Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Whedon & Mutant Enemy. I don't own the name of the fantasy character mentioned in passing. I don't own the images of the cartoon or the character from the Paramount film that appear. Wrote this after reading some of the early Season comics :)
o o o
"So, I was saying that I was really happy about that twenty percent discount and he said that I was positively SALE-i-vating so I dumped him because bad puns are so last century," Harmony said as she moved along the food counter in Sunnydale High's cafeteria. Her babble suddenly ended in a scream as a thin black tentacle wrapped around her wrist.
Xander and Willow were eating at a table not too far away; they turned their heads around in time to see Harmony grab hold of the tentacle and yank as hard as she could. A little black robot with a green eye and a large metal tray full of blue jello salad attached to its head emerged from the row of cafeteria food. As soon as Harmony wrested a tentacle from her wrist, three more shot out from the robot and grabbed hold of the three closest cheerleaders.
People began screaming and running away from the robot as the metal tray began to spin, flinging jello in all directions.
Xander and Willow were out of their seats and heading to help, but the Slayer had seen the chaos and was already charging across the room. In a single fluid motion she vaulted the counter, grabbed several metal skewers, swung herself back into the main part of the cafeteria and shoved them through the thin exoskeleton of the robot even as it began to play strains of a Country-Western song.
The tentacles went slack and the newly free cheerleaders backed away to the far corners of the room.
Everyone stood in complete shock for a few seconds. Then the room erupted in cheers and other forms of applause.
A wide grin spread across the Slayer's face as she took a bow.
Not to be outdone Xander leaped to the top of a table and shouted: "Go, Liz!"
An immense hush fell over the previously joyous room as everybody edged away from Xander.
The teenager, for his part, ran over in his mind what he had just said and blushed deeply.
All eyes were on the Slayer as she opened her mouth. "The name... My name, is E-lizabeth," she said, putting the stress on the first syllable. "I don't like nicknames. I understand it was just the heat of the moment, otherwise I'd be angry. You wouldn't like me, if I was angry."
"Oh my God! She's going to Hulk out," screamed a random guy in the back as he ran out of the room. Everybody else ignored him and went on with their lunch.
o o o
"That was the weirdest thing I've ever had to slay," Elizabeth said to Willow, that night on patrol.
"Yeah, I know what you mean," Willow answered. "Any idea who did it?"
"Nope, no-one claimed responsibility. No-one even showed up to claim the poor little broken metal body."
"Huh," Willow said distractedly, her mind racing a mile a minute. She quickly ran through all the suspects who might have a grudge against cheerleaders, then dismissed the entire subject as a red herring, returning to the task at hand. "So, hey, any vampire ever call you 'Lizzie'?" she asked, scanning the area for suspicious shadows. "Because-"
The Slayer suddenly went into a coughing fit. After waving off her friend's assistance she frowned and asked: "Lizzie? Why would anybody call me Lizzie? I mean Buffy's bad enough as it is... I mean the best nickname you can get from it is Buffster and that's..."
"Yeah," Willow said, shaking her head. "What was I thinking?"
If Willow was oddly quiet for the rest of the night, always lagging a few footsteps behind her friend, Buffy didn't comment.
o o o
The next morning at school Xander was grabbing some books when a large fist slammed into the locker just to the right of his head. Xander spun around only be grabbed by the shoulder and forced onto the ground.
Elijah grinned malevolently down into Xander's stunned face and sneered: "You know what, Harris? There's just something I don't like about you. I can't quite put my finger on it. Oh wait, I can."
Elijah began ruthlessly poking Xander's face as several people around the hallway snickered at the lame attempt at humor.
Xander found his mind racing for a comeback, but being repeatedly poked in the head meant that the best thing he could come up with was a muttered comment about how the jock wasn't being a very good prophet.
"Prophet?" Elijah sneered as he let go of Xander to cover a slight cough. "Prophet? Whoever heard of Larry the Prophet?"
"Yeah," said a very confused Xander. "Larry the Prophet. I mean, I've never heard of the guy. So, why did I think it was a good idea..."
Frowning, Xander stood up and without even really thinking about it, brushed Larry's arm aside as if the jock didn't matter in the slightest. Ignoring the people snickering at his complete dismissal of Larry, Xander walked down the hallway, entered the library and slammed his hands hard onto the top of Giles' desk, disrupting the librarian's enjoyment of his tea.
"Giles, could you rattle off all the prophets in the Old Testament?"
"Xander, I am not a Bible Concordance. Could I just have a moment's peace?"
"No, I'm deadly serious. I'm quite certain someone's losing his mind here, possibly me."
Looking closer at the young man's face, Giles gave in.
After a bit, Xander stopped him, saying: "That's it. Elijah has a definite 'L' 'A' sound so-"
"Why the bloody hell are you going on about Los Angeles?"
"What, no! I'm trying to say that," Xander stammered as the the library doors swung open and the girls walked in. "Willow, Buffy," Xander said, happy to see them. "Has anybody around you suddenly sprouted a new name?"
"What? No. Hey," Buffy said, frowning. "Willow, are you okay? You look like you're about to faint."
"Buffy," Willow stammered. "Is Buffy a nickname? I mean, did your mom..."
"No, it's what's on my birth certificate. If I can ever get a license, that's what's going to be on it. My mom has nearly ripped people in half for suggesting that Buffy surely must be a nickname for something else. Just saying, that you'd better be careful around her. Why do you ask?"
"I'm not sure how to say this, but my aunt Elizabeth was the best babysitter in town for years, before she moved away. Two of the girls she took care of grew up and decided to name their first born after her, except, without even talking to each other about it, they wound up calling their daughters Buffy. They're in preschool now, Buffy. They were born before you moved here, so they can't be named after you. Now, are you sure that nothing weird is going on here?"
