Hi folks, this chapter's a little different, but isn't filler. It's pretty important and at the same time, something of an experiment. Tell me what you think, please. Thanks again to GreyWizard for all the help.
Thanks again to GreyWizard for all the help.
"Ah, Darla." The voice was lisping, and oh so familiar. "Darla, Dear One, attend to me."
The blonde vampire swiftly, with supernatural grace, stepped to her sire's side.
"Master," she said, her voice full of reverence of an almost religious nature.
"How goes your task?" the Master said, caressing his childe's cheek with one ancient misshapen hand.
Darla's eyes flittered down, glancing at the dust, water and candle wax that had been littered across the floor. "Not well, Master," she admitted, shame apparent in her voice. "The demoness is reluctant to join your cause, but she is arrogant. I'm having the newly turned focus on her thralls, Master. She will know her place is at your side soon enough."
"Be careful to not call too much attention to yourself," The Master said, holding her head in his hands, "for you are Dear to me, my greatest childe." His hands fell down to his side and he walked back to his throne-like chair at the back of the cave. "So, tell me, why is there a true demon attending mortal school?"
"She is able to feed with impunity, Master," Darla said. "Teenagers are guided by their hormones, much more so than any other age."
"Yes, yes," the Master said, "but there are plenty of other places she could hunt for her sustenance. I am asking why she is attending school? Why does she hide who she truly is? What she truly is? Something tells me she is not truly as demonic as many have said. Find her weaknesses. Pressure on her herd is good, but there must be more to truly bind her to my service. All things have flaws, Darla, and the greatest of us try to over come them," he said as he held a cross in his bare hand, ignoring the sizzling of his flesh and the smoke rising from the wound. "Something tells me she is young, another weakness."
"I will find them, Master," Darla said, giving the elder vampire a curtsey. She turned to leave and was almost out the door before he called out to her.
"Oh, and Darla?"
"Yes, my Master?"
"If she doesn't come around, kill her," the Master said.
"Your will be done," the blonde vampire said before skipping out the door. The Master watched her go, still enthroned on his chair as he leaned over to rest his cheek on one clawed hand.
"Master," Luke said, stepping from the shadows. "There is another problem."
On the other side of Sunnydale High, cheerleaders called out their cheers, jocks practiced their passes and a female walked into the boy's locker room. Or perhaps "stalked" would have been a better verb for what she did, for this particular female was a predator looking for prey. Now unlike the normal predators of Sunnydale, she was not a vampire. She was still human...as far as she knew.
You see, Xander, Willow and Jesse weren't the only people to shop at Ethan's. Before Halloween, seeing the better quality of Ethan's shop over those of Partytown, she decided that her costume would be better off if purchased from him. And it was magnificent. Her choice of costume was a sexy devil, and sexy, it most definitely was. Wings made of thin, supple leather were supported by a framework built into a costume that most dominatrices would be hesitant to wear in public. The leather was dull, the pattern of the skin very apparent, but it was fitted perfectly to her. It was like the costume was made especially for her. It emphasized her bust and had the cutest little tale that was designed to wag back and forth as she moved like one of those toy snakes made up of sections. If she had looked closely, she would have realized that it was made of bones covered in leather that didn't come from a normal animal.
Harmony Kendall was sure to be the center of attention. At least that's what Cordy said. Of course, Cordy wasn't very nice when Harmony showed her the Harmony-the-Sexy-Demon costume. It was not much, a red bodysuit, a bit of red cloth and wire wings and a set of horns. She'd bought it all at Ethan's Costume Shop and even Daddy liked it. Daddy always knew what Harmony liked.
Cordy, on the other hand, hadn't liked it that much, and called her a Slut-o-matic, whatever that was. But Harmony was undeterred by the statements and wore it to the party where anybody who was anybody attended. This apparently meant the rich kids, the jocks and the wannabees, according to what Harm saw at the party. There were a lot of teenage drunks, too, and they brought a lot of booze. After a little while, people were drinking a lot and they got lots worse at dancing. Cordy wouldn't have been impressed, but she was paying attention to the captain of the football team and didn't seem to notice.
