Chapter 20 – Super Ultra Violet
"She's a demon, damn you!" shouted Mr. Maclay, pointing an accusing finger in a nervous Tara's direction. Willow encircled her fellow Wiccan in a protective embrace at the shout and glared daggers in his direction.
"She is not!"
"And you're not getting to her except through us," said Buffy, standing with her arms crossed. She then turned and looked at Tara, adding, "We'll talk about that spell later, okay?"
"There won't be a later!" snapped Mr. Maclay. He started forward, hand outstretched to jerk Tara from Willow's arms, but a very large sword blade suddenly appearing as though from nowhere under his chin stopped him cold. Slowly the man turned his head and looked up into icy blue eyes – though he swore the left one turned hazel for half a second.
Xander's lip curled into a sneer as he looked down at the man at the end of his sword and growled, "You really wanna try that?"
Mr. Maclay stared at him in shock for a moment then scrambled back as the half devil's eyes flashed scarlet with a yelp. Tara's cousin immediately shrieked, "DEMON!"
Xander spun, jabbing Force Edge in her direction, his eyes blazing.
"Do not," he snarled with pure venom in his voice, "taint my name with that of scum." He then threw his free hand out to point at Tara, who was now being hugged by Willow from one side and Dawn from the other with Oz hovering behind them, and spat, "And she is not a demon by any means."
That stopped the cousin's shrieking in its tracks and she stammered for a moment before finally saying something coherent.
Xander rolled his eyes and dropped his blade so he could look at her fully without it in the way. And because threatening things he couldn't slice and dice with his blade just wasn't as fun.
"I," he said loudly and pointedly, laying one hand on his chest, "am half devil…and I swear, if you shriek again, woman, I'll give you a better reason than me being that. Being as I am half devil, I can sense things of devil and demon nature's." He gestured at Tara as he continued, "She is completely and utterly one hundred percent human. With that little dash of magic thrown in the flavor the mix, of course. But not demon."
He frowned and looked around, saying, "Yeah, I'm pretty much the only supernatural presence here."
Buffy and Faith both coughed and glared at him, which he grinned at.
"Sorry, Buffster, Slaygirl. Yeah, did we mention they're the Slayers?" At the Maclay's shocked looks, his grin widened. "Oops. Guess we should've mentioned that."
Mr. Maclay stared blankly at him for a moment then gathered himself up, glowering at the half devil.
"Now see here, you…"
"No," snarled Xander, bringing Force Edge back up to bear on the man, "you see here. You're gonna turn around and leave Sunny D and never come back. And you're gonna leave Tara with us."
"But…but she's…" began to stammer the cousin but Faith cut her off sharply with, "You say demon and I'll break your face. My hunny doesn't really like that word being used around him. Makes him cranky. And when he's cranky, I'm cranky."
"Please," breathed Tara's voice suddenly, "just leave."
Mr. Maclay started to speak again but was abruptly cut off.
"She kindly asked you to leave," growled Xander, stepping up to block the Maclay's view of Tara. His blue eyes dug into the man as he added, "She won't ask again. And if you don't do like she asked, I'd be real happy to throw you out."
Mr. Maclay glared at him then snorted, saying, "Fine. Take her."
"Uncle…" started the cousin.
"Leave 'er, Beth," growled Tara's brother Donny. He glared at his sister over Xander's shoulder as he added, "She's where she wants to be. With her own filthy kind."
Tara let out a little sob at that and Willow hugged her, muttering, "Shh, shh, it's okay." As his girlfriend comforted the Wiccan, Oz moved around them to stand beside Xander, his usually stoic expression giving slight way to anger. On the half devil's other side, Buffy and Faith didn't hide their anger at the Maclay's in their manner or faces.
Xander cast a glare at the brother then looked down at Tara's father.
"Well?" he growled. "Why are you still here?"
Mr. Maclay blinked then turned and left, motioning at his son and niece to follow. They lingered for a few minutes, both looking at Tara over the shoulders of her human shields. Then Xander growled and they fled, leaving the Scoobies alone in the shop.
Slowly, everyone gathered around Tara, who had gotten a hold of herself again and was smiling at them.
Xander shook his head, a smile suffusing the grim expression on his face. He reached out and touched her shoulder, catching her eyes with his.
"You're a Scooby, Tar. We don't let things happen to our own."
"Damn right!" exclaimed Faith, earning a jab in the ribs from Buffy's elbow. "Hey, what the fuck, B?"
The blonde Slayer frowned and nodded towards Dawn, who was trying to cheer Tara up by joking with Xander.
"Impressionable young mind in the room, Faith."
"I'm not a kid!" snapped Dawn.
"Oh, yes, you are!" exclaimed Xander as he grabbed her into a headlock. "Noogie!"
"Biopsy?" repeated Xander, frowning at wall. "Isn't that surgery on the brain?"
Buffy's voice at the other end of the line was shaky as she replied.
