liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,
liz_marcs
liz_marcs

FIC: Whisper, 10/12 (PG-13; BtVS; Ensemble)

Continued from Part 9

Title: Whisper, Part 10
Author: Lizbeth Marcs
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Rating: PG-13 for violence, mild language, and some implied situations. Any similarities to a certain scandal that has rocked a certain religion in the Greater Boston Area is purely coincidental, even if it did originally provide the spark for this idea.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and related characters are owned by FOX, written and produced by Mutant Enemy. The song ‘No More’ is from the Original Broadway production Into the Woods, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and is therefore not owned by me, either. Dolly, however, is mine.
Summary: A demon is stalking the streets of Sunnydale and driving the residents into horrific public displays of suicide. The key to solving the mystery is locked in the mind of one Scoob who is unable to remember a part of his troubled past.
Pairing: None.
Warning: Spoilers for early S7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Author’s Note: This takes place immediately after ‘Him,’ but before ‘Conversations with Dead People. There is a slight AU element in that the Magic Box has been rebuilt in this story. This is the first novel-length story in a series that includes Living History (takes place four months after ‘Chosen’) and Water Hold Me Down (takes place seven months after ‘Chosen’).

 

 

Xander blinked in disbelief.

The name of the bar was No Name.

“I think I’ve been brained by an anvil,” he muttered.

“What’s that?”

Xander cut the ignition and waved vaguely at the bar. “Our demon’s not subtle, is it?”

Dolly shrugged. “I toldjya I did some nosing around today and found out that this place is the place.”

“But ‘No Name’? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Sometimes life’s just fulla ironies, hun.” Dolly gave him a sly smile. “Don’t tell me ya missed this one.”

Xander slumped behind the wheel. “We did check it out. There was a little problem involving Anya, a glass of ice, and a pool player who hustled her out of a twenty.”

Dolly’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Wasn’t she supposed to be watchin’ your back?”

Xander winced. “Anya and I have a complicated relationship. She hasn’t decided if she wants me dead or not.”

Dolly gave a knowing chuckle. “Sentiments like that usually lead ta weddin’ bells, hun.”

Xander knew he did a very bad job not reacting to the cliché the second it was uttered.

“Ummm, I’m guessin’ the ex-demon is also an ex?” Dolly asked in a small voice. “Jesus, hun. My foot’s mighty tasty right now.”

“S’okay, forget it. Not-so-ancient history,” Xander mumbled. He shook himself. “So our demon hangs out here, hunh? We didn’t even think to check if all our victims had a watering hole in common. Something tells me we let Giles take the single Scooby brain cell to London when he left.”

“Don’t be too hard on yourself, hun,” Dolly soothed. “I happened to overhear some people talkin’ and one of ’em mentioned that they knew some of the suicides might’ve stopped in here for a drink. I don’t think you could exactly call that a pattern.”

“I still say we need to call Giles and get him to FedEx the brain cell back to us,” Xander grumbled. “Not one of us has been a picture of grace under pressure since he left.”

Dolly nervously cleared her throat. “Speakin’ of pressure, hun.”

“Right.” He took a deep breath. “Dolly, you don’t have to do this. You didn’t sign up for it and no one’s going to blame you if you want to back out.”

Dolly gently touched his hand. “Yes. Yes I do have to do this.” When Xander opened his mouth to protest, she held up a hand. “I’ve got my own reasons. One more time so’s I can calm my beatin’ heart.”

“You go in and try to play shy, insecure, wallflower, invisible person,” Xander recited as if by rote. He grinned. “Tough job, I know since you tend to stand out. Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes,” Dolly nodded. “’Sides, I am the very definition of invisible. Waitress, remember?”

Xander rolled his eyes. “If you say so, I guess. If someone approaches you, be cautious. If you think this someone is our demon, whip out your little bottle of ethanol and pour some on your hands before touching the other person.”

Dolly held up the bottle of anti-bacterial hand cleanser. “The ethanol in this bottle, right?” She grinned at Xander’s nod. “I’ll just have to make up some story about bein’ a germ-o-phobe.”

“Play it however you see it. If you see any part of your mark turn bright red after you touch him or her, that’s our demon,” Xander said.

“And then I lure it out here into your waiting arms. Got it,” Dolly said.

Xander uncertainly worried his bottom lip. “I don’t like being out here. I think I should go inside with you to watch your back.”

