Vampires and Vacations
“I’m going over this once, so listen carefully. These are the best ways to kill a vampire: fire, beheading, stake to the heart,” Xander ticked the points off on his fingers. They were in a van borrowed from the base with O’Neill driving. The teen sat in the first bench row in the back running an impromptu seminar on how not to get killed while hunting vampires. “Sunlight works, too, but that’s gonna do us much good. Holy water burns like acid but unless you feel like stopping at a church, that’s not gonna matter, either. Crosses’ll keep ‘em at bay for awhile; if the cross is big enough and the vamp isn’t too old. Otherwise, stake to the heart’s the best way to go. But if you’re doing that? Don’t miss. That would be bad.” He paused. “You still sure you wanna do this? ‘Cause we could just…go for ice cream or something.”
The young man looked around hopefully but ended up on the receiving end of unfriendly glares from the major and the general, and an upraised eyebrow from Teal’c.
“Yeesh,” Xander muttered. “Tough crowd. Fine, any questions?”
“How does one identify a vampire?” Teal’c asked.
“If they’re not in game face? Dated wardrobe, super-pale, no heartbeat, no breathing. But the big clue is usually when they go to bite you. That’s when they go into game face.”
“Game face?” Hammond asked.
“That’s when the fangs come out,” Xander explained. “The rest of their faces go all knobby and fugly and their eyes turn yellow. That’s the demon coming out to play.”
“Demon?” Carter exclaimed. “You expect us to believe in demons, now?”
“Did I not just say? Vampires are demons,” Xander replied. “Well, half-breeds. Well, okay, not even, according to Anya. Vampires are demon-possessed corpses. Like the Goa’uld, but the host is gone. They have most of the person’s memories and tend to take on their personality a little bit so they can fake being human but that’s it.”
“Who’s Anya?” Daniel asked interestedly.
“Former vengeance demon,” Xander muttered, hoping they wouldn’t ask too many questions.
“He took her to prom,” O’Neill chimed in, sounding entirely too gleeful in Xander’s opinion.
“She asked me,” he protested grumpily. “And it was that or go alone.” Xander glared at O’Neill then at the others, silently daring them to comment. “Any
way, don’t go off on your own in the cemetery, I don’t care what you hear or think you hear, see or think you see. Vampires aren’t the only things out there that consider humans a tasty snack.”
“You expect to run into anything else?” O’Neill asked, serious now.
“This isn’t the Hellmouth, so probably not.” Xander answered with a shrug. He caught the major’s skeptical look. “How should I know? This is your
The first two cemeteries were a bust, dark and deserted. Xander was perched on a gravestone that let him keep an eye on the second potential fledge’s grave. He was starting to wonder if the whole night would be a bust; the first potential vamp had been cremated by his loved ones, not a detail anybody official had chosen to note in their reports, and now this second one didn’t seem inclined to rise either. Not that Xander wanted to come across a vamp, but it would least shut Carter up. She and Hammond were starting to make noises about wild goose chases and wasted time.
Xander set his chin on his hand and sighed. “If this was Sunnydale, we’d have been attacked by something
by now.” He paused, surveying the graveyard, eyes lingering on the 7-11 he could make out beyond the fence to his left. “You know, this is a lot more fun with nachos and slurpies.”
O’Neill perked up at that suggestion, following Xander’s line of sight, but a withering glare from his CO settled the colonel down before he could offer to make a food run. When the general looked away, O’Neill shrugged semi-apologetically at Xander. The teen rolled his eyes in return but turned his head when he caught movement in the street out of the corner of one eye. The cop car cruising by could have been a different one than the one that had done a pass of the cemetery ten minutes ago but Xander wouldn’t bet on it. He waited until the car was out of sight behind some trees before jumping off his perch.
“Time to go,” he announced.
“What? Why?” Carter asked. “Nothing’s happened yet.”
