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Challenge#3: Just A Girl.

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  • Challenge#3: Just A Girl.

    Title: Just a Girl
    Disclamer:I have no rights whatsoever on anything Joss & co came up with first.
    Setting: Mid season 2, somwhere around Ted and Bad Eggs.
    Description: A crossover featuring a character from Heroes in the Buffyverse

    "I hate this!" Cordelia moaned as she stumbled after Xander. "I mean why is it always graveyards? Why can't you take me somewhere nice once in a while. Somewhere that doesn't have vampires and dead people crawling all over it?"

    Xander sighed deeply and turning lifted his torch, illuminating the air between them. "Look, this isn't exactly my idea of a fun night out either Cordy; but it's important, so we're gonna do it, okay? He turned and started off again "'Course if you don't want to tag along you could always head for The Bronze?"

    "Oh right yeah, that's really gonna happen." Cordelia inerjected with a sudden burst of passion "If you think for one tiny little second that I'm just gonna leave you and your precious Buffy all alone to enjoy the tombstones by moonlight then you'd better just think again mister."

    Xander flashed her a tight ?I'm trying to stay patient here' smile "Okay then, here's a plan." He said with obviously forced cheerfulness "Why don't we all just stop complaining and keep our peepers peeled for Buffy. After all the sooner we find her the sooner we can get out of this spooky yet apparently romantic cemetery and maybe find somewhere nice and private for a little you and me time."

    Cordelia glared at him with narrowed eyes. "God I hate you, Harris."

    They were there of course, with a vital message from Giles. Afte a late night bout with the books he had finally worked out just exactly what was behind the recent spate of grave robberies and the demon in question would be almost impossible to fight without knowing about its achilles heel. If Buffy came across the demon on her patrol she might end up getting hurt? or possibly worse.

    Of course the tricky thing was knowing exactly where the slayer would be.

    There were far too many cemeteries in Sunnydale to search them one by one, so they had split up and turned an impossible job into just one that was just extemely difficult. Xander and Cordelia had 'just happened' to get paired up.


    "What is it now?" he snapped regretting the tone as soon as he saw her expression.

    Cordelia pointed with a shaking hand "I think I might have just found Buffy"

    Xander followed her outstretched hand and saw two figures partially obscured by a large gothic tomb. The larger of the pair was a tall, heavy set demon with putrid, yellowish skin and a single horn sprouting proudly from its forehead. Heavy brows drew down over glowing red eyes and its mouth was a grisly collection of brown, rotting fangs. Xander crept forward to get a better view and, as he did, the second figure came more plainly into view. He caught sight of a familiar petite female figure, her blonde hair shining in the pale moonlight. Then, before he see any more, the demon grabbed her savagely and threw her against the side of the tomb

    Without another thought he started to move to where she struggled, shouting her name hoarsely as he ran. He saw that blonde hair fly out as she half turned towards the sound, searching vainly for it's source. Her attention could only have wandered for the merest fraction of a second but it was all the opening the demon needed. A massive clawed hand shot out and caught her around the throat, lifting her clean from her feet. The demon threw back it's head and laughed, a strange bubbling cackle erupting from its cruel maw, as she clawed desperately at the thick corded muscles of its long arms.

    Then as if she were just some child's plaything the demon turned and with a single heave of its massive shoulders it launched the girl high into the night air. She seemed to hang there for an eternity turning and twisting against the background of the distant trees like a circus acrobat on the flying trapeze. This time though there was no safety net to catch the falling girl and she landed with a hard, jarring impact; her fall broken only by a small headstone and the unforgiving ground.

    Xander redoubled his pace, veering towards the limp form lying so scarily still on the damp grass, his heart in his mouth. She was laid face down, one arm flung out at an unnatural looking angle, the other pinned beneath her body. Her legs were obviously broken; pale white bone poking through the fabric of her jeans, and everywhere there was the stain of fresh blood, slick and dark, appearing to be almost black in the murky light. It was all too much for Xander to take in. He stopped, reaching out to a nearby tombstone for support as his head whirled, unable to take in the full horror of the sight before him, ragged, retching breaths escaping him as nausea and wordless grief bore into his soul.

