Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including (but not limited to) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Plants vs Zombies, and The Craft. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++PREVIOUSLY: Lily stopped zombie incursions in her backyard and side-yard. She also talked to her husband, Jeff, about his worries regarding her job and how dangerous it is. And they had sex, because married couples do that.+++++PART THREE
Lily heard the sounds of battle outside her house, but muffled, as if her ears were stuffed with cotton. She was completely tapped out, and had no desire to shoot herself up with more of Willow’s magic -- not unless she had to.
It took several minutes, most of which Jeff spent sitting on the floor in front of her, his head on her lap, her hand stroking his hair, before the noises stopped. She heard the knocking on the back door and Jeff went to get it.
Sarah. And three slayers, including Dawn. “Willow gave me a spell,” Sarah said without preamble. “We’ve been applying it to the houses, one by one. I did yours after the girls and I took care of your little zombie problem.”
“What does it do?” Jeff asked, his hands on Lily’s shoulders. She was glad he was talking -- she didn’t feel in much of a state to say anything.
“Zombie-proofing. You’re good for at least two weeks, and by then, if we haven’t caught this guy, heads are going to roll.”
“Yeah. Buffy ruined another shirt.” Dawn smiled. “You all right?” Lily managed a weak nod. “You don’t look it.”
“We know,” Jeff said. “The last round took a lot out of her.”
Sarah produced a syringe from a little pouch at her hip. When Lily’s eyes widened, Sarah shook her head. “It’s not Willow. This one’s from Gin.”
“O... kay...” Lily let Sarah swab the bend of her arm and slide the needle into her vein. Gin, an Iroquois healer from the Five Nations, had magic much closer to Lily’s own, and it flowed through her like warm golden light. Immediately the exhaustion started to clear, and Lily shrugged off Jeff’s hands to get to her feet. “I’ll have to...” She swallowed hard as a wave of dizziness hit her, but she soldiered on. “To thank her.”
“You do that.” Sarah capped the syringe and slid it back into her pouch. “We’ve found Gauss -- for real this time -- but he’s too well-protected. Buffy wants to lead a full assault, and Andrew’s the only one holding her back.”
“She’s wicked pissed.” This was Lucy Lewis, a senior intern from Cape Cod -- Lily was pretty sure she was just about to graduate. Beside her was her best friend, Lisa something-or-other from Sweden. “Anything alive goes up there, the zombies swarm on it.”
“Fast ones, too,” Lisa said. “Fast and strong.”
“He has proof against magic, and against our kinds of attacks. And nuking the site from orbit, as Xander suggested, isn’t going to cut it.” Sarah grinned. “But I’m thinking you might have something to say about that.”
Lily couldn’t help but smile back. “Jeff,” she said, “let’s get dressed.”
Lily wasn’t used to this kind of treatment -- everyone was deferring to her. Even Willow and Hector, the most powerful witches in Cleveland, were listening to her plan. Admittedly, she and Sarah had hashed it out in the car on the way over, but it was Lily who everyone was paying attention to.
It was intimidating.
“So let me get this straight,” Buffy said, arms folded, eyes suspicious and a little narrow. “You’re going to plant watermelons.”
“And these watermelons are going to destroy the zombies... how?”
“They’re alive,” Lily said. “That means the zombies will flock to where they’re going.”
“Still not getting it.”
“Watermelon bombs,” said Dawn -- the slayer one; the Summers one was in Rome, if Lily remembered correctly. “She’s going to destroy the zombies with watermelon bombs.”
If a single person had laughed, Lily probably would’ve blushed, looked down, and lost all her confidence. But before anyone -- before Buffy -- could speak, Sarah moved to stand beside Lily. “All right. What can we do to help?” As one of the senior witches on the scene, Lily knew Sarah’s words would carry enough weight to get people mobilized.
