Disclaimer: The characters are theirs, the Universe belongs to someone
else, but the story is mine. This is all that stops either of the other
two parties from ripping me off entirely. Ironic that they want to sue
us for writing stuph like this, isn't it?

Summary: AU seen in _'Till There Was You_. Kitty the demon slayer gets
an unlikely ally.

Archiving: Email cat@devil.com and ask nice :) Comments can also go to
this address :)

Coding info: Since fanfic is wont to turn up on web pages, I've
deliberately avoided anything to do with greater-than or less-than
signs, because they tend to screw up HTML something chronic. Hence;
asterisks (*) denote emphasis, underscores (_) thoughts or italics,
curly brackets ({}) sound effects and square brackets ([]) foreign
languages. I refuse point blank to codify accents, as it winds up
reading like lousy spelling :) I have enough trouble with that as it is.

From the Author: Welcome to book two of the Crisis of Infinite Kurts :)
I just love AU :) You can make shit up and get away with it. Not that I
don't, *anyway*, but that's not the point.

Mein Tuefel
InterNutter

For a demon-slayer, Kitty had some pretty remarkable gifts. The first,
of course, was the outright savagery trained into every demon-slayer on
the planet. The second was her power, which made it impossible for any
demon to touch her. Literally.
There was only one real flaw.
She missed one. Repeatedly.
Every hex she tried, every potion she threw at him, every cunningly-
planned trap, fell down into nothing. All the arcana were of no use
against the creature, and none of the demonology books had anything like
him in their pages.
Other demon-slayers had met him, of course, so Kitty was convinced
that he was real. It was just that - he kept coming back.
She growled at the entry in her latest tome. This was just a bunch of
stuff she'd written herself from observations, only far more organised
into a coherent whole. *And* she'd just blown fifty good, decent dollars
on the damn thing from Tomes 'R' Us...
{Bamf!}
"A little light reading, fraulein?"
Kitty looked up. It was hanging from her light and grinning at her,
upside-down.
"Go away," she groaned. "I'm not in the mood."
{Bamf!} and he was perching on her desk. "Bad day at the office, eh?
Maybe a nice cup of hot chocolate would help improve your mood, ja?"
Already, the catalogue of traits from her long hunt of this demon was
marching through her head. _Possible German origin. High calorie
requirements, yet purports to have a revulsion for human flesh or blood.
More interested in low-level mischief than outright chaos. Has, on a
number of occasions, acted in a mysteriously benevolent manner. Shows no
fear of holy objects/ground, or demon-slayers._
"What would improve my mood, demon, is your sorry blue furry hide
hanging on display on my wall-of-pride."
"No sooner said than done," {Bamf!} and he was clinging to the wall.
"Am I the right way up? Or properly co-ordinated?" He grinned.
"I meant *just* the hide."
"Sorry. I much prefer it where it is." {Bamf!} and he was sitting
comfortably in her client's chair. "I bet you can't guess what *I*
want..."
Kitty raised an eyebrow. "You're volunteering a weakness? To *me*?"
"What can I say? I like you."
"What's the catch?"
"Catch? Who said there had to be a catch? I like you, and I want to
help."
Kitty made a noise. His ideas of 'help' had almost wiped out an entire
city, once. Not to mention caused her inexplicable amounts of grief.
_Think on the bright side, Kitty. At least I'm not like the one in
Sunnydale, who went and *married* an actual *vampire*._
"Honest. I *do*. And now that you're not in the mood to actually try
and kill me, I thought I'd venture the idea."
Whatever. "All right. What *do* you want?"
"I want to join."
"What? You seriously believe *I'd* join *your* side."
"*Never*. I said *I* want to join. Your side. Not that I was ever on
*their* side. All that craving for raw meat... Yuck..."
"Are you pulling my chain?"
"Not at all, fraulein. Think of the prestige. Your very own tame demon
- on a leash, even - fighting at your side. You'll definitely have them
talking in *Sunnydale*, especially the Slayer there. What was her name?
Bouffant? Bunny?"
He apparently knew her as well as she knew him. Kitty and Buffy had
been having a cat fight on global-thermonuclear-war scales ever since
they'd crossed paths and Kitty had attempted to slay Buffy's beau.
Still, the Sunnydale Scooby Gang did have quite a record with
enlisting... Maybe it was high time she got a tame demon of her own.
"Booger," Kitty answered with a leer. "Say, for the sake of argument,
I do decide to let you cross sides. What do I have to do to ensure you
won't turn again?"
"I never turned in the first place," he said. "But for your peace of
mind, I'll tell you anyway. Pay me a decent wage, and give me a place to
live."
"That's *it*?"
"You were expecting something like walking backwards in a circle,
naked, during a thunderstorm or lunar eclipse and laying down a matrix
of natron? I'm not that kind of guy."
Time to test if he was serious. "So. What do I call you?"
"Since you finally asked so nicely, my name is Kurt Wagner. All that
name-of-Christ stuff *really* irked me."
Kitty boggled at him. "You have a *human* name?"
Kurt looked in both directions before leaning conspiratorially
forwards. "Don't tell anyone," he whispered. "But I'm also human. Pure-
bred."
"You're - not a demon."
"Not in the slightest." Kurt grinned and put his misshapen feet up on
her desk. "I just look the part."
Then Kitty began to scream.

It was a good scream, and Kurt had heard more than his fair share. The
scream contained years of frustration, fury, rage, anger, and about five
seconds of solid realisation. Poor Kitty. Their game of Seek and Destroy
had gone on so long that it was hard to recall a life before it. Now
that it was over, she deserved to vent.
Kurt raised an eyebrow. Sooner or later, she was going to have to
breathe. He hoped. Her face was red, and he could see her pulse beating
in the vein in her neck. Did she deserve to vent *this* much?
"Take a breath, *please*, fraulein," he begged. "You don't want to
faint on me. I never know how to handle fainting women. How about I make
you a hot chocolate? You'll feel better, ja? Just please breathe?"
Her breathing still had elements of scream in it, barely restrained.
Rage and feral ferocity worked fine when fighting demons, but it tended
to be a bit of trouble when dealing with people. Especially aggravating
people.
"Tha-at's it," he coached. "Nice, deep breaths. Feel the anger melt
away..."
"Rrrrr..."
Kurt took the hint and shut up for a change. He could wait this out.
Sure. For about five seconds, before the urge to fidget took over his
entire body. Kurt never could stand to see Kitty angry. Or sad. He
always wanted to make her happy. Sometimes - okay, *often* - he had to
settle for making her laugh. At least he was good at that.
"*Why*?" Kitty finally demanded. "Why didn't you just *say* you were
human?"
"How often did you give me the chance to?" Kurt shrugged. "It's very
difficult to introduce yourself with an oaken stake headed your way. And
peasants with torches rarely listen, ja?"
"You're telling me," said Kitty, "that you've been waiting *three*
*years*..."
"Ja."
"...for me to calm down enough..."
"Ja."
"...so that you could *tell* me that you're *harmless*?" Her voice had
risen to a shout of disbelief.
"Ja. That's it," Kurt nodded vigorously.
"Either you're very patient or you're very stupid."
"Thank you, I think."
"I'm leaning towards 'stupid', though."
"Of course," said Kurt. "I could have killed myself, or been killed a
hundred times over."
"No. It's because my Watcher and I are going to test you - and if it
turns out you're lying, we'll know how to kill you." Kitty grinned.
"Come to America," Kurt sarcasmed. "Land of Opportunity. Realm of the
Slayers, where every citizen can sleep at night... *HA*!" He got up and
paced the room. "And I thought I was coming here to be *safe* from
persecution..."

"*Ha*!"
Kurt blinked at the object. "That," he announced, "would be a
Hersheban Dong - feared by any demon with a love of accountancy,
economics and bookkeeping."
Niles, Kitty's Watcher, put it back down and grasped yet another
object. "Ha?"
"A green-eyed yellow idol from the shores of Khatmandu," Kurt said.
"Quite rare. They can go for millions in the right circles, you know."
"Quite," said Niles.
"In the *wrong* circles, you'd be lucky to get three-fifty," he
continued. "Just can't give them away."
"Rrrr," said Kitty.
"And since our Slayer is getting impatient," prompted Kurt. "Why don't
we just move on to the blood test?"
"Blood... test?"
"Ja. Just take some blood and find out what type it is. Easy. Humans
have O, A, B, and AB; demons have the rest of the alphabet."
"You're saying that you're going to *let* us take your blood?" said
Niles.
"I'll even let you shave my arm so you can find a vein."
"You're letting a *Slayer* take your *blood*."
"Ja. Now can we get this *over* with, please? I'm missing lunch."

"Inconceivable!"
Kurt, midway through his eleventh chinese take-out box, finished his
mouthful with a chaser of soft drink. "Let me guess. O positive. Just
like it was last week."
"You've done this before."
"Every blood drive," Kurt grinned. "The *red* cross may not accept me,
but the *green* cross welcomes anyone."
Niles raised an eyebrow. "*Green* cross?" he quoted.
"Not all demons are here to raise hob," Kurt said, picking titbits
from the take-out. "Most of them are quite happy, minding their own
business and trying to have a life. Most are in LA, funny enough."
Kitty didn't find it remotely funny. "Are you just going to talk about
*nothing*, or are you going to provide some actual intelligence?"
"You mean like how a Neauralger is plotting to take over the city by
raising an army of Succubi?"
Kitty's jaw dropped.
"Or perhaps the one about the Derangeur who happens to be hunting the
Lost Chalice of Palais?"
Now it was Niles' turn to be stunned.
"Or maybe you'd like to hear about Drak'nar? *He's* planning a demon
brood thing at a rave party this Halloween." Kurt paused to swig at his
drink. "Those are the top three menaces to life as we know it, and the
first two are bound to implode before long."
"How," said Kitty, with deliberate slowness, "the *Hell* do you *know*
all this stuff?"
"I have mein sources, leibchen."
Kitty winced. "Don't *ever* call me that again."
He sighed. "As you wish."

Things went more or less as predicted. The Neauralger's army of
Succubi turned out to be a host of very cute baby demons, none older
than four, and already they were having an effect on their guardian.
Neauralgers, viewing sex as the abomination that they did, were
naturally immune to both Succubi and Incubi. Unless, of course, the
demons in question actually worked in groups.
The little Succubi were also deeply involved in a general air of low-
grade hostility against each other, and it was only a matter of time
before hostilities escalated to lethal levels.
Kitty didn't need to do any work *there*. With a little luck, there'd
be few survivors - if any at all - after things 'imploded'.
As for the Derangeur, Kurt bamboozled him into throwing himself off a
cliff after what he believed to be the Chalice of Palais. Kurt had
watched the demon fall to his doom before dusting his hands off in a
self-satisfied manner.
"Yep," he said. "Works *every* time..."
"You've done this before?"
"Seems like every other week," said Kurt. "I get fake Chalices on job
lot from this neat little market down on--"
"I *don't* want to hear about it, 'kay?"
"Jawohl."
As for Drak'nar... he was understandably miffed to discover that his
cunning plan had been ruined.
"You know, mein fruend, it's amazing how many demons rely on spells
that can be ruined so easily," Kurt said to the demon. "Take, for
example, this little crystal objet d'art..." and he did.
{Snarl...}
"Vital, is it?" Kurt began tossing it about. "You wouldn't want me to
drop it, would you?"
{*Growl*!}
"Whoop!"
Drak'nar froze in mid-lunge, watching in horror as Kurt fumbled, and
caught the piece with his tail.
"Clumsy of me," Kurt chided, casually going into a handstand. "What
*was* I thinking?" His tail, still holding the crystal, swayed around
like an independant thing, taking many swoops and dives and, Drak'nar
flinched, nearly knocking the fragile thing against several hard
surfaces.
It was almost a mercy for Drak'nar to have his tail lopped off from
behind. He'd been watching the blue demon, and not the Slayer.

Kitty raised an eyebrow as the Espergil crumpled into prune-dom.
"First time I've seen one of them *smile* at me for killing them," she
noted. "Must be your charming influence."
"You're so cute when you do sarcasm," Kurt grinned as he returned to a
more upright stance.
Kitty shuddered. "Stay away from me."
Kurt sighed, and muttered something that sounded remarkably like,
"Damn..."
"Go fetch the bags," Kitty ordered. "We have *got* to raid this
place."
"What am I? Your packhorse?"
"No, but you're the nearest suitable quadruped. Get the bags and quit
giving me lip."
Sigh. "As you wish." {Bamf!}
Unfortunately, he was back in a matter of seconds. With the bags, and
twice as much insolent lip as ever before. She let him ramble on for
about a minute before she gave up and clapped a hand over his perpetually
flapping mouth.
"Shut. Up." Kitty ordered. "If you're going to be on my payroll, then
there are going to be *rules*. You'll obey them, or you're back out on
the streets. Capiche?"
Kurt almost deflated. "Ja."

He'd told her she could use a leash on him in jest. He'd never thought
for a second that once his not-so-secret-secret was revealed, that she'd
actually take him at his word. The collar chafed all the more because he
was chained to her desk like an animal.
Her very *heavy* desk, that he couldn't teleport with if he tried.
It was only his imagination that made the collar so damn tight around
his neck.
Only his imagination.
He still couldn't breathe.
Kurt pulled on the chain, trying to force a link to weaken. He'd been
such an *idiot*. As if joining the staff of a Slayer was going to help
him. Nothing was going to help him. Not his day job, not singing in the
church, not lighting candles and *certainly* not prayer.
He was alone, and ugly, and a freak, and that damn collar was getting
tighter...
Kitty wasn't anywhere within the range of his senses. She'd probably
left him here as some kind of test.
Or, knowing her, some kind of torture.
That *was* one thing Kitty enjoyed above all other things - revenge.
She got off on it, somehow, probably because a demon had tried to get at
her by getting at her family, way back when she was a novice Slayer.
It didn't matter that he'd tried to stop the bastard, all that
mattered to her was that he looked like a demon, and all demons had to
suffer.
He'd have to pretend to be pissed off at her, just to make her happy.
It was only a little lie, well worth the price of admission to see a
smile - however twisted - on her lovely face.
But then, he couldn't even lie himself into calming down.
He was choking, he couldn't stop it, and there was no-one there to
help him.
Unconsciousness, he knew, would solve the problem. His body would pull
air quite normally without him complicating things at the helm, as it
were. But that didn't stop him from being afraid, as he always was, that
this period of unconsciousness would be his last.
Not for the first time, Kurt Wagner wished he could travel in time, so
he could go back and kill the sadist who came up with the line, "If I
should die before I wake" in a prayer for *children*.
At least he'd sleep without dreams. If one could charitably call
unconsciousness by psychosomatic asphyxiation *sleep*...
But then, he had to take whatever he could get.

