On the Hunt
Hellena sat and finished her drink as she waited for the guys to come back from the mens' room. It had been interesting watching Xander interact with the other bar patrons, and for all that she had hated making him a Get, at least it was looking like he was going to turn out to be a good one. He could be ruthless when he had to be, but despite everything he had been through in life, he was still capable of great compassion. He had learned long ago how to deal with having to kill something inhuman that still wore a human face. And he had connections in the supernatural world that the Pack really could use. From how the people and monsters interacted with Xander, running with the Slayer really meant something in that world. When Xander had invoked Buffy Summers' name as he asked the monsters if they had heard anything about Hex demons in town, many of them had essentially offered up their throats to him on the spot as they stammered about how sorry they were that no one had heard anything about Hex demons at all.
He also brought the Pack a whole different set of experiences and opinions on life. Most of the Gets they had made in the past forty years had come from the biker gangs. The Pack's reputation with the bikers had made it easy to recruit from the gangs. The ones that survived the transformation adapted well to the Pack's nomadic lifestyle, and the ones that died from the virus usually didn't have too many people who would be asking about the dead one's sudden disappearance. The problem was that so many of the bikers had similar mindsets, and that the key to finally beating Hex was probably going to come from the Gets who brought fresh ideas and creativity to the Pack. It was important that if they did have to make more Gets that they looked beyond just the bikers. Daniel had been an undercover cop looking to arrest Rennie and had gotten too close to his target to be allowed to just walk away. Murray had been a lawyer with pancreatic cancer who had been told he had about three months to live. Both of them had turned out to be good planners capable of figuring out how to take out nests of Ontongard with a minimal amount of collateral damage. From what she had seen of Xander, he was capable of doing the same.
"Ready to go?" Bear asked as the guys returned to where she sat. He looked eager to go out and kill vampires.
"Yeah. Just got to take care of the bill." she said.
"I told the bartender to put it all on Spike's tab so that's settled." Xander said. "And if we want to come back later, rumor has it that the cognac here is good enough to be worth the headaches, and we can put that on his tab too."
"He doesn't care if you do that?" Collin said.
"He does, which is why I do it." Xander said with a smile.
"Then it's time to see how the other half saves the world." she said, getting out of her seat and then leading the group out of the bar.
"Well since it's not a Tuesday night, hopefully we aren't talking about a world-saving sort of night out." Xander said as they made their way toward the bikes. *Okay, Buffy and Giles are taking the Potentials out for a slaying lesson on the Northside/Our Lady of Perpetual Comfort cemetery loop. So if we head out to the Fairlawn/Sunset Fields route, I should be able to show you the sights without us running into them and there having to be any pesky explanations. And no, I'm so not getting used to the Vulcan mind meld shit. We just don't need anyone overhearing where either of the groups are headed.*
"You make it sound like we're taking another damn hiking trail." Collin said.
"It's not that far from the truth if you think of it as a sort of urban hiking trail. Dawn even made a really nice map on poster board last summer of all the usual Scoobie patrol routes. I think it's up in Buffy's room right now." Xander said.
They reached the bikes. Hellena climbed onto her Kawasaki, Xander wrapping his arms around her waist as he slid on in back of her.
*So which way to we go here?* she thought.
*Go north on this street for 1.35 miles, then turn right on Sunset Ridge Drive. Sunset Fields is .78 miles down Sunset Ridge and on the right side of the road and has a good parking situation. And I'm really starting to feel like I've been hanging around you people too long with all this precision in distance and shit. Normally, I would have just said to hang a right turn at Taco Cabana, and then the cemetery's just past the Ba'hai temple.*
*Or not hanging around us long enough yet.* Bear thought as Hellena reached back and patted Xander on the leg.
The trip to the first cemetery didn't take long, and they soon found themselves parking their bikes in the temple parking lot.
"So just leave the bikes here?" Collin said.
"No problems. People park here and walk Sunset Fields all the time. Besides, it's not like they're going to be able to get a tow truck driver out here to pick up a car or bike when you're talking after dark and next to a graveyard. Wrecker drivers in this town are just smart enough to know it's five different kinds of just asking for trouble if they do."
