With so many characters (and with people reading who may not be familiar with all the books) here is a quick ID key of who is present to lessen confusion:
Vampires: Spike, JC, Asher, Requiem, Wicked and Truth, Byron, London
Wolves: Richard, Shang-Da, Jamil, Sylvie, Jason, several others
Leopards: Micah, Nathaniel, Caleb, Elizabeth, Noah
Hyenas: Narcissus and underlings (Remus, Dionysus, Ixion, and Bacchus)
Tigers: Crispin & Domino
Lions: Haven and several others
Rats: Rafael, Claudia, others
With so many characters interacting I am including ‘~*~*~’ to separate the scenes just for organizational purposes.
Mad thanks, as always, to my beta Greywizard. He is Ma-aaaaaavelous, darlings ;)
Xander grunted as the Elmo on Steroids Dude clocked him across the face. His body flew across the floor and with it, his guns. Weaponless, he pushed himself back to his feet, using the wall nearest him, to see his opponent grinning at him.
“What are you so happy about?” he grumbled. “Did the Blue Man Group finally accept your application?”
The werelion with bright blue hair cocked his head and let out a confused, “Huh?”
“Not the brightest kitty cat, are ya?” Xander quipped with a grin. “Lemme guess, you’re one of the paid thug types, aren’t ya?”
The werelion roared furiously and reached for Xander. Ducking, Xander spun in the opposite direction to avoid him, but the lion moved too quickly for him to avoid and gripped Xander‘s shoulders from behind.
“I think it’s time you got to see the thug side of me,” Haven snarled.
Xander was still unsure what was up with the random displays of power he'd been having. Sure, he had been possessed by a hyena once. And yes, he did spend twenty-two years living above a mystical force of evil energy. But he had never experienced anything like tonight before in his life. Then again, he reflected, this was the first time ever he had been around so many weres. Heck, previously, the only one he had met was Oz. But the raw animal energy in this room had tapped into a part of him- he could feel that curl of power resting inside.
Hence, he wasn’t really worried about his current situation.
Mustering that power within him, he spoke with strong conviction. “Release me, lion.”
The werelion bristled angrily. “You think you can order *me* around? I am Haven, Rex of the Lions. You have no power over me.”
‘Okay,’ Xander thought. ‘It worked on the leopard, kinda on the rat, and the hyenas. Apparently not this dude, though.’ That left Xander with only one option- relying on the skills he'd gained from training with slayers for the last twelve years of his life.
Xander jumped forward against the wall and kicked off, landing behind Haven. Both of his fists slammed into Haven’s kidneys and he kicked the back of his opponent's knee to break his balance. Haven grunted with pain and stooped, but didn’t fall- he was tough. With his left hand, Xander hit Haven’s temple three times in quick succession, but the lion snatched his hand and quickly bent it back, breaking Xander’s wrist.
Hissing in pain, Xander fell to his knees to relieve the pressure on his wrist and side-kicked Haven in the face. His wrist was released and Xander quickly jumped to his feet. With a ferocious snarl, Haven leapt on top of him and knocked him to the ground as he brandished a gleaming silver knife he'd produced from behind his back.
“Not bad,” Haven grunted in appreciation. “But you don’t have what it takes, boy. These other weres think you’re something special, but I think both you and I know the truth.”
Wincing, Xander stared up at the man pinning him to the floor. “What truth's that, Elmo? That you have secret homoerotic fantasies about the lacey-shirted vampire dude over there? Cause if so- totally cool. I understand the whole 'Don't ask, don't tell' thing.”
Haven punched him in the chest. “No, fool! The truth that you are nobody! And you’re going to die as nobody.”
The knife flashed down and Xander managed to grab it with his right hand. The knife shook unsteadily as it hovered above Xander’s chest, the two of them each struggling to overpower the other. His mind flashed back to all the moments when Willow tried to explain her relationship to magic- saying that she simply found the energy within the earth, pulled it within herself, and cast it on the object of her spell. Now he desperately tried to do the same thing with the hyena primal spirit that still, evidently, lived within him.
