Thanks for the reviews – glad to see people enjoying it. Each chapter is going to be a whole 'episode', hence they take a while to write. And it's unlikely that I'll make this a Supernatural crossover, as some chapters will be inspired by (or stolen from) episodes of that.
Chapter Two: The Great White Horse
"I think we've got something," Rachel called out as she walked into the home base's living room. Within minutes the rest of the group was there – all except Mike, who was at the hospital with Matt.
"What is it, Rachel?" Will asked. The girl spread out some paper cuttings and printed information before starting.
"There's a mostly deserted stretch of river here –" she pointed to a map, "where there have been reports of people disappearing. Cops haven't linked them yet, 'cause it's always some time between reoccurrences. In several cases, witnesses have reported seeing a large horse shortly before the disappearance."
"So Black Beauty's been killing and eating people?" Puck commented. Kurt elbowed him in the ribs, but there wasn't much force behind it. The smaller boy had been thinking the same thing, he just had more tact than to say it out loud.
"Close," Rachel replied to several raised eyebrows. "I think it's a Kelpie."
"Isn't that a dog?" Finn looked nonplussed. Emma smiled and decided to enlighten him.
"It is, but it's also a supposedly mythical creature." The group all exchanged looks. They'd learned the hard way that 'supposedly mythical' creatures were, more often than not, both real and malevolent. "It lives in the water and can change form, so it can lure people closer."
"That's right," Rachel took over again. "It can look like a particularly unkempt human –"
"So, Kurt before his morning shower?" Puck was hit again, this time harder and from both sides. Santana was especially protective of Kurt – he was one of the few people who could keep up with her in a bitching competition.
"But more often," Rachel continued, obviously ignoring Puck, "it appears as an intelligent horse. Once it manages to lure someone onto its back, it divers into the water and drowns them. Then it eats them."
"Great, so it doesn't look weird at all?" Santana looked sceptical. "How are we meant to identify it?"
"Some of the legends say that as a horse, its mane appears to be made from bulrushes," Rachel refused to let Santana's sniping get to her. It had actually come in useful several times in the past – the Latina was quick to spot potential drawbacks in plans, and wasn't afraid to voice them. Loudly, if need be – which meant she made a good counterbalance for Rachel's eternal optimism.
"Fine, it's got weeds for hair," the cynic in question nodded. "How do we kill it?"
"Shotgun to the head?" Puck spoke up. "Works on most things."
"I haven't been able to find information on that," Rachel looked a little put out. "There are legends about tame Kelpies though. Apparently if you put an ordinary bridle on one, it becomes completely docile and tame."
"But you don't know for sure how to kill it," Santana spoke again.
"No," Finn spoke up again, a determined glint in his eyes. "But this time we have a backup plan – if we can't kill it, we can at least tame it until we know what to do with it."
After that, there wasn't much point in arguing. They'd chosen their next target. Kurt raised his head to see Quinn standing in the doorway, little Beth in her arms, looking worried. They shared a glance for a moment, before the ex-Cheerio turned away. Leaving the rest of the group to finish planning the trip, Kurt followed Quinn to the kitchen and perched himself on top of a counter as he waited. It wasn't long before his companion sighed and looked up at him.
"I can't help it, okay? Every time you all leave, I get scared that I'll never see you gain. And I feel so useless, sitting around here doing nothing."
"You call raising your daughter nothing?" Kurt raised an eyebrow, knowing the quickest way to get Quinn to see the good she was doing was to mention Beth.
"I… of course not!" Quinn held her baby tighter for a moment, as though someone was threatening to take her away. "But you know what I mean. I'm doing nothing to help you guys."
"So arranging supplies for us, paying bail if someone slips up, getting information when the rest of us are on the road with no resources… that's not doing anything?"
"Well…" There was a pause as she tried to find a reasonable objection. "When you put it like that, I guess I do help."
"Of course you do," Kurt nodded and beckoned her closer. Quinn sighed as she leaned against the counter next to him, one of Kurt's arms around her shoulder giving just enough reassurance.
