A Little Uncalculated Weirdness

Chapter 7


Chapter 7

The graveyard was just a short distance from the sea, and after finding the place deserted, the six companions wandered down to the water’s edge in a vain attempt to clean up. The blood and slime washed off their skin fairly easily, but Buffy tugged at her shirt in dismay. It had been one of the newest items in her wardrobe, and now it was bloodstained and torn. Stupid, really, to have worn it to go Slaying in the first place, but she could hardly be expected to do her historic duty whilst wearing just anything. She took her cross back from Giles, glad to have it once more around her neck. It was small defence against a marauding vampire, but it had saved her life before, and she had no doubt that it would again. As the others lay down to sleep, she watched Giles wander back up to the graveyard on his own. His step seemed slower, and there was no doubt that he was looking paler than usual. Granted the guy was no sun worshipper at the best of times, but he was usually a darker shade of white than his shirt.

Taking advantage of the peace of the moment, Buffy followed her Watcher up to the cemetery, and was unsurprised to find him beside the grave of Mark Hutten. The familiar inscription on the stone meant so much more to her now. After all that he had gone through, and all that he had become, in death at least he had a chance to regain some of the innocence stolen from him in life. For a moment she thought of all the dead children down in that cellar, then forced herself to think of something else. Those children had been dead for a long time; ever since they had lost their souls to the demons.

“You think this is the gate?” she asked. Giles started at the sound of her voice, then smiled up at her.

“It’s the gate.” He extended his hand towards the stone, and they watched it disappear up to the elbow. “See?”

“Cool. You could make a fortune as a magician with a trick like that.” She saw how sad his eyes had become. “You want to go on through? I can handle things here on my own.”

“Buffy, even if I did believe that, there is no way I would go through on my own.” He forced a smile. “Actually I was rather hoping that you would…” He sighed. “B-but you won’t, will you. You-you’ll stay here.”

“It’s my destiny, Giles, as you never tire of telling me. How can I go home now? You want me to leave Michael and the others to deal with this?” She shook her head. “If we went back through there, we’d still have to deal with the vampires, except some of them would be sure to get away. Think what could happen if they escaped from Santa Carla. They could do anything…”

“Yes, I know.” He shrugged. “It was worth suggesting it though.” He glanced back to the stone. “Think about it. Willow and Xander are on the other side of that. 1998 is just a stone’s throw away.”

“Yeah, and so is school, homework, Principal Snyder and my Math test. There’s a lot to be said for Santa Carla.”

“If you’re worried about the test, I could ask you some questions while we wait. Let’s see, how do you work out-”

“Giles, please.” She lay back in the grass, gazing up at the sky. “When my children ask me what I did in the tension filled moments leading up to the Apocalypse, I so do not want to be saying ‘I added up some fractions.’ Besides, it’s boring.”

“I wasn’t g-going to ask you fractions. I was going to ask you about logarithms.”

“Logger who?” She grinned at his expression. “Joke… Call me old fashioned, or just call me extremely lazy, but I am not going to do Math revision right now. I was planning on going to sleep.”

“Want me to keep watch?”

“Giles, you’re a Watcher three hundred and sixty five days of the year. Take a break. My supersonic Scooby senses will tell me if there’s a bad guy coming.”

“Okay.” He leaned back against another gravestone. “Might as well relax for a while then.”

“You can remember how to do that can you?”

“Just about.”

“Good.” Buffy smiled as the Watcher closed his eyes. Minutes later she could tell that he was asleep, although doubtless he would have denied it. She watched him for a few moments, then began to fade away as well. Let the world take care of itself for a while. It really couldn’t hurt.

It was dark. A cool breeze blew through the graveyard, and Buffy jerked awake, staring up at the gloomy sky with panic-stricken eyes.

“Night time…” She sat up, shaking her head in a wild attempt to clear it. “Giles! Wake up!”

“Hmm? Oh, yes, yes of course…” His voice sounded distant, and she shook him roughly.


“Buffy?” His eyes opened, gazing up at her momentarily. There was a worringly unfocused look to his face, and Buffy, frustrated, grabbed his arm. He winced, and she saw the blood on his shoulder.

“Giles, you are the most infuriating person I have ever met. Why didn’t you tell me you were losing that much blood?” She stood up to look around at the graveyard. It was deserted, but her senses told her that this was a very temporary condition. “Come on, Giles!”

“C-coming.” Using a nearby gravestone to drag himself to his feet, Giles gazed around. “I-it’s dark.”

“You’re catching on.” She looked him up and down. “Think you can make it down to the beach to warn the others?”

