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Xander Harris finds himself torn between his unrequited love for Buffy, his feelings toward his best friend Willow, and his tumultuous romance with Cordelia. Original.
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Keith R.A. DeCandido was born and raised in New York City to a family of librarians. He has written over two dozen novels, as well as short stories, nonfiction, eBooks, and comic books, most of them in various media universes, among them Star Trek, World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Marvel Comics, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity, Resident Evil, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Farscape, Xena, and Doctor Who. His original novel Dragon Precinct was published in 2004, and he's also edited several anthologies, among them the award-nominated Imaginings and two Star Trek anthologies. Keith is also a musician, having played percussion for the bands the Don't Quit Your Day Job Players, the Boogie Knights, and the Randy Bandits, as well as several solo acts. In what he laughingly calls his spare time, Keith follows the New York Yankees and practices kenshikai karate. He still lives in New York City with his girlfriend and two insane cats.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
The vampire's attack caught the kids in the Bronze completely off guard. Even Buffy, the Slayer of vampires, the Chosen One, wasn't ready. She tried to fight the monster, but he was too much for her. A girl screamed as the vampire threw Buffy onto the Bronze's red pool table. Then the undead creature got ready to pounce. Fear showed on the Slayer's face. She was helpless. Would this be the end?
Not if I could help it.
"May I cut in?" I said as I grabbed the vampire from behind.
The vampire tried to go for my throat, but I was ready for him. I slammed his head into the edge of the pool table, stood him up, then gave him a blow to the stomach and a sock to the jaw that sent the creature of the night careening across the room.
I then went over to the pool table and helped Buffly up. She looked stunning in her low-cut red dress. "Are you all right?" I asked, staring into her deep blue eyes.
Those eyes stared back at me with gratitude -- and longing. "Thanks to you," she said breathlessly, taking my hand in hers. She looked down and said, "You hurt your hand."
I followed her gaze. I hadn't even noticed the pain. After all, there was a job that needed doing. What did a small slicing-open of the skin matter to me?
"Will you still be able to -- ?" Buffy started asking before her voice caught.
I completed the question: "Finish my solo and then kiss you like you've never been kissed before?"
She nodded, smitten. I smiled. Around me, all the girls in the Bronze seemed to melt. Some shot venomous looks at Buffy, as if to say, Why her? What did she do to deserve him?
Nobody noticed that the vampire was stirring. I did, but pretended not to while I headed back to the stage and my abandoned guitar. As I passed by an overturned table, I yanked off one of its legs, whirled, and threw it unerringly at the now-upright vampire, all in one smooth motion. The makeshift stake found its target. The vampire fell to the ground and crumbled to dust.
Buffy clasped her hands over her heart, tears started to form in her eyes. What can I say? I have that effect on women.
I leaped back onto the stage, picked up my Fender guitar, and proceeded to whomp out one of the many killer solos in my extensive repertoire.
In front of me, Buffy walked up to the base of the stage and said, "You're drooling.
"Xander, you've got a little..." Buffy Summers said, indicating her chin.
Xander blinked, then wiped at his chin. Sure enough, there had been drool.
On the one hand, he was grateful to Buffy for alerting him to the drool thing before the lights went up in biology class. On the other hand, he really would rather have stayed in his fantasy until Dr. Gregory's even-more-dull-than-one-could-possibly-imagine slideshow ended.
Sitting at the black Formica lab table that he shared with Willow Rosenberg, he tried to figure out what the teacher was talking about.
"...ancestors were here long before we were. Their progeny will be here long after we are gone."
Whose progeny? Xander thought, suddenly panicking. What is he talking about? He looked over at Willow, who was, of course, rapt, hanging on Dr. Gregory's every word.
Just as he was about to whisper a question to Willow, the teacher said, "The simple and ubiquitous ant."
Ah, good. Ants, Xander thought, relieved. I know ants. I've been stepping on them since I was a kid.
Then Dr. Gregory shut the slide projector off and turned on the lights. Suddenly, Xander was grateful that Buffy had brought him back to earth when she did. Another minute, and his drool would have been on display for all the class to see.
Dr. Michael Gregory stared out at his students through his distance glasses as he turned the lights on. As expected, about half the students looked like they had just been awakened from a sound sleep. He enjoyed doing slideshows, not for their educational value, but so he could see who was actually paying attention. Naturally, Rosenberg was completely alert. Just as naturally, her lab partner, Harris, wasn't.
To his disappointment, the pair at the table next to them, Summers and Mall, weren't either.
From Mall, he expected it. A football star, Blayne Mall had brains and decent grades, though not as good as they should have been. He saw sports as his life and school only as a necessary evil.
But from Buffy Summers, the new transfer student, Dr. Gregory had been hoping for more.
Walking down the middle aisle between the two rows of lab tables, he said, "Now, if you read the homework," and he noticed several students squirming at that, "you should know the two ways that ants communicate. Ms. Summers?"
