And here… we… go! Much like the previous thirty-one chapters, this will have some familiar elements along with some new ones. And some elements that may look familiar at a quick glance but actually are. We're starting to get close to the end of my previous material now; I've only got two more chapters containing material from the original Blue Belle
. There's also the stuff from When Kate Met Buffy
and Dansende Ekorn og Andre Dumheter
starting in Chapter 37, but even those will be merged into the primary story line mixed with new material to keep you on your toes. In other words? Now's a good time to start popping your head up and reviewing if you've been sitting back, watching, and letting the world go by. Because I'm willing - and tend to - take suggestions from readers about what might be fun to see in my stories. But if you don't tell me you want it, the chances of it showing up go way down.
November 25, 2011
Saint Barbara Parish
Despite Drusilla's reassurances that everything would work out and she'd be restored to full strength by the end of the night, a nagging sense of unease had been tugging at Spike's mind since they'd left the house to begin setting up for the ritual. Solid proof finally arrived when the large doors at the back of the church burst open, slamming against the wall as a group of people streamed in. One… actually two… of them looked like one of the girls his minion had filmed hanging out with the Slayer, making him wonder if Willy had betrayed him or if the man was just incompetent. Probably the former, Spike conceded after a moment's thought. After all, it was pretty hard to mess up something as simple as 'here's some money, now do me a favor and tell the Slayer that Angel's at this church on the other side of town'.
And he'd put so much work into preparing a nice surprise for her over at Our Lady of Sorrows, too…
Spike didn't have much time to ponder the potential incompetence of his hired help, though. A mighty roar rolled through the sanctuary and then the group's largest figure reached out to one side, picking up the black-haired version of the Slayer's friend and… hurling her toward the front of the church? Diving to the right, Spike let her sail through the space he'd previously occupied before hopping back to his feet and staring at the man incredulously. "Are you kidding me? Who the hell throws people at other people?"
He soon got an answer to his largely rhetorical question. Falling forward onto all fours, the man came bounding down the center aisle, closing the last few yards with one mighty leap that ended when he collided with one of Spike's minions, slamming the vampire into the floor. He raised one hand, displaying a wicked set of claw-like nails, before swiping it across the vampire's neck. The minion choked and gurgled, clutching at his throat as he sank to the floor, and then the man brought his foot down hard on the vampire's chest, collapsing it and dusting his prey. A ghost from Spike's past looked up at him and offered a smile displaying fangs that put the vampire's to shame. "Hiya, Willy. Didja you miss me?"
It was Victor bloody Creed.
Ejecting her claws at the last second, Willow slammed her right fist into the face of one of Spike's minions, one claw neatly piercing each eye socket. Her forward momentum tipped the vampire backward and they landed together on the floor, Willow in a crouch and the vampire on his back. Twisting, she pulled out the stake she'd tucked into the back of her pants and drove it into the screaming vampire's chest, dusting it. When it disintegrated to reveal two relatively clean claws, she let out a sigh of relief. Forget Victor's blood, who knew what she could catch from retracting claws covered in vampire blood and eyeball?
Rising to her feet, Willow's eyes jumped from person to person inside the church, assessing the threat potential of each… and how likely she was to be able to handle them. One seemed to be tailor-made to be her next target: a red-haired woman in black with a gun in each hand. After all, Willow could take a bullet - or six - while the others couldn't. Victor easily could but, well, why should he have all the fun?
Letting out a roar that was decidedly less impressive than her uncle's - she made a mental note to ask him for lessons later - Willow raced across the sanctuary as she abandoned her stake and ejected the claws in her left hand. Grunting as a bullet slammed into the left side of her chest, she twisted to avoid the follow-up shot and then jabbed both hands toward the woman's chest before sweeping them outward, slamming her fists into her opponent's wrists and making her drop both guns.
Then something occurred to her and she paused… was she fighting against a human, or a human-shaped demon? Willow thought her opponent smelled human, but then again she hadn't exactly sniffed a lot of demons since gaining her powers and wasn't sure she'd be able to tell the difference. Thankfully, she could disable just as easily as she could kill. Waiting until the woman threw a badly telegraphed haymaker at her head, Willow dropped to one knee and drove her claws into the woman's thighs. The redhead hit the ground screaming as she slapped her hands over the holes, and Willow barely resisted the temptation to eject her foot's claw before kicking the woman in the head, silencing her.