Dolly let out a relieved smile. “I know, hun. But you mentioned that you’ve been havin’ a difficult time with the low-profile thing. Can’t take chances that a certain something might remember your last visit to this fine establishment, right?”

“I know, I just don’t like it.”

Dolly barked a laugh. “I’ll be fine. I’ve got ya out here and your friends just ’round the corner. I’ve never had this much backup when I’ve entered a bar alone.”

Xander swallowed hard. “I know, I know. Overprotective. It’s just, Dolly, this thing…it’s bad. Beyond bad. I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

“I’ll be fine,” she briskly assured him. “Just keep the peepers peeled for me leavin’ the bar. ’Sides, ya might be worryin’ yourself over nothin’. Demon-breath might not even show. We don’t know that this is a regular hang-out, just that a some of the now-dear departed made a stop here at some point.”

Xander let out a worried breath. “I’ll be waiting. Just promise me you’ll be careful.”

Dolly gave him a jaunty salute, left the car, and headed for the bar.

Xander watched her go inside. His knuckles went white as they gripped the steering wheel. He fought to keep calm and his breathing even. The knot in his stomach coiled tighter. When he served as bait, there was a lot that could and did go wrong. Adding Dolly to the equation just provided a much larger margin for someone to wind up hurt or very, very dead.

He almost wished there was a vengeance demon in the vicinity so he could utter the magic words that would ensure a happy ending to this mess.

{the key word here is ‘almost.’} the whisper agreed.

***

Dolly entered the bar. Just inside the entrance, she withdrew the disposable cell phone from her pocket and hit a pre-programmed number. She impatiently tapped her foot as she counted the rings until a female voice answered.

“What took you so long?” Dolly hissed. She listened to the voice a few seconds before interrupting. “Know what? Don’t care. Get into position. You’ll find them in a wooded area at the corner of Magnolia and East. And remember, as soon as I hang up, dump the phone. No attacking until I page you. Got it? Good.”

She snapped the phone shut with a satisfied air and walked over to the bar. She ordered tequila and began to patiently wait. Come into my lair, said the spider to the fly, she thought with grim satisfaction.

Things were moving forward, not the way she intended, certainly, but progress was being made.

She couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out.

She held up her shot glass in a salute. “Don’t let me down kid, for your sake as well as mine,” she said to the air. Then she downed her drink.

***

“Ow!”

“Buffy, maybe you should wait before trying to walk around using the mirrors,” Willow said.

Buffy picked herself up from the ground. “I can’t believe that I’m having such a miserable time. Slayer reflexes here! You’d think this should be a snap.”

“You just hate the fact that you can’t do it, don’t you?” Spike asked while he distractedly adjusted his mirrors.

“Buffy, like I said, I think your reflexes are the problem,” Willow tried explaining. “I think it might be related to why you drive like a spaz.”

“I do not drive like a spaz,” Buffy protested.

“Says the woman who once did a donut in the high school parking lot by accident,” Anya commented.

“I meant to do that,” Buffy sniffed.

“Then why did you let out a girly terrified scream when you did it?” Anya asked.

“I meant to do that, too,” Buffy insisted.

The quartet didn’t notice the shadows moving silently into position among the trees.

***

Dolly spotted the deChantal as it wove its way through the crowd. It was currently dressed as a tall blue-eyed man that was handsome, but not so handsome as to scare away a prospective victim. He, or rather it, was clearly hunting.

People in Sunnydale were unbelievably stupid or unbelievably blind, Dolly decided. Why anyone would bother to take on the thankless task of trying save these sheep from themselves when they didn’t have to positively boggled her mind.

It finally sniffed its way to her corner of the room, flashing its charming smile to the more aggressive members of the female sex. Dolly knew that each and every one of those women had just disqualified themselves by having the temerity to speak to it. She wondered how those women would react if they knew that little fact. She wondered how their attitudes would change if they knew the prize for winning a deChantal’s attentions.

The deChantal’s eyes scanned the knot of humans before settling on Dolly. Its eyes opened wide in surprise and she noted a certain tension tighten its frame.

Dolly settled her face into a ‘bored now’ look. She shrugged and then pointedly turned her back on the other demon in a nonverbal signal. She needed the thing to know that she recognized that it wasn’t any more human than she was. Even more important, she needed to signal that she didn’t care what it was or care to know its business.