    It was a single sound that finally made him look up, that same weird liquid cackle he had before lifting his gaze until it met the mad red eyes of his friends killer. The demon held his gaze for a long moment and then it? smiled. its lips pulled back to reveal row upon row of sharp, stained teeth. Its mad eyes glinted with an evil, inhuman pleasure.

    And that was it for Xander. The revulsion and guilt and grief within him hardened, transformed by the sheer hatred he felt for this creature into a towering, all consuming rage. He flung himself at the demon with an animal howl only to find himself brushed away with contemptuous ease. He hit the ground hard and did his best to roll, finishing in an untidy sprawl by the stone wall of a family crypt. The demon turned swiftly and Within three quick steps it was towering over him, those long muscular arms reaching down.

    They seemed to take forever to reach him. The colour drained from the world and the nocturnal sounds of the graveyard and Cordelia's frantic scream seemed to come from some other world as the clawed hands came closer and closer. Then, just before the cruel talons could dig into his flesh a dark shape hurtled through the night air. It flew at the demon knocking it to the ground with a solid crash that seemed to instantly bring the sound and colour rushing back into Xander's world. As the pair crashed to the turf the dark figure rolled, displaying the kind of graceful athleticism that Xander himself had aimed for and sprang quickly back to it's feet. The figures head snapped back and it glared hungrily at the demon, revealing a fanged, bestial face that was one of the most welcome sights of Xander's life.

    "Angel," he shouted "The horn, go for the horn, it's the only way to kill it."

    The vampire gave him the slightest of acknowledging nods, not taking his eyes from those of the hulking demon as the two circled each other warily. Xander raised himself unsteadily against the wall of the crypt and started to edge away from the prospective combatants, trying to get back to Cordelia who was now approaching the place where the small blonde body lay.

    This time it was the demons turn to have it's attention diverted. Whether it was Xanders movement that caused the demon to turn or some other inhuman sense so ingrained it could not be fought it would be the last mistake the demon made.

    With a supernatural speed Angel lunged at the creature landing a rain of blows at its head and torso. The demon quickly fell back under the ferocity of the attack bringing its hands up to protect itself as it tried to retreat from its assailant. Then it went down, a whirling kick sending it crashing to the turf and Angel pounced on top of it, seizing his opportunity. His hands closed around the single horn that crowned the demons forehead and he twisted at it, pulling with all his might as the demon screamed, a high pitched sound that still contained that bubbling quality. It struggled frantically to get away, but Angel was unrelenting, pressing home his attack, his back arching as he redoubled his efforts. Then, with one final effort, he wrenched the horn clean from the demons head, the yellowing bone pulling free with a horribly visceral sound.

    as soon as the horn came free the demon's cries intensified and it began to writhe and buck uncontrollably, its whole body shaking as it squealed. Angel managed to spring clear from the thrashing creature just in time to see its body contort one final time before its screams ended and it lay still, never to rise again.

    Angel turned to Xander who was frozen in mid step staring at the demons prostrate form with wide eyes. "You okay?" he asked.

    "I ? I'm fine yes" his eyes strayed back to Cordelia who was cradling the blonde head of the fallen girl in her hands "but Buffy, she's? she's?"

    "Xander!" Cordelia shouted suddenly "It's not her, it's not Buffy."

    There was a starange moment where nobody moved. Then Xander was quicky stumbling back to where Cordelia crouched, still holding the dead girls head.

    "Are you sure?" He asked through a cloud of confusion, not daring to believe what he hoped so much to be true.

    "Of course I am you idiot" Cordelia snapped back "I know what Buffy looks like and this isn't her."

    "She's right." Said Angel from somewhere behind him "I'd know if it was."

    "So, who is it then?"

    Cordelia pulled some of the hair away from dead girls face "Her name's Claire, Claire Bennett. She goes to Sunnydale High. She was going to be on the cheerleading squad this year."

    Xander thought back, remembering the small, bubbly girl he had seen around school. She was one of the popular girls. She ran with the right crowd, was into the right clothes and music and showed every sign of maybe being another Cordy in the making. That would never happen now though and Xander felt ashamed to have experienced even the briefest moment of relief that it was this girl and not Buffy that had died.

