++ first ++
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy. I do not own Twilight. If you think I do, please make your way to the nearest insane asylum and let the nice doctors give you some medicine. Oh, wait, they have their own Maggie Walsh? So sad for you.
Timeframe: for Buffy, post-Anne
. For Twilight, pre-Twilight
. Definitely pre-Edward, anyway.
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San Roque Rest Stop
| 22 Miles South of Sunnydale
Somehow, she had gotten used to thinking that killing Ken would be the Oscar of her award-winning summer. Fighting a Botox demon dressed as a hobo, however, was fast winning the Most Ridiculous blue ribbon. Fighting said demon just outside the women's restroom when she really, really, really
had to pee just made it even more humiliating.
“Slayer,” it rasped, jolting her from her thoughts. They were circling each other, the hot summer wind picking up dust, sending it spiraling down her throat. Ooze bubbled from the demon's split lip, two of its pale pink brow-tentacles hanging on by the barest thread of skin; it snarled, cracked lips peeling back to reveal broken, purple-stained teeth. “Give us a kiss before you die.”
Buffy slowed. “You have got
to be joking, Botox,” she said in a flat voice. “There are demon maggots
in your hair. Fur. Whatever.” Her brow wrinkled before she snorted, shrugging her shoulders dismissively. “And you stink. As in, Pepe Dies-From-You.”
The demon stopped suddenly, a hurt expression on its face. “No need to be rude,” it whined plaintively, scuffing a hoof into the dirt.
Momentarily caught off-guard -- and how was it that a five-foot, eighty-pound demon dressed in hobo clothes could look cute? With the blood and the oozing and the purple teeth -- Buffy felt a pang of sympathy, relaxing her stance a fraction. The demon's sudden smile was a horrible sight, its neon green eyes flicking up and to her left. Unable to resist, she peeked behind her.
A tendril of purple-hued energy was snaking its way toward her right arm. Alarmed, she pulled away, only to be caught as another tendril curled around her ankle, yanking hard enough to send her sprawling face first in the dirt. She fought, her fingernails scrabbling and cracking at the dusty ground, panic surging its way up her throat. A strangled cry was her last sound before being swallowed by the purple vortex.
“Maybe next time, Slayerkins!” the demon called out, spinning on its hoof and walking away, toward the bus. “And it ain't Botox, it's Borzet!”
The portal wasn't a doorway, not like the one in Family Home, and it certainly wasn't painless. Energy spiked along her arms and legs, setting her nerves on fire. When she opened her mouth to scream, there was no sound. When she tried to move her body, she could not feel. She could not taste the coppery tang pulsing from her own bitten tongue, nor could she smell the urine and blood saturating her clothing from her loosened bowels.
No sound. No sensation. No taste. No scent. The rhythmic, pulsating lights of the void were her only guide. There was no sense of time or tactile feeling; only pain. Only the burning, thrumming, fiery sense of pain that wrapped around her as she fell. And fell. And fell. And fell.
Hitting solid ground tends to hurt. Plummeting toward cobbled stone with the force of a speeding freight truck tends to hurt a lot. Like most things in her life, Ow!
just didn’t seem to cover it. Was there a portal sale or something?
she thought irritably. Get your very own Slayer-sized pain-in-the-ass demony party favor?
Everything just seemed to hurt and hurt and hurt
...and she stank
. Struggling not to cry, she whimpered instead, curling inward as she tried to stand. Çò que ne vera, Maurice?
The voice, so loud after so much agonizing silence, tore at her like chips of volcanic rock, shivving her shattered nerves to shreds. Something skittered on the edge of her senses, something familiar and cold. What do we have here, Maurice? Me'n chauti, Flavio.
A second voice sounded above her, not quite as loud. She breathed through her mouth, unable to bear the stink that covered her. A shaking hand placed itself on the cobbled stone, unsure at first, then the tendons flexed as she added more weight. I could care less, Flavio. Qué om i sosca, amic, pensa ela vole fotre tu?
Jeering laughter followed. Crist, ela pue caga!
The voices swirled inside her head, eddying too quickly for her to understand. What do you think, my friend, would she do it for you? Christ, she smells like shit!
She pushed herself to her knees, her breathing quiet and controlled, the spinning in her head beginning to ebb. Somehow, she knew there were two others with the voices, silent and waiting.Me'n chauti. Pas que manja-ela e èstre fait fuch dab om.
The second voice was growing bored. I don’t care. Just eat her and be done with it.
Her senses pinging into place, she vaulted herself into the air, catching the voices off-guard as she spun into a fighting stance. Her vision swimming before her eyes, she blinked once, breathing in a harsh breath. Bad idea.
Choking on the stench, she opened her eyes again, baring her teeth to the staring vamps. “Hey there, how would you like your deaths today, original recipe or extra dusty?”
