Hunger. Compulsion. Legitimate prey. Prey's anger. Prey's fear. LIGHT! Pain! Fleeing. Hunger, aroused and unfulfilled. New prey. Compulsions. Hunger! Prey's anger. Prey's joy. Compulsions overwhelmed. HUNGER!* * *
A night without a vampire to kill would be like a day without sunlight. Vi was enjoying the fight against this newby. He wasn't particularly strong, and had clearly learned nothing about fighting when he was alive. She could have staked him earlier, but she was having too much fun. Where else can you try out new moves, after all? Against other slayers? They might laugh. And against any real danger was obviously out. She leapt off a gravestone, did a completely gratuitous midair flip, and slammed both feet into the fledgling's face. It worked. The vampire was on the ground and stunned. Now she had something to show off to --Chloe was an idiot. Chloe was stupid. She was weak.
The memory cut through Vi's excitement like a knife. Why had she remembered that now? The fight wasn't fun any more. Without fun, there was duty. With a businesslike efficiency Buffy would approve of, Vi slammed her stake into the stunned vampire's chest. It exploded into the normal dust. There was no satisfaction. No sense of accomplishment. Only cold, purposeless despair. And memory rose again.And anyone in a rush to be the next dead body I bury, it's easy. Just...think of Chloe, and do what she did.
Do what she did. Vi turned the stake around. It could find her heart easily enough. There was no reason to, but there was no reason for anything, was there? Was there? Maybe there used to be? She stood in the empty graveyard, trying to remember. And I'll find room for you next to her and Annabelle
Something like a hand grabbed her left shoulder. She saw nothing. An invisible attacker, then. How could she fight something like that? Well, she had been specifically trained in several tactics to use against invisible attackers. If only she could remember them. Actually, she could remember them perfectly. She'd been good at them too. But now...
And that was when she realized she was under mental attack.
She'd been specifically trained for that too. Focus on the immediate. Don't feel; just do. The memory receded a little and her training came the the fore. Keep contact. Cause injury. She reached to her shoulder and grabbed the thing's arm with both hands. She ripped it off her shoulder and bend it over itself. It bent almost in a full loop, but didn't break. Not exactly an arm, then.
She worked hand over hand to the thing's body. That freed it's hand, which grabbed her again, but not hard enough to matter. She ignored it and found the thing's torso. Keeping her left hand on it for awareness, she slammed the stake in her right hand into the middle of its chest. Where the heart would be if it were humanoid. She felt the stake sink in, but it didn't seem to matter. She left it there. For a moment it hung seemingly unsuspended, then slowly vanished.
She drew her knife. 23 inches of steel with silver inlays. She took a good guess where it might have a neck and slashed. She felt the blade dig into flesh. She pushed harder, sawing slightly, and came clear out the other side of the neck. This seemed to have no effect either, though there might have been a few drops of black blood on the knife. It was hard to tell. She moved her left hand to feel for the wound. And found an intact head. The neck had healed behind her slash.
This thing had just ignored the two deadliest forms of violence she knew. The despair she'd shoved away surged back, stronger than before.And the First has me using that power to dig our graves
It had both her shoulders now. She could hear it breathing: a long constant inhale. It was getting harder to care. Buffy's speech was louder. But remembering Buffy meant remembering Buffy's views on unkillable monsters. Vi dropped her knife and called for the scythe.
It appeared in her hands in an instant. Its song of power alone drove back the darkness a bit. There wasn't room to swing, so she shoved the creature away from her with the stake end.
This it felt. It screamed. A high-pitched wail of pain and surprise. As if it had never really been hurt before.
Taking the scream as her aim-point, Vi swept the scythe blade horizontally at waist level. There was a louder scream, stabbing from her ears deep into her brain. Then a thousand sighs of relief. Then nothing.
Her stake dropped to the ground. Two black cloths, once halves of a robe, followed it. Memory and despair were gone. She was truly alone in the graveyard.
She laughed. Loudly, carelessly, nonsensically, almost hysterically. Push a mind down too far and it has to spring back. Then she shivered. That had been way too close.
She commanded the scythe to return to its stone. It wouldn't do to be holding it when some other slayer needed it. There was only one scythe, after all, and it had been made for the one slayer. Willow had woven the summoning into its magic so that the army of slayers could share it, but that still required each slayer to relinquish it promptly when done. That taken care of, she pulled out her cell phone and called in the encounter.
"This is Vi patrolling Little Whinging main graveyard. I just slew an unfamiliar and really nasty demon. Invisible, some sort of despair attack and survived staking and beheading. Needed the scythe to take it down. You ever heard of this?"
"Despair attack?" The watcher on duty (Vi didn't recognize the voice) said, "That's new to me. I've heard of fear attacks. You're all right I trust?"
"Yes. I think so."
"You don't sound entirely sure. Probably best to call it a night. Mental attacks sometimes leave hidden wounds. And we should get your full account when it's fresh. Do bag any evidence."
"OK. See you in a few."
She closed her phone and pulled out an evidence bag. The bag was denim on the outside and silk on the inside, with runes of containment embroidered through it. She turned it inside out and used it as a glove to picked up the knife, stake and cloak, then turned it right side in and pulled the drawstring. Excessive perhaps, but she was feeling cautious, and plenty of dark magic triggered on skin contact.* * *
An hour later, she was sitting in the headquarters library with a pair of watchers. She kept her mug of hot chocolate carefully away from the books (normally she favored mint tea after a patrol, but a variety of hot beverages were always available and this time the chocolate smelled more appealing). She'd told the story in general and was now filling in details while the younger of the watchers took notes. The older watcher periodically pulled out another book, made a guess, asked a question, and returned to confusion.
An hour after that, Vi had told everything anyone could think of, and a dozen watchers and witches were trying to make sense of what had happened. Clearly this was not something in their records. Her mug was empty and books were everywhere. Conversations formed, forked, merged and dissipated. Diagrams were drawn. It all washed over her in a sort of general babble.
The prospect of a completely unknown demon of such power should be frightening. But the sound of so many experts working it out made Vi feel safe. She slumped in her chair, and drifted off into peaceful sleep.
obDisclaimers: I own neither BtVS nor HP. Vi's memory is taken verbatim from the episode Get It Done.