The Good, the Bad, and the …
“Do you hear something ringing?” Xander asked.
“Yeah,” Dawn replied and began searching for the source of the noise, tracking it down to a cell phone she'd grabbed along with the purse from the demoness.
Flipping it open she held it to her ear. “Hello,” she ventured cautiously.
“Hello,” a friendly sounding male voice replied, “can I speak to Xander, please?”
“Sure,” Dawn replied, handing the phone to Xander. “It’s for you.”
Xander held the phone to his ear. “Xander speaking.”
“Hello Xander,” the voice replied, “this is Envy, one of the Terakan assassins after you; I was wondering if I could arrange a duel between the two of us.”
“You mean you want me to agree to meet up with you, giving away our position and making us vulnerable?” Xander asked matter of factly, as he wondered who had put the contract on them.
The assassin chuckled and told Xander what they were wearing, the road they were on, and the direction they were heading.
“Ok, but that still means putting myself and Dawn at a place and time of your choosing.”
“How about you pick the place?” the assassin suggested agreeably.
“How do you know I won’t set up any surprises?” Xander asked curiously.
“Because I will offer you a free pass for your companion. I offer a blood bound promise, no matter the outcome, I will never harm Dawn Summers as long as you meet me for one on one combat.”
“What about the third assassin in your triad?”
“He'll give a two hour head start, so his attempt at claiming the prize on your heads will have no effect on mine.”
“Hmmm,” Xander said, noncommittally as he thought it over.
“Win or lose it removes me as a threat to Dawn,” Envy pointed out.
“Deal,” Xander said instantly. “How can I contact you when I've found a place?”
“Just stop and wait for me, I'll approach openly and unarmed so we can exchange vows before we begin.”
“This seems a bit too good to be true,” Xander admitted.
“I'm at my most dangerous at close range, one on one,” Envy promised cheerfully. “I'm a decent sniper of course, but that just doesn't seem fair, thus the duel.”
“Well, that's very sporting of you. See you there,” Xander promised, flipping the phone closed and handing it back to dawn.
“Who was it?” Dawn asked, already having a good idea of what had been discussed just from hearing Xander's side of the conversation.
“Envy, he wanted to set up a duel between us since he feels sniper rifles are a bit unsporting.”
“And you trust him?”
“I trust anyone who backs up their words with blood, besides, close range is something I can handle, snipers are a whole other level of difficulty I'm not equipped for at the moment.” 0oOo0
“You damn fool,” Giles worried, having heard both sides of the story, as the AI had enhanced the audio before sending it on. “You're going to get yourself killed!”
“What's wrong?” Joyce asked anxiously. “You said he's handled Terakan's before.”
“Last time he knew what he was facing,” Giles said, cleaning his glasses, “and he'd come up with a plan to deal with the assassin, this time he's walking in blind.” 0oOo0
Oz looked down at Willow and decided he was taking her to the hospital now. She was far too pale and had passed out too many times to be healthy. 0oOo0
“Xander, you idiot!” Cordelia growled.
“What's wrong?” Harmony asked.
“He's sticking his head in a noose by agreeing to that guy's terms.”
Harmony shrugged. “Better his terms than trying to negotiate with a sniper bullet in midflight.”
Cordelia stared at her. “Who are you and what did you do with Harmony?!”
Harmony rolled her eyes. “I like to play first person shooters, sue me. I'm just saying that sniper's suck and I'd much rather face someone at close range, especially when I have the frag cannon.”
“I swear, I don't know you anymore!” 0oOo0
“This place looks good,” Xander said, as he spotted an old abandoned gas station and pulled in.
“What’s so good about it,” Dawn asked, taking in the peeling paint and lack of windows and doors.
“It’s in the middle of nowhere, so we don't have to worry about innocent bystanders and there's no cover, so we can't be snuck up on.”
“So, how're we doing this?” Dawn asked nervously.