It was nice to sleep without dreams. Without nightmares. Even if there
was someone in his head.
_What the--?_ Yes. There was a definite presence, and this time it
wasn't one of his inner voices. _You. Out,_ he ordered the stranger.
_This isn't a safe place to be._
_Yet you live here,_ said the other voice.
_Ja. I know where I hide all the tiger traps,_ Kurt fought for
consciousness, only to find that this other presence had him in the
mental equivalent of a head-lock. Damn. _Kitty sent you to scope me out,
didn't she?_
The equivalent of a wry expression. _My, you *are* fast on the
uptake._
_I know Kitty. She *is* the belt and braces sort._
_Quite._ Kurt got the impression of a sidelong glare in Kitty's
general direction. _Unfortunately for you, your story checks out._
_So nice to know I'm trusted,_ Kurt sarcasmed. Then, _Why
'unfortunately'?_
_Because you're going to have to weather her post-lecture snit._ The
other presence left.
'Snit'? That was a *word*? Kurt resurfaced from unconsciounsness
without encountering any vivid or unwelcome flashbacks, and was
subsequently treated to the last half of the lecture. He winced at most
of it, knowing as he did that Kitty never liked being told off.
He'd watched her often enough at the Slayer's Academy to know she
chafed at anything resembling a bit.
He pitied anyone in her warpath tonight.
Oops. That included *him*.
Crap.

"Perhaps, if you'd given the creature the benefit of the doubt, he
could have been turned to our cause years ago. This is precisely *why*
you need to control your impulsiveness, Kitty."
Kitty, meanwhile, was slowly sizzling up a temper of epic proportions.
The Professor knew perfectly well that a Demon had wounded her parents,
way back when she'd been Chosen, and *this* creature was involved in the
whole mess. This thing that called itself Kurt Wagner had been integral
to ruining life as she knew it.
And now she'd 'tamed' it.
Swell.
At least she had a rather large opportunity for revenge - or rather,
she'd *had* an opportunity. Kurt had the luck of the devil that he
resembled, because there was a chance he really *was* the human he
claimed to be.
Which meant that there were *rules*.
Rules she'd conveniently been breaking for three F-ing years.
_God, there's going to be Hell to pay._
"Kitty? Are you listening?"
What was the point of listening? She'd heard it all before. Several
billion times, it felt like.
_Then perhaps you could tell me where I was up to?_ said the
Professor, inside her head.
"Rrrr..." Kitty took a breath and quoted from memory. "You can do
wonderful things, Kitty, if only you could put aside your anger at what
happened to your family."
The Professor nodded.

"Wise words."
Kitty turned on Kurt with a snarl. She'd almost forgotten he was
there. "Shut up, you."
He held up his mutated hands in surrender. "Then this is a *really*
bad time to discuss our little deal, ja? I'll just go back to where I
was staying and pack up my things, shall I?" Treading carefully, Kurt
headed towards the door.
Kitty siezed his tail and dragged him towards the radiator. "You," she
announced, "are not leaving this room." A pair of handcuffs appeared
from the second drawer of her desk. One end snapped around his wrist,
the other resonated as it was attached to the radiator.
"As you wish," Kurt sighed. _Can't you do anything to calm her down?_
he thought at the Professor.
_I've been trying for three years. Just let her work it out._
_...I'm doomed..._ He was the chief reason for her anger. Turning up
in her vicinity as he did so often. As he couldn't help doing. She had
such a bright light inside her - to his night senses, anyway - that he
felt drawn towards her, like a moth to a flame. _I should have expected
to get burned._
Kurt hunkered down where he was, and tried not to think about how long
it had been since he'd eaten. Stupid hyperactive metabolism.

Kitty had just finished kicking the crap out of her punching bag when
she noticed that the Nightcrawler's breathing had changed. It was still
difficult to think of him as anything other than the demon he appeared
to be, or by any other name than the appellation she'd invented for him.
She should have called him Trouble. Nightcrawler was just way too cool a
name.
"What's *your* problem?" she demanded.
"Don't mind me," he said. "I'm just trying not to pass out. Biological
debt, and all. I'd be fine if I had some *food*... but since I'm chained
up, here, I can't eat."
Kitty had crossed the distance between them while he was talking.
She'd always hated that he was so damn chatty, but the Professor had
insisted that she try to worm some details of his past out of him. "So
what do I feed you?" she asked. "Purina Demon Chow?"
A long, slow, burn. "*Please*," he sarcasmed. Another moment was lost
to him clinging to consciousness. "I'll eat anything as long as it has
calories. I *need* calories. And it has to be hot. Preferably cooked,
but right now I'm a little beyond caring about details. Lots of
calories..." his head drooped and his eyes rolled upwards. "...should
never have 'ported all those full bags at once..."
Curiosity piqued, Kitty had to ask. "So why *did* you do it?"
"You *asked*." A helpless smile and a shrug, before he went back to
leaning against the wall.
Kitty headed towards the kitchen, rolling her eyes. "I was right, you
*are* stupid."
"I love you, too," he growled.
"You say anything like that again," Kitty said sweetly, "and I'll rip
your tail out."
"Shutting up," said Nightcrawler.

Sometimes, he really had to wonder if he'd made the right move.
Especially times like this, where he was handcuffed to the radiator
*and* chained to her desk by the leash. Maybe he should have tried to be
evil - except he didn't have the stomach for it.
Never had, never will.
And yet, whenever he tried to help people, things went horribly wrong.
He'd have to talk his way out of here, if only for a handful of hours,
so he could light a candle for Sister Rosenbaum. It wasn't her fault
she'd done what she did. It was all on him, for looking like a demon -
and wanting to be a hero.
Kitty dropped the last cardboard container in his lap. "That's all the
leftovers I've got. If that isn't enough, then tough."
A brief inventory revealed barely-warmed over three slices of
unidentifyable pizza. He was glad of them. "Danke. That should be enough
to see me through to dawn." _I hope._ He wolfed down the pizza and went
back to the fried chicken, cracking open the bones for their marrow.
Kitty shuddered, looking entirely repulsed. "I'm starting to think the
Demon Chow would be a good idea," she muttered darkly.
"Trust me," he said after his latest mouthful. "With me, it does not
promote a healthy coat or a bright eye." He grimaced at the very thought
of being fed kibble, let alone kibble with flavours like _Hearts 'n'
Newt Eyes_ or _Cerebellum Crunch_. "Tell you what, fraulein; you let me
go on my word, I'll fetch my things and go on an independant
reconnaisance mission during the day. You *know* I can't stay away from
you--"
"Rrrr..."
Okay, maybe that was the wrong thing to say. Damn his urge to babble.
"Think of it as a trust exercise. You get to do whatever you like if I'm
not back before dark."
"No." The finality of the word hit him hard. "I'm not letting you out
of my sight."
Damn.
"Do I at least get a phone call? I owe my boss that much."
"Your. Boss."
"I *do* have a day job, fraulein. A guy's gotta eat..."
"And eat, and eat, and eat," said Kitty.
Kurt grinned. "If I keep my day job, maybe I can pay for mein own
meals *and* board. You wouldn't have to *get* any Demon Chow."
"Not. Today. You can call your boss, and I *will* be watching you. Any
demon tricks, and say 'hello' to Mr Pointy." She gestured with her
favourite stake.

Nightcrawler bought the telephone over with his free hand and dialed a
number. Kitty was, true to her word, watching like a hawk. No
supernatural prefixes, and it looked like a number in the Bayville area.
"Guten tag, Gareth!" he chirped, sounding for all the world as if he
was having a pleasant day and wished to share it around. "Well... you
could say I'm with a friend. Kind of. Ja, I won't be able to make it to
work today. I got - a little tied up with something."
Kitty raised an eyebrow and ducked into the next room.
"Nein! You'll laugh. I'm *not* going to tell you either, so knock it
off. *No*..."
Where the hell was the other phone?
"I'm not going to, Gareth; you can't make me."
Aha! Kitty seized the earpiece.
Nightcrawler sighed. "All *right*..." then he sang, "Look at me/I'm
the drama queen if that's your thing baby/Maybe next time use your eyes
and/Look at me--"
Gareth burst into laughter. "AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA...
AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA... (cough cough cough) That is
*SO* lame! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!"
"*Shuddup*..."
"AAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAA... aaahhhh... I
*told* you that I saw you chained to a desk... Has she bought out the
paddle yet?"
"Shut *up*..."
"Or maybe it's the cat-o'-nine-tails..." Gareth dissolved into another
fit of giggles.
"She's not that kind of girl!" Nightcrawler was actually getting
angry. Interesting... she'd have to start another set of notes. "Leave
her alone, Gareth. This all falls on me, so shuddup."
Gareth was busting a gut trying not to laugh. "Okay. Okay. (snort)
Okay. (sniff) So does this mean you're finally moving out? I *don't*
have to spend half my time vaccuuming blue fur out of my upholstry, my
lint traps? My *dinners*...?"
"I don't shed *that* badly; but ja, I'm probably moving out sometime
soon. We made a deal."
"Well, since she's listening in on the other phone, maybe we can get
her to sing a few bars of _Would I Lie to You_ and see if she was
serious."
"How the hell did *you* know I was listening in?" Kitty demanded.
"I may be a demon, honey, but I'm not stupid. You get this funny
little echo thing happening whenever another phone's picked up," said
Gareth. "Now be a good girl and let me see if you're as good as your
word."
"No."
"I told you Kitty had this thing about demons. Give it up, man. Just
get your green scaly ass over here with mein overnight bag. And *don't*
forget my brushes this time."
"After the last time? Hell, no." A brief pause. "In case you're
interested, if he doesn't exfoliate, he *de*foliates. *All* over the
scenery. You'll be picking up clumpy bits of blue fuzz into next
*year*."
"Oh yeah?" said Nightcrawler. "Well at least *I* don't leave sharp
little scales everywhere each springtime... Those things will *cripple*
you, Kitty."
"HA! You should see the sick little fantasies he has about you. Every
single time he sings a Beatles' song, he *broadcasts*. And he sings
*all* the *time*."
"*Clappe*! That's none of her business!"
"It's *nauseating*," Gareth continued. "He does it in the shower, when
he's doing the laundry, when he *cooks*... it's enough to turn my
stomach."
"Says the demon who eats three helpings before asking about dessert,"
chimed Nightcrawler.
"I'm guessing," said Kitty at length, "that he isn't a good
housemate."
"Oh, don't get me wrong, dear," said Gareth. "it takes years to
generate this much contempt. You'll love him for about - a year, tops,
before the little things start to get on your nerves."
"Ja, I'm a fantastiche cook."
"You're both gay, aren't you?" said Kitty.
"Nein!"
"*No*... it's all an act. The public expects it. As for Kurt, darling,
he's just itching to be some pretty girl's houseboy."
"I am *not*..."
"Alright, *her* houseboy."
"That's better."
"Whatever."
"This is way more than I want to know," Kitty announced. "You've both
got until seven, then *we* have to go to school."

He really, really *hated* the leash. Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.
Anything that distracted him - and there was plenty, since he hadn't
been to school since he left Heirelgart, a little over three years ago -
caused Kitty to tug on the thing and command, "Demon - *heel*!"
At least she hadn't put him on a choke chain.
Kurt easily found out where her locker was by the waiting crowd of
adoring fans, suck-ups, wannabes and the occasional friend.
"Ooooohhh..." cooed a large portion of the girls. "Oh, Kitty! You
*tamed* the Nightcrawler?"
"You didn't tell me he was so *cute*!"
"Can I pet him?"
"Can I pet him?"
"Can I pet him?"
"Does he have to like, wear those super-shabby clothes? D'ewww..."
"I'll see your 'd'ewww' and raise you a 'nghyuh'..."
"Yicht... shed much?" one girl wiped a handful of clumpy fuzz off on
her jeans.
"Kinda thin, isn't he?"
Kurt pulled his best bambi-eyes at the nearest girl. "Call the demon
shelter. I'm being neglected..."
"Demon! Heel!"
"Ack! Verdammt... *oww*..." he scurried to keep up with Kitty. "What
was *that* for?"
"You're talking to strangers."
"I happen to be friendly and outgoing." He risked half a grin. "I'm
also good with children."
"Shut *up*. Don't talk to anyone unless I give you leave. And to you,
I'm your mistress. Got it?"
Sigh. "As you wish." _I love you._ "Mistress..." _Mein Leibe..._ He
should be used to saying one thing and meaning another, but somehow, the
lie stung. He should have been used to deception. He should have been
used to being a demon.
Somehow, he'd thought that proving he was human to Kitty would mean
the end of it.
No such luck.
He leaned against Kitty's desk, sitting on the floor because demons
shouldn't get on the furniture, and stared morosely at some blonde
wannabe's pet imp. It had obediently changed its skin to its mistress'
favourite colour, and reduced its size to that of a chihuahua.
It had a collar that spelled 'Poopsie' in rhinestones.
_There but for the grace of God..._ Kurt was suddenly very glad that
he was merely unfed and unkempt - instead of dyed pink and forced to
wear a sissy collar with gems on it.
Kurt's stomach growled like a feral beast, which made Kitty yank at
his chain. Maybe she'd feed him soon. Only one more hour until
lunchtime...
No, *he* had to fall for a Slayer with a penchant for sadism.