“Hmm? Oh yes, y-yes, absolutely.” He took a step forwards, and wobbled dangerously. “Er, B-Buffy?”

“Never mind, I’ll do it.” She turned away. “For Heaven’s sake, keep your eyes open. And don’t try anything. If you see a creepy, toothy guy, hide.”

“Ab-absolutely.” He nodded hard, and the Slayer sighed, and hurried away. She could feel the creatures approaching, and the sensation was deeply disturbing. All that power, all that demonic strength and fury. How could the six of them win this time? She reached the beach at last, and saw the others huddled together just above the high-tide mark. They were all still asleep. After the trials of the day so far, she could hardly blame them, but to have gone to sleep at all was unforgivable. How could she have been so stupid?

“Michael, Michael wake up?” He blinked up at her, then saw the dark sky above him and jerked upright.

“Bloody hell. It’s night!”

“Anybody ever tell you you’re dead observant?” Their voices were rousing the others, and soon they were all awake.

“What time is it?” Alan asked sleepily.

“Half eight.” Sam whistled. “We slept through half of the day. Crazy.”

“We have to get back to the graveyard. The vampires are coming.” Buffy began to lead the way back up towards the cemetery. “We don’t have much longer.”

“How can you tell?” Sam, falling into step beside her, looked ridiculously excited by the whole affair, and she smiled involuntarily.

“Cool, isn’t it. It’s a Slayer-genetic-psycho-power thing. Giles is the one to ask. He reads all the books.”

“Wow.” The boy whistled. “I wish I was a Slayer. Except for the, you know, being a girl part.”

“Plays havoc with your social life.” She smiled at his childish enthusiasm and quickened her pace to a near run, concerned about Giles as much as about the approaching vampires. Odd to think, really, that with all his childishness and immaturity, Sam was seven years older than her. The thought made her smile. Time travel was a weird thing.

“Buffy?” Michael, slightly in the lead by virtue of his longer legs, slowed to a halt as they reached the wall surrounding the graveyard. “What’s that noise?”

“Noise?” She frowned, and listened intently. “Sounds like scratching. Uh oh.”

“Uh oh? Uh oh what? What does uh oh mean?” Sounding anxious, Edgar pulled a large cross from out of his belt, gazing around in every direction if expecting an imminent attack.

“It means vampires.” She scowled. “I should have expected this. They’ll be making their approach through some sort of underground tunnel, betcha. There’s probably a network of them beneath the town. Do you know of an underground crypt? Anything in that sort of nature? Vampires go for these totally unpleasant dark places, with no interior decoration and very bad bathroom facilities. I think it’s a sort of undead macho thing.”

“No crypts that I know of.” Michael shrugged. “But we’re not exactly experts. I mean, we see ‘em, we kill ‘em, but we don’t plan and patrol.”

“Yeah, we have, like, lives to live, you know?” Edgar shot her a look which suggested that she was in serious danger of showing herself up as a vampire geek.

“A life. I remember when I used to have one of those.” She sighed. “Giles is allergic to fun, unless it involves dead people.”

“Er, Buffy? I don’t want to interrupt, exactly.” Sam was pointing to a large stone monument. “Take a look over there.”

“Where?” She glanced over the wall. Three vampires were emerging from the square base of the monument, and she caught sight of their eyes glowing a fierce, hot white in the darkness. “Ah ha. Okay, at this point I would be more than happy to take suggestions from anybody. Any plans, theories or ideas of any sort…”

“We should have brought the tanker with us,” Alan muttered.

“Yeah, er, next time tell us that before we abandon it a mile away?” Buffy shook her head. “Anyway, it wouldn’t work here. They’d see us coming, and we’d be dead before you could say ‘Unpleasant flying dead thing.’ And I plan to stay not dead for a while. Not dead has a big plus side.”

“Can’t we just stand in front of the gate and fight them off?” Alan held up a water pistol and a stake in an image of true optimism.

“No. Anything we do has to be finished by midnight. That’s when the gate is most likely due to close, and Giles and I have to get home sometime.”

“So why don’t you go through now, and kill the vamps who get past us?” Edgar grinned. “There won’t be many.”

“No deal. You’d be dead before we’d got through the portal.” Buffy scowled. “We’ve got to come up with something… Something snappy, something hot.”

“Very hot? Like, say, fire?” Sam suddenly seemed to come alive, and his eyes shone. “Fire kills ‘em, right?”

“Yes.” Buffy nodded slowly. “Fire would be good.”

“We can’t set fire to the graveyard!” Michael sounded incensed, but Edgar gave him a disparaging look.