Huh. That had gone a lot more smoothly than Willow had been expecting, to be honest. She'd only been shot once and had manage to neatly disarm and disable her attacker in only a few strokes. She was… pretty badass now, she realized. Looking up from her downed opponent, Willow's jaw dropped as she watched her uncle palmed a vampire's head with one massive hand and sank the claws on his other hand into his prey's chest. He paused for a moment, looking over and meeting her eyes, before pulling in opposite directions and decapitating the vampire.
As the dust settled around Victor's feet, Willow quickly revised her opinion of herself. Maybe she wasn't that badass, all things considered…
November 25, 2011
Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church
Frowning, Kendra examined the doors of the church in front of her. According to the odd little man who owned the bar where she'd fought her sister Slayer's vampire paramour, this was where the ritual was going to be held. Tonight. Now. But there was something very wrong with the situation. Things were too quiet, too still. Granted vampires could see in lower light than humans, but there surely there should be some lights… right? Perhaps some guards?
There was definitely something wrong, but Kendra found herself hesitant to waste the others' time without knowing exactly what that was. While the girls had been very nice to her so far, she somehow doubted that Cordelia would be impressed if she reported in with 'I don't know what's wrong but I'm sure something is, so please stop what you're doing and come here'. That left her with only one reasonable course of action: investigate.
Kendra pressed her ear against the door and listened carefully for a few seconds before nodding in satisfaction and grabbing the handle. Wherever Spike and his minions were hiding at the moment, it wasn't in the narthex. That meant she could safely enter the building undetected and perform some basic reconnaissance before deciding to either call in the others or move on. Mind made up, Kendra pushed down on the door's handle and slowly eased it open, poking her head into the church.
She had a split second to stare in terror at the fire rushing toward her and then it was upon her with a mighty roar, consuming her body even as she was blown off her feet and sent flying back out into the night.
November 25, 2011
Saint Barbara Parish
β Anyone else smell that?
β Dude, what is that?
β I think it's the weird guy.
β Hey, Your Highness, who is that?
β Better yet, what is that?
β Yeah, cuz he's about as human as us.
That was a very good question indeed. Because while he looked like a fairly geeky middle-aged man, Janet knew things couldn't possibly be that simple because… well, then why would he be hanging out in a church late at night with a bunch of vampires? Peeling off from the others, she made her way over to where the man was watching them all with a serene expression on his face. They stood there in silence, sizing each other up, and then Janet shrugged and offered him her hand. After all, if she was going to end up beating him up - maybe even killing him if he was a demon - it'd be nice to know who she was facing off with. "Hi! I'm Janet."
"Good evening, Janet. I'm Norman Pfister with Quintessence Skin Care and Cosmetics." Stepping to one side, Norman gestured down at a large black rolling suitcase. "Would you perhaps be interested in some free samples?"
Janet blinked owlishly at the unexpected offer before nodding slowly. If the bag was full of weapons? She was pretty sure she could shrink faster than he could pull one, and then she'd sting the shit out of him. If it was full of makeup? Free samples. "Do you have anything in raspberry? Maybe a violet that would bring out my eyes? Or… I may be a clear winter, but I'm really drawn to that bright yellow that you find on wasps. I've never found a company that makes something that color I'd seriously consider putting on my face, but there's a first time for everything…"
Letting the others lead the way into the church, Michelle followed at a considerably more sedate pace, plucking the church's processional cross from its stand as she passed. Almost as tall as her, it made for an effective - albeit top heavy - quarterstaff, with built in vampire burning properties thanks to the crucifix at the top. Just like when she'd fought with Cordelia in the library almost a month ago and during her brief lessons with Raven, she felt knowledge she knew wasn't hers coming to the fore and she began to spin the staff around her body in lazy circles as she evaluated the situation. Angel and Drusilla were at the front of the church, tied together with chain, with Spike sticking close to them to perform the ritual that would restore his lover to health. On top of the remaining three-quarters of the Scourge of Europe, there were a handful of minions, a creepy looking guy in a suit with thick glasses, and the redhead that Willow had just put down for the count. Looking over at Cordelia, she nodded toward Spike. "Mine."