"And then how do we find your vampires?" she said as they began to walk through the first graveyard.
"First, they're not my vampires. I don't want them other than in the sense that I want them dead. And the goal here isn't so much to find them, but to let them find us. I know it's going to be hard and all, and a big blow to your egos, but if you could ease back on the whole ruthless killing machine vibes, and stomp your feet a little bit so they can hear you coming, you're a lot more likely to draw them out."
"So the idea is, what, that we're bait?" she said, noting the dates on the tombstones. They weren't clustered in a way to suggest some sort of epidemic or attempted Ontongard foothold, but instead more evenly distributed. She wondered how many of the people had died from natural causes and how many had died for what Xander considered to be Hellmouthy reasons.
"Pretty much the case. Just pretend like we're all out for a nice moonlit stroll and picnic. Though you don't really look like the picnic types. Maybe more like a... hey Faith, what are you doing out here?" Xander said, waving at a figure approaching the group from another part of the cemetery. Human. It was one of the older girls from the Summers house. Hellena remembered her by smell and from Xander's memories even though they hadn't really met the night before.
"Just a little recreational slayage." Faith said. "It's just not as much fun when I've got to take the Potentials out. Always have twenty pairs of eyes all watching and ready to do a blow by blow critique of my form and all that."
"Any reason why you headed this way?" Xander said.
"Probably the same reason you're out here playing tour guide. Buffy was taking the girls out on the Perpetual Comfort loop, and there's not much of a chance of us running into them on this side of town." Faith said.
"Okay, I'm kind of dodging them too. I mean here I am trying to pretend I know what I'm doing in front of the company, and then to have some thirteen year old come along and show me up with their mad demon hunting skills." Xander said *Because you guys really screwed up if you were looking for an actual demon expert to assimilate. That sure wouldn't be me.*
*Don't be so hard on yourself, kid.* the thought came gently from Bear. *You did better than any normal guy should have with all you've faced.*
"And when you've got a couple of them who want to be teacher's pet all the time, and sucking up to whatever Slayer's got them for the night. Then they go and try to make it way more complex than it has to be. I tell them to keep it simple, follow the instincts that made them Potentials, kill some vampires, and then go party. All there needs to be to it." Faith said. She then began to whisper. "If your hot-looking friends in leather want the full Sunnydale fighting experience, there were about eight vamps that were following me this far. Figured I'd lead them closer to the temple so I could take a break in between stakings if need be."
"So how do we draw them out?" she said, stretching her senses outward. And then she found them about a hundred meters down the cemetery path. Same odd scent as Spike, same weird body temperature, same lack of a heartbeat.
"Act distracted." Faith said with a shrug.
"Distracted and distracting I can do." Xander said, then his whisper went into a near yell as he stepped between Pack and Faith. "I don't care what you do to me, I'm not going to let you hurt her." *Help me out here. If they see us fighting each other, they'll hope we're not paying attention to anything else and charge right into us.*
"So boy, you honestly think you can protect her from the three of us? Who do you think you are?" Bear said, sliding into full intimidation mode.
Faith shot a look at Xander, who nodded in return. The other woman had been clued into the game.
"Yeah, he's a lot tougher than he looks. You crowd, I bet you're soft under all that pretty leather." Faith said.
"We're not soft, and once your boyfriend is knocked out of the picture, I'm going to prove just how hard I really am." Collin said with a leer.
*They've heard the yelling, and are curious. Now we've just got to reel them in.* Xander thought.
"But yeah go ahead and struggle. It just makes it more fun for us when you do." Bear said.
"Not gonna happen, fat boy. You, you're probably just some accountant with a name on the back of his coat and delusions of grandeur." Xander said.
*Reeled in and getting closer.* she reminded the rest of the Pack as she sensed the vampires creeping closer.
*Remember, guns don't work on these guys. Go for the stake and get them that way.* Xander thought.
"Probably rides a Harley too. You know how many posers ride Harleys?" Faith said.
"I'll tell you what I'm going to ride."
"And now." Faith said, spinning away from the staged fight as she pulled a stake out from her coat.
