❯ Fratello – Chapter 5
Note 1: The secret to fanfic writing – don’t write at home on a futon couch. Go to your local library or an IHOP.
Fifteen minutes after sunset.
A week after the Halloween Incident.
Given that Sunnydale was the center of strange and unusual things in the Western United States, he should not have been surprised to see what he did. But La Boca Del Inferno surprised him yet again.
Who would have expected to see Drusilla, Master Vampire and Seer, a charter member of the Scourge of Europe, primly riding side-saddle with her head tilted back and eyes closed on a metal horse on a merry-go-round in the park?
Xander Harris and Dawn Summer stood for a few moments and watched Dalton, Drusilla’s vampire companion, slowly push the carousel in between scanning the surrounding area. Dalton certainly saw them once they entered the playground, but only spoke when the two teens got close to the vampire pair.
« Mistress Drusilla, your company is here. » Dalton stopped pushing the carousel, which slowly came to a stop with the vampiress in front of the teens. She lowered her head and opened her eyes, blinking slowly as she focused on them.
« Good evening Miss Dawn, Alexander. A pleasant night, is it not? »
« Kind of quiet, don’t get enough of those lately. » Xander replied while Dawn scanned the area around them herself.
« Too true. Not many people appreciate when it is quiet around them. And this nice balmy weather makes it more pleasant to stargaze. I did not have many chances to do so before. » Drusilla’s eyes moved from Xander to Dawn and back again. « It’s difficult to appreciate the night sky when the stars are whispering in your mind. »
Gracefully standing from the carousel horse, Drusilla took Dalton’s offered hand and stepped onto the rubber mat surrounding the playground. Raising a black lace shawl over her hair, Drusilla took Xander’s left arm in hand and began to slowly walk, Dawn on the opposite side and slightly behind while Dalton was a step ahead them.
« You have had a week to get accustomed to your new abilities, Alexander. What thoughts come to mind about them? » Drusilla kept her eyes ahead of them, but Xander could feel her attention on him regardless.
« I thought that having these new powers would help us a lot, but now I see that they have complications as well. »
« Such as? » Drusilla continued walking.
« While I have the memories of Giuseppe Croce and some of his abilities, I need to get in better physical shape to take advantage of all them. » Xander glanced over at the vampire. « Dawn, however, seems to have all her physical abilities and strengths. Her skills are present, but the memories of Henrietta seem a bit. . . spotty. »
« That is how it is supposed to be. Due to her. . . ‘conditioning’ I believe it was called; Henrietta had troubles with certain aspects of her memory. This to due to the efforts to wipe out certain parts of her life, to prevent it from impacting on her use by those who created her. »
Xander nodded. He could see how the Social Welfare Agency would not want their expensive cyborg assassins to be affected by the traumas in their previous life. Given what he knew about the other girls, it was a toss-up to who had the worst memories, Henrietta being the lone survivor of a sadistic serial rapist and killer that had assaulted and maimed her next to the dead bodies of her family or Triela, barely surviving, if you could call it that, being the subject of a torture and snuff video in Amsterdam.
« There is something else that came up. Dawn discovered it by accident the other day. » Hearing her name, Dawn halted and let the two come up to her. Seeing Xander nod, she began to speak.
« I was doing the dishes at home when I broke a drinking glass. I was scrubbing it when it broke, and a couple of pieces cut me. » Dawn glanced at Xander and continued. « There was blood all over my hand, and I rinsed it off in the sink so I could put a bandage on it. But when I saw the skin under the blood, there was no cut. But there was a piece of glass sticking out of the skin. »
Dawn took a deep breath. « When I pulled the glass out of the skin, the cut it left behind glowed green for a couple seconds and then healed over. No scar, no mark, no nothing. What is this, this isn’t part of the cyborg powers! »
« Would you mind showing me this power?? » Xander and Dawn looked from Drusilla to each other, not saying a word for a long moment before Dawn gave a slight shrug. Xander responded with a small nod.
Pulling a combat folder knife from her waistband, Dawn flipped it open, and with only a slight hiss, slashed the palm of her left hand. The cut on the hand had bled only slightly before a green glow traced the edges of the wound and then faded, leaving only a few drops of blood on otherwise unmarked skin.
Reaching out, Drusilla ran a finger through the drops and brought it to her mouth, tasting the crimson fluid. Closing her eyes for a moment, Drusilla looked back at the two teens, who both had narrowed looks on their faces. Xander had his right hand under his coat, while Dawn had shifted the large folding knife to a saber grip.
« It is as I thought. The Magicks of Chaos flow through your veins, Miss Dawn. It was there before this past week, but Janus’ blessing has activated it. »
« What does that mean to us? » Xander’s expression had relaxed, but his hand was still on his weapon.