Scoffing, Cordelia waved her hand dismissively as she floated along a few feet in front of Michelle. "Have at it. I'll go untie Captain Forehead… and wow, now that I actually look at him, it is kinda huge, isn't it?" Michelle couldn't help but giggle at the observation; she really had rubbed off on Cordelia. "Have fun. Oh, and remember to take a few pics between when he's down for the count and when you dust him so that we can brag to Giles that we got Billy Idol and his one bad dye job in all the world didn't."
"Buffy's dye job isn't any worse than… wait, no, Harmony and Willow keep an eye on each other's roots. Objection withdrawn." As Cordelia chuckled and flew off toward the front of the church, Michelle continued onward at a slow and steady pace, her eyes firmly fixed on her prey. What Emma had told her echoed through her brain: the skills were still there, if she could find a way to them. Well, how to fight with a quarterstaff had come to her within a matter of seconds of her picking up the cross. Would throwing herself into combat with a master vampire jar enough loose to make sure she was the one who walked away at the end of the fight? After all, Mystique was one badass chick according to both Emma and Cordelia…
As she grew closer and closer to the front of the church, Michelle's eyes began to bounce from Spike to Dru and back again. It made for an interesting dilemma: which one was the better target, Spike or his girlfriend? If she took out Spike, there'd be nobody to perform the ritual. On the other hand, if she took out the girlfriend, there'd be nobody for Spike to perform the ritual on. Looking down at her weapon, Michelle frowned. It didn't exactly have a pointy end or anything that she could use to stake a vampire. It would therefore be easiest, she decided, to just beat Spike senseless with it and disrupt the ritual, keeping him from restoring Drusilla and neutralizing the potential threat she presented until someone else was free to deal with her.
Mind made up, Michelle leapt nimbly into the air and landed on the end of one of the pews, testing her balance for a few seconds before jumping forward to the next one, and from there onward to the next. When she reached the front row, she launched herself into a flip that carried her up and over where Victor was busy pounding the heads of two vampires into the floor over and over, depositing her within striking distance of Spike. Letting her left leg slide forward, Michelle continued moving with her momentum as she pushed off with her right leg, the action both pushing her up to stand on her left leg and setting her up to deliver a spin kick to the bleached blunder's back. While the impact was barely enough to make him stumble forward a step, her following up by smacking the processional cross's crucifix into the back of his neck was enough to get Spike's attention. As he howled in pain and dropped the book so he could reach back and clutch at his smoking flesh, Michelle straightened up and smirked at her opponent. "Now is that any way to treat your Yoda, Luke?"
Spike whirled to face her, eyes golden and brows ridged as he loosed a snarl. Then his expression shifted from anger to confusion. "What the bloody… aren't you the Slayer's mousey little friend?" His looked off to one side and Michelle followed his gaze to where Willow was using her claws to assault one of Spike's remaining minions. "Half a mo. If you're the Slayer's friend, then who's she? What the hell is going on here? Who are you people?"
Well shit. Every superhero team had a cool name in the comics. What was theirs? For that matter, what was she supposed to say when people asked who she was? 'Michelle' wasn't exactly intimidating, and while 'Ministique' was a fun nickname between friends, it wasn't any more awe-inspiring than her real name. Suddenly, it came to her. Bunch of pretty girls, fighting evil together? "We're the Sirens. And I'm the girl about to slap you upside the head with a crucifix." Spinning, Michelle made good on her promise, bringing the gold crucifix up toward Spike's face. He instinctively brought a hand up to block, only to cry out in pain as it burned his bare flesh. "Seriously? You're trying to grab a cross? Are you new to this vampire thing or something?"
