Two Slayers— One Heart (Version 3.0): Part 1

Note to readers: I do not write other people's stories, ideas, or original characters. Please don't ask.

Rose:

I never expected to be anything special, you know? I never expected to do anything memorable, to make any difference in the world. All I ever wanted to do was design video game programs.

I didn't expect to get super-powers and stand up to the Forces of Evil.

Sometimes, these things just… happen.

And this time they happened to me.

I still don't know why. Back then, I didn't know how. I just know that they did, and I had to deal. And it's not like I didn't have enough to deal with.

Already I was a fourteen year-old genius (I was a high-school sophomore at fourteen, I skipped first grade completely), a "wannabe-jockette," a lesbian, a geek and a "problem child."

Then came that whacked-out day in May when my whole damn world got rocked.

Not like it started all that great. But I have to say… it ended on a good note.

"Leave her alone, Belden!"

I looked around to tell Brian Keller to stay out of it, and Kurt Belden punched me in the face. So naturally, a hundred and twenty pounds of fighting-mad chess champion leaped on Kurt's back and tried to take him down. Kurt didn't notice, really, just grabbed the weight off of his back and flung it casually to one side. There was a thunk and a groan of pain, and I knew my folks would blame me for what happened here, too.

"I'm okay, Rose."

That was my erstwhile rescuer, Brian Keller. Chess demigod, super-electronics buff, amateur web master and damn good Dungeon Master. Fellow geek, in other words. He had the heart of a lion— and the body of an anemic mouse.

Not like I'm any sort of giant.

Kurt Belden was an even six feet— and more than a full foot taller than me. I weighed in at ninety-two pounds to Belden's hundred and seventy-five. So naturally, I was the target du jour.

I shook my hair out of my face and looked around the gymnasium. Coach Phelps was in the locker room, taking care of an injured student. No upperclassmen. No help. Just my classmates, and none of them were going to stand up for me— except Brian, and that was already over.

"Belden," I said slowly, "I really don't want to do this today. You've hit me once. Can we say you win and be done with it?"

"Screw that, Rivets." Belden grinned. I jerked into a fighting stance at that hated nickname. "Yeah. That's my girl, Rosie the Riveter. You want to dance, you call the tune. Hands or foils?"

I stared at him, not believing he was that crazy. "Belden, if we pick up foils— "

"We can tell Coach we got bored and were practicing," Belden said. "Might keep you from getting kicked out for another couple of days. We'll even wear masks."

I licked my lips and thought about it.

Remember when I called myself a wannabe jockette? The fencing was part of why. The rest was my martial arts habit. I was in good shape for my age and size, because I worked so hard at fencing and Kung Fu.

It's just that all the hard work in the world didn't seem to help. I worked, sweated, trained, pushed myself, learned all I could— and screwed everything up, every time, when I tried to use what I'd supposedly learned.

But, still… foils. We could claim practice, and maybe I wouldn't get thrown out.

I walked away from Kurt Belden, heading for the lockers that he had a key to, being the JV fencing team manager. "Open it up."

He grinned, took the key from around his neck, and opened the case. I grabbed a mask and reached for the foil that I thought of as "mine." It was a little long, to make up for my lack of reach; at under five feet tall, my arms weren't exactly long, you know?

I turned to face Kurt and pulled on my mask. The kids in class had already drifted over to the fencing strip, lining up to watch me get my ass beaten.

No jackets, no padding, just masks? I was going to be a mass of bruises at best, and probably bloody, too. But if I could just put one stripe on that egotistical son-of-a-bitch, I'd take whatever beating he handed out.

I faced him and saluted. He performed a lazy, half-assed salute back— and turned it into an attack. I saw it coming, and barely managed to parry. But he riposted, and I felt the sting of the metal button that covered the foil's deadly point slamming into my ribs just below my left breast.

"Touché!" Belden yelled, while I tried to remember how to breathe.