***

Xander fidgeted in the car. He aggressively stabbed the search key on his car radio in a desperate attempt to find any song that could distract him from his compulsive need to watch the clock. He hated himself for hoping that Dolly would come up empty on the demon front, not just for her sake, but also for his.

***

Dolly tensed as she sensed it move away. She kept a corner of her eye on the door just in case the deChantal decided that her presence was too much of risk. She allowed herself a relieved smile when it continued to work the room. Dumbass, Dolly thought with grim satisfaction. Gotchya now.

***

“What time is it?”

“It’s nine o’clock, Anya,” Willow sighed.

“What’s taking her so long?”

“Assuming Dolly was on time, she’s only been in the bar a half-hour, Anya,” Buffy said.

“Check your cell phone,” Anya demanded.

“He hasn’t called, Anya,” Buffy groused.

“Are you sure it’s on?” Anya asked.

“Yes. Yes I’m sure it’s on. God, I’m not that mentally challenged. I know how to work a cell phone,” Buffy complained.

Willow held out her hand. “Give me the phone,” she said.

“I am not giving you the phone,” Buffy said. “I told you that the phone is on.”

“I’m telling you, it’s not on. You are famous for not properly using the cell phone,” Anya insisted.

Buffy huffed. “I am not famous for—”

“Look, Buffy? Just give me the cell phone,” Willow wheedled. When Buffy looked mutinous, the witch quickly added, “Anya will shut up if you let me look.”

Buffy’s quickly relinquished the phone, causing Anya to shout a ‘hey’ in protest.

Willow checked the phone and grimaced. “You forgot to turn it on.”

“See?” Anya smugly crossed her arms. “Hopeless.”

“Am not,” Buffy insisted while she fought the childish urge to stick out her tongue.

Willow rolled her eyes, turned on the phone, and hit the speed dial for Xander’s cell. “Xander? Anything yet?” Willow asked. “No. Just checking. Anya’s getting antsy. We’re worried about—” Willow gave a defeated sigh. “Yes, yes, Buffy forgot to turn on her cell phone. Why do you ask?” She pulled the phone away from her ear with a wince. “Have any of you ever noticed how Xander gets a gutter mouth when he’s mad?”

***

Dolly saw the deChantal retreat to a dark corner and blend in with the heavy shadows. The façade it wore shimmered and its appearance briefly liquefied before re-instating itself as a petite woman. The new disguise was pretty, but not too pretty.

Now you’d figure someone would at least notice that, Dolly thought as she casually glanced around the room. No such luck. The presto-quicko-chango act not only failed to raise comment, it also failed raise eyebrows.

Dolly gripped her glass as she fought a brief spike of anger at humanity. She really shouldn’t be surprised that people could be so willfully blind. After all, she existed because people refused to see human evil when it stared them in the face.

***

Xander angrily paced around his car and fought the urge to fling his cell phone against the closest tree. “Unbelievable, just unbelievable. She didn’t even turn on her cell phone.”

{you must be really pissed.} the whisper commented. {your voice dropped an octave.}

“Shut. Up.”

{she forgot. so what? someone caught it so the problem’s solved. no harm no foul.} the whisper mentally shrugged.

“What bothers me is that this is probably not the first time Buffy forgot to turn on her cell phone,” Xander spit. “Can you imagine what would’ve happened if I ran into the demon and my backup couldn’t reach the others?”

{well, it didn’t happen, so stop worrying.}

“You know Great One, it’s moments like this that I’m convinced you’re trying to get me killed,” he growled.

{if you stay this angry, you will get killed.} the whisper warned.

***

Dolly watched the deChantal meander its way across the room in the aimless-but-not-so-aimless manner of a hunter stalking its prey. It settled in a chair next to a nondescript man, ordered a drink, and then casually nudged its male neighbor in the ribs.

The man started like he was goosed and turned to what he thought was a pretty woman of the approachable persuasion. He blushed. Dolly imagined that he was stammering out an apology. She noticed the demon was smiling while the man fumbled with a swizzle stick.

Dolly rolled her eyes and snorted while watching the scene out of the corner of her eye. She glanced at the clock above the bar and silently bet herself that within three minutes it would be leading the man out the door.

It took less than two.

Dolly wondered what the deChantal said to convince its prey to follow it.

While it gently hooked its arm through the man’s arm and led him to the exit, Dolly pulled the cell phone out and hit the second pre-programmed number. She listened to the series of rings and clicks. She punched in a quick text message at the prompt and then turned off the phone.