“Yeah, like the dead people are going to worry. And nobody will know we did it, anyway.”

“I guess…” Michael still sounded doubtful. “Well how are we going to make it work? If we start a fire, they’ll just fly up and avoid it.”

“True.” Buffy sat down on the ground and leant back against the wall. “Starting the fires would be simple. We could box them in easy. Is there something we can do to stop them taking off?”

“A mega-giant bird catching net?” Edgar piped up, rather less than helpfully.

“Oh right, sure. I’ll just pull one out of my special issue Slayer bag, hidden inside my boot.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “There must be something we can use that would drain their strength.”

“You’re the expert,” Alan told her. She nodded.

“Sort of. Actually I kind of like to skip the boring bits. I Slay, Giles is the anorak.”

“You must be able to think of something.” Eager that his idea should not prove to be unworkable, Sam counted off on his fingers. “There’s garlic, right? And Holy water, and crosses…”

“Sunlight, consecrated earth, certain scriptures, passages from sacred texts—any religion’ll do—various Latin chants…” Buffy shrugged. “Sunlight is kind of unobtainable now, though, so we can rule that one out. Anybody speak Latin?” There was a long silence. “That many of you, huh? You make me feel so much better about being completely unLatiny myself.”

“Doesn’t Giles speak it?” Michael asked. “I mean, not wanting to jump to any conclusions or anything, but he strikes me as the kind of guy who would.”

“Giles? Giles and Latin are like… like Giles and creepy stuff. He can’t get enough.” Buffy smirked, thinking of Willow and Xander and the way that they liked to tease the Watcher. “At school, when his class had to translate passages, he used to translate whole books, just to help pass the time. Unfortunately, just in case you hadn’t noticed, Giles is kind of not here at the moment. In that he’s somewhere else. Like in the graveyard, on the other side of a growing flock of vampires.”

“Good point.” Michael peered over the wall, being careful to keep low and out of sight. “Are you sure he’ll be alright?”

“Giles?” Buffy nodded. “He’ll be fine. He understands the limits of his skills. He’s the Watcher, I’m the Slayer.” She scowled. “Now I’m starting to sound like him.”

“We’ve got some Holy water.” Alan held up his water pistol.

“We need more than that, moron.” Edgar shrugged. “I say we build some flame throwers, and go in there like we mean business.”

“And get torn into little, itty-bitty pieces by very angry vampires who don’t like getting their eyebrows singed?” Michael shook his head. “No thanks.”

“I think I can see something.” Gazing over the wall, Sam was frowning in concentration, trying to make out the shapes that he could just see in the distance. “Looks like a group of vamps and… Giles.”

“Giles!” Keeping her anguished yelp to a whisper, Buffy tried to see what Sam was pointing at. “One word. Hide. I thought it was simple enough to understand. Perhaps I should have told him to c-c-conceal him-himself somewhere f-f-f-f-fiendishly clever.” She sighed. “Wait here, I’ll go and see if I can help him.” She began to climb over the wall. “No, hang on. You spread out, and start lighting fires. I’ll get Giles to try some chanting, see if we can keep our friends on the ground.”

“Sure.” Edgar pulled a handful of cigarette lighters from one his numerous pockets, and began to hand them around. “Smoking may be bad for your health, but there are times when it comes in handy.”

Giles leant against the nearest gravestone. He had been sitting on the ground here for what seemed like hours. This was one of those times when he felt that his title should be changed to Waiter, rather than Watcher. He always seemed to be waiting around in dark graveyards for Buffy to finish doing her thing. It was cold now, and for some reason he was terribly tired. He couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong, but the whole world seemed peculiar tonight. Eerily quiet, and filled with dark shadows that he couldn’t place. He was so cold, which didn’t seem at all right. He wasn’t usually this cold, was he? Not since moving to America, where air-conditioning had become a necessary facet of life. Maybe he was getting ill? He should do something, really, to keep warm. No sense in catching hypothermia. He would be no good to Buffy then. He scrabbled around in his pockets, and came up with a box of matches. Necessary candle lighting equipment, just in case the odd ritual was called for. He tried to strike a match, but his hands were shaking, and he seemed to have very little strength left.

From somewhere to his left, a scuffling sound attracted his attention, and he turned towards it. Was that Buffy, finished at last, and come to tell him that it was time to go home? A monument caught his eye, and he squinted towards it. That was where the noises were coming from, but he was confused by it all. He didn’t recognise that monument. How could a giant stone creation like that one appear in Sunnydale cemetery without him noticing it? He would have to ask Buffy about it. Shapes were beginning to emerge from the monument now, and they strode around, wandering about as if looking for something, every so often appearing to sniff the air. Two of them in particular seemed to be heading in his direction. One of them paused, looking directly at the stone beside which Giles was sitting, and spoke to his companion in an unfamiliar voice.