Kitty was fairly sure she'd almost broken the Nightcrawler, and he'd
soon be catering to her every whim. Amazing what just one night and one
morning's worth of neglect could do. He was already coming to heel
without a word, and following the rules as she laid them down.
He didn't say a word as she ordered her meal, and deliberately avoided
ordering anything for him. He did, she noted with an air of
satisfaction, wince whenever she attempted to eradicate the traces of
clumpy fur about her person. She wouldn't let him believe for a minute
that it was Gareth's fault, no. She'd lay the blame entirely on him for
not being able to call his demon friend earlier.
That sounded good enough. If he'd been able to call earlier, then his
friend could have dropped in on the way to work with Nightcrawler's
things. Which, in turn, would have meant that he would have been able to
'exfoliate'.
With luck, he'd be a simpering wreck inside a week. He'd be begging
her to punish him for what he did to her father.
Kitty liked that option.
She sat down to lunch, and got into a nice conversation with a few of
her real friends before he opened his mouth again.
"Mistress?" His voice practically dripped with trepidation. "May I eat
now?"
Kitty considered. Either feed him, or put up with his stomach rumbling
for the rest of the day. Considering that the latter was as much torture
for him... Kitty smirked. "Sure. You can have anything from the lunch
bar. *If* you can get there without teleporting."
"Danke, *danke* meine dame."
Kitty ignored his grovelling and went back to her chat, knowing full
well that his leash was firmly attached to her belt buckle.
"Kitty! *Hi*..." Trish Newells tottered up to their table, clutching
that abominable imp, 'Poopsie', in her arms. She wore high heels and
vast amounts of pink. "I was like, wondering if you could give me a
little advice?"
"Try some blue for a change," said Kitty. It was times like this that
she *really* wished she could slay certain people, too.
"Oh, no, Kitty. I'd like, never need fashion advice from someone in
like, your line of work." She faked a giggle. "No, it's my sweet liddle
Poopsie. He's gone like, so totally fussy on me. He hardly eats a
*thing* any more."
"So skip a couple of feeds. Make it go hungry for a while."
Trish gasped. "Oh, I could *never* be that mean to my poor liddle
Poopsie... He's just too *darling* to be cruel to." She hugged the
chittering thing close. "Y'know, *maybe* you could like, loan me the
Nightcrawler for a day or two? I'd like, *so* totally give him a
makeover. He'd like, be a totally new demon!"
"Heaven forfend. He's offensive enough when he's shedding *blue* fur.
You'd probably dye him pink and give him a perm."
"Well, maybe I'd like, start with proper demon food instead of that -
that -- What on *Earth* is he eating anyhow? It looks *gross*..."
Kitty looked down. Somehow he'd obtained a large bowl of something
greasy, brown and gooshy, and he was eating it with every sign of relish
and gusto. He was still wearing the collar and leash. "Nightcrawler?"
she cooed. "What *is* that?"
"Bread und dripping," he managed around a mouthful. "Mistress. Five
dollars worth."
"And how did you get it?" she asked in the same singsong voice.
"I paid for it, just like everyone else."
"You paid for it," she said, her voice now completely flat.
"Jawohl, Mistress. I only *had* five dollars, so I went and asked Frau
Doris, over there--"
"Shut up."
"As you wish." He tucked back into his meal.
"How in the name of everything holy," Kitty demanded, "did you *get*
to Lunchlady Doris?"
He looked at her, head tilted to one side, and chewed.
"Answer me!"
"Make up your mind, please, Mistress," he said. "You just told me to
shut up. How am I supposed to talk if you tell me to be quiet?"
"Just. Answer. The question."
"Jawohl, Mistress." He stabbed the spork he was eating with into the
sludge he'd been eating. It stayed upright. "I just let myself off mein
leash for a little while."
"You *what*?"
"I kept the collar on, Mistress," he said. "I'm not *that* dumb. It's
only across the room, ja? I didn't want to interrupt your conversation
over a few petty details und--"
"Shut. Up."
He went back to the remains of his meal with a sigh.
"You *do* realise that pet demons eat here at the expense of their
owners, don't you?" She pre-empted his latest annoying streak by adding,
"You *are* allowed to answer a direct question."
"Ja, I am aware - but... it would have been stealing. I paid my way.
Right und proper."
Kitty quirked an eyebrow. _Interesting..._ That new file on the
Nightcrawler was looking to be more and more of a necessity. She may
have the first truly insane demon ever recorded. But then, he kept
claiming that he wasn't a demon.
It was something she'd argued with both Niles *and* the Professor
about, when the Nightcrawler had choked himself into unconsciousness in
her office/flat. There were, on occasion, very insane humans who had
been raised by demons. They believed themselves demonic, and even shared
some magical traits with their adopted parents. Theoretically, it was
possible for an infant demon to be raised by humans.
It was also possible for a demon to have human blood - if one of its
birth-parents was human. Some people - and this had been factually
proven - would get up to *anything*.
Ergo, there was no real proof, either way, that the Nightcrawler was
what he said he was. At least, not until his true nature asserted
itself, and that might not happen until well after he was properly
tamed.
Therefore, for everyone's good, she had to domesticate him - whatever
he was.
"Give me that," she ordered, snatching the bowl from his fingers.
"Heel!" She stormed right up to the lunch counter and Doris. "I
understand that my demon *paid* for his lunch?"
"He insisted, dear," said Doris. "He wouldn't let me dish out anything
unless he knew how much it cost. Poor thing, so *thin*... and the way he
kept counting his change..." Doris dropped her voice to a conspiratorial
whisper. "I gave him *ten* dollars worth, and let the poor dear believe
the bread was free."
Kitty rolled her eyes. Doris had a number of overfed, lazy, neutered
kobolds at home, and she sincerely believed that all a demon needed was
a little love and affection. "The rules are there for a reason, Doris,"
Kitty sighed. "I can't let my demon skirt around them because you have a
soft heart."
"I know, dear; but every demon has its little quirks... maybe this
one's tenaciously honest?"
"Or maybe it's insane," she muttered. "Demon, over here. Now."
The Nightcrawler stalked over to her side. He didn't look happy about
it. Good.
"You can have anything you see here, demon. Anything at all. All you
have to do is tell me what you'd like."
He folded his arms and fumed at the middle-distance, not staring at
anything or even making eye-contact. "I'd *like*," he said with pointed
deliberance, "to finish the meal that I *paid* for."
"You will eat," said Kitty. "I've seen you. You've got a metabolism
like a furnace. All I really have to do is hold out until you start
looking at things. You *are* going to take what you consider a proper
meal from this counter and you *are* going to eat it."
"No."
"*What*?"
"I said, 'no', Mistress. I won't. It's stealing, and it's wrong." He
shut his eyes, setting his jaw in an attitude of determination.
It was child's play to put him in a head-lock and a half-nelson.
"*Look* at the selection," she ordered, pushing his face against the
steam-heated glass. "*Order* something to eat."
"*Nein*!"
"Like, Oh, myGod... what a like, total *scene*." Trish had followed
them to the counter and was stifling laughter. "Maybe you should like,
do some research or junk? Your demon's like, *so* totally out of
control. I could like, give you some tips that like, worked with me an'
diddle Poops--eeeEEEEK!"
Kitty took a moment to realise what had happened. The Nightcrawler had
slipped from her grasp and actually *attacked* Trish. He was holding her
up against the wall by her shirt, which was twisted around his hand in
such a way as to give him a handy choke-hold. Poopsie, the demented imp,
was running around Nightcrawler's ankles and jumping at his thrashing
tail.
"When I let you breathe again," Nightcrawler was saying with slow and
lethal patience, "the next words out of your mouth had better be a
sincere appology to meine dame Mistress. Do you understand me?"
Weeping, Trish nodded.
Nightcrawler slackened his grip.
"Poopsie! Help Mommy! H--ulk-ch-ch..." Her cries were cut short by his
choke-hold.
Poopsie leaped, regardless, and clamped its tiny jaws down on Kurt's
tail.
_*Now* he's going to take it personally._ Kitty knew of a very few
ways to actually annoy Nightcrawler, and one of them was to yank, or
hurt his tail.
There was a complicated flip, twist and curl, and Poopsie, too, was
dangling by its neck.
"Your little *rat* has nothing on me, bimbo," Kurt growled. "Kitty's
the best Slayer I've ever seen, and she could barely *touch* me for
*three* *years*. What on *Earth* made you think *you* could do
*anything*? Now. Appologise." Once again, he let Trish breathe.
She screamed and cried like a baby.
Kitty could only recognise one word in five, but something resembling
an appology must have been in there, somewhere, because Nightcrawler let
her drop.
"Get out," he said, absently flicking Poopsie towards the exit with
his tail. He glared at her, all the way out.
"*Demon*!" Kitty scolded. "I *am* perfectly capable of fighting for
*myself*."
"I know," he said. "But she insulted you. *No-one* insults you."
Kitty started taking mental notes for later transcription. _Demented
sense of valour and honour. Inherently honest to a fault... Waitaminute
- when he said he liked me, did he really *mean*--?_ No, such things
didn't happen with demons. At least, not very often, and it usually
wound up in a bloodbath. Demons were helpless against their true nature.
Yet here was one who wanted to be - for want of a better word - a hero.
_He must be *really* screwed up in the head..._
Nightcrawler had dropped into a sullen crouch, wincing and squeezing
blood from the bite wound. "Verdammt imps," he muttered. "Stupid bite's
gonna fester... yicht..." He tore a strip of cloth from his already
ragged coat and bound the wound with quick, practiced movements.
"Demon..."
He stood, holding the end of his tail in one hand. "Oh. Ja. I'd nearly
forgotten, Mistress. You were about to threaten my life and limb over a
meal I wouldn't eat. Ironic, considering last night."
"Like it or not, demon, I have to keep you alive. And you seem to have
done me a favour."
"I did?"
Kitty grinned. "Trish is more than immune to my - methods," she
absently picked her nails with her knife. "Until today, she's blithely
breezed through life as if nothing could touch her. In fact, you *may*
have scared her enough to keep her out of my way."
He smiled and bowed. "A pleasure to be of service." During the bow,
his free hand somehow conjured an imaginary hat to sweep through the air
in a series of complicated arcs and whirls. It had a feathered plume in
it. Kitty was less than surprised.
"Order whatever you like from the counter," she told him.
He straightened, face frighteningly devoid of emotion. Only his eyes
betrayed a deep, heartfelt sorrow. "I'm sorry, Mistress, but I won't
take anything I haven't earned."
Did she have to go through this insane gavotte *again*? No. Wait. He'd
just given her the key. "But you *have* earned it, Nightcrawler. Right
and proper."
His gaze dropped, and his head lowered. "Now you're teasing me," he
mumbled.
"You know me better than that. I never tease. It's full-out torture or
nothing. And *you* are going to take what you've *earned* or I'll want
to know the reason why."
A smile. "As you wish, Mistress."

Kurt sighed in contentment as he leaned against Kitty's desk from his
position on the floor. He'd eaten too much, and he knew it. His stomach,
never used to half-rations, let alone full ones, now protested at the
overload. It still refused to even threaten to give any of it up though,
despite the dull ache of complaint.
Besides, knowing Kitty, it was also likely to be his last meal for
another twenty-four hours.
Verdammt prophecies. They always went on and on about what the
foretold ones were supposed to *do*, but they never once mentioned what
they had to endure in order to *get* there. *Sure*, they mentioned a
'demon that wasn't a demon' hooking up with the foretold one. They went
on and on and *on* about 'boundless and pure love' - big joke *there*...
but they never once mentioned that the Slayer Foretold was a psychotic
wreck.
Maybe she'd come 'round. Maybe he'd been reading the wrong prophecies,
desperate for any clue that he wasn't the demon others thought he was.
Maybe Gareth had been lying when he'd said that Kurt was in those
prophecies in the first place.
But that would have been an awful big coincidence, three seers in
three different places, all telling him the same thing.
At least he wasn't running, any more. At least he was with her. At
least he was walking around in broad daylight once more. So what if the
only reason people didn't fear him, was that he was on Kitty's leash? He
could weather that.
Anyone who'd nearly been burned at the stake could weather just about
anything. The only true ways to hurt him were through his heart, now.
Too easily broken, the traitorous organ. Maybe there was somewhere he
could trade it in, get a new model, with a thousand crush warranty.
_Ah, but we both know there's only one love for us, eh?_
_So who the hell are you this week?_ Kurt asked the other voice.
_I'm still you,_ said the other one. _Since you're so enamoured of
talking to yourself, I thought I'd answer back._
_Ah. That explains everything._
_That imp was slightly venomous, you know._
_It was?_
_Oh, hell yes. Lucky for us you're human. If you were a demon, you'd
be in the throes of anyphalactic shock by now._
_Really? I thought I didn't know such words._
_Gareth's been rubbing off on you more than you think,_ he said to
himself. _And by the way, we're going down with a fever. This is the
early stages of delerium._
_Nice of me to let me know._
_I'm welcome._

Kitty concentrated on the lesson in front of her, deliberately
ignoring the low, muttering litany from near-floor-level on her right.
He was probably trying another tack at his perpetual game of annoying
her. She could ignore him easily.
Her classmates, normals all, were having a slight bit more trouble.
They kept staring, sneaking looks and whispering amongst themselves.
"...verdammt gemaltes *jezebel*!" Nightcrawler's mumbling broke above
ignorable volume. "Ich erklarte Ihnen, Ihren rosafarbenen Arsch *heraus*
von meinem zu halten *Anblick*!"
"*Miss* Pryde... Could you please keep your demon under *control*?"
"Shut up, demon," Kitty hissed.
"Ich verteidigte Ihre Ehre, meine Dame..." he protested.
She sighed, reached down, and clamped her hand over his mouth. "Shut.
Up."
He kissed the palm of her hand. Then moved to kiss her wrist with a
sigh and a barely audible, "Meine Dame Engel..."
Demons were *definitely* incapable of such things. There was no way on
Earth that an ordinary demon could make her pulse jump like that. In
fact, no Demon should be able to make her feel like that at *all*. She'd
shut away such things the day she became a Slayer.
He was hotter than a furnace.
In the very few occasions when they'd come close enough to touch, the
Nightcrawler was definitely a few degrees above human norms, but this
went beyond everything she knew about him. Like most demons, he had
trouble keeping warm, despite the fur. That is, until now.
"Uh. Mr Taggert? I think I need to take him to see the nurse."
"You're sure he isn't malingering?"
"He has a fever," she said, and instantly wanted to bite her tongue.
Demons didn't *get* fevers. They got chills.
"Demons don't get fevers," said Taggert, echoing her thoughts.
"I *know*, Mr Taggert, but - he has one. He's *got* to be part human
or something. It's the only way to explain it all..."
"Saviorjager! *Nein*!"
That one made her whip around, knife drawn, seeking the demons that
had plagued her life for three years. There weren't any, and the
Nightcrawler was flailing ineffectually at zephyrs. "Looks like he's
hallucinating, too," she said, sheathing her weapon. "All right, Demon.
*Heel*."
He was extremely wobbly on his feet. "...aber, die Damonen..."
"Ignore them," she instructed. "Just follow." At least living with the
Nightcrawler popping up everywhere for the last three years had taught
her more than a modicum of German.
Nightcrawler fell back into incoherent mumbling by the time they were
halfway down the halls, and was having trouble keeping his tail from
touching the floor. Of course, owing to Poopsie's bite, he'd yelp every
time it made contact, and try some other method of keeping the area
elevated. He never once asked her for help, nor acted like he expected
any.
The nurse was less than impressed.
"So this is the infamous Nightcrawler, eh? You could have taken better
care of him, I think."
"Rrrr..."
Surprisingly, the growl didn't come from her. Kurt had that dangerous
look on his furry face, again.
"I - wouldn't cast aspersions on my abilities in front of him if I
were you," Kitty managed a nervous grin. "He may not be exactly up to
snuff, but the last person who did that wound up nearly strangled."
"Snuff, hell, honey. This demon can barely stand. What have you done -
or rather - *not* done for--"
"*Rrrr*..."
"Demon," Kitty attempted, "down..."
"I was like this when she got me," he said, hardly able to keep
talking English. "I've already been fed better today than I've managed
in months." He sagged, clinging to the nearest wall. "I just - I just
got bit by an imp... 's all..."
"An *imp*? And he's still standing?"
"Yeah, an imp. By night, known as Poopsie," said Kitty.
The nurse all but carried them both into the theatre, dumping Kitty on
the floor and Kurt on the chrome operating table. "That venomous little
bastard's nearly killed four other pet demons this ruddy *month*. Let's
have a look at that wound, eh?"
"I'd - give him a painkiller, first," Kitty advised, just past picking
herself up. "He gets very personal about the tail."
"No time. Give him something to bite. Here." She handed over a rawhide
chew.
Kitty crouched so she was in Nightcrawler's line of sight. He was
already wincing, and the Nurse was only untying his hasty bandage and
feeling either side of it for swelling. "Demon?"
Nothing.
"Nightcrawler?"
Again, nothing.
"Kurt?"
His eyes opened.
"Kurt, I need you to put this in your mouth, okay? You need to bite
down on it."
"Ach... ignominy..."
"No arguments, come on. Open up."
He sighed and, shaking visibly, put the chew in his mouth. A tear slid
from one eye.
"Going to have to lance *this* mess," said the nurse, reaching for a
needle.
Kurt was hyperventillating before it even came close.
Once again, Kitty found her professional detachment slipping. She'd
thought that bringing the Nightcrawler down would make her happy,
somehow. That his suffering would make everything better.
It didn't work that way. Not at all.
He cried just like a human.

