Dorian‘s Apartment – Later That Night
The light in the apartment was dim. Streetlamps and meager moonlight streamed in through the windows. A few appliances gave off tiny glows against the shadows. One lone lamp in the corner provided some illumination.
But it was enough.
Dorian lay on his stomach across the unfolded futon. Against the white of the sheets, his naked flesh looked brilliant with color. Vi, sitting up beside him, gazed at his form with a satiated smile. With a single, smooth move, she rose into a crouch above and behind Dorian. She reached out with one hand to stroke his flesh.
“Hmmmmm…” he said groggily.
“Sleep,” she whispered, barely audible, then took her hand away.
Slowly, Vi got up and off the futon. Her eyes were adjusted to the darkness. She made her way easily through the shadows, her own naked skin as brilliantly colorful as Dorian’s. She went over to the coffee table and picked up a fluted glass of wine. She swallowed the remaining third of the glass in one gulp. Something about this struck her as funny. Maybe it was the few drops that spilled or the image of herself in a handsome young man’s apartment, swallowing post-coital Merlot. Whatever the reason, she covered her mouth to stifle a giggle. Looking over at Dorian, she saw him still asleep, or near enough so it didn’t matter.
Picking up the bottle, she found it empty. Dorian’s own glass had no more than a few drops, which she poured down her throat.Then she tip-toed over towards the kitchen.
Dorian‘s Apartment – Seconds Later
Once she reached the refrigerator, Vi opened the door and took some time quietly exploring. She stared at the various drinks there, including another bottle of Merlot and a six-pack of soda. At last, she reached in and pulled out a carton marked “Orange Juice.” She opened it and took a sniff. Then, she closed the refrigerator door.
Next she began looking for a glass. The first cabinet she looked in contained nothing but pots and pans. The second was full of cereals and various canned foods. The third…
The third made her stop and stare.
It wasn’t so much a closet or a cabinet as it was a shrine. Dozens of photographs lined the interior. Portraits. Many were in color, although some were so faded it was difficult to tell. Others were black and white, some yellowed with age. Roughly half were men, the rest women. No photograph showed more than one person.
And just a little off-center was a photograph of Xander.
Vi blinked. And stared. Then blinked again. But then, her face grew very serious indeed, and more than a little bit angry. She put the carton of fruit juice down on the counter.
The slayer headed back into the main room, stark naked and moving like a cat.
Without making a single sound, Vi pushed open the door and slipped back inside the main room. Her eyes took in the reclined form of Dorian on the futon as before, but now her expression was very different. Instead of warm, her eyes were like ice. And she made her way through the dark room, carefully picking up various articles of clothing.
Yet her eyes remained on Dorian. Even as she slipped her shirt back on, she hurried. Her sight remained focused on Dorian, except for the quarter-second it took to place her shirt over her head. Quietly, she reached over to pick up a discarded pair of trousers, panties still inside. She pulled them back on.
Then she reached for her shoes.
What she picked up wasn’t her own shoe. It was a man’s shoe. She stared at it, eyes suddenly showing fear.
“Xander…” she breathed.
Putting the shoe down, quietly, she began a circuit of the apartment. In bare feet, she circled around the futon, listening. She also peered in every direction, even hunching down and looking underneath furniture. When she neared her purse, she stopped. From her purse, she slipped out a wooden stake. Whereas the shaft was polished and smooth, with scalpel-sharp point, the handle itself was carved with a grain like shark-skin and shaped to perfectly fit Vi’s own hand. She hesitated a moment, looking at the prone Dorian, and her unblinking gaze looked anything but friendly. But after a few moments, she resumed her search.
Eventually, she reached the bedroom door.
Next to the bed, yet still visible in the darkness, lay the nude figure of a man. Vi was next to him in less than a second. Dropping her personalized stake on the floor next to him, she turned Xander over, revealing an ashen face.
“Xander?” she whispered.
His eyes flickered open. “Vi?”
“What did he do to you?”
“Not…he…she… I’m really tired.” He seemed to be trying to focus his eyes. “Real, real, real, real tired.”
“Come on, let’s get you out of here.”
“I think maybe I need to rest…”
“You can rest back at HQ.”
“But…” Xander jerked as a flash crossed his eyes.
Dorian‘s face, angry, appears behind Vi. He suddenly grabs her by the neck.
“Behind you!” Xander’s voice was ragged but insistent and loud.
Vi’s reaction was instant – she spun around and, with one arm, swept the space directly behind her. A naked woman fell to the floor, knocked over by Vi’s blow. But she got up again with almost no hesitation. She had the same violet eyes as Dorian.
“There’s no need,” she said.
Vi held up her stake like a knife.
“Who are you?” Vi asked. “Where’s Dorian?”
Xander did a take. “What?”
