Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon. Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter belongs to L.K. Hamilton. This was made for fun, not profit.
A/N- This piece is just a short little experiment in me writing in the first-person (or whatever they call it these days). I've decided I don't like it. The first person, not the story. Third person limited is my cup-o-tea. Still, thought it might be nice to post as I try to work out 'They Had Crossbows'.
Jean-Claude said he was sorry. Sorry. Like I was supposed to believe him, like he hadn't just stood there as Yasmeen turned her servant into a rabid dog and sent it after me. Ri-ight. I'd believe that when the cows came home whistling Dixie, and I know for a fact cows can't whistle. I ignored his hand -Where was it when I needed it?- and used the bed to pull myself off the ground.
I'm a heap big vampire slayer, and the fact I even let myself get pulled into this ridiculous vampire pissing match was a bitter pill.
Why hadn't I just filled that gorgeous mug full of silver-laced buckshot when I first opened his blasted coffin like Edward suggested? Things would have been so much simpler...
"It never works as I want it with you, Anita Blake. Why is that?" I stared at his neck, refusing to make eye-contact, and envisioned my knife going through the skin. At least his neck wasn't so amazing to distract me, unlike that voice. Smooth as velvet with promises of silk and sin.
Okay, I know I'm not completely hopeless. He has a line straight to my libido, but not my pants. Yet. If I could keep contact with the Master of the City to a minimum: Never.
"Maybe you should take the hint, and leave me alone."
God, help me.
Jean-Claude smiled, a twist of the lips that said he found me amusing, like a grandchild to a parent. "I am afraid it is too late for that."
I growled, silly, I know, but I couldn't help it. I was not in a good mood and the fresh burn on my chest only added fuel to the fire. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Part of me wanted to get into it, to have a reason to pull my guns and knives and get rid of this leech in my side once and for all, warrant or no. Part of me wanted him to throw me on the bed and kiss me, hard. Sick fantasy. Guilty pleasure. Oh. I made a funny. I seem to embrace irony a lot more when in pain. My chest started sending little pin-pricks of pain out and I opened my mouth to tell Jean-Claude where he could put his little mind games when the door opened.
Saved by the hench-man. "Jean-Claude... the snake." The man gasped, swallowing a great gulp of air as if he had just run directly from the stage where I assumed that freakishly large cobra was performing. "It's gone crazy."
Wait. What? Repeat that, please, and make it sound not so horrible.
"What happened?" I blinked and stared at Jean-Claude. The statement kind of spoke for itself. Snake. Crazy. Obvious badness. I glanced around at the couple on the bed, the room, and took stock of my weapons. If I was going to be acting as supernatural animal control I would have preferred to be one-hundred percent. Not sporting a fresh burn and scratches... which reminded me, did I need to get shots for those? What kind of diseases did Human Servants carry? Was the obsession restricted to Marguerite, or was it contagious?
Thinking back on my own issues with Jean-Claude I swallowed hard as I checked my Browning, and followed the boys out the door. Now that we were out of the room I realized just how sound-proof it had been. Screams of horror hit my ears as I ran down the hall, the burned skin pulling painfully, and when I finally looked out over the area I felt my own mouth open in shock.
My hand gripped the Browning. I had no idea if silver bullets would hurt the thing, but as I watched a pair of kicking legs disappear down its throat I knew I had to try.
Eaten alive. Jesus. I suddenly wished I did not, in fact, remember the herpetology unit from my biology class. Slow digestion. Would the unknown snack die from the suffocation, the constriction, or the slow working enzymes first?
I swallowed a little throw-up as the screaming crowd rushed past me. People were running for the exits. Good. I elbowed my way through the masses like any veteran concert goer, thankful the safety was still on my gun, and reached a break in the fleeing stream of people. Two men lay dead on the ring floor, as well as the snake trainer.
She reminded me, of me. Long dark hair. Dark eyes. Dead.
Jean-Claude ghosted up out of nowhere. I was staring at his boots as he spoke, his voice raising the hair on my arms as it caressed my skin. "Join with me, Anita, and we have enough power to stop the creature."
Okay. If that wasn't meant to be dirty, I don't know what was. When in doubt, play innocent. "I don't know what you're talking about?" He touched me then, fingers trailing down my exposed arm and the scars, and I shivered. The touch stroked something inside me, brought a flush to my cheeks, and at the same time made me want to crawl away and curl up with the lights on. "How can you be hot and cold at the same time?"
