New Fic: Father of Mine #6: Another Day in the Office (PG-13, Buffy/SG-1)
- Okay, technically, it's June 1st, but since I haven't gone to bed yet, I still think of it as the 31st. Hope you guys enjoy!
A NORMAL DAY AT THE OFFICE
Part Six of 'Father of Mine,' immediate sequel to 'Welcome to Headquarters.'
Summary: Jack and Daniel meet more of the gang and a bunch of axe-wielding demons.
I could see the thing's face. He was snarling. I could also see his axe arm rising above his head. Too bad I couldn't do anything about it, with Daniel flaying to get free underneath me.
"Will you stop moving, Daniel?" I shouted.
"I will as soon as there isn't some big alien-demon-whatever trying to kill us!" came his reply.
Oh, to hell with this. I reached behind me, grabbed a handhold of his shirt and rolled to the left, taking Daniel with me. One minute, the axe was swinging down toward me. The next minute, it was embedded in the floor next to Danny's right arm.
We collided into the side of the kitchen isle. Daniel's knee rammed into my stomach before we rolled free of each other. He scrambled behind the kitchen isle while the big guy advanced on me, snarl still in place.
"Oh, crap," I said, moving out of the way just before the axe crashed down again, taking out a portion of wooden cabinet.
I swung out a leg toward his ankle, hoping to knock him over, and ended up swearing and clutching my aching limb. Ow! I will so not do that again!
I looked up. The big guy held the axe high over his head with both arms. He looked genuinely pissed.
The axe swung down.
He had me cornered against the isle. There wasn't enough room to roll to either side of him, and standing would take too long. "A little help, here!"
A pair of hands clamped down on the big guys' biceps, halting the axe's decent.
Now that was more like it! "Nice going, Dan-" I did a double-take. Those hands were oddly feminine for Daniel.
"Move, now!" My rescuer shouted at me from behind the big guy.
"Moving." I got to my feet, slid to the right and came to stand with Daniel behind the counter. I got my first good look at my rescuer. It was the blonde I'd seen in the photographs.
She head butted the big guy, and he jerked. She spun him around and ducked as his axe swung with him.
"You wouldn't happen to be the cable repair guys, would you?" she asked just before she grabbed the demon's axe and delivered a kick to his mid-section.
"What?" Daniel asked.
"I'll take that as a no. Darn." She looked at us for a moment. "I'm Buffy." Her brow furrowed. "Wait, you're Xander's son. Shouldn't you be in Colorado?" She ducked a swing of the axe.
"Will everyone stop with the whole son thing, already?" I shook my head. Hear I was, in Cleveland, having an argument with a skinny young woman who was fighting the offspring of Frankenstein and a whale. This had to be one insane dream. Maybe I'd been infected by that pollen that made Captain Littrel go crazy.
"I suppose you're one of those Slayers we've heard about?" asked Daniel.
"Guilty as charged!"
If anyone was a Slayer, it would have to this gal. She moved faster than Carter, and Carter wasn't bad in a fight. Hell, this gal moved faster than Teal'c. She could just be stronger than him, too. Impossibly enough, she appeared to be winning against this giant demon-guy-thing.
They moved and moved and moved some more, going from one part of the kitchen to the other.
See any really sharp knives back there? she asked. She grunted, and there was a thud as she collided with the back of a chair at the table. It's the third drawer unh! - I think.
Danny and I pulled random drawers open. Here! Daniel tossed her a long, thick steak knife. She caught it and turned back to the demon giant.
You know, that whole demon-Slayer thing seems a whole lot more feasible now," said Daniel.
"We'll worry about that later," I said. I was more concerned about us getting killed just by standing around like this.
Buffy grabbed the jolly green giant's axe arm again and kicked, sending the demon flying into the table and reducing said table to kindling.
I winced. "Ouch." Five minutes had gone by, and half the room had been smashed to pieces. Both combatants had slashes and bruises on various places, but as I watched, the big guy got to his feet amid the rubble and charged Slay-gal. Jeez.