Summers got the deer-in-headlights look that characterized the high school student who had no clue. "Ways that ants communicate..." she said, using the classic stall of repeating the question.
Dr. Gregory nodded.
"With other ants..." she added, extending the stall.
"From the homework," he repeated, "ants are communicating..."
Summers was now making eye contact with a point just over his right shoulder. "Uhm, uh, touch -- and, um -- B.O.?" Obviously, Rosenberg was giving her hints: probably touching and smelling Harris.
Laughter spread throughout the class. Next to her, Mall said, "Thank God someone finally found the courage to mention that."
Ignoring him, Dr. Gregory said, "That would be touch and smell, Ms. Summers. Is there anything else Ms. Rosenberg would like to tell you?" The teacher didn't have to turn around to see Rosenberg's patented guilty look.
Then the bell rang. Before it even finished, the sound of stools scraping linoleum could be heard as students got up and prepared to bolt to their next class. "All right, chapters six through eight by tomorrow, people," he called out over the din, then turned back to Summers. "Can I see you for a moment?"
Again, Summers got the deer-in-headlights look.
As the other students filed out, Dr. Gregory noticed Mall calling out to one of the girls walking by in the hall. "Cheryl, wait up, doll."
"Doll"? the teacher thought. Haven't heard anyone use that since I was in high school.
Mall turned to Harris. "Isn't she something? Do you know what a woman like that wants?" Before Harris had the chance to reply, Mall said, "No, I guess you wouldn't."
As the football player walked off with a grin on his face, Harris called out: "Something really cutting!" Then he turned to Rosenberg. "Sometimes I just go with the generic insult."
Nodding, Rosenberg said, "Why pay more for the brand name?"
Dr. Gregory shook his head. If they devoted as much time to studying as they did to their witticisms, the whole class would be in the National Honor Society.
After a few moments, the class was empty, except for Dr. Gregory -- who had no class to teach this period -- and Summers.
As he gathered up the slides he needed to go through for his next class, he said to her, "I gather you had a few problems at your last school."
"Well, what teenager doesn't?"
"Cut school," he said, checking a couple of the slides to make sure they were the right set, "get in fights, burn down the gymnasium?" She seemed surprised that he knew all this, so he added, "Principal Flutie showed me your permanent record."
"Look, that fire," she said, stammering, "I mean, there were major extenuating circumstances. Actually, it's kind of funny."
He walked over to the closet to retrieve his reading glasses. "I can't wait to see what you're going to do here -- "
"Destructo-girl, that's me," she said ruefully.
"But I suspect it's going to be great."
This time Summers looked confused. "You mean 'great' in a bad way?"
Dr. Gregory smiled as he cleaned off his reading glasses with his tie. "You've got a first-rate mind and you can think on your feet. Imagine what you could accomplish if you actually did the -- "
"The homework thing?"
"The homework thing," he repeated. "I understand you probably have a good excuse for not doing it. Amazingly enough, I don't care. I know you can excel in this class and so I expect no less. Is that clear?"
"Yeah," she said. "Sorry."
Students always said they were sorry. Just once, he wanted one to mean it. "Don't be sorry. Be smart. And please don't listen to the principal or anyone else's negative opinion about you. Let's make them eat that permanent record. What do you say?"
Summers smiled a genuine smile, which was exactly what Dr. Gregory was hoping for. "Okay. Thanks," she said.
Dr. Gregory returned the smile. "Chapters six through eight."
Nodding resolutely, Summers left the room.
As he put on his reading glasses and turned his attention back to the slides on his desk, Dr. Gregory thought, A good reaction. Amazing what a difference it makes when you treat them like human beings.
He once again turned off the fluorescent overhead lights and switched the lightboard on. The slides were for the advanced-placement, college-level class of seniors tomorrow morning. No worries about them nodding off during the slideshow.
Peering at the slide, he saw that it was, as expected, from a species of salamander. As a general rule, Michael Gregory preferred reptiles and amphibians. He found their habits much more fascinating. Insects just didn't interest him, and he would be grateful when the sophomores moved on to something else in another two weeks.
A strange noise sounded from behind him. He thought he heard something shuffling.
Then he was grabbed by the neck and yanked from his stool. His reading glasses went flying onto the floor.
The last thing Dr. Gregory saw was what looked like huge mandibles.
His last thought was, But that's impossible.
Copyright © 1999 by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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Book Description Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Free Upgrade to 1st Class shipping for standard cost. Excellent Trade PB: NEW! May have very light normal shelf edge wear. Most 1st Class arrive 2-6 business days. Most intl arrive 4-10 business days. Choose Expedited or 2 day for faster delivery. Seller Inventory # 931010073
Book Description Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 1999. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0671026291
Book Description Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0671026291
Book Description Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 1999. Mass Market Paperback. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110671026291