The violet-eyed young woman simply gazed intently, from Vi to Xander and back again. “You have no idea,” she said longingly, “how long I’ve looked for you. Both of you. No idea.”
“Uh-huh,” Vi’s answered. “And who are you?”
“Dorian.” When Vi said nothing, she repeated herself. “I’m Dorian. Really.”
Vi took a glance at the woman’s crotch. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh yes,” she said wearily. “This is what I am, my nature. I am both man and woman, which means, of course, I’m not really either. You think that would make me popular, wouldn’t you? Being able to understand exactly what each sex is like? What they want? How they feel?” She sounded very sad. “Of course, what that really means is that everyone thinks there’s something different about me. And because it is my nature, I’ve searched all my life – year after year after year, more than you can imagine – for not just one love, but two. For two special people to whom I could give myself totally. Without reservation. Two people who could fill this hole in my life.”
Xander shook his head. “Okaaaayy. I don’t think I’ve ever been more confused. And that’s saying something.” He tried to stand up and failed. “Then again, maybe it’s because I feel like my battery got drained.”
“That will pass,” Dorian said, kneeling beside him. “I do get carried away, I’m afraid.”
“So,” said Vi, “what are you exactly?”
“A supernatural being,” answered Dorian. “That’s pretty obvious, I suppose.”
“And you two,” she said, looking at Vi and Xander, “when I saw you today at the formal wear shop, I sensed something special.” Her eyes watered. “Something I’ve wanted so long…”
Her hand shot out! She caught Xander’s wrist, the one with the hand now holding the wooden stake Vi had dropped. He had been aiming it at her and had managed to get it within an inch of her throat. Eyes flashing, she held his wrist like a vise.
“Why are you doing this?” she hissed.
“I know…a demon…when I see one…” he said, almost gasping. “Eventually, anyway.”
Now she snarled. “I am not a demon!” Enraged, she began to push the point of the stake back towards Xander. “Don’t you call me that!”
“Dorian?” said Vi.
At the sound of Vi’s voice, Dorian stopped and looked. Vi was standing calmly, looking at her. Something in her expression made Dorian hesitate.
“Dorian,” Vi repeated. “Change.”
“Why?” Her voice had a catch in it.
“Change. For me.” Vi kept eye contact and slowly peeled off her own shirt. “I want the Dorian I know,” she said, letting her shirt drop to the floor. “Please?”
Dorian opened her mouth, eyes unblinking and entranced by Vi. She said nothing.
“Please, Dorian.” Vi began to undo her pants. “Change.”
Violet eyes watered. “It’s a trick.”
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” She let her pants drop and stepped out of them. “Because what we did, what we had – that is what I want.” She kicked her pants away and stood before Dorian, naked.
Now Dorian hesitated and looked at Xander, who in turn was sweating and breathing hard. “Uh, Vi…?”
“Shut up, Xander.” She didn’t even look at him. Her eyes were on Dorian. “I understand,” she said. “I’ve been looking, too. Maybe not as long as you, but for years. One crush after another, all coming to nothing. Boys sometimes taking me on pity dates, or doing my mother a favor. And I put out, in hopes it would make them want me, treasure me. Yeah, right, like that worked. Even Xander,” she made a gesture in his direction. “He’s the nearest thing to a good boyfriend I’ve ever had. And what am I to him?” Now there was a catch in her voice, and Dorian rose up at hearing it. “A spare tire! That’s all. No one has ever once chosen me because they wanted me, to be, first and foremost, with me!” A single tear glistened down her cheek. “Until…” She didn’t finish.
Dorian had the stake in hand now and tossed it to the side of the room. She looked hard at Vi, then changed. Hair shortened. Muscles reshaped. Stronger brow and jaw and nose. In moments, Dorian was again the handsome young man from before. With an expression of great tenderness, he approached Vi and put his arms around her. He let her cling to him.
“It’ll be all right,” he whispered, hugging her close. “I promise.”
Her own arms were around his neck. She pulled back to look in his face, her fingers tracing the line of his collarbone, the pulse of his jugular vein.
Then suddenly, she locked both her hands around his throat and squeezed. Dorian’s eyes bulged, and he grabbed her wrists, trying to pull them away, but with no success. Teeth bared, Vi squeezed harder as Dorian struggled. In moments, despite his struggles, he began to sink to his knees.
Vi growled, “I’m not…going to be another picture…on your wall! And neither…is…Xander!”
Dorian began to cry as he reached the floor. Vi never relented, but put all her weight as well as her slayer strength into strangling him. He thrashed. He struggled. He tried to breathe. But after another minute or two, it didn’t matter. Legs stopped kicking. Arms stopped flailing. Dorian was dead. And a weird metamorphosis happened, as both genders became manifest in the body at the same time, flesh alternately rugged and smooth.
