What’s My Line, part VIII
A/N: Disclaimer, author’s notes, etc., are at the beginning of chapter 1; spoilers are through “What’s My Line”.
Xander was still in the library an hour later, and it was getting near sundown. Willow was doing the computer research, while he was stuck going through some really boring books. You wouldn’t think that you could make stuff about bizarre assassins with amazing, creepy powers be this intensely boring. And you’d be wrong. He figured ancient cultures must have had ‘boring and tweedy’ sects that had ended up colonizing Britain later on. Seriously, a story explaining how the Order of Taraka sent this masked insane assassin guy after an untrustworthy slime demon, and then a Slayer got mixed up in it, and then they ran into a family of Fyarl demons? Add in some chimichangas, and it could be an issue of Deadpool. But no, it was so boring it could have been the featured story in English Literature classes.
“Any luck, Xander?” Giles checked.
“No, unless you count being bored to tears reading the stuff you just translated.”
Giles said, “You should have better luck with this one.”
He opened the book to a picture of what looked like a naked fanged albino Goth chick but with tentacles that were sinking into the flesh of a screaming knight. And it looked like some of the spare tentacles had eyeballs or mouths on their tips. Xander took one look and choked, “Yaak!”
Giles calmly said, “This one has a whole chapter dedicated to the Order of Taraka.”
Xander took another look at the picture and asked, “Who wrote this one? Stephen King?”
Giles went to check on Willow.
Okay the text on Tentacle-y Goth Vampira was pretty darn freaksome for Ye Olde Englishe. Did they have a Stephen King kind of guy back in Chaucer’s day? Xander decided he didn’t need to read the rest of that section. Moving on…
Giles asked Willow, “How are you progressing?”
Willow said, “Forty-three churches in Sunnydale.”
“Forty-three? That seems a little… excessive.”
Willow said, “And that doesn’t count the non-churches where they hold services sometimes, like this Wicca thing in the UC Sunnydale student union every other week, or this one, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has a party once a month at this frat house and they say it’s okay because they bring water to the party but then the Flying Spaghetti Monster reaches down his noodly appendages and turns the water into vodka. Umm, that’s a direct quote.”
“Oh dear,” Giles muttered.
Willow went on, “But I found two totally legit real churches out of forty-three that look promising. One’s under major repairs from a big fire and it’s pretty much just burned beams right now, so I doubt that counts as still being consecrated. The other sounds okay, but it’s being replaced by a brand spanking new church next door on the other side of an even larger and all-paved parking lot!”
Xander tossed in, “Can you say church and spanking in the same sentence?”
“Xander!” Willow fussed.
Giles grimaced and said, “Apparently, you have never been in an old-style Catholic school with nuns who put the ‘corporal’ into ‘punishment’.”
“Oh, those wacky Brits,” Xander smirked. He turned the page and looked down. “Oh! Got him! Latvian bug demon guy! I am the bug man, coo coo ka choo!”
Giles grimaced even more. “Must you destroy fine music in addition to the spoken word?”
Willow asked, “Does it say how to kill him?”
Xander scanned through the text. “He can only be killed when he’s in his disassembled state.”
Willow said, “So we just need to get him to go all buggy on us, and we have to have a way to keep him like that…” She grinned up at Giles. “Can you let me into the art room and the football field’s maintenance shed?”
Xander grinned at her, because he knew it was going to be another Genius Willow plan. He said, “Should we get on over there now and provide backup? Because you know the Buffster’s gonna go charging in, and Spike’ll have Drusilla, maybe two Tarakan assassins, and who knows how many vamp minions.”
Giles said, “That is a valid point.”
So Xander added, “And I need to know how to say ‘your mother prostitutes herself out to spider nests’. In Latvian.”
They drove over to the church in Giles’ old heap. Willow got to sit up front, even though it was her junk in the back that Xander was stuck holding. Xander could see that the old church was pretty darn decrepit on the outside, and the new church was all white and sparkly, even in the dark.