Lily nodded to Lucy, who opened the cargo compartment of Sarah’s SUV. Two dozen clay pots were arranged on the fuzzy beige carpeting. “Line these up -- four rows of six -- and make sure they have a clear line-of-sight to the sunrise.” She glanced eastward -- only a couple of minutes now until the sun was up, judging from the glow on the horizon, and even though Lily had been refreshed by Gin’s mana, she knew from experience that true sunlight would work much better than anything else. “Sarah, you know where to go?” The witch nodded and moved to the grassy area in front of the rec center Buffy and the others had tracked Gauss to.
Buffy, Dawn, Lucy, and Lisa carried the pots two-at-a-time to the small lawn. Sarah and Lily, meanwhile, drew a magic circle along the ground, complete except for a tiny crack. Lily laid a towel down in the center -- the last thing I need is to get up and have dirt all over my ass
-- and lowered herself into the lotus position.
Buffy squatted down beside the circle. “Just one more question.” Lily inclined her head. “When do we go in?”
“As soon as the watermelons stop flying. As long as you’re not a threat, they won’t attack you, but I’m going to make sure they see the zombies as threats. Just... just don’t point anything sharp at them.”
“Fair enough.” Buffy smiled. “I still can’t believe we’re doing this.”
“Just stop him,” Lily said. She lowered her voice. “He would hate it if he knew I was telling you, but the thought of being turned into a zombie scares the hell out of my husband.”
“Scares the hell out of me, too.”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t carry a giant axe everywhere he goes.”
Buffy nodded, then rose to her feet. “I’ll get him,” she said. “With the dry-cleaning bill I’m going to have, I owe him one.”
The others set the final pots in place. She and Sarah had pushed several watermelon seeds apiece into each one before loading the SUV, so the only thing she really had to do was wait for the sunrise.
She closed her eyes and stretched out her senses; a large, old tree nearby was tall enough to see over the wall; Lily caught sight of Gauss -- it must have been him; he had three large zombies guarding him, holding lightpoles like they were staves, and they had more intelligence in their eyes than his other drones had displayed.
Lily would let the slayers worry about them when the time came. For now, the sun was coming up, and its warmth filled her body like sweet hot syrup.Time to play.
After all the build-up, the actual fight was pretty anti-climactic, at least on Lily’s part. Once the vines sprouted and the watermelons themselves began to grow, it was only a matter of time until the plants began catapulting the fruit over the wall. Lily watched the massive, heavy globes arc over the stone barrier and smash into the heads of Gauss’s zombies. He didn’t seem to have enough necromancy to stop them, and soon enough he was down to a handful of what Lily was calling, for lack of a better term, “standard” zombies, along with his three gargantuan protectors.
But growing the watermelons so quickly had tired Lily out -- again, damn it!
-- and she broke the circle with her hand. Sarah was at her side in an instant, supporting her, holding a bottle of water to her mouth and helping her to drink.
“Go?” Buffy asked.
The slayers went.
The slayers, witches, and watchers spent most of Sunday doing cleanup work, helping the residents of Lily’s neighborhood to put their homes back in order. They used the Guardian Angels cover story, and no one was inclined to look too closely at the horde of young women who were suddenly everywhere, shoring up windows, re-hanging doors, and -- when no one was looking -- straightening metal fences back into some semblance of normality. Lily, for her part, found herself in her yard with her husband and Dawn, filling holes left by her weaponized plants.
“I’m still amazed,” Dawn said. “I never thought I’d see something like this.” She was kneeling near the flower-beds by the front door, stroking the... well, the snout
... of one of the pea-shooters. “How did you come up with it?”
“You all think too modern,” she said, taking off her hat and wiping sweat off her brow. She replaced the hat before continuing. “Remember, I went to elementary school in the seventies; our bullies still used pea-shooters and slingshots instead of Facebook.” Dawn laughed and got to her feet, and she and Lily looked out at the houses across the street. “I hope we get back to normal sooner rather than later.”