“Exactly,” Xander agreed, already moving. “And also, cops. That was the second car in ten minutes. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to have to explain to the nice police officers why I’m hanging around in a graveyard at close to midnight. Let’s go,” he entreated them when they seemed reluctant to move. “I never thought I’d miss the Sunnydale PD,” he muttered to himself.
He made his way across the graveyard in a direct line for the gate they’d entered through with a total lack of concern for the graves he was walking over. He scoped the street out for cops and other dangers before sauntering oh-so-casually out onto the sidewalk. He didn’t sneak or skulk but acted as if he was just out for a late night walk. The other five followed suit.
“This is our last shot, kid,” O’Neill murmured to Xander as they made their through the last cemetery of the evening. “How sure are you about this one?”
“I appreciate the solidarity,” Xander answered. “But as far as I’m concerned if they really want to see vampires they should come to Sunnydale. I’ve only seen a couple of vamps this entire trip so far and it’s not like I can afford better than a Motel 6. Thinking about it, I’d be surprised if there were any anything around here with the amount of military around.”
The colonel grunted in understanding and squeezed Xander’s shoulder briefly as they walked.
This cemetery was quiet, too, but something about the quality of the silence bothered Xander. He stopped briefly, letting the others go on ahead, and listened. O’Neill had stopped with Xander, and looked at him expectantly.
“What is it?” the older man asked.
“I have a bad feeling,” the teen said slowly. He abruptly started walking again, moving quickly enough to catch up to the others.
“Is there something wrong, Xander Harris?” Teal’c asked.
“No crickets,” Xander said tersely, having finally figured out what was bothering him.
Carter finally looked interested rather than grumpy, while Daniel looked around worriedly. General Hammond’s brow wrinkled. He opened his mouth to ask a question but was cut off by a voice from the shadows.
“Well, well. What do we have here?” it asked. “Luck must be a lady tonight. Here we were just about to take our newest childe hunting and dinner shows up all on its own.”Crap
, Xander thought. Not just a fledge. But at least I was right about this one.
He’d learned better than to even mutter the curse under his breath, vampire hearing would pick it up no matter how quietly he said it and it would give the game away. Letting them know you were less than totally confident put you halfway to losing, unless you wanted them to underestimate you. Instead of letting his own feelings show, the teen gave the time-honored Scooby response to lameness.
“Oh, please. Can’t one of you come up with something original to say? Just once, that’s all I’m asking.”
A figure stepped from the shadows, seeming almost to materialize from the shadows. It was a man, very handsome, with a chiseled jaw and curled brown hair hanging to his shoulders. He was dressed all in black, from his coat to his boots. His entrance was ruined by the glare he was sending Xander. The man recovered his poise quickly.
“So you know what we are? Good. Your fear will make the meal sweeter.”
“Dude,” Xander said, incredulous at the Anne Rice dialogue. “First of all, what we? There’s just you. And secondly, I’m from Sunnydale. Class of ‘99. Don’t think for a second that I’m afraid of you.”
“Sunnydale?” That seemed to startle the vamp into dropping his affectation. “Then what the hell are you doing here?”
“You know, I’ve been asking myself that same question,” Xander said conversationally. “I could be at Disney World by now, but instead I’m here. And you would not believe the last couple of days. It’s just… my friends here wanted to see a vampire up close and: hey, here you are. I don’t suppose you’d be willing to show them your fangs and then die quietly like a good little vampire?”
Xander thought he sounded nicely confident through his little speech. He’d done his best to sound the same as he would have on patrol in back home but underneath he was acutely conscious that there was no Slayer here to save his ass if he got in over his head. He figured the fact that he was telling the truth would give him some credibility. A lot of vamps really could tell if you were lying.
The vampire grinned. “Oh, I’ll show you my fangs,” it said, its face changing to its demonic form; eyes flashing yellow. “But I
won’t be the one dying tonight.”
Xander rolled his eyes and attacked before the vampire could.