As they pulled up on a side street in front of one of the entrances, two vamps came out of the big shrubs on either side of the door and made for them. Kendra came out of nowhere and staked both from behind before either vamp realized there was a threat behind them.
Kendra said, “It is a good ting you have come, Mister Giles. Dis is de only door dat is not locked and also blocked on de inside, and I have had to wait until de vampires were distracted to kill dem so dey did not sound de alarm. Buffy went wit de bartender and she is now a prisoner of de vampires and assassins, in de church nave.”
Giles pulled a crossbow out of the trunk. He said, “Then you need to intervene promptly, so you two can stop the ritual. We will follow and provide some select assistance.”
Kendra ran in like it was Free Chocolate Night at the church. Xander got Willow’s stuff out of the back seat. Giles handed Willow a stake and gave Xander a sword to go with the stuff he was carrying. They followed as quickly as they could.
When they got into the main church area, the fight was already on. Kendra was pounding on Spike, and Buffy was battling Redhead Cop who had a bandage around her head. And two really big knives.
Xander watched as Giles expertly put a crossbow bolt right into a vamp trying to sneak up on Buffy. He made sure Giles had time to get another bolt in the crossbow before he went after The Amazing Mister Bug. He stood at the top of the aisle and yelled the Latvian sentence that Giles had made him practice the whole way over.
One of these days, he was going to find out why Giles knew words like that in Latvian.
Okay, that sure ticked off Cootie Boy. Norman came up the aisle a lot faster than Xander was expecting. Xander turned and ran, making for the room across the hall. He jumped over the huge patch of glue and let Willow slam the door behind him.
Bugs began pouring under the door, only to get stuck in the glue, or else climb over already-stuck bugs only to get stuck further into the room. It was a good thing Willow had poured out a big area of glue. He wondered if the art teachers would notice that a one gallon tin of model airplane glue was missing.
Once the bugs were pretty well stuck, Willow got out her other acquisition. The lawn roller the maintenance guys ran over the football field to keep everything nice and flat. It was just a big, heavy metal cylinder with a handle so you could roll it across the lawn. Or, in this case, across a big patch of glue covered in man-eating worms.
Xander gave Willow a thumbs-up and headed out the other door so he could circle around and go help Giles. He pretty much figured that two Slayers wouldn’t need any help against anything short of Godzilla.
By the time Xander got back to the church aisles, the place was a mess. Kendra and Buffy had switched off, so Buffy and Spike were still mixing it up, and Redhead Cop was trying to knife Kendra again. Two vamps were about to turn Giles into dinner. Willy the Snitch was sneaking out a side door that had two-by-fours blocking it shut. And it looked like the ritual was already going, what with the way Drusilla was writhing and Angel was sinking, not to mention the whole ‘freaky glowing dagger through the hands’ thing.
Xander pulled out the totally-not-a-chakram. He didn’t think Buffy or Kendra needed help, and he didn’t think a steel disk was the way to help Giles. But the ritual? Maybe. He didn’t really think he had a chance of hitting that dagger all the way across the church, but he still took the shot.
After he let it go, he figured out that if he’d had a razor-sharp real chakram, he could have gone for Drusilla’s neck. He still didn’t dare throw a razor-sharp chakram, but it was a nice thought.
Drusilla suddenly raised her head and stared right at him. Spike had her all tied up, so she couldn’t do anything, but she knew
. In that moment, Xander realized that Drusilla knew exactly what was going to happen, and couldn’t stop it. He couldn’t imagine the horror of being a true seer and knowing what was about to happen and being utterly unable to stop it.
She screeched, “Spike!”
And the not-a-chakram hit the handle of the dagger, brutally tearing it out of Drusilla’s hand.
Spike kicked Buffy hard enough to send her flying over two rows of seats, and sprinted for the altar.
The two vampires trying to kill Giles turned toward the altar and stared. That gave Giles the chance to stake one of them, even if it covered him in vampire ash. The second vamp was already moving for Xander. Xander had no idea if vamp number two knew vamp number one had dusted, or cared, or anything other than wanting to kill the obvious threat.