Touching on that space in his midsection where it seemed to pulse, he began mentally pulling and stretching that power until its warmth extended throughout him. As it reached his hand, the surge in strength forced the knife upwards until it slashed into Haven’s chin, making the werelion's eyes quickly narrow in anger and outrage.
Xander, meanwhile, was pleased with his power surge but also surprised by the sudden strength that coursed through him. As the drops of blood dripped on him from Haven’s chin, Xander’s stomach clenched- and not in a ‘blood makes me queasy’ way. Suddenly, Xander felt a strong urge to lap up the bleeding wound. The knife slashed upwards again, almost without his thinking about it, as Xander shanked Haven’s upper chest. The werelion growled, punched Xander, and rolled away from him to the side.
Xander’s senses sharpened as his gaze narrowed on his opponent. Utilizing quick jabs with his knife, Xander darted around Haven like a boxer. On his fifth jab, Haven caught the knife-wielding hand and thrust it towards Xander’s throat. Although Xander could more or less hold his own in a fight, his eyes bulged as he realized the speed with which the knife flew towards him.
And then the knife did fly -- upwards and over his head. Blinking in surprise, Xander saw Haven lying on the floor with a triumphant Andrew's arms wrapped around the werelion's waist.
“That’ll teach you! No one messes with my Xander friend!” Andrew shouted before Haven furiously slammed him aside.
“Hey, thanks, Andrew,” Xander said with a genuine smile. Sometimes the kid really did make him happy that they would take him along on trips.
“No problem, Xander. Besides, if you died, then who would play D&D with me back at HQ?”
Yeah… And then the kid would come out and say things that made Xander regret that they let him out at all.
Willow, Giles, Dawn, and Tammy held hands as they stood within their protective circle. The voices echoed with strength as they began the incantation to sever Anita’s second triumvirate.
“Gaia hear our plea.
Once a triumvirate was created.
Vampire. Necromancer. Leopard.
Unnatural together these three,
Granting power that shouldn’t be.
A link was formed,
Humanity was mourned.
Closer became the bind,
Enough to withstand time.
Gaia hear our plea.
Take the offered blood,
Of Vampire, Necromancer, Leopard.
Sever their ties,
Separate their lives.
To each their own,
Never more may they become.
Now it will end,
And may Your Will never bend.”
A collective gasp went up as the magical energy exploded from their circle. All four casters slumped and struggled to catch their breath. As the focus for both of the two previous spells, Willow was once again looking tired.
“Will? How are things? We have to hurry up and free Spike, remember,” Dawn reminded the other witch.
“I know, Dawnie,” Willow said with deep, gasping breaths. “I’m just a ‘li'l tired, that’s all.” Her eyelids fluttered. “Maybe just a quick cat nap,” she said in a drowsy voice.
“Oh no, you don’t!” admonished Dawn. “Larry! Grab me Xander’s bag, that purple backpack over there!”
“Sure,” responded Larry as he handed Dawn the bag. Quickly, she began rummaging through it. “Come on Xander, don’t let me down now,” she muttered as Tammy and Giles gave her quizzical looks. “Aha!” she exclaimed triumphantly as she pulled out a can. Popping the tab, she held it against Willow’s lips until the witch began drinking it.
“What’s that stuff?” Tammy asked Giles. “Is that some witches brew?”
Giles sighed as he pulled off his glasses to clean them. “No, not quite, I’m afraid," he murmured. "Something far more foul tasting.”
“Oh my God, what?” asked Tammy with wide eyes, a semi-horrified expression on her face.
“Oh my Goddess, Giles. Drama Queen much?” Dawn rolled her eyes as she turned to Tammy. “I gave her a Starbucks Double Shot Expresso. Willow is a real caffeine fiend, so she should be ready to go in a minute.”
Giles did some eye rolling of his own as he replaced his glasses. “Ah yes, Starbucks. I swear I have it on good authority that their CEO is a demon of some sort- non-predatory, of course," he noted parenthetically.