Harmony, as predicted, was the center of attention. Judging from some of the comments the basketball players said, it was because she had chosen not to wear a bra under her costume. That was strange, because she was wearing a bra, but they were pretty drunk, so it was an understandable mistake on their part. Or maybe they were telling her to take it off. But she wouldn't do that because good girls don't take off their clothes at parties. Her parents said so, and made her promise, so Harmony kept her costume on.
A little after six, about fifteen minutes after dark (Harmony's parents had always told her to be careful after dark, so she kept an eye on the sky), Harmony noticed that some people were acting stranger than normal. Cameron, the guy from the swim team who had dressed up like a pirate, was holding Aura by the neck. Harmony marched right over and gave him what-for, a nice slap on the cheek, because that wasn't how you treated a lady - everyone knew that. That's when Harmony realized her hand had grown claws. Four bright red marks streaked across his face, eliciting a gasp of pain from the teen. He turned to her, his face full of anger and was entranced, almost drooling at the sight of her, all reaction from before was gone. She smiled again, realizing she had a pretty good costume.
That was when Harmony realized she was no longer wearing a costume.
Her skin was the same tone as her costume, but the cloth was gone. Her arms and hands were covered in tiny little scales that ended with short, sharp claws at the ends of her fingertips. Holding her hand up to the light, she turned her wrist and arm, revealing that they continued until her elbow and normal feeling skin continued. She shook her head in confusion and bright red hair shook down in her face. It wasn't red hair like Rosenberg's hair, but bright and vibrant, the color of blood. That didn't seem right to Harmony, so she changed back, her skin turned to her normal tone, her claws vanished, her hair went blonde and her wings sank down into her back.
And then Harmony realized she was naked. Again.
She let out a sound in surprise and every head in the place turned to her. She noticed that Cordy wasn't there anymore, which was good, because Harmony didn't want Cordy to see her naked in a room full of people. Cordy would have a few things to say about that, and Harmony had never liked getting yelled at by Cordy or her parents, and you could be sure that Cordelia Chase would tell the Kendalls everything that Harmony did.
"Stop looking at me!" she commanded, embarrassed, and every face that had been staring at her turned away, distinctly not looking at her, but they seemed to really want to. Harmony didn't want to be naked any more. She wanted to be wearing clothes that covered everything.
And then she was.
Harmony started to hyperventilate. This wasn't supposed to happen. You don't just go from wearing a costume to wearing nothing to wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. You don't just simply grow claws out of nowhere.
Harmony sat down in a chair next to Aura who was also distinctly not looking at her.
"Aura, why aren't you looking at me?" she asked.
"Because you told me not to," Aura said, sounding a little upset.
"You can look at me, Aura," Harmony said, and the black girl's eyes were on her almost instantly. They were full of longing, of wants and lusts. Something in Harmony drew her to the girl's lips that seemed to stand out, the girl's silver lipstick gleaming in the party's candlelight. They moved together closer and closer until Harmony realized she was going to kiss one of her best friends. She pulled back, but the need was still there. It was like being thirsty, dehydrated and being stuck on dingy in the middle of the ocean. "Get away from me, Aura."
The girl skidded away backwards, eager to please.
Harmony dropped her disguise and grabbed a boy close by, her lips falling on his as she stood over him. The jock pushed against her, his lips mashing hers as she felt the power seep into her like she was drinking wine from a glass. She broke the Kiss, tossing him backwards. His body wheezed, as if he was suddenly an asthmatic and his hair turned gray, his skin wrinkling as if forced into sudden aging. The jock went from a healthy 18 to looking more like 81. Then he went still.
By then, the flood gates were open. Harmony needed more of that power, that primal rush. Lust filled her vision as she grabbed another person and kissed them, not caring about gender, social status or who they were in relation to her. She could feel the alcohol on her prey's breath, but she didn't care because no amount of booze could undermine the rush she felt from the feeding. The Kiss was everything, it was more important than the past and the future didn't matter. Her needs came first. She drained another, then another and another, tossing them aside like a litterer tossing aside the wrapping of a burger. The husks meant nothing to her, it was what was inside them what mattered. A short kiss gave a little, but a long kiss gave all.
Time passed without her knowing. Her chest heaved and her pupils dilated as the rush settled down. Looking around her were a whole bunch of people lying around doing nothing. Aura was still sitting dutifully in the corner.