The blonde backed the demon into the corner next to the back door. Go! she called to us.
Daniel and I hightailed it for the doorway and the hallway beyond.
Get out of the way! someone yelled from the front of the house. Daniel pushed me against the stairwell cupboard door. A rush of wind passed by my back as a second demon giant flew from the foyer and through the back door, landing amid wood and glass on the back porch.
Two girls ran past us while a third stopped in front of us.
Hi, there- I said.
She grabbed our shirtfronts and slammed us against the cupboard door. I grunted as my back cracked. She was brunette and looked somewhere around twenty years old. There was a manic gleam in her eyes. What was it with these people and being overly-threatening?
Who the hell are you? she demanded.
Funny," I said, "I was going to ask you the same thing."
It's okay! Summers shouted from above. They're the good guys!
The brunette nodded, let go of us and ran for the back porch, joining the fight against the second demon in the backyard.
Summers and Giles descended the stairs. Summers, with a sword in hand, ran out the front door, while Giles came to stand before us.
What's going on? Daniel asked.
"Better yet, what the hell is going on?" I demanded.
"They're Ghastrach Demons," he explained. He held a broadsword. "We discovered their hatching grounds last week. I'd hoped we'd taken out all of them, but it would appear that the nest mothers had a few male relatives they failed to mention to us."
"Ghastrach Demons? Hatching grounds?" I repeated incredulously. "How many?"
"Well, there were about five nest mothers and approximately fifty eggs between them - that is, three are here right now-"
A sickening crack resounded from the kitchen. Buffy shouted, And that's for breaking the waffle iron!
Giles smiled. Two are here right now."
"Well, that's good," Daniel said, hesitantly.
"Yes, except we think there are more of them."
"And that's bad," I said. "Got anything we can use?"
Giles led the way to the living room, stepped behind the middle couch and pushed open a chest filled with archaic weapons. I was beginning to see a pattern with blades. It made me wish I had my own knife with me. Or maybe a zat. Or, even better, a P-90.
I asked, "Got something a lot more modern?"
He snorted and handed us two crossbows and quivers. "Guns, unfortunately, rarely work on demons. Fortunately, Ghastrach Demons are relatively easy to kill. Anything works on them after a fashion, with the exceptions of magic and bullets."
"'Relatively easy to kill?'" Daniel looked alarmed. "A creature that can't be killed by bullets is considered to be 'relatively easy?'"
The British man gave a sort of apologetic shrug and headed back into the foyer.
I exchanged a bewildered look with Daniel. What the hell kind of place had we wandered it to?
We re-joined Giles in the foyer. Buffy stepped out of the kitchen and walked up the hall to us, hefting the big guy's axe. "Hey, Giles." She smiled at me. "Hi. Jack, right?" She turned to Daniel. "And you are?"
Giles smiled. "You're back early."
She wiped sweat from her forehead and checked the cuts on her arms. "Kennedy and I were showing the rookies the best places in town to go to for info. Kurt - the Friend Demon who works at that bar on Whitchat Street-"
"-Fren Demon, and Wichita Street," corrected Giles.
"Kurt told us that the Jawstrap Demons were on their way here, so, here we are, and here they are."
Fren Demon? Kurt? I filed these away for later.
The three girls who'd gone to the backyard came back inside, and Summers and two more girls appeared through the front door. Except for Giles, none of them looked older than twenty-two, which bothered me as much as anything else about this situation.
"We get the last one?" the brunette asked.
Summers nodded. "Katie, Jasmine and I just finished with that one."
"Is that all of them?" asked a girl with dirty blonde hair who was either Katie or Jasmine. She was breathing deeply but not panting, and her grip was still tight around the handle of a double-bladed axe.
/Five are approaching from down the street. Five more are approaching the backyard. We've got a little time, but not a whole lot./
The words echoed in my mind and sent shivers down my spine. Daniel looked just as startled. At least it wasn't just me.
"What was-?" asked Daniel.