"Ma petite, stop fighting me, and we can tame the creature. We can save the men." He said it so smoothly, made it sound so reasonable, and I wanted to hit him. My gaze shifted to the center of the ring were the cobra was rearing up, hissing, as partially shifted lycanthropes circled it.
"Once I let you inside my head that far..." I trailed off, eyes widening, as a wave of energy crashed over us. Power. Pure Power. Fear filled my mouth, cold and bitter, and I knew that for a second my heart had slowed to a stand-still. I couldn't help but have the impression that everything I was feeling was but a drop in the bucket to what could have been pouring around the circus.
There was a wild cry, wrath filled and bestial, and something dark flew through the air to hit the snake like a missile, snapping its head back, and forcing it with a crash to the ground where it lay stunned.
A figure landed on the floor and paused, head tilted as if judging her work, and it was a her. I couldn't tell from the distance between me and the woman but I could see she was wearing a dark red catsuit that showed off a figure any model would envy. Hell, just looking at her made a tiny bit of me that was vanity grumble and compare the size of our hips. Highlighted blue hair hung around her head bringing to mind the ice that had formed in the pit of my stomach. I could feel Jean-Claude next to me tense, as if for once he was at a loss and couldn't decide if he was supposed to be confused or afraid. I didn't blame him. Energy coiled around the woman, controlled, contained, and oh so potent.
The snake was moving, shaking itself, and the woman pounced on it like a cat on a mouse. If the size difference wasn't so glaring, and the power rolling off the woman so immense, it would have been humorous.
I watched as she jumped up and flipped, hitting the cobra's body in a combo of kicks and punches that would have made every martial-artist instructor I had ever had jealous. Even eerier, aside from the first battle cry she made not a sound. No ululating shout like in Xena
, not even a grunt of effort as armored hands pounded into fifty-feet of snake. She sprung away as the snake's body twisted in pain, thrashing out and causing the circus people to retreat or be squashed, and when she landed it lunged at her.
I'm not quite sure when I started running, but I was, gun out, though I couldn't decide whether to fire at the snake or the whatever-she-was fighting it. I didn't know where she had come from, what she was doing at the circus, or what she was. Turned out I needn't have been worried about her.
She caught the snake by the fangs and only budged a foot, if that. Her eyes narrowed and she released one fang only to pull back her fist and punch the other. It broke off with a shattering crack and a thin stream of some yellowish liquid: venom, probably. I have no idea what possessed her to do it, but she took that broken fang, flipped it around in her hands, and shoved it up into the snake's skull all in a handful of seconds.
And she didn't stop there.
The woman then proceeded to rip the snake in two, each hand taking hold of either upper or lower jaw, as if it were a piece of paper. Meat shredded in her hands and the tail whipped around as though the nerves were still firing. I saw a foot. Feet. She grabbed the back end of the man that had been eaten and pulled him out of the belly of the beast. It was something I wouldn't have thought of, had we even managed to defeat the crazed snake on our own.
Finally satisfied, she straightened and stood staring at the corpse. Blood dripped from her hands, coated her armor, but she didn't seem to notice. Slowly, that power that was washing around the room reeled back into that slight body. I felt my skin crawl. Everyone else was keeping their distance, afraid and unsure, and I could now clearly see what she was wearing. Leather. Red and gold and blue, mostly a dusty red the color of half-dried blood, and the textures were all different. It was some kind of armor cobbled together from other creatures, monsters... the skins of her enemies? And her skin was pale, though not quite vampire pale, with a blue tinged edging. It reminded me of a lizard's skin.
I gasped as her head slowly turned to me. "What are you?" The whispered words came out of my mouth in awe. My hand was shaking, dammit, but I had never been more freaked. Not even Nikoloas had thrown around the kind of power that drifted off of this creature. I had the sudden urge to run to Jean-Claude; maybe for comfort, and maybe to use him as a meat shield. I didn't know.
"I am Illyria, God-King, lesser gods bowed before me, and wept." Her answer was both surprising and frightening. Jean-Claude had claimed the snake had once been worshiped as a god but... I wasn't sure if I trusted my gun or my cross at that point. Based on what she did to the snake, I wondered if she was some blue-tinted demon. Her head snapped up and ice blue eyes, eyes that reminded me of Edward strangely enough, zeroed in on Jean-Claude. "You are lord here?"