She dropped the cell phone onto the bar floor and hopped off the stool. She made sure she landed on the cell with both feet, crushing it underneath the force of her weight. She quickly ran her fingers through her hair so as to create a mussed and frazzled look. She checked herself in the mirror behind the bar and resisted the urge to smile.

Satisfied with her appearance, Dolly bolted for the door, making sure to brush against other patrons in her rush.

***

“You’re running an intervention on me? About my cell phone habits? Are you insane?” Buffy asked.

“Well, we feel that Anya may have a point. We feel that you have a habit of losing it or leaving it behind,” Willow said.

“What’s this ‘we’ crap?” Spike asked.

“It’s supposed to show Buffy a united front and that her friends,” here Anya began her air quotes, “‘believe she has problem,’” she ended the air quotes and continued, “and not assign blame.”

Spike thought about it. “Well, that’s a load of New Age horseshit.”

“I agree,” Anya nodded. “She does have a problem and she is blame-worthy.”

“Knock it off, you two,” Willow ordered. Her voice and expression softened while she focused on a Buffy trying desperately not to smile. “This is a serious issue. Remember when you lost your cell in the house? We had to call it and then track it down from the ringing.”

“Although watching Xander crawl under the beds while looking for it was quite funny,” Anya amiably interrupted. “He ended the day covered in dust and sneezing non-stop.”

Spike rocked on the balls of his feet. “Allergies, hunh?” He frowned. “How come he doesn’t sneeze when he stakes a vampire?”

“Probably because vampire dust is different than under-the-bed dust?” Anya asked.

“You mean dust bunnies?” Buffy grinned.

“AHHHH! Stop it!” Anya shouted.

“Will you shut it?” Willow asked while Buffy began to giggle. “Now, Buffy, we feel that this may point to larger problems and we want to help you deal with it before someone gets hurt because they can’t reach you in an emergency.”

“We’re back to ‘we’ again, are we?” Spike asked.

“Apparently so,” Anya sighed.

“Willow?” Buffy interrupted as she fought to keep a straight face. “You can’t really believe with all the crap every one of us has pulled over the years that my cell phone issues are worth this kind of—”

Buffy never got to finish her sentence.

At just that moment that a dozen vampires boiled out of the trees and descended on the bickering group.

***

Xander was still in the midst of his muttered temper-fueled rant—one which began by blaming Buffy for failing to turn on her cell and ended with him blaming Buffy for failing to bring peace to the Middle East—when he looked up to see Dolly racing across the street.

“Dolly, what—”

She tried but failed to skid to a stop and slammed into him.

“Ooof!” Xander caught her and was able to keep them both upright. He pulled back when the smell of alcohol hit his nose. “Dolly? What’s going on?”

“It has someone,” Dolly panted out.

“WHAT?”

“Shhhhhh,” Dolly slapped a hand over Xander’s mouth and turned his head so he could see a couple weaving its way through the crowd. “There, look.”

Xander pulled her hand away and his eyes narrowed. “The woman,” he stated.

Dolly blinked. “H-how do ya know?”

“I can just tell.” Xander grabbed Dolly’s hand and dove into the crowd around the front of the bar. He bobbed and wove between people in an attempt to keep the couple in sight.

“What are you doing?” Dolly gasped as she tried to keep up.

“Tracking them.”

The couple up ahead paused when they reached the corner. Xander stopped and drew Dolly close in a hug.

Now what are you doing?” Dolly sputtered.

“Just another couple having a night on a town,” Xander urgently muttered as he watched the pair hold a discussion on the corner. When he saw Dolly’s confusion, he tersely explained, “Our demon has stopped moving. We have to wait.”

“Why not just stop it now?” Dolly said as she looked around.

“Big man attack little woman,” Xander grunted. “See these people? What do you think will happen if I tackle that thing in public?”

“Ouch. Right you are,” Dolly winced.

“What happened?” Xander asked.

“Approached me. Did the germ-o-phobe bit. Spot on hand got red. It got spooked,” Dolly telegraphed. “I pretended I didn’t know what red meant. It moved on to someone else. End story.”

“Ahhhh. The aroma of fresh whiskey?”

“When I tried to follow them out the door, I smacked into a guy with a drink in his hand.”

“Oh. Okay.” Xander’s head suddenly shot up. “They’re moving again. Let’s go.”