"Regardless, I much prefer Taster’s Choice myself.”
A blast of heat hit him harder than the amulet that he'd used to close the Hellmouth, and Spike dropped to the floor as his body curled in pain, a part of him gratefully realizing that he was releasing Buffy's throat from the stranglehold Anita had forced him to use.
The triumvirate that Anita had forced him into earlier this evening had continued trickling its power into Spike’s body, even as the other events of the evening had unfolded. Now, though, it felt like someone was doing a wax job on his very soul as some force ripped away the same power that Anita had channeled into him previously.
As he writhed in pain, he saw through slitted eyes that Anita and Nathaniel were experiencing a similar amount of pain.
‘Serves those wankers right,’ he though with a vindictive grin before another wave of pain tore into him.
Meanwhile, Xander's fight continued against Haven, as Andrew assisted him in his own fashion. Without even needing to look in their direction, Xander knew that his hyenas were taking on the other lions from Haven’s Pride.
Wait a minute - his hyenas?
A small part of Xander's mind thought it was strange that he now thought of the hyenas as ‘his,’ but the other, more practical, side focused on the fight.
Haven swung his fist and knocked down Andrew, who fell with a heavy thud against the floor. His fist then flew at Xander, but the one-time carpenter easily evaded the lion's attack. Taking advantage of his surroundings, Xander kicked Haven's stomach, making him stumble backwards and he promptly tripped over Andrew.
“Oof,” Andrew moaned piteously, even as his hand, halfway pinned by Haven’s broad torso, waved something shiny.
“Here, take it, Xand,” he croaked. "Use the fiend's own weapon against him!" he urged in what he hoped sounded like a heroic proposal.
Xander back-slapped Haven across the face and snatched the item Andrew had been waving- a small dagger that already was dirtied with dried blood. Without a second thought, Xander plunged the dagger into Haven’s throat, ripping it open and splattering them both with gouts of blood.
“Good job,” Andrew wheezed. “But, ah, can you get this dude off me now? Please? He weighs more than an oliophant from the Lord of the Rings!”
But Xander wasn’t listening. Saliva thickened in his mouth as he reflexively leaned over the bleeding body. That primal force within him was screaming at him to taste his defeated opponent- his rightful kill.
“Xander! Snap out of it!” Andrew cried as the seemingly obsessed man leaned closer to Haven’s bleeding neck. “Look! Look over there! Buffy’s on the ground, Xand! We gotta help her!”
Xander paused as his brain slowly registered Andrew’s words- With every part of his being wanting to bury his face in the oozing blood, it was as though Andrew’s words traveled through Jello to reach him. But once they did, his head immediately jerked up and his eyes darted around the room until he saw her.
“Buffy?,” he whispered, a horrified expression crossing his face before he rushed towards her.
“Uh- Xander?” Andrew plaintively called. “I said *we* needed to help her…
"Couldn’t you have gotten this guy off of me, first? He weighs a ton,” Andrew sighed as he began to slowly shove the massive man off of him.
“Okay, you guys ready? 'Cause I’m ready, Freddy,” Willow said with a silly grin. “Time to kick a little necromancer ass, huh? Or, well, metaphysical ass.” A giggle escaped her lips. “Which, actually, I wouldn’t mind to kick her actual ass because, even though I usually let Buffy be the violent one in our friendship, I really wouldn’t mind fighting her. ‘Cause, you know I normally don’t like to call me fellow females names- except for maybe Cordelia once or twice, okay maybe a lot- but I gotta say that this Anita Blake girly is a definite skanky ho. And-”
Giles grabbed her shoulder. “Willow, dear, do you think we might possibly begin the spell now? So that we can free Spike from that woman's influence before she awakens again?”
A chagrin expression flashed across her features. “Oh. Yeah. Gotcha, Giles. You know me and caffeine, sometimes the babble starts trickling out and ya just gotta-”
“Stop you. Physically if need be. Ready, Will,” Dawn prompted her mentor with a smile. It was certainly not the time nor place, but Babbly Willow always gave her warm fuzzies.