Giles opened his mouth and closed it without saying anything. Frowning, he stood up and retrieved the class directory and some old high school year books from a far shelf.
o o o
"That's it," Xander said, after the gang had spent a few hours of compiling data, phoning homes and pulling statistical tables off the computer. "Apparently, nobody who is currently enrolled in school or otherwise set foot in Sunnydale in the past week has been named Ian, Elizabeth, Elijah or Ethan. Yet some people who have lived all their lives in this town but are on vacation right now have those names."
"Not to mention that we shouldn't have this many Ellens, Aarons, Johns, Sandras, 'Allie's, Larries and Thomases," Buffy said over a pile books. "There's even one guy named Elric, which has got to be fake."
"I see," Giles said as he adjusted his glasses. "We'll have to put his mother on the interview list, along with the other suspicious names and see if they also decided to name their children something else just before they were born. Willow," he asked, calling over his shoulder. "Any luck with finding possible causes?"
"Just the usual suspects, but I think I may be onto something."
"Hey, I think it's time we hit the streets," Buffy said as she grabbed the list of addresses and headed towards the door with Xander in tow. "I've lived all my life fielding questions about my name, so I guess it's time I put the experience to good use."
o o o
Mrs. Sampson's house was about the tenth one down the list. The previous ones had been a pretty much even mix of people who'd named their kids intentionally and those who had found themselves changing their minds unexpectedly, sometimes even mere hours before their children had been born.
Once inside the house, Buffy started off with the usual questions about the woman's family and children, then focused on her eldest son, which was very easy to do, considering his name was 'Elric'.
"Well, that's rather odd. My husband and I have always been fantasy buffs, so we went with something out of Moorcock... Except we had been planning for months especially after that large convention to give him his name," Mrs. Sampson said, pointing over her shoulder. "Especially after he was so kind as to autograph it."
Buffy squinted her eyes and peered into the darkness of the closet behind the woman. "Wow," Buffy breathed, her eyes widening as she recognized the life-size cardboard cutout. "No way..."
o o o
"Hey, Giles," Willow exclaimed happily. "I've found it. There was a great mage who made a monster from sowing together the names and powers of a multitude of demons. He wanted to safeguard his bloodline against his creation, so he made it powerless against people with the 'Ee' sound at the start of their name. Because, while individual names may go in and out of style, syllables never do."
"Ah, yes," Giles said, flipping pages as he spoke. "I believe that specific creature was shoved out of our local reality, behind a thick dimensional barrier. All this time he must have been gathering power in order to affect the history of the people physically close to the location he'll emerge from... It should be a simple matter to trace these ley lines to their convergence point, although I fear that his best opportunity to reenter our world is mere hours away."
o o o
"Guys, are you sure this will work," Xander asked his friends as they huddled outside Sunnydale Mall's (currently closed) Food Court.
"If it doesn't, there's always Plan B," Buffy said as the ground shook and a dark tear opened in reality.
The creature didn't simply emerge from the tear, instead the dark portal shimmered and transformed into a humanoid shape. The monster roared his challenge to the skies then, catching sight of the huddled figures, sneered: "What, are you the best this world can do?"
Buffy launched herself forward with lightning speed, one foot outstretched towards her foe, only to be swatted out of the air by an invisible force.
Xander charged up from behind the monster carrying the large cardboard cut-out he'd borrowed from Elric, allegedly for a toga party. At this distance Xander could see that the creature's skin was made out a multitude of black whirlpools all spinning at different rates.
The cardboard entered within range of the invisible force and was promptly thrown across the room. "What was that," the creature asked, moving an arm towards Xander. "That wasn't even the right kind of name... It was... Harold..."
Space rippled as the creature moved and three of the bones in Xander's right hand promptly snapped, sending the young man reeling towards the ground in pain.
"Yeah," Willow shouted. "He did sign the picture of himself 'Egon Spengler' after the character he was playing. It was worth a shot. You probably deserved a dignified death at the 'hands' of a Ghostbuster rather than what you're getting. Hit him guys! Plan B!"
Giles and the other standing members of the gang began to bombard the creature with Eeyores.
As each grayish stuffed Disney donkey hit home, the creature's dimensional matrix became more and more unstable until he finally perished with a piercing scream, his insides having torn themselves apart.
o o o
"I'm just glad Xander's going to heal properly," Willow said to Buffy the next day during lunch. "The doctor said she'd never seen such a clean break."
"He's kind of lucky, I mean with Slayer healing, how many times do I get to skip class without consequences?"
"Yeah... I guess you could say that you're lucky to have such a cool name, right?"
"Sounds about right. If that thing had a tombstone I'd leave flowers. It does make you wonder, though, if reality shifts around us on a daily basis without us noticing."
Willow coughed unexpectedly. She opened her mouth and closed it again without saying anything. She quickly checked to make sure that she was still named Willow and female.
She was, so all was good.
Buffy caught her friend's eyes and gave her a small nod of understanding.
o o o
They finished their meal in silence.
o o o
o o o
Hundred Word Missing Scene:
Hours before the creature's scheduled arrival, Buffy and Willow had walked into a toy store.
While Willow talked someone into checking the back inventory, Buffy searched the shelves. Carrying three at a time, she stacked the counter.
Headed between places, Xander ran by the entrance with five more. Grinning sheepishly, he returned to pick up one he'd dropped.
The clerk stared. "Why are you guys buying seventeen Eeyores?"
"Uh..." As Buffy scrunched her brow in concentration, words fell out of her mouth. "We're having a reverse piñata where you crack open a giant bar of candy and these fall out."