Chapter 2: Are You There God? It's Me, Buffy…?
See Chapter 1 for Disclaimer
I can't prove it, but I can say it. Stephen Colbert
I leaned against the tree trunk, the bark was rough but the uneven knots and valleys were comforting. I took inventory of my body, assured myself that all parts were accounted for, that I could feel pain since I’d been pinching myself a million times while trying to understand what the bloody hell was going on.
Real, I was real. Well, duh
, I thought. My nose wrinkled. A smell, a nice one, filtered through. It smelled…familiar. I looked back at my hole, noticing the worn grass near it and the tree. Someone had been there recently. And the smell was familiar. I frowned. I'd had better smell than most but, this was different? In fact, I could smell the bark, the leaves, each had a scent. Okay. Freaky. Since when did my sense of smell suddenly become as good as a basset hound? I inhaled, in which I could feel my chest strive to expand but really didn’t need to. When I exhaled, it wasn’t really necessary. A part of me whispered: stop doing that. It's pointless.
That wasn't normal. Yeah, I thought then gave it good thorough thought exercise. Oh yeah, far beyond normal. Far, very way far from normal. So what was going on with me?
I remembered…it came and went….yeah, brain still shutdown. It couldn’t have been long, right? A day? Maybe two? I felt mostly fine and my Slayer skills would protect me form extreme damage. At least, that’s what Giles said and he never lied to me yet. Well, except for that whole Cruciamentum moment but that had totally been the Watchers’ Council’s doing. And that I'd been buried and I wasn't breathing. Still, I held Giles to a high standard. If he said it was possible, no matter the circumstances, he'd better be right!
I looked back at the cemetery. I looked at my body. I wasn’t wasted away. I was tired, sure, but not exhausted. I wasn’t hungry. I frowned. As a Slayer, I could withstand a lot more bombardment than normal people, including food and water deprivation. But even I would eventually succumb to Mother Nature. But I guessed that I couldn't have been six feet under for more than a week. A nagging, persistent uneasiness began to find itself a hole in my mind.
I stared at all the neat and tidied rows of gravestones, huge mausoleums taking up prime dead real estate. I recognized a few of the statues, many which had pictures of the dead on them. I saw no flowers by some of the headstones, and many, I realized as I really looked, were graying, vandalized and mostly neglected. But this cemetery being a familiar hunting ground, it managed to look very different. Bigger, more depressing. Sinister even. And it wasn’t even all the fond slaying memories either, it was just…filled with something that gave me the willies.
I coughed, and a puff of the dirt came out. "Yuk," I said, spitting out as much as good but my mouth was bone dry. I tried coughing out some more but it soon became a tiresome workout. I guess coughing out dirt required more than just knowing the motion. Like air. In my lungs. I remembered some biology project I’d done, well, Xander and I had let Will do for us, in which case we totally rocked that shit, but now I had trouble recalling the all important thing about breathing and how necessary it was to be, well, alive. Didn’t talking require breathing, too? I wished I’d paid better attention to biology, or Will’s notes for biology, or her tutoring lessons.
As I was pondering with life-shattering revelations, I was crudely and rudely interrupted.
“Get down on your knees." Pause. "Bitch!” I heard a slight accent with that last word. Twangy. “Now. Bitch
.” Ah…No, nope. Cheesy, wannabe, gang-banger twang.
I turned. “Seriously? Seriously
.” He threw something at me at me. How…unbelievably rude. Really hard too, whatever he’d thrown at me. I stared at my left shoulder. It felt funny, then I stared at what he’d chucked at
me like a projectile missile. A rock. As big as my fist. I looked at my shoulder again. The cloth was torn to pieces but it wasn’t even bleeding. I got worried. Just a wee bit because I was a Slayer and all but even Slayers bleed, felt bruises from rocks as big as my fist chucked at them. I liked to be cautious sometimes, when the unexpected was happening to me
. I gave this idiot an annoyed glare.
“On your knees, cunt.” He laughed.
I was unimpressed. And thoroughly disgusted and offended by his vulgar inappropriate language.
“Beg for your life…" He thought of another adjective. 'Whore! And I might let you live.” Vampire. No doubt but his face wasn't…normal. Still, I knew it before I’d set eyes on him. Slayer spidey-senses, I guess. He also reeked. Not just of bad BO but blood, fresh blood, dried, crusted over blood. And old things too. I stared at him unenthusiastically, deciding what to do. And not at all concerned. Hell, I was still considering my hole in the ground and all that jazz. And worrying about other stuff. Like that smell which would not go away!