She'd just got over the shock of *that* when the demon, Gareth, came
knocking. He was, as advertised, green, and one of the many seer-demons
now running karaoke bars across the country. Just where he had scales
was anybody's guess, except perhaps for Nightcrawler, who'd seen the
thing in its shorts.
It was all she could do not to reach for her knife. This was, she
forcibly reminded herself, a demon with no interest in destroying
reality. This was Gareth, the one who'd laughed at, and embarressed the
Nightcrawler. For that, alone, he should be allowed to live.
On the other hand, he'd also been sheltering the fuzzy blue pain.
Kitty mentally filed him under 'neautral' for the time being and
finally said, "You took your sweet time."
"Sorry, ducks," Gareth breezed. "*Some*body hid the camera." He glared
around, looking for Nightcrawler. "So where *is* His Sheddingness? I
thought he'd have tackled me for possession of his Opa's brushes by
now..." He lifted a duffelbag and a largeish cardboard box from Kitty's
doorstep. "May I come in? Or do I just become a charming decoration for
your welcome mat?"
Long familiarity with vampires had completely cured her of inviting
strangers into her home. "The Nightcrawler's on the couch," she said.
"Letting him on the furniture already?" Gareth let himself in. "Or is
he just being his usual, sweet, flip-through-channels-like-a-maniac
self? Yoo-hoo... fuzzball... In case you haven't already *heard*, I've
come over with your stuff. It only *weighs* half a to--" Gareth found
the couch, and its blue occupant. "Oh."
Nightcrawler was, as advertised, on the couch. He was also insensate
and mumbling to himself.
Kitty wanted to see *this* reaction. "He got bit by an imp."
Gareth did a brief double-take as he dumped Kurt's stuff by his side.
"Oh, don't tell me. I can guess. Little mister 'it's just an imp, what's
*your* problem' has finally met 'Poopsie'. I kept telling him, you know.
'Kurt,' I said, 'some imps are more venomous than others,' I said. But
would he listen to me? *Nooooo*... This boy's been bitten by more imps
than either of us would want to shake a stick at. He *thinks* he's
immune to them. Poopsie, as we all *know*, can even knock out a *human*;
may the little pink perisher *rot*..." During all this, saw and stared
at the bandage. "Oooooooohh... not the *tail*... Take my word for it,
dear, stock up on ice, *now*. When he wakes up, he's going to go through
it like *nobody's* business. That'll teach *him* a lesson, *I'll* bet."
"Do you *ever* shut up?" Kitty demanded.
"Actually, my dear, I'm enjoying the prospect of a word in edgewise."
He grinned. "The blue fuzzy chatterbox, down there, is un*stopp*able.
Kitty this, Kitty that, Kitty the incredible. All damn day and all damn
*night*. *Every* little detail - *rhapsodised*. Yicht... He's
*nauseating*..."
"Nauseating?" Kitty asked. What in the world could a demon find
*nauseating*?
"You mean you *still* haven't noticed?" Gareth laughed. "My dear, he's
hopelessly in *love* with you. Has been for years."
Her legs went out from under her. She landed in a lotus position and
tried to remember how to breathe.
"...that could explain a lot," she murmured.
"*You've* been lucky, only dealing with small doses of him at a time,"
Gareth continued, draping himself across the La-Z-Boy. "*I've* had to
live with him. Katzchen by the moonlight, Katzchen in the twighlight...
he's *obsessed*. Not to mention his lascivious little daydreams -
broadcasting on all channels - whenever he sings. White picket fences
and flowers and children... gyuh... Want to know the weirdest thing? He
only gets as far as holding you. That's his entire fantasy life, getting
a kiss and a cuddle. I guess the children just appear spontaneously, by
parthenogenesis or something. Sad boy. Sad, sad boy..."
"Demons - don't love," Kitty said. _Demons don't cry, either. How
human *is* he?_
"You *still* believe he's a *demon*?" Gareth laughed for a rather long
time. "He's as human as they *get*, my dear. From skin to bone, as they
say, and beyond. Heaven knows how he got into America without causing an
A-class fuss... He just walked into my life one day with my club's
matchbook in one hand and a duffel in the other. I told myself, I said,
'Gareth,' I said, 'destiny has *got* to be at work, here,' I said. So I
told him I didn't hire anyone unless I knew what their plans were, and
got him to sing a song about the future. Little did *I* know he was a
Beatles fan... Do you know how *dangerous* some songs are to my people?
He sang _When I'm Sixty-Four_! I could have *fainted*. Hell, I *did*
faint. All those *images*..." Gareth shuddered. "I still get headaches
thinking about it."
The door slammed, and Kitty jumped.
"Sorry about that," said Niles. As usual, his nose was deep in a book.
"I let myself in. I know you don't hold much truck with the prophecies,
Kitty, but there's some rather disturbing passages concerning--" At
last, he looked up and saw the scene. "Oh. I didn't think we'd have such
an - unusual visitor."
"I come in peace," said Gareth. "Honest."
Nightcrawler moaned, twitching slightly as he shifted position in his
sleep.
"Let me guess," said Niles. "He's been poisoned."
"Bitten," corrected Gareth, "by an imp. You've probably *met* Poopsie,
scourge of the Underworld."
"Bloody dangerous little bastard," muttered Niles. "They should make
it wear a muzzle... Damn thing laid me low for a *fortnight*."
"Poopsie's never bitten *me*," said Kitty.
"Well of *course* not. You'd have it skinned in under a second if it
even *tried*," said Gareth. "Imps have an instinct for self-preservation
that I've yet to see equalled. Makes up for them having all the brains
of a dust bunny."
"Ha. Pets and their masters *do* have a lot in common," Kitty growled.
"Yes. Quite." Niles glared at Kitty. "I've been doing some extra
research on our continuing debate, and I've found the most alarming
references in these prophecies," he gestured with the books he held.
"Unfortunately, they're also amongst the most contested of prophecies
amongst the Society of Watchers. They say the things written here
couldn't possibly happen, that the mere concept of a demon that isn't a
demon is purely laughable."
"Niles," Kitty interrupted. "Niles; he cries."
"...oh dear." Niles flipped through one book, then another. "Oh dear,
oh dear, oh dear..." a third book was extracted from his coat. Flip,
flip, flip. "Just as I feared. Here it is. 'And tears will flow from
eyes not made for them, the heart made not for love shall beat in flame,
and melt the heart of ice. On that day, the forces of Hell will know
fear, and the hunters of yore will taste true death; because the heart
of fire and the heart of ice -" here, he paused to look at Kitty as if
in sincere apology, "- are destined to join as one."
Gareth whistled, all exhuberance suddenly stilled. "Yep," he said.
"Sounds about right."
"It's rubbish. Garbage. *Trash*!" Kitty seized a book of prophecy and
hurled it into the next room. "It's all *fake*, damnit! You keep telling
me that I'm the Slayer Foretold, that I've done, or I'm doing everthing
that's written down by some hemp-smoking dweeb from the last millenium
or something. It isn't true, Niles, you've *got* to face up to that."
"The prophecies let me find you, Kitty," Niles soothed. "'She shall
greet her Watcher in anger', remember?"
"That prophecy," said Kitty, "also said that my dad would be *saved*
by a demon. He was *hurt* by *two*. He's permanently *maimed*, and he
would've *died* if you hadn't bought all those herbs and junk."
"Hm?" Niles closed the book he'd just rescued from its landing place.
"But I didn't bring them. They were already on your doorstep. All *I*
did was pick them up."
Gareth glared at the unconscious Nightcrawler. "You just *had* to
panic, didn't you? I *told* you, you know. All you had to do was stay
there, but *nooooo*. *You* had to *hide* and give yourself three years
of *grief*. *You* had to act on *instinct* and stay out of everyone's
*way*... Tch..."
"Ich bin taurig..." Nightcrawler muttered. "'M sorry... Ooooohhhh. So
*very* sorry. *Owwww*..." a string of whispered curses escaped between
his teeth.
"I'll get the ice packs," Kitty sighed. She owed him that much,
especially since she remembered how irritable Niles had been after the
fever broke. And *he* hadn't even been bitten on a sensitive portion of
his anatomy.
When she came back, Nightcrawler was conscious and cursing, Gareth was
ferretting around in the box he'd bought, and Niles was busy looking up
something.
"Now that he's conscious, he'll be worse," Gareth was saying. "He damn
near broke my jaw, last time, and he wasn't even awake for it."
"*I'm* certainly not touching him," said Niles.
_*Men*!_ Kitty rolled her eyes. "Honestly... You just have to be
quick." Demonstrating, she slid one ice pack under Nightcrawler's wound,
and sandwiched the other on top of it.
Gareth flinched while Niles ducked for cover.
Kurt started to purr. He let out one, long, satisfied moan of relief,
and sighed, "*Danke*shoen..."
Gareth boggled at the spectacle. "Obviously, we both forgot the
Katzchen factor." He bought out something from the box with a
triumphant, "Aha! I knew I'd packed it."
Nightcrawler grinned. "Opa's brushes! Here! Hurry up, man, I can't
stand myself."
Gareth sighed and tossed him the object, which Kurt immediately pulled
apart into two nearly identical parts. They were, as advertised,
brushes, but they looked like large, ornate curry-combs. Neither of them
had a traditional handle, and were held by their inlaid backs.
"You might want to put down a drop-cloth or something," Gareth
advised. "This is going to get messy."
"You're talking to a *Slayer*," said Kitty. "Someone who chooses her
floor materials for ease of cleaning."
Meanwhile, Kurt had already generated quite a drift of shed fuzz, and
had only got has far as his neck.

There was fuzz on the countertop. There was fuzz on the floor. There
were great tumbleweeds of fuzz bouncing in the breeze wherever Kitty
went. And she was absolutely *positive* she'd just vacuumed them all up
five minutes ago.
Gareth had not been kidding about the massive proliferation of clumpy
blue fuzz.
She seriously felt like cutting out the middleman and just vacuuming
Kurt - except he'd locked himself in the bathroom.
She pummelled at the wood, and screamed, "What the hell are you doing
in there, anyway?"
There was a muffled, "Trying to take a shower."
"That was half an hour ago!"
"So I like being clean. So sue me."
Again, she pounded at the door. "You better not be using all the
shampoo in there!"
"I bought mein own."
Kitty waited a further five minutes. "Don't make me come in there!"
She bellowed. "Some of us *also* have to get ready for today!"
"I'd *love* for you to join me, ja..." The door opened, letting out a
gout of steam and one slightly damp blue fuzzy demon. "But - since I've
finished, you can hardly join me. See you later, Mistress. I have to go
brush down."
"Put down a drop cloth this time!" Kitty called after him, heading for
the shower.

Kurt knew he was in trouble when he heard Kitty shriek. He knew that
sound. It was the sound of the hot water running out. He cringed in the
middle of putting his pants on - the slightly *less* ragged pants than
the set he'd been stuck with for the last forty-eight hours.
Too bad he only owned three shirts and two pairs of pants. He'd had
dreams of buying newer clothes to impress Kitty with, but - he always
seemed to eat all of his pay. Damn his metabolism.
He threw on his best shirt and fumbled with the buttons as Kitty
approached, wincing all the time. Damnit... he was shaking. He was
definitely going to carry a grudge against Trish and her bloody stupid
bloody imp. His fever had broken sometime in the middle of the night,
only to be replaced by something beyond a chill. There were periods of
alarming tremula, often followed by inescapable lassitude. He just hoped
one wouldn't hit him when Kitty would need him most.
"*Nightcrawler*!" Kitty was dripping wet and shivering.
"I'm sorry, Mistress," he said, meaning every word. "I'm sorry. I was
so *cold*. I didn't know I'd taken all your hot water. I'm sorry. I'm
sorry... I..." _Oh no._ His legs, shaking badly, went out from
underneath him. "...verdammt imp..."
Kitty sighed, and finished towelling herself off before she walked
into her wardrobe to change. "You're not going to be up to much, today,
are you?" she asked.
"Nein, I'm sorry, lei--" _Slipping. Nearly said 'leibe'._ "Mistress.
I'll make up for it, I swear."
"You can drop the 'Mistress' when we're alone, you know," Kitty
allowed. She emerged in her usual mix of denim, leather, and a T-shirt.
"I - I think I've finally accepted that you're really human."
He could have wept. Instead, he managed a smile and a breathy, "Told
you so."
"Like the word of a demon is that reliable," she sarcasmed. "The point
is, though, no-one *else* is going to believe - prophecies or not."
Another shudder, more like a violent twitch than anything, and he was
able to move again, even though it *did* feel like his muscles were on
fire. "I understand," he sighed, hauling himself back up from his slump.
"I can weather it. I can weather anything."
"Can you at least *pretend* you've been tamed?"
"Can you not mind it if I slip and call you 'leibchen' or something
similar?"
"*No*."
"Then I'll just have to be a little bit wild," he grinned. "Mistress.
Think of it as something like taking a wolf for a walk."
Kitty raised an eyebrow. "More like carrying a wolf," she said.
"You're in no shape to go anywhere, much, and since I can't leave you
*here*--"
"Why not?"
"Come *on*. You'll empty the fridge."
Kurt considered this. "Ja. You're right. I would." He sighed. "I
probably wouldn't even notice until I'd eaten everything. Verdammt
metabolism..."
Kitty clipped the leash onto his collar. Tame demons had to be on a
leash. It was the law. But, until now, she'd enjoyed the inherent aspect
of humilliation. Now, he saw the regret in her eyes.
"It's okay," he whispered. "I don't mind it so much." He made to
follow her, but again, his muscles spasmed and refused to work. One
quick and simple movement, and she had him draped across her shoulders.
He gave her a coy, flirtatious look. "Be gentle with me?"
"Shut up," she laughed.
"As you wish," he sighed, starting to purr.

It took him a week before he was capable of moving normally, and Kitty
could trust his ability to walk without spasms. He still had some
tremula, of course, because Poopsie's venom lingered in the system, and
he'd only sit still for Kitty, when it was time to change the dressing
on his wound.
Painkillers, she found, even mild ones, would knock him out for a good
portion of the day. His nightmares as a direct result were vivid and
loud. He talked in his sleep, reliving blunders of the past or fighting
incohate phantoms of the future.
On the occasions where he wasn't halucinating or mumbling through a
drugged sleep, Kitty got to find out exactly how touchy he was about
certain things.
He growled whenever Trish came near him, and Trish, brainless fluff-
head that she was, kept wanting to come near him. All because Kurt,
bless his fuzzy blue hide, was putting on muscle tone with each passing
day. He'd never be confused with a jock, of course, but he definitely
radiated physical strength like some kind of forcefield.
Whenever Kitty had PE, he'd monopolise whatever gymnastics equipment
was unused, and work out to such an extent that the entire class would
be distracted. They could, eventually, learn to ignore the sight of a
flying blue demon; but Kitty had more disturbing realisations on her
mind.
She was starting to drool. At *him*.
It *had* to be stopped.
There was no way she could cling to what was left of her sanity if she
found herself falling in love with the creature she held responsible for
her entire life - or lack thereof - for the past three years. Because of
him, her father was permanently maimed - crippled, even. He'd lost his
job, they'd had to move into a smaller house; heck, if it wasn't for
Professor Xavier's sponsorship, she would have had to drop out of school
altogether.
She'd had to grow up fast and hard as a direct result.
_You should be thankful,_ said part of her mind. _If it wasn't for
blue boy, over there, you might have turned out like *Trish*._ Now
*there* was something to make her shudder.
She had to concentrate. If she could make it to, and through, the
Slayer's Convention these school holidays, she could get some new
sponsors, make a few adverts and therefore pay for another semester's
worth of expenses. Who knew, maybe Niles would be able to come up with a
way she could declare Kurt's expenses on her taxes.
Heck, the Purina representatives had been asking her for three years
to get a pet...
A scream, high enough in pitch to endanger glass, tore through the
air, stopping Kurt's cartwheeling and Kitty's thought processes alike.
There was only one person capable of such dramatic shrieking, replete
with the overtones of 'I'm-completely-helpless-so-somebody-call-911'.
"Trish," they murmured together, automatically leaving the gym to find
out what was going on.