“Me too,” Dawn said. But she had stopped checking out the neighbors -- their nephew, who was Dawn’s age, had taken off his shirt while helping out in the yard, and even Lily had to admit he was worth a look or two -- and was focused on Jeff. “Is he okay?”
Lily sighed. “I hope so. I’ll talk to him.”
“He worries because he loves you,” Dawn said. “That’s one thing we all learn about at the school: how to recognize love, because of its power.”
“I know,” Lily said, nodding. “We’ll work it out. We always do.” Then she smiled. “You going to be here tonight?”
“Wouldn’t miss it.” Dawn grinned. “I heard you’re making salad.”
It was midnight before Jeff and Lily said goodnight to the last of the guests. They brought in the empty platters and cleaned up the back porch, but left everything else in the kitchen to be cleaned up in the morning. After the attack -- which WKYC had finally sent a news crew to cover as “escaped mental patients ravage local neighborhood” -- Jeff’s boss had given him a few days off. As for Lily, Willow had told her she didn’t need to come in “until you’re ready.”
It would be nice to sleep in, to make up for their lost time on Sunday morning.
If only Jeff wasn’t so tense. She’d understood it on Sunday night; they were only hours removed from the early-morning-hours attack on their home. But now, after a successful pot luck, after the slayers and witches and watchers had mingled with Lily’s friends and neighbors, after the fighting plants had been coaxed back to their normal states with help from Sarah, Willow, and Hector, Lily had hoped that Jeff would be at least somewhat relaxed.
Lily cuddled herself up behind him as he faced away from her; she ran her hand up his side and put her arm across his chest, and he took her hand. “Talk to me,” she said. “Please?”
Jeff shook his head and tried to inch away, but Lily wasn’t having any of that. She held him tighter, kissed his bare shoulder. “I...” He swallowed. “Lils, I can’t.”
She sighed. “That’s okay. I’m here for you, and I’ll wait.”
But the vibe she got off him said that wasn’t what he meant. “It’s not just the zombies.” He moved her arm and sat up in the bed, swinging his legs over the side.
Lily pushed off the top-sheet and went to sit next to him, drawing one leg up so she was sideways, facing him. “Jeff, tell me what’s wrong. If it’s not the zombies, then--”
“It’s not just the zombies,” he said again. “It’s... it’s everything.” He looked at her with dark eyes made nearly black by the night-time dimness of their bedroom. “I know what happened to Gauss.”
Lily sighed again. According to Dawn, after the slayers had dispatched the last of Gauss’s protectors, he’d pulled a gun. Faster than he could aim it, Buffy had whipped her stake at him; it had taken him through the eye, and as he’d fallen she’d lunged forward and cut his throat with her scythe. She was glad she hadn’t seen it, and -- despite everything he’d done -- it still sickened her to think how quickly Buffy had ended the man’s life. And for what? For revenge on someone living in her neighborhood? They’d never found out who it was Gauss was after, and although the watchers had made discreet inquiries, no one was talking.
“She had to do it,” Lily said after a long moment. “He was going to shoot them.”
“I know,” Jeff said. Hunched over as he was, he seemed older, as if the weight of the world was getting to be too much for him. He rubbed his hand over his face. “That doesn’t make it right.”
“Jeff,” she said, “tell me what’s wrong. The truth, this time.”
“The truth?” He put his elbows on his knees and his face in his hands. “I can’t.” A pause. “I can’t tell you the truth.”
Lily felt tears prick her eyes. She knew what he was going to say.I’m not going to let him say it.
She got off the bed to kneel in front of her husband, moving his hands away from his face. He looked broken, as if the very thought of what he felt he had to do had already destroyed him.
“Say the word,” Lily said, “and we’ll walk away. Just you and me.”
Jeff stared down at her, confused. “Lils, don’t...”
But she was shaking her head. “Don’t get me wrong -- I love working with the ICW.” She stopped, took his face in her hands, and rose up to bring her lips to his. “But I love you more. And I’ll give it all up if you ask. You’re more important to me than any job ever will be.”
