Origin and Season One (Ch. 38)
Character: Buffy Summers
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Word Count: 2599
Setting: Teacher's Pet
- Cliffnotes -
The Bronze was hopping, as it was most every night, especially when there was a live band. Neither Buffy nor Willow had heard of the group, and neither had felt like dancing, so shortly after coming in and getting their drinks – tea for Willow, coke for Buffy – they'd headed upstairs to escape the worst of the din.
Once they found a prospective booth, they both reached down to test the seats for stickiness or some other grossness. Finding it clear, Buffy dropped into her seat, and Willow followed suit shortly.
“Thanks again for the homework help, Wil,” Buffy said.
“I'm just glad you were interested,” she replied, smiling. “I mean, that you asked. It must be really hard to stay caught up, with everything.”
She nodded, swallowing some coke. Giles had given her the afternoon off from training, given last night's festivities, and though before bio she'd been seriously considering taking a nap to make up for lost time, her chat with Dr. Gregory had inspired her to instead approach Willow after school to ask for homework help. Xander had declined the invite, so the two of them had headed to the library alone to catch her up, and they'd been together since. Buffy was feeling pretty good now, despite the lack of sleep and her throbbing midsection: everything but her reading for English was done and, for that, Willow had kindly offered to give her the cliffnotes in the morning.
“So tell me about last night,” Willow said. “We never got the chance to talk about what happened with the Eiri'spuli.”
She studied her a second, then, “I killed them all.” Even as she said the words, she remembered that they weren't truly hers. Somebody had said that to her once...
“Come on, all the details,” Willow cut through her thought stream, oblivious to it. “It's not every day you slay a horde of demons. Well,” she inhaled, “you know, unless you're you.”
At that, she snorted. “Well, Giles and I found the warehouse, thanks to your excellent directions, and then we found them.” She leaned back, setting her coke down. “They reeked like week-old fish, so it wasn't that hard.”
Willow was watching her intently, and she was surprised to realize that she was hanging on her every word. It suddenly occurred to her that the novelty of the world of the ooglie booglies had long since faded away; that, to some degree, vampires and demons had become just as mundane and expected and inevitable to her as finding a loaf of bread on her countertop.
So she went back to last night.
She remembered walking up to the demons, remembered Giles hiding away behind the shelving. She could hear their strange, sucking breaths through what looked like the blow hole on their foreheads, could see their gigantic teeth in their too-large jaws. And she remembered not being afraid, not much at all, as her blood flowed hot under her skin.
It was the one that had already been upright and lumbering that reached her first, galloping forward on all fours. She brought up her axe in time to meet a slash from its forearm spine, then ducked as its other arm went for her head. It shrieked when she came up with a vicious uppercut that sent its lower teeth through its snout, but just as it backed off, she was rammed in the side by a truck, and both she and it went tumbling. Her head cracked hard against the floor of a metal shelf.
“Buffy!” she heard as she blinked, trying to clear away the cotton that had suddenly filled her brain. Her eyes focused just as a spine materialized from the grey, heading straight for her head, and she rolled away as it clanged against the shelf.
She saw immediately that she was no longer the center of attention, that two of the demons had looked Giles' way at his outburst. In the gloom, he looked pale as a corpse, broadsword raised in what seemed an inadequate defense, fencing pedigree or not. She stumbled to her feet, then ran for him, grabbing her axe from the floor as she went. She could hear one of them hot on her heels, but she didn't dare turn to look.
The fattest one had grabbed Giles' sword by the blade, and the Watcher was struggling to pull it from its grip as the thing swiped at him. Buffy leaped at it without a thought, aiming her axe at its head, and it went through with a sickening crunch. It dropped like an anvil, and she went down with it, still gripping the axe. Something was screeching, but it wasn't the lump she had landed on. As she pulled on the axe, she spotted one of the demons coming for her, and she glanced back to see Giles fighting two. She gave the axe a few desperate yanks, unsure which one to target, and then it finally ripped free, and the momentum sent her off the body as blood and brains and stink went everywhere.
