Sorry about the delay between parts. *g* I know I drove many of you nuts.
On top of a small hill covered in rocks, Snydinni and Larry watched in amazement as the MIB came running across a field.
"INCONCIEVABLE!!" shrieked Snydinni. Reaching up, he pulled Buffycup from Larry's arms, where the giant had been carrying her for the last ten miles (because, hey, when you have a really strong guy with you, you might as well have him carry the luggage). "I'll keep heading to the LA border."
"What do I do?" Larry asked.
"Finish him, finish him, *your* way." the little man was dragging Buffycup along as he started to skitter away. However, he was still in hearing distance when Larry muttered, "Now which way's my way?"
Turning, Snydinni addressed Larry in the same manner that you address very slow children or very opinionated teenage boys.
"Hide behind one of those boulders. In a little while the Man In Black will come running around the bend. The minute his *head* is in view, HIT IT WITH A ROCK!"
Once the little man was out of sight, Larry murmured, "My way isn't very sportsmanlike."
Picking up a rock, he did as he was told and hid behind a boulder. Just as Snydinni had predicted, the Man In Black was only a few minutes behind them. However, the MIB was cautious, and walked slowly and carefully around the bend. He also had excellent reflexes, as was evidenced by the fact that the rock had barely skimmed past his face when his sword was unsheathed and ready.
Larry stepped from behind the boulder, a second large rock in his hand. "I did that on purpose," he said, "I didn't have to miss."
"I believe you." said the Man In Black, his dark eyes quickly assessing the situation. For a long moment, neither man moved. "So what do we do now?" the MIB asked finally.
"We fight each other as Joss intended." Larry responded. "No tricks, no weapons, skill against skill alone."
Understanding lit up the masked man's brown eyes. "You mean, I'll put down my sword and you'll put down your rock and we'll try and kill each other like civilized people?"
"I could kill you now," Larry offered helpfully, lifting his rock slightly. Carefully, the masked man lowered his sword to the ground, clearly understanding that this was his one shot to get past the giant.
"I think the odds are *slightly* in your favor at hand fighting." he pointed out, no doubt realizing that there was a difference of a foot of height and at least a hundred pounds of weight between them.
"It's not my fault that I'm the biggest and the strongest," Larry said with a shrug as he tossed his rock away, "I don't even exercise beyond the occasional Tai-Bo."
With that, the fight began. From the beginning, it was painfully obvious that Larry was the obvious person to bet on. The masked man's attacks could do nothing to the giant, but fortunately he was also quick enough to avoid Larry's attacks. The tides turned, however, when the MIB jumped onto Larry's back, and slowly began to suffocate the large man.
"I didn't think that you would give me so much trouble." Larry gasped as he passed out.
After a long moment, the MIB rolled the jock over. Quickly checking the pulse in the large man's neck to see that he would recover, the masked man retrieved his sword and ran on.
Meanwhile, back at the Cliffs of Insanity...
"There was a great duel." Prince Angelus said, examining the tracks in the sand.
"So?" asked Count William. "Why don't we find your Slayer already? I'm *bored*."
Ignoring him, the Prince continued. "The loser ran off alone, but the winner followed those tracks towards LA." His dark eyes narrowing, he glared off at nothing for a long moment.
"Should we kill them both?" Count William asked, for the first time looking interested. Everyone needs a hobby, and killing was the Count's.
"The loser is nothing," the Prince said, "only the princess matters. Clearly this was all planned by warriors of LA. We must all be prepared for whatever lies ahead." the Prince attempted to jump onto his horse, and nearly missed, forcing him to struggle into the saddle. Most of the soldiers were polite enough to look away (knowing that Prince Angelus could and would beat the stuffing out of them) but the Count just grinned.
With much fanfare, the party rode off.
About three miles away...
The Man In Black stepped carefully around the corner, and was met with quite a sight. Snydinni had given up trying to outrun the MIB, so he had set up a little picnic on a large boulder while holding a knife to Buffycup's throat. All in all, it didn't look all that promising.
"So," said Snydinni, "it is down to you, and it is down to me." He watched with sharp eyes as the MIB stepped slowly forward.
"Let me explain." said the MIB with a charming smile.
"There's nothing to explain," snapped Snydinni, pressing his knife closer to Buffycup's neck, "you're trying to kidnap what I've rightfully stolen."
"We seem to be at an impasse than," said the MIB reasonably, "so let me propose a battle of wits."
"For the Slayer?"
The MIB nodded.
"To the *death*?"
The MIB nodded.
"Excellent!" Snydinni said cheerfully, putting away his knife.
"Pour the beer." the MIB instructed, settling himself comfortably on a conveniently-placed rock. As the bald man did so into two paper cups, the MIB reached into the pocket of his black jeans and pulled out a small vial. Passing it to Snydinni, he instructed, "Inhale this, but do not touch."