With inhuman speed, the other woman turned to face the first in a line of vampires charging past tombstones to reach them, his face already morphing into something that looked like Spike's. As Hellena watched, the vampire lunged at Faith, punching at her in order to knock her to the ground. Faith blocked the punches easily, drawing the vampire's arms away from his chest so that she could neatly drive the stake into the vampire's chest cavity. And then the vampire crumbled into dust just as Xander's memories had told her it would.
"Now that's how it's supposed to be done." Xander said. "Faith always does manage to do deadly in a pretty sort of way."
Then the rest of the vampires attacked them en masse. Hellena found herself grinning as she kicked, dodged, and punched at the vampire who had tried to jump her. It was a fun fight against the vampires even if she didn't feel that same sort of pressing urgency she felt when she found herself face to face with Hex. She drove the stake into her vampire's heart to the soundtrack of Xander telling another vampire about how his clothes would have been out of style even back in the 60s, and of Faith inviting Collin to show her more of his moves at her place later on that night. The dust from the vampire crumbling tickled her nose. Even in that form of death, there was something not quite right about how it smelled. Then she moved back into the fight looking for her next target.
*Duck, Collin* she thought. Collin dropped instantly, and she moved forward to stake the vampire that had been taking aim at the Cur. Her stake connected with a vampire's chest for the second time. Find the pattern, anticipate how the enemy was going to move, and then work as one to take care of it. As she looked around for the next vampire, she saw three of the remaining vampires swarm around Xander and Bear, then the two Gets were tackled to the ground.
In a flash, the three people still standing charged toward the two that had gone down, dispatching the last three vampires in a quick manner.
"Good job there, biker dudes and dudette." Faith said as she bent over Bear and Xander. "Everyone okay there?"
"Couple of scrapes, but I'll live." Bear said as the two eased up into sitting positions.
"Bastard tried to take a chomp out of me, and totally tore out the sleeve of one of my favorite work shirts. I loved that shirt, man." Xander said.
"Not that I'm like a nurse or anything, but he did more than try. Looks like he got you hard enough to bleed you a bit. You want me to wrap that for you?" Faith said.
"No, that's okay." Xander said. *Oh shit. How am I supposed to explain when the pool of blood under me starts turning into mice? Faith wasn't around for Bugman, but Wesley did tell her that story.*
*You must have missed that part of my high school memories.* The pool of Xander's blood began to move on it's own, shimmering then changing color as it took on the shape of some creature. It wasn't the usual black mouse that formed out of small amounts of Pack blood, but rather something more amphibian-like.
"Xander, something ugly coming up from the ground next to you." Faith said, putting away her stake and drawing a long-bladed knife in its place. "When I yell, you roll and I stab."
"I know what it is, and it's not dangerous." Xander said. With one arm, he reach protectively around the creature to shield the part-lizard, part-fish, his shoulders slumping in defeat.
*I know it's you. It feels like you, feels like Pack. But what kind of shell for it is that?* Collin thought.
*You must have missed that part of my memories too. Summary: you guys weren't the first people to come along and fuck with my DNA. High school swim coach was trying to dope us his swimmers by injecting them with some sort of Hellmouthy fish demon DNA. I got exposed to a little of that. Not enough to change me like the future Olympian types, but enough to give me weird dreams for a couple months afterwards. Willow and Giles said they managed to neutralize the weird DNA strands, and nothing more than the dreams ever happened, but the inactive fish bits were still there when you decided to make me a Get. Result: I end up bleeding out Nemo, or a very small version of whatever the fish creature was.*
"Earth to Xander, talk to me here." Faith said.
*We've got to tell them the whole truth.* Xander thought, his looking toward Hellena with desperation in his face.
*Okay, we'll do that.* she decided. *I've seen enough to think that the Slayers could be more useful allies than a lot of people we usually rely on.*
*Better looking too.* Collin thought.
"Okay, but it's kind of a long story, and we only want to have to go through it once, so it'll have to be back at the house with Buffy and the rest."
Faith looked the four of them over carefully.
"Deal then, but since I walked and you rode, the hottie there needs to give me a lift back to Summersland."