Sam Carter had seen a lot of strange things while working for the Stargate program; parasitic aliens, Roswell greys, the Nox. She’d come across technology she’d never dreamed possible, not least of which was the Stargate itself but this…was something new. If the man who’d stepped from the shadows had already been in what Xander called ‘game face’ she would have thought he was wearing prosthetics or a mask. But he’d looked…normal. Except for the clothes and the way he talked, which were a little high school drama club but otherwise unremarkable. She’d actually wondered whether the colonel, Daniel, and Xander had hired this guy to play a vampire as the bad end to a practical joke.
Then the stranger’s eyes had flared yellow, a deeper glow than the Goa’uld, while his face had become deformed with ridges around the nose and forehead and his canines had lengthened. At least, she assumed his canine teeth had lengthened to form the fangs that were now so prominent but she hadn’t seen it happen. Like the brow ridges and the glowing eyes, they were just suddenly there. She drew her sidearm as the stake Xander had been holding went tumbling to the ground and the creature lifted him from the ground by the single hand wrapped around the boy's throat.
She took a shot at its head, which hit but didn’t seem to effect it except to get its attention. It was startled into dropping Xander and turning, hissing, towards the major. The Sunnydale teen coughed a couple of times as he scrambled for his weapon then yelled,
“I said no guns! What part of that didn’t you understand?”
Sam ignored him in favor of firing a full clip into the centre of mass of the creature now bent on attacking her. That slowed it to a walking pace but it continued to advance, smiling. It grinned around its fangs as the firing pin clicked on empty.
Shock didn’t hold the major in place for long and she drew a knife as the creature closed the distance. She would never be entirely sure how it happened exactly but in less than a second her knife was gone and she was on the ground with her right wrist dangling uselessly, broken. The creature was on top of her a moment later and it took all of Sam’s strength just to keep his suddenly very real-seeming fangs away from her jugular.
She felt a thud as someone apparently tried to tackle the vampire -it couldn’t be anything else- off of her. It didn’t budge except to throw its attacker off one-handed. There was the muffled thump of a body impacting earth some ways away. One of the vampire’s hands was choking her so tightly that she thought she was imagining things when its head jerked and she thought she saw fire come out the other side.
Sam realized that it wasn’t a hallucination when the thing screamed and rolled off of her. She scrambled in the opposite direction, being careful of her wrist. The colonel and the general were both firing their sidearms but only O’Neill’s was doing any damage. It wasn’t doing enough damage, though, because as soon as the clips ran out the vampire staggered to its feet and came towards them again.
It didn’t take a genius to realize that the vampire would be on them again before they could reload.
That was when Xander suddenly came out of nowhere from behind it and used what looked like his entire strength to shove the wooden stake he’d held earlier through its back. The pointed tip of the wood showed briefly through the thing’s chest before, with a look of surprise on its face, the creature and the weapon that had killed it dissolved into so much dust. Xander closed and opened his hand a couple of times.
“Dammit. I liked that stake,” he muttered to himself. He looked up, caught Sam’s eyes and then Hammond’s. “Now you see why I said this was a bad idea? How’s your arm?”
It hadn’t hit her until he asked, but her wrist started throbbing as soon as he did. “I think it’s broken,” she admitted, gritting her teeth. “Where are Teal’c and Daniel?”
The eyes of all three men turned to the same spot and Sam followed their gazes to see Teal’c and Daniel laid out on the grass.
“He threw Teal’c into Daniel,” the colonel explained. “I think they both hit their heads on that gravestone when they landed. They’re both unconscious.”
Sam would have headed over to check on her friends but just trying to stand up without help turned out to be a bad idea. Using her uninjured wrist to brace herself against the ground, the major got no more than halfway up before the black spots that started dancing across her vision combined with a sudden lightheadedness to make lose her balance. The fall jarred her broken wrist and her vision briefly went completely black. She cradled the injured limb protectively into her chest and stayed as still as she could until her vision steadied and she stopped feeling nauseous. Staring at a solid point seemed to help, which was why her eyes were on the ground near the general’s feet when two hands shot upwards out of the earth and grabbed Hammond’s ankles.