Vi watched this happen and finally muttered. “Lie to me, huh?” Then she looked at Xander. “We need to get you to a doctor.”
Wearily, Xander nodded.
Forest Near Youngstown – Day
Rowena, Kennedy and Dawn all walked toward the alcove of a cave with flashlights in hand, creeping quietly toward the darkness.
Dawn grinned. “I feel like I should be on the cell phone talking to Mulder,” she said quietly.
“You need to stop spending so much time with Andrew,” Kennedy replied.
“Shh,” Rowena said, placing a finger over her lips. “The two of you are going to scare whatever’s in there if you keep up the chatter.”
“Oh, yes ma’am,” Kennedy replied, rolling her eyes. “You know, if you ask me – and I know you didn’t – I’d say this was pointless. We’re not going to find anything,” she added, as she moved toward the cave.
“Where are you going?” Rowena asked.
Kennedy stopped and pitched a thumb toward the entrance. “In here. We need to check the area, don’t we?” she asked.
“Yes, but we can’t just go charging in. Move slowly,” Rowena told her.
“If we moved any slower, I’d need a walker,” Kennedy replied. “I’m tired of you not trusting my instincts,” she added as she disappeared inside.
Rowena looked at Dawn and then followed Kennedy inside with a sigh, Dawn right behind her.
Cave – Moments Later
“I trust your instincts as a slayer fine,” Rowena answered, “but as a leader…”
“So it’s okay for me to kill stuff, so long as I don’t decide anything for myself?” Kennedy asked sarcastically.
“If you’re going to just charge around without thinking all the time, then –”
The sound of a roar echoed through the tunnel, and the trio looked at each other. Rowena shone her flashlight deeper into the cave.
“That didn’t sound like a coyote,” she said to no one in particular.
The shadow of a large creature with an elongated head and wings appeared against the cavern wall, and everyone slowly began to back up.
“Get behind me,” Kennedy ordered. Dawn and Rowena both took three steps back, as Kennedy stood her ground.
The figure got closer and closer. Kennedy tightened her grip on her sword and held her breath.
From around the corner, a small, reptilian head peeked out and looked around before darting back.
“What the…” Kennedy trailed off and began to move forward. She reached into her pocket and pulled something out, then knelt down. “Come ‘ere, little fella,” she coaxed, extending her hand.
The head popped out again and sniffed the air. With careful steps, a small dragon emerged, no bigger than a large house cat. It looked around again, then raced over to the slayer. It took the half eaten granola bar from Kennedy and began to feast on it.
“We should keep him,” Kennedy said decidedly, nodding as she examined the dragon.
Rowena shook her head and spoke quickly. “No, no. Kennedy, slay the dragon.”
The dragon almost seemed to pout and looked up at Kennedy with hopeful eyes.
“How can we kill him? He looks so cuuute,” Dawn agreed.
“It’s not cute,” Rowena answered. “It’s a deadly creature. And for all we know, it could be a female dragon with a little dragon on the way. And then what? We have two dragons with no idea how large they’ll get.”
“We can take care of it then,” Kennedy said.
“What? After it destroys Cleveland like Godzilla destroys Tokyo? No, absolutely not.”
“Oh come on,” Kennedy complained. “I can’t kill him. Look at him!”
The dragon now rolled on its back, playing with its hind legs.
“This thing is not a puppy or a kitten,” Rowena argued. “If that’s what you want, I’ll take you to a shelter. There’re lots of animals that need a home. But a dragon? We can’t go to the store and buy Kibble and Villager Bits.”
Dawn gave a small chuckle, but quickly stopped when Rowena shot her a stern look.
“I say we vote,” Kennedy said.
“What?” Rowena asked, before quickly shaking her head. “No, no voting.”
“Hey,” Kennedy pointed. “There’s three branches of the council here,” she began, pointing first to herself. “The slayers, the Coven and the watchers. We have all three.”
“You’re not the head slayer,” Rowena pointed out.
“And you’re not the head watcher, so that evens things out. Last time I checked, Dawn wasn’t the head of the Coven either, so that leaves just us. The slayers vote we keep him. Dawn?”
“Oh no,” Dawn said, shaking her hands in front of her, and her head as well. “I don’t want to be the tie breaker here.”
“You don’t have a choice,” Kennedy told her.
Dawn looked undecided. “I agree he’s cute, and I’d like to keep him, but…I think Ro’s right. We don’t know what we’re getting into, and he is killing living animals. He should be put down.”
Kennedy looked disappointed, but then nodded. “Okay then.” She walked back over to the dragon and put the sword above her head to strike. He looked up at her with a playful expression, thrashing his arms as if he was waving at her. “That’s it.” She groaned and walked back over to Rowena, handing her the unused sword. “Have at it.”
“You’re the slayer,” she told Kennedy.