“We're playing it straight,” Xander said as they got out of the car and Ted pulled in behind them, “we'll both be blood bound and he's offered his word that win or lose, he's just interested in me and the last member of his triad will give you a two hour head start regardless.”
“You plan on winning right?” Dawn asked intently, glaring over at him.
“Of course,” Xander replied easily.
Dawn grabbed his head and forced him to look her in the eyes. “I mean you plan on walking away from this fight as the victor, not that even in death you won.”
“I fully intend to win,” he said, seeing the tears forming in her eyes. “Sure I've got it set up so that even if I lose you'll be safer, but that's just in case.”
“Promise me,” she commanded, not liking what she could see in his eyes.
“I promise I'll do everything I can to return live and well,” Xander said trying to placate her.
“How would you feel if I died?” Dawn asked.
Xander was suddenly clutching Dawn to him. “Don't talk like that, you're going to live no matter what gets in our way or who I have to kill, I'd rather die than lose you!”
“And I feel the same way,” Dawn declared hotly, holding him tightly. “If you died I'd fight exactly as hard to live as you would if I died.”
“Yeah,” Dawn laughed with tears in her voice. “I'll be walking the same road you are, not even death will keep you safe from me. Now look me in the eyes and tell me what you're going to do.”
Xander's shoulders slumped as if the weight of the world had just been dropped on them.
“I'm not asking much,” Dawn said softly. “I'm just asking that you fight as hard to protect your life as you would to protect mine.”
“Ok, but if I become a threat to you I want your word that you'll put me down,” Xander said.
“Sure,” Dawn said easily, clearing not believing he'd ever be a threat to her.
“I mean it,” Xander said firmly, “if I become a threat to you I need you to stop me.”
“If you become a threat to Dawn, I'll take care of it,” Ted broke in, reminding them that he was there.0oOo0
“Oh dear,” Giles said nervously, as he polished his glasses fervently.
“What,” Joyce asked.
“I have no idea,” Giles replied, “but for Xander to say something like that it worries me.”
“What could he do that would make him a threat to Dawn?”
“Any number of things,” Giles said worriedly, “he's had access to tomes and grimoires from all over the world and a few others besides. Unless he says something more I have no clues to go on.”0oOo0
“Thanks Ted, that means a lot to me,” Xander said, relieved and paused before looking deep in thought for a moment before grinning evilly. “I don't suppose you have any rum and tobacco on you?” “Voodoo,” Giles said, “rum and tobacco are generally used in voodoo ceremonies, although they also work in Amerind ones, but you just need alcohol for them not rum specifically.”
“Will a Cuban cigar and a fifth of whiskey do?” Ted asked.
“I'd prefer rum, but whiskey is fine as long as it’s really high octane stuff.” “Voodoo then,” Giles decided, “he must be thinking of calling a spirit to aid him.”
“Its 98 proof,” Ted offered.
“That's fine,” Xander said. “Do you happen to have a can of octane boost, some ear plugs, a black magic marker and a single castanet?” Joyce looked at Giles who shrugged.“I haven't a clue,” he admitted. “Discordian ritual maybe? No, no inflatable sheep.”
Xander wrote RUM on the back of the bottle with the black magic marker before taking a long drink and refilling the bottle to the top with octane boost.
Ted somehow managed to make a castanet, while they were waiting, from a couple of rocks and a spare bootlace.
Dawn didn't ask what Xander was planning, because she didn't want to break his concentration and she was sure he'd explain after he won.
The confident look in her eyes made him smile as he drew a twenty foot circle in the sand and lit the cigar. 0oOo0
“It’s like watching the A-Team,” Harmony announced, “or maybe McGyver.”
“What?” Cordelia asked, confused.
“He gets a whole bunch of little things together and makes a bomb out of them, or something like that. It’s a classic MacGyver plot,” Harmony explained, “it happens in every episode.”0oOo0
Holland raised an eyebrow. “Any idea what spell he's planning on casting?”