“Fuck off, ye little undead pussy," I spat. That threw him, much to my pleasure. I pretended at how I too could throw uncouth epithets anyone that slung them at me first. The vampire was about my height, white like sand, with sandy hair and glowing eyes. And he was skinnier than me. With a bad haircut imitation of Vanilla Ice. Even though he was putting a lot of effort at insulting me while threatening me, I just waited for him to get a clue that I wasn’t scared of him. However, he was not fazed. At all. A stupid vampire, now why wasn’t I surprised?
“Last chance, ah, loser.” He licked his canines, then snarled. It was a well played creepy-crawly laugh.
Somehow, I’d heard better. In my line of work, there’s a Badass, then there’s me, Super Badass. And those in our class, didn’t need to have cheesy laugh to get our point across.
“What do you want
?” I said, irritated, and now, plain confused on a different line. Not about him really, more concerning my particular situation. He was just messing up my awakening moment. Or had I risen? Whatever. “I’m having a day--er--” I looked up, around, “--I mean, a night from hell so just get lost. And I won’t…stake…you….”
I did a double take. I looked up again, with a question. It was starry night, a bright navy blue with some really weird reddish and black clouds. I saw no moon but it seemed so much brighter than it should have been at nighttime. Was the sun coming up soon? I heard him move. Maybe I could wait him out. He advanced.
Guess not. He was getting angry, I could tell, that I wasn't complying, or begging for my life. But again, dead girl risen--way more complicated things to worry about. He watched me, face set at a snarl but not in attack mode, not yet. It was as though he was giving me a chance to reconsider. Waiting with this expectant look, like I’d submit. When hell froze over, I thought. I also was in no mood for a fight. I wasn't really sure how I'd do and testing myself this soon, without backup, I don't think so. "Go. Away."
Then he went onto Vampire Cliché Number 2. Why me? “Uh, well...I’m going to gut you, then bleed you dry.”
“Really now?” I said dryly. “I’m shakin’ in me boots, uh, shoe.”
‘Yeah, well, you’re a goner and my meal.” He rubbed his stomach. “Yum-yum, yummy in my tummy.” For a vampire, as was typical, they lacked any sense of originality. However--
“Ew. I’m not anyone's meal, thanks.” I made a face, and waved him away. I realized I might have to fight him. “Go away before I squash you like a bug that you are.” Yes, yes, I know. So sue me. More clichés, but I had
just climbed out of my coffin. I was allowed to fall back on the basics.
Oy, my coffin. That sounded wrong. Then he just came at me, snarling sound effects and all. I blinked. Yeah. Fast, I grant, but not fast enough. Instinct is sometimes the real hammer to the nail. My fist went through, and I mean, through his chest, past his skin like filigree and lace, then muscle and finally, through bone. And in the process, I took his heart along with it.
The look of shock and pain was brief, then viola!
, dust and dust ye shall return. And good riddance. I paused, hand still fisted and stuck out in front me. The dust poofed around me and I moved aside. I didn't need more dirt on me, thanks. I was thinking about the number of times I’d done that--killing bare-handed. Not many. I always broke a nail. Stakes were soooo useful in that way.
Then I busied myself with shaking off the vampire dust from my hand and my arm vigorously. And it floated all around me, and I could feel it settle around my nose but not entering. Instead, the expired vamp dust made a new home in my ears and annoy my eyes. I moved back some more.
My shoulder felt pinched, but otherwise, I felt fine. I mean, I still kicked ass. I wiped my hand on my skirt, the heart the last thing to go and it had crumbled in my palm like powder. And now, it was just clinging everywhere on me like a second skin. Ick. The dust from the rest of him, though, I had to keep batting at the poofy dust-filled air. Whatever slight wind there was, it wasn’t moving it along.
Why was it that the first thing I did, rising from the dead (or maybe I hadn’t?), was go and kill something? Or something finding me, waiting, then tried to kill me? In the end, someone had to die. And it was going to me. Again.
I started my trek out of the cemetery, heading towards the entrance with the big wrought iron gates and stone pillars on either side. It gave the place a true gothic sense.
I didn’t make it even half way before I heard a loud noise coming from my left. I looked. I squinted and got the general idea of their shapes. They were about five miles away still, but a couple of these figures were moving fast. There were about half a dozen of my fellow fanged friends, and they were in hunting mode. How’d they know already?
I faced them, hands on hips, waiting. What now?
