Watchers Council – Library – Day
Jeff looked up from his book to see Giles and Dr. Miller enter. The former held a file folder in his hand, and both looked very focused.
“…almost certain it matched,” Giles was saying. “Mind you, it was over fifteen years ago, and Winston just showed it to me in an effort to upset me.”
“Did he succeed?”
“Overall? Yes.” Giles headed into the stacks of books, in the direction of the personal diaries of past watchers. His voice became muffled as he moved among the books. “But then, the whole book was quite…well, nauseating. Joshua Milnerson had a fascination with demon anatomy and drew quite vivid illustrations to make his point. He wanted to write a book on the subject.”
Jeff stood up just as Dr. Miller also vanished into the stacks.
“That would make fascinating reading,” Dr. Miller said, his voice now also muffled.
“Um…Mr. Giles?” Jeff said.
“I suppose it would, yes,” Giles answered Dr. Miller’s question.
“Do you have a copy?” Dr. Miller asked.
“Mr. Giles?” Jeff repeated.
“Actually…Milnerson never wrote it,” Giles answered Dr. Miller. “Turns out one of the demons he was attempting to dissect was not, in fact, dead. Not completely, anyway.”
“Oh dear. That could be…”
“Yes,” Giles agreed knowingly.
“Hard to blame the demon, though,” Dr. Miller quipped.
“I suppose. Where the devil is it?” Giles said as he searched.
“Mr. Giles!” Jeff raised his voice.
With a sigh of exasperation, Giles stepped out from the book stacks. “I’m rather busy now, Jeff. What do you want?”
Jeff held up the book in his hand, cover out. It clearly read: The Diary of Joshua Milnerson, Esq.
Three full seconds later, Giles said “Oh.”
“The Changeling spell preparations are at the boil-ingredients-and-wait stage,” Jeff explained. “Willow let me try another prescience ritual. I foresaw that this book would be needed sometime today. Not why, but I figured it’d save time to track it down in the stacks.”
Dr. Miller, who by now had also emerged from the stacks, smiled at Jeff and said, “Thank you.”
Giles gestured to the table, where Jeff obediently placed the book down. Giles opened the file, revealing some photographs. Then, he began flipping through the pages of the diary.
“I’m almost certain it is here,” he muttered.
Jeff, meanwhile, moved around the table and began staring at the photographs.
“Oh my God,” the young man breathed.
“Not pretty, I know,” said Dr. Miller. “One of their mothers is dead, another is likely to be.”
“Dead! Why?” Jeff asked. “What happened?”
“Evidently, bearing these creatures to term is dangerous. Often fatal.”
“Found it!” said Giles suddenly. He slid the open page of the diary closer to the file’s photos and pointed. “You can see the similarities for yourself.” He pointed to an elaborate anatomical drawing in the book.
Both Dr. Miller and Jeff leaned in for a better look. “More than similarities,” noted the doctor. “For all practical purposes, they are identical.”
“Cloisterham, 1897” read Jeff aloud. “Offspring of the dreaded Succubea. Master Landless having died from the creature’s attentions, his bride Rosa departed life months later, bringing forth this half-breed, which sapped her strength until at last she also died, and the thing within followed her to the grave.” Jeff looked at Giles. “Succubea?”
Giles removed his glasses and began to clean them. “Yes, a kind of…well, a sexual predator.” He coughed. “They have a parasitic method of reproduction. Being shapeshifters, they take on a female form to seduce men. In essence, they…draw out all the, um, seed. And then, taking a male form to seduce a woman, they use the stolen…genetic material…to impregnate her.”
“But wouldn’t that just make a normal baby?” Jeff asked.
“No,” Giles replied, “because it’s not just the human male’s genetic material alone. It also includes the demon’s, as well.”
“And this,” the doctor indicated the pictures, both photographs and drawings, “is the result?”
“Yes, the pregnancies are nearly always fatal – for both partners. The Succubea literally drains them both of life, like a vampire, only not so quickly.” Giles faltered, noting the expression on Jeff’s face – nearly a snarl.
“One of these things is in Cleveland!”
“We’ve got to find it! Stop it!” Jeff replied.
“Yes. Of course. There is, however, a problem,” Giles mentioned.