"I just… sometimes, I wish I could come too," she whispered, seeming ashamed of her feelings. "I wish I could fight alongside the rest of you. Even only once. But I can't, becomes that would mean leaving Beth behind. And I know I couldn't do that."
Kurt nodded. Despite her original desire to give up her baby for adoption, Quinn hadn't been able to follow through with it. She'd been determined to give her little girl all the love and protection that her own distant parents had never known how to give her.
"Maybe one day, when she's older," Kurt murmured. "And you know that if anything showed up here, we wouldn't keep you from fighting it."
"I know," Quinn finally looked more normal, less defeated. "So you gonna help make dinner for the horde?"
"Of course," her friend jumped down and started moving around the kitchen. "Let's get this party started!"
The next day, the gang all piled into the bus – except, of course, for Artie and Quinn, who waved them off. Matt was now out of hospital, but would be out of commission for at least a month. He and Mike had stayed back at the house. Kurt's gaydar had a little something to say about that, but he refrained from commenting. Everyone kept their relationships – if they had any – private, and he couldn't blame the boys for turning to each other for some comfort.
He did, however, blame Puck for the hangover he was suffering. It had become something of a tradition between the two of them. The night before leaving on a hunt, they went out drinking together, thanks to some fake IDs. The right clothes – coupled with general world-weariness in his eyes – made sure that Kurt no longer looked like a twelve year old girl. Over the course of the night, Puck would leave with some random girl, Kurt with a random boy. Then in the morning they'd meet back at the club or pub and head back home.
The others probably thought that he and Puck were screwing each other, but he didn't care - and Puck didn't seem to either, as long as no one said anything to their faces. Given the group's silence about any romantic entanglements anyone had, it was unlikely that anyone was going to say something.
So in the meantime, Kurt curled up with his head in Mercedes' lap, every now and then grumbling incoherently about 'that damned Noah Puckerman'.
It took the better part of a day, but eventually they pulled into Lafayette, the closest town to the suspected Kelpie lair. Will found a caravan park and the gang settled into sleep, content to start the investigation in the morning. Since it was decent weather, most of the club slept outside. Emma stayed in the bus – she still had trouble with certain things, sleeping on the ground being one of them – and Tina had wanted to do some more reading. She'd found some reference to Kelpies in one of her magic tomes, she said, and wanted to finish it before sleeping.
Kurt stayed awake for a little while, watching the soft glow of Tina's mage-light through the bust windows until sleep finally claimed him.
The smell of eggs cooking woke most of the sleeping teens, all managing to make it upright by the time Emma had scooped a large pile of the fluffy scrambled breakfast onto a platter. It took a lot of effort to cook for ten people, but somehow it was always managed, and there was rarely a complaint about quality.
Breakfast was consumed with the usual speed and everyone washed their own utensils. It was a well-established rule that everyone clean up after themselves, and so even though most of the group were teens, they tended to make as little mess as possible to begin with. No one wanted a repeat of Emma bursting into tears because of the state of the campsite.
There had been little conversation during breakfast – everyone too intent on eating – but now people were starting to look more alive. Kurt found himself walking between Finn and Puck to the shower block, the three humming in harmony. Once inside and under the lukewarm spray, it was Pick who started to sing properly – and demanded that the others join in.
"C'mon, I ain't singin' by myself. Help me out here, ya pansies."
"Pansies?" Kurt raised an eyebrow, even though it couldn't be seen through the walls of the shower stall. "How original, Noah."
"Fine," Finn stepped in before they could start another verbal sparring match. Kurt was a little disappointed, but shrugged it away. "Pick a song, we'll follow you."
So, in fairly short order, the three boys were singing 'Wild Horses' at the top of their lungs – Kurt breaking out into giggles now and then, which in turn set Puck off.
Naturally, Kurt took longest to bathe, but as was usual, the others waited for him. It had become standard, fairly early on, that no one would go off by themselves. Sometimes the 'rule' was broken – most often by Puck chasing tail – but for now the other boys were content to wait for their smaller friend.