You think I'm a wimp? You try having a one hundred and seventy-five pound, muscular guy slam all his weight into you at something like twenty-five or more MPH— and all concentrated on a half-inch diameter circle.

I flipped my sword to acknowledge the touch and tried to get it up on a line to stop his next attack.

Look, it didn't work, okay? Not on the next attack, or any of the five after that. I never hit him, and he was leaving bruises, welts all over me— and one bloody stripe, just below the hem of my gym shorts.

Then, just as I was about to throw aside my foil and humiliate myself totally by trying to run… something happened. Nowadays, I know what it was, but still… well, it was really, really weird.

First off, I had a sort of… vision. I saw this really pretty chick— she had red hair, but then it turned white, and never mind that she looked twenty-something— and she was casting some sort of spell.

Yeah, I know what that sounds like. But I swear, that's what it looked like. There was this really freaky-looking axe-thing, and a redhead was chanting over it. And there was this flash, and her hair turned white —

And I was back in my head— but something was different.

There was a foil coming at a spot just a little below and off to the left of my mask. If it hit, it'd probably break a collarbone.

I did what I was taught to do. I shifted my left shoulder back and down, at the same time as I beat Belden's foil aside with mine, dropped back a step, and lunged back at him!

For the very first time, it worked.

My foil hit square over Belden's heart, drawing a surprised squawk of pain from him— and I stared at my foil.

It wasn't just a long piece of metal anymore. It was a weapon, and a well-balanced one. It was a good length for me, and the grip fit my hand perfectly.

It wasn't just my favorite practice weapon, it was a part of me!

And I knew right then and there that, if it came down to it, I could kill Kurt Belden with this little mock-weapon.

So I gave him one hell of a beating instead. No permanent injuries, nothing even serious. But he'd be sore for a week, at least.

Me? I wasn't sore at all. All the previous injuries were dwindling in pain and importance. I felt like a million bucks. The fact I was humiliating Kurt Belden with his favorite weapon— hitting him as often as I liked, and never letting him touch me at all— that didn't hurt anything either.

I felt better than I ever had in my life. Right up until Coach Phelps grabbed me by the arm while screaming "Killian, you freak! What are you— "

Coach Phelps is a big guy, six-three or so, and maybe two-hundred and fifteen pounds. Mostly muscle, he's forty or so, but still in good shape. But he surprised me, and scared me. I was riding a high from beating Belden's ass, then Coach grabbed me by my left arm and jerked me sideways —

— and suddenly, I could do all of those martial arts things I'd tried and tried to learn to do. I knew I could, don't ask me how.

I had a Bruce Lee moment.

I used the momentum from Coach Phelps pulling me, put my left foot on his cocked left leg, just above the knee, and pressed up, pulling my arm in at the same time. I stepped up on his leg and kicked off, spun, and caught him across the jaw with my right foot. I went spinning past as he let go, and landed cat-like a couple of feet away while Coach Phelps fell on his ass and stared at me.

That was when the day started to get really bad….

Coach Phelps sat on the mats next to the fencing strip and stared at me like I was a three-horned Martian with green and purple stripes. I guess from his point of view, I seemed almost that normal….

I'd pulled the kick I'd laid alongside this big, muscular man's jaw— and still he sat there with his eyes watering, clutching his jaw with one hand, and staring at me.

Without taking his eyes off of me, Coach Phelps lowered his hand a little and spat into it. Even from ten feet off or so, I could see that he spat red. I figured I was as good as expelled, right there and then.

So when Kurt Belden screamed in hatred and charged me from behind, sword back up over his head, determined to knock me down and out, I just said to myself, "Hell with it!"—and opened the can of whoop-ass I'd found inside of me on the stupid jerk.

(No, I don't know how I knew exactly where Kurt's sword was coming at me from. I just did. Deal with it— I had to!)