“Oh, come on, that was a perfectly good quip!” she whined, rolling her shoulders. She pouted, a mulish expression crossing her face. “Vamps today are so uncultured.”
There were four of them and one of her. Buffy grinned. Piece of cake.
And then she started to move and felt pain corkscrew through her bones. She felt her mind detach, burying the pain with the rest, somewhere beneath her heart. The Slayer glinted out from her eyes, and the vampires shared a nervous look. Their easy prey suddenly didn’t look so easy.Giles would say that my shoulder’s dropping,
she thought as she sprang forward, attacking them. Punching, jabbing, blocking, she looked for a weapon. Something poked out from a vampire’s pocket and she lunged, grabbing hold and stabbing him in the heart. Two, three, and four soon followed suit.
Buffy looked from the pencil in her hand to the piles of dust on the cobbled stone and gave an indelicate snort. “Rule number one for vampires, kiddies. Don't carry pointy wooden objects. Idiots.”
A sound from behind sent her spinning, falling into a defensive stance. The gorgeous man at the end of the alley wasn't what she was expected.
“Oh, um, hi there.” She smiled brightly, the ditzy blond persona in full force. “Terrible thing, that spontaneous combustion. Anyway, could you tell me where I am? I think I lost my map.”
“You are American.”
She faltered at the sound of his voice, the soft lilt echoing her memories of her Watcher. “Umm, yeah. And you, you're a Brit, all one with the tweed. Mind telling me where I am?”
A smile quirked at the edges of his mouth, a light entering his golden eyes. “In Marseilles, mademoiselle. Where should you be?”
“Marseilles? France?” she squeaked, panic now surging forward. “How did I get to France?”
He tilted his head, something of a smile playing at his lips. The thought some pretty damn fine lips
ran through her head before she could stop it. She gave herself a mental slap. Bad Buffy, bad, bad Buffy. Now is definitely not the time to check out random strangers. Even if he is seriously drool-worthy…No! Bad Buffy, bad, bad Buffy!
Now was so not the time for her brain to quit working on her.
Whoever-he-was seemed to guess at her thoughts, the warmth in his eyes deepening and his mouth – that damn fine mouth
– stretching wider, his smile revealing perfect white teeth. She felt herself whimper all the way down to her toes, and it wasn’t entirely from fan-girl worship. His smile slipped, breaking into an expression of concern.
“Are you well?” he asked, his voice carrying the same soft, lilting tones as her Watcher. Her Watcher. Giles.
Her heart paused, slipping.
Buffy shook her head, shards of pain piercing just behind her eyes. “I’m fine,” she said, the words bitten and raw. Breathing deeply, she gave him a wink and straightened, her breathing a tad too shallow to be normal. Like she’d really admit to being hurt in some godawful-smelling alley with a stranger that pinged a little too hard on her senses. Past her own foul smell -- and damn if that didn’t hurt her inner fashionista -- and past the expected alley-foul smell, there was a scent of something cold, hard, and bright. It danced along her overextended senses, this scent of ice and stars.
He looked skeptical at her words, which, well, she really couldn’t blame him on account of really not
feeling fine, but in the words of her Xander-shaped friend, tough noogies
. Or maybe it was tough twinkies
…Aware of her rambling thoughts, and the fact that she’d probably had a concussion from ass-planting on the street, Buffy quickly scrambled for some way to make the hottie-in-weird-clothes go away.
All mental rambling came to a screeching halt when he suddenly spoke. “You are a Demon Hunter?” He moved forward, his arms stretched wide -- she supposed he was trying to be as non-threatening as possible; his bright gold eyes were both curious and concerned.
“Well, that’s one way of putting it,” she grumbled, slightly relaxing her stance. And immediately winced -- being so tense had kept her body rigid, unable to feel much physical pain. That
“I am Carlisle,” he said in his soft voice. “I would like to help you.”
“Really?” Her tone made it clear what she thought of that
statement. And if there had been any confusion, she was sure the following snort had cleared things up. “Can you tell me where the nearest payphone is, then? Gotta make a call.” She bit her bottom lip, talking to herself, “I hope Giles can afford overseas.”
“If you do not wish for aid,” he said, “Perhaps there is somewhere I may take you. A Hunter’s Guild?”Hunter’s Guild, what the heck?
He must have correctly interpreted her confusion. His own eyes narrowed. “You are a Demon Hunter, correct? Surely one so young must belong to a Guild-appointed mentor?”
“Uh, right.” It was time to improvise. “See, there is some place…it's kinda other
. Well, more other-ish. Not the Guild, anyway. Some other place that my…mentor…said to go if I ever…got hurt.”
For some reason, he didn’t look entirely convinced. She huffed inwardly, scrambling to think. “It's this whole secrecy thing. You tell a fella, they'll tell a fella, pretty soon everyone's a fella and my secret demon-hunting identity? Yeah, not so secret anymore; let me tell you, that way lies badness and evil ex-boyfriends and broken Watchers.”
