Chapter Four (Repost)
In a dark room a cloaked figure sat in a consecrated circle staring intently at a sweetly smoking, steadily burning candle. The aromatic smoke from the lone candle swirled in intricate patterns along the walls caressing them. Seemingly inviting the smoky embrace around the room symbols and icons of various goddesses had been applied to the walls to reduce the amount of mystical interference. Here and there through the room glimmers of randomly colored light flickered and disappeared.
Minutes passed in silence as the figure’s concentration increased. Finally the candle wax was exhausted and the flame flickered and went out. The smoke stopped it stately dance and dispersed normally. The lights died away with an almost subaudible sigh. With a feminine sob of anguish the figure collapsed in on herself and cried.
Almost instantly the door to the room was thrown open and Kennedy leaped through to comfort her lover. Her arms went around Willows waist as she wrapped her body around the young witch. Enfolded in Kennedy’s arms Willow soon quieted.
Slowly Willow pulled back revealing her tear-stained face. “They don’t hear me. I call and I call and they don’t hear me.”
Kennedy clasped Willows head to her chest and rocked back and forth comfortingly. “Who are you calling?”
Restored a little by her friend’s nearness Willow responded more steadily. “Hera, Diana, Osiris, Hecate, Aradia, None of them are listening. I thought for sure Hecate would. I used to call on her all the time.”
The rocking stops and Willows eyes opened to look at Kennedy.
Kennedy’s face was covered in shadows and silence.
Willow looked concerned and shifted to better see her face in the dim light. “You alright?”
Slowly the Mexican’s eyes opened revealing glowing yellow irises. The shadow pulled away like a veil dropping from her face revealing a demonic visage that Willow had always associated with vengeance demons. “Maybe you just pissed one of them off.” Her mouth opens revealing pointed saliva slicked teeth. As Willow struggles vainly to free herself the mouth descended.
For the third time in as many nights Willow Rosenberg woke screaming in her bed. The shock of waking from a nightmare wasn’t getting any less though. In a couple breaths she managed to calm herself as she rolled over to look for Kennedy. Silently she cursed as memory caught up to her waking state.
Initially Kennedy had been a rock to cling to when the pair had made their way back to castle that now housed the Slayer/Watcher organization. But, in the past few weeks they had begun drifting apart to where Kennedy now slept in a room a few doors down. No, in truth she had been driving Kennedy away. While she still loved the fiery Latino there was a growing problem in their relationship that Willow just couldn’t face right now. The nightmares were just the latest in a long line of signs that something just wasn’t right.
The first had been when she dreamed of Xander for the first time in years. Waking up with your ex-best friends name on your lips during an obvious erotic dream was not the way to endear oneself to one’s lover. To be fair Kennedy had accepted her explanation and forgave her… the first time.
With a heartfelt sigh Willow forced herself out of bed and stumbled towards the bathroom. The dressing gown she used in place of her cute pajamas stuck to her sweaty skin making her feel clammy in the castles cool air. This last dream was just a little TOO blatant. She’d have to get down to the library and figure out what was going on before it got any worse. With any luck it would be something she could apologize for or correct quickly. Even without the extra senses that her powers had given her she could feel something big coming. She needed those powers back soon. The issues with Kennedy would have to wait.
Reveling in his returned strength and speed Ranma turned a mid air cartwheel over a street gap as he bounded from rooftop to rooftop. The cold night air felt so goddamn good against his male skin he thought he’d scream in joy. His mother had bought him another set of his favorite silk Chinese togs to fit his male body and the silk snapped and cracked in the wind.
He stretched every sense he had to its utmost to suck in the sensations. With the removal of the Slayer spell he’d lost the magical urging that would put him in the right place at the right time. Luckily, his ki-enhanced senses were almost as good and in many ways better. Flickers of emotion were evaluated and cataloged and for the most part dismissed subconsciously as he almost flew over people’s homes. He was practicing a variation of a ki flight technique with each jump extending his air time and distance. Here and there anger sparked but there wasn’t the fear taste that Ranma had learned to associate with his intended prey. More specifically his prey’s would be prey.
