3.Thirty-eight Cook Avenue.
Pushing himself away from Mrs Martin, Xander desperately tried to pull up his jeans as he backed away from the hideous creature.
“Don't you find me attractive?” the monster that had formally been Mrs Martin tossed her head to get the long, lank strands of hair that had fallen across her face out of her eyes.
“Erm...” Xander looked around desperately for some sort of weapon; of course there was never anything close to hand when you needed it, “...hey, y'know how it is...” Xander backed towards the back door, “...never mix business with pleasure!”
“Men!” Mrs Martin stalked slowly towards where Xander stood, his jeans still half way between his knees and waist, “You're all the same...trying to run off when I show my true nature...”
With his back now resting against the door, Xander put his right hand behind his back to search for the door handle while his left still tugged frantically at his jeans.
“...I only need one more life...” Mrs Martin explained as she slowly got closer and closer to where Xander fumbled with the door handle, “...and I can remain in this world of humans forever...” suddenly Mrs Martin stopped moving and stood up straight, her demeanour changing in the blink of an eye. “Do you know what its like to live where I come from?”
“Erm...no!” Xander shook his head; by now he'd found the door knob, twisted it and discovered the door was locked, luckily the key was still in the lock.
“First there's all the sulphur fumes, so bad for the complexion...”
“Yeah I can see that,” twisting the key, Xander sighed with relief as he felt the door unlock and open.
“...and there's absolutely nowhere to shop!” continued Mrs Martin angrily.
In a flash, Xander could see what Mrs Martin was doing; she was distracting him as she crept closer and into pouncing range. With a bestial snarl, Mrs Martin leapt at Xander reaching for his throat with her long sharp talons. At the same time Xander pushed himself backwards and through the door as Mrs Martin landed where he'd been standing only a second before. Throwing himself at the door he managed to get it closed before Mrs Martin recovered her balance. Jamming the door handle with a broom, Xander backed away from the door as Mrs Martin pounded on the other side in her frustrated attempts to get at him.
“That should hold her for a while,” Xander told himself as he pulled up his jeans and secured his belt, “I guess we're not going to get the contract for the bathroom remodelling after all.”
Now properly dressed, Xander could concentrate on escape and calling down the wrath of the Slayer Organisation on to Mrs Martin's head. Checking his pockets for his mobile phone he remembered that he'd left it charging in his truck. Cursing himself for his stupidity he turned to find he was in the garage built onto the side of the house, there was no car but there were half a dozen desiccated bodies lying neatly stacked against the far wall; once again Xander screamed like a girl.
“OH MY GOD!” Xander found himself backing away from the bodies before he regained control of himself.
Pulling himself together once again, Xander stepped towards the bodies. There were six of them (obviously he would have been the seventh), there was a postman, a plumber (Xander could tell because the corpse still clutched a plunger in his hand), there was a woman (probably the real Mrs Martin) and another man who'd likely been the real Mrs Martin's husband. Before Xander could finish his inspection of the dead, Demonic Mrs Martin succeeded in getting the garage door open. With a yell half way between a scream of rage and a snarl, Mrs Martin jumped into the centre of the garage and turned to face Xander.
“Hello lover,” Mrs Martin's face twisted into facsimile of a smile, “not trying to get away now are you?”
Mrs Martin took a step towards Xander and got hit on the side of the head with a shovel for her pains. Unlike kitchens, garages tended to have things like shovels and garden implements just lying around and waiting for someone who was being chased by a monster to grab them. Staggering to one side at the force of the blow, Mrs Martin wasn't one-hundred percent ready to meet Xander's next swing with his shovel. However, she was ready enough to soak up some of the power of the hit and grab hold of the handle. Pulling the shovel from Xander's grasp she launched herself at him intent on sucking the life force from his body (and not in a nice way).
However, years of dodging vicious demons in Sunnydale saved Xander's life once again. Throwing himself to one side he landed on his shoulder and rolled back to his feet. Unfortunately he now found himself trapped in the corner of the garage with Mrs Martin between him and any hope of escape. Backing into the corner, Xander looked around desperately for another weapon, all he could see was another broom.
Managing to pick up the broom and hold it out in front of him, Xander caught Mrs Martin in the chest and held her in place as she snarled and took ineffectual swipes at his head with her clawed hands. While Mrs Martin (had she been asked) was in all likelihood in favour of shorter broom handles, Xander was definitely thinking that the standard broom handle needed to be at least two feet longer. Doing a sort of weird folk dance around each other, Xander kept the snarling Mrs Martin (she was one really unhappy customer) at bay with his broom as he manoeuvred himself towards another door.