"It's Willow," said Summers. "She's communicating telepathically."
"What?" After everything else that had happened, I really shouldn't have been as surprised, but I was with good reason. Telepathy was something I'd seen before, but this felt different. It felt way too much like having Kanan in my head.
A phantom feeling of a tail wrapped itself around my spinal cord. I rubbed the back of my neck and tried to keep from shivering.
Daniel blinked. "Okay "
/Keep seeing if you can find a spell that'll incapacitate them./ The voice had changed to sound like Buffy's. I glanced sharply at her, but her lips never moved. Apparently, we were in a house of telepaths.
/I'll see what I can do, but I'm not making any promises,/ said Rosenburg.
You said you know these guys? The brunette asked Dawn with a nod to Daniel and me.
Daniel introduced us, and their eyes widened. You're Xander's son? asked a dark-skinned girl with black dreadlocks. You?
Could we have this conversation later, guys? Buffy asked. She faced Daniel and me. We don't have a lot of time. We're Slayers.
And Watchers, said Summers.
And Watchers. Buffy rolled her eyes. We know what's going on and how to deal with it, but you don't. We're fighting real demons here, and we don't have time for hysterics. You guys need to follow my lead. Can you do that?
A girl who looked to be about Harris' age who was surrounded by girls even younger than her was telling me not to freak in the middle of a battle. Against demons. The sarcastic response came easily. Sure, we can do that."
This time, I did shiver. Did they have to do that?
/The five out back are vaulting over the fence now. The ones out front are almost in the yard. I'm in Giles' study./
Buffy nodded. "Alright...Kennedy, Trish, Dawn and Nell, you guys go to the backyard. Giles, Katie, Jasmine, General Jack, Jackson and I will go to the front."
Daniel and I followed on Buffy's heels out the front door. She ordered us to take up position on the porch, while she and the others came to a stop in the middle of the yard. On the street, five of the giant things stood directly across from them. None of them moved.
I loaded a bolt on the crossbow. Daniel copied my movements. He made a face. "I hope you can shoot with that thing."
"Nothing to worry about," I said. "I did some archery in college." I'd never used a crossbow before, but I doubted I'd have too much trouble I hoped.
"And you went to college when, again?"
I gave him a look.
He groaned. "Oh, this is going to be great."
My grip tightened on the trigger as I aimed at the demons. The two groups continued to stare each other down. I could just make out human hands tightening around sword and axe hilts.
A crash resounded from the back of the house.
The demon in the middle of the line sprang forward, and Buffy stepped forward to meet him. The others soon followed.
I pulled the trigger. The bolt slid into the rightmost demon's chest, and he staggered. Katie or Jasmine swung her sword and left a larger hole in his gut, and he roared in outrage.
That was my only clear shot. The rest of the battle was a moving mass of three girls, one British guy, and green demon-alien-things. My skill at aiming a crossbow was about even with Daniel's, which wasn't saying much. We did our best to hit the demons, and Giles and the girls did their best to point the demons in the direction of the porch to make it easier for us. The Slayers caught half of my misses and used them to skewer the demons. The demons didn't like that much.
Seeing Buffy in action against one demon was nothing compared to watching this fight. The Slayers and Watcher worked like a team, and they took on the demons like it was all in an invigorating day's work.
One of the demons broke through. With a roar and a raised axe, he headed straight for Danny and me. He had two bolts sticking out of his right arm, and a gleam in his eyes promised vengeance.
"Oh, boy," Daniel said before he scrambled into the foyer.
I got another shot off before I stepped through the door, but the demon ducked in time. "Upstairs!" I ordered, and I raced after Daniel up the stairs to the second floor landing.
The house shook as the demon crashed through the door, having taken no time to turn to the side to fit through the frame.
Daniel leaned against the second floor corridor wall, ducked into view of the stairs, and fired. I hurriedly loaded my own crossbow, stepped out of cover and fired down at the demon. The bolts hit his chest and, with a startled jerk, the big guy crashed down the stairs and lay still in the foyer.