She rolled to her feet just in time to see Giles and his sword go flying in opposite directions. “Giles!” she yelled, running to him. The demon she'd spotted a second ago was howling now, scrambling toward her, and this time she didn't have time to get the axe up before it reached her. It bulled into her, and all at once her stomach was on fire, white, hot, fire, and she yelled, punching wildly. Her fist hit something soft and wet, and suddenly she wasn't the only one screaming. The demon reared off her, roaring, and she rolled out from under it, one hand clutching her stomach. It was wet, and she knew she was bleeding, that it'd stabbed her, but she didn't have time for that; she needed to find her axe.
“Oh my god,” Willow said, breaking through the recounting. “You didn't say anything. Why didn't you— Are you okay?” Her eyes were wide.
Buffy nodded, tapping the injury with two of her fingers. It throbbed, but not nearly so bad as at the start of school, or last night. “Yeah, I'm fine.”
“You sure?” she asked. “I mean, you look fine, but...I guess you'd know.”
“Trust me,” she said. “A quick and speedy recovery is part of the benefit's package. Though,” she scrunched her eyebrows, reaching for her coke, “I think that's really the sum of the benefit's package.”
Willow leaned forward, tea forgotten on the table. “So then what happened?”
Buffy finished off her coke, trying to remember where she was.
Right. The shelf.
She had spotted a metal glint, the axe, but before she could run for it the demon was back on its feet. It stared at her with its remaining milk-white eye. The other was a ruined mess, bubbling with the same black blood that was coating her knuckles. It was keening, so loud it was piercing her ears, but before either could move to attack, something louder than it crashed and banged and shattered, and the floor jumped an inch in the air, and dust was everywhere, and they both looked around to find that one of the great metal shelves had come down.
“Giles!” she called automatically, forgetting the axe as she ran for it. She could hear the injured demon following, and she could feel her stomach bleeding and burning, but she ignored both as she leaped onto the shelf. “Giles!” she shouted again, fighting back panic. Where was he? “Giles!”
“Buffy!” Muffled. Eleven o'clock.
She switched direction, jumping over broken crates and boxes as she ran toward his voice. She stopped when she spotted him atop a neighboring shelf, one that hadn't gone down, huddled next to a box, and suddenly she realized how the shelf had come down to begin with.
“They're dead,” he called down. “Or they bloody well better be.”
She looked around, and within a moment she saw the pancaked demons a few yards from where she stood, under the shelf. There were two of them.
The sound of claws on metal attracted her attention, just as she heard Giles shout down a warning. The two remaining demons were coming toward her fast, and she looked around for a weapon. She found a broken bottle, and she picked it up and lobbed it at the closest one, the one whose eye she'd decimated. It shrieked anew when the glass exploded along its snout, and she quickly jumped off the shelf, wanting both to get onto solid ground and to draw them away from Giles. She ran full tilt for the place she thought she'd left her axe, avoiding the demons as they moved to intercept her. She could hear them scrambling after her, could feel her chest and her stomach and her everything burning from the exertion and the pain.
She saw the axe immediately when she reached the spot she'd so recently vacated, but by then they were so close she'd felt something brush her leg, and instead of stopping to reach for it, she aimed for it and rolled. One of the demons landed on top of her as she grabbed the handle, but she kicked it off, spun to her feet, and planted the steel through its ruined eye.
It screamed anew, louder than it ever had before, and her ears rang as it dropped. She didn't have time to try to free her weapon before the last demon was almost on top of her, trying to take off her head with its enormous teeth. She socked it hard, then again and again, three jabs and a heavy cross, and she caught a spine in her hand as it moved to stab her, then gave it a vicious twist. It snapped off in her fingers, and she flipped it and sent it through its upper jaw as it roared.
It backed away from her, shrieking and bleeding, and in the moment of respite, she yanked her axe from the dead demon. Letting out a yell herself, she cleaved the axe into its skull and let it go.
And suddenly it was silent.
Buffy stood there amongst the carnage, breathing hard, feeling high and immortal and untouchable.
And then she crumpled.
“You fainted?” Willow asked, staring at her.