Letting out another bestial snarl, Spike threw a nasty-looking haymaker at her but Michelle used her makeshift staff to deflect it to one side, then spun the processional cross and slammed the head against Spike's fist again as he decided to see if a right hook would have any better luck. "Stop hiding behind that cross and fight me, you little bitch!"
"Um… how about no?" Michelle rolled her eyes as Spike growled and threw himself at her, bashing him on the forehead with the cross and sending him stumbling back once more as he smoked and cursed. Then she realized… things were going rather well for her. Easily, dare she say. Maybe she could afford to ditch that particular weapon. But obeying an opponent's order would send the wrong sort of signal. Hmm. What to do? Maybe something a bit more give and take? "I'll make you a deal, though: take off your duster and I'll put down the cross." Michelle held the cross out to one side tentatively, watching the recovering Spike for any sign of movement. When all he did was arch his ridged brow at her curiously, she nodded in Willow's direction. "I don't have anything to give my cousin for Hanukkah yet. So… take it off. If you win and kill me, you can put it back on and walk away. If I win, one less person I need to buy something for. I thought it sounded fair, especially since I could just keep beating you with this cross."
Spike considered it for a few seconds before shrugging. "Yeah, all right." Taking two steps backward, he began pulling the jacket off. "Just out of curiosity, what are you? I can tell you're not a regular human, but whatever you are… I've smelled it before but not in a long time." Michelle debated whether or not to answer before realizing that it didn't really matter if Spike knew her secret. After all, one way or another, he wasn't going to survive the night. Tossing the cross away to her right, she relaxed her shift… and then blinked as Spike's golden eyes widened. "Raven?"
Out of all the reactions she'd been expected, Michelle could honestly say that wasn't one of them. "You've met my mother?"
"Your mum, huh? I woulda pegged her as your dad, what with her being able to change her bits and Irene… well, not." After tossing his duster onto the altar, Spike rolled up his sleeves and then beckoned for Michelle to approach him. "Right then, let's get this over with so I can go see if Hallmark makes a decent 'sorry I killed your sprog' card."
Michelle nodded and raised her fists as she pondered the best avenue of attack… before dropping both hands to her hips, pulling her twin M11s and opening fire on Spike. Much to her surprise, she managed to catch Spike off-guard and put a handful of bullets before he finally had the presence of mind to dive for cover, sending her last few shots slamming into the stone wall on the far side of the sanctuary. "So. How's that 'killing her sprog' thing working out for you, Spike?"
Peeking out from behind the altar, Spike offered Michelle a glare and a two-fingered salute. "Har bloody har. Kids these days. Got no appreciation for the proper way of doing things. Whatever happened to solving your problems with a good old-fashioned fistfight?"
"You're stronger and faster than me. And want to kill me. I think I'm going to stick with my gun, if it's all the same to you." Michelle holstered her two smaller pistols as she slowly circled the altar, watching Spike duck out of view as he tried to keep the large piece of marble between them. Drawing the massive Desert Eagle from the holster on her thigh, Michelle wrapped both hands around the grip… and then let out a startled cry as Spike launched himself up and over the altar at her. She managed to fire off a wild shot that sailed over his left shoulder and then he was on her, driving her down onto her back on the hard stone floor and knocking the air out of her lungs. "Ugh! Who do you think I am, Harmony? This girl requires a little romancing before you try and get her on her back…"
Chuckling lowly, Spike ran his tongue over his upper right canine as he grabbed her wrists, pinning them over her head. "Is that right? Well, I'm game. Let's start with the dinner part." He leaned down, fangs growing closer and closer to her jugular…
…and then let out a grunt as his face went slack, his body spasming wildly against hers for a few seconds before eventually going deathly still. From beneath him, Michelle stared up in disbelief at the fist pressed against the side of Spike's skull, watching as twin rivulets of blood slowly oozed down the undersides of Willow's claws. Glaring down at her victim, Willow let a soft growl before yanking her hand back and tearing her claws free. "Nobody. Hurts. My. Family."
Michelle let out a sigh of relief as she forced herself up into a sitting position, offering Willow a smile and a thumbs up. "Note to self: guns and crosses are my friends. Hand-to-hand is not. Wow. Thanks for the save." Looking around, she spotted the gun she'd been holding when Spike tackled her, crawling over to grab it before standing back up. "Random subject change: do you have your phone? Cordelia wants to be able to rub in that we killed Spike."
