contains violence. If you could watch the series and action movies, you're fine.
main character(s): Drusilla
disclaimer: If you recognize them, they are not mine. Anyone from BtVS or A:tS is the creation of Joss Whedon. The hunter is based on the movie Predator, which I hold no legal rights to either.
distribution: Twisting, Quickfics, Paula - anyone else just ask.
notes response to Jinni's Poetry Quote challenge, week #11. Additional thanks to both Imzadi for mentioning the Jaberwocky's defeat, and to the story Kendra's Hunt for a measure of inspiration.
Kendra's Hunt http://www.tthfanfic.org/story.php?no=2737
Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe
"Beware the Jaberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
-- Lewis Caroll, Jabberwocky
* * * * *
Miss Edith was cross when Drusilla awoke from her day's slumber. She wasn't quite certain what was bothering the dainty lady, but she was most clearly unhappy, her voice petulant as she spoke of the Hunter's Moon, and the dangers of the night. Puzzled, Drusilla tried to reason with her porcelain adviser. "But surely a Hunter's Moon is a splendid thing, an occasion for teas and cakes?"
"Hunter's Moon?" The question came from Hor'A'io, her current lover. He was such a handsome figure, her sweet fungus demon, all covered with lumps and smelling of secrets... mmmm. Such a wonderful smell, she could hardly get enough of him.
Smiling, Drusilla cupped his cheek, breathing in the scent that rose from him. She could almost see it sometimes, all fine and gray... "Miss Edith is not happy, but she won't tell me why."
Chuckling, he kissed her. "A Hunter's Moon can only mean good fortune for the hunt. I'll bring you back something pretty - a cat skin with spots, or maybe some pretty jewelry."
She sighed as she watched him vanish into the thick leaves of the jungle. He could be so hard to track, matching the colors of the jungle mushrooms as he did. And he could move quietly, which was good. Fungus demons were strong, but not swift.
Humming to herself, she put on water for tea, knowing that if she didn't boil it, it would keep the thick green taste that clashed so badly with the tea leaves and sugar. Setting the places around her little table, Drusilla glanced at Miss Edith, hoping that by serving her favorite - blackberry currant - that Miss Edith might be cheered up, or at least persuaded to explain why she was so very cross.
"Brillig and slithy toves, grye and gimbal, twist and shout... and if you are late, than no tea for you, only nasty oysters in their cold wet bed. ick." She crushed the napkins into the ornamental fan shapes, letting them form graceful arches on the table.
:This is the Hunter's Moon. But who is the Hunter and who is the Prey?: It was Miss Edith's voice, almost the same as her own voice had once been. Before Daddy had come, before he left her so many red presents.
Drusilla froze at the words. Who was the hunter? They were, of course. Who else could possibly... But there were demons that would attack vampires. Could one of them be out there tonight?
:Beware the Jaberwock, my pretty! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!: Miss Edith sounded worried.
Drusilla gasped, the teacup falling from her hand, splashing hot tea onto the floor and her foot, which made her snarl and hop on her other foot, one hand cradling the scorched foot. "Not the Jaberwocky! He bites, and he is rude and cross and an ill-mannered guest!"
Everybody knew that a Jaberwocky fed on mushrooms and dead flowers. And with their burning eyes, they would fiercely chase away anything that dared to interrupt them. Her sweet A'io was a giant mushroom. The Jaberwocky might try to eat him! That would not be at all acceptable.
"Now, what to do about a Jaberwocky..." She searched through the house, only half certain of the object of her frantic hands. Finally, she found it. A gently curving slender blade of fine steel, folded over and over again by the patient man who'd spent almost a year crafting it. This was a blade that could sever flesh and bone as easily as paper, a Vorpal Blade set with dragons dancing around the hilt and a crimson tassel. Time to go hunting. Let the Hunter's Moon bless her and not the Jaberwocky.
She left Miss Edith inside, hoping that if her dainty adviser drank her tea, she would be happier and more sociable when she returned. Something was out there tonight, out hunting among the trees. She could hear it in the silence, the absence of the monkey howls, the absence of the soft not-sounds of the owl. The Jaberwocky was hunting, and she would hunt it in turn.
There was the remains of a Txu'Patelli demon on one of the forest paths. Something had caused it's ribcage to open outwards, as if something had burst free, and his head was gone. Perhaps his kinfolk could identify him from the patterns painted over his legs and the scars on his arms. Beside him, there was a depression, a footprint. It had been made by something in a solid boot with a thick tread. But the shape wasn't quite right for a human... It could only be the Jaberwocky. She felt herself shift, her delight in a good hunt calling forth her wicked teeth and gleaming eyes.