Belden's foil came down at my head. I raised mine and deflected his blade off to one side. At the same time, I drove my left elbow back into Kurt's gut. He let out this sort of a bark and tried to grab me. He was too busy trying to breathe to be aiming really well, though. I stepped out from his arms, parried the saber he had forgotten but still held and smacked his hands with my foil. He dropped his sword, and tried to kick me.

I sidestepped it, and kicked him in the head, the gut and the crotch. That pretty much ended the fight right there. He folded up on the ground after that last shot.

"WAY TO GO ROSE!"

That was my buddy Brian, staring at me with a totally shocked (but delighted) expression on his face.

My other classmates were staring at me with a totally new look. It took a minute for me to realize that it was respect.

I barely had time to think that was a look I could get used to before Coach Phelps jerked me around by my arm and screamed in my face, "I'll see you expelled for this, you little bitch!"

Then he slapped me— and I grinned. Coach stared at me, then shook his head and began dragging me off towards the office.

Elaine:

My life was pretty… normal, you know? I mean, I went to school. I got passing, even good, grades. I had hobbies and a best friend. Winston was a private school, I got 'A's in most of my classes. Reading and dancing were more obsessions than hobbies, and my best friend was a Wiccan chick. But I was still normal in comparison….

In comparison to what, you may ask?

To suddenly becoming superhuman and then getting trained to kick evil vampire ass. Not to mention finding… well. The day was interesting, to say the least.

It was to be the most important day of my life, the first day of a new life. It started out good; my parents had gone away for a week and left me alone, trusting me despite a little… incident the September before. But it all went downhill from there, starting first period, when I realized I'd read the wrong chapter for science. Then it kept edging downwards (meatloaf for lunch, the one dish at Winston that I hated, etc.). At least until the end of the school day… then it started uphill again.

But I'll get to that when it's time. What's important is, that was the day my life changed. For better and for worse. So far?

Better is winning.

"Oh, come on, Marshall," Jeff Hughes said. "All I'm saying is that I'd love a shot at doing your dance teacher, she's freaking hot— and all I'm asking is if you wouldn't do her, too."

"And all I'm saying to you," I said, carefully keeping my voice low, "is that it's none of your business, Hughes. I don't care how attractive you think Miss Sorenson is, I don't see why whether or not I find her attractive matters to you."

"Well, duh!" Hughes said, getting deliberately louder. "It's because lesbians are hot, Marshall— and we all know you're a lesbian, right?"

I closed my eyes and wished, for the ten-billionth time since the previous September that I hadn't let my infatuation with my best friend, my new-toy-syndrome with the sex we'd had twice before that awful day at the end of the first week of school, tempt me into making love to her in what we thought would be the abandoned theater of the school— on a mat in the middle of the stage. I'd been making love to her when the lights came on to reveal us there in the middle of the stage, as Mr. Silvers, the drama teacher, came through with his entire first year drama class— sixteen people, nine girls and seven guys— to give them their first look at the stage.

Instead, they'd seen the stage, and me and Kimberly Duncan, my best friend and (then) new girlfriend completely nude. Worst of all, in that fraction of a second before the lights came on, we'd both started to orgasm.

Bad, bad day. Things had gotten very tense, and I figured that if Winston hadn't been having trouble with money since the Mitsubishi plant outside of town scaled back production and fired a bunch of people— including upper management types, who could afford the private school for their kids— Kimber and I would have been expelled, not just suspended for a week.

My parents wigged. Mom took it better than Dad, didn't wig over me being gay— or maybe bi with a strong preference for girls— just over me having sex in school. Dad, however, had freaked over me liking girls. If Mom hadn't said— well, I don't know what she said to him in private, later, but it worked, and I'm glad, because he'd been going to make me start therapy, see if a shrink couldn't get me "straight."