"Do you really need to ask that?" Willow wiped her claws on her pants before retracting them and then stuffed her hand into her pocket, shifting from side slightly as she wiggled her omnipresent iPhone free. "I'll do one better and record a video of you making the kill. And unlike you, I'll remember Daniel Baldwin's filmmaking advice."
Rolling her eyes, Michelle flipped Willow off before turning her attention to her gun. It looked okay, but evidently being an expert on that front was one set of memories that her brain wasn't in the mood to automatically create links to this evening. Hmm. Maybe she should let Willow fire it first? After all, Willow could always grow a hand back if the gun backfired and blew it off or something. Wow. That was kinda mean and evil. Cordelia was definitely starting to rub off on her. Speaking of her favorite green-haired cheerleader… "I was holding my phone upright while shooting that video for a reason. It was Cordelia jumping up and down. Who cares what's going on next to her? I filled the screen with the money shot."
Willow muttered something under her breath that Michelle somehow doubted was at all complimentary as she poked at her phone, eventually holding it up in front of herself. "All right. Ready when you are."
"On second thought, shooting a brain-dead vampire while he's just lying there on the floor doesn't seem very… oh, who am I kidding? Like I care about playing fair." Personally, Michelle was just happy she'd gotten Spike out of his duster before shooting the crap out of him. It really would make a nice gift for Willow, and it was free to boot. "So, um, how offended would you be if I recite something from the Tanakh while I kill Spike?"
Raising an eyebrow, Willow eyed Michelle oddly. "Considering how many pork products I've been eating lately, I don't think I have a leg to stand on when it comes to sacrilegious behavior. Why?"
Michelle smirked as she walked over to Spike, making sure to position herself on the opposite side of his body as Willow so she wouldn't obstruct the camera's view of the action. "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." Taking a two-handed grip on the Desert Eagle, Michelle slowly exhaled as she pulled the trigger. There was a loud crack and then Spike's head exploded like a watermelon at a Gallagher show, the debris from his skull - and his headless body - thankfully turning to dust before they could get too far.
"…I'm not sure which is sadder: that you just killed a vampire while quoting Pulp Fiction
, or that you honestly seem to think that's something from the Book of Ezekiel." Willow tapped the screen of her phone a few more times before tucking it into her pocket and looking around, perking up when she spotted the duster resting on the altar. "Ooh. Free leather."
…and now she had to un-cross off Willow on the present list. Shit.
November 25, 2011
All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church
A church full of vampires was similar to - but nowhere near as much fun - as a barrel full of monkeys. And she really needed to spend more time working on her quip fu, Buffy decided, because that was her second 'barrel full of monkeys'-related reference in a week. Granted she hadn't actually shared either of them aloud and so nobody knew she was slipping, but still. Not good.
Also not good? The church full of vampires.
Maybe calm in the face of potential death was a mutant trait, but the overwhelming number of opponents didn't seem to affect her companion any. Pulling a pair of earbuds out of one of the pouches on her belt, Brittany plugged them into her cell phone and tapped it a few times. Head bobbing to a beat only she could hear, she looked over at Buffy as she spoke with unnecessary slowness and volume. "Let me go first and stay back! I don't want to hurt you!"
Buffy's eyes widened at the command. "Wait, what? I'm the Slayer here, you're just-"
"My mama told me when I was young, 'we are all born superstars'. She rolled my hair and put my lipstick on in the glass of her boudoir." Belting out the lyrics in a fairly passable imitation of Lady Gaga, Brittany's hands opened one pouch after another on her belt as she turned away and strutted toward the assembled vampires. Hmm. What was the proper term for a group of vampires, Buffy wondered. A murder? "'There's nothing wrong with loving who you are,' she said, 'cuz He made you perfect, babe'. So hold your head up, girl, and you'll go far… listen to me when I say!"