“Yep,” she replied, smiling at the not-funnyness and fingering her bottle. “I lost some blood, I guess. Not for very long though. I woke up in Giles' car.” For the second time in two weeks. She stopped for a second, thinking about the worry she'd read in Giles' face, and the relief. That had been the only thing last night that had truly frightened her.
“Wow, I had no idea so much had happened,” Willow leaned back in her seat, still staring at her. “I almost feel like we should've gone with you or something. You know, to help. Could we have helped?”
She looked at her. “No,” she said. “I'm still not even sure Giles should have gone. Slaying is sort of a solo activity.” She set her bottle down. “And, besides, you did help. You figured out where we needed to go.”
She waved her hand, then smoothed back her hair. “Well, not really. I mean, all I did was a little research.”
“You helped,” she pressed. “It's important. Besides, it's dangerous. I wouldn't have wanted you getting hurt.”
Willow studied her for a second, looking like she wanted to say something, but she didn't, reaching for her cup instead.
“What?” Buffy asked.
She looked up at her again, then lowered her tea. “It's just... I know it's been awhile now since you came here, but I guess I'm still not used to it, what you do.”
She nodded, “If it makes you feel any better, it took me awhile too.” Truth be told, she still wasn't sure how used to it she was, if she was even okay with it all. “I think I've just accepted it.”
“You're so brave,” she said, then colored. “I'm sorry, I've just never— I'm not very, well, you know...” she trailed off. “Do you ever get scared?”
She didn't reply for a moment. “Yeah,” she said finally. “A lot, actually, but it gets easier.”
They sat there quietly for a few beats, and the rock pounded between them. What had the band been called? Streamline? Superfun?
“I'm sorry if I killed the mood,” Willow was the first to speak. “I didn't mean to be a downer or anything. Let's change the subject.”
“Yeah,” she said. “Let's. But first...” she pushed herself up, ignoring her midsection as it throbbed. “I need another drink. You want anything?”
“No,” she shook her head. “I've got my tea; I'll stay here. You go ahead.”
Buffy nodded, fingering the bills in her pocket, then turned to go. As she headed for the stairs, she thought back to Giles, his concerns and his apologies, the trip back to the library to pick up some bandages and to drop off the vials they'd recovered. She remembered how safe she'd felt, how glad for him she'd been. She couldn't imagine dragging herself home after that, waking up alone amongst the corpses, bleeding and filthy and hurting. She'd been so exhausted she'd ignored the risk and gone in through the front door instead of her bedroom window, shoved her clothes at the bottom of her laundry pile and collapsed on her bed, though she only managed to sleep a half an hour.
She blinked, glancing around. She had reached the bar, and it took her a second to realize it had been that wierdo she sat next to in bio who'd called her name. Blayne Something. He was sitting next to another guy she didn't recognize.
“How's it hangin'?” he asked her, with the annoying casualness of a wannabe jock.
She ignored him, flagging down a barkeeper instead. When she came over, she ordered another coke.
“You're looking especially fine tonight.”
She looked back over at Blayne and his bud again. They were looking at her like she was a dark chocolate truffle in a dessert case. There was a time not too long ago where she may've blushed and possibly put on pouty-flirty face, but that time had passed, and now the only impulse she felt was to punch one of them in the face.
That thought put a smile to her lips.
Blayne misread that. “Why don't you come on over here?”
“Oh, please,” she said, then saw her coke had been set down. She grabbed it and popped the top off on the edge of the table.
“Or we could dance.”
She looked him over, several possible responses popping into her head, each crueler than the last. She voiced none of them, instead settling on, “Goodbye, Blayne.”
She could hear them sniggering as she walked away, and she couldn't stop an eye roll.
“Boys are idiots,” she declared when she returned to Willow and her seat.
“Agreed,” Willow replied. She was still holding her tea. “What are we talking about?”
“Eh, Blayne was hitting on me,” she said, waving her hand.
“Really?” she laughed. “Just think if he knew what you'd been doing last night.”
Yeah, just think if he knew, if anyone outside their little bubble knew.