"Yes. They said there was a shadow on her brain and they need to find out what it is."
"Jeez. Buff…if there's anything we can do, you know…"
"I know," whispered the blonde Slayer. She took a deep breath then and asked, "How's Dawn?"
"Kiddo? Worried 'bout your mom but otherwise okay. I ordered pizza and we watched the Death Star explode. Again."
Buffy smiled on the other end of the line and chuckled.
"Somehow I get the feeling you're going to be good with kids, Xan."
"Me?" exclaimed the half-devil. He scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Eh…I never thought of it. Not with…y'know."
"Faith being a Slayer and you being a half-devil?"
"I know. Probably won't ever happen but…I still think that."
"Er…thanks, Buff. I think."
She chuckled again then said, "Oh, the doctor's coming back. I have to let you go, Xan."
"No prob," said Xander. "Just give us a ring when you find out everything. Elsewise Dawnie might just sneak out to the hospital herself."
"Will not!" came the cry from across the house and the two chuckled.
"Yeah, I believe that for no amount of time," said Buffy. "'Bye, Xan."
"'Bye. Oh, and, Buff?"
"It'll be okay."
Buffy blinked, tears stinging her eyes, then whispered, "Thanks, Xan."
"No prob. 'Bye."
There was a click at the other end of the line and the blonde Slayer hung up the phone before turning to face the doctor who came with news about her mother.
"Wait, we did what!"
"Sold Glory a Kohl's Amulet and Sobekium Bloodstone," replied Anya – who was now working for Giles – to Xander's question.
"A wha-huh and a wha-huh?" asked the half-devil.
Willow looked up and replied, "Basically it's two components of a spell…"
"She's going to summon Sobek," interrupted Anya.
"Didn't we fight one of those already?" asked Oz as he settled into the chair next to Willow.
"Did we?" asked Xander. "I know we did the fish guys…where was reptile demon?"
"I think the demon in the frat house where Cordelia dragged me was a reptile. Oh, and the Mayor," offered Buffy. She then shook her head and asked, "Okay, what does she need to summon this demon?"
Anya frowned then replied, "Some type of reptile. More likely a large one."
Xander sighed and rose, saying, "Anyone thinking what I'm thinking?"
"Zoo?" offered Faith.
"Zoo," agreed Buffy as she picked up a sword.
"Why does that look familiar?" asked Riley as he and Xander went on patrol.
"The sheath on your sword. It's different but it looks familiar."
The half-devil frowned and tilted his head back slightly to regard the top half of his sheath. Dark scales glinted and he grinned.
"Oh, yeah," he said. "I figured it'd be a waste to let that big snake skin just get tossed out."
"You skinned a demon and used its skin to cover your sword sheath?"
"Trust me, I can remember worse from Dante's memories."
"Don't tell me. Just…don't."
Xander chuckled then growled, "Vamps," as he reached back for his sword.
Riley's easy manner faded instantly and he drew a stake in either hand, eyes darting around as he moved back-to-back with the half-devil. "How many?"
"Two. Maybe three."
"More'n likely. We haven't had an older vamp in town since Peroxide."
The ex-commando nodded then blinked as two very skanky looking female vampires appeared. "Huh?"
"It happens," said Xander nonchalantly as he bounded forward, unsheathing Force Edge as he went. The blade sang as it swooped through the air and cleaved one vampire's head from her body, leaving her body to crumble to dust. A stake flying through the air caught the other as she turned to flee and she joined her friend a moment later.
"Nice job," commented the half-devil as he retrieved the stake and tossed it back to Riley, who tucked it back into his belt. "Now…what the hell?"
"What?" asked Riley before he caught sight of something falling to Earth as well.
The two looked at each other for a moment then took off in the direction it had fallen as fast as they could go. It took them almost two hours to track down where it had fallen and dawn was starting to appear in the eastern sky as they approached the fresh crater in the ground.
"Looks like it up and crawled away. But what was it?" asked the ex-commando as Xander slid down into the crater to investigate the meteor, one hand gripping his sword. "Demon? Devil?"
The half-devil sniffed then snorted, growling in response, "Neither. Whatever this is, it ain't anything like I've ever seen. Or that I can recall Dante seeing."
Riley frowned at that.
"Crap. Should we investigate the woods?"
"Probably long gone by now. And there's a dead body at two o'clock."
"Huh?" He looked around and blinked before approaching the body of the mental patient lying nearby. Crouching down beside it, he dug a pen out of his pocket as he called out, "There's something in his mouth. Goo."
Xander approached the body with one hand over his nose, saying, "Stinks to high heaven, too." Backing away, he looked at the hollow meteor before he added, "We need to call someone."
Riley looked up at that then frowned.
"I can make a call."
"Military?" said the half-devil.
Xander looked at him for a long moment then grinned goofily.
"Demons exist," pointed out Riley. "And vampires."