I loaded two bolts, moved to the top of the stairs for a cleaner shot and waited. The demon stirred and got slowly to his feet. He looked up at me and snarled.
"Son of a bitch!" I fired both bolts and stepped back. Daniel added another bolt to the green guy's collection.
The demon glanced down at them. He took a half-step forward before his eyes rolled back into his head. Then I saw something that really made my day. As he crashed onto the hardwood floor, his body turned to greenish-gray liquid. The liquid evaporated, leaving a dark spot on the floorboards.
Daniel's mouth was catching flies. Mine probably was, too. "Did you see that?" I asked, just to be sure.
"Uh-huh. And here I thought I'd seen everything." He shook his head. "How could we have missed all this? How could beings like that be here on Earth without us knowing about it?"
"If they all vanish like that one did "
Something tugged at my memory. I'd heard of demons before, and not just on Saturday morning television. It took a moment, in-between firing and loading bolts, to remember when. It was two years ago, back when I still commanded SG-1. We went off-world to P7-Pie-something-something. We met the locals. For once, they were nice locals, and nothing happened. We came, we saw, we left. That wasn't the only mission that went that way, but they were rare enough to stick in my mind more than all the times we'd been captured or tortured or killed or frozen or ambushed or served as public defenders or any other manner of nasty things.
The chief of the locals of P7-Pi-R-Squared warned me that demons wandered the town at night. I chalked it up to superstition but didn't stick around to find out either way. Now, I wondered just how factual his claim had been.
/Heads up, guys!/ Rosenburg said, making me jump. /There's more on the way - five from the front and five from the back, just like last time. They should be here soon. I think that's the last of them, but I'm not 100% positive./
/Aw, don't tell us that, red! These guys have pissed me off enough!/ the brunette - Kennedy, I think - said.
/BUFFY!/ Summers' yell reverberated painfully in my skull.
The window to the left of the door burst inwards. A weaponless Buffy sailed through the shattering glass and rolled when she hit the floor. She turned and jumped back through the window. I heard scuffling on the porch before a demon came flying through the broken window. He impacted the bottommost stairs with a bone-wrenching crack. When he stood up again, his right arm hung limply at his side.
Daniel and I shot bolts into his back, making him stagger a little. Buffy jumped back through the window and landed a punch to his gut, followed by a kick to his head and another punch to his chin. He growled and blocked the next punch with his left forearm, and used the same arm to push her off her feet.
Another demon-Slayer pair backed into the foyer through the splintered remains of the doorframe. Neither Danny nor I could get off a clean shot. I wondered how many demons were left.
/Four total from this batch,/ Rosenburg replied. /Ten from the next./
"Dont do that!" I said. "I didn't say you could read my mind."
Somehow, she heard me. /I can't help it. You're projecting./
"I am not!"
Summers cut in. /Willow? Find a spell yet? 'Cause we can really use one!/
/Not yet. Hold on./
/We can't hold on. The next wave's almost here,/ said Kennedy.
/A third batch just showed up on the spells' radar, too - at least locator spells work on them./ Rosenburg announced.
/How many of these things are there?/ asked one of the other girls.
/Way too many,/ Giles said. /We need to regroup./
/Ah, come on, Mr. Giles,/ another of the girls said. /This is awesome!/
/Yes, well, some of us need a breather./
Finally, something that made sense. /I agree. How about that Library upstairs?/
/Library?/ asked Buffy. /What Library?/
/It's what the door in the attic leads to,/ replied Summers. /It's the Watcher Council Library. You need a password in a book to get in./
/We can't all go,/ Kennedy said. /We can't just let these guys trash the place while we're gone./
Giles asked, /Willow, do you think you can find a spell at the Library?/
/I'd have more luck there than here,/ Rosenburg said. /None of these books are any help./
/Okay, then,/ Buffy said. /Dr. Jackson, General Jack, you guys go with Giles and Willow to the Library./
As we talked or thought or whatever, the battle continued. More bolts flew and four more demons fell and dissolved into nothing, effectively killing all of the demons in the current wave.