The Texan swore in surprise and managed to kick off the groping hands, stepping quickly out of range with a look of unnerved revulsion on his face. His pistol swung up to point steadily at the grave where the corpse was rising.
The hands were quickly followed by arms, the shoulders and a head and torso. The dead man stopped then and opened his eyes, looking confused.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “Why are you pointing a gun at me?”
Hammond’s arm dropped as he hesitated, the confusion in the dead man’s eyes starting to convince him that this was a man who’d been buried alive by mistake. Seeing the general’s hesitation, the stranger smiled as he pulled himself the rest of the way out of the ground. As his last foot came free of the clinging earth, the dead man launched himself at Hammond, face changing even as he covered the distance.
Sam cried out a warning but it was too late for the general to correct his mistake in lowering his weapon. That might have been the end of Hammond except that Xander, seeing what was happening from where he was checking on Teal’c and Daniel, didn’t bother with a verbal warning. The young man tackled the general to the ground, rolling away and back to his feet, another stake in hand, almost as soon as they landed.
The second half of the teen’s movement turned out to be unnecessary. Jack, with a clear body shot this time once Hammond was out of the way, shot the vampire three times through the heart with his special ammunition.
“No, this isn’t fair,” were the last clear words the vampire spoke before combusting from the inside out into so much dust.
There was silence for a moment then Xander blew out a breath. “I hate
“You and me, both, kid,” Jack agreed. “You and me, both.”
“What?” came from their left. “What happened?”
The questioner was Daniel, who, along with Teal’c, was looking groggy but awake.
“I, too, would like to know what has occurred,” Teal’c seconded.
“Given any more thought to sticking around?” Jack asked.
They were back in the SGC infirmary, deep underground. They’d checked Teal’c and Daniel over as well they could at the graveyard and gotten everybody back to the car where they’d had the full emergency kit. They’d splinted Carter’s wrist and checked her over as well, then headed back to the mountain for real medical attention.
Xander, cuts and scrapes bandaged, was being examined for the concussion they seemed to expect him to have. He’d protested to anyone who’d listen that he hadn’t hit his head this time but no one had believed him. The colonel was sitting on the examination bed across from Xander’s as the teen got a penlight shined in his eyes.
“Yes,” Xander answered. “The answer’s no.”
Jack was silent for a moment, digesting that. “Mind telling me why?”
Xander waited until the nurse finished with dilation test and disappeared before meeting the older man’s eyes.
“What you do here is
pretty important, Colonel, don’t get me wrong. And I’m flattered, more than you probably realize, that you want to recruit me. But I’m not going to abandon my friends. I can’t. Even with the mayor gone there’s still plenty of the bad out there. You’ve got the entire armed forces available to deal with this. There’s five of us to protect the Hellmouth. That’s it. Now, which group do you think needs the extra person more?”
O’Neill nodded, acknowledging the truth of that. Frankly, it was the answer he’d more or less expected after getting to know the teen a little better but he’d had to try.
“There’s something I have
to know. What ammo were you using back there? We haven’t really used guns but mostly because we found out pretty quickly that bullets don’t work on most things. But those weren’t just bullets, were they?”
“Incendiary rounds,” Jack explained. “I figured they’d be worth trying. I was hoping lighting them on fire would dust ‘em but it looks like you’ve gotta hit the heart for that to work.”
“Better than nothing,” Xander murmured, obviously thinking about where he could get a hold of some.
illegal,” Jack felt obliged to point out.