"Aura," Harmony commanded, wiping her mouth on the back of her wrist. The girl in question perked up instantly, eager to please. "Let's go find another party. This one's a bit dull."
The next party went the same way. Then they went to the frat house parties and took care of them. By the time she was done, five parties went the same way. She realized that should could listen to thoughts, glean something of their mental state and needs from the surface of their minds. She learned that she could be anyone's fantasy, male/female, old/young, nothing was barred from her. Everything about her body shifted at her very command.
That night, Harmony Kendall became a demon.
Specifically, a demon that charmed her victims through guile and deceit, preying on their inner lust and ultimately turning it against them. She was a succubus, a creature of lusts greater than mortals, though not always sexual in nature, and she needed to fulfill them. Her new powers were instinctual, and she used them as if they had been hers for her entire life. She was a predator a step above the lowly vampires that lurked in the sewers and electrical pipes because she could take any form, enthrall any human, and feed. Better than that, she didn't even leave a mark.
That night Harmony fed as the succubus. She transformed, she changed, but unlike most others, she kept her mind, but surrendered to the needs and urges of her new body. Sometimes she would drain one person at a party, drop them in some bushes somewhere, take that victim's shape and go after another. Repeat as necessary. She sated her both her physical and spiritual lusts as often as possible that night. Each time she fed, there was a feeling of relief and release that made her new body shiver with pleasure. By the time the parties were breaking up that Halloween, Harmony was an addict. And because of her feeding, devouring the very life force of hundreds of victims, she Ascended.
It wasn't long after this that she had her ill fated encounter with the idiot trio: Willow, Cordy's stalker and Xander. She had nearly died and only her instinctive use of her inborn magical abilities allowed her to escape. But it was Xander that recognized her, Harmony realized later, not the others. Jesse was hers until Xander realized what was happening. Those eyes of his seemed to burn right into her soul. Who did they think they were? Harmony still grumbled about that night. Of all the people, all of whom were willing to do whatever she wanted, why was that Goldfinger reject able to resist?
She escaped, though, escaped to live and to feed another day. She'd thought it was over - until he came back to school.
She, too, had witnessed the sunrise and how so many around her changed.
The difference between her and them, though, was that Harmony had fed.
She had given into her demonic form and it had been giving her power all night, so when the sunrise came, Harmony didn't change back to the stupid little girl she was before. She remained Harmony, Queen of the Night. Well, no one could have ever accused Harmony of being humble before or after that night. She kept her wings; strong leathery wings that easily allowed her to fly. The magical abilities were hers to command as they were the night before, but it was her mind that was most greatly changed. The day before Harmony had been a vapid, willfully ignorant girl. Now, only a day later, Harmony's mind was sharper, she had a greater portion of common sense and wisdom and she could charm the last coin off Scrooge McDuck with just the use of her tongue. And that was before putting her mind in the gutter. At the same time, she existed as the supreme irony of being a virgin, celibate succubus.
She returned to school feeling refreshed and with a bounce to her step that drew eyes towards her chest. This was little different from before, but this time Harmony noticed the stares, the thoughts and feelings of lust centered on her. While her wings were retracted and hidden in her current form, her tail twitched back and forth in lustful anticipation. She could actually read minds, catch the thoughts her appearance provoked. She changed slightly in response. Her hair, normally blonde of the bottle variety, became true blonde with no unsightly roots, even her eyebrows changing. Her eyes became blue or green or brown depending on who was looking at her. Her bust grew or shrunk slightly to draw more eyes, depending on preference of viewer. Her legs grew just a little bit longer while still keeping her original height. Her hair became just the slightest bit wavy. Her body shifted slowly into the perfect hourglass figure. She reveled in the attention she was getting.
As the weeks passed, her needs plateaued and she found herself able to last longer and longer between feedings, or able to take less from each victim, keeping them alive to grow healthy again for another course. The more she fed, the more her control over both herself and her victims grew. She only caused fatal feedings in the hotel or near the university campus, never around Sunnydale High, and those fatalities were growing less and less as she discovered that if allowed to live, they only desired her more. She couldn't call them lovers, because that implied that they were on equal level with her. They were like...fruit trees or berry bushes that kept on producing the succulent fruit that kept her alive. She desired them, she was enticed by them, but she could never love them.
