No Plan Ever Survives –
Chapter 9: No Plan Ever Survives –
Tuesday August 4, 1998; Sunnydale High School outdoor Girl's Basketball Court, near midnight.
First contact with the enemy came just as the last encounter had – in a rush. Despite their preparations, it was a near unexpected rush: only the distance the Durslar had to cover from whatever sewer exit it emerged from and the open space around the basketball court gave them time to ready themselves.
The Durslar beast soaked up the arrows and Faith's crossbow bolts without slowing overmuch. A second and third volley did slow it down a bit, or at least cause it to voice its displeasure with an ear shattering roar, and then it burst through the chain link fencing in a shrieking yellow rush of claws and talons.
Faith managed to reload for one last bolt before dropping the crossbow and lunging in with axe and knife, as Cordelia backpedaled away to one side. Xander and Oz split to each side of the beast while Faith went in low, smashing her axe into a supporting leg's kneecap.
A clawed hand smashed – knuckle side first, fortunately – in a backhand against Faith's head and shoulder and knocked her rolling and dazed across the concrete. Xander chopped into the other knee with the edge of the Acathla sword and yellowish ichor spurt out in an arc across him. Unfortunately, although the knee buckled, it didn't go down.
Oz yelled, and slashed at it with his axe, distracting it from gutting Xander like a fish as Xander dropped hastily and rolled – losing his sword in the process. Xander managed to recover the sword and clamber to his feet as Faith came up, shaking her head. Xander's eyes widened as it ignored him and lifted an arm to slash at a woozy looking Faith, and he stepped in between them, blocking the arm with a two hand sword hack that stopped the blow but sent him smashing to the ground. Faith screamed and buried her long bladed dagger into the beast's groin with an upward slash and kicked it away from the supine boy.
After a near slash from a clawed hand left Oz's shirt shredded and showing bleeding stripes across his chest, it ignored him and turned back to the chanting Giles and Willow within the spell circle...
... only to stop, both hands clawing at its face when a bolt from Cordelia sank into its eye socket. Xander's next sword stroke came in from behind, biting into its leg just above the ankle just as it staggered back, and Faith's shoulder hit it in the mid-section, driving it backwards and away from the chanting spell casters. A taloned hand raked across Xander's back as it staggered back and away under Faith's onslaught.
It fell, and as it attempted to clamber to its feet past a snarling, cursing Faith hacking two-handed at its shoulders and neck, Giles and Willow's voice came together in a shout of some unintelligible sound.
There was a rush of wind and a fetid stench. The candles around the spell circle flared high and then guttered out – and the Durslar beast vanished in a flare of otherworldly light.
"Oz!" Willow ran out of the circle and fell to her knees next to the bleeding musician. She began pulling up his shirt to see how bad the cuts were.
Faith took a deep breath, and got back to her feet while Cordelia shoved a protesting Xander back to the ground on his stomach so she could look at the claw marks he hadn't been aware he'd gained.
Giles came up beside Faith, letting out a ragged breath and taking off his glasses to let them dangle absently from one hand.
"Well, that certainly went well," he remarked.
"You think?" Faith shook her head and grinned up at him.
"Well, yes." Giles nodded. He looked down at her and gave her a tired smile, "On the Xander scale of apocalypse prevention, I'd say that rates at least
an 'oh my' and quite possibly a 'good show'."
Boys (and girls) of Summer: EpilogueWednesday August 5, 1998; Sunnydale General Hospital, Early AM.
"You guys should look into getting group discounts here," Faith remarked. She slumped tiredly into a chair in the emergency room waiting area.
"We've tried, but you wouldn't believe
how many concussion coupons it takes for a free stitching," Cordelia said. She glanced sideways at the tired librarian sitting across from her. "Giles almost qualifies, though."
"Oh, thank you, Cordelia," Giles said. "Please do mock my unfortunate tendency to be rendered unconscious on a frequent basis."
