“I'm on a Mexican radio!” the two sang along with the radio as they headed for LA, at a sedate pace so they wouldn't accidentally crash into any zombies.
Ted winced as he received the feed from the Ferrari and wondered once more how it was possible for two humans to be so out of tune and yet be so completely oblivious to it.
“Okay, knock fifty grand off the price your parents owe you for a lifetime's supply of ear plugs,” Harmony declared, shaking her head.
Cordelia rolled her eyes. “He's no Rick Ashley but he's not that bad.”
She groaned, “You three should be banned from singing in public.”
Giles looked over at Joyce who was singing along with them and buried his head under his pillow. “Dear lord, it’s genetic.”
Joyce ignored him and continued singing, blissfully unaware that the only reason she'd hit the right note was by accident.
Xander slowed down a bit more as he changed lanes to avoid a crawling corpse that had clawed its way out of the sand.
“They're getting thicker,” Dawn noted with a frown.
“I know,” Xander replied. “It’s getting stronger, open my backpack and check on it please.”
Dawn opened the backpack, revealing The Book – its eyes glowed red and it was chanting something that made her skin crawl to hear.
“Stuff its mouth with something,” Xander ordered, slowing down even more as he had to make several rapid lane changes to avoid hitting zombies.
Dawn took out a large piece of beef jerky and shoved it in its mouth; the chanting stopped as it chewed on the jerky. “Damn it! That was my last piece too.”
“And more bad news,” Xander announced, “because of the number of walking corpses we've had to avoid we're not going to make it to LA anytime soon.”
“How much time before the next assassin?” Dawn asked.
Before Xander could answer the cellphone she took off lust rang.
“This is Dawn,” Dawn answered the phone.
“Time's up!” the voice said cheerfully before disconnecting.
Dawn turned to Xander. “That answers that question, the third assassin is on his way.”
“Joy,” Xander replied flatly, “keep an eye out. We need a defensible position to deal with him while making sure we aren't swamped by zombies.”
The sign up ahead read ‘LeMont Boxes and Packing Supply 10 miles’, but someone had taken a can of red spray paint and painted 'Abandoned Warehouse' over it.
Xander and Dawn exchanged glances.
“You ever feel like you were in a movie?” Xander asked.
“Yeah,” Dawn admitted, “and not the genre I wanted either.”
“Romantic comedy?” Xander suggested with a smile.
“Porn, rated triple X,” Dawn replied with a smirk, as his eyes shot wide, “only Xander's permitted.”
Before Xander could reply the phone rang again.
“Studio Dawn, how may I direct your call?” she replied with a grin, while Xander muttered something about a cold shower. After a second she wordlessly handed the phone to Xander, all trace of a smile gone.
Xander grabbed the phone and listened. “Man sized and that fast?! We'll have to risk it, I'm going to floor it and head for the warehouse. Catch up as soon as you can. Bye.”
Xander shifted gears and the engine roared as the speedometer climbed.
“What’s the what?” Dawn asked, doing a quick weapons check.
“The third assassin, Sloth is a speed demon; we don't have any time to waste, we need to get to ground now.”
Ted's car flashed past them like they were standing still. Xander quickly shifted gears to try and keep up as Ted cleared a path for them by plowing through any zombies in the way.
“Bless you Ted,” Dawn muttered to which Xander replied with a heartfelt, “Amen.”
The zombie actually had a noticeable groove in its forehead as it climbed to its feet and slowly shuffled forward.
The zombie's right arm shot straight up as it flipped off the heavens before slowly climbing to its feet again.
The necromancer shook his head. “That poor zombie.”
“Don't you regularly violate the dead in ways both cruel and unusual?” Holland asked curiously.
“Of course,” The necromancer replied, “but I never put them through repetitive mindless torture like that.”
Ted's tail lights flashed twice to let Xander know to slow down as they approached the off ramp.
LaMont's had seen better days; plywood had been nailed over the windows of the warehouse, and all the smaller storage and office buildings off to the sides. Scrub grass and weeds grew through cracks in the cement and empty plastic food wrappers bleached white with age blew idly around the property trapped inside the 8' high chain link fence that circled the property.
As Ted opened the gate by the expedient method of driving through it and snapping the chain, Dawn hit redial on the phone and waited for a couple of seconds before hanging up with a sigh.
“Still busy?” Xander asked.
Ted stopped at the loading ramp leading into the warehouse and got out of the car, waving at them to wait, they watched as he did something to open the door before disappearing inside.
The loading bay doors screeched like a woman being murdered as it slowly rose, making the two teens wince and probably scaring off any wildlife in a ten mile radius.
Ted drove his car inside and waved for them to follow.
“Now that place looks creepy,” the necromancer said, shaking his head. “I feel like yelling ‘don't go into the basement’ at the screen.”
Holland chuckled. “I know what you mean, it looks like where business goes to die. The name sounds familiar for some reason though.”
“Isn't that the same warehouse from Revenge of the Killer Surfing Bikini Vampire Girls part VII?” Harmony asked.
“No, but it looks like the warehouse from the re-imaged version of it,” Cordelia admitted.
“Yeah, the director said he was unsatisfied with the final product so he re-shot the whole thing.”
“Was it better than the original?” Harmony asked curiously.
“Much, the acting was a bit smoother and there were two full on titty shots,” Cordelia replied.
“Titty shots?” Harmony smirked. “Thinking of playing for the other team?”
Cordelia sent her a smoldering look and placed a hand on her thigh. “Is that an offer?”
“No – may – huh?!” Harmony stuttered out, red faced making Cordelia fall over laughing.