Some moments earlier...
Trish looked up from retouching her lip gloss at the gathering crowd
of darkly-dressed men. Poopsie, her faithful guardian, continued to
slumber in her lap, so they weren't dangerous. Maybe they were like,
some kind of religious folks looking to see if Bayville High met their
standards or something.
At least it gave her another excuse - besides 'cramps' - to skip out
on that totally boring chem lesson. Like she really needed to know what
chemical compounds could knock a demon down. She like, had Poopsie for
all that. Oh wow. One of them was like, so totally gorgeous. Like a
young Val Kilmer. Drool-o-rama.
Trish gave herself another spritz of _Scent of a Slayer_, popped the
sleeping Poopsie into his little nest inside her purse, and gave her
hair a final primp before striding over to see if she could help them,
force ten smile firmly in place. Even though they were dressed
completely in black, and walked kinda funny, they were exactly the sort
of beautiful people she belonged with.
Had she been more of a studious wannabe, she'd have noticed odd little
details, and put them together. For example, the way they dressed,
combined with the way they walked, indicated persons not used to a
humanoid form. The way they looked - vaguely familliar or nearly famous
- told of a desire to be accepted by passersby until they could spring
their trap. The way they clustered outside of the school gates told of
demons bound by territorial rules, they couldn't go where they weren't
wanted.
A smarter person would have also noticed which way the wind was
blowing, and not walked into potential danger from upwind.
"Like, *hi*!" Trish carolled. "Are you like, scoping the place out?"
"Smells of her," said the one who sort of looked like Sean Connery.
"Told you, I did. Has a pet demon, she does."
"No threat," said the one who looked kind of like Jonny Depp. "Saw to
it."
_Like, whatever._ Trish kept her smile in focus and flipped her hair
with a giggle.
"Seek we a Slayer," said the one who nearly looked like Val Kilmer.
"Like, that's so totally cool!" she chirped. "I'm like, best friends
with a Slayer." Another preen and primp. "I'm like, nearly a Slayer
myself. Like, need a tour guide?"
A smarter person would definitely have *not* said *that*.
"She!" They said in chorus, then tore themselves apart.
Trish turned and ran at last, screaming her silly, superficial lungs
out. She didn't even question why such histrionics hadn't woken up her
dear sweet little Poopsie.
Behind her, the Saviorjager emerged from their human guise, like
obscene grubs bursting from butterflies. There was no other demon on
Earth like them. Imagine, if you will, a werewolf, stuck halfway. Then
mate that fantastic creature with a warthog. Give that unlikely progeny
tiny, glittering, red eyes, skin like ash, and unkempt hair over most of
its body. Now, if one adds a dragon-like tail, one comes close to
picturing what a Saviorjager looks like.
They can work some small magics, and their talons drip poison when
they're on the scent of their prey. Their one weakness, if you could
consider it such, is that they rely almost entirely on their sense of
smell.
Pity for Trish that she was wearing the exact same perfume that Kitty
wore.
"Run!" Trish screamed, doing her best imitation of that gait. "They're
after me! They're after me!"

Kurt caught her on the fly and barely restrained himself from throwing
her up against the wall. He did, however, relish the opportunity to slap
her in the face. "*Clappe*!" He ordered, adding a shake to help shut her
up. "What's after you?"
"Werepig-things," Trish babbled. "They like, tore apart these
*totally* gorgeous guys who like, wanted a Slayer tour? And they're
*ugly* and their *hair* is like, all over the place and they've got
these like, *claws* and they're coming and they'regonnakillme
andI'mtooprettytodie!" She dissolved into sobs, fishing Poopsie from her
purse. The tiny pink imp was insensate. "Poopsie, darling. Wake up. Wake
up and save Mommy? Poopsie?"
Kurt, meanwhile, had liberated her purse and upended it. Four white
spheroids stood out amongst the clutter of makeup and mirrors.
"Mothballs," he said, then waved one under Trish's nose. "Do you know
what these *do* to imps? Why the *hell* were you carrying them in your
*purse*?"
"I didn't! I wasn't! Kitty... call your demon *off*... We're gonna
*die* and he's like, going *on* about *moth*balls..."
"Shut up," said Kitty. She'd already drawn her knife and stake and had
them at the ready. "Please tell me you didn't invite them in."
"Well... Like - not in as many words?"
There was a many-throated howl.
"Saviorjager," Kurt whispered. "At least twenty."
Kitty flying-kicked the glass of the fire alarm, incidentally pressing
the button.
Kurt, even though he was admiring Kitty's form in more ways than one,
seized Trish's collar and dragged her along with them, against the human
tide. "You, my dear," he announced, "are going to learn what being a
*real* Slayer is all about. And it *isn't* wearing her makeup and
perfume."
"*Wearing* my perfume?" Kitty kicked open the door to the chem lab.
"She's practically *bathed* in it."
"Ja. I noticed." Kurt tossed Trish towards a sink. "Soak your imp's
head und neck in cold water. Now. I'll be right back." Another two
patches torn off of his coat became improvised gloves.
{Bamf!} He needed them for this. He tore up the vines of Poison Oak in
a frenzy. Flowering or not, it was the one herb that could help them.
Twenty.
He'd never faced *twenty* of them before. Neither had Kitty.
Neither had *anyone*.
You had to be pretty hot to be facing *twenty* Saviorjager.
Kurt didn't even pause to smile at that ironic feeling of pride. The
woman who meant more than the world to him was in peril of her life. He
needed weapons, too, as well as the discouraging herb. He knew where
some were stored.
{Bamf!}
So he scared off the drama class. So what. They had the swords he
needed in abundance, and some of them were even sharp. He grabbed three
for himself, two for Kitty and one for Trish. Abominable though she was,
he couldn't let her become a statistic.
{Bamf!}
"Where the hell were you?"
"Shopping," he grinned, divesting himself of his haul. He fixed a vine
around himself, tying it into his belt, before looping another one
around Kitty's chest, bandollier-style. Only Trish, behind on events as
she was, shied away.
"Like, *so* no way!" She said. "I'll totally get a rash!"
"Which would you rather do," he asked. "Itch, or die?"
"Ummmm..."
"She'd rather itch," said Kitty. "I'll hold her down, if necessary."
Trish may have been stupid, but she wasn't stupid enough to get Kitty
mad. She stayed still, even though she was crying, as her 'look' was
ruined by the herb. Astonishingly enough, she cried all the harder when
Poopsie's rhinestone collar was similarly augmented.
The remaining wreaths of Poison Oak were bundled wholesale into a
blender Kitty had liberated from storage. Kurt donated half a leg from
his pants in order to sift the plants' sap from the flesh.
"Stop crying and *help*," Kurt ordered. He was already diluting a
beaker's worth of sap with ethyl alcohol. "You wanted to be a Slayer so
bad? You can start *acting* like one."
"And hurry up," Kitty added. "They should be back on our scent any
minute, now." With that thought, she reached down her shirt and pulled
out a pink hankerchief, which she gave to him. "Drop that somewhere
random, will you? Confuse the bastards."
"Jawohl." {Bamf!}

Trish was shaking, but that didn't stop her filling bottles and jars
with the sap-mix. Good. They'd need as much of it as they could muster.
Poison Oak, though an allergen to humans, was death to Saviorjager.
Its sap was particularly potent, as it not only poisoned them, but cured
their venom. The only other herb to cure a Saviorjager mauling was Love-
Creeps-Often, rare in America, but kinder to a victim of a mauling.
The problem with Love-Creeps-Often was that very few people grew it,
as it had a particularly nasty scent and tended to stain flesh a vivid
purple. You also had to gather a lot to have enough to cure the poison.
Kitty wasn't as dumb as she used to be. She'd gathered from Gareth's
diatribe that *Kurt* had been the one to gather an entire basket-full of
Love-Creeps-Often, only to abandon it on her doorstep in panic. How far
had he had to travel to collect that much? How far *had* he pushed
himself for her sake?
She knew how much he blamed himself. Long nights listening to his
nightmares had fleshed *that* much out.
She stole glances at him, noting the look of grim determination as he
treated every blade in their mutual possession with the undiluted sap.
All three of them would need vast quantities of calamine lotion after
this, but he didn't seem to pay any of it any heed.
He'd torn up half of his other trouser leg in order to make the ties
that now fastened little bottles of Poison Oak mix to their persons.
Kitty was going to have to get him a new wardrobe. At this rate, he
wouldn't have any clothing *left*.
The air was rent by an animalistic screaming.
"OmyGod... Like, what was *that*?"
"Remember those first few litres of sap mix?" Kurt said. "I sort of
spilled them at either end of the corridor."
Kitty's smile was dry and nearly humourless. "Really?"
"Well, for 'sort of', read, 'deliberately'... and 'spilled', read
'spread'... but. Ja."
Kitty laughed. "*That*," she announced, "was positively vile. I like
it."
Once again, he doffed his imaginary plumed hat at her. "Glad to be of
service, meine Dame. I still have the mop I 'liberated' if you need a
backup weapon, Mistress."
"Give it to Trish. We *know* she won't hurt herself with it."
"*Hey*!"
Kurt grinned as he handed her the mop, then carefully put the sword in
her hands. "You do know how to handle one of these, ja? You hold the
blunt end, and the sharp bit goes into the bad guy."
"You guys suck," said Trish.
"Oh. And I need to borrow your rat." Kurt picked up the quasi-
conscious imp by the scruff of its neck and plunged its head under the
cold tap for a few seconds. "It's only a matter of time, now, before
they realise that I didn't have enough to do the whole hall."
"What're you gonna *do* to my little Poopsie?"
"Relax. He's a weapon. I'm just going to count to three und throw it
in their faces."
Kitty laughed. "I like it. Imp grenade. Where *do* you come up with
these?"
"Around you, meine Dame? How could I not learn to improvise?" {Bamf!}
He was gone, and the shrieking in the hallway indicated that Poopsie was
doing what it did best - sinking its little venomous teeth into whatever
came near it.
Kitty motioned Trish into silence as she nearly closed the chem lab
door, then carefully propped the mop's bucket against the door and its
lintel. It was an old trick, but it just might work.
Out in the hall, the Saviorjager were shouting, "He!" as well as,
"She!" Were they on something, or were they also after the "demon that
wasn't a demon"? It made a kind of twisted sense. Most of the prophecies
concerning the Slayer Foretold - her - also included him.
Next on her list of things to do - besides survive the day, of course
- would be to look up these prophecies and see just how many Saviorjager
were after their mutual hides. Okay, maybe a close second after bathing
in calamine lotion.
She didn't have time to itch. The fight was going to start, soon.
Outside, Kurt shouted, "Have at thee!"
Kitty should have expected that, it went with the invisible feathered
hat.

Trish tried to copy Kitty's easy, coiled stance, and found that it
didn't go with her pink pumps. Come to think of it, a lot of things
didn't go with her pink pumps. Like, running, fighting, and a great deal
of other things ending in 'ing'.
Things that she'd need to be doing for the next few hours.
All her life, Trish's problems had easy solutions. Throw money at it,
throw Poopsie at it, call 911, or get the family lawyers to take care of
things. This, however, was something new.
Saviorjager didn't *need* money. Poopsie was already fighting them,
and there were too many for even *him* to bite. The emergency response
teams tended to hand things like this over to the nearest Slayer - and
she was standing right next to her. Like, wasted dime there. The family
lawyers would have been shredded in seconds.
Therefore, the only things standing between her and a rather
spectacularly unpink death were Kitty, her demon, and the weapons
clutched inexpertly in her hands.
_Remember,_ she told herself, _The sharp end goes into the bad guy._
Trish slipped out of her pumps, trying to keep quiet as she did so. If
anyone who knew her saw her like this, they would like, just *die*. But
everyone who knew her was long gone, safely behind yellow tape by now.
Kitty *could* have let her run away, and 'divert' a few dozen or so of
those monsters. It would have meant that Trish would have been *killed*,
but it would have also meant less monsters for Kitty to deal with.
Obviously, they weren't *that* badly enemies.
_Tomorrow,_ Trish thought before chaos took over, _I'm going to have
to like, try some blue for a change._

There was only one real problem with Saviorjager. They had no instinct
for snappy patter during a battle. All they could do was howl and cry
"She!" or "He!" as the case demanded.
Still, it *did* give him the breath he needed to avoid their grasp,
fight them, kill as many as he could and avoid the bezerk Poopsie,
snapping at random below.
Trish's dear little imp had gone *mad*. It was leaping about with
abandon and biting anything it didn't recognise. This currently included
furniture, walls and lockers.
Kurt, not one to be fooled twice, stayed above Poopsie's leaping range
and tackled his foes from up high. Or, on the occasions where there were
too many to avoid at once, he stuck to the ceiling and watched them tear
each other apart.
There were way more than twenty.
_What is this, a *convention*?_ There was a host of them, fighting
each other for the chance to come at them. They were in a frenzy.
On second thought, maybe it was a bad idea to drop Kitty's perfumed
hankerchief in the air conditioning vents.
Still, while he was up here, he could provide more chaos for their
ranks... Kurt unfastened one of the bottles of sap mix from his belt and
dropped it on the most convenient head. The resultant conflagration,
though smelly, was spectacular.
Poopsie ran into the middle of the pile of ash and started running
around in maddened circles, biting any Saviorjager that came close
enough. He was having the time of his little insane life.
Kurt made his way to the chem lab door, positioning himself so that
each sword could swipe at the demons.
The first one to actually make it *through* the door burst into flame.
Kitty must have used the old bucket-on-the-door trick. Pity the solution
in it was so diluted as to only catch *one* on fire.