With a cry of joy, Xander saw that the door was unbolted and had no lock. Pushing on the broom handle he managed to unbalance Mrs Martin enough for him to let go of the broom and throw himself at the door. With a heartfelt prayer of thanks to any gods that might be listening, he found the door opened easily. Hurling himself through the door, he slammed it closed behind him and leant against it; he felt Mrs Martin throw herself at the door in rage. The door opened enough for her to get one clawed hand around the edge. Weaponless, Xander was forced to bite the hand that wanted to feed on him. Spitting hair from his mouth he heard Mrs Martin scream in pain as she rapidly withdrew her hand.
Finding himself in the back garden, Xander looked for something to barricade the door with. It was just his luck that there was nothing in reach. Trusting to his luck (and he really should have know better considering what his luck had been like up to now), he let go of the door and sprinted around the garage to where he hoped his truck was still parked. Skidding around the garage, Xander heard the door slam open and became aware of Mrs Martin's excited breathing just behind him. Wishing he'd done more sport at high school or taken up some active pass time since he'd come to England, Xander ran as fast as he could. Coming around the last corner he saw his truck parked in the road exactly where he'd left it. However, he could also feel Mrs Martin's hot, rancid breath on the back of his neck. Digging the keys out of his pocket as he ran, Xander pointed it at the truck and pressed the button on the side of the key. There was a 'Beep-beep' sound as the truck's lights flashed and its doors unlocked.
With a cry of hope Xander's hand came into contact with the handle on the door of the truck. Pulling it open he climbed aboard before slamming the door behind him and locking it and the passenger door. Fumbling to put the key into the ignition he noticed for the first time that Mrs Martin hadn't followed him out onto the road. Obviously if her neighbours found out that she was, in reality a life-force sucking fiend from hell they wouldn't invite her to any more diner parties or coffee mornings. Looking back towards the house, Xander saw no sign of Mrs Martin and started to relax as he caught his breath. Picking up his mobile from where it lay under the dash board, he hit the speed dial for Slayer Central.
“Hello,” Buffy's voice came like a breath of fresh air to Xander's ear, “you have reached the Slayer monster hotline...”
“Damn it!” Xander cursed, he'd reached the slayer answering service.
“...if you wish to report a vampire press one...” Buffy's voice continued, “If you wish to report a fiend from the very pit of hell, press two...for other suspected supernatural creatures press three, for an extra terrestrial menace press four...”
Xander waited with growing impatience as recorded Buffy went through her list until she finally got to...
“If you wish to report an attack by a soul or life force sucking fiend, press 15...”
Pressing '15' on his key pad, Xander couldn't help thinking that Buffy should maybe simplify the reporting procedure.
“Hello,” Buffy's voice changed tone slightly, “you have now reached the 'attacked by a soul or life force sucking fiend' section of the menu, at the sound of the tone please leave your name, a telephone number where you can be contacted and a short description of the fiend and where it was last seen.” Xander took a deep breath and was just about to leave his message when recorded Buffy interrupted him, “The Slayer Organisation thanks you for your call, remember that without your help we cannot save the world from the weird and wacky. If you'd like to become part of the fight against the unnatural or wish to donate money or goods to the Slayer Organisation call the number given at the end of this message. Once again the Slayer Organisation thanks you for your call.”
By the time the tone sounded, Xander had almost forgotten why he'd called in the first place. After giving his message, Xander hung up and looked at his phone. He couldn't help thinking that Buffy and the guys were getting just a little too 'corporate' for his liking.0=0=0=0
Secure in the knowledge that a slayer would be dispatched to 'deal' with Mrs Martin in an extremely bloody and unpleasant way, Xander drove back to the builder's yard. He'd have to explain to Bob that they wouldn't be getting the contract for Mrs Martin's remodelled bathroom and new patio due to her being a fiend from the hellmouth. As it turned out Bob took the news philosophically and told Xander that he could take the rest of the afternoon off if he wanted.
Feeling a little drained after his previous nights amorous adventures with Charlotte and nearly being drained of his life force by Mrs Martin, Xander headed for home. After making himself lunch, he spent most of the afternoon tidying up his flat and doing his laundry. He'd let the place get a little messy over the last week or two. He'd been thinking that if he got to invite Charlotte over to his apartment again it might be a good idea to show her he wasn't a slob or insensitive to a young woman's needs; with this in mind he changed his sheet and duvet cover just in case.
Sitting down with a cup of tea, Xander noticed that it was nearly five o'clock. Searching his pockets he found the piece of paper with Charlotte's phone number on it. He could tell from the numbers that it was a mobile line but couldn't remember whether she'd said if she'd be at home or work.