Dolly found herself dragged through the crowd and around the corner. Xander was so focused on following the demon that he didn’t even hear her squeaks of protest.

***

“Christ!” Spike shouted as he round-housed one of his attackers.

“Doesn’t your mouth burn when you say that?” asked Anya as she zigged away from a charging vampire.

“Fight-y now, talk-y later,” Willow yelled while she tried to fend off a third vampire using a branch. She stumbled when the vampire dissolved into ash, revealing one happy Buffy.

“I am not a spaz!” Buffy shouted as she charged once more into the fray.

“You still don’t know how to use a cell phone!” Anya countered between ducking.

“Both battle cries suck,” Spike opined as he staked an opponent.

***

Xander doggedly followed the ‘happy couple’ as they headed for the warehouse district. Xander uttered a curse. If he lost them among the handful of buildings the man was as good as dead, and this time he would be the one at fault.

He skidded around the corner and stopped when it instantly registered that the street in front of him was empty. He stumbled when someone bumped into him. He turned around and realized with a shock that he was still clutching Dolly’s hand.

“Hun?” Dolly wheezed. “Why are we…*whew*…gotta catch my breath…why stopping?”

“Where are they?” Xander worried as his eyes scanned the handful of buildings. “I know that thing can’t disappear into thin air. Where did they go?”

“Ow, ow, ow. I think I dislocated my shoulder,” Dolly complained.

“Shush, let me think,” Xander ordered. He dropped Dolly’s hand and moved a few steps away, his face a knot of concentration. “C’mon. Give me something. Anything,” he desperately whispered.

{do you hear that?} the whisper asked.

“No,” Xander whispered back.

{listen. really listen.} the whisper urged.

Xander took a few more steps away from Dolly. His eyes and ears strained to find any clue of their demon and its victim du jour.

“Hun?” Dolly softly called.

Xander waved behind him as a signal for her to keep quiet as he took a few more steps. He stopped when caught a sound just at the edge of his hearing. He closed his eyes and concentrated. His eyes snapped open and he cautiously approached one of the alleys between the buildings. He stopped short of the entrance, closed his eyes again, and concentrated some more.

Whispering, Xander thought with a suppressed shiver.

{shit.} the whisper agreed.

Xander turned on his heel and quick-timed his way to Dolly, wincing at the sound of his work boots against the sidewalk. He shoved his cell into the waitress’s hands and quietly said, “Buffy’s cell number is already up. Hit the ‘send’ button.”

“Whaddya gonna do?” Dolly asked.

Xander cast a worried glance at the alleyway. “What I have to,” he grimly replied.

“But—” Dolly began.

“Look, I’ll be fine. Just…just call Buffy. Tell her where we are and she and the others will be here before you can blink, okay?” Xander urged.

“What should I do?”

“Stay out of the way,” Xander said.

***

Willow had finally gotten some distance from their attackers and was busy throwing spells to push vampires away when they got too close for comfort to Buffy, Anya and Spike. Her face was tight with concentration and her focus so complete that she didn’t notice a vampire approaching her from behind.

Anya grabbed her mirrored headgear and charged for the witch. Willow didn’t notice Anya bearing down on her until the ex-demon shouted, “Duck!”

Willow instinctively dove to the ground and swore when Anya literally stopped on her back in an effort to get to her goal. Willow’s head shot up to yell at the ex-demon but the words of recrimination died in her mouth as she watched Anya beat the living crap out of the vampire’s face using the metal headpiece.

“A little help over here!” Anya screamed.

Buffy dusted her opponent, bounded over, and bagged Anya’s opponent. “Two in as many minutes! I sooooo rock,” Buffy cheered.

“Not much of a contest since they seem to be all over the place,” Willow muttered as she picked herself up from the ground. She spotted an approaching vampire and uttered the word of power that would mentally “shove” it away.

***

Xander stopped short of the alleyway opening and froze when the subtle sound of whispering and whimpering assaulted his ears. I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t. His mind circled on the thought, pinning his feet to the ground.

{you have to.} the whisper urged.

Buffy and Willow will be here soon. They can deal better than I can.

{they might not get here in time. you have to do this.} the whisper pleaded.

Xander convulsively swallowed and peered around the corner. The sight made his blood run cold.

The demon had dropped its disguise and was holding the man in an embrace. The pair was already starting to sink to the ground.

Xander knew what the next step would be for both of them.