    "We can't leave her here." Angel said "An exposed body out here isn't safe."

    Xander looked down at the broken body wondering just what the best way to move it would be when a glint of metal caught his eye. Impulsively he reached down and grasped the object, feeling resistance he pulled hard and was soon rewarded as the knife slid free bringing with it a fresh trickle of blood.

    "Well she's probably better without this." he said, turning the blade in the moonlight "Can't exactly see this being hornheads can you?"

    Cordelia opened her mouth to reply but was interrupted by a loud hacking cough. All three looked down in amazement as the apparently dead girl sat up resting on her elbows and lifting her head from Cordelia's lap.

    "Ow! What... what happened?" She said, blinking up at Xander and Angel.

    "Errm, you died." Xander replied, not quite believing what he was saying "but apparently you got better. Say, Are you a vampire?"

    Claire looked horrified "A vam?? I? No, its just I? I must have, I don't know, blacked out or something."

    "Oh, okay and the fact that you have bones poking through your legs, and there was a knife sticking out of your chest are just some kind of pre-existing medical conditions are they? And where did that cut on your arm go? I mean seriously what are you?"

    Claire glanced down at her shattered legs, quickly realising that no amount of imaginative explanations would be enough to talk her way out of her current situation.

    "I'm me," she said in a small voice as she twisted her leg with a horrible sounding crack "I'm Claire Bennett, just a normal human being, except that six months ago I found out that any damage my body takes, no matter how bad, heals straight away. Apart from that I'm just a girl."

    "But you were dead! I mean, you were lying there for like five minutes." Said Cordelia; her brow furrowing. If it's that fast why didn't you just bounce right back up?"

    "The knife" Angel supplied "whilst it was stuck in her she couldn't heal. She was dead until it was removed and then the body could repair the damage it caused and she recovered."

    Xander looked down at the knife in his head, frowning "yeah I guess that makes sense." He said slowly "but where did the knife come from?"

    Claire blushed slightly "It's mine. I carry it with me for protection. Guess that didn't really work out too well. Um, I never thought I'd actually have to ask this but aren't any of you just a little bit freaked?"

    "Well these days it takes a lot." Xander admitted ruefully "After you've dealt with teachers that are really giant preying mantis', been turned into a hyena-boy and lived through an almost apocalypse or two you start to gain a little perspective."

    "You did what?" Claire asked, staring up at him with a look of total bemusement.

    "What, you think you're the only one who's special?" Xander grinned, "Sunnydale's not exactly you're average burg you know. It takes something really special to raise eyebrows around here. We even have the used-to-be-evil dead, wandering in and out of peoples homes."

    "Hey!" Angel objected.

    Cordelia sighed, "What captain doofus is trying to say in his own particularly lame way is that we're used to people who are a little different around here. So unless you're planning a killing spree or trying to bring about an apocalypse, and you don't keep doing that poking the broken bone back in thing, which, by the way, is truly gross; you'll be just fine."

    "Come on" said Xander offering her his hand "lets get you out of here." He looked across at Cordelia "I think we should find Buffy, let her know about horn boy and then get Claire here back to civilisation."

    Claire took the hand gladly and rose to her feet, looking around at the odd trio that surrounded her. It had been a difficult six months, trying to hide what she was from the people who called themselves her friends, trying to fit in, to stay normal. The girls in the cheerleading squad would disown her in a second if they found out one tenth of what she was capable; she was one of them only as long as she conformed, as long as she was normal. Here though were three people she barely knew who had seen exactly what kind of a freak she was and had accepted it without question.

    Perhaps, she thought, this was what she was really looking for, perhaps it was time to stop pretending and find some friends who would take her for who and what she was. Perhaps with these people she could find a way to be just a girl once more.

    "Buffy?" She asked as the four started off on their quest. "You mean Buffy Summers, right?"

    "The one and only." Xander replied "Although you can forget most of what you've probably heard. That's not the real Buffy at all."


    "No. Well, alright, maybe a little of it is. Overall though, all things considered, I think you'll really like her." He flashed her a sly smile. "She's actually a lot like you."
    Last edited by tangent; 16-02-08, 04:29 PM.

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