As he glided almost soundless across the flat roof of a department store he mused on the differences between what he would have been doing normally and what the Slayer spell would have urged him to do. Vampires, as such, were pretty rare in Japan and most other Asian countries that practiced cremation. It was rare instance where a corpse was both bitten and remained unburned for more than the time required. However, other supernatural entities both good and bad abounded throughout the land. Japan had never lost touch with its heritage the way many western countries had. This had both helped and hindered its progress against the worst of the supernatural.
Ranma smiled as his mind noticed the multi-syllabic word his thoughts had thrown up. It was taking time but the damage of a decade was slowly being reversed as Cologne and his mother pounded an education into his skull. Even he admitted it was a difficult undertaking. It wasn’t that he was stupid but up until all these problems had begun he hadn’t been able to find the time. Oddly enough the destruction of his life had freed up the time he’d needed to remedy his lack. Being a martial artist required a LOT of training. Being the best took almost constant practice.
A tweak of horror tinged fear registered like an alarm on his mind and he changed course accordingly. As he got closer to the source a feral smile spread across his face there was more than one and from the emanations they were at least going to be a small chance to practice. If he was lucky they might even be a challenge.
It took more concentration than he would have liked but he quickly invoked the old pervert’s extra-dimensional warp. He’d really need to practice it more now that he could use his ki. Two more quick leaps took him to the top of a couples club. Unseen by any he made a disgusted face. Sex demons of any kind were particularly odious to the Saotome heir. With his curse it was all too easy to picture himself as the victim no matter which gender the demon preferred.
Looking back he’d have forgiven his old man the many and extremely varied transgressions against his only child even if they hadn’t been the old panda’s fault. It was almost funny if it wasn’t so sad. Genma really couldn’t help being a shortsighted glutton and idiot. Happosai’s spells did their work a little too well. The man that had briefly returned to his mother was one that Ranma was proud to call father.
While he was glad that he’d never again have to choose between them he’d forgo being a guy forever rather than have his ki locked up again.
The torch lit limestone cave echoed with the sounds of combat as the demon killing team supreme began mopping up the last of their varied opponents.
Dressed in body-hugging leather and black denim, Xander narrowly dodged the claw his demonic opponent was aiming at his throat. He was tired, thirsty and sore but he was having the time of his life. With a final thrust he stabbed the dog headed demon in the heart, dropping it and spun to help his compatriots.
Buffy spun her scythe in a tight arc taking out a trio of vampires trying to form a ring around her. All three jumped back and smirked at her with bared fangs. Her matching leather and denim outfit had a few rips in it but she seemed largely unruffled by the odds against her. In a fountain of dust and ash the three foes disintegrated. With a bound she flipped over the head of a fourth that had obviously thought itself safely out of reach. The wooden point on the end punched back ending the fourth vampire’s existence.
Surrounded by a field of arcing purple magic Willow Rosenberg floated serenely above the ground as the last of her insectoid enemies flailed ineffectively at her. In contrast to both Buffy and Xander her combat clothing bore many splatters of multi-colored gore. In a flurry of magical violence the powerful witch ripped the mantis-like demon open splashing its insect innards all over the room.
As the three demon slayers came back together near the steaming pool of water in the center of the room Willow started trying to get the innards off of her outfit. “Why do I keep getting the ones that die in a disgusting shower of slime? It’s like being doused with …” She paused. “There really isn’t a good metaphor for this.”
Xander shrugged. “At least if something similar happens again you can compare it to this. I can just see it. This is just like being coated in insect guts.” He smiled, “Of course we still won’t know what it feels like but you’ll have gotten something out of it at least.”
Buffy pulled at her ruined uniform slightly causing the tore up clothing to part in several critical areas. “At least you can magic yours clean. Mine’s going to have to be replaced. And I keep getting that dusty, itchy feeling where vamp dust gets into it.”