“You should have seen the look on your face!” Cordelia wiped tears from her eyes. “No, I'm not switching teams, but if I want to put any guy in the right frame of mind without coming on too strong, a movie with a good titty shot does the job.”
“Well, slasher movies are good for that,” she agreed.
Silence fell for a minute before Harmony spoke up, “You think they'll be OK?”
Cordelia sighed. “I haven't spent a lot of time around Dawn, but if she's anything like Buffy she'll be fine and I like what I've seen of her so far.”
“Won’t stop,” Cordelia replied. “You can do anything you like to him, but as long as he has someone to protect you can't stop him. I'm not sure if Death could get him to stop or if it'd just slow him down. It’s one of the things I loved about him that infuriated me at times.”
“You think he'd pull a Crow?” Harmony asked, picturing Xander in black leather.
“I hope not, he hates mimes even more than Clowns.”
Ted had armed himself with a tire iron as they waited inside the warehouse. Old incandescent bulbs swayed from the ceiling every twenty feet, surprisingly still working but barely relieving the gloom.
Xander cleaned bits of zombie out of the grille of Ted's car, amazed that it didn't have a single dent. “Gotta love fifties craftsmanship.”
“How did you know about the assassin?” Dawn asked.
“I got a nice clear signal from a satellite overhead and the odds of it being unrelated were next to nil,” Ted explained, “unfortunately we're in a dead zone here, no cell towers installed yet or the one for this area is down at the moment.”
“How much time do we have?”
“If it kept up its present speed it should arrive in four minutes and seventeen seconds, but there is always the possibility we lost it or it could only keep up that rate of speed for a short period of time; realistically we won't know when he is going to arrive until he arrives.”
Footprints appeared in the sand, heading across the desert with nothing to make them. The wind removed all traces of them moments later, leaving the desert empty and quiet except for the walking, and in some cases crawling, dead.
Sloth reached Oxnard and looked around, wondering how he'd missed them. Lust's screaming red Ferrari wasn't exactly hard to spot.
Grumbling to himself he entered the nearest bar to ask.
“It’s been ten minutes,” Ted announced, “the assassin's not here yet, so I'm going to run outside and shut the gate real fast to slow him down when he does arrive.”
“Be careful,” Dawn ordered.
Ted grinned. “Don't worry little lady, I may not be able to outrun a cheetah but I am pretty quick on my feet.”
They watched from the door as Ted ran for the gate, moving at speeds that would have earned him a speeding ticket inside of town.
“That was a bit patronizing; but very comforting all the same,” Dawn said thoughtfully.
“That's because Chivalry is a bit patronizing,” Xander admitted wryly.
Dawn looked at Xander in surprise. “I never thought I'd hear you say that.”
“In a way it is, because you're treating the opposite sex in a kinder manner than you would your own. In some ways in fact as if they were a child, but what people overlook is that you're treating women that way, not because they're weaker or need to be catered to, but because like children they are to be defended to the death.”
“What if I don't feel like having you die defending me?” Dawn asked.
“Doesn't matter,” Xander shrugged, “because your job is to die defending our children if and when I fall.”
Dawn's eyes grew wide for a moment before she got a happy little smile as they watched Ted chain the gate shut, bending the crowbar to secure it.
“I think my daughter's panties just spontaneously dissolved.”
Giles merely groaned, massaging his temples.
“What? I know my daughter, she takes after me.”
“One man per dozen women is enough to keep the species going, so it’s all hardwired in. That's why in an emergency it’s women and children first to safety,” Xander explained.
“If you guys are the first to go and ready to sacrifice your all for us then shouldn't we women be doing something special for you?”
“Well, you used to let us have a dozen women,” Xander said cheerfully with a playful grin.
Dawn smacked him in the shoulder. “You'll take one woman and like it, mister!”
Xander laughed. “Yes ma'am. Anyway, society evolved and we wiped out most of the things that required men to sacrifice themselves, so chivalry is just the last little vestige that reminds us of our roles, since we rarely have to perform them anymore.”
“You know, that explains so much about him,” Cordelia said.
Harmony nodded. “Makes a lot of sense too, too bad Dawn won't let him have a dozen women.”
“You are such a slut!”
“What?! Do you know how hard it is to even get a guy to carry your groceries these days?”
“Still, a dozen?”
“How about five? Three?”
Cordelia whacked Harmony in the head with a pillow.
Ted arrived as they moved back, and he locked the door behind himself – all the while huffing and puffing like there was no tomorrow.
“How can you be out of breath?” Dawn asked after a minute when Ted finally stopped breathing hard.
“My system isn't designed to exceed my original organic specs,” Ted explained. “Sure, I'm stronger but that's just because of the materials used in my construction. I can force myself to increase my speed but I have to breath quickly to cool down.”
“We have the strangest things in common,” Dawn decided.
“Really?” Ted asked.
“Yep; we both breath heavy to cool down, we both think a 57 Chevy is far superior to a Ferrari and finally, we've both gotten into fights with Buffy for reading her diary.”
The three shared a laugh.
“I'm just glad it turned out she wasn't on drugs, it would have broken Joyce's heart,” Ted said cheerfully.
“So, what do we do now?” Dawn asked.
“Now we do a little voodoo to keep the zombies off us while we get ready for speedy,” Xander declared, “I'm hoping if we make a ritual circle around the book it'll confuse all the zombies by scattering the signal.”
“I didn't know you studied magic,” Dawn said.
“I haven't,” Xander admitted, “I'm going off of things I've seen in comic books and movies with a little working knowledge gleaned from what I've heard Willow talking to Giles and Janna about.”
“I am so raiding Giles' library when we get back,” Dawn declared firmly before going to retrieve the book.
“Yeah, I have to wing things far too often,” Xander said with a sigh.Typing by Godogma!