FIC: Riders PG-13 (2/30)

This entry is part 2 of 30 in the series Riders
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Chapter 2   Coal Gray Sky

The color of the sky as far

as I can see is coal gray.

Lift my head from the pillow

And then fall again.

-Like the Weather

10,000 Maniacs

Inside Giles’ apartment, everyone sat around silently waiting for Dawn to miraculously awaken. Shocked, no one had spoken since Spike and Buffy had walked in with the teenager. Spike had gently placed her on the couch, moved to the corner and sprawled in an arm chair. Buffy sat stiffly in another chair next to Dawn.

Giles straightened up from his examination of the motionless teen and spoke to the group. “There are no obvious injuries, but Dawn is apparently in some type of immobile magical stasis. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Pulling a handkerchief from his breast pocket, the Watcher began to polish his glasses. “Buffy, please explain what happened and try to describe the demon as completely as possible.”

Willow placed her hand on Buffy’s shoulder while Xander and Anya looked on grimly. Buffy didn’t answer her Watcher right away; her thoughts were still a world away, concentrated solely on her sister.

Spike watched the Slayer from under hooded eyes. He knew she was extremely upset over the fight she had had with her sister, and the subsequent demon attack He tried to  buy her some time to gather her thoughts.

Looking up from his veiled perusal, Spike answered the Watcher’s question himself. “It was a huge furry demon, Rupert, at least seven or eight feet tall and it had a right nasty hissing growl.”

Nodding to show that he’d heard Spike, Giles silently beheld his Slayer and grew more concerned. Buffy still hadn’t moved or offered any details of the attack. He needed to snap her from this lethargy.

He spoke to her again, his voice stronger, edgier. “Buffy, did you hear the demon before you saw it? What happened out there?”

Her Watcher’s hardened voice finally broke through the shock. Buffy sat up straighter and shook her muddled head to clear it. Buffy frowned. “No, there were a couple fledglings in the woods and I went in to stake them, while Dawn waited alone behind that big stone Cherub at the north entrance. I didn’t hear the demon or even see it until it was leaning over her.” She stared down at her hands. “Other than my stake, I didn’t even have a weapon.”

Swallowing, she squared her shoulders and finally gave a full report. “Spike’s right, it was tall with steel-gray fur, curved talons and a sorta cat-like face. I threw a granite grave marker at its stomach and it just shrugged it off.”

She glanced at the vampire. “That’s when Spike showed up and threw a bag with a bottle or something at its head. It had these bumpy lumps on its forehead and the glass broke. It started pawing at its eyes when the liquid in the bottle splashed on its face and that’s when Spike jumped on its back and broke its neck.”

Giles asked, “What did you throw at it? It would be helpful to know what caused the demon such discomfort.”

Spike chuckled. “A bottle of Jack Daniels. I was on my way home from the liquor shop when I heard all the noise. I saw the Slayer throw that soddin’ huge grave marker and I watched it bounce off the beastie like it was armored, so that’s when I ran up and pitched the bottle at its head.” He shrugged. “It’s all I had on me. Didn’t expect to be needin’ a broadsword on a quick run to the shops. When the Jack slowed it down, I saw my chance.”

While the discussion continued around her, Willow reached over and began leafing through a second research book. Turning a page, she exclaimed. “Oh, I think I found it.” She held the book sideways so Buffy could see it. “Does this look like it?”

Buffy squinted at the small engraving. “Yeah, that’s it. What is it?”

Giles leaned over the redhead and glanced at the picture while Willow read aloud. “It’s called a Cantilly demon.”

Anya stood up straighter. “Did you say Cantilly?”

“Have you heard of them before Anya?”

“They’re a sort of vicious demon bloodhound.” Anya replied. “Dark sorcerers sometimes use them to track and kill their enemies.”

“Oooh, listen to this.” Willow was still reading the text. “It says that Cantilly demons use their highly developed sense of smell to seek and kill their pray.” She nodded at Anya. “They’re very suggestible and easily manipulated into working for someone else. The person in charge uses a sample of the prey’s blood so the demon knows the target. Cantilly’s have the ability to locate their target by smelling and honing in on the live blood inside the intended victim. Once they find the victim, they knock them out with some sort of paralyzing touch.” Her eyes widened. “Then they use their talons to decapitate them.”

Giles gazed around at the group and spoke. “I believe the intended victim was not actually Dawn. Buffy, you were in the woods slaying vampires so the Cantilly located Dawn first. Since she was made from you and has the same blood, it naturally assumed it had located its intended target.