Willow got a horrified look on her face and pulled the top away from her body and looked down. “Ew. I got some of those innards down my top.”
Buffy looked at Willow. “Then I guess we’ll just have to strip and wash right here.” Her eyes lit up as she faced the only male member of the group. “Xander will help won’t you?” she asked as she began to strip.
“Yeah! Come on Xander! We haven’t bathed together in a long time.”
Buffy eyed the witch. “What!?”
“We were six.”
Xander eyed the pool of hot water which was beginning to form a suspiciously bubble bath like foam and then the rapidly disrobing females and narrowed his eyes. “God-dammit! I’m dreaming aren’t I?”
As the dream bodies of his friends dissolved leaving just the cave behind he heard a voice behind him. “Took you long enough. It was getting a bit steamy in here.”
“That’s just the geo-thermal vent.” Xander replied as he turned around. “What are you doing her Will?”
Dressed in a back frilly dress MUCH more conservative then the outfit her dream counterpart Willow stepped out of the shadows. “You mean other than watching your fantasies? By the way, the outfits?”
Xander sat heavily on a convenient rock. “Smith and Warren’s Dirty Pair.”
Willow plopped down in mid air. “That would explain the guts down my top comment.”
“You going to let me see and comment on your dreams Will?”
The witch blushed remembering some her latest dreams. “Um… No. I don’t think that would be the best of ideas.”
“Dang,” he leched, “would have been worth the life altering embarrassment I’m undergoing right now.”
“Buffy and I need you to come back to England.”
“Any particular reason why I have return to Jolly ol’? Particularly since the last time I was there it wasn’t particularly jolly.”
“Yeah, about that. I’ve had a few things happen to me recently that make me think my attitudes have been under outside influence for the past couple years.”
Xander tiled his head to one side. “Mind control? What kinds of things made you think that?”
“Oh little things,” Willow fingered her hair nervously as particularly vivid memory of a dream involving her best friend ran through her head. “I just realized I’d been a ‘rhymes with witch’ to you lately.”
“Uh huh. You sure?” He asked skeptically.
“Pretty sure.” She looked down at her toes. “You going to be able to forgive me?”
Xander laughed. “Sure. No problem.”
Willows head snapped up. “Just like that?”
Xander got up and walked over to her. “Will, I was always going to forgive you. I might have made you beg a little but you’d have to be a lot worse before I’d completely abandon you. Besides, who’d no more about embarrassment while under evil mind control then us?” He hugged her tightly.
“Yeah, there was that whole Hyena thing…” she muttered.
“Oh. And Dracula.” He stepped back to look her in the face.
“The Master doing his thing on Buffy.” Willow giggled.
“The dancing demon, now that was a riot.” Xander said with a smile.”
“Riley and that chip thing.”
“Chip thing for Spike too.”
“That rod that Toth used to double you.”
“That demon that made me think I was seeing the future.”
“What about that evil, bisexual, SM loving vampire slut version of me?”
The pair broke up laughing too hard to continue.
A couple minutes later they both managed to get themselves under control. Xander has his arms around a Willow still clutching her sides.
“Sad part is not a bit of it was funny at the time.”
Willow’s body flickered for a moment. “The spell’s about to wear off. The witches said I wouldn’t have much time.”
“Witches? I’d figure you could do this stuff in your sleep Will. What’s going on?”
“A lot. We need you back pronto.”
“I’ll be there as soon as I can.” He kisses her forehead. “Love you hon.”
Willow stood up and shook out her dress. “Yeah, Yeah, I bet you say that to all the bi-sexual, ex-ultra powerful witches you know.” She said as she faded out.
“See you soon.”
Xander stood there alone for a long moment. “So,... I'll just hang out here until I wake up.... Dammit.”
With all hid might he tried to resummon up the dream images of Buffy and Willow; with his usual amount of luck. “Bi-sexual?”