Trish screamed as the demon caught fire. Kitty sidestepped it, leaving
Trish to skewer the thing with her sword. It burned up into very smelly
ash. "*EEEWWWWW*!"
"Less of the editorial comments," Kitty said, plunging her blades into
the next few demons to make it through the door. "Just kill the
fuckers."
Another Saviorjager made it past Kitty and charged at Trish. Her arm
spasmed into a parody of motion. As soon as the creature touched her
blade, it died.
The Nightcrawler must have given her sword an extra coat of the sap,
which was like, so totally cool of him. Y'know, considering the bad
first impressions and all...
After the fourth one, it started to get easy. All she had to do was
put the blade between her and the Saviorjager, who kept rushing at *her*
and not Kitty.
After the tenth one, Trish had enough breath to ask why.
"You've got the stronger scent," Kitty told her. "I've seen these
guys--" she paused to slay a couple at once, "--just about kill each
other over the chance to slay one of my hankies."
"But - *why*?"
"They're (unf!) *morons*. They don't get--" another three
spontaneously combusted, "--that I can't wear perfume for long. They
just go after *anything*--" another trio, "--that smells like me."
A couple of Saviorjager got past her. Trish screamed while she swung
the sword at them. They exploded into ash like all the others.
"And right now," Kitty said as if they hadn't been there, "you smell
more like me than I do."
"I'm gonna like, totally swear off of perfume," Trish vowed. "I
promise. Honest. I just wanna *live*..."
"Well, maybe if you didn't go through half a container of the stuff a
*day*, we wouldn't *have* this trouble."
"You want me to like, *stink*?"
"I want you to stink *less*," Kitty dispatched a quintuplet of demons.
"There's this word you might want to learn. It's 'moderation'. All I
want--" a trio flamed and died, "--is for you to be a little more honest
about yourself."

Poopsie was starting to wind down. It was jumping less, though still
biting everything within reach, and more inclined to look for the demons
that were a threat it could deal with.
Which meant that Kurt could at last come down and deal with the
Saviorjager on a more level playing ground.
What few were left, that is.
It was a truly great pity that no demon after his hide ever knew how
to really *fence*. Saviorjager, after the first handful of terrifying
experiences, were almost too easy.
If only he'd known that three years ago, during his first meeting of
the creature in the Pryde's basement. He would, for example, been able
to dispatch the creature quickly, before it ever wounded Mr Pryde. He
would have then been fully capable of getting its cohort, the one he'd
only glimpsed speeding away. If he hadn't been forced to gather the
Love-Creeps-Often, he'd have been able to get them both.
If only he'd *known*. If only someone had told him.
The Powers, unfortunately, weren't like that.
They'd passed on messages of where he was supposed to go to seek help.
A trifold journey that began shortly after his power to teleport had
manifested.
Plagued by nightmares and unable to sleep, he'd asked Margali, the
troupe's seer, if he was going to turn into a devil.
Instead of an answer, she'd given him a set of directions and a name.
The owner of that name, in turn, had helped him to America, then gave
him a matchbook and a hasty farewell. He'd turned up at Gareth's bar
with the matchbook in one hand and his worldly possessions in the duffel
dangling from the other, and he'd promptly been stunned thrice in as many
hours.
Maybe the Powers had meant it like that. After all, how heroic could
an effort be if the hero in question had been ordered to perform the
heroism?
The hallway was gradually emptying of the demons. They fell, either by
his swords or Poopsie's teeth, and raised clouds of ashen smoke however
they fell. There was ash *everywhere*. Kurt could feel it clogging his
fur, filling his mouth. He spat it out whenever he had pause, but his
mouth felt gritty and foul.
He'd lost count of how many there were. Twenty or Twenty Thousand, it
didn't matter. He had to protect his Katzchen.
Kurt skewered another three when he heard Poopsie yelp as it collided
with a locker behind him. He barely turned in time to recognise the
threat, let alone deal with it. It was an elder, centuries, probably
even millenia old, and more experienced in dealing with Slayers. It
fell, all the same, in fire and ash.
He circled, looking for others as he made his way towards the imp.
Poopsie was still breathing, the demon hadn't tried clawing at it.
There weren't any more hunters coming. Or, if there were, they were
the wily ones who were being cautious about it. Kurt transferred one of
his swords to his tail's grasp and scooped up the tiny pink menace with
all due care. Judging by the sprawl of poisoned bodies, the imp had
fought well. He personally counted ten weather-worn Elder Saviorjager
bodies amongst the mess.
There were no more of them to fight.
"Olly olly oxen free," Kurt sang. His voice was rough from the ash. He
coughed and spat out a viscous black mess. "Katzchen?"
"They're gone, huh?"
Kurt turned to face her. She was almost as black as the floor. "Only
the ones clever enough to avoid a frontal attack. We've got to get out
of here." He walked past her, into the lab, and gave Trish back her imp
with a neautral, "Here's your rat."

Kitty watched him open a window and climb onto the sill. He looked
back and grinned. "Coming?"
"Trish can't climb," Kitty said with absolute certainty.
Kurt sighed and with a barely audible mumble of, "How cruelly Gott
answers our dreams," hoisted Trish across his shoulders and calmly
clambered down the wall. He had, Kitty noted on a number of occasions, a
way of finding handholds that no human could.
Kitty slid down a nearby drainpipe, ignoring Trish's screams when the
pink bimbo realised that Kurt was hanging on to an apparently sheer
wall. She knew the logic of not going out the way the Saviorjager had
come in; there'd be less likelyhood of running across demons waiting in
hiding for them. Or luckless stragglers confused by wherever Kurt had
hidden her hankerchief.
She hit the ground with her knife drawn. Still no sign of them. She
tried to spit out some of the grit from between her teeth. _Of course.
We smell like Death to them, right now. Not even Trish's perfume habits
could override this much ash..._

There was respite in Kitty's flat, and even hot chocolate brewed by
the ever patient Niles, once each of them showered the grime of a
thousand dead Saviorjager off of their bodies.
Kitty curled up in her favourite chair and watched Trish, clad in
Kitty's second-best dressing gown, trying to smear Poopsie with calamine
lotion. The imp, of course, was having none of it, and wriggled in her
grasp like a worm. It chittered at its mistress in impish laughter as if
she'd invented the greatest game in the world. Both of them had
monopolised the best positions in front of the fan heater.
Kurt finally dragged himself into the room, shrouded in the blanket
Kitty had given him to sleep on/under during that first week of
miscommunication and mental abuse. Amazing how he hung on to some
things, *despite* her best efforts to get him to stop. He automatically
seized the last steaming mug and sculled it down in seconds. Then, he
stumbled towards the heater and curled up on the floor in front of it
with an audible sigh.
He was shivering.
Of course. Trish had used up most of the hot water, and Kurt was a
cleanliness nut. He would have washed regardless of the water
temperature.
Niles sighed and shoved a couple of heat packs into the microwave.
He'd become increasingly used to Kurt's idiosyncracies as time passed.
Heck, he was even mixing up another mug of hot chocolate.
A distant beeping indicated that the wash was done. "I'll get that,
you look after Nightcrawler." She strode into the laundry and began
bundling things into the dryer. Correction, most of the things. "Niles,
what are these torn-up rags doing in the wash?" She held them up for
display as she made her way back into the kitchen.
"I think they used to be Nightcrawler's clothes," said Niles.
"Apparrently, the mystery stains were all that was holding them
together."
"Great," Kurt said. "Now I literally have nothing to wear out."
"*Re*ally..." cooed Trish.
"Back off!" Kurt warned, tightening the blanket around him with all
five limbs. "I'm not a free show!"
"Settle, both of you," Kitty told them, dumping the damp rags in the
bin. "I have some clothes lying around that might fit."
"Oooohhh, Kitty!" Trish squealed. "You know what this *means*?"
"Spare me," she breathed.
"We get to totally go *shopping* together! This is so *cool*!"
Kurt and Kitty looked into each other's eyes and groaned.

Trish introduced them to Stefan - "with a long 'a', darling, like in
'ark'," who promptly squealed at the sight of Nightcrawler.
"Like, oh. MyGod..." Stefan lisped, "I can see why you said this was a
rescue mission, Trish-darling. Who *dressed* him? A vampire?"
"Rrrr..."
"Down," Kitty warned. "I had some stuff I scavenged out of an ex-
vampire lair that happened to fit, and he refused to walk out in a
blanket."
"*Mistress*..." Kurt could feel the blood rushing to his face. It
would be mostly unseen under his fur, save for a darkening of his normal
hue. "You don't have to tell him anything."
Stefan ignored him. "Well, this *is* a rescue mission. Come up -er-
what do you call him?"
"Nightcrawler."
"Oh..." Stefan breathed. "*Oh*. *OH*! *Him*! I have heard so much about
*you* my blue fuzzy fantasy. Off with the shirt, now, let's see you."
"Mistress?"
"You might as well get it over with." Kitty gestured. "Off with the
shirt."
Blushing furiously, he undid the shirt. No-one save his adopted
parents had seen him this - naked - since he was a child. It didn't help
that both the girls *and* Stefan audibly murmured their appreciation.
His arms curled around his chest to grip the opposite bicep as he
desperately tried to avoid looking into anyone's stare. Behind him, his
tail flipped and twitched with his nervousness.
"Stand naturally now, you have absolutely *nothing* to be ashamed of.
I know some *very* good friends of mine who'd *kill* for muscles like
yours. Straighten up. *Tha-at's* it..." Stefan's patter continued, doing
less and less to put Nightcrawler at his ease.
Arms akimbo, Kurt watched the effete man put a measuring tape around
varying body parts with an eagle eye. Stefan, thankfully, was a
professional and kept his personal tastes to himself. Though he *did*
giggle a little when he measured Kurt's waist.
Stefan, both arms around Kurt's midriff, bumped his cheek against
Kurt's abs. "Oh my," he tittered. "You're like iron under velvet. If you
weren't so *screamingly* hetrosexual, you'd be a tactile *treat* in
satin sheets... Now that we've done the upper body, let's get down to
your underoos..."
Kurt seized the waistband of his hastily adjusted and borrowed pants
before the man could get any ideas about helping him. The blush covered
his entire face and threatened to make his pointy ears spontaneously
combust. "I don't *have* any 'underoos'," he hissed.
Stefan caught on, at last, that Kurt was embarressed. "Do you prefer
to go au natural?" He whispered back.
Kurt shook his head. "Like Trish said. It's an emergency."
Stefan's tape blurred. "Don't fret, pet," he cooed. "I can whip you up
a set of boxers in nothing flat, and then we can get on with things."
Stefan vanished into a back room, and Kurt immediately shrugged his
shirt back on.
He held it shut with his hands, and automatically padded to Kitty's
side to try and hide from the large number of women in the store who
seemed to be ogling him. And the smaller number of men. He'd never liked
being stared at. Ironic, considering that he'd always loved an audience.
But that was just the difference between flying and walking. When he
flew, he was the amazing, death-defying Fleidertuefel. Down on the
ground, he was either a freak or a demon, and neither were exactly
welcomed with open arms.
He was actively hiding behind Kitty when Stefan returned and had to
prise him out into the open. Stefan, giggling though he was at his grasp
on Kurt's bicep, still managed to propell him into a changing room with
the new boxers.
They were very *very* short and, like the skin under his fur, cherry-
red. _It's either this or nudity,_ he sighed. At least there weren't any
spy cams in the change rooms. He cringed, and couldn't help doing so,
when Stefan bought him back out into the open.
"Oh, for pity's *sake*..." Stefan rolled his eyes and glared at Kitty.
"Can you hold his hand or something? Because if he gets any *more*
jittery he's going to get a pair of pants with three legs."
"Just relax, Nightcrawler," Kitty sighed. "Sooner started, sooner done
and all that rubbish."
"Could *you* relax in my place, Mistress?"
"Probably not, but I'd like to get out of here before Trish starts
talking shoes."
Kurt sighed. _The things I do for love..._ "As you wish, Mistress." He
closed his ears to Stefan's incessant patter about muscles and finely
sculpted bodies and oh, what lovely, soft fur. His marching blush, he
was sure, just about covered his entire body by now.
Somehow, by a minor miracle, he managed to emerge from Stefan's
boutique without spontaneously combusting from mortification, and with a
new set of spiffy clothes in the bargain. Apparrently, he was a 'Winter'
- whatever that meant - and should completely avoid any autumnal
colours.
_Duh. Oranges *clash* with blue, dummkopf._ He still wanted a
voluminous garment to hide under, but Kitty nixed the idea. He was a
tamed - or quasi-tamed - demon, now. He didn't need to hide.
That didn't stop him *wanting* to.
It was a hard habit to break.

He'd chosen his clothes with great care, groomed himself with exacting
precision, even put a little polish on his leash, and, curse his heart
for feeling jealous, Kitty was the centre of attention.
He'd done the working out, but Kitty called it her excercise regime.
He'd done the cooking, she called it her diet. Of course, it was all for
appearance's sake, and he lived for the tiny moments when she would
drink him in through the corners of her eyes - but... damnit, he wanted
to show off and be praised.
The closest he got was being handled. Petted by a thousand hands.
Thankfully, they were all *clean*, but that wasn't the point. He was a
freak again. Something instead of someone.
He was only someone to a select few. Most of whom were still living in
Heirelgart, Germany. There were times that he wished he could have
stayed in that tiny mountain town, but Destiny had other plans.
Destiny was a bastard.
Kitty gave into his wheedling and took him for a walk around the
dealer's tables. There were so many representatives of so many
businesses. People who catered not only to the various Slayers, but also
to the Mundanes - the normal people.
There was a place that sold wards and charms of protection. Kurt
thought they were pretty enough, but purchasing one for Kitty would fall
nothing short of an insult. She didn't need protection. She *was*
protection.
All the same, the desire to hold her close and shield her from a cruel
world was - intense.
He passed another stall that made him shudder slightly. Van Helsig's
Designer Stakes. A wooden weapon for every occasion. There was a pin-
the-demon stall that, thankfully, had a poster of a Saviorjager and not
a two-dimensional version of himself. There was a stall that sold live
herbs. Another that held scrying bowls. Then there was a vast display of
--
"Ach! *Nein*..." Kurt quickly turned away from them. Soul mirrors. He
hated them with an abundance.
Kitty, unfortunately, noticed, and wandered closer to them.
Kurt, caught on the leash, took intense interest in a fanboy's display
of Slayer merchandise. Cute. They even had little 'battle damage' demon
dolls. Mint condition and never removed from their packaging, of course.

Kitty had to wonder what was up with Kurt this time. "What's the
matter? Afraid of a mirror?"
"Nein, Mistress. Not afraid. I - don't like soul mirrors. They hurt
too much."
_What the hell?_ Kitty found her reflection, and saw the usual joan-
of-arc overtones that followed a Slayer. There was Daddy's wound,
hovering over her right arm and still bleeding. Symbolic of the hurt
that she felt. Most of the images clashed and flowed like quicksilver,
changing from one heartbeat to the next. Her heart was still held in her
armour, still made of ice.
The other image. The one of the man beside her, made her gasp.
He shone like a saint. A true indication of a pure soul. There was a
muscateer's feathered hat, the shining armour of Launcellot, which merged
and flowed into a thousand other outfits. Pirate garb. The tabard of a
Muscateer. Zorro's black suit, and hundreds of others that she didn't
recognise. The man had his heart on his sleeve and, as she watched him,
it burst into flame when he stole a glance at her.
Then she saw the reflection of the leash and collar, and the elfin
points on his ears. The tail flickered in and out of view.
_Odd that his soul is so *human*, otherwise..._ No wonder he said they
hurt. They showed him as he dearly dreamed to be. Clad in pink skin
instead of blue fur, in the robes of a swashbuckler. The garb of a hero.
Her reflection clearly showed her heart beginning to melt. Beginning
to beat. _Damn those prophecy makers..._
She lingered instead on Kurt's reflection. His hands held blood from
self-inflicted wounds. He blamed himself for someone's death. A death he
was innocent of. The blood pulsed blue, one beat in every four. He
carried royal blood in his veins, and was unaware of his heritage. There
was a tiny reed boat, almost invisible, hovering behind him. He was
adopted, he knew it, and it didn't bother him.
Kitty closed her eyes and walked on. She didn't want to know any more
about him. It was too raw. Too open. Too - naked. She didn't want to
know that a soul like that resided in such a body. He didn't want to
acknowledge it either.
They both found diversion at the Technomage section, where several
demon detectors completely failed to go off when Kurt passed them by.
Kitty had to play with one of the stall managers and therefore missed
what Kurt was doing.