A silence fell as everyone paused for breath. I looked down into the foyer and met Buffy's eyes, and both of us looked around at the damage. The foyer was completely trashed, and the porch likely was, too.
/Right,/ said Buffy. She was panting heavily, but her mind voice wasn't breathless at all. /Someone get a medkit. Giles, get that book with the password in it./ She nodded at me. /General Jack, Dr. Jackson, Willow, go to the attic./
"General Jack " I muttered as Daniel and I got to our feet and headed for the stairs at the end of the hall. On the way, we met Rosenburg, who appeared through a door dragging a duffel bag behind her. I grabbed the bag and slung its strap over my shoulder, and the three of us thundered up the stairs.
We reached the attic and stopped before the door that lead to the Library. Giles pounded up the stairs a moment later with a book in one hand and his sword in the other. There was a nasty scratch on his left cheek. He set the axe down and flipped through the pages of the book. "Ah! Here it is oh, dear Lord."
A crash came from downstairs. I peered down the stairwell. The second floor corridor was clear, for now.
Willow motioned to the door. "Now would be good, Giles."
He winced but moved to stand before the closed door to the Council Library. "Hopefully, this is the right password."
"Hopefully?" Daniel and I said together.
He shrugged and cleared his throat. "Grease Monkey!"
My jaw dropped. What was he trying to pull?
Willow grabbed the book and looked at the page. She smirked. "And here I thought the Tweed Patrol never had a sense of humor."
"Yes, well, it does change often, thankfully."
Another crash resounded through the house. A rumbling growl came with it, soft at first but getting louder by the second. Buffy shouted from below, "Guys, look out! Incoming!"
Giles twisted the door handle and, miraculously, the door opened.
"Go! Go! Go!" I said, and Dawn and Daniel disappeared through the doorway as one of the demons appeared at the top of the stairs. I shot him, but it only served to piss him off. He growled and charged at me, swinging his axe.
"Crap!" I rushed through the door and pulled the handle, swinging the door closed. The axe soared over my head, barely avoiding my scalp, and embedded itself in the door. The demon glared at me from less than a foot away as he struggled to dislodge his weapon.
The back of his hand collided with my cheek. The duffel bag slid off my shoulder and skidded a few feet away while my back hit the Library's marble floor. Ow! That time I knew I felt some ribs crack.
The green giant jerked his weapon free, took a step inside the library and raised the axe. Ignoring the burning sensation coming from my side as best as I could, I aimed the crossbow and fired. My second bolt hit one of his arms. This time, he staggered a bit.
With a yell, Giles came into view, swung his sword and sent the demon's head flying. Its body faltered, and for one awful moment it looked like it was going to come crashing down on me. A second later, it began to dissolve, sending liquid splattering everywhere.
I tried to scramble out of the way, but I still got some of the stuff on me. I wiped a blob of it off my cheek with my shirt and gagged at the smell. "Yuck!"
"Are you okay?" Rosenburg asked.
I tried to stand and my ribs reminded me just how displeased they were with me. I hissed. "Just peachy. Can you get that door closed?"
Giles tried to pull the door closed and swore. The top hinge had broken and the door now hung at an angle, making it impossible to close it properly.
Daniel looked between Rosenburg and Giles. "What now? Can they still get in?"
Rosenburg winced. "Uh, probably."
She helped me to my feet. My chest ached like hell, but I could walk. Yep, definitely some cracked ribs.
The Library appeared just as Danny and I had left it, minus the rhino-demons, which were thankfully absent. We stood in the central corridor. To either side, open alcoves led to two book-filled wings. The entire place was still marble-lined, and sunlight still streamed through the concealed windows high overhead.
I couldn't hear any sounds of battle coming from behind the semi-closed door, but more demons would undoubtedly be on their way here eventually.
"Getting upstairs would be our best bet," said Giles. "The books we need should be up there, too, fortunately."