As she traveled the night and fed and slept with who she wished, Harmony inevitably came into contact with the other apex predator of Sunnydale: the vampire. She could smell them and their minds were dead, a hollow space where a mind should have been. It was discomforting to say the least. She had attempted to cajole one into a dalliance and the subsequent attempt at feeding was less than pleasant. They tasted of ash and grave dirt. Just the very thought of them made her want to clean her mouth out with something quite astringent.
Stepping into the boy's locker room for a pick-me-up, she ran into one who had become something of a nemesis to her.
"You," Harmony snarled. The blonde vampire smirked back as she wiped the blood off her fangs.
"Just stopped by for an afternoon snack," she replied, dropping the body of Harmony's intended prey to the ground in a heap, blood dribbling from the wounds shredding his neck. "I like them young and strong. They're so stupid at that age, yet so malleable."
"That was mine," Harmony snarled. She flexed her hands, clenching and releasing her fists as she stood in impotent rage. Only the knowledge that all vampires were her physical superior in combat kept her from trying to strangle the fangy bitch. "You shouldn't be here, Darla."
"The Master is growing impatient, he wants you to join him," Darla replied. "Consider this thinning of your herd to be something of a...warning. He wants your power. You can do so much for him, young succubus. As a True Demon, your destiny is far beyond this little hovel of a school."
Harmony threw off her disguise. Her hair turned a dark, radiant red, her clothes, (nothing more than a part of her transformed body,) vanished as her wings shot out of her back and her feet and hands grew claws and scales. Her tailbone grew long, extending into a thin, boney tail, snapping from side to side showing off her displeasure.
"You want a discussion, why don't I open the skylight to let in the sun?" she taunted, nodding towards the ceiling. Harmony loved being smart even if she did still play the fool for the benefit and expectations of the masses. Her wit and charisma was unparalleled and even the snarky comments of the King of Cretins was no match for her now. Yeah, Harmony was not a modest succubus. She chuckled lowly as Darla glanced nervously at the ceiling before relaxing in the knowledge that it was tightly shut. "I'm not going to live in a hole, hiding from the world like you vampires."
"If you shrug off his offer, there will be nowhere you can run," Darla said as she stepped sideways around the dead body. Harmony moved in the opposite direction so soon they were slowly circling the body of one of Sunnydale's prize jocks.
"You told me yourself that he's stuck in a hole," Harmony smirked, shaking her head with amusement. "He can't do anything to me."
"But we can," Darla said as fifteen other vampires stepped out of the shadows.
"Gawd, Darla, you're as stupid as I used to be," Harmony said as she fell into a facepalm. "Later, Darla."
And with that, the succubus vanished with just the slightest of pops. The vampires glanced around, sniffing to see if she had just gone invisible.
"She's not here," one of the newer minions stated. In a fit of anger, Darla ripped his head off.
"I know that," she snarled as he turned to dust before turning on her other minions. "Now go find her!"
Harmony shook her head as she shrank down into a human form. She knew that they would be looking for someone blonde, busty and tall, so she went with short, dark-haired and male. No one even looked at her twice as she wore the body of Jonathan Levinson. She walked out of the school and down the street until she neared her street, at which point she took her usual form. Tossing her hair over her shoulder she continued onto her house, not giving the vampires a second thought.
Back in Sunnydale High, Xander heard a commotion as people ran through the halls, even when most students had long since left. Glancing out the windows, he raised an eyebrow.
"Hey, Willow," he said.
"What are vampires doing running around in school?" he asked in a nonchalant tone.
Willow didn't respond and began to hyperventilate. Giles, however, came falling out the doorway of his office.
"Did you say vampires?" the librarian asked in a more than worried tone. It was a tone that said both "I believe in vampires" and "Oh hell, there are vampires in the school." Xander raised his eyebrows in surprise. He pointed over his shoulder towards the doors.
"In the hallway, running all over the place."
"Oh, dear lord," Giles said, pulling off his glasses and nervously cleaning them.
"So I'm guessing vampires aren't something only seen on Halloween?" Xander asked, listening in Willow's general direction to make sure she was okay. She didn't seem okay; she seemed like she was going to pass out.
Just then, Jesse burst into the library.