They were billed as a holographic disguise, but they looked just like
a clunky sports watch. Curious, he put on the sampler and pressed a
button.
Pink flesh. Five fingers, even though they *were* stuck in a permanent
vulcan salute. He had shoes instead of malformed feet. His tail was
completely invisible.
He laughed for the sheer joy of it.
Human. Normal. Ordinary.
His deepest, most secret wish.
He tapped Kitty on the shoulder, unable to speak and grinning like a
fool.
"Who the hell are *you*?" she demanded, drawing her knife.
_Uh oh..._ Kurt turned off the hologram, and finally managed, "Isn't
it the coolest?"
Kitty glared at him, sheathing her knife. "Put it back."
Sigh. "Jawohl..." It was fun while it lasted. All fifteen seconds of
it. He had to force himself to let go of the thing, but he still filched
a business card.
Kitty's personal chronometer started chirping at her. She rolled her
eyes and groaned. "Come on, demon. Time to face my contemporaries."
Kurt followed. "You don't sound like this is a good thing. I thought
you'd appreciate meeting up with friends."
"Friends, yes. *Her*, no."
_Oh. *Her*..._

It was the one place where pet demons were allowed off their leashes.
Kitty surprised herself by feeling a little inner warmth when she
unhitched the chain at Kurt's neck. "Go have some fun, but don't leave
the room," she instructed.
He eminated palpable glee. "Jawohl, meine Dame Mistress," then he was
off with a joyous yawp to see what was what.
There was some part of him, she *swore*, that was directly keyed into
Rikki Tikki Tavvy.
Kitty grabbed herself a decorative apertif and put on her best
schmoozing face. Any minute now, the representatives of various
companies would be attempting to buy her endorsements. They never took
very long and, since she was holding her own drink, she didn't have to
consume any of theirs. That was a lesson she'd learned well during her
first year - get one drink, and stick to it like glue.
The company representatives, as a collective horde, had got her
slobbering drunk in an attempt to get her tipsy enough to agree with
their contracts. Xavier had rescued her, of course, and nursed her
though the subsequent hangover with surprising tenderness and patience.
But there were also two luminous eyes in the dark, framed in the window.
Nightcrawler. He'd been stupid to hang around an Institute *full* of
Slayers, Watchers and associated people with powers, but he stayed all
the same.
Could it be that he was smitten even then?
She was distracted from that train of thought by a swarm of incoming
business suits bearing clipboards. _Here it comes, the Sponsorship
Cakewalk._ She held her drink - which she planned to never actually
*drink* from - in both hands and ran her mantra through her head. _These
people are good at giving me money. Do not kill them._
La-Z-boy just wanted to renew, simple signiature there. The Denim Den
did likewise. Purina wanted the full details of Kurt's diet so they
could come up with a new flavour for their kibble.
"I'm afraid it won't do you much good, fellas," she burbled.
"Nightcrawler was raised by humans. He has a pathological hatred of
kibble."
There was a distant, "All *right*! Schokolade!" from the vicinity of
the buffet table.
"Though I *can* tell you he has high calorie requirements."
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Slayerdom's answer to Regis Philbin,"
said a new voice behind her. "The girl who desperately wants to be a
millionair." Kitty knew that voice.
It was *her*.
Kitty put on her second-best fake smile. "*Buffy*," she cooed in mock
civility so blatant that one could cut it with a plastic knife. "How are
the sales on your new book, _Sleeping with the Enemy_?"
"*Oh*, so you finally learned to *read*," Buffy had the same singsong
condescention in her voice. "*Good* for you. I wouldn't look now, but
your date is attempting to eat the entire buffet."
"At least he isn't eyeing off the guests for a quick snack," Kitty
smiled so hard that hardly anyone could tell it was a sneer.
"Well, *mine* doesn't shed."
"That's because he's technically *dead*, dear." Such a pity they'd had
to check their weapons at the door. All she had left was pure bitch.
"Well, from what I hear, yours is technically a self-replicating throw
rug."
"I see you've met Gareth," Kitty kept her smile firmly in place. "I'd
watch out. He'll steal your -er- sex toy."
"Husband."
"Whatever."
Kurt approached from the buffet, arms loaded, and offered her a plate.
"I bought you a sampler, Mistress. Oh. I'm sorry, this must be the
infamous Booger the Vampire Slayer," a bit of careful juggling and he
offered her his free hand. "Charmed. Your cellulite isn't half as
atrocious as I've been told. It's double."
Buffy glared hot liquid death at Kitty. "I see you've trained him
quickly. I'm surprised. I'd have thought he'd be leading *you* around on
a leash by now."
"You're hicky's showing," Kitty cooed. "You know, those darling little
fang-marks? Nothing like the blood of a Slayer to really pep a vampire
up."
"You mean yours *doesn't* comfort-chew?" Buffy completely failed to
act shocked and surprised. "I guess he doesn't like you as much as you
thought he did."
"And this is supposed to hurt me - how?"
Kurt's eyes only showed pain for a millisecond, then he went back into
an attitude of studied nonchalance. He deliberately filled his mouth and
watched them bicker while he chewed.
"Oh, I forgot. You only tamed him because you couldn't *slay* him.
Silly me."
"Yes. You are. Oh, and speaking of stupid, where *is* your spouse? Oh.
*That's* right. He can't get in here without permission from *all* of
us. How sad."
"Yes," said Buffy. "You are."
Kurt chose that moment to gesture with a plate. "I'd offer you some,
you know, but it's plain you've already had too much. Is that still
'puppy fat' on those hips or are you 'just big-boned'? I never could
tell the difference."
Now Buffy glared hot liquid death at Kurt. "At least *my* spouse
didn't grow up in a freak show."
Where the hell had she heard *that* from?
Kurt was unperturbed. "Were you talking about me?" he asked. "Or were
you referring to yourself?"
"*THAT* does it!" Buffy announced. "I got a spork right here, pal!
Wanna see what I can do with it?"
"Besides stuff your face?" Kurt grinned.
That was when the Watchers moved in with mutual polite British,
"Ex*cuse* me"s and steered each of them towards opposite ends of the
room.
Kurt was giggling. "Five more minutes. I could have *humilliated* her
in five more minutes..."
"She would have *slain* you in five more minutes," Kitty put in.
Kurt snorted. "As if I'd let her get that *close*. If things actually
got that desperate, I'd have teleported behind her and shoved a torte
down her pants."
Kitty had to laugh at the resultant mental image, even though it *did*
sound remarkably like that time he'd done something similar with an ice
cube. When she finally wiped the tears from her eyes she asked, "Is it
true about the freak show?"
"Hell no. Sounds like third-hand information. I used to work in a
circus with mein family. Trapese and high wire, mostly. I also tumble
and juggle. Some American idiot bought the circus and *wanted* to put me
in the freak show. That's when I decided to retire from show biz. I
think I took half the troupe with me. Funny, that." He absently flung a
slice of sushi into his mouth.
Kitty blinked. "Family?" Despite what she'd seen in the soul mirrors,
she kept picturing a small horde of other Nightcrawlers. It wasn't as
unappealing as she would have thought.
"I'm adopted. Meine sisters are all completely normal humans. Just
like Mama and Papa."
Now *there* was a mental image. Normal humans raising something like
*him* as one of their own. How did they get any sleep at night? Or were
they the wierd sort of people who would absent-mindedly keep a boa
constrictor in the house?
"Before you ask, they knew I was human from the get-go," he said,
apparrently reading her mind. "They kept a little soul mirror to prove
it to others, of course. They kind of lost it after Heirelgart got used
to me."
_For 'kind of', read 'deliberately',_ thought Kitty. _And for 'lost
it', read 'threw it away'._ It must have hurt them to wound their 'son'
emotionally in order to keep him safe from physical harm. They'd have
probably felt intense relief when the rest of the townspeople just
shrugged his oddities off as 'just Kurt' and moved on.
Then he'd left because Destiny had had plans for him.
Kitty had to keep wondering if he'd screwed it all up that night, and
all of Destiny's best-laid plans were now just flapping in the wind.

Flashback...
The thunder had woken her rather than the fall, only she was in the
basement, not in her bedroom. Mom and Dad, they came down to see what
had happened. They found the sheet and a pillow lodged in the ceiling.
And there was someone else in the basement with them.
Some *thing*.
It looked like some kind of hairy croco-werepig thing, and it was
coming closer.
Dad pushed her into Mom, yelling at them to get upstairs.
There were bright, glowing yellow eyes in the basement window. Who
knew how many more *things* were out there.
The croco-werepig thing howled, launching itself at them.
{Bamf!} A second demon appeared in a cloud of sulphur and brimstone,
and Dad yelled out and there were demons rolling around on the floor and
howling and Kitty screamed and Mom screamed and it *had* to be a
nightmare. She was going to wake up soon and it would all have been a
dream and everything would be normalnormalnormal. And Daddy was hurt.
His right arm was bleeding along its back, from the elbow to the wrist.
There was a sickening crunch, and the werepig thing died. The other
one, the one with blue fur and slightly ragged clothing and a demon's
tail and animal legs, it stood up and spat blood from its mouth.
They were too scared to move.
"Ach, nein..." it said. "Sind Sie verletzt worden..." It took a pace
towards them.
They tried to back into the wall.
The creature made a noise, then disappeared the same way it had come.
Somehow, they made it upstairs. Kitty was clinging to a knife, in case
one of the demons came back, or came alive. Or something.
There was a knock at the door. Kitty, being the only one not busy with
Daddy's wound, had to go get it. She was too scared to turn on any
lights. Too frightened to walk in the dark.
_Don't get scared,_ said a voice inside her head. _Get angry._
Good advice, even if she *didn't* know where it came from. She turned
on the light, adjusted her grip on the knife, and went to see who or
what was at the door.
There was nobody there, according to the peephole.
Kitty turned away and scurried back towards the kitchen.
Someone hammered at the door.
Kitty returned, looking out the peephole. Again. No-one.
She opened the door a crack. Not a soul in sight.
She shut and locked the door, and turned away a second time.
{WHAMWHAMWHAMWHAMWHAM!}
*Damn*, but this was getting scary. Kitty flung open the door and
looked around. Again. Nothing. She shut the door and, this time, waited
to see if anything happened.
She waited until her heart rate dropped back to normal. Kitty sighed
and leaned her back against the door. _Stay calm,_ she told herself.
_Some kids are probably playing some stupid variant of "ding dong
ditch"._
Calm once more, she again started away from the door.
{bing-bong...}
*THAT* did it! Kitty wrenched open the door, seized the first thing
that came to hand and menaced it with the knife. "CUT IT OUT, YOU LITTLE
SICKOES!"
"Ah," said the extremely tweedy man whose throat she held at knife
point. "I *do* have the right address. Terribly sorry if I'm late. Has
the Saviorjager been? Only there's these herbs that are perfect for
curing a Saviorjager wound and--"
"Who the hell *are* you? And what the *fuck* kind of game were you
playing with the door?"
"Terribly sorry," he gently pushed the knife aside. "My name is Niles,
I'm a Watcher. *Your* watcher. As for the door, I'm afraid I don't know
what you mean. May I come in? The prophecies mention that someone may
have been wounded by the Saviorjager, you see, and it's only a matter of
time before the poison starts to act on them..."
Kitty gestured with the knife. "Kitchen," she managed. "Daddy got
hurt."
Niles strode in as if this was an everyday occurrence. Heck, for him,
it probably was. Technological improvements and resuscitation techniques
had made sure that there was an abundance of Slayers over the last few
decades. It had changed the world. Magic and super powers were out in
the open. Almost admired. Unfortunately, the demons and evil had soon
followed the heroes out into the daylight.
"I'm going to need a chopping block, a sharp knife, a largeish pot,"
he gestured with his hands, "a quantity of cheesecloth and some sea salt
if you have it. Ordinary shaker salt will suffice in a pinch. It's just
that sea salt works better. Connectiveness with nature and all that. Oh,
and some rubber gloves. Love-creeps-often is fantastic for a merciful
cure of a Saviorjager mauling, but it *does* tend to leave a nasty
stain. Don't want it on your books. Not at all."
That was when the questions started. That was when her life had
changed.

The prophecies said that a 'demon who wasn't a demon' would save them
from the attack. The problem, Niles had said once, was that 'save' was a
very loose term. The real problem, Kitty returned, was that prophecies
were nothing but crap.
Yes, Niles had said, the prophecies said you wouldn't believe in them
for a while.
Kitty had given up at that point.
"Do you want me to fetch you something you can actually drink,
Mistress?"
Kitty shook herself from her reverie. "Hmm?"
"You look thirsty, and that - concoction... it doesn't smell exactly
healthy."
_Good Lord, I think he's actually *worried* about me..._ "Yes. Yes,
go. Try to avoid the blonde bitch before she can disembowel you with a
spork."
Kurt laughed at her. "I shall try, Mistress."
She watched him as he moved through the crowds, dodging this way and
that in a sort of dance. Why hadn't she seen his native grace, before?
Easy. She saw a demon. Something to hate. Something to kill.
Now he had a family. A home. Connection with the world instead of a
big mystery about his origins. Did he miss what he'd left behind? Or had
he been so focussed on survival and fulfilling destiny that he hadn't
had the time to be homesick?

After the schmoozing, was the boring part - listening to Watchers or
Slayers impart news that really should have been printed on a circular
so she could ignore it at her leisure. Kurt curled up at her feet and,
stomach full, fell into a lightly-purring sleep. Halfway through the
lecture, he wrapped himself around her legs.
It *was* nice and warm, but her toes started to tingle from blood
loss. And, to add insult to injury, he was making out with her left
ankle. He didn't get as far as talking in his sleep, which would have
been truly embarressing, but he did let our his breath in an almost-
talking whisper. No-one else could see what he was doing. They just
thought he was nuzzling up to her while he napped, which was endearingly
cute.
What he *was* doing was bordering on the erotic, and she had to nod,
smile and take notes as if nothing was happening.
The Save the Sasquatch Society gave the podium to a DemonCare
representative, who launched into a treatise on Demon-Watcher trust and
bonding. Meanwhile, on the floor, Kurt's tail had wound itself around
her other leg and was doing incredible things to both her calf and
libido.
Kitty trained her breathing into regularity while he licked, kissed,
suckled and even tickled her skin with his fangs. She could school
herself not to react. She'd been ice for three years. She could be ice
for a few more hours.
As soon as she got him somewhere private, though, she was going to
flatten him.