Oops. So much for being Secret Identity Girl. Buffy sighed, trying to push her aching body to the back of her mind. “Great. Upping the weirdness factor, the guys'll be loving it when I get back home.” She sighed again, deciding to just ignore the elephant in the ro -- in the alley. “Speaking of home, you wouldn't happen to know the way to good ol' Sunnydale, would you?”
She flashed her brightest smile, the one that was guaranteed to charm Giles out of his jelly donuts, Willow into scandalous costumes, and Xander into doing just about anything. Her mother was immune to it, but he didn’t need to know that.
“Sunnydale?” he repeated, brow furrowing and his head cocking to the side. “I think not.”
“Darn it, there goes the easy way,” she muttered, running a hand through her tangled hair. Bottom lip caught between her teeth, she studied him, taking his measure. “Does the word Hellmouth
ring any bells?”And we have a winner.
His entire body stilled, his eyes fixed upon hers. “Hellmouth?”
“Yup. Mouth of Hell, big bad mystical convergence with awful snake hair. Boca del Infierno. Sound familiar?”
When he spoke, she nearly jumped out of her skin. Gone was the sweet, angelic stranger: in his place was someone darker, someone harsher. “Why on earth would you wish to travel to Boca del Infierno?” He sounded angry; even his clothes seemed to bristle with anger. Why was he so angry? She looked closer. He had the same dark edge to his eyes that seemed to bring out her Watcher’s inner Ripper and Xander’s inner Hyena. Was he worried?
“For the shoes, of course.” She felt her lips curl into a smile. “Now, since I'm betting the look on your face is saying that you do know where it is, do you mind pointing me in the right direction?”
He opened his mouth to speak, no doubt to tell her off, when the air in the alley was filled with the sound of growling. She flushed a deep crimson as she wrapped her hands around her stomach. The anger drained from him like water, his eyes softening.
“Perhaps some supper first, little one?” He laughed as he spoke, the amusement in his voice sharp and warm.
“Okay, that’s a big no to the short jokes, grandpa.” She chewed on her bottom lip, uncertain. It really wasn’t every day that she fell through a portal and landed halfway across the world with strangers offering to take her out to dinner. But…it was France
. With real French food
. She really, really, needed to call Giles -- if he was even willing to speak to her at the moment.
Carlisle must have seen something in her face to encourage him, as he continued, “If it is truly your wish to learn of the Hellmouth, I must insist.”
She sighed. Darn it.
There really wasn’t much choice, was there? She was in a foreign country without a passport, without a return plane ticket, and she really was hungry. And in pain. “Alright, fine. Some place that’s public, k?”
“You are strange.” He shook his head, a smile still curling around his damn fine mouth
. Suddenly he stilled, studying her critically.
Quite aware of how awful her hair must’ve looked, Buffy scowled, self-conscious and defensive. Portal-hopping was definitely not good
“It would be easier if you were a boy,” he said, apologetic. At her indignant scowl, he held his hands up in supplication. “Or perhaps only looked
like a boy. A man and a young woman seen entering a public place together at this time of night tend to attract questions.”Huh?
For the first time, Buffy really looked at his clothes, at the cut of his jacket, at the monstrosity on his head. He was wearing a bowler
hat. She paled. “What year,” she croaked out.
One golden eyebrow rose. “I beg pardon?” Yep, that was confusion.
She drew in a shaky breath. “What year
“It is the year eighteen hundred, forty one. Might I ask why?”
For a moment, she felt her body sag. He immediately moved forward, stopping when she held out a hand. After she was sure he was going to stay put, she put that same hand over her eyes. “You wouldn't believe me,” she said, deep, hiccupping breaths threatening to overwhelm her.
“I might, given that I just witnessed four actively mobile corpses burst into dust.”
At that, she had to give him a smile. A shaky smile, yeah, but the guy was trying. “Okay, I'll give you that one.” Slowly, she lifted her head from her hand, looking back at him.
His smile was gentle, if a little confused. “And I do
know about the Hellmouth.”
She rolled her eyes. “Fine, you can have that one, too.” He laughed, straightening and holding out a hand.
Buffy stared at him, not quite certain what he wanted. Looking from his gentle grin to his bare hand, she took a shaky step forward. His smile widened. She took his hand. Her own burned from the cold of his flesh.
Jumping back sent pain corkscrewing through her bones again and she cried out. “No way, no fucking
way my luck sucks this badly!” Shit, shit, shit!
Stumbling, she barely felt his presence suddenly beside her, quicker than she’d thought possible. There was something wrong about that, if only she could push the pain back for just a little while…He said something again, tilting her chin to face him. She shook her head free, gasping at the pain but desperate in her need to see
. All she heard before the blackness swallowed her whole was his voice, low and concerned, and the beating of her own heart. Just
her own heart.
So, am I forgiven? :D