“Fresh blood.”

“Xander, is that you?” Confused, and growing more so by the minute, Giles stood up, frowning through the gloom towards the two figures. “Willow? Have you seen Buffy?”

A throaty laugh answered him, and for a second he thought it was Jenny again, as she had been when she had been possessed by Eyghon. Something is wrong, his senses screamed at him, but he was too confused to pay them any attention. He took another step forward, finally succeeding in lighting the rebellious match, and held the tiny light up to try and get a look at his companions. Wild eyes looked back at him, and the soft glow picked out the long, pointed teeth that he did so not want to see.

“Er… um…” Backing away slightly, Giles transferred the match to his other hand, trying to reach for his cross. He was unaware that he had just put the match into the same hand as the match box. He pulled the cross off from around his neck, and in the same instant let out a startled yelp as the match burnt his fingers. He dropped it, watching in curious detachment as the flame ignited the box, setting off the other matches in a sudden, oddly spectacular flash. The dry grass caught instantly. “Blast. Er…” He backed further away from the vampires, at the same time trying to stamp out the fire. “Damn…”

“Giles!” He heard Buffy, but he could not see her. The sound of her voice seemed to immediately cut through the cobwebs in his mind. “Giles, stop them taking off! Chant something! Quickly!”

“Huh? I er… Oh. Ah, yes.” He turned to the vampires, suddenly aware that there were rather more than two of them after all, and that they all seemed to be heading in his direction. Floods of them, all emerging from that odd monument. One of them, the one he had mistaken for Xander earlier, was rising into the air. Giles stared up at him, his fuzzy brain suddenly kicking into gear. “Er, er, I… Ah! Isaiah, er, Isaiah 66!” He straightened up. “For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire…” He was aware, distantly, that the wind was getting up, beginning to fuel the flames before him so that they leapt up higher. The vampires were grabbing their ears, and the one in the air was hovering uncertainly, unable to rise any higher, snarling angrily down at the man on the ground. Giles grinned. He could hear nothing but the growls of the vampires, and the crackling of the flames, but he knew that Buffy was out there somewhere, and he knew that she had a plan of some kind.

“For by the fire and by the sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many…” He heard a scream, and saw the air-bound vampire explode in a ball of flame as the fire reached him, igniting his clothes and his hair.

“Er, er,” he thought hard, desperately trawling through the darkest recesses of his remarkable memory. “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord…” Another scream echoed across the graveyard. Giles felt the wind around him grow stronger and more violent as another fire leapt up nearby. He was distantly aware of many fires, bursting up all round, encircling the vampires, and he knew that he had to keep them on the ground, stop them from flying above the flames, to safety elsewhere. He had weakened them, but he wasn’t sure that it was enough.

“Uh…” A thought came to him, and he squared his shoulders, ignoring the howling wind which threatened to lift him off his feet, ignoring the flames which were beginning to come dangerously close, ignoring the pain in his shoulder, and the light-headedness which was still threatening his grip on consciousness.

“In the name of the Lord God our Father…” he heard an anguished howl. “And, er, Jesus Christ…” Another howl. “In the name of Vishnu and the Eight Immortals of the sacred Tao… In all the Holy names of Allah, etcetera, etcetera, I command that you shall not fly!”

There was an almighty scream, as if all the vampires together were unleashing their anguish and their rage. Giles stumbled back, the sheer volume of the cry hitting him like a physical blow. He felt a hand on his arm and whirled around, only to see Buffy standing next to him.

“Come on Giles, we have to move. The whole graveyard is on fire.”

“Yes, yes of course.” He resisted her pull for a second, to stare once more into the flames. The vampires were beginning to catch fire, unable to escape the leaping, dancing flames. He could see them clearly, in the fiery red glow; could see their helpless young faces. He shivered, despite the raging heat.

“Come on, Giles.”

“I-I’m coming.” He took another look back at the dying vampires, and saw a boy and a girl of no more than thirteen, holding hands in the midst of the flames. Their pointed teeth had gone, and they looked human again. For a painful, terrible second, he wanted to go to them, and try to help them to find their way out of the flames, but he knew that he couldn’t. He would be throwing his life away to rescue those who were already lost.

“Giles…” This time he allowed Buffy to lead him away, and they went together down to the beach. Michael and the others were already there, the smoky patches on their clothing showing that they had been responsible for most of the fires.

