First prize often goes to rank beginners
“Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.”
King of Swamp Castle, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
- A Slayer is always resourceful. A Slayer never wastes resources. Do you understand me, Kendra?
She shivered. Yes. She understood. Even so, it was cold here in the wheel housing, and the thin atmosphere was straining her Slayer physique. Even with the oxygen mask she had found, it was hard to breathe at times. But it was good training for a Slayer. Mr Zabuto told her so.
He told her a lot of things. Her destiny. Her duty.
She was four years old when Mr Zabuto came to her town. What was its name? No matter. That was not her life now. She didn't even have much of her original accent left, just bits and pieces mixed with that of Mr Zabuto and of various places she had lived in over the years. One of the Watchers in England had called her 'Connor McLeod' once, a nonsensical remark that still confused her.
Pride. Someone had said she had too much of it. What did they
know? They never felt the power coursing through their body, they never heard grass growing while sitting indoors, never saw what she saw. Mr Zabuto told her she was right to be proud. The Slayer was a magnificent
legacy, one girl in all the world against the forces of evil.
She would make him
And whatever this rising force of darkness in Sunnydale was, she would find it, and Slay it.
...right after she switched planes. Maybe ride in the cargo hold instead.
“Okay, here's one. I have no legs, but I run all day, and twice a day I'm exactly the same.”
“Easy, a clock.” Buffy looked around. Okay, I have...two vamps, coming out of a crypt right about over there, and a minor demon, I think a Goosnargh, in the remembrance grove. Wait...oh, that's just Harry.”
Xander blinked. “Harry?”
She nodded. “He works as the night caretaker. None of the demons bother him, vamps won't eat him because Goosnargh blood tastes like ammonia. Nice guy. Collects bottle ships. Hates vampires because they mess up the grave arrangements.”
He stared at her for a long moment. “Our lives are different from other people's.”
Buffy let out a laugh. “You can say that
Xander gave her a deadpan look. “Our lives are different from other people's.”
“Goof.” She smiled affectionately and play-socked him on the shoulder.
He grinned. “Eh, 's all right. Didn't actually hurt.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes. “So why the 'ow'?”
“Because it's funny.”
“Whatever. Let's just grab these vamps before they do whatever heinous heiny stuff they came for.”
“Shut. Up.” But she was smiling. “I have no breath and still I breathe-”
“Wrong, it's cotton.”
“No, vampire, right there.” He pointed.
. Yeah, I knew that. Let's go show him how we do things in Texas.”
“After you, pardner.”
The fight was going great up until the second guy got involved. Xander kept to the background, as promised, with Buffy yelling to him where vamp numero dos
was hiding out so he could keep clear and corral the guy.
And then Numero Dos decided enough was enough and made a break for it. Xander tried to get out of the way, but the damn thing was so fast, and he had a big knife, and... Shunk.
Oh. Ow. That
one actually did
“Oh God oh God oh God oh God-”
...Buffy was chanting. Why was Buffy chanting? Didn't suit her. Was she any good at singing? Oh, ow. His side hurt. Sticky. Another ruined shirt. Damn it, Jessica would complain to Tony, who would be all yelling and threatening and...
“...Buffy, mind shutting up? Kinda in pain here.”
He opened his eyes. Her face had a couple blood smears on it from where she'd been pressing his hand against her cheek, and she was pale as a ghost. “X-Xander?”
“Ow. Yeah.” He winced, sitting up. “Man
, that was close.”
She shook her head, still pale. “No, you...Xander, the knife...”
She nodded mutely towards the offending item. Big Bowie knife. Covered in dark blood. His
blood. But that wasn't...
He looked down. His shirt was soaked
on his right side, a single thin tear in the fabric. Lifting it revealed a thin, dark red line covered in blood. A single deep stab wound. Not a flesh wound, or shallow cut. It had gone deep. He could remember the scrape against bone, the way it slid through his gut and up like through butter.
It looked like it had been healing for days, if not weeks. “Uh...”
She looked at it, then him. It was obvious she was as surprised as he was. “You...what? What? How...we need to talk to Giles.”
He just nodded as she helped him up, letting him lean on her for support. Still kinda hurt, there.
Dalton held out the rag-wrapped bundle with trembling hands. “She almost got both of us. It was horrible
. It was like she saw me the whole time, I only got away because I stabbed her little sidekick and ran like hell.”
Spike yanked the item out of his hands, putting it on the table before unwrapping it. Wouldn't do to burn his hands on the damn thing. “Yeah, yeah, go away.” Perfect.
Oh, the cross itself was gaudy and sort of stupid-looking, but this was gonna make Dru better
. The Terakans would kill the Slayer, Dru would get better, and in a week or so her birthday pressie was arriving.
He grinned. Everything was coming up roses.