Once again, the four magic users linked hands and began their incantation.
"Goddess Isis, Star of the Sea,
Please listen to our plea.
She Who Seeks Justice for the Poor,
Filter your magic through the mystical door.
A vampire exited this world, crumbled to dust,
Only to be resurrected through your sense of what is just.
Yet he has been taken against his will,
By one who thoughtlessly orders him to kill.
Her power keeps him alive,
But of free will it does deprive.
Under her rule there is no escape,
And he is subjected to metaphysical rape.
Take him, Goddess Isis, to your breast,
Where this Champion may finally rest.
Sever his servitude from Anita Blake,
And give him back what she did take.”
“Buffy?” Xander whispered hoarsely. “Buffy?” His inner animal had quickly receded once he saw her still form. A finger gently ran down her throat as he sought to find a pulse. “Come on, Lady of Buffdom, Duchess of Buffonia, this is not the place for you to be dyin’ on me.”
Xander’s heart jumped when Buffy let out a dry cough.
“Xand?” she croaked.
“I’m right here, Buff.”
“Spike?” she asked.
His blood pressure involuntarily rose at the mention of Spike- If Buffy hadn’t felt the need to come to St. Louis because of him, his best friend would not be recovering from a near-fatal attack. Xander glanced around and he saw the vampire was lying motionless on the floor, along with that Anita Blake chick, and some dude with cat-like claws.
“Passed out, along with that skank and one of her girly-boys, but otherwise, he looks okay,” he informed her.
“Good," Buffy grunted with relieved satisfaction. "Ugh, help me up.”
Gingerly, Buffy stood up with Xander’s help.
“Yo, B! You all good?” called out an approaching Faith, who was flanked by the vampires Wicked and Truth.
Buffy grinned weakly. “Five by five. Just a little knife wound, got half choked to death - ya know, the usual.”
“I’m feeling you on that.” Faith said with a smile as she showed off her own new battle wounds.
Glancing on the other side of the room, Buffy saw that Asher and Jean-Claude were tied up separately with heavy chains and closely guarded by Richard, Jamil, Sylvie, Rafael, and a couple wererats she did not recognize.
Everyone involved all looked like hell had frozen over.
Whereas Asher had once had a pretty side, now both sides of his face were disgusting to look at and covered with deep gashes. Jean-Claude struggled to keep his head up to stare at her, but the vampire was obviously fatigued, covered in blood, and his shoulders sat oddly- like they were dislocated.
The weres were not looking much better, but at least they were standing -- except for Shang-Da, who was crouched on the floor tending to a bleeding Jason and several injured wererats.
Aside from the still, but breathing, figures of Anita, Nathaniel, and Spike, every other one of Jean-Claude’s men was laying on the ground dead, sometimes in pieces.
Buffy raised an inquisitive brow at Wicked and Truth. “Did you decide to adopt a couple of vampires during your warpath?” she asked Faith.
“Well, B, they just had the cutest puppy dog eyes and you know how I’m a sucker for that,” she joked.
“Naw,” she then added in a much more serious tone. “Wicked and Truth are five by five. Truth even showed me where Jean-Claude kept his good chains around here.”
“Only because you promised that after you no longer needed them for Jean-Claude, we could play with them,” Truth remarked lightly with a devilish grin.
Faith pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. “I tell ya, B, men, regardless of the species, only have one thing on their mind.”
“Like you don’t?” Xander muttered under his breath.
“What was that, Xander?” Faith asked in a deceptively sweet tone, and Xander suddenly appeared to be very interested in a spot of blood he was rubbing off his shirt.
“Hey, guys,” Willow said softly in her ‘I-just-channeled-some-seriously-major power-and-am-drunk-from-the-effects’ voice. She had her arms slung around Dawn and Giles’ shoulder as she staggered in their general direction and Tammy, Larry, and Dolph followed them. Andrew also made his way to the central group.
