The Witch and the Dragon – Chapters 21 & 22

Standard Disclaimer

This is fan fiction of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which were created by Joss Whedon. If you like, you can read my thoughts on the ethics and legality of fan fiction.

[Start reading story from beginning]

[Go back to chapters 19 & 20]

Chapter 21

The vampire had Italian features and a Dracula haircut – the Bela Lugosi Dracula, not the real one. He wore a black three-piece suit and a black tie. Manacles bound his hands and feet. A Slayer flanked him on either side.

As Buffy approached, he bowed. “Black Dragon,” he said, with a slight Italian accent. “It is an honor to meet you. I am Giosuè Adami. I have traveled from Rome to meet you.”

“Didn’t ask, don’t care,” said Buffy, stopping about ten yards away. Despite Giles’ grumbling, the whole group was gathered behind her, plus a few of her Slayers. “How did you get past our defenses?”

He shrugged. “I didn’t. I have been waiting inside the crater for some time. A crevice in the rock kept the sunlight away.”

“Must’ve been just outside our scanner range,” the red-haired Slayer muttered. “My fault, ma’am. I’m sorry.” Willow decided to call her Dana.

Buffy nodded, never taking her eyes off the vampire. “What do you want?”

Adami bowed again. “I respectfully challenge you to single combat.”

She crossed her arms. “Yeah, that’s not really how this works. See, my goal is to kill vampires, not play little gladiator games with them.”

“I came here,” said Adami, “because I do not wish to die cowering in a hole, like so many of my brethren. If I must die, I wish to die with honor.”

“Vampires don’t have honor.”

“Perhaps. But you do. Though you play general and give orders, you have the heart of a warrior. You move pieces on a map, but you would rather be one of them.” He smiled, foxlike. “You wish for a fight.”

“Do I, now?”

“I think,” said Adami, “it is long since you truly fought a vampire. I think you miss it. The taste of the fire of battle. No lieutenants to do your bidding, no technology to hide behind, no advisors to hold you back. Just your bare hands, a wooden stake, and the foe you were born to kill.”

Buffy stood silent. Her right hand curled to a fist and opened again. A desert breeze swept by and was gone.

Dana leaned close to her commander. “Ma’am,” she said quietly, “with all due respect, please tell me you’re not seriously considering this.”

“What she said,” added Willow. “Buffy, he’s just playing with your emotions. Psych 101. He’s obviously trying to manipulate you.”

Buffy kept studying the vampire. “He’s doing a pretty good job.”

“This could, of course, be a trap of some kind,” said Giles.

“Maybe, but it doesn’t feel like it. And you know what? He’s right. It’s been too long since I fought a vampire.” She looked around at them all. “Come on, I did this a thousand times back in Sunnydale. You can’t tell me it’s suddenly too dangerous now. And if anyone says a word about my age, they’re walking home.”

Xander shook his head. “You’re insane,” he said, “but that’s not exactly news. If you have to do this, Buff, then please be careful.”

Buffy faced the vampire again. “You do realize that even if you managed to kill me, my Slayers would rip you apart?”

“They’d have to get in line,” muttered Willow.

“Then I would die,” said Adami, “with more glory than most vampires have in all their lives.”

Buffy nodded at his guards. “Go ahead, unshackle him.”

One Slayer produced a key while the other held a cross in his face. He laughed. “That relic doesn’t frighten me, child. A man who died and rose from the grave after three days. Any vampire can relate.”

Having removed the manacles, his guards backed away. He rubbed his wrists. “I had a knife,” he said. “One of the women took it.”

“Give it to him,” said Buffy.

“Commander!” cried Dana.

“I have a stake,” said Buffy. “It’s only fair.”

Adami was given his weapon, a long, serrated hunting knife with a leather grip. He cut the air, this way and that. Buffy waved her companions back to a safe distance.

Just the two of them.

Chapter 22

They circled like animals in the light of the full moon, Adami brandishing his knife, Buffy with hands raised in a fighting stance, stake holstered at her side. Rumor of the battle spread quickly among Slayers and witches alike. The off-duty ones arrived by twos and threes, forming a sparse ring around the action.

Tension was electric. Willow could see it in the audience, in their nervous motions, their determined faces. She could feel it in herself, her shallow breathing, the tightness of her legs. This contest had the feel of something more than human, of two titans brawling for the dominance of some primeval country.

Willow, Xander, Giles, Dawn, they had never – would never – enter a battle like this. They fought for survival, for justice, sometimes for love or rage, or even for power.

Buffy was fighting to fight.