“He what?” Giles stared at them.
“He healed from a fatal stab wound in...” She looked at her watch. “Ten minutes. No scar. That's faster than my
“Oh.” His mouth worked soundlessly for a few moments. “And, er, is it...permanent?”
“He cut his finger to check. Healed in half a minute. Did it three times, same result.” She sighed. “What the hell is going on
, Giles? ...you don't seem all that surprised.”
“Well...” How to say this... “Let's say you found out the role of the, er, Stone, or Pendragon, granted certain gifts, but wasn't sure if your information was accurate. Do you tell the person in question or do you wait to check until you have more to go on?”
Giles blushed slightly. “Er...the, er, healing
, I suppose. The ancient myths referred to him as various variants on stone, as in invulnerable. But it was a primitive age, so they probably meant that he healed rapidly.”
“And that's it?”
“No. The, er, healing only works in proximity to the, er, Slayer. From what I gathered from stories I managed to recover about the cult, at least.” He blushed further. “There are some, er, hints that it works in reverse as well, but that requires a...ritual. Of sorts.”
Her entire posture went suspicious along with her eyes. “Ritual?”
“Er...yes. It's, um...”
Her face went beet red as she finally understood his reluctance, and her voice went very, very embarrassed and small. “Oh.”
“I, er...I can't promise
that. I will, however, probably wait until he's mature enough to realize what it, what it means.”
Xander shrugged into the fresh t-shirt. The pants were still bloody, but they were black so it didn't show much. The shirt was a total loss. He'd liked
that shirt. And he was feeling kinda hungry.
“Hey, Giles, you got anything to eat – oh, hey Buff.”
She nodded. “He keeps his scones and toast in that cabinet. There's cocoa too.”
Xander nodded, supplying himself. After a while, as the water for the cocoa boiled, he cleared his throat a little. “So, uh, where's Giles?”
“Library. He'll be right back with books and more books.”
He felt her eyes on him, studying him. Ignoring her, he finished spreading butter on a sliced up scone and stuffed it in his mouth. “Oh wow. This is the good stuff.”
She grinned. “I know!
He won't tell me the bakery, though. I think he bakes them himself.”
They both paused to ponder the mental image of Giles in an apron baking scones. Then they shuddered.
“That's just too
“Yeah, uh, let's...let's forget about it.”
They sat there in awkward silence for a while, Xander munching on his scones and occasionally sipping hot cocoa. Finally he looked at her. “So, uh, patrol tomorrow?”
“I guess.” Then she frowned. “Oh, wait, Angel is taking me ice skating.”
“Oh, okay. Maybe next time.” He yawned. “Mind walking me home?”
- Prison guard?
He turned the paper over. How the heck did they get from what he'd checked in the many weird-ass multiple choice questions that he would work well as a prison guard?
Matt Groening had it right, it seemed. They really weren't
interested in who you were, just what they could turn you into.
“Whatcha got?” Buffy flopped down bonelessly in the chair next to his. The student lounge was full of people, but it was a fairly official unofficial rule that the Scooby Gang always sat together. Thus the avoidance thing.
“Prison guard. I don't see how putting down that I like working with my hands somehow translates to 'likes breaking up fights between murder convicts'.”
She frowned. It was the mildly-not-happy frown. “They put me down as a cop
“You're too short.”
He gave her an entirely unrepentant grin. “Let's face it, none of this has any
bearing on our lives.”
“I guess.” Her frown deepened. “Feels like I'm trapped into this whole Slayage thing. Nobody ever asked
“I'd be all sympathetic but apparently I'm kinda stuck in it too, now. All because I was too stupid to stay at home and cower in fear.”
She looked at him with a thoughtful expression. “That really how you feel? That you're stupid? That you're trapped with me?”
“Uh...” He sighed, “I dunno. I'm not exactly a brainy guy. As for stuck with you, I guess it's okay. Could be worse, could be stuck with Harmony.”
“Oh, ew. Thanks for that
“You're welcome.” But he wasn't smiling. “I...it's weird. I mean, part of me resents you and all of this because I'll never be normal again. Kinda like you. But the rest of me kinda feels I got nobody to blame but me. I got involved. Me. And if that made me...whatever I am now, hey. Sucks to be me, but that's the way it goes.”
Her look was sympathetic, but also wary. Funny that they didn't really know each other like they should. They were friends, right? But he knew Willow a lot better than he knew her.
Finally he shook his head as if trying to clear out the cobwebs. “Whatever. At least nothing bad is going on. That'd really
make my day.”
They arrived much at the same time. The one-eyed half-breed, the woman of many faces, the man who was many.
...and, elsewhere, someone who was climbing out of a cargo hold and already wondering just exactly what a 'waste' of a resource was, because her back was killing her.