“Excellent job, people,” Dolph observed with a huge smile. “My aunt always told me stories about what Slayers could do but, damn, you guys went all out. I cannot wait until the paper pushers rescind your terrorist status and we can legalize you guys and start working with you.”
“Me, either,” Buffy remarked with a bemused smile. It would be wonderful to return to California- she could hardly wait to escape England’s dreary weather!
The three former triumvirate members began to slowly sit up as the others spoke.
Anita gasped in horrified and disbelieving shock as she took in the blood-soaked room -- she couldn’t believe that so many of her men had died! Every cell in her body screamed at her to kill Buffy Summers, but with her current injuries, she knew it was physically impossible for her to fight. Blood dripped down her right cheek where Buffy had carved the letter ‘B’, while her body screamed in pain from two broken arms, a crushed hand , broken nose, and several ribs were broken. Not to mention the fact that she was layered in bruises that ranged from purple to black to green.
“Looks like our friends are waking up,” Buffy muttered as she noticed Anita moving, her voice still raspy from the near choking experience.
“Spike,” Anita commanded in a steely voice. “Kill Buffy and all of her friends through the bloodiest means possible.”
Spike jerked up and, instantly, the Scoobies were tensed in battle positions.
“You know, Spike, I’m starting to wonder what’s wrong with your mind that allows evil things to control it so easily- first the, well the First, and now this skank-ess, Anita,” remarked Xander with an angry glare at the vampire.
“At least the First was creative,” Dawn offered dryly. “Anita’s super lame by comparison.”
But Spike surprised the Scoobies by walking back towards Anita. Their stances relaxed slightly as they watched him.
Anita’s eyes widened in surprise. “Spike,” she addressed him angrily. "I told you to kill them. Kill them all now!”
Willow, Dawn, Giles, and Tammy all shared a secret smile as they watched.
Spike chuckled and the sound sent shivers through the necromancer.
“Spike,” she stated authoritatively as he reached her. “Do not forget that *you* work for *me*!”
With an evil grin, Spike grasped Anita’s throat and lifted her up in the air.
“Yeah, about that 'me working for you business'," he smirked at her.
"Consider this my resignation notice, bitch,” he snarled as he tossed her against the wall.
Dearest readers, it seems our time is drawing to a close. A couple more chapters remain as the fate of Anita Blake- and her harem- will be revealed.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading and commenting- It is always appreciated more than you can know. Please continue writing reviews and letting me know what you think! I hope you are all continuing to enjoy the story!!!!!
PS: I hope you especially enjoyed the spells- I probably spent the most time on this chapter thinking how to make a meaningful spell ;) But it was quite fun. I like to spend my time making up a rhyme... Mayhaps I shall become a rapper… Fo shizzle, bizzles ;)
;) Still Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive! (regarding those characters who were received ‘Kill’ Votes and ‘Redeem’ Votes)
1. Damian (staked)-- Faith
2. Valentina (ratted and squashed) -- Dawn
3. Nathaniel’s creepy hair -- Spike
4. London (Decapitated) -- Buffy
5. Caleb (Eviscerated) -- Buffy
6. Elizabeth (Killed by the North Wind God through flaying) - Dawn
7. Narcissus (Castrated, Stabbed in the heart) -- Andrew
8. Crispin (Eviscerated) -- Xander
9. Domino (Eviscerated)-- Sylvie
10. Requiem (Eyeballs ripped out, tongue ripped out, decapitated) -- Faith
11. Byron (Magically burned) -- Spike
12. Micah (Throat ripped out and munched on) -- Richard
13. Haven (Stabbed in the throat)-- Xander, with an assist by Andrew
Taster’s Choice-- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpOBFELO0Qc Anthony Stewart Head starred in this commercial series. Quite popular in the- what?- late 80s/early 90s.
2nd Spell-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isis I chose Isis because the Ancient Egyptians thought of her as the Goddess of Motherhood and Magic, a perfect deity to pray to in order to give a vampire back his life.