She could tell he didn’t know how to respond to that. But that was okay, because she did. Lily kissed him then, sweet and gentle, coming up onto her feet without releasing his mouth, urging him to lie back so she could be on top of him, still kissing him, pouring all her love into him. Soon, his arms were around her; soon after that, they were making love.
And, in the afterglow, Jeff laughed, breaking the quiet, reflective moment.
“What is it?”
“I love you, Lily,” he said.
“I love you too.” She turned on her side, rested her hand on his chest to feel it rise and fall. “What’s so funny?”
“No matter where we go, no matter what we do, you’ll always be a witch.”
Lily nodded. “Your witch.”
“My witch.” He put his hand over hers, stroking the back of her wrist. “If we go away, then who will you have to back you up?”
“At least here,” Jeff said, “if something goes wrong, you have Sarah and Willow and the others. And if it gets really rough, we can call in the cavalry.”
“We... can, yes.” Lily was confused now. “Jeff, what are you saying?”
He brought her hand to his mouth, kissed her fingertips. “I don’t want to run,” he said. “I’m scared for you -- every time there’s a big bad, every time you go out to examine an artifact, every time some rogue magic or science starts to go crazy, I’m terrified that I’m going to lose you.”
He was quiet for a long time. So was she.
And he was the one to break the silence. “I have the most amazing wife on the planet,” he said, his voice hoarse -- Lily heard the tears in it and moved closer, propping herself up on her elbow to be nearer to him. “I would never take any of this away from you, and I would never let you give it up just for me.” He drew a long, shuddering breath. “I guess I’ll just have to keep dealing with it.”
“Look at the bright side.”
Lily ran her hand down Jeff’s body, and he made a small sound deep in his throat.
“After nineteen years, I still have the magic touch.”+++++THE END+++++Author’s Note
This story was inspired by the absolutely unreal amount of Plants vs Zombies
that my daughter and I had been playing over the summer. I got her a Kindle Fire in May, and in two weeks she got through almost three full worlds. She was on level 3-8 when I wrote this note.
And she wasn’t even six yet.
I figured that I could make a PvZ story work on a purely comedic level, but the problem I have with writing is that, for me, comedy usually turns serious. And this story did that, what with Jeff’s worries over Lily’s dangerous job. The last scene, in their bedroom, I didn’t even plan for -- I was hoping they’d just go to bed and face a new day in the morning. But somehow Jeff got worried, and Lily offered to sacrifice everything for the man she loved. I literally didn’t know until I wrote it if Jeff was going to take her up on her offer or not.
I think I speak for all of my ICW staffers when I say that Jeff made the right decision.
I also didn’t plan on Jeff and Lily having sex on-screen. I mean, they’ve been together for 19 years; I’m sure they’ve had plenty of sex in that time. But my characters have a habit of sleeping with someone
the longer they’re on screen; in my Vengeance Unlimited crossover
, if I’d written any more then Melinda would’ve ended up making a move on Mr. Chapel, and that would’ve been all kinds of weird.
I tried to include as many PvZ references as I could -- the various plants, the lily-pads, the mushrooms, the different kinds of zombies, and even the Gargantuors. I really wanted the final battle to be on Lily’s roof, but I couldn’t find a way to make that work, so I went with the rec center instead. It still let me build melon-pults.
But in the end, as most of my stories seem to be, this one was about love. Sure, there were plants and zombies, but the main storyline belonged to Lily -- and, to a lesser extent, her husband. I hope you liked this glimpse into my research witch and her life outside the slayer school, and since Jeff decided her happiness was worth a little worry, you’ll be seeing her again. Not sure when, but... you know... sometime.
As always, I treasure your reviews and e-mails, so please do let me know what you thought of the story.Listener
Marietta, GA, USA
October 12, 2012PS: The next story in this series will arrive on October 18, and it will feature Faith, as well as Lisa and Lucy -- who you may remember meeting in this one.