Xander pulled his sword out of his belt, where he had shoved it. The sharp edges sliced right through the belt, and Xander knew he was suddenly in danger of having his pants fall down in the middle of a fight with an angry vampire. Could there be a more humiliating death? If there was, it would probably happen to him.
Xander carefully moved into a fighting stance, holding the sword so that he could slash at the vamp’s neck. Given how fast vamps were, the guy would probably just knock the blade aside and sink his fangs into Xander’s neck, but he was going to give it his best shot.
He decided to cheat. “Now, Giles!”
The vamp wheeled about, crouching down and slashing one lightning-fast arm as he turned. But Giles was nowhere near. He was down the aisle, putting another bolt in his crossbow and aiming it at Spike’s back.
Xander slashed the sword through the air. Maybe it was dirty pool hacking at a guy when his back was turned, but vamps were too darn fast to mess around with. The sword cut halfway into the vamp’s neck as the guy got an arm up to block. The sword sliced wickedly into the vamp’s arm too. And then the vamp was rolling down the aisle away from Xander and trying to get away from the sword.
Giles fired the crossbow at Spike’s back, and then leapt into the rows of seats to get out of the reach of the injured vamp, who was still rolling down the aisle.
Spike turned… and snatched the crossbow bolt out of the air. Holy crud, that guy was dangerous. Then he used the sharp point to slice through Drusilla’s bonds. He grabbed Drusilla and let Angel’s body fall limply onto the altar. Buffy limped towards them.
Spike scooped Drusilla up into his arms and moved into the church apse. But Buffy wasn’t finished. She snatched up the burning censer Spike had probably used earlier and whirled it by its chain over her head like David taking a potshot at Goliath. She flung it, and it sailed beautifully through the air, catching Spike right in the back of the head.
“Yes!” Xander didn’t realize he’d yelled that out loud until Giles turned and glared at him.
Spike fell with Drusilla in his arms, and their combined weight smashed the keyboard console of the church organ. The censer bounced off to the side and hit a set of drapes, setting it on fire. Then the censer rolled across the carpet, setting everything it touched aflame.
Xander watched the whole apse area turn into a raging inferno. He muttered, “Man, no wonder the church wanted to update this place.”
The flames leapt straight up the drapes, going right up to the ceiling, which was maybe sixty feet up. Then the fire began rushing along ropes, cords, wood beams, carpet, and pretty much everything else that wasn’t metal. And the burning cords that were supporting the church organ just snapped. The entire organ collapsed, level by level, onto Spike, who was apparently guarding Drusilla’s body with his own.
Xander didn’t know a lot about vamps, but that seemed like more caring than a vamp was supposed to show, even if Drusilla had sired Spike.
Buffy scooped up Angel’s limp body, and carried him up the aisle like he weighed as much as a poodle. Kendra came rushing alongside her. Wherever Redhead Cop Demon was, she wasn’t getting up and moving away from the fire.
And the fire was spreading way faster than Xander thought a fire would. It was like the fire was mad at what they had been doing, because it was engulfing the whole downhill end of the church, and the area around the organ was nothing but smoke and flame, and the fire was moving up the aisles toward them.
Giles clambered over a couple rows to get around the half-decapitated vamp, who was too injured to get back on his feet, but would still be pretty dangerous if he got a hand on you. Giles rushed up the aisle and clapped Xander on the shoulder, “Well done. Very well done. And the Latvian Bug Man?”
Xander said, “Well, the Latvian swearwords worked, and when I left, Willow was rolling out the lawn.”
They stepped out of the church into the hall and found Willow grinning. “One small squoosh for bugs, one giant squoosh for bugkind.”
“That’s my Willow,” Xander grinned.
Buffy and Kendra rushed over to them, Buffy still carrying an obviously hurt Angel. Xander looked at the big slash across the front of Kendra’s shirt. At least she wasn’t bleeding all over the place.
Kendra looked down at the slash and sighed, “Yeah, it’s me favorite shirt.” She glanced at Buffy and added, “It’s me only shirt.”