I didn’t have to wait long, they moved preternaturally fast and one of them, probably Mr. Lead Guy himself, came up at me, so that there was a rush of air that had been chasing after him, cascaded over me. My skirt ruffled and even my hair was pulled back. Impressive.
He was twenty feet back, and stared at me, expressionless. Then he pointed to me. “You’re completely covered with Felix. DAMN YOU!” Which sounded disgusting put that way. I took a step back. Not in fear, but uncertainty. He was definitely a vampire, but…off. The fangs, the weird vamp transformation…all there, unlike Felix, and yet, his eyes glowed green and he didn’t feel
right. As he said, “You will die now,” with dramatic Terminator flare, another vampire strolled toward us. Confidence, I had to admit, looked good on anyone.
I raised a brow. “Of course I will,” I said dryly, crossing my arms across my chest. Lead Guy gave me a slightly uncertain look of his own. But I held my ground though. “I was just minding my own business and getting out of my hole in the ground when your friend just attacked me, for no good reason. So you see, I had to defend myself.” I paused. “We are talking about the wee little bite of a former vamp, right?”
The others came up, finally. Slow pokes, all of them. As I looked at them, I realized why. They weren’t all vampires. Only Mr. Lead Guy and one other, who was, I could tell, young, newly made. The others were of a demonic species I’d never seen in my entire life. A couple of the human looking jerks, their eyes flashed yellowish. At that realization, I knew that something was way, way off. And whatever lightness I’d had, was gone, and I had no coping mechanism left, other than slaying.
They seemed to sense it, because they began spanning out, all around me in a widening arch, closely resembling a circle minute by minute. I dropped my arms to my side and moved my left foot back a bit.
One of them addressed Mr. Lead Guy, but in a language that I could understand. Demonic language, maybe, and it sounded like he was dying.
“Hey,” I said, “official language is English. I actually would like to know what you think you can try to do to me.”
“Are you one of them?” Mr. Lead Guy said. He was bulky, in death, as well as in life. And white as white bread, short blonde hair and ice blue eyes, a la
Barry Pepper. He was wearing the standard thug uniform, black t-shirt, jeans, boots, scars, I’m-going-to-rip-you-apart-and-suck-all-the-blood-out-of-you, stare.
“One of who?”
“Oh that’s real clear now,” I said sarcastically.
“It doesn’t matter,” said the one who’d spoken to Mr. Lead Guy, aka, Barry Pepper. “She’s coming with us--”
“Smell that?’ Barry cut in. “Silver. And Holy water. She reeks of it.”
I lifted in arm, and took a whiff but my lungs didn't comply but I could smell. Really? Silver and holy water? I sniffed. Huh that.
“Yes. Definitely…interesting. Usable.” It was another one again, the younger vampire. The others, two which looked human, but I so knew weren't, one that looked like an upright gigantic lizard, and the last one which reminded me the classic Devil with pitchforks, poking the asses of the damned and giggling happily. The younger vampire reminded me of a young James Woods. Which was creepy in vampire form. “We could use a hostage as leverage. SG1 always make their quota, let’s give them a reason to take a holiday.” Okay. Looked young, spoke psycho killer smooth.
“I have a problem with that,” I broke in, eyeing my circle of captors. I’m the Slayer, I can handle this. Six against one, I can do this
. I told that to myself in a song, and then it turned into a prayer as they advanced. All six of them.
That sweet smell that I kept catching in the light breeze came at me again, which distracted me. I relaxed, the powerful sense of recognition so maddening, I tried to seek out the source, even as they came at me, and I could feel them move towards me en masse
It was like slow motion, and surreal, not real at all. The lizard guy suddenly keeled over, gushing neon orange blood all over the ground. He twitched and floundered, fighting like hell to hang on. The two vamps disappeared in a blink of an eye. Normal looking Joe Schmo just went pop!, and very gone. The Devil Man, however, ran for it and as I watched him, I felt a rush of a body pass me and the slender backside of a shadowed figure, all in black and Ninja quiet and all business. And a weird looking gun, in hand, and from what I could tell, even far away, it was morphing into something stranger.
I watched, stunned. And I was still standing there like an idiot, instead…oh, I don’t, following suite and getting the hell out of dodge. But I couldn’t, and didn’t. The Lizard monster was gurgling that orange stuff, which, I swear, was reaching for me. There was a bright line from him/it/her/whatever, and bee-lining for me. I moved. It moved. I took a step back, it just moved faster.
“On my…what the…” Okay, seriously, I was still calm, but quickly moving towards panicking.
I heard a noise, and was afraid to look up for it. Every time I moved, it just trailed, but faster.