Groaning, Buffy drew the unnaturally light falchion that Emma had sent her from its scabbard. The only reason she hadn't turned and fled immediately after entering the church was because she knew that while she could outrun most vampires, Brittany wouldn't stand a chance. Now that she was facing probable death with Born This Way
stuck in her head? The Slayer was starting to regret that decision. "Brittany, I need you to-"
Brittany's hair came to life as she continued to sing, twisting itself into a dozen tendrils that darted down to pluck what looked like pencils from the pouches at her waist. "I'm beautiful in my way, cuz God makes no mistakes. I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way!" One by one, each tendril let out an audible crack as it snapped forward like a whip, sending the slender pieces of wood blurring across the church toward the vampires. And evidently this was one time when size didn't matter as long as enough force was applied, because the vampires the blonde targeted succumbed to her wooden missiles, letting out screams as their bodies were reduced to ash. "Don't hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you're set. I'm on the right track, baby, I was born this way!"
"…do you think anyone notice if I just retired? I mean, it's not like I'm actually doing anything these days." Buffy scowled and drove the falchion into the top of the pew she was standing beside before leaning against it, watching as Brittany reloaded before firing a second volley of mini-stakes at the vampires. This time, the mutant staggered her fire a bit, allowing her to begin rearming and have the first stake of a third bout ready before she finished with the second. "Yeah, I'm just gonna be over here checking my email. Lemme know when we're done?"
Before Buffy could flop down in the pew and dig out her phone, a tendril of Brittany's hair stretched far further than it had any right to, wrapping around her wrist and tugging her forward. Her first step was a stumble but the Slayer quickly recovered, allowing herself to be led toward Brittany and then… into the blonde's waiting arms? "A different lover is not a sin, believe capital H-i-m. I love my life, I love this record, and… stake!" Buffy barely had time to obey the order, tugging free one of the two stakes sheathed at the small of her back, and then Brittany was hugging her close, wrapping one arm around Buffy's waist as her free hand grabbed Buffy's left. Without warning, the world tilted wildly as the cheerleader leaned forward, dipping Buffy back until she was perpendicular to the floor. "Mi amore vole fe, yeah! Stab!"
Buffy found herself reacting without thinking, tilting her head back as she thrust her arm upward. Her eyes widened as she watched the stake she was holding bury itself neatly in a vampire's heart, and then the world spun around her again as Brittany hauled her upright. "Woah. That was-"
"Awesome!" Two slim tendrils of hair came up to tug the earbuds free as Brittany grinned widely. She wrapped her hair around the two of them protectively before snapping it outward, forcing back the few vampires who'd been brave enough to try and press a new attack. "Float like Fluttershy and sting like a bee!" Buffy was pretty sure that wasn't how that quote was supposed to go, but… eh. Whatever. "That'd make a good nickname for you. Bee, I mean. Short for Buffy, and you're little but you can cause a lot of pain. What do you think?" 'Thanks, Bee. Couldn't have done it without you.'
Flashes of her most recent dream about Missy-but-not danced through her head as Buffy stared at Brittany uncertainly. In it, the leather-clad brunette had been accompanied by a pair of blonde twins. The dream not-Missy had an accent and had kicked some vampire ass in a few of Buffy's dreams. The blondes that had accompanied her in the two most recent ones were pretty. Brittany was pretty, blonde, was proving herself to be very capable in the vampire slaying department, and had either an accent - or non-accent, depending on one's point of view - from being raised in Ohio. And currently wearing white leather, mixing the wardrobe of not-Missy and her companions. What if, rather than representing three literal people as Buffy had initially thought, they were metaphors? Meant to guide her to her own, not too friendly with Cordelia, mutant ally? "…sure. Britt."
"Sweet!" Brittany gave the smaller blonde a quick hug before pulling back and bouncing on her toes excitedly. "You're super-strong, right? Think you can dip me? Cuz I could load up my hair with a bunch of stakes and kill like, ten vampires at once."
Technically, Brittany really didn't need her help to accomplish that and Buffy had seen proof to that end already… but what the hell. It'd look cool, kill a bunch of vampires, and - most importantly - earn her points with her new slaying buddy. "All right. On three?"