"Upstairs?" I hadn't seen any stairs the first time I was there.
"They're in the west wing."
He led the way into the wing Daniel and I hadn't entered last time. The stairs ran along the north wall. Rosenburg, Giles and Daniel pounded up them while I did my best to hobble quickly.
The room upstairs was as wide and long as the downstairs west wing, and large glass windows to one side of the stairwell provided bright, midday light. More shelves with more books filled this room, and there were some tables positioned near the stairwell entrance. Giles set Rosenburg's duffel bag down on a table and took up position across from me at the stairwell.
"I'm almost out of bolts-" said Daniel. Rosenburg reached into the bag and pulled out another quiver full of the things. "Thanks." He quickly loaded two more bolts on his crossbow and slung the new quiver over one shoulder.
Rosenburg dug into the bag and pulled out several satchels and glass vials. "Try looking for something similar to the demon locator spell, since that one worked," she told Giles. "Maybe spells that form maps, or need maps to work."
"Maps, of course." Giles nodded to Daniel. "Uh, if you would give me a hand, Dr. Jackson?"
Daniel set his crossbow and quivers down on the table and followed Giles into the stacks.
I took half the bolts in the extra quiver and resumed my position at the stairwell. "You sure this is going to work?" I asked.
"All depends on if we find a spell." Rosenburg tried to smile. "I wouldn't worry too much, though. If we don't find a spell, we probably won't live long enough for it to matter."
I blinked at her.
"Uh, will Terrain Rituals work?" Daniel asked from somewhere within the stacks.
"Uh, no, rituals are too complex," replied Giles. "Try looking for spells or incantations, something to do with plotting an area of land, or a-ha!"
A couple of growls resounded through the building from below. "Daniel! We're about to have company!" I called.
Giles emerged from the stacks. "Here! Gastra's Geographic Spells. That should do the trick."
Rosenburg grabbed the book, flipped through several pages and stopped. "This one looks promising. Oh, er, is there a map of the Library around here?"
Daniel appeared. He and Giles grabbed their weapons and came to stand beside me.
She rolled her eyes. "Big help there. Guess we'll just have to make one." She grinned nervously and dumped a satchel's contents on the table.
"Bones?" Daniel exclaimed. "Do I even want to know why you have a bag of bones?"
She waved a hand. "Relax, they're rat bones. You wouldn't believe how many dead rats we found in the house in Cleveland when we first moved in."
This was meant to be reassuring? "What did you do with the rest of the rats?" I asked.
"I, er, think it would be best if we didn't talk about it," Giles replied.
The growls were closer. I saw a shadow move at the bottom of the stairs. "Whatever you're going to do, do it now!"
Rosenburg stared at the bones and extended a hand, palm outward. The bones rose to hover above the table. They shifted into place, forming a floating, three-dimensional representation of the interior of the Library.
My jaw dropped, and so did Daniel's. Now that put the chair trick to shame.
She glanced at the page and recited a few words. The bones lit up like blue Christmas lights. I looked to Daniel for a translation, but he just shrugged.
She intoned, this time in English, "Intruders here that shouldn't be, illumine them for all to see."
Four moving green dots, all on the first floor, burst into existence within the 3-D map. One was in the central hall, while the other three were among the stacks.
"Past has passed, and present is present, but future is always approaching. Trap these intruders in the present. Remove them from the realm of time."
A small sphere of pink light blinked into existence in the middle of the map. It slowly expanded, growing larger with every second, until the map was enclosed within it. The sphere of light kept growing, moving faster now. It enveloped the table and Rosenburg, then quickly spread across the rest of the room. Goosebumps traveled down my arms as the spell passed over me. It shot through the walls and disappeared down the stairs.
I looked back at the table. Four pink dots were frozen in place on the first floor of the floating map. Rosenburg dropped her hand, and the bones crashed down to the tabletop. She took a deep breath. "Okay. It's safe now."
"Are you sure?" Giles asked.
"Um, mostly." She collected the bones and packed away all the satchels and vials, and Giles once again shouldered the duffel bag.
