Yay, I finally updated! Big thanks to my beta Runt for being willing to jump right back into this after almost a year, and thanks to everyone who reviewed, even after I didn't update in so long. Promise the next chapter won't take nearly so long.
Four hours of sleep is not enough. Ever. No amount of caffeine can make four hours of sleep be enough. Unfortunately, no one has ever successfully explained this to Giles, who was responsible for the evil phone call that woke me up at nine thirty in the morning. After four fucking hours of sleep. He said everyone, minus Spike, who was tucked away in a dark closet, would be on their way to my apartment to start the research for our demon hunt. After four fucking hours of sleep. But, hey, he's all British, and probably doesn't understand that we don't wake up at nine if we get home at five. So, I fought the urge to kill him on site and crawled my ass out of bed. After four fucking hours of sleep. Then I got the really bad news.
Richard is a morning person. He actually showed up at my door before Giles, Faith and Xander. Maybe I spent too many years working with slayers, working way too many nights, but morning people should be shot on sight. Unless they happen to make, sell, or deliver caffeinated beverages. Which is why Richard gets to live. He brought coffee. That, and lets face it, any guy who can manage not to run screaming when you answer the door in an oversize t-shirt with a towel on your head during the not-even-really-dating-yet stage is worth keeping around. Especially if he's hot. And has coffee. Did I mention the four hours of sleep thing? Kind of makes one caffeine-focused.
Being the non-morning person I am, I was embarrassingly non-verbal. I opened the door and stood back to let him pass. I think I may have managed a smile, I'm not really sure. He definitely smiled as he walked in.
"Hey you." God, that voice. How could he be so damn sexy. He couldn't have gotten anymore sleep than me.
"Hey back at ya. Um, not that I'm not happy to see you, or the wonderful coffee, but why are you here so early?" He laughed. That deep, wonderful, sexy laugh of his. Apparently, I amused the hell out of him.
"Actually, I came to see if I could help out. I figured Mr. Giles would have had your friends out of bed on working by now."
It was my turn to laugh. He only met Giles last night, but he had him pegged.
"He does, and they're on they're way here. You sit, I'm gonna go get dressed."
I turned and made my way to the bedroom, under the assumption that he could find the couch on his own. He was a big boy after all, and I did have a towel on my head. I needed real clothes and a blow dryer. Now. Before the butterflies in my stomach learned how to actually lift me off the floor. And, wow, now I sound like a teenager with a crush, even in my own head.
By the time I was dressed and had my hair dried and combed, everyone was there, and there was a huge stack of books covering most of my coffee table. Which was a little inconvenient. Mostly because there would be questions regarding why, exactly, Richard was already there when Giles knew for a fact that I didn't wake up until he called me. Yay.
In reality, Giles did ask pretty much that exact question, but, being Giles, he was more tactful than that. Even if there was a little bit of 'Daddy Ripper' in his tone when he asked.
"Mr. Zeeman. What brings you here so early this morning?"
Richard got big points for not withering under The Glare. I had seen many a potential boyfriend fold under that particular glare, running for the hills before they even met Buffy the Boyfriend Intimidator. Then again, Richard wasn't some stupid teenage boy. That didn't necessarily mean he shouldn't be afraid of Giles, only that he probably didn't realize he should be. I was actually working on casually putting myself between them, positive Giles wouldn't do anything stupid if he actually had to go through me to do it, when Richard answered with that big boy-next-door smile of his.
"Just came to see if I could help out with the demon hunt."
Giles said nothing, but picked up the largest tome from the piles on the table and handed it to Richard. Richards smile never wavered as he accepted it and sat himself down at the end of the couch.
"We are obviously looking for a demon who can spit acid, yet apparently does not consume it's victims." With one last glare in Richard's direction, Giles took a seat on the cushion chair opposite the couch. Faith was lying on her stomach on the floor, absently flipping pages of the book she was supposed to be searching. I sat on the couch, between Richard and Xander. We passed the next few hours flipping pages, finding every type of demon except the one we were looking for. Xander, Faith and I took turns pointing out the weird, gross, or just plain wrong looking demons we came across. I could tell Giles was getting annoyed with our clowning, but he didn't say anything. I'm sure he must have realized we were just trying to ease the tension we all felt over not finding what we needed.
After hours of no luck, and running out of coffee, we were ready to give up. We had exhausted the books that Giles had brought with him, with still no idea what we were up against. Just as I dropped the last book onto the pile of searched books, my cell phone rang. The shrill sound made me jump. It was on the forth ring before I was finally able to answer it.
"Dawnie? It's Willow."
"Hey Will, what's the what?"
"You need to check your email. I think I found our demon, and I sent all the information I have."
"That's awesome! We've pretty much run out of dusty books to look in."
"Well, if this is the demon we're looking for, we've got bigger problems than just finding it. This doesn't look like something we can just point a slayer at."
"Why? Is it really that hard to kill?"
"That's the thing, there's no known way to kill it, and its not really from our world. It can only manifest here if its summoned, and can only be banished by the original summoner. That means the demon isn't really our killer, its just a weapon."
"That is definitely not good."
"No its not. You check your email, and I'll start looking into what it takes to summon this thing. The summoner is most likely in your area though, it'd take massive power to do a long distance summon for an outer dimension demon like this."
I hung up the phone and grabbed my laptop, dropping back into my spot on the couch.
"Right, so Will says we're not looking for the demon, we're looking for a psycho demon summoning wizard type. She says the demon is only a weapon. She sent me an email with the info she has, she'll call if she finds more."
Subject: demon information
Not much is known about the Valignat, as there have only been three known sightings in recorded history. It is known that the Valignat is not native to our world, and may only manifest here if summoned. The Valignat seems to have little personal motivation, acting instead on the sole direction of the one to summon it.
The Valignat attacks by shooting a stream of some acidic substance from a small hole near its mouth. This substance is able to eat through human flesh and bones with ease, though thus far we have found no earthly substance to which it is similar enough for a comparison.
In the first recorded case, the summoner willingly banished the demon back to it's home dimension. In both of the other cases, the death of the summoner was required to break the magical bonds holding the demon in our reality. While I, being a man of God, do not condone the killing of the humans He has given life, I must stress that, should a Valignat be again summoned, those of us fighting on the side of the Light must do anything in our power to remove it from our world. Should that mean the death of the one who summons the demon, then so be it, and may God have mercy on his soul.
This is all the information I've been able to find. I don't know who wrote it, his name was deleted from the text. If this is our demon, then we need to find out who summoned it, and hopefully convince them to send it back. Otherwise, well, we don't have a lot of choices.
After I read Willow's email to the group, a deep silence fell over us at the implications of what we might be forced to do. With the current laws being what they are, the one responsible would face the death penalty anyway, but that didn't make it any easier for us. Up until now, we thought we were just after a demon. A nasty demon, but still, demons were easy. Find it, point a slayer at it, it dies. The knowledge that a human was involved was a hard blow for all of us. The fact that using magic to kill was an automatic death sentence and the responsible party would die by the government's hand if not ours was little consolation to the fact that one of us would quite possible be the one forced to see it done. We were slayers and watchers, and we did not go out with the intent of ending a human life. Our mission was to protect humans, not kill them. In the end it was Giles who pulled himself together enough to break the deafening silence.
"Well, I suppose we should contact Mr. Zerbrowski. He'll probably want to start looking into who this girl was, possible enemies and such."
Well, as far as plans go, this one was starting to suck.