“What the freak!” I bellowed, hopping away as it tried to jump
at me. Jump, I say!
“Stop moving!” the figure said, running at break neck speed and impossibly fast for a human. “You’re just enticing it further!”
Oh yeah, great advice, I thought, agitated beyond belief, though I did slow down, wondering if she wasn’t out for me based purely on principle. She slowed, gun out and for a second, it seemed to be pointed at me, then she moved it to the general area of my legs. And fired. Thinking I was going to lose a limb, I back rolled back, then jerked at a sharp angle, still rolling then propelled myself back up to my feet. It put me three o’clock rather than at six o’clock, with my mysterious savior (?), potential sparring foe (?), at ten o’clock.
She was standing by the Lizard heap, and toeing it with a black-claded boot.
I stared at where I’d been. The orange goo was about knee level on me, and suspended in mid air, and, I noticed, on attack vector. The orange thing had been…alive. It eventually fell to the ground, inert. Gross, gross, gross.
“You okay?” She dropped her gun hand. A radio crackled and she picked it up, muttering something into it. I couldn’t make out the voices on either end, so I didn’t try. Very professional, very uber secret agent-like. It was interesting, but I was weary. There’d been a lot of killing in what had to be less than thirty minutes. When the First Slayer had said death was my gift, did she have to be so goddamned literal about it?
I looked at my hero, masked, female, and staring at me like I’d sprouted a head, maybe a few eyes. Warts, maybe? I patted myself down, face too. All things considering, I was okay.
“Thanks…really. Saved the day,” I said conversationally. Her staring was making me twitchy. I raised my right arm in victory. “Power to the female and all that, right?” I dropped my hand when she didn’t do or say anything. “Um. Hello? Anyone home?”
The figure still said nothing. And she stared at me, through the two eyelets of her mask. Her breath came out in thick puffs. That’s when I realized that, oh hey, it was actually chilly. I looked at the ground. Oh yeah, no wonder I’d had one hell of time getting out, and why the ground had been so cakey and difficult to get through, yet easy to grab a hold onto.
“You’ve mud and grass all over you,” she observed quietly, almost whispering but I heard well. The voice grabbed my attention. As did that familiar smell.
,’ I said shouted, realizing I’d finally discovered my source. She flinched. When I next spoke, I used my quieter voice. “I smelled you before, at my, ah, grave…um…you must be wearing some kind of fragrance or something. It’s really strong.”
“No. You got it wrong,” she said flatly, her voice somewhat high and quivering.
“Oh.” It wasn’t BO. She smelled clean, but there was something else. Tangy, sweet even, but earthy. It was a lovely smell, actually. “Well, you smell nice,” I added conversationally and with a shrug. I watched her. She was…shaking. Not in fear though, that much I could tell.
She pulled of her mask, the long tail of her ponytail unfurling out. My jaw went slack. At first, the strong sense of familiarity yet not, hit me like a baseball bat to the head. I studied her face. It dawned on me as she took a step back, her body tense.
“Oh my god--!” I gasped but it came out in in a wheeze. I came forward, arms out for a hug, then stopped abruptly. Happiness, mingled with surprised confusion, flooded me, even as she raised that weird sci-fi-y gun, which was currently pointed at the general direction of my chest. That was not a friendly hello to an old friend in my book.
“I don’t wear perfume,” she said, her voice cold. “You’re smelling my blood, vampire.”
Huh? Vampire? She had to have meant VAMPIRE Slayer. “Uh. Not really.” Right? I felt my teeth. No fangage going on. I felt my face, it felt okay, not wrinkly at all. I didn't have a blood lust urge. I just wanted to hug my friend. Who was pointing a gun at me like I
was the monster. Wait, this was all wrong, very, very
wrong! I faltered, shocked, stunned, scared. The three S’s. And I’d thought them. Bad, bad news. “But…Will,” I said, confused, worried. “What are you…doing?”
She’d raised her weird Star-Trek gun thingy. At my head. “My job.” Doubly alarmed at this violent display, and odd behavior from Willow, I took a step back.
“Will,” I said, pleading. “It’s me. Buffy.”
“I know,” she said, very quietly, with no inflection or emotion in her voice. “And now. You’re going to die." She paused, sighing. "Um, I mean, again.” Her face turned mean. "And for good!"
And that, coming from Willow Rosenberg, my very bestest friend in the world, mingled with a look of fear and rage I’d never seen on her before, didn’t sound so lame to me at all. In fact, it was down right scary.