Coming of the Scooby Army
Ch 19 - Danger on the Horizon
“Listen, I’m telling you guys that this town is ripe,” Warren Mears stated with as much authority as he could manage under the circumstances. “All you have to do is ride in and do what you do.”
“And we should risk it because…,” the demonic gang leader questioned.
Warren didn’t like the way that this thing was looking at him, nor his ‘crew’. It was disconcertedly like he was a possible meal… or play thing. The demon he was addressing was an odd mottled, pinkish-tan colored being, heavily built with muscle and with earrings puncturing his pointed ears, his flat, nose-less face, even the sides of its neck. Many of the other demons surrounding him were similarly adorned, and all wore a look that clearly said he was most unwelcome. He was glad he hadn’t brought Andrew, as the other young man would surely have spoiled everything with the peeing of his pants.
Warren however did not do so. He instead took a step closer, up into the face of this demon biker and grinned a ‘tough-guy’ smile, ignoring the ripe scent and the smell of old leather that hadn’t been cleaned in months, if not years.
“Because, right now, the Hellmouth is unguarded,” he nearly whispered, as if he were in a conspiratorial partnership with the thing in front of him. He looked around at the two dozen creatures waiting for the word that he was fair game, “The Sunnydale Slayer has taken a sabbatical,” he said far more loudly. “The town is vulnerable… as is the portal.”
He confidently met the gang leader’s eyes and smiled, “It’s just waiting for someone who can do something with it.”
There was general murmuring among the crowd in the abandoned former bar, but Warren kept his attention on the Gang Master. It was his call on whether he would be stripped of his flesh and consumed right now, or whether there would be a deal.
“How do you know this,” the demon gang leader asked, full of suspicion.
“Uh-uh. I’m free to leave, then I share the details.”
The demon leaned into Warren’s face and huffed fetid air in his face from a mouth full of teeth were made for tearing apart prey. “You’re not in a position to bargain, Human.”
“If I can’t leave, then there’s no point in any of this,” Warren pointed out, sounding far more full of bravado then he actually felt. “Do you want the details of Sunnydale’s defenses or not?”
“The Slayer wouldn’t just wander away….”
“The Slayer isn’t exactly the type that you’re used to. She tends to ignore her handler and take off on her own errands. Right now, she’s not there.”
“Then we don’t need you,” the demon grinned savagely. “You’ve already told us what we need to know…,” it’s clawed hand grabbed him by his shirt front.
Warren brazenly knocked the hand away from him with a look of disgust, “Except, I didn’t tell you about the witches… or the vampire… standing with her. Do we have a deal or not?”
“Why would a human deal with us? Why sell out your town… your world,” the demon not unreasonably wondered. In the meanwhile, Warren clearly picked up an undercurrent of excitement going through the crowd around him.
“Because, I’m anti-Slayer. And, I’m anti-Sunnydale. That’s all you need to know. And right now, the Slayer’s virginal kid-sis is waiting for some demon man enough, pardon the expression, to ‘take’ her, if you get my drift.”
The demon narrowed his eyes at him and then burst out in a roar of laughter. “This weak man is free to go,” he shouted out to his followers. “When he’s told us what we need to know about this virgin and how to overcome the Hellmouth’s Guardians!” He leaned once again into Warren’s face, “But if we arrive and find the Slayer there, we will come for you,” he added.
Warren grinned and nodded.
Later in the evening, Willow was on the phone with Xander from the Summers’ home. Upstairs, Dawn was in her room with the radio down low.
“Tara told me about her casting to help Dawn stay hidden. It was relatively easy for me to finish . She shouldn’t have an issue with going with Cordy at the end of the week.”
“How is she doing,” Xander asked, looking out into the twilight over Sunnydale from his apartment balcony. “God, that’s a stupid question.”
“No, she’s okay,” Will said with a voice full of sadness. “I mean, this is a really bad time for this to come up, but she’s not falling apart or anything.”
The news of Tara’s father’s death earlier in the day was a sucker punch to the young witch, but Willow had run a steaming bath after she’d gotten her over the initial shock. She was up in Joyce’s bathroom now, soaking with another hot cup of soothing tea.
“Tell her how sorry I am.”
“I will. But, I have to go with her Xan. I have to. I’ve emailed you the stuff I’ll need and the approximate costs for the Buffybot. I need that stuff tomorrow so I can get her up and running before we take off for Cajun Country.”
“Of course. I’ll see to the money. Have you heard from Giles?”
“No. But, considering the Council, I’m not sure we will. I’m hoping that Lavinia will update us though. You may want to stop at the house and check the machine for any messages when we’re gone.”
“And Dawn,” he asked.
“Sad. But handling it. After Joyce and Buffy, the death of someone she didn’t really know and didn’t like isn’t really bothering her much. She’s mostly hurting for Tara’s sake.”
“Yeah. Listen, Spike just came out here, so I need to fill him in….”
“… He stayed over? Should I read anything into that, she says supportively.”
“Not yet,” Xan replied with humor. “But, you never know.”
Dawn sat on her bed looking over her work from the library. The Steins were having another evening to themselves, so she was back at home, which she didn’t at all resent. Her heart ached for Tara and she wondered, not for the first time, if this had something to do with her. Not that there was any reason to think so, but there seemed to be a lot of death since she ‘popped up’ in her ‘family’s’ life. Xander’s dad… her mother… her sister… now Tara’s dad… and almost Carole.
She sighed and again wished she knew more about herself, her origins, her weird nature….
With a sigh, she turned her attention back to her homework. Kevin had done a good job of making notes in his elegant script and she had sheets of paper spread out in front of her. She was now writing, long form per her teacher’s instruction, Van Gogh’s life - focusing on his melancholy. It was something she could currently relate to all too well.
“Update me? Giles?” Spike struck a match and lit a cigarette.
“No, no word from our wandering Watcher. Tara’s dad died - heart attack.”
“Poor White Wicca. On the other hand, ‘who cares’. The man was an asshole.”
“Yeah. But it was her dad…, it doesn’t really matter that he wasn’t so nice now. So, Dawn is going to stay here, if the Steins are busy sexing until she goes to Cordy.”
“Vision-girl,” Spike blew smoke directly in Xan’s face, his scowl apparent.
“I know. You don’t want her out of eyesight. But she needs time away, Spike.”
“She’s not normal. Every witch, psychic and seer is going to detect her from miles away,” the vampire complained.
“Got it covered. The mojo from Tara and Willow will keep her cloaked.”
“I’ve been clear about my objections to this.”
“You objected to her going to L.A.,” Xander reminded him. “We’re going to keep her closer. Neutral ground between us and them.”
“Not. The. Point.”
“Spike, you can’t keep smothering her.”
“I’m serious. The decision has been made. And we don’t want you following her.”
Spike turned away and gazed out over the night, his grinding teeth working silently. “This is a bad idea,” he finally said.
“We’re people. We make bad decisions. But, this one is necessary. Between Buffybot and you and the witches, and even me, Dawn is feeling trapped. She needs oxygen.”
“I’m assuming you mean that metaphorically.”
“You need to… loosen the grip on her. She needs you to.”
“The last time I trusted her to her own, she got killed. Buffy would never forgive me if she knew,” he said quietly.
Xander came up behind him and slung an arm around his waist, pulling him to him, “That wasn’t your fault. And, I think she’s learned her lesson. With Cord’s weird vision-powers, she should be okay for a weekend.”
“Not promising that I won’t slip out after her, but I’ll try.”
“That’s all we can ask,” Xander nuzzled the back of his neck.
End Ch 19