« It means you have to be careful of who knows of Miss Dawn’s Gifts. It is not a danger in itself, but like all things, it can be twisted and abused, resulting in great harm. » Drusilla did not react to Dawn’s and Xander’s wary stances, but instead turned to look up in the sky.
« Why would Dawn have Chaos Magicks in her? Is it part of the spell? Do I have it too? » Xander asked in some concern.
« Dawn has a Destiny that was a part of her before the spell took place. It is not a Destiny like the Slayer has, in that you Chose to fight. It is a Destiny where Life and Existence will hang in the balance. That part you have no control over. What you can do is act on your own to what will happen.
« You do not have these magicks in you, Alexander. The gifts you have do not include this, so you must maintain a modicum of sensibility, for Miss Dawn’s sake if not yours. » Drusilla said the last with a faint smile on her lips.
Only by looking squarely at him could it be seen, but a slight flush appeared on Xander’s face. He knew that he had been affected less mentally than Dawn had been by the Chaos spell, so more of his original personality remained after that night. That personality had almost gotten him and Dawn in trouble the week before.
Sunnydale High School,
Three Days After Halloween.
Xander was trying to decide between subtlety and brute force.
Subtlety had its good points; he would be able to achieve the objective without the student body being the wiser. In his head he had the techniques necessary to do so. On the other hand, brute force had a certain visceral satisfaction that had been recently lacking in his life.
The problem had been raised time and time again. The administration had done nothing to resolve it. So it now fell to Alexander Harris, Esquire, to deal with it.
Just as Xander said to Hell with it and was starting to wind up to kick the thieving soda machine, an unwelcome voice interrupted the process.
« Hey Harris, I want to ask you something. » Larry Blaisdell, Sunnydale High’s answer to humanity’s missing link, was standing behind him.
Xander was of two minds about the hulking football player. Most of the time the guy was living up to the stereotype of the typical high school jock. But on some rare occasions, an uncertainty showed through his eyes, as though he did not quite want to be doing what he did.
« You’re pretty close to Buffy Summers, right? Is it true that she’s a fast girl? » Larry shuffled forward and looked down at his classmate.
Xander gave a mental blink at the question. While Larry was a jock, he really was not a sports fan, so the only way he would be interested if a girl was fast was if. . .
Larry may not have been the swiftest thinker in the school, but he did have access to some instincts that most people did not use often. This had served him well in football, where sometimes plays happened too fast to think through, when he knew the opposing player was faking or not.
Asking Harris if Summers was easy sounded like a good idea – most guys would give out that information, and if he didn’t or he got pissy about it, it wasn’t like he couldn’t pound the punk into the ground. But for some reason, looking at the suddenly stiffened posture of the smaller teen in front of him, an alarm bell started to go off in the back of his head.
“I hope you mean `fast like the wind’, Larry.” Xander turned so that he was facing the jock, his body at a slight angle, his right foot half a step behind the left.
“What are you talking about, Harris? I’m asking if Summers puts. . .” Larry’s voice trailed off as he saw something he had never seen in the daylight – the humanity draining out of someone’s eyes.
Having been born and raised in town, Larry knew something about what happened in Sunnydale after dark. Not that he knew about the supernatural per se, but he knew about the `gang members on PCP’ that were always blamed by the police for the high numbers of assaults and attacks in this little town. He had even seen some of the fights they had been involved in at the Bronze with Summers and her crew. It was on the faces of those gang members that he had seen the same look that was on Harris’ face now – one that promised a world of hurt to anyone on the receiving end.
The other thing that Larry had learned in football was to never back down. If the opposing players saw that you were scared or intimidated, they would run right over you, sometimes literally. Given the frission of fear that Larry felt when Xander fixed him with those cold brown eyes, there was only one way for him to respond.
“Look you little asswipe, I don’t care what you think, I just want to have a good time, and if Summers puts out then. . .” Larry took a step toward Xander, his fist coming up to beat some fear into the other teen when three things happened almost at once. The first was Harris’ left hand coming up, his hand flat, palm down and thumb out, arcing toward his throat. But that was immediately ignored as searing pain suddenly spiked through his torso.
Larry had once been knocked to the ground and had another player land on his side knee first, the pain stunning him for more than a few moments. That was nothing compared to what he felt now. Something hit him hard in the lower back, right below the ribs, and the agony that blasted from his kidney to his diaphragm and lungs locked them up, leaving him temporarily unable to breathe. But even that was forgotten as something slammed into the back of his right knee, collapsing it. Combined with the force of the blow to his back, Larry was thrown past Xander, who had sidestepped as he was fell forward and down, his body losing it’s balance until he smacked head first into the soda machine.
Laying on the floor of the school break room, watching the halo of tweety birds flying around his head, Larry was barely able to hear a young female voice cry out, “I’m so sorry! I tripped and my bag hit your leg! Are you ok?” Holding up a hand, the girl asked, “Did you hit your head? How many fingers do you see?”