As it was, I'd been grounded until Christmas. Kimber and I… no longer an item. Not like she wasn't still my best friend, but the enforced separation let us see that we really wouldn't have worked out. We were both too… I don't know. We both wanted to lead and have the other one follow, maybe? That feels right. We both wanted to be the one who was… not in charge, but maybe in control of things, sort of?

God, I wish I knew how to say it right.

Anyway, Kimber still held the best friend position in my life— which is probably why she stepped between me and Hughes and said, "Actually, you don't know that. All you know is that Elaine had at least one homosexual encounter, which according to everyone who knows anything about human sexuality— leaving you out of the running, I realize— happens to every single human being at some point.

"Now, why don't you shut the hell up— before I start asking you uncomfortable questions about your homosexual encounter— and how many times you've counted to one, now."

Jeff Hughes turned red, and he shoved Kimber aside, hard. She fell over a desk, and I found myself wishing that Mrs. Anders, our English Lit teacher, hadn't stepped out of the room to take a sick girl to the nurse's office.

But nobody pushes around my friends. I stood up and shoved Jeff Hughes back to the back of the room— easy to do, since we were sitting in the back row— hard enough to stagger him.

"Sounds like Kimber struck a nerve, huh, Jeff?" I said as he started back at me. "What's wrong— you never learned to count past one, so you keep using that number for counting your gay sex sessions? Well—" He tried to shove me and I took a sliding, sideways step, making him miss. "— let me give you some advice. Try holding up a finger for every time you've done it with a guy. Oh, wait— you can't hold up your toes, can you? Especially not when you're going to need both feet to count that high!"

Jeff snarled, and this time he didn't shove. He punched me, right in the gut, folded me over and sent me to my knees feeling like I was going to vomit.

That's when the weird happened.

I blacked out for a second, or at least that's what I thought then, and for a while after. And I saw a young woman in her twenties, with red hair. There was something like an axe, and she was chanting something—then there was a flash, and her hair turned white.

Weird.

Then . . well my stomach stopped wrenching and cramping, and I knew I wasn't about to vomit. It even stopped hurting, or at least stopped hurting more than just a little bit.

I stood up very suddenly, grabbed Jeff Hughes by his tie, spun him around and shoved him back into the wall— and then up the wall, holding onto just his tie, and with just one hand.

Look, I'm not short. Five feet, six inches, not bad. I weigh about a hundred and ten pounds— I'm slender, have a dancer's build, which is nice, since I want to dance— so I had no right to be manhandling a six foot, four inch, two-hundred and twenty-five pound linebacker-type like he was a kid half his own size.

I held him up there for a long moment, not feeling any strain at all, and Jeff Hughes stared at me with wide, scared eyes. Then Kimber spoke.

"I hear Mrs. Anders coming, Elaine. Better put him down."

Only Kimber could sound so matter of fact about the impossible like she did. I dropped Hughes, moved back to my seat and sat down like nothing had happened.

Inside, I was shaking and trying not to freak. Hughes… he'd weighed nothing to me. I'd had more trouble picking up two and three year old kids, back in my babysitting days.

"Okay, people," Mrs. Anders said when she came in to find all twelve of us sitting in our seats and facing forward like perfect little students, "what did I miss? Come on, you all look far too innocent."

Jeff Hughes said (in a slightly rough voice), "Nothing, Mrs. Anders. Just… a little argument. Nothing serious."

"Okay," Mrs. Anders said, sitting at her desk. "Then why is there a desk on its side in front of you, Miss Duncan?"

"I knocked it over getting up," Kimber said, "and I forgot to pick it up."

"I see." She looked around at the twelve of us in the room (private school, small classes) and sighed. "I'm never going to find out, am I?"

"No, Mrs. Anders," we all chorused together.

"All right. All right. Then let us return to Oliver Twist. Who can tell me what character's name became police slang for a while? Though I don't think it's still in use."

I had no idea how to answer that, so I sat and thought about what I'd done— and wondered how the hell I'd done it.

In fact, I wondered what— exactly!— was going on.