_Ich bin ein freches elf..._ Kurt told himself as he feigned sleep and
seduced Kitty's left ankle. _Freches, freches elf._
At home, in the little mountain village of Heirelgart, they'd called
him a changeling. The shorter nickname of 'elf' stuck, since he liked it
far better than being a devil.
Ah, the scent of Kitty was wonderful. He didn't know what, exactly,
inspired him to start kissing her. Maybe it was the fact that he was
dizzyingly close, and safe - at least for the moment - from reprisals.
Now he had the taste of her, too, the feel of her skin against his fur.
His tail, far more daring than he, wound itself around her right calf.
Practically up to her knee. The sensation was electric. He didn't want
to stop. He knew he had to, but he didn't want to stop.
"Oh, Katzchen," he breathed, not even lending enough power to the
words to make a whisper. "Ich leibe Sie... Ich liebe Sie, soviel, das es
verletzt."
Judging by her rising pulse, he was definitely going to be hurting
when she got him alone, somewhere. He was going to pay for this. He knew
it.
Better make it worth it, then.
Kurt found a little pressure point within his reach and kissed it,
slowly running his tongue along her flesh. Whatever she did to him,
later, it was worth it to know he'd made her a little bit happy.
_*Freches* elf..._

"You," Kitty announced, knowing that what she was doing was going to
hurt him, "are never coming to school with me again."
"But--"
"I don't want to hear it. You're going back to work in your day job.
I'll tell everyone at school that you're too much of a disturbing
influence and you're staying with my Watcher."
He closed his eyes and sighed. "Jawohl, meine Dame."
It hurt, and it was going to keep hurting him for a long time. Fitting
that she should punish him with what he said he wanted. He couldn't
really argue his way out of it, either. Kitty barely hid her smirk.
Still, he had made her body sing. One day, she'd have to work up the
courage to ask him to do it while he was awake.
Much, much later. When half the demon population was decimated.

"I can't liiiiiiiive. I can't give anymoooooooore..."
Of all the songs that guy had to murder, why did he have to murder
that one? Kurt gently headbutted the countertop a few times and mentally
*screamed* at the clientelle to order something. Anything. He could
handle it if he just had something to *do*.
Of course, they were all sitting on their hands.
Mainly because of the loser on stage.
"Relax, it's almost over," soothed Gareth. "There, there."
Kurt whimpered.
"And FYI? He's been hired by a bunch of Saviorjager elders to find
your girlfriend."
"Wunderbar. Is he bribable?"
"Just get him shickered and he'll follow you anywhere, sweetie."
Kurt sighed. "There goes mein first paycheque..."

"Merry unbirthday!" Kurt whipped aside the covering cloth.
It was a minor canid demon, usually capable of sniffing out its prey
with a bloodhound-esque nose. *This* one, though, was so drunk that it
couldn't smell its own behind.
Kurt had tied a bow around his neck.
"Okay. *Why* is that thing hog-tied and gift-wrapped in my apartment?"
"You'd prefer him on the balcony?"
"*Kurt*..."
"All right... He was hired by some elder Saviorjager to get to you. I
thought I'd give him to you." He smiled as he made an offering gesture.
"As I said, merry unbirthday."
"You know *just* what to get a girl," Kitty deadpanned. She didn't
need her emotions right now. She needed to be distant so she could
torture the scumbag.
"Er. Mistress? I don't think hurting him now will be very effective,"
Kurt offered. "He's pretty much anaesthetised, right about now."
"Are you trying to stop me getting information, demon?"
He twitched. She'd got him. "Nein, Mistress. I just think he'd be more
- pliable - when he sobers up."
Kitty grinned. Oh yes. Sometimes, he even had a few good ideas. "Can
you play a musical instrument?" she asked.
"Mistress, he'll never be able to look a slide trombone in the eye
ever again."

It takes talent to play the trombone. It takes *real* talent to play
it badly. On cue. Kurt had the canid screaming for mercy within three
notes. He was practically begging to betray the elder Saviorjager who
hired him.
Which was why they were down in the steam pipes, following a map that
the canid had been all too eager to draw.
Kitty was armed to the teeth, each weapon tainted with Poison Oak.
Kurt just held an array of water balloons filled with the stuff. Neither
of them liked Saviorjager. Saviorjager didn't like them.
Kurt was under orders to keep quiet, but he had to talk. He came up
with the wierdest things, sometimes. "I heard of a new therapy for
Saviorjager victims," he said.
"Yeah. Someone sent my dad a brochure. You have to get the blood of
one of them, and inject it into the scar."
A sigh of relief. "Sehr gut... I was hoping he wasn't throwing them
away."
Kitty glared at him. "*You* were sending them?"
"I - I wanted to help. It was my fault that thing got close enough to
hurt him. I wasn't fast enough. I was off by a forty-eighth of a second.
Es ist *appalling* timing... *And* I missed the one that was driving the
car."
Now, she was just staring. "You're *aware* of forty-eighths of
seconds?"
"Trained acrobat," he shrugged. "You've got to be good if you want to
wow the crowds, ja?"
"Sometimes, I just don't believe you..."
"She!" Hissed something beyond the steam.
"I'll try to catch you one alive, Mistress." Kurt promised. Then he
launched himself headlong into chaos.

She found him, after the fight was over, holding down an extremely
ancient demon. Kurt was bleeding from some wound, but he didn't look to
be poisoned by them. If he'd had, the blood would have been black.
"Es ist the last one, meine Dame," Kurt panted. "If the blood therapy
works... he can cure a world of his people's victims."
The demon actually spoke. "Damn you. Damn you. Why couldn't you both
just *die*? Our children, our people. Dying. Because of *you*..."
"You came after us, Trottel," Kurt said. "We killed in self defence.
If you'd left us alone, none of this would have happened."
"The prophecies *said*--"
"And you made them happen," he growled. "You hunted her down and tried
to break her spirit. You froze her heart and fired her anger. *You* made
her what she is today. You made her stronger."
"Kill me," whispered the Saviorjager. "I have no life to live."
"Nein. You can do some good before you go."

Daddy was glaring at him the whole time Kitty explained what was going
on. Kurt had just huddled into a little ball of misery and risked
occasional peeks at her parents.
"All those therapy articles?" Kitty said. "He sent them. He's been
trying to help the whole time. He didn't want you to be hurt in the
first place."
"It's true," Kurt murmured. "For what it's worth, I've been praying
for you to get better. Every chance I had."
Daddy snorted. "A demon that believes in God. Ironic."
"You think das ist bad? I'm a Catholic."
There were stares all around.
"If it helps, I'm a very naughty Catholic," Kurt offered. "I ask all
the wrong questions und argue mit God..."
"Daddy, for the fifth time, he isn't really a demon. He was just born
*looking* like one. It's in all the prophecies."
"I thought you didn't believe in the prophecies."
"They're coming true, Daddy. He saved you from dying. He's the one
that collected those herbs that night. He's been working on you getting
the use of your arm *back*, all this time."
"Ich bin taurig, Herr Pryde. That night - I was off by a forty-eighth
of a second. Es ist mein fault. I just hope this works..."
"He's a demon," said Daddy, watching the first of many needles go into
his scar. "He's always a demon."
Kitty wouldn't let up. "Well, if he *is* a demon, then he's a good
demon. I've seen his *soul*. He was never evil."
Kurt managed a weak smile at her, and a barely audible, "Dankeshoen."
"You should kill him," said Daddy. "He's a demon. All demons are --
ARGH! *OW*! It *burns*..." He hissed, gripping his injured arm.
"You just made a fist," Kurt breathed. "You *moved* your claw hand! Es
ist *working*! It *works*..." He was smiling, but tears were pooling in
his eyes. "Oh, Mistress; it works..."
"Nobody said it'd *hurt*..." said Daddy through gritted teeth. "Should
be glad I can *feel* the damn thing, but - *OW*."
The nurse was adding a local anasthetic to his arm. It had yet to kick
in, obviously.
"Try wriggling your fingers," Kurt urged.
"Try fucking off," said Daddy.
"*Da-a-a-ad*! He's only trying to help."
"Hey! You moved again! Nicht es ist wunderbar?"
Daddy growled. "Get him out of here, Princess, before I'm forced to
put him down."
Kitty sighed, "Demon..."
"Jawohl." Kurt slunk outside and promptly stuck himself to the
observation window like a kid looking into a Christmas display. Except
no kid at Christmas had that level of pent-up anxiety in the eyes.
"It's going to be okay, Daddy," Kitty soothed. "You're going to get
your arm back, and the experts are saying that that's the last
Saviorjager that's in the research facility. Nobody has to be afraid any
more." She thought about this. "At least, not of *them*."
Daddy relaxed a little. The anasthetic must have finally started to
kick in. "Why?" he asked her. "Why did you have to take *that* in?"
Kitty sighed. "In brief? He wants to be a hero, but he keeps screwing
up. He's *human*, all the way through. We've done tests."
Daddy was staring at him with concentrated hate.
She winced as she bought out a tiny soul mirror. She'd asked Niles to
get it for her. "See for yourself."
Daddy got a good look at his own hatred and bitterness before he
turned the mirror so he could see Kurt's soul. "My God..." he breathed.
"It's impossible."
"As impossible as having a daughter who can walk through things?"
"It isn't real," he said.
"Daddy. I fight demons for money. Anything's possible."
He was opening and closing his fist for the first time in three years,
and staring at it like it was a miracle. "I won't thank him," he said.
"*Daddy*..."
"Not yet. Give me time, Princess. First - I've got to work up to
forgiving him."
Well, it was a start...

It was a long time, coming, but she had to face it. Kitty had grown
more than fond of her non-demon demon over the year. His day job had
seen to it that quite a number of threats were eradicated before even
Niles and his Prophecies could nail down what was going on.
And all he asked in return was to be near her.
He certainly had that, now. Sharing the couch, a blanket, and the
heater's warmth with her as snow slowly fell outside. Kurt was content
just to lean against her and practice sizzlingly erotic foreplay on
whichever body part was handiest, all whilst pretending to be asleep.
Just like he was doing to her neck.
"Kurt, you don't have to pretend you're asleep," she said. "I'm not
going to kill you for that, any more."
He froze. Kitty could almost feel his fear. "You - knew?"
"Uh-huh."
"And you're not mad?"
"Haven't been for months," she said. "But you could cut the sexual
tension with a knife, you know."
He smiled. "Ich bin ein freches elf," he blushed.
"Sie sind ein reizendes elf," Kitty soothed, unfastening the collar
at his neck. "Stay or go, by your choice. You're free."
Kurt touched his neck. "Mistress?"
"You're free to do what you will and go where you will," said Kitty.
"You can even call me anything you like. You're free."
"Free to do anything at all?"
"Anything at all."
He moved closer, bringing his lips to hers. "Ich leibe dich fur immer,
Katzchen," he whispered. "Ich bin Ihr."
She took his pledge with his kiss, snaking her hands under his shirt
in order to run her hands through his lovely winter coat.
He started to purr. As a direct result, he was completely incoherent
for the rest of the night.
Stefan was right. Kurt *was* a tactile treat when mixed with satin
sheets.

~Fin!~

=======================================================================
Side-flings, homages, and downright rip-offs

This entire Universe is based on the series _Buffy the Vampire Slayer_
and its spin-off, _Angel_. And, since I can't help myself, I'm not
taking it too terribly seriously.

Tomes 'R' Us is a deliberate play on Toys 'R' Us

The Hersheban Dong is a troublesome piece of currency mentioned as a
half-Dong in Terry Pratchett's _Jingo_ :)

"A green-eyed yellow idol from the shores of Khatmandu," -- Paraphrased
from the poem _The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God_. Geography nerds
will note that Khatmandu is a landlocked nation, and instantly realise
why the artifact in question is so rare :)

Three-fifty -- the amount of currency permanently sought by Chef's
parents in the South Park episode where Chef nearly marries a Succubis.

A Neauralger is a demon mentioned in Terry Pratchett's _Eric_ - almost
the opposite of a Succubis, a Neauralger is a demon that comes and has a
headache at you.

The Lost Chalice of Palais -- side fling to _The Court Jester_ starring
Danny Kae :) The chalice with the palace holds the brew that is true. Or
is it the vessel with the pestle? Or the flagon with the dragon?

"As you wish" -- can you say _The Princess Bride_, children? I knew you
could :) I love that book...

Gareth's laugh is directly taken from the South Park episode _Tom's
Rhinoplasty_ :)

Trish is a mixture of the gal from _Legally Blonde_ [*VERY* funny movie,
IMO] and just about every 'perfect' girl who teased the crap out of me
in High School. Ah, sweet revenge :)

"...verdammt gemaltes *jezebel*!" Nightcrawler's mumbling broke above
ignorable volume. "Ich erklarte Ihnen, Ihren rosafarbenen Arsch *heraus*
von meinem zu halten *Anblick*!" -- In case you're wondering what he's
saying, Kurt's yelling at hallucinatory versions of Trish. In essence,
"...damn painted *jezebel*! I told you to keep your pink arse *out* of
my *sight*!"

"Ich verteidigte Ihre Ehre, meine Dame..." -- "I was defending your
honour, my Lady..." You know, it occurs to me that both my characters
have some pretty heavy issues...

"Meine Dame Engel" -- "My Lady Angel". *VERY* heavy issues.

Saviorjager -- savior hunter(s).

"I didn't! I wasn't!" -- Liberated from a _Comedy Company_ routine that
was actually occasionally funny.

"You do know how to handle one of these..." -- side-fling to the movie
_The Mask of Zorro_ :)

"You guys suck" -- a punchline stolen from a PVP cartoon.

"...other things ending in 'ing'." -- paraphrased from Terry Pratchett's
_Hogfather_. The original phrase is "...other things ending in 'olly'."

_The things I do for love..._ -- this is also the catchcry of Courage,
the Cowardly Dog, from the cartoon series of the same name :)

Rikki Tikki Tavvy -- a ficticious mongoose whose motto was "Run and Find
Out" :)

apertif -- it's a type of drink which isn't complete without a paper
umbrella, half a slice of citrus fruit, and a straw so long you could
still drink with it if you parked the glass on the ground - without
bending over :) They also contain huge wallops of concentrated liquer.

Schokolade - chocolate

sind Sie verletzt worden - you have been wounded

Ich bin ein freches elf - I am a naughty elf

Ich liebe Sie, soviel, das es verletzt - I love you so much it hurts

For those people who want to complain about me "making" Kurt a Catholic
[or religious at all, for that matter]: Bite me. Kurt's always been
religious/Catholic in ComicContinuity and I fail to see any reason to
change it. If you don't like it, then stiff cheddar.

Nicht es ist wunderbar? -- Isn't it wonderful?

Sie sind ein reizendes elf -- You are a lovely elf

Ich leibe dich fur immer -- I love you forever

Ich bin Ihr -- I'm yours