"Now that," said the half-devil, waggling one finger, "is completely beside the point. Anyway, call the nice military men and ask them to come and look at our new pet's mess."
The ex-commando looked at him for a long moment before he pulled out his phone and started dialing a number.
"You," he said as he waited for a response from the other end of the line, "are a very strange person."
Xander just grinned and chirped, "Thanks a million, pal."
"And that just proved my point."
"So, it's a demon," said Xander in his phone, watching Faith as she jumped impatiently from one foot to the other. "Okay, that clears up some stuff. So how do we find it, Wills? And does the usual hack 'n slash work to get rid of it?"
"Ooo, hack 'n slash," chirped Faith, bouncing excitedly now. "Can I use yah sword!"
"Down, honey, down. Good girl. Now repeat that, Wills. Yeah, okay. Er…maybe we could use a tracking spell? Not without a piece of it. Damn."
Faith frowned and scuffed her foot across the ground, snapping, "C'mon, X! Let's just go hunt for tha damn thing and kill it's slimy ass!"
The half-devil sighed at his overeager lover then went back to the phone conversation.
"Okay, Wills, I got it. No, no, don't call Buffy about this. She's got enough to worry about right now. Me 'n Faith'll go after this thing…maybe grab Riley and haul him along with us since he was with me when we found the meteor. And, yeah, I swear we'll be careful. Bye."
Hanging up and tossing the phone into his coat pocket, he turned to the now scowling Faith.
"Now we can go," he said with a small smile.
The dark-haired Slayer stomped her foot and shouted, "'Bout damn time!"
"Oh, my beloved impatient Valkyrie…"
" 'Valkyrie?' " repeated Faith, a grin suffusing her face as they started walking towards the hospital, which was where they'd seen Riley and a handful of military personnel heading to earlier. "I kinda like that one, X."
Xander smiled, saying, "Thought you would. Now c'mon so we can catch Riley before he leaves."
It didn't take them long to cover the ground between where they'd been to Sunnydale Memorial and they got there just as Riley was jumping into a humvee.
"Yo, Armyboy!" shouted Faith, waving as she sprinted across the parking lot ahead of Xander. He caught up to her as she stopped near the humvee and shook his head.
"That's the last time I try to race a Slayer… Riley, man, find something?"
"We managed to trace the things signature here," replied the ex-commando. "But the trail stops in the parking lot so we figure it hitched a ride with a discharged patient."
"Discharged patient…holy shit."
Both Xander and Faith paled then shoved their way into the vehicle, the Slayer perched on the half-devil's lap as Riley quickly snapped off the Summers address to the driver and told him to make it snappy.
With a frantic ex-teammate, half-devil, and Slayer crammed in the passenger seat, the lieutenant driving the humvee put his foot to the floor and broke about eight traffic laws.
Faith was out of the vehicle before it came to a complete stop and Xander wasn't far behind her, freeing his sword from its sheath as the two of them ran towards the front door. Riley was right behind them and caught up with them as the Slayer kicked the door in, drawing a knife as she ran inside.
"Dawnie!" shouted Xander as he entered the house, looking frantically about for the teenager.
The half-devil nodded at the muffled shout from upstairs and started looking around for the demon since there wasn't a corpse in sight. Riley started towards Buffy when she and Faith appeared from within the kitchen and asked, "Where is it?"
"Fell down the stairs and lost it," replied the blonde Slayer. She held a kitchen knife tightly in her hand. "It tried to get Mom."
Xander stiffened at that and his eyes flashed briefly red.
"Oh, yeah," he growled. "Motherfucker is dead now."
"Damn right," hissed Faith, equally as angry.
Riley nodded stiffly then froze at a sound from the living room. As he moved forward, the Queller appeared behind Faith, latching onto her back. She spun with a shout, snapping at it with her elbow, but it didn't fall off until Buffy swiped at it with her knife.
As it started to skitter away, Xander leapt forward with what was essentially a roar and cleaved the thing in two with Force Edge. When the two pieces kept moving, he kept right on hacking until they stopped.
Breathing harshly, he looked at Faith, who said, "You killed it good, X."
"Damn right, I did," he growled before he turned to Buffy. "Are they okay?"
The blonde nodded, replying, "Yeah, I think so. Dawn caught it before it got Mom."
Xander smiled a bit at that, murmuring, "Good job, kiddo."
Buffy smiled as well then said, "I'd better go check on them," before fleeing upstairs, leaving the three of them standing in the foyer with the hacked-to-bits corpse.
Riley looked down at the pieces for a moment then sighed, saying, "I'll go tell them to run clean-up on this."
Xander and Faith just nodded, standing silently until he was almost out to the parked humvee. Then the Slayer walked over to her lover, wrapping an arm around his waist as he pulled her into a one-armed hug. Still silent, they stared at the stairs leading up, paying absolutely no attention to the clean up going on behind them.
Every thought was on the three people upstairs.