Giles said, “That may be, but we need to vacate the premises before we attract any more attention.”
Buffy glanced back at the fire and said, “We can’t get at Spike and Drusilla, but I’m guessing they’re roast dust by now. I’ll take Angel to his place and then take Kendra to my house for the night.”
Giles nodded, “Very good. I’ll drive Xander and Willow home. We’ll have to attempt to ascertain the fate of Spike and Drusilla, once the fire is completely out, and I’ll see about getting Council funding for a plane ticket home for Kendra.”
But the next day, it was back to the usual. Except worse. In teen health class, Buffy told Xander how she got Kendra flying off on a jet, only this time traveling coach. With a couple new shirts and a nice skirt that was a present to Buffy from Joyce’s sister that was too big for Buffy so Kendra could wear it. If she’d ever wear a skirt.
But Snyder was lurking outside, trying to catch Xander or Buffy doing anything that might be the least bit suspicious. And Snyder looked rough. Big goose egg on the back of his head, tape all over his nose which was seriously broken so he had two black eyes as well, and a split lip. Xander felt sort of uncomfortable at being so pleased Snyder was all bruised.
And lots of other kids were now mad at Xander for ‘saving’ Snyder.
When a couple guys confronted him in a hallway in between classes, he insisted, “What save? I just took the chance to smash him into the floor!”
“Oh yeah, sure. Dickwad.”
“Yeah! And I thought you were cool for hacking at Queen C with a sword. Creep!”
So that wasn’t good. His popularity was taking a major hit. Not that he had a ton of popularity to start with.
And then that night, Giles called Quentin Travers for an update. Travers said, “We had surprisingly little trouble contacting the Order, and they acquiesced rather quickly. In fact it was suspiciously quickly. We have noted this behavior once before in our annals. It is highly likely that they did not receive the full payment, and so they had already called off their assassins, so Miss Summers should be safe. They may, in fact, pursue the client, just to make a point for everyone else that might hire them.”
Buffy snarked, “Couldn’t happen to a nicer Spike.”
Travers asked, “What was that, Miss Summers?”
Giles cleared his throat, “We have been able to uncover some evidence that it may have been William the Bloody who hired the Tarakans. He has been unable to kill the Slayer, and she has interfered with several of his plans, including an attempt to restore Drusilla to health, which most certainly would have created a Class A apocalypse, since he was using Du Lac’s ritual to the demon Eligor in order to restore her.”
Travers asked, “And were they killed in the church fire?”
Giles said, “It would appear not. When I went by after school today and checked the building, there was clear evidence that something supernaturally strong smashed its way out through a wall underneath where the organ stood, and escaped from the burnt ruins of the church. I believe that we have to assume William the Bloody and Drusilla the Mad are alive, and loose in Sunnydale. If that is the case, then she is most likely fully restored or nearly so, and we may still have that threatened apocalypse on our doorstep.”
Travers said, “That may be, but we also had an apparent attempt to resurrect the Thera Hellmouth, as well as an attempt to perform a dangerous demonic rite at the Russian Hellmouth, so there is no question about being able to send support teams to Sunnydale for your Slayer.”
After Travers hung up, Giles slammed the phone down hard. “Blasted bureaucratic pillock.”
Buffy gave him a fake-chipper smile. “Hey, I’m now four for four on apocalypses! Who needs tweedy Watcher teams with crossbows when I got you guys?”
Willow smiled, “Yeah! Who else ever took out three Tarakan assassins in a couple days?”
Buffy frowned, “Well, not me. I only got one, and I needed Angel’s help. You and Xander got Norman. Kendra got the redhead with the bad hairdo.”
Willow suddenly looked horrified. “Oh no! This is so bad!”
“What?” Xander worried.
“I forgot to bring the lawn roller back for the football team!”to be continued in ‘Bad Eggs’
A/N: The sharp-eyed may note that I slipped in someone distinctive as an obscure reference. I don't have to add a disclaimer on this one.