Whilst waiting, the three started to go over strategies for dealing with the Kelpie. This was a new creature, and with little information on how to kill it, they all felt at a distinct disadvantage.
"I still say a shotgun," Puck shrugged. "Or some other high-calibre gun. It'll have a hard time killing and eating people without a brain."
"And if it's like a werewolf?" Finn protested. "Some creatures just rej- regen –"
"Regenerate," Kurt called out.
"Yeah, regenerate," Finn nodded, "unless you use the right sort of weapon."
"Hey, we've got the bridle as backup," Puck asserted. "Seriously dudes, it'll be fine. If we needed something special to kill it then tbe books would've said so. They always make a huge deal over things that can only be killed by certain things."
"I hope you're right," Finn muttered, glancing at Kurt as he stepped out of the shower.
Kurt rolled his eyes as he started to dry off. Ever since that one time that he'd been injured – and okay, it had been pretty bad – Finn had become strangely protective, almost as though he saw Kurt as a younger brother. This was one of the reasons he'd never been told about the clubbing ritual – Finn would have demanded that he stop, and it wasn't something that either Puck or Kurt were willing to give up.
It had also been when he was injured that Kurt's crush on Finn had started to die. Before then, he'd always looked for a Finn substitute when he picked someone up, whereas now he looked for a compatible body and personality.
Naturally, Puck noticed Finn's protective gaze – and Kurt's reaction to it – and decided to break the mood, as usual. This time, by smacking Finn upside the head.
"Dude, stop checking the kid out. Perve."
"What? I wasn't!" Finn spluttered. He didn't seem to have gotten the memo that the crush had died, and still reacted frantically whenever anyone even joked about him being gay. Which meant, of course, that Puck took delight in teasing him about it.
"Sure you weren't," the mohawked teen smirked.
Finn glared at his best friend and pointedly turned away. Soon after, Kurt walked up to them, dressed and ready to go.
"Come on," he said as he breezed past the taller boys. "Mustn't keep the ladies waiting."
It was nearly noon when Tina, Mercedes and Will returned from scouting the river. They'd found signs of the lair, but the Kelpie itself hadn't made an appearance. Tina had cast a warding spell so that it wouldn't be able to leave easily, and alert her if it came out of the water. Meanwhile, Rachel, Puck and Finn had gone into town to buy a bridle. Brittany and Santana had disappeared soemwhere, which left Kurt and Emma at the campsite, still trying to find any cluse as to how one would go about killing a Kelpie.
They hadn't had any luck, hence the foul look Kurt was givin the laptop as Mercedes and Tina sat either side of him.
"What up, boy?" Mercedes tried grinning at him.
"Stupid internet and its stupid search engines," came the muttered response. Both girls stifled a laugh, and instead each placed an arm around their friend.
"The spell worked," Tina figured a bit of good news might cheer him up.
"Hooray." She'd been wrong.
"Lighten up, Pixie-sticks," Puck called as he sprawled onto the grass, Finn following his example even as Rachel admonished them both. "We got the bridle. It'll be fine."
Having naturally become a little superstitious, there were certain phrases that the group refrained from using at all costs. 'What's the worse that could happen?' being highest on the lsit, just before 'what else could go wrong?'. With their theatrical background, 'good luck' was also out.
"Go suck a barrel of cocks," Kurt spat out, falling back on a favoured insult. The muffled giggles told him that it was successful in lightening the mood a little.
"Nah, that's more your thing." And the giggles descended into full-out laughter. Everyone enjoyed listening to Kurt and Puck argue – they were both rather creative in their attacks, and even the adults couldn't conceal amusement.
"How do you know I'm not the one on the receiving end?"
"'Cause you know how to work your mouth too well. It'd be a sin to deprive humanity of that."
"Like it's a sin to deprive any woman of the Puckasaurus?"
"Exactly! Between us, we've got all of humanity covered."
"If you ask me to go into business with you in a brothel…"
"Well, why not? Think of the money we'd make! Your mouth, my dick, we could please anyone!"