Part of her wanted to run ahead, to follow the path and shriek her challenge to the moon. But she didn't listen to that part, didn't listen to the angry and broken girl that she'd once been. Instead, she listened to the soft footed hunter that so few people realized she'd become. Daddy had taught her how to hunt, after all, and there was more than red presents and broken minds, little games to raise fear. She moved quietly, half crouched as she followed the footprints, her eyes and ears alert of the faintest of noises or clues.
Her lover's body was along the path in the next clearing, his head removed and rolled several feet away. She lifted it up, hands caressing the cheek that had been so warm just hours ago. "Alas... I knew him so well. My Horatio..."
She gently placed his head next to his body, and then stopped, noticing a funny scent in the air. There was something on his fingers, caught under the sharp nails, something bright green and almost glowing in the moonlight. Little droplets of it went away from him, vanishing into the undergrowth. The Jaberwocky was bleeding.
"Jaberwocky... I know how to deal with you. Snick snack... off with his head. Then take it home to Daddy... yes, to Daddy." The words were the softest and most venomous of hisses.
Following the little green droplets, she realized there were starting to be more of them. She began moving slower, careful not to make any noise. There was a faint noise, a high pitched whine that set her teeth on edge and made her want to growl. It hurt. And it was coming from just ahead.
Peering between a couple of fronds, she looked into the small clearing. It seemed empty, but there were a few droplets leading towards a faint depression in the grass. The whining sound came from there, and the droplets had almost formed a tiny pool, almost enough to form a splatter. The Jaberwocky... but she couldn't see it, only hear it. Hear the faint whine and a sort of raspy sound as he drew slow breaths, and hear the strong thump-thump-thump of his heart. Her teeth were bared in a smile, and she began calculating exactly how to strike at something that she couldn't see.
If she aimed for a bit higher than the heart that she could hear so easily, the heart that sent forth the green ichor that surged in it’s veins… Oh yes, then she could strike. Her muscles sent her forth, swifter and more terrible than a jaguar, and she slashed down with her sword, aiming to hit the heart that she could hear. Bright golden and green sparks flew, as did a hot spray of that nasty smelling green, and then there was a shimmering in the air, like what had hovered over the road in Nevada.
The Jaberwock was revealed, with a metal mask over his face, and long tendrils beaded and hanging around it’s skull like a nest of sleeping snakes. Bits of metal and almost leather clung to parts of it in a form of armor, filled with secrets to hide itself and to find prey more easily. Nasty beast, not even willing to depend on the luck of the Hunter’s Moon and it’s own skill… needing to use the captured sparks to steal another advantage. But at least that high and painful whine was gone.
It roared at her, and there was a sharp clacking noise from under it’s mask, and large silver eyes glared at her. It also raised a wicked looking gun at her, trying to find a way to blast her.
“Cheaters never prosper.” She snarled at it, one hand catching the gun, and the other slashing claw-like at the face, trying to remove the mask, to see what else it tried to lock away.
At first, she thought that the whole of it’s face had come away, but there were only a few splatters of the green stuff that wasn’t blood. But no, it had been a mask over it’s face, large silver panels over dark eyes that gleamed almost orange in the moonlight. Little tentacles tipped with a pale sharpness surrounded a mouth, and his breath smelled like rotting mushrooms.
“You killed my Horatio!” Dru’s own eyes might have been fiery bright in their own right, burning with her anger and outrage. “I wasn’t done with him!”
The tentacle things waggled at her, and it made some sort of noise at her, nothing at all like any language that she recognized. But it was being brave and defiant.
One hand brought up the sword, and then snick-Snack! It’s head fell to the ground, green fluid gushing out. Angrily, she pushed the body away, not wanting to en up covered in that’s horrible life-fluid. It would have been different if it had been filled with rich red yummy blood, but instead there was the sharp and sour green.
When it looked as if the bleeding had stopped, she seized hold of the mass of tendrils and lifted the severed head into the air. She felt almost like that Greek hero, what had his name been? The one who killed the Medusa? She had triumphed under the Hunter’s Moon. Now, to gather her things and go show Daddy her trophy.
She giggled and skipped the whole way back to the little house that she’d shared with Hor’A’io. Nothing bothered her on her journey. Perhaps that was because one hand held the severed head, leaving a faint trail of green glowing droplets, and the other held the still green coated blade?
end Beware the Jaberwock!