He had to stop this. There was no one else.

Why couldn’t he move?

***

Dolly’s hands hung uselessly at her sides as she watched Xander peer into the alley and then retreat. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon,” she urged. She knew he was hesitating. She knew it was only a few seconds since he got there and that she had to be patient. She was troubled by the fact that she didn’t know whether he’d actually enter that alley.

“You can do it, hun. I know you can. Please, do this for both of us,” she pleaded.

She had never wanted a happy ending so much in her very, very long existence. If he failed, it would be her fault. She pushed this and pushed it too hard. She really thought he was ready. What if she was wrong? She really, really didn’t want to see him again in that bad way.

Her eyes narrowed when she saw Xander’s body posture hunch. “Do or die. You’ve got to do it, Xander,” she said under her breath.

She nearly shouted in relief when she saw him launch into the darkness. She let out a shuddering breath. “That’s my boy,” she quietly said.

***

The eight remaining vampires backed off on the ferocity of their attack, but continued to harass the quartet.

“I don’t get it. Why aren’t they going for the kill?” Spike asked as he swatted away another vampire.

“Maybe they’re rethinking their strategy?” Willow asked.

“Makes no sense. They know we’ve got a Slayer here. You’d think they’d be running for the hills,” Anya countered as she nervously looked around clutching her headgear.

“A fight like this? Not bloody likely. They’ve worked up an appetite,” Spike disagreed. “Bloodlust and hunger should be making them more aggressive, not less.”

“I love it when you speak form experience, Spike,” Buffy growled as she lunged and missed an approaching vampire.

“I’m just sayin’ is all,” Spike growled back.

“Why aren’t they running away? That would be the smart move,” Anya insisted as she swung the metal contraption as a threat.

“Maybe they’re afraid we’ll hunt them down and turn them into dust motes?” Willow asked.

“On a normal night, they’d be right,” Buffy grimly replied. “I sooo want to kick these guys’ asses.”

***

Xander dove into the alley and immediately slammed into two random metal trashcans that he hadn’t seen in the dark or noticed in his haste. The demon looked up and dropped the now-sobbing man as Xander continued his off-balance stumble forward.

Xander managed to catch himself before pitching face-first to the asphalt and hesitated long enough to see the demon’s look of confusion when he didn’t join the other man on the ground in a puddle of helpless despair.

“Nice try, asshole,” Xander raged as he charged forward.

***

Dolly winced when she heard the crash. She clutched the cell phone to her chest, rushed for the alleyway, and peered into the darkness. She had a sinking feeling that something had just gone very, very wrong.

Demon-enhanced vision translated the scene for her in moments. Xander was in mid-lunge when the deChantal stepped aside, grabbed its attacker, and used Xander’s own momentum against him to slam the man into a brick wall.

While Xander was off-balance, the demon grabbed one of the trashcan covers and swung wildly as Xander renewed his attack. Dolly winced when the metal came into hard contact with Xander’s skull and he crumpled in a dazed heap on the ground.

The deChantal seemed torn for a moment between its moaning attacker and the near-catatonic man rocking and whimpering in the corner. When Xander began to struggle to his feet, the deChantal’s mind was made up. He pounced on Xander and used its momentum to slam his head against the ground.

Every muscle in Dolly’s frame tightened in shock when the demon got into position to feed.

***

Buffy lunged at an approaching vampire and yelled in frustration as it danced out of reach.

“Maybe they’re playing rope-a-dope,” Spike suggested as he watched the remaining eight vampires circle around them.

“Who are you calling a dope?” Anya demanded.

“Boxing term, you nitwit. Maybe they’re trying to tire us out before coming in for the kill,” Spike said.

“I think I’m going to make a suggestion for new weapons at our next Scooby meeting,” Willow said.

“New weapons? What new weapons?” Buffy asked.

“Supersoakers filled with holy water,” Willow replied.

“I vote no,” Spike said. “Innocent vampires may get hurt.”

“You don’t get a vote, Spike,” Buffy said.

***

A wave of dizziness hit Xander when he tried to get up from the ground. His attempt to recover his feet was interrupted when a heavy weight landed on his chest and the back of his head slammed into the hard surface beneath him.

“What—” he began. He shivered when he felt a breath blow by his left ear.

>>Well, what have we here?<< the demon murmured .

{NO!} the whisper screamed.

Continued in Part 11

 

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