"Xander, Willow! There are vampires all over the school!" he shouted as the doors swung shut behind him. Xander fell into a facepalm as he noted the comment drew the attention of the various undead bloodsuckers that were, indeed, running all over the school.
"Quickly, move towards the windows," Giles said as he pulled out a cross. "The sunlight will harm them."
"I really wish I still had a sword," Jesse commented as he made sure to be standing in bright sunlight.
"I really wish I still had a shield," Willow commented as she watched five vampires walk into the library.
"There's a few of each in my office," Giles replied helpfully.
"Which is conveniently on the other side of the vampires," Xander remarked.
"Yes, indeed," Giles replied, a little embarrassed as he held his cross out in front of him.
"Well," said one of the vampires, who, judging by the clothes, was still stuck in the days when Miami Vice was still the hottest show on television, "the target might have gotten away, but I think we've got an early dinner." He made a big show of glancing at his watch. "Well, looky there, only a half hour 'til sundown." He turned to his four fellows and shrugged. "I figure I can wait, how about you guys?"
"Half hour? Yeah," said another, "I can wait."
Xander looked at his companions with a rather displeased look. "Mr. Giles," he rasped, "there seems to be a slight flaw in your plan."
"Well, I didn't exactly expect them to think things through," Giles replied. "Young vampires, as a general rule, don't do long term planning."
"Half hour is still kinda short term," Willow commented. She turned to Xander. "Can't you..." she wiggled her fingers in the general direction of the waiting vampires. Xander huffed, rolled up his sleeves and pulled out a small pouch. Inside the pouch was a small jar of a whitish substance.
"What is that?" Jesse asked as he pulled his foot away from a grabby vamp.
"Pig fat," Xander replied simply as he covered his fingertips with the substance. There was a glow as Xander spoke the name of "Burning Hands" in the Language of Magic. Flames the color of blood, gold and glacial ice shot forward in a semicircle, catching first one, then another of the vampires until all five were rolling around like human torches, er, undead torches. The flames miraculously didn't harm anything else in the room.
"Funny," Xander pondered as he watched the vampires scream. "You'd think creatures so vulnerable to fire would know to stop, drop and roll."
After a self-satisfied moment, Xander noticed other eyes staring at him. Jesse and Giles gawked at him with open mouths.
"Oh, right," Xander said, pointing to his own head. "I'm a wizard."
"So allow me to attempt to understand your situation," Rupert Giles said. He turned to give Xander a closer look. "You are not, in fact, a demon as I suspected, but a human who gained the curse of the character you dressed up as for Halloween and now are capable of feats of magic." He turned to Willow. "You are now growing at a faster rate and have a few curls in your normally straight hair. If that were not enough, you also know how to serve and produce ale, mead and other beers as well as frying pan based combat." Turning to Jesse, he looked up at the taller young man. "You have been putting on a considerable amount of muscle, quite in excess of your exercise regime, and are rather knowledgeable with sword and shield."
"That pretty much covers it," Willow said with a nod of confirmation. Giles pushed his glasses up onto his forehead and pinched the bridge of his nose.
"And it was your costumes that did this?" he asked.
"As far as I know," Xander said. "I lost the costume in the hospital so I didn't have a chance to look into it."
"We've had some other changes," Jesse said. Heads turned to him with questioning looks. He shrugged. "Xander, you were never this into books before Halloween. Willow's taking more chances, talking back to Cordy and others," he turned to the girl in question, who seemed to be about to protest, "You are, Willow. You're much braver than you were before. And I-" he paused and took a deep breath, rubbing his hands over his face before looking back at his friends, "I'm having a much harder time in school. I'm not as quick minded as I used to be. It's harder and harder for me to catch up."
"I can still help you study," Willow said with a smile.
"Thanks, but it's more than just that," he told her with a sad look. "Xander, you came back without having been in class for weeks and you're right on the ball. I've been here, doing my work and it's like I'm treading water. I...I just don't get it any more."
Silence fell over the group until Giles dragged them back to the conversation.
"Now, tell me, are these traits in common with your Halloween personae?" Giles asked. Jesse looked at him blankly.
"Yes," Xander replied. Jesse looked to him for an explanation. "He wants to know if we are acting more like Caramon, Raistlin and Tika, and the answer is yes, yes we are."