Faith and Cordelia looked at each other, then back at Giles. "Mock, mock, mock.. " They said, in unison, and snickered.
"Hah." Giles favored them with a tolerant glare.
Willow came back out and gave everyone a tired smile, and slumped in a seat next to Giles. "Hey."
"Oz all right?" Faith asked.
"Oh – no deep cuts. Just disinfecting and a few dozen stitches." Willow shook her head, "I think Xander just set the hospital record for the most butterfly sutures in one sitting, though."
Faith winced. "Sorry," she mumbled.
Willow looked at her, and shook her head. "It's really
not your fault. It was a pretty good plan."
Faith shook her head, scowling.
"No. Really," Willow gave Faith a stubborn look. "That's how you know you're officially a female Scooby – when Xander launches himself between you and something with way too many teeth." The little hacker grinned, "He's ok, honest – he's already trying to joke the nurses into letting him out."
"She's right," Cordelia said, "It's a Xander thing." Getting a surprised look from Willow, Cordelia rolled her eyes. "Oh, please, Willow. I'm too tired to snipe at you for once. Enjoy it while it lasts."
Faith's lips twitched several times, and finally a smile broke out. "He really is a doof, isn't he?"
"Yeah, but he's a pretty brave Xander-shaped doof," Willow beamed. She sobered slightly, and gave Faith a serious examination. Giles glanced at the three girls, excused himself and stood to head over to the coffee vending machine.
"What?" Faith raised her eyebrows.
"Did you mean what you said out there?"
"What?' Faith asked, honestly puzzled.
"The... partners thing," Willow said.
"Well, yeah," Faith nodded. "Tomorrow or next week, I might change my mind, but for now? I'm good to give it a try." She smirked, recapturing her old insouciance, "As long as you guys don't screw me over, I'm good to go back, y'know?"
Willow studied her carefully, then leaned forward and stuck her hand out. Faith looked at it, surprised, then shook it gravely.
"No need to get all formal, Red."
Willow shook her head. "No, I wasn't real fair to you. And you've been trying real hard, too." She looked at Cordelia, who arched an eyebrow back at her. "To you either, Cordy. You've really been helping, and I've been too busy looking for the catch to appreciate it."
"Oh, pshaw." Cordelia waved it off, negligently, but Faith at least could see the secretly pleased look in the toffee colored eyes. "I'm just biding my time until the pods in our basement get ripe."
Willow gaped at her and then started giggling.
"What?!? I can't watch some dumb old sci-fi movie and work it into a joke?"
made a joke?" Xander's voice had a mock disbelieving tinge to it. "A geek
"Funny one, too," Faith said, nodding. "Wasn't even at your expense, neither." He gave her a puzzled look, and then grinned at Cordelia.
"It was probably just the pods talking," Willow told him earnestly.
Xander looked down at the painkiller prescription in his hand. "I'm not sure I can cope with this on drugs." He sobered and looked at Willow, "Oz should be out in a few and we can head out."
"Yay." Cordelia grabbed him by the shirtsleeve. "Sit down, Doof."
"Yes, dear," Xander smirked at her and sat down gingerly, putting his arm across her shoulders. He winced slightly, but decided it was worth the pain.
"Ok, so – monster dealt with, post trauma care done," Faith leaned back tiredly. "What do we do tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow is sleeping in followed by the traditional Post-Slay party," Xander said, "Since we're all too much about to fall asleep now and it's almost three AM."
"I vote for a beach bonfire," Oz put in, wandering up with a sleepily blinking Giles beside him.
"Sounds good," Faith nodded. "Weenie roast?"
"No, I say burgers," Cordelia suggested. "We keep Xander out of fires and unroasted." She stuck her tongue out at Xander as Faith started snickering.
"Let's do go home, children," Giles said. "I am far too tired to consider appropriate Xander recipes at this time of morning."
"Eh too, Giles?"
To be Continued in “Night Watchmen” Episode 1b: “The Chicago Way”