“Are we all okay?” he asked, his voice breathless, his throat dry from the intense heat back in the graveyard.

“We’re all fine.” Sam’s eyes were shining. “Are they all dead?”

“They soon will be.” Buffy threw herself down on the sand. “Alright, Giles! That was just so totally, totally cool! You’re a genius for starting that fire when you did.”

“Oh, er… yes. The fire.” He smiled. “Well, I, er… I… thought… Well, you know how it is. I-I-I-I… I’m not convincing anybody am I.”

“You dropped a match, huh?” Edgar flashed him a battle-weary grin. “Cool scriptures, though. You’re a pretty handy guy to have around, Giles old man.”

“Er, th-thankyou.” The Watcher glanced down at his watch, and smiled. “It’s only half past ten. We have time to spare, Buffy.”

“Oh no. That doesn’t mean we’ve only beaten the first wave, does it?” Throwing herself down onto the sand, Buffy lay still, as though she never wanted to stand up again. “We’ve killed several thousand vampires in the space of twelve hours. Doesn’t that entitle us to a free set of wine glasses at least?”

“The others won’t come.” Michael sat down beside her, looking oddly sad. “We’ve got the ones that matter, the others will stay here now. They can’t risk the whole colony being destroyed.” He smiled. “That means you can go home.”

“Yeah… Home.” Buffy sat up, leaning against her new friend. “School… Irate parent…” She smiled. “Are you sure the others won’t come?”

“Positive. We’ve got all the kids, and they’re the ones that matter here. Santa Carla is a town where the young rule the old. The older ones are nothing. They’ll regroup, wait for more unsuspecting outsiders to come along, and then start recruiting again. That’s the way it works here.”

“Then we really can go home.” She stood up, coming to a sudden decision. “Come on. Back to the graveyard. We’d better make sure that we haven’t managed to incinerate the gate.”

“I kind of hope you have.” Michael whispered the words, so that only Buffy could hear them, and she smiled up at him. Some luck she had with guys. If they weren’t turning into ancient and long-feared demons, they were unobtainable shadows from the past; inhabitants of some other time zone. Typical.

They reached the graveyard. A huge, black circle marked the centre, the bodies of the vampires gone. All was silent.

“I don’t think anybody in town even noticed.” Sam glanced back towards the pier, where the lights of the merry-go-round were clearly visible.

“Are you surprised?” His brother looked about for Mark Hutten’s grave, finding it unharmed by the smoke.

“Who was he?” Buffy asked, touched by the strange influence this dead teenager had had on her life, even though she had never met him.

“He was a kid I used to know.” Edgar shrugged, as though everybody had a school friend who became a vampire. “When we were little we did everything together. His parents died in a car crash when he was really small, and he was brought up by his grandparents. They were really old. He watched them get ill, and start to fall apart. Strokes, all that sort of thing. Getting weaker and weaker. He was always terrified that it might happen to him one day. He didn’t have a bad bone in him. All he wanted was to be young forever, and not have to get old. He came to us one night, and lost it bad. Couldn’t fight the craving for blood. He tried to kill us, so I killed him.” He scowled, angry with himself for seeming to be soft. “I staked him, right through the heart. We buried him here ourselves. Mike’s grandfather made the stone.”

Buffy nodded. On a sudden impulse, she pulled some blooms from a nearby flower bed, and dropped them onto the grave. “That was so nearly me,” she said with feeling.

“There but for the grace of God.” Giles smiled, and put a hand on her shoulder. “Come on, Buffy, it’s time to go.”

“Already?” She sighed. “Okay, Giles, I’m coming.” She turned to her friends. “Goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Buffy.” Sam smiled awkwardly, and Edgar and Alan waved, then left, the pair of them moving as one. She smiled after them, understanding their attitude, and their hostility that they felt towards the world.

“Goodbye Buffy.” Michael hugged her briefly, then stepped back. She could see that he wanted to kiss her, and she felt the same, but didn’t trust herself. “Good luck.”

“Thanks.” For a second she felt a burst of almost unbearable pain, and wanted to run to him, to stay with him until the gate was gone, and this world became hers as well. The she turned away and stepped towards the gravestone. “Ready, Giles?”

“I s-suppose.” He smiled. “I hope your mother is very understanding.”

“Not very, no.” Buffy grinned up at him. “Still want to go back?”

“When did want ever have anything to do with either of our lives, Buffy?” He took her hand. “Come on.” They stepped forwards, and the swirling mists raced out of the future to consume them.