacket and clambers in, pulling the duvet over her. There’s so much info going round her head she thinks she’ll never sleep but the moment her head hits the pillow her eyes close.
When she opens them again she is standing on a worn wooden pier, leaning against the railings on a warm sunny day. The sea is moving very gently, hypnotically, waves lapping against the soft bronzed sand and she feels very relaxed here, even as her spine prickles and tells her something lurks beside her.
There. Just at the corner of her eye. Something ancient and clawed, encased in the body of a little girl.
She knows she shouldn’t turn her head, that if she keeps staring out at the sea the creature will go away.
Over the tang of sea salt and sun-cream she smells blood and death.
She twists her head sharply to the right.
A blonde haired woman leans against the rails beside her, casually dressed in shorts, a tank top and pink glittery flip-flops.
A very familiar blonde haired woman.
“Hi,” she says, smiling. “You must be Anita.”*-*-*-*
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