Xander looked at him and raised his eyebrows. “I stole a rocket launcher for Buffy’s sixteenth birthday present. And demolition charges to blow up my high school on Graduation Day. Not to mention that sarcopha-thingy.”That more or less said it all
, O’Neill thought. On the other hand, he felt like he should discourage the kid from committing any more illegal acts than necessary while helping his friends. “And you also don’t have a firearms license or a concealed carry permit. Those two you can fix, though.”
It was tacit acknowledgement that any weapon that helped would be used by the youth whether it was legal for him to have or not. But it was also a way of pointing out that just because the teen was comfortable with his own code of honour not entirely matching with the law didn’t mean he had to risk getting caught for the small, stupid stuff. The colonel was pleased to see Xander looking thoughtful after he spoke so he decided to risk a little more advice.
“If you really want to help your friends, you should get trained. I know you know some stuff from whatever happened that Halloween but…memory will never beat regular practice.”
“Where would I get trained, though? I don’t want to join the army, or the cops. And I don’t have the money to get lessons. By the time I get home I’ll have maybe a month’s leeway to get a job and I’m not qualified to do anything.” He narrowed his eyes at Jack. “You have an idea already, don’t you?”
“Have you thought about ROTC?” Jack suggested, grinning at his protégée’s perceptiveness. “You’d have to go back to school, and keep your marks up this time, but you’d get training and enough practice to keep the skills you’ve already got. And you’d be going to school with your friends.”
Jack had kinda thought that last argument might be a selling point and he could see that the kid was starting to like the idea. It would put him on the same playing field as his friends, keep him in the same social circle as the two girls.
“Wouldn’t I need decent high school grades to get in, though?” Xander asked.
“Yours weren’t that
bad,” Jack told him. “And a recommendation from a colonel isn’t nothing.”
“You’ve known me for what, like, four days total? Why would you, do that?”
Jack smiled. “You’re smarter than you act, cool under fire, and… I like you, kid. Always have. I trust my instincts about people. And they’re telling me you’re doing a lot of good but you’re gonna get yourself killed the way you’re going. With some training you could keep doing good and
“Alive is good,” Xander agreed. His chewed his lip for a moment. “I…I’ll think about it but… thanks.”
“Not a problem. Hungry?”
“Always,” the teen agreed, pushing himself off the bed.
Jack got up as well and matched steps with Xander as they headed towards the mess hall.
“So, uh, how’s the major dealing with…you know?”
“Better than I expected,” Jack answered.
“That well, huh?”
“It might take some time but, she’ll come around,” Jack said, confident in his 2IC’s ability to adapt to new circumstances.
“And the general?”
“I think he’s avoiding me,” Jack admitted, “but it won’t last.”
“Where you headed in the morning?”
“I’ve been thinking about it and I wanna go somewhere with lots of sun so I’m thinking…DisneyWorld.”
“You wanna hit NASA, too, just say the word,” Jack offered.
“I think I’ve had enough adventures in space for awhile,” Xander demurred. “The magic of Disney is closest I wanna get to adventure for awhile.”
“Your loss, kid.”
In an office deep in Cheyenne Mountain, Samantha Carter looked around the hallway outside her lab then closed and locked the door. She pulled out a set of keys and unlocked one of the lower drawers on her lab bench. From within the drawer she retrieved two plastic bags, each containing a small amount of dark gray, sandy material.
She placed them on the bench-top and sat down. The major stared thoughtfully at the bags of vampire dust, wondering where to start.
--THE ENDA/N: Omigod, you guys. This thing is done!! :happy dance: Thanks to all those who have continued reading and reviewing. You guys are awesome, even though I didn't have time to reply to everyone who reviewed. And a belated thanks to whoever nominated me for the CoA though I didn't respond in time to put myself in the running.
Special thanks to missinglink and to RachelK for the ideas they gave me that I shamelessly used. And cookies to those who spotted any mistakes (spelling or continuity-wise) whether or not I corrected them.
Apologies to those who thought Xan was going to join the SGC. I just couldn't see it happening with post-High-School Xander. My next goal is to finish Rising. Wish me luck. :)