“What?” Dr. Miller and Jeff both asked at once.
“Finding it. The Succubea blends quite normally into the general population. It doesn’t feed on people, nor does it require any kind of specialized living environment – lack of sunlight, presence of warm water, an unusual diet. Nothing of that nature.”
Jeff looked anything but pleased. “How do you kill it? Maybe that’d be a clue!”
“The same as a human being. Handy in the final confrontation, but useless in actually tracking down the creature.”
“Mr. Giles,” said Dr. Miller, “I’m entirely on the side of Jeff here. We need to discover this…Succubee? Succubay?”
“We need to find it and stop it. Two women died already, possibly more. From what this book says, at least as many men may have died, as well!”
“Probably,” Giles replied. “It takes time, but their male victims are eventually drained of all life, all vitality.”
“So what can we do?” When Giles said nothing, the doctor insisted, “What can we –?”
“I don’t know,” said Giles, interrupting him. “For the moment, little. Essentially, nothing. I’ll speak to Willow, however. She mentioned once an idea about searching public records for hints of great longevity. At the time, we were talking about tracking down vampires, especially those who maintain a more-or-less human façade. This Succubea may have left the same kind of clues behind.”
“What about a demon locator spell?” offered Jeff, eyes unblinking. “I’m sure I read about such somewhere. Willow even mentioned it.”
“By all means,” Giles nodded. “However, I’m bound to point out that any large city is likely to have a quite sizable demon population. And Cleveland has a Hellmouth. Telling which of the thousands of demons is the Succubea…” His voice trailed off.
Jeff took this in. “We need something with this thing’s spoor, a psychic scent as it were.”
Dr. Miller did a take. “I see at least one possibility.”
“What?” Jeff asked.
He reached down and picked up one of the photographs. “This corpse. The one from last week. If it wasn’t cremated, it might help lead us.” He briefly hesitated, but then headed out the room. “I’ll let you know what I find out.” The last words were cut off as he hurried out the door.
Alone together, Jeff and Giles looked at one another.
“I’ll start researching location spells,” began Jeff.
“But Giles, you saw what that thing is doing! It’s killing people! Worse than killing them!”
“So are vampires,” replied the older man. “So are a dozen predatory species within the Cleveland city limits alone. Your heart, Jeff, could not be in a better place. But to be effective requires far more than good intentions. I must insist you wait until the spell can be done under Willow’s supervision, with full participation of the Coven. I know you want to help,” he continued more softly, as Jeff began to breathe hard. “That you desire such is very much to your credit. Allow others to make sure your help is as effective as possible. I want your promise, Jeff.”
After several moments, Jeff answered in a low voice. “I promise.”
Dorian‘s Apartment – Dining Room – Same Time
The fork speared the piece of omelet, then dipped the piece into a tiny bowl. Inside the bowl was a sauce that resembled honey, but was both darker and less viscous. With the sauce now on the piece of omelet, the fork journeyed across the short space of the dining room table…into Xander’s open mouth.
Xander began to chew. “You’re spoiling me,” he said with a grin.
Dorian grinned back. “That didn’t sound like a complaint.” She began to cut off another piece of omelet with her fork.
“Believe me, complaining was the furthest thing from my mind!”
“Good.” She dipped the fork again, then lifted it. “Open.”
Obediently, Xander opened his mouth and let Dorian put another bite into his mouth. The bit of omelet dropped, and he had to move quickly to catch it, a maneuver that won giggles from Dorian. Xander laughed, as well, using his tongue to lick up traces of sauce from the side of his mouth.
“Go ahead, laugh,” he said. “Not like I haven’t had beautiful women laugh at me before.” That won another round of giggles. “Okay, maybe that didn’t come out right.”
“It came out fine.” Dorian looked at him for maybe a full five seconds, saying nothing. Then, she slipped out of her chair and moved closer to Xander. Her face moved very close to his, practically nose to nose.
“You missed some,” she murmured. Then her tongue reached out to the side of his mouth, gently and slowly lapping away remnants of sauce.
Their eyes met. “An aphrodisiac, huh?”
“So my mother always said. What do you think?” Their voices were low.
“I’m not sure. I mean, is it the sauce, or is it you?”
Dorian grinned and moved closer. “Does it matter?”