Snydinni gave it a quick whiff, but said, "I don't smell a thing."
"What you do not smell is Machida drool. It is odorless, tasteless, dissolves instantly in water, and is among the most deadly poisons known to man."
"Nice." complimented Snydinni. Taking the two paper cups, the MIB carefully turned around and poured the drool. Turning back around, he mixed the drinks up and placed them down.
"Where is the poison? The battle of wits has begun. It ends when you choose, and we each drink. Then we find out who is right - and who is dead."
Snydinni gave a smirk, which wasn't very pleasant as it showed off his lack of dental hygiene. "It's so simple," he gloated, "I just have to devine what I know of you. Only a great fool would reach for what he was given, I am not a great fool, so I can clearly not drink the beer in front of me. However, you might've counted on that, so I can clearly not drink the beer in front of you."
"Have you made your choice?" asked the MIB, looking slightly bemused.
"Not remotely." said Snydinni cheerfully. "Because Machida drool is harvested by Frat Boys, as everyone knows, and Frat Boys are used to having people not trust drinks that are handed to them, so I can clearly not drink the beer in front of me."
"You're just stalling now." the MIB said, shifting around uncomfortably.
"You'd like to think that, wouldn't you?" snapped the bald man. "You've beaten my football jock, so you are very strong. Counting on your strength to save you, you might've put the poison in your own beer, so I can clearly not choose the cup in front of you. However, you've also beaten my musician, which means that you must've gone to high school. And in going to high school, you would've learned - hopefully - that man is mortal, and so you would've put the poison as far away from yourself as possible!"
"You think that I'm going to give something away, but it isn't going to work."
"It *has* worked, you've given everything away!"
"Than make your choice." said the MIB, his dark eyes narrowing dangerously.
Snydinni began to reach forward, but stopped suddenly and gave a very obvious fake gasp. "Wait, is that Amy Yipp at the waterslide park?"
"What? Where?" asked the MIB, turning around so quickly that he nearly gave himself whiplash. He also gave Snydinni enough time to switch paper cups. Facing Snydinni once again, the MIB said, "I don't see anything."
"Nevermind," said Snydinni, smirking, "let's drink. Me from my beer, and you from yours."
Reaching out, both men picked up the cups and chugged their beer. Putting his cup back down, the MIB grinned. "You guessed wrong."
"You only think I did!" gloated Snydinni. "You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! The most well known is 'Never get involved with a vampire with or without a soul', but only slightly well-known is *this*, 'Never go in against a high school principal when death is on the line'!" Snydinni began laughing hysterically-
-then two seconds later keeled over dead, but at least he died happy.
The MIB crept around the boulder to where Buffycup was seated, and gently removed the blindfold from around her eyes. Her green eyes observed him narrowly as she snapped out, "Who are you?"
Now, most men, when confronted with an extremely brassed off Slayer would be heading to minimum safe distance, but the Man In Black was made of sterner stuff.
"I'm no one to be trifled with, and that's all that you ever need to know." he snapped right back. As he bent down and untied her hands and feet, Buffycup looked over to where the bald man was still twitching slightly.
"So all the time the drool was in your cup?"
The MIB gave her a quick grin as he pulled her to her feet. "They were both poisoned. I spent the last few years developing an immunity to Machida drool."
With that, he grabbed Buffycup's hand and set out running.
About a mile and a half behind them....
"Someone has beaten a jock." fumed Angelus as he examined the rocky terrain.
"How the bloody 'ell can you tell?" asked Count Spike, trying to figure out how *anyone* could read any signs on a bed of rock. Ignoring him completely, Prince Angelus merely struck a pose and proclaimed, "There will be great suffering in LA if she dies."
Climbing onto his horse (having learned his lesson about jumping onto them), the Prince galloped away with his men behind him.
Ahead of them, but closer all the time.....
The MIB and Buffycup had been running for around an hour, and while usually Buffycup would've been pretty fine with this, she'd had a really rough day and was tired. So when the MIB suddenly halted and shoved her onto a convenient boulder with the curt order to rest, she decided that it was time to bargain.
"If you release me, anything you ask for will be yours! I promise!" she said, giving him her best I'm-A-Lovely-Maiden-In-Distress-Don't-You-Want-To-Do-Anything-I-Ask? look.
Unfortunately, the MIB seemed immune to The Look. He gave a brief bark of laughter, and looked at her with an odd smirk. "And what is that worth? The promise of a woman?"
Buffycup was usually a pretty cool Slayer, but when confronted with blatant chauvinism she tended to get pissed. And as we've mentioned before, she really hadn't been having a snazzy day.
"I was giving you a chance," she snapped, "there's no greater hunter in the world than Prince Angelus. He can track a demon through a sewer in a rainstorm - he can find you!"