At the horrified looks they were receiving from a nearby elderly couple, Puck and Kurt finally joined the rest of the team in laughing. Rachel tried to look stern and glare about the lagnuage, but coupled with her amusement it just made her look like she needed the toilet. Which of course made everyone laugh harder.
After a few minutes, they managed to calm down enough for Mercedes to inquire after Brittany and Santana. Kurt shrugged and looked up, seeming to only just realise that they were gone. Emma, however, proved more knowledgeable.
"The local highschool has a decent cheerleading squad. They wanted to go watch them rehearse, and volunteered to take the middle watch tonight to make up for it."
The others nodded. Even now, the ex-Cheerious couldn't forget something that had been such a big part of their lives. And since they always came back from watching another team more fired up thjan before, the others were willing to cut them a little slack.
It wasn't long before the girls came back, this time looking upset. Santana went and sat on Puck, while Brittany sat next to Emma and curled up into the older woman, clearly seeking comfort.
"What happened?" Emma was quick to ask, the question mirrored on the faces around her.
"Practice was cancelled," Santana informed them, "because the two best cheerleaders went swimming in the river two nights ago and never came back."
Looking at the Latina, Kurt could tell that she was more irritated than upset. He guessed that it was equal parts annoyance at them being too late to prevent the latest attack, and anger and anything that upset Brittany.
After that, the team broke off into several groups again, trying to lift each others spirits into hunting mode. It took an effort, but by the time Tina's spell pinged and the assembled again, they were all ready. Since they were unsure how the fight would go, everyone except Will and Emma went along.
Reaching the designated stretch of river took longer than anyone had realised with everyone along, but it didn't seem to matter. They saw the large, white horse standing near the river, looking for all the world as though it were a tame horse that wandered away from home. Which, of course, was what they were meant to see.
Quickly – and quietly – Kurt and Mercedes loaded their guns. While Kurt was the best shot with his rifle, the shotgun Mercedes carried called for less accuracy. The rest of the team spread out to the sides, making sure to keep out of the line of fire whilst not presenting a clustered target. Not knowing how the Kelpie would react, they'd decided this was the best tactic.
Kurt heard Tina start to mutter something in Latin, and nodded. The spell should prevent the Kelpie from changing shapes, making it more vulnerable to their tactics. After a few seconds, she stopped the incantation and made a gesture to complete the spell.
Which was when the plan fell apart.
It seemed that the Kelpie realised something was wrong, and it whirled around to look at them. Seeing weapons pointed towards it, it let out a horrific scream – showing the most vious teeth Kurt had ever seen on a horse – and charged.
Mercedes shot first, Kurt a split-second later. The rifle round seemed to go straight through it, but the blast from the shotgun seemed a little more effective. Seeing the creature still upright, however, the rest of the team came forwards. All they needed to do was buy time for Mercedes to reload.
She did, and brought the gun back up – but this time the buckshot had no effect.
"What the hell?" She shouted, just before the Kelpie reached her. Dodging out of its way, she used the gun like a club to strike at its leg. This time, the steel of the barrel struck a glancing blow, and seemed to sting the beast.
It whirled around again, obviously trying to find a break in the circle to get back to the river. Kurt's mind was racng, thinking of some new plan since the Kelpie didn't seem inclinded to let them put the bridle on it. He glanced at the others, tyring to see if anyone else had an idea – then flet his stomach drop.
Brittany was holding the bridle and giving the Kelpie an assessing look. Before he could shout out a warning, she darted forwards at full speed and vaulted onto the beast's back. Before it could turn and unbalance her, she stood and craned over the top of its head, slipping the bit between its teeth and holding the bridle in place.
The frantic stamping was calmed enough for Finn and Puck to quickly step forwards and fasten the buckles properly – keeping an eye on the enormous hooves the whole time. Brittany , meanwhile, sat on the Kelpie's back as though this was an everyday occurrence.
As soon as the Kelpie was docile, the rest of the group stared at Brittany, who looked back with a vacant expression for a moment, before shrugging.
"Well, the guns weren't working."