“Charlotte Wood?” Xander asked after he'd dialled the number.
“Wow,” came a familiar feminine voice from the other end of the line, “you're improving, you can actually remember my name now.”
“It helps once I've seen it written down,” Xander replied, “I was wondering if you were free tonight?”
“That depends on what you've got in mind,” Charlotte replied; Xander could hear the smile in her voice.
“Oh, I thought a movie and then dinner or we could do the equally exiting diner followed by a movie.”
“Oh that's a difficult one,” Charlotte mused, “I think a movie and then diner, that way we can talk about the movie while we're eating.”
“Sounds good to me,” Xander confirmed as his heart did celebratory back flips in his chest.
“But I'll only go out with you on one condition,” Charlotte announced.
“One condition?” Xander repeated hesitantly, “What sort of condition?”
“That you don't expect me to jump into bed with you at the end of the evening,” Charlotte explained, “last night I needed some love and attention, you see I'd had an aggressively bad day. I don't normally go to bed with guys on a first date...”
“Okay,” Xander replied slowly, it could have been worse, she might have said 'no' to the movie and dinner thing, “I can live with that...I mean I can understand that.”
“I'd like to get to know you better before we try out the sex part of our relationship again,” Charlotte explain, “you understand that don't you?”
“Yeah,” Xander sighed resignedly, “I guess I do...so, where can I pick you up?”0=0=0=0
Humming softly to herself Charlotte washed the blood from her hands and forearms as she reminisced about her date with Xander the previous evening. They'd gone to the cinema and he'd let her chose the film and hadn't complained once about it being a chick-flic-rom-com. After the film they'd gone to a very nice Indian restaurant and had an extremely pleasant meal. Over their food, Xander explained how he'd come to live in England; Charlotte had a feeling he was holding something back about this but she hadn't pressed him for details, that would come later. After they'd finished their meal, Xander had been a perfect gentleman and driven her home; at least he'd driven her to the address she'd claimed was her home. He'd not tried to pressure her into going back to his flat and going to bed with him again. This was good because if he had and he'd not taken 'no' for an answer she would have had to kill him and she really didn't want to do that. Well not until after she'd found out why he was lying to her and even then she might not kill him.
Whatever, the evening had ended with a chased kiss on 'her' doorstep and Charlotte watching the tail lights of his truck as it drove to the end of the road, turned the corner and vanished into the night. Alone now, Charlotte walked quickly to where she'd parked her car and drove herself home; she still had work to do that night before she could go to bed. Luckily these days she didn't seem to need so much sleep as she once had.
Picking up a hand towel, Charlotte dried her hands as she studied the body all wrapped up in plastic sheeting on the floor of her cellar. Although she'd parcelled up the body she would still need to dispose of it and clean up the blood that stained the floor and walls of her basement interrogation room. It had taken four or five hour of 'vigorous' interrogation for the woman to admit to being a witch. Why, she asked herself, did they try to deny it? She could always feel the darkness in their souls like some malignant beast waiting, coiled ready to entrap the unwary. Waiting to entangle people like Xander in their webs of deceit and darkness...and hadn't Xander mentioned that one of his American friends was a 'Wicca'? Charlotte frowned, she'd need to look into that.
But this could all wait until tomorrow. In the afternoon she'd put the body in the back of her car and drive it up to the moors where she'd dispose of it in that old, flooded quarry she'd found. When she came home from getting rid of the body, she'd have to clean up down here before starting to look for her next target, perhaps she'd look at this wicca 'friend' of Xander's.
But that was for tomorrow, hanging up the towel to dry she picked up her watch and checked the time. Gasping she looked at the watch, she'd not realised how late it was, or early, it depended how you looked at things. However, she still had enough time to get two or three hours sleep before she had to go to work in the morning. Funny, she thought as she headed for the stairs that led up in to the house, funny how time seemed to fly by while you were having fun.The End...for now?Author's end note.
As you may have noticed there isn't a real conclusion to this fic, just a set up for the next fic. I intent to write at least one, probably two more fics concerning Xander and Charlotte. The finale I'm planning will be much longer fic and will star more of the usual 'Grim Up North' characters in a welter of blood and death...I might even make it the finale for the 'Grim Up North 2' series, I'll have to see how it goes.
These Xander-fics will be scattered about throughout the GUN2 series and not have very much to do with the main set of stories other than share the GUN2 background...until the final explosion of blood and gore!!!!MAW-HA-HA!
Sorry did I say that out loud? Anyway I'll stop now as these notes are in danger of being as long as the actual fic...