The necromancer shrugged. “No idea, but I could swear I saw something similar on last week's MacGyver.” 0oOo0
Xander was down to the last quarter of the cigar when a man who looked a lot like Fred Murray stepped out of a heat shimmer.
“Fighting circle?” Envy asked.
Xander who had been using the castanet to sing The Masochism Tango finished the verse he was on and nodded. “Two men enter, one man leaves.”
“Splendid,” Envy beamed. “I'm glad you're approaching this in the proper spirit.”
“Always,” Xander said as Envy entered the circle and offered his hand.
Xander shook his hand and smiled before they both made a small slice on their palms and joined hands.
“By my blood, I swear that all I want is a battle to the death with Alexander Harris, and that I shall never harm or assist another in harming Dawn Summers,” Envy promised.
“I agree to those terms,” Xander said, sealing the vow.
Xander starting to circle to the left, causing Envy to start circling to the right.
Envy grinned as his features slowly began changing. “Is this a bad time to tell you that I'm a doppelganger and with just a drop of your blood I can become you?”
Xander's answering grin was almost feral, as he chuckled evilly, his movements becoming more fluid by the second. “You think I'll hesitate, to kill someone who looks like me?”
Envy laughed as they circled. “Not at all, you see unlike your average doppelganger when I copy someone I don't just become all that they are, because I embrace the darkness inside of them I become all they can be!”
Xander's eyes gained an animalistic glow. “Does that include possessions?”
“Only spiritual ones,” Envy said before falling to one knee and clutching his head, his fingernails digging in deep enough to draw blood.
Xander's muscles tensed as he prepared to attack, but in a split second Envy was back on his feet again, albeit not moving as smoothly.
“The darkness in men's hearts has always been stronger than the light,” Envy growled. “I'm the darkness in you made manifest, you cannot win! I'm stronger, I'm faster, I'm tougher than you'll ever be!”
Xander's eyes were alight with an amber glow that had little humanity and even less sanity in it. “Faster and stronger, maybe...” Xander allowed before he gave off a hyena like laugh that made Envy flinch, “but you ain't even half as crazy.”
“What?” Envy asked, never having gotten this response before.
“Besides,” Xander continued, ignoring Envy's obvious confusion, “good, bad, I'm the guy with the rum.”
Xander's left hand flicked out, tossing the castanet to the side and drawing it to Envy's attention for a split second while Xander tossed the bottle and lit cigar into the air between the two and took aim with his shotgun, which at this range really just meant aiming in the right general direction.
Envy jumped backwards and braced himself as the shotgun went off, easily experienced enough to recognize that what Xander was doing was just a distraction and they were too far apart to get enough penetration for the shotgun to really hurt him, but even as prepared as he was he was almost overwhelmed by the Primal's instincts when the bottle exploded into a large fireball set off by the sparking cigar.
Barely hanging on to his sense of self and blinded by the fireball, he heard a clacking noise to his left and dodged right. 0oOo0
Xander lept forward into the expanding fireball with his eyes closed and stuck his left hand as far left as possible, loudly clanking the gauntleted fingers together while aiming down and to the right with the shotgun.
Envy was thrown tumbling outside the circle by the force of the close range shotgun blast, and came to rest face up with a large hole through his chest. It was a testament to how tough he was that he was still alive, if not for much longer.
“It was a good try, if weren't so set on hunting me I would have accepted you into my pack,” Xander said as he approached cautiously.
“I … feel … honored,” the assassin gasped softly as the light faded from his eyes.
Xander holstered his shotgun as he turned away, his eyes dismissing Ted's presence as unimportant as they settled on Dawn, or rather Dawn's curves. The amber eyed Xander, fragments of glass stuck in his right arm and face with smoke still rising from his singed shirt and hair, stalked toward Dawn with a lustful leer. “About time things went my way.” AN: Typing by Godogma as always.