"You think your dearest love will save you?" the MIB asked.
"I never said he was my dearest love!" Buffycup said in surprised annoyance, "But he will rescue me, that I know." Buffycup had great faith in two characteristics of her fiance. The first was that whenever they ate out he would end up arguing with the waiter, and the second was that he could track anything. After all, arguing with waiters over bills and hunting were his two favorite pastimes.
"You admit that you do not love your fiance?" looking up, Buffycup noticed a strange intensity in his dark eyes. Disturbed, she turned away, finding strange fascination with a patch of grass.
"He knows I do not love him." she murmured, absently twisting a strand of her blond hair in one hand.
"You're incapable of love is more like it." said the MIB derisively.
Buffycup's head immediately snapped up, and her eyes were like ice. "I have loved more deeply," she hissed, "than a killer like you could even dream!"
Even before she had finished, the dark-gloved hand of the MIB was speeding towards her face. While she prepared for the blow, to her surprise it merely skimmed past her face, and all that hit her was a quick breeze.
Grabbing her arm, the MIB held her in a painful grip while he spoke in a tightly controlled voice.
"That was a warning, highness." he said, "The next time won't be. Where I come from, there are penalties when a woman lies." Pulling her from the rock she was resting on, he once again began to run, and she was forced to follow.
Back at the picnic.....
Angelus knelt next to the corpse of Snydinni, carefully sniffing at the first paper cup of beer while Count Spike began drinking from the other.
"Machida drool," he pronounced after smelling the odorless additant. Behind him, Count Spike spit out a mouthful of beer. "And there are the Slayer's footprints! She was alive, or was, an hour ago. If she is otherwise when I find her, I shall be very put out."
Once again everyone saddled up and rode off with plenty of fanfare.
Am I going to have to keep explaining these scene changes?......
Coming to the edge of a very large hill, the MIB once again ordered, "Rest, highness."
Leaning against yet another well-placed rock, Buffycup (who had been spending the last few miles seething) said, "I know who you are. Your cruelty reveals everything. You're the Dread Pirate Roberts, admit it!"
"With pride." said the MIB, with a flamboyant bow. "What can I do for you?"
"You can die painfully, torn apart by a thousand slugs with pins." she responded. The MIB tsked softly in disapproval.
"Hardly complimentary, Highness," he said. "Why waste your insults on me?"
"You killed my love." Buffycup said, her wide eyes filled with remembered pain.
"It's possible." the MIB said casually. "I kill a lot of people. What was this love of yours like? Another one like your prince? Ugly, rich, and scabby?" settling himself comfortably on the grass, the MIB waited for her answer, which was quick in coming.
"No!" she denied, "He was a research boy. Poor. Poor and perfect. And his eyes...." for a moment, she lost herself in the memory of her lost love, but she quickly rallied. "On the high seas your ship attacked, and you never leave captives alive!"
"Can't be making exceptions," the MIB said amiably. "Once word gets around that a pirate's been getting soft, then it's nothing but work, work, work all the time!"
"You mock my pain!" Buffycup's words were torn with pain.
"Life *is* pain, Highness." the MIB shot back. "Anyone who says otherwise is selling something." rising from his lounging position, he paced back and forth for a moment before again returning his gaze to the Slayer. "I believe I remember this research boy of yours," he said. "This would be, what, five years ago?" Taking her silence as confirmation, he continued. "He died well, that should please you. None of the usual blubbering or bribery attempts. He only said, 'Please, please I have to live'." Buffycup was silent, but from the tilt of her head, the MIB knew that she was hanging upon his every word. Her face softened as she thought back to the only man she had ever loved.
"Twas' the 'please' that caught my memory. I asked him what was so important. 'True love,' he replied. He went on to describe a woman of surpassing beauty and faithfulness, I can only assume he meant you." there was a long silence as both were lost in their memories. Then, the MIB turned a cold gaze onto Buffycup and said, "You should thank me that I destroyed him before he found out what you *really* are."
Jumping to her feet, Buffycup met his eyes. "And *what* am I?" she asked dangerously.
"Faithfulness, he spoke of," the MIB said, his voice harsh with some strange anger. "Your enduring faithfulness. Now tell me truly, Slayer, when you found out that he was dead, did you get engaged that same hour, or did you wait a whole week out of respect for the dead?"
"You mocked me once, never do it again!" Buffycup responded, her fists clenched in rage. "I *DIED* THAT DAY."
A trumpet call was heard in the distance, and the MIB whirled around to see Angelus' men on the next hill. So he was too distracted to block the hand that Buffycup slammed into his face.
"And you can die too, for all I care!" she called as he began rolling down the hill. She started to walk away, but halted as three words came drifting up to her.