That was when they entwined each other in a kiss.
Council Truck – Same Time
“If we’d left earlier we’d be there by now,” Kennedy griped from the passenger seat.
“I wanted to make sure we had everything we might need,” Rowena countered from the driver’s seat, not taking her eyes off the steep, winding road in front of her.
Dawn sat in between the two women, her eyes shifting slightly, but she didn’t dare move her head to look at either bickering woman.
“All we need is a map and a sword. How much time does that take to put together?” Kennedy countered.
“That’s all you need,” Rowena replied. “I, on the other hand, must take a more scientific approach to this. We might need resources to know what we’re fighting.”
“It’s a coyote,” Kennedy muttered. “Classification: Four-legged canine.”
Dawn tried to hold back a chuckle. Her shoulders rose and fell just twice before she put a serious expression on her face again, after Rowena shot her a disapproving glare.
“We don’t know that,” Rowena answered, looking pointedly over at Kennedy.
“Keep your eyes on the road,” the slayer told her. “I don’t feel like falling over a mountain cliff.”
Rowena looked back to the road and pointed out the window. “Technically, these are just hills, not mountains.”
Kennedy released a heavy sigh and shook her head. She mumbled to Dawn, “God, we’re in for a long night.”
Dawn tried to stop herself from laughing again, as Rowena now glared at both of them.
Dorian‘s Apartment – Bedroom – Minutes Later
Amid the shadows, movement was visible. Xander lay on his back, holding on both to his partner’s waist, and to the headboard. Sweat glistened on his bare skin in the meager light. His breath was labored, punctuated by groans.
“God…” he sighed, eyes half-rolled back into his head. “God…” he repeated.
From atop, Dorian rocked in rhythm with Xander.
With nearly glazed eyes, Xander looked at the woman riding him, at the hungry expression on her face, a face now focused entirely on him. His breathing grew more ragged the harder she rocked. And when she clasped both hands into his shoulders, practically digging her nails into his flesh, Xander moaned. Whether in pain, pleasure or some combination of both was impossible to say.
“Now…yes…” she whispered.
“Dorian…” he said, his words slurred.
Xander groaned, and with a triumphant smile, Dorian leaned over, bringing her face close to Xander’s own pale one. Both of them were shuddering. He simply let his body react, eyes nearly closed and lungs gasping for air. His arms fell to the side.
“Shhhh…” Dorian whispered. “It’s all right…all, all right…” she said, her voice becoming a purr.
After several long moments, Xander managed to say, “Whoa.”
Dorian’s reply was a throaty chuckle. “Stay right where you are,” she said, before using the tip of her tongue to trace a line across his throat.
“I ain’t going nowhere…” gasped Xander, his eyes barely open.
Slowly, Dorian righted herself and stepped away from Xander, who almost moaned in protest. He didn’t have the strength for a full moan.
“You were marvelous,” she murmured, wrapping a sheet around her naked form.
Dorian‘s Apartment – Dining Room – Moments Later
Dorian had a man’s wallet open before her as she sat down and perused the contents. The Ohio driver’s license showed Xander mugging for his photograph. Various other pictures had been removed and were strewn around the table, but to the side, as if they were unimportant.
But one picture she studied. She traced her fingers around its corners. She bent over to examine, her violet eyes bright with appreciation. Just a snapshot. Its very edges looked worn, as if Xander had actually removed it many times from its plastic covering. Perhaps to do what Dorian did now, examine it in greater detail. A smile creased her lips as she gazed at the simple picture of Vi, grinning at the camera. The tip of one finger barely traced the contours of Vi’s lips.
Then, Dorian picked up Xander’s cell phone. Looking at it, she again transformed. Her features reshaped themselves into slightly coarser ones – a heavier brow, stronger jaw. Her hair’s length receded. By the time Dorian began to punch some phone numbers from memory, he had become again a young man with violet eyes.
“Hello?” he said, in a perfect copy of Xander’s own voice. “Vi? Listen, I just wanted to say I’m sorry…Yeah…No, never mind about Alex. If you want, I’ll cancel the whole thing. The fact is, I’d just rather go out with you. Provided, of course, you’re willing to give me a second chance? Okay, a fifth.” Dorian smiled. “How about tonight?” he asked.
End of Act Two