"I should like to investigate where you procured your disguises," Giles said, slipping his glasses back down onto his nose. Xander and Willow both looked to Jesse. He looked surprised and pointed at himself. They nodded.
"Oh, right, 'cuz I bought the costumes," he said with sudden realization. He squinted and tried to pull up the memory. "It was...um, it began with an 'E' and was two parts. E- Ephraim's? No, um, Ethan's? Maybe. Uh, Evan's? Evie's? Uh, something like that. It was on the dodgy end of Main Street."
"Dodgy?" Xander mouthed to Willow, who seemed equally confused.
"Oh dear lord, this is going to be harder than I thought," Giles said. "Why don't I look into this and you three can go home? I've got quite a bit of research to do."
The three students shrugged and started off while Giles shelved the books he had been searching through previously (including a treatise on Succubi and Incubi that would be misplaced when it was most needed later), and pulled out an entirely new selection of tomes specializing on curses, hexes and vengeful spells and the breaking thereof.
A Watcher's work was never done, even when one's Slayer had yet to arrive.
Harmony walked into her house, only to find Darla sitting at the table eating milk and cookies with her mother. She suppressed her first instinct, which was to lash out and decapitate the vampire.
"Hi Harm!" Darla said in a perfect SoCal accent, giving the succubus a cute little wave. "Your mother was so nice in letting me in! She even said my friends and I could do anything we wanted while I was here."
Harmony clenched her teeth so hard, her jaw squeaked.
"Ah, Darla, why don't we go outside in the nice, bright sunlight? Perfect time for a walk," Harmony replied with a perfect smile almost as sunny as the sinking sun.
"Oh, but your mother put out such a spread, I wouldn't want it to go to waste," Darla said before lowering her voice. "Or her..."
"Harmony, Honey-bunch, I'm so glad you made it home in time!" her mother said, waving excitedly for the neo-succubus to come sit down. "I made mint-chocolate-pistacio cookies!"
"They're my favorite, Mom, thank you," Harmony said, biting off a piece of the still warm-from-the-oven cookie. It was a divine recipe. She glanced into the next room and noticed several other figures in the shadows. "Mom, I'll be right back."
The two lurking vampire minions were looking at her father hungrily as he ate some of her mother's cookies in the living room. Sneaking up behind them, she latched her claws into their necks and opened a magical doorway, tossing the vampires through. Their screams as they burned up in the sunlight were abruptly shut off as the dimension door closed off.
Harmony sat back down at the table with Darla and her mother. "Sorry mom, just saw a couple of things that needed dusting." She turned to stare right at Darla who froze in mid bite. The blonde vampire shot her a look as dark as she could without vamping out. "Darla, your friends have already left, you wouldn't want to be late? The sun's already going down."
"Hmm...maybe I should," Darla said.
"Aww..."Harmony's mother said with a frown, but she perked up as she gave the exiting vampire a little wave. "Come back any time!"
"Oh, don't worry," Darla said with an evil little smile to Harmony, "I will."
"Mother, why was she here?" Harmony asked under the auspices of helping her mother do the dishes. Darla had already vacated the premises, but Harmony wasn't about to let her defenses down yet.
"Isn't she your friend from school?" her mother asked innocently. It should be noted that the general assumption was that Harmony had inherited her figure, hair, eyes and intellect from her mother, not including what she got from the whole Halloween mishap. Until that fateful night, observations held up that hypothesis.
"No, Mom, she wants me to join a cult," Harmony told her, acting much more like her old self. "She's a real meanie."
"Well, that's not very nice," her mother said. Her mother could be quite forceful when angered, even if she still sounded as timid as a mouse.
"If you ever see her again, I want you to go the other way," Harmony said. "I mean it, run away and call me."
"I promise," her mother said with a sunny smile. "Time for beddy-bye, isn't it?"
"Yes, Mom," Harmony said, giving her mother a little kiss on the cheek. She felt a rush of power as the Kiss begged for more. Her demon nature told her to take all of it, but Harmony was the ruler of urges, not the other way around. She walked up to her room, dropped her disguise, and flopped on the bed, wrapping her wings around her like a protective cloak. It was days like this that made her brood.
Everything went back to Halloween.