“Vampire slayer, not dragon slayer. You want him dead, you do it.”
Rowena sighed as she took the sword.
“I don’t believe this…Wimps,” she muttered, as she walked over and took the same position as Kennedy did earlier.
She raised the sword above her head and paused a moment before thrusting it down.
Council Truck – Minutes Later
Rowena sat in the driver’s seat, saying nothing, while Dawn sat in the middle, silent as well. In the passenger seat sat Kennedy, holding the miniature dragon on her lap. She stroked its head as it made an almost-purring noise.
“Thank you for changing your mind at the last second,” Kennedy said sincerely, leaning over to Rowena.
“Don’t thank me.” Rowena shook her head. “They’re gonna kill us.”
Watchers Council – Later that Day
Skye and Mia walked out the front door of the Council building, chatting with each other. They joined Willow, Faith and Robin on the front stoop just as a Council truck came into view at the far end of the street. When it drove up to the main doors, Willow rushed to the driver’s side door and hugged Rowena as she got out.
“Missed you too,” the watcher said. “Faith…good to see you up and about.”
“Faith!” Dawn rushed to her and gave her a hug.
“Hey, Dawnie,” Faith smiled. “I think your girlfriend is getting jealous.”
“Don’t make me put you on a leash,” Skye warned jokingly, but then she gave her girlfriend a hug of her own.
“Is this a discussion you two should be having in public?” Mia asked, causing both girls to blush. “Ken?”
“Right here, hon,” Kennedy replied, still busy at the passenger side of the car. She eventually straightened up and walked around the car to join her friends, who regarded the purring bundle of scales and wings in her arms with some alarm.
“Is that…” Willow began.
“What?” Kennedy asked, as the dragon lifted its head and regarded its surroundings warily. “It’s okay, baby, they’re friends,” Kennedy cooed to it, tickling its scaled belly gently.
Kennedy began to walk away holding the dragon, with Rowena following, looking none too pleased, and Willow behind her.
Confused, Faith turned to Robin.
“Reassure me I’m in the real world again, will you?” she asked, as she watched Kennedy heading toward the Council.
“Sure…but who’s gonna reassure me?” he asked in return.
Watchers Council – Infirmary – Later that Day
Xander sat on the edge of a bed and drank a milky liquid. He made a face at the taste. He looked better than he had, but not well.
“What is this stuff?”
Giles, standing beside him, answered. “Potassium, electrolytes, magnesium, a plethora of vitamins. There are probably more ingredients, but those are all that Dr. Miller mentioned.”
“Finish it,” ordered Vi from the other side of the bed.
“Yes, ma’am.” And he did, making another face. “So,” he said after swallowing, “my track record continues unabated, huh? She, or he, or whatever, it was a demon, right?”
“A Succubea, yes. Fairly rare, actually, but dangerous all the same.”
“The ultimate stalker,” snorted Vi. “Full of ‘woe is me, no one understands.’ Meanwhile, look what he did to Xander! And all those pictures in the kitchen! You think any of them are still alive?”
“Well, a few maybe,” began Giles.
“Excuse me,” interrupted Xander, “just to make things absolutely clear – when this particular demon was with me, he was a she, Okay?”
“Got it,” nodded Vi.
“Jeff should be happy.” At their looks, Giles explained. “Oh, Jeff was very eager to find and stop the Succubea once we identified it as the source of the traumatic pregnancies.”
“Good for him,” said Vi.
“Yeah,” added Xander. “Rah, Jeff.”
Dr. Miller stepped inside the infirmary from his office. “Good news. Mr. Harris, you have a case of exhaustion coupled with dehydration, but nothing worse. And you,” he turned to Vi, “are not pregnant, but we’ll test again at your next cycle. Just to double check, so be sure to come back in.”
Vi gave him a relieved sigh and a nod.
Giles hesitated a moment, looking at Vi and Xander and their body language. Then he turned to the doctor. “Our work is done for now, yes?”
“Good! Well, in that case I offer you all my congratulations and wish you a good night.”
“Thank you,” said Dr. Miller. “Xander, you’ll need to take some vitamin supplements for a few days, but other than that, some extra bed rest should see you fully recovered.”
“Glad to hear it.”
“Then I’ll bid you good night as well.”
With a nod to them both, Dr. Miller exited and Giles followed. Silence filled the room in their wake. Silence that lasted seconds, but seemed closer to an hour.
“Have I ever told you,” said Xander finally, “that you look really sexy when you’re angry?”
Vi didn’t hesitate. “No.”
“Ah.” Xander sighed. “I can be dumb that way sometimes.”
Fade to Black
End of Infernal Affairs
Next on Watchers…
When the Council finds out that the Presidium is testing its equipment for the invasion of Earth in an Ohio forest, the stage is set for an epic battle.
Click here to read “Wickerman” now!