What a strange way to phrase it. Jean-Claude inclined his head toward her, eyes glowing, never leaving her face, and she stepped away from the bloody battleground. The man she had rescued gave a weak cough and a tremor of relief went through me. He was alive. I had no idea who he was, other than one of Jean-Claude's people, but if she had enough presence of mind to save the guy she couldn't be all bad. Just mind-numbingly powerful. Probably. Hopefully.
"This incident has disrupted my pupil's outing. I demand restitution." Her eyes never left Jean-Claude, and his face was blank and pleasant not giving anything away. Eyes like glaciers took in the still twitching corpse of the giant snake. For a moment I thought she was going to demand our first born child, but instead that expressionless visage of hers gained a, I suppose vindictive would be the best word, cast. She turned back to the corpse. "The spine of Edjo's spawn shall suffice. He was a weak god; a coward. I often wondered if he possessed one at all."
What. The. Hell. Jean-Claude said something about arranging for her trophy to be harvested, like she was going to mount a fifty foot snake carcass on her wall -How in the world would it fit?-, when an excited shout came from higher up in the bleachers. I was so surprised I nearly fired at it.
"Woot! Go Miss'us B!" I looked to see some teenager all in black, baggy clothing standing up and cheering. There were, in fact, several other teenagers around him dressed much more conservatively. I wondered why they hadn't run with the rest of the crowd. "Best. Field trip. EVER! You ROCK!" Well, that explained it. If I had a giant smurf to beat my enemies to death, I probably wouldn't be scared of a big ass snake either.
"Odd one." Illyria, or Miss B, admonished though from the lack of emotion she could have been commenting about the weather. "Cease your bleating. You shall purport yourself as befits a student of a god."
The goth kid grinned sheepishly and the whole group started to climb down to the ring. "Uh. Right. Sorry." He marched toward the dead snake, eyes narrowed in concentration, and kicked it. "Burn in hell, spawn of mine enemy. May you reunite with thy progenitor in the frozen wastelands of... hell?" The last was a trailed off question and one of the other kids, a blonde girl in a pleated skirt and silk blouse rolled her eyes.
She smacked the goth on the back of the head. "Sorry, professor."
The woman stared for a moment, and her eyes seemed to glow. She tilted her head to the side and that ice cold gaze locked on the naked man from earlier, who I still didn't know the name of. "Zeeman. I had not realized you were allied with the lord of this land."
I blinked. Come again? Naked guy's mouth worked soundlessly for a moment before choking out, "Professor Burkle?!"
Jean-Claude took the opportunity to cut in. "Monsieur Zeeman. You know this... Lady?" I got the impression the Master Vampire was pissed. I didn't blame him. If Zeeman, I really needed to learn his whole name, had known that this powerhouse was wandering around and hadn't told me I'd be pissed too. Hell, I was pissed just on principle.
"She's a physics teacher at my school, and she's head of the Archeology Club. I had no idea she-" He blinked rapidly and I followed his gaze back to the woman, who had her head tilted skyward, eyes closed, and I watched as the air seemed to ripple around her. The red armor vanished to be replaced by a simple sundress and jacket that looked like you would wear it to the fair. Or carnival. Circus. "I thought she was human." Her hair still had steaks of blue in it, but her skin was warm and oh-so-normal with the slightest golden tan.
And that power was gone. Any trace of it as if it had never been. As though the snake had just decided to bisect itself. The fact she could conceal what she was so thoroughly scared me more than any display of power ever had.
I suddenly got a wave of lust from Jean-Claude, and I couldn't believe it. He wanted her more than anything. Maybe more than he wanted me.
And she wasn't even paying us attention anymore. One of the kids waved to Zeeman cheerily as the woman that now looked so utterly harmless gathered them to her and began gesturing while speaking with a slight, deep-southern accent. It sounded vaguely familiar. "You shall write a three page, minimum, typed and single-spaced essay on how you would deal with such," Here she placed one dainty little foot on the upper half of the snakes head. "To be turned in by Wednesday. Look around. You may only use the tools that you see in this enclosure. I will know if it is not... people may be included in your defense plan; excluding myself."
She was assigning homework. On how to fight snakes. Somehow, I could only voice one question. "Archaeology club?"
A brunette girl in heavy eyeshadow glanced at me with a smirk. "Well, when we applied for permission, they wouldn't accept 'Ancient Magic and War Theory'."
It was about then that the police arrived.
Jean-Claude laughed the kind of laugh that licked at your insides. Bastard.