Trying to focus on the wavering fingers in front of him, Larry looked at the freshman girl in front of him, who looked familiar for some reason. After a few moments, Larry was able to gasp out his answer.
“Orange!” The world faded out right after that.
A week after the Halloween Incident
“That was totally an accident! Besides, you would have gotten in so much trouble if you had done that done that hand strike to Larry’s throat. And you got a free soda out of it!” Dawn was doing her best to look offended and innocent at the same time, and was mostly succeeding.
“I had already paid for that soda, Dawnie.” Xander now used the despised nickname rarely, which is why he was not offended when Dawn stuck her tongue out at him.
Thinking back to the near fight he had with Larry, Xander did agree with Dawn’s assessment. The choke grab he was intending to use on the hulking jock would have gotten him in trouble, but that was the least obvious of the fighting tactics he knew. The problem was that Giuseppe Croce had been trained in military-style martial arts, which did not have very many non-lethal techniques. The style he remembered would have resulted in a full-out brawl with the larger classmate.
Dawn’s techniques had been less noticeable but nearly lethal. Xander had barely started moving his hand up when the younger girl had appeared out of nowhere and performed a knuckle-fist strike to Larry’s kidney. A mere moment later Dawn swung her book bag with her other hand at Larry’s knee, causing him to fall forward. The force of the strike of such that Larry was thrown into the soda machine and knocked loose the can of soda that Xander had paid for but had not received.
But the piece de resistance had been Dawn’s act afterward. Even having watched as Dawn had blindsided Larry, Xander had trouble connecting the expressionless look on her face to the apologetic concerned student who tried to help the semi-conscious junior laying on the break room floor. Unlike what would have happened if Xander had gotten into a fight with the football player, Dawn’s actions had been totally under the radar – just the way the cyborgs of Section Two had been trained to operate.
Looking from the innocent smile on Dawn’s face to the faint one on Drusilla’s, Xander shook his head and dropped that particular subject. “Dawn and I have done some light sparring and some katas that Giuseppe remembered, but we have not been able to train full out. Dawn won’t use lethal tactics against me and there is no one out there that she can fight full out that isn’t a Black Hat.”
Drusilla nodded and looked up at the sky. After a few moments, the Seer looked back at them. “There is someone out there that can help you both with your training. More than one person, actually, but I rather doubt that you want to let the Slayer and the Watcher in on your secret yet.”
Dawn and Xander nodded in agreement. After the Halloween incident, Buffy had gotten back to patrolling, and while she had not been too obvious about it, it was apparent that she did not want Xander involved in Slaying action if he could help it. And both Buffy and Giles had no idea that Dawn now knew about the things that went `bump’ in the night.
“I will speak with him, to let him know that you need his help. I will tell him about your powers and memories, but I will not tell him about Miss Dawn’s Gift. Daddy had another path to tread, one that may be at odds with yours and therefore does not need to know everything.”
“Daddy? You mean Angel don’t you?” Xander’s voice went flat at the mention of Drusilla’s Sire.
“You must be careful, Alexander, green eyes do not become you.” Drusilla’s gentle rebuke brought the young man up short. Before he could start to deny that he was jealous of the souled vampire, Drusilla continued. “Daddy is the Champion of another group of beings, ones that have plans of their own. Those beings do not understand about the true nature of the universe, they seek to impose Order for their own benefit. That Order can not come about without interference, it can not stand on it’s own. Such Order is the antithesis of Chaos. And Chaos is where we get our power from.”
Gesturing toward Dalton, Drusilla watched as the other vampire produced a small cellular phone and handed it to Xander. “While my connection to Janus help me See, that sometimes is not as swift as the modern communications of this world. Dalton has another of these, should either of us need to speak with the other, this will make it more convenient. Or at least easier to arrange than this meeting was.”
Xander nodded in agreement again. A slip of paper with elaborate Victorian handwriting had been found in his school locker this morning to set the time and place for the meeting this evening. A prepaid cell phone was much more expedient. Running through the address book showed that Dalton had already programmed the other phone’s number in as well as Angel’s.
Facing Xander, Drusilla slowly moved her face forward and gave him a light kiss on the cheek. Moving back, Drusilla could not miss the scowl on Dawn’s face. Stepping back to Dalton, she took his arm and gave a slight curtsey. “Have a pleasant evening Alexander, Miss Dawn.” Turning, the two vampires walked back into the treeline, leaving their sight just as a slight blonde figure walked out from a spot not far where they entered, saw the two teens and marched over.
“Dawn, Xander, what are you two doing here at night?” Buffy Summers asked in a peeved tone. The Fratello pair looked at the Slayer, then at each other, and just smiled in response.
End Chapter Five
Note 2: Larry’s answer to the `how many fingers am I holding up?’ question comes from the movie `Little Man Tate’.