She attacked first, a wicked spinning jump kick that Adami barely ducked. They fell into the brutal ballet of combat, blocking punches, dodging kicks, Buffy always keeping just out of range, somehow, of the flashing arcs of the knife. Her heel pounded into his chest, and he went sprawling.

Buffy smiled as he got up and dusted off his suit. “Aren’t you a little overdressed for a knife fight?”

“I am headed for a funeral,” he grinned. “Besides, I heard you like black.”

Adami fell on her again, using his larger size to his advantage. His great right fist connected with her midsection, her face. She stumbled back. He swiped with his knife. A thin red line grew on her stomach.

Dana started forward with a cry, but Giles caught her shoulder. She turned on him furiously.

“She would never forgive you,” he said.

After a moment she nodded, shaking, and stepped back.

“I can smell the blood of your heart,” Adami crowed. “It is intoxicating. Soon I will taste it.”

“I can smell the styling gel of your hair,” Buffy shot back. “It is disgusting. Soon I will throw up.”

Growling, she leaped on him, landing a hard chop to his neck, then kicking the blade from his hand. Before he could react, she pounced on it, got up, and launched it far out into the desert.

“Sorry,” she said. “I have a thing about knives. I don’t like them inside me.”

Without the threat of the knife to separate them, their fight descended into a brawl. She kicked him down, he swept her legs out, they rolled over and over in the dry dirt. He ended up on top of her, smashing her face, again, again. She drove the heel of her hand into his throat, and he rolled off. Her elbow crunched into his nose. He kicked at her knife-wound, she stumbled back.

Blood poured from Adami’s nose, over his lips, down his neck. His suit was filthy with dust. Buffy had gashes on her cheeks and the beginnings of a bruise over one eye, and her stomach wound was still bleeding. They stood apart, recovering.

Come on, thought Willow. Finish this already.

Adami spat his own blood on the sand. “You are out of practice, Dragon. All this trouble over a single vampire? Your idleness has made you weak.”

“Your face has made you ugly,” said Buffy.

“Do you know, I can trace my lineage back to the Master? They say he could trace his all the way to the Source, the very first vampire.”

“Yeah, and I’ve met the first Slayer. We gonna compare family trees, or we gonna fight?”

“Each vampire sires the next by killing,” said Adami. “Each Slayer empowers the next by dying. Two great chains of death, both stretching back to time before history. We are not so different, you and I. Two predators. Opposite sides, but the same creature, in the end.”

All remnants of humor drained from Buffy’s face. With a wordless roar, she flew at him for the last time. Blow after blow fell like hail on her enemy. It was all he could do to block them. She pushed him back. Back. Landed a strike on his face. His solar plexus. A kick to his knee. An elbow to the stomach.

She had him face-up on the ground, now, too weak to defend himself any longer. She pummeled him, over and over, as everyone watched.

Finally she grabbed her stake and set the point down over his heart. Bleeding and limp, he gazed at her.

“Any last words?” she said.

Slowly, Adami looked back up at the stars. He cried out with a terrible voice, something that sounded like:

“Te telle stai!”

“Sorry, bud,” said Buffy. “I don’t speak Italian.”

She turned him to dust.

The Slayers, the whole audience, erupted in applause. Buffy stood up, stake in hand, arms high in triumph. Willow cheered and clapped along with everyone. Only Giles remained silent, a look of worry on his face.

Buffy came back to her friends. The rest of the circle gathered behind her. Everyone spoke at once.

Willow: “Buffy, that was incredible – ”

Xander: “You’re hurt, we have to get you to a doctor – ”

Dawn: “Oh my God, I can’t believe – ”

Bleeding, sweating, still breathing hard, Buffy brushed past everyone, grabbed Spike, and planted her mouth on his. He clutched her tight, not even looking surprised. Their lips didn’t separate for a long time.

“Oh, for God’s sake,” muttered Giles.

“Maybe I could get another eyepatch and cover both eyes,” said Xander.

Willow said nothing. She thought it was kind of sweet. In a violent, disturbing sort of way.

At last, Buffy let him go. Spike caught his breath.

“About damn time,” he said.

Buffy went to Giles. “What were those Italian words he said?”

“They, they weren’t Italian,” said Giles. “They were Greek. And actually it was just one word.” He cleared his throat. “Tetelestai. ‘It is finished.’”

“The last thing Jesus said on the Cross,” said Willow. They all looked at her. “What? I’m Jewish, not illiterate.”

“A flair for the dramatic,” said Xander. “And a bit of an ego.”

“Well, whatever,” said Buffy. “We all need to get some sleep. Big day tomorrow.”

They walked back to camp together. But despite the smiles and excitement, Willow couldn’t help but notice the gears still turning silently in Giles’ brain.

[Go on to chapters 23 & 24]

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