"So, we can go now?" Daniel asked.
"Yes." Despite this assurance, Giles kept a steady grip on his axe as he lead the way downstairs.
"What the hell?" I said when I spotted the demon closest to the stairs. He appeared to be outlined by a thick border of pink light. He was frozen in place and didn't budge when we stepped up to him.
I waved two fingers in front of his face. He didn't even blink. I smiled. "Cool. Think you could teach me that one?" I could think of a hundred uses for something like that.
Rosenburg looked apologetic. "I doubt it."
"Good job, Willow," said Giles. She smiled.
The other demons were just as frozen. The second one we saw was at the opposite end of the west wing. A third demon glowed faintly within the east wing, while the forth stood in the middle of the hall. He glared, blankly yet viciously, out of frozen pupils.
We paused in front of the half-destroyed door to the house in Cleveland. Sounds of clanging blades, breaking furniture, feminine grunts and demonic growls reached us.
/Everyone okay down there?/ asked Rosenburg.
/Just grand, babe,/ said Kennedy. /Find a spell yet? We could use it about now./
Rosenburg hurried through the door and disappeared down the hall.
Giles stopped Daniel and I before we could follow her. "Perhaps it would be best if you left now, seeing as we're here," he said.
It took me a minute to remember what he was talking about. "What, you mean the star thingy? That'll really work?" I felt my pants pocket and, sure enough, the silver pendant was still there.
"You sure?" Daniel asked. "You don't need any back-up?"
"Yes, quite sure. While your assistance has been most helpful, with Willow's spell, we should be saving the day shortly." He smiled and held out a hand. "It's been a pleasure to meet you both, though I would like a word on Monday."
Daniel's brow furrowed. "Monday?"
He nodded. "Willow, Buffy, Dawn and I will be flying into Colorado Springs on Monday." He looked hopeful. "Though with that pendant of yours, perhaps we could get there in a more expedient way."
"Yeah, er, we'll call you." I said.
Daniel handed over his crossbow. I told Giles I'd give my crossbow back later. I was a little wary about our frozen friends, though thankfully, they were still doing their impressions of statues.
"No need to worry. The Guardians should take care of them once we have all left the Library," said Giles.
"Emphasis on 'should,'" I said.
"Yes, well." He bid us good-bye and headed into the house.
I glanced at my watch. It was after 4 AM. My knees ached, my ribs ached, and I could really go for a nice, long nap. Not only had I gotten little sleep the night before, but I'd gone out of shape in the months since I'd taken the promotion to general. It would be nice to take a shower and get my ribs bandaged up after we got back to Colorado Springs.
Daniel and I looked at each other, then we turned to look around us. "Well, I guess that's that," he said. "Think the pendant's gonna work?"
I pulled it out. The star's points lit up, one after the other, and a door popped into existence at the south end of the hall.
"Looks like your attic door."
"Yeah." God, this whole thing had been unreal.
We walked toward it, skirting around the demon.
"How's your ribs?" he asked.
"Oh, they've been better."
We reached the door. Daniel took a deep breath, reached out and turned the handle.
The door slid slowly inward. We peered down into the steep stairwell that led from my attic down to the second floor of my house.
We looked back. The Library and the pink contoured, snarling demon were still there.
"You know, I wonder if those creatures from PDY-231 were demons."
I raised an eyebrow. "Where?"
"You know, the planet with that huge sculpture of a candle in the town square."
"Oh. Right. They could have been, I guess." I shook my head and waved him ahead of me, and he stepped down the stairs. I hobbled after him, wincing. "Do you suppose that guy on P7-Pie-something-something was telling the truth about the-"
A low growl stopped me in my tracks. Yelling in pain, I turned, raised the crossbow and fired. The demon, no longer outlined in pink, let out a cry of rage and staggered back. He quickly recovered his balance and rushed at me. I didn't have time to load another bolt.
"Oh, crap!" I scurried through the doorway and pushed the door shut as the demon closed on us.
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