This was not your fault; obviously someone is trying to kill you.” He paused briefly. “We must find out who is using this tracker demon. We already know two things about them- the person or persons unknown have been here in Sunnydale for at least two days and it was probably the Cantilly demon that killed those two people last night.  I imagine that the mystery person wanted assurance the demon would do the job correctly, so they were practice attempts.”

Tara shifted and spoke for the first time. “H-How awful. Those poor people.”

Standing behind Willow, Giles continued to read over her shoulder. “It says that if the Cantilly does not kill the victim then they awaken naturally from their stasis within ten to twelve hours. Dawn should awaken with no ill effects.”

Giles started to pace around the small apartment. “We need to concentrate our efforts on locating the demon and this will, no doubt, lead us to the person in control. We have the advantage at the moment, because obviously someone did not realize that Buffy and Dawn have the same blood and they believe they’ve either incapacitated or killed the slayer.” He stopped pacing. “Cantilly demons only have this ability during their nesting phase.

So, we’re looking for a location capable of housing up to twenty eggs. They live as mated pairs, so we’ll locate the demon’s mate tending the eggs. Willow, I think you and Tara should prepare to do a locater spell, perhaps we can get a location for Buffy and Spike.”

Spike sat up straighter in the chair and protested. “Wait a minute, I did my part and lost a good bottle of Jack for my efforts.”  He was actually chuffed at the idea of spending time alone with the Slayer, but didn’t want anyone to figure that fact out and remove the possibility. Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to try to get the price of a replacement bottle out of ol’ Rupert.

“Bollocks, I almost forgot.” While waiting to see the reaction to his hint about the bottle,   Spike reached in his duster pocket, pulled out a small black cell phone, punched in a number and smiled in relief. “Thought I might ‘ave damaged my new toy.”

“Wait a minute, Spike has a cell phone?” Buffy, surprised, stared at the phone still in his hand. “How’d you get a phone?”

“I got it at Jerry’s liquors tonight; it’s a month long promotion from Jack Daniels. A free trial for good customers who buy a certain amount of their product, it’s good for three months including ten hours of free airtime.”

“Why am I not surprised that you bought enough booze in a month to qualify?”

He snickered. “Vampire constitution, pet. That bottle I chucked at the demon was the last one I needed to buy to get the phone.”

She turned to Giles. “Why does Spike have to go with me on this?” I’m not comfortable working so closely with him right now. I need to maintain some distance. Besides, it’s all my fault Dawn was hurt. “I can take on the demon, no problemo; I just need to weapon up.”

Giles shook his head. “I believe Spike will have an easier time surprising and killing the Cantilly. Vampires live on borrowed blood so having no live blood of his own; he is nearly invisible to the demon. This will give you an advantage when it’s time to destroy the eggs and the mate. I want you to go back to the cemetery and procure a portion of the demon’s skin so that we can do a locater spell.”

He turned to the vampire.

“Spike, the Council will pay you for your services. You have a unique quality needed for this and I want you to accompany the Slayer as back up until the person controlling the demon is apprehended. Please program my own phone number into your cell phone. I want to be able to contact you and I’ll need you two to check in with me as necessary.”

Spike protested vehemently. “I’m not wasting my minutes on you lot.”

Xander, watching the exchange, smirked at Spike.  “Who are you gonna call anyway? You don’t have any friends.”

Giles sighed. “Oh very well, I will purchase some additional minutes for you with council funds. It is, after all, a business expense.” He wrote some numbers on a sheet of paper. “These are the numbers to input into the phone’s memory.”

“I haven’t actually had time to learn to use it.”

Willow spoke up. “Oh, I can help you with that; my mom’s got the same phone.”

Spike reached into the front pocket of his duster and pulled out a small book. “Could you put Clem’s cell number in for me?”

“Clem’s got a cell phone, too?”

“Yeah, so what?”

“Why do all the demons have cell phones and I don’t?” She appealed to Giles.

“Shouldn’t the Slayer have a phone, if all the demons do?”

“What are ya gonna do, Slayer? Call and invite ’em over for a slay date?”

Crossing her arms, Buffy glared at him and sat back down in the chair.

Willow finished programming the tiny phone and handed it back to Spike. He slipped it back into his duster pocket.

Buffy stood up, stretched and called out to her Watcher. “Giles, I’ll go out now and get the demon skin.”

Giles spoke to her from the kitchen. “Take Spike with you.”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine.”  Starting toward the door, Spike fell into step with her.

She looked at the vampire. “We need to find this Chantilly demon and kick its ass. Then we’ll find the boss and kick his ass because nobody messes with my sister.”

They opened the front door.

Cantilly, Slayer, not Chantilly. It’s not the evil Big Bopper.”

“The big who?”

The door closed with a bang.

Giles wearily rubbed his face. “I just hope they don’t kill each other instead of the Cantilly.”

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