Gems

Gems

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I’m in the doghouse. Literally. I’m under instructions to find the puppy and say sorry. Oh, yes, our assorted household now includes a fat little puppy, penance of a sort for the one I nailed to a door, back in the day. That was a long time ago, but it came back to bite me on the karmic ass. It even looks the same…

I kicked it, you see. Oh, not a full-blown kick – I knew I’d get staked or eviscerated for that, but it came sniffing and whining, just when I thought I was the only one in the sniffing and whining mood, so I gave it a commiserating boot. I, too, had failed to please.

She’s in her fifties now – I won’t tell you exactly how old, because I’ll be in trouble again – and going through the change. You know? Hormones everywhere. It got even worse when we had to go to the hospital recently, and the young doctor wondered if I was her son. She needed cheering up after that. She wanted something to go with her new dress. It’s in ashes-of-roses silk. It might sound suitable for an ageing dowager, but actually it’s beautiful, because she still is.

She wanted sapphires. I said, ‘not with that colour’, but I was wrong again, so I went to get the sapphires. I wanted the best I could find, which means a Sapira demon. They’re native to Sri Lanka, and they have digestive systems similar to birds or dinosaurs. They need gizzard stones to act like the teeth they haven’t got. They invariably choose the finest Sri Lankan sapphires. You know how watches have something like a twenty-one jewel movement? The analogy is good.

They come to this hemisphere annually, to nest. They choose a small section of cliff, isolated from anything human, and feed on the billions of sardines brought up by the Humboldt Current.

I drive hundreds of miles, almost getting toasted in the process, to find this bleak stretch of coastline. There’s a lot of rainforest there – do you know, they even have flies that bite *vampires*, damn it! I’ve never itched so much in all my life. Well, not since…

Then I have to catch my Sapira. I want an old one, with the full complement of twenty-one stones. The old ones are big, and vicious, and because they haven’t got teeth doesn’t mean they can’t fight back. They’ve got saw-edged beaks, huge talons on all four feet and grappling hooks on both wings. And their bite is poisonous.

It’s bad enough climbing down to the nesting site in the dark – this cliff is not only sheer, but very crumbly. I make one mistake that first night, and finish up with a several hundred-foot drop and a splash down into a sea of sardines. Of course, the sardines aren’t alone. They’re accompanied by sharks, dolphins, killer whales – and even bigger whales of various breeds – and lots of diving birds. When I get back to the cliff, I’m bleeding a lot and I’m not a happy camper.

The next night I try again. The first Sapira manages to get its talons hooked in, and drops me back amongst the sardines.

The third night is better. I manage to hang on with fang and claw, and we have this midair dogfight as the demon tries to shake me off. It’s about three times my size and very tenacious. Eventually, I manage to slash its throat. I hope for a crash down, but it’s a splashdown again. Have you ever tried lugging a body that’s three times your weight out of the ocean, and up a sheer and crumbling cliff face, under the sustained attacks of the body’s relatives? No? I don’t recommend it.

Daybreak comes just as I’m heaving the beast over the cliff-top. There’s only one thing for it. I slash its abdomen open and hunker down amongst the bloody innards. Do not ever ask me about that day. There was another alternative, I suppose. I could have gone back amongst the sardines. No thanks.

Movement is a little difficult, not only because of my cramped accommodations, but also because the demon did me some serious damage. Nevertheless, I spend time sifting through the assorted innards until I find the crop – a huge, muscular thing – and inside are twenty-one deep blue, perfect, egg-shaped sapphires. They’re beautiful. She will love them. They will make her feel better. That’s all that’s important.

By dusk, I never want to see a Sapira again. My injuries are half-healed, but my clothes are a hundred percent ruined. I check into a sleazy motel on the way back, to clean up and change, and to finish the healing process.

When I get back, she’s in bed, but not asleep. I spoon up behind her and give her a hug. She puts the light on, and I can tell that she’s got a king-sized grouch on.

“Where have you been? You never called to say where you were. You’re so thoughtless, and you only care about yourself. You never think about me, here on my own…”

I shut her up with a kiss, and as I do so, I reach into my pocket and pull out the twenty-one stones, tipping them onto the bed in front of her. She feels the weight of them, and breaks the kiss.

“All because the lady loves…” I don’t finish the quote – that guy in the advert had a cushy job compared to what I’ve just done. She picks up one of the stones.

“Very pretty,” she says, but with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. “I hope they weren’t expensive, because I think you were right. Blue doesn’t go with that dress. Perhaps pearls would be better – you know, black ones, maybe.”

That’s when the puppy came whining round, and that’s when I kicked him. I was the Scourge of Europe, and now I’m the Scourge of whatever she tells me to be. I’m as evil as any demon birthed on this planet, but I’ve got nothing on a woman driven by hormones, believe me. Right, pearls next.

THE END
17 August 2004

Author's Notes:
Distribution: The Angel Texts http://octavesoftheheart.com/angeltexts/ ; Dark Star’s Blood Roses Forum; The Angel Elders Mansion http://tv.groups.yahoo.com/group/angel_elders_mansion/ You want it? Really? Gosh. Just tell me where it’s going please.
Spoilers: None
Rating: General
Content: Angelus and Buffy in the future.
Summary: Think of the guy doing all the death-defying feats in the Milk Tray advert….
Written for Dark Star at the Blood Roses Forum, to celebrate its first birthday.

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