Defying Gravity, Redux
The Road Of Good IntentChapter 4:
Defying Gravity, reduxDisclaimer:
The “Nights” concept belongs to Methos, who very kindly let me play in his universe once before, and now let me borrow it again.Disclaimer:
Xander belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Wicked belongs to Universal Studios, and the Gregory Maguire.Notes 1:
This is based on the Musical Wicked, not the book. Given the rather large changes between the book and the musical, the two can't be easily reconciled.Notes 2:
Dialogue is cheerfully taken from the Musical where needed to suit the story.Notes 3:
A heartfelt thank you to my two reviewers, it keeps me writing.Defying Gravity, Redux
"The slayer will be trouble," Teftan remarked to one of his childer as he stood inside the house in Mentor on the lake, where he had made his base. Unlike most master vampires, he didn't fear for the loyalty of those he sired, because the secrets he had learned as a mortal wielding the Grimmerie had allowed him to access powerful binding magics that enforced obedience. He had soon learned however, that obedience without initiative was helpful in a menial servant, but useless in a childe whom he expected to accomplish tasks set to him. So instead he ensured their loyalty simply by making sure his childer had no reason to be disloyal. He didn't punish them excessively, nor did he mistreat them casually, and as a result, they remained his willing and obedient servants.
A case in point was Antonio, a Spaniard he had sired almost half a millennia ago, having recognized in him the talents of a superior organizer. Antonio had become his majordomo, the head of his household servants and essentially the one vampire who knew as much about his plans as he did. After all, if Antonio didn't, how could he possibly organize the others needed for various objectives? So it was with no surprise when with a slight frown, Antonio nodded to his sire.
"In that case my lord, why not simply eliminate her?"
Teftan thought about the question for a moment, as it was a reasonable one on the surface, but this Slayer had proven much harder to kill than most would assume. Teftan was no glory-seeker like Spike, nor obsessed with proving his superiority like the late and thoroughly unlamented Kakistos had been. He had never felt a need to try and match himself against the Slayer, any Slayer, to prove a point. Even if he had ever had such urges, Buffy Summers wasn't the Slayer he would have chosen for his first attempt. Despite her almost ridiculously harmless appearance, she had gone toe to toe with no less than two elder vampires, several master vampires, a God, the Judge, and countless regular vampires and demons. She had personally lead a strike-force of Slayers into a Hellmouth, and had humbled the First and it's private army, and action that no being, demon or not, had ever considered doing.
"No," he responded after a few minutes of thought. "She is far more capable than she seems. The men would underestimate her, as others have done before them. it is somewhat inevitable given her appearance, but she would slay most of the troops nonetheless." He thought for a few moments longer. "What's more, I gave her my word I would wait until tomorrow night before burning Cleveland to the ground. I shall honor the letter of that agreement, even though I doubt she'll appreciate it."
He spun round, even as he felt the first stirrings of sleep come over him. One artifact of his extreme age that no magic, nor potent blood could stop was that more and more he needed to sleep during daylight hours. The younger vampires were often capable of remaining awake, and active during the day, but it was a habit most of them grew out sometime after their first millennium. Of course, given that maybe one vampire in a thousand reached that age meant that few experienced the numbing exhaustion that he felt as the sun began to creep across the horizon.
"Tell the men, they are to begin siring childer. We will need troops for this assault on Cleveland, and if I am wrong and the Slayer supplies the book, they will still be useful in other capacities." He nodded once to Antonio and headed for his private room to sleep. Yes, he would honor the letter of his agreement and not attack Cleveland until after his deadline to the Slayer had passed, but that didn't mean he couldn't begin to make plans. He stopped just outside the room and turned to Antonio one last time.
"And since I'll be wanting to make a point to the Slayer, and she's unlikely to bring all her friends to the next meeting, I want you to detail say a dozen of the troops to find a convenient place to set an ambush you could lead some of her friends into," he grinned nastily. "Something involving fire would be entertaining."
There was maybe three seconds of complete silence in the room currently housing three Slayers, two witches, a former watcher, a living scarecrow and the owner of the most unusual bar in history. After all, being told that your houseguests weren't just an unusual green woman and a living scarecrow, but the Wicked Witch of the West and THE scarecrow was a lot to take in.
Then the moment passed and a torrent of questions sprang forth
"Did you really have flying monkeys?" Willow asked, her eyes bright with excitement. Elphaba's eyes narrowed at the question, but before she managed to even open her mouth, more came at her.
Faith didn't care about the flying monkeys at all. "How cool is it to fly on a broom?" she wanted to know, seemingly thrilled with the idea. Elphaba's head snapped round to her, eyes raised in disbelief, before yet another voice broke in.
"Were those ruby slippers really your sisters?" Buffy asked as she leant forward. "Oh, and are the munchkins really freakishly tiny?"
"You would focus on the size thing B," Faith sniped, as Elphaba looked from one person to the other in shock, and Xander tried desperately not to laugh.
"Bite me Faith," Buffy responded sweetly, and just as Faith looked like she was going to respond with something no doubt rude, Elphaba broke into the conversation.
"What is wrong with you people?" she demanded incredulously. "I just told you I was the greatest evil in Oz-"
"And they don't care," Fiyero said, an expression of wonder on his face, as his voice snapped Elphaba out of her anger. The two of them turned their heads toward each other, and Fiyero could see the confusion left by whipsawing emotions on his girlfriends face, and he reached up a gloved hand to it. "They don't care," he repeated softly. Completely ignoring their audience, the two Ozzians embraced in a hug that was equal parts relief and joy.
"Since we're playing twenty questions," Faith said almost diffidently after a few moments. "How does that work with you being made of straw?" Fiyero and Elphaba separated, and Elphaba tried to glare at the Slayer, but her own feelings were too confused to make it effective. Fiyero just gave her a grin and shook his head, declining to answer.
"Issues of libido aside, I think we should leave this topic for tomorrow." Giles nodded at Buffy. "We still have to deal with Teftan's ultimatum, and as much as I too want to get a first hand view of events in Oz, I think that should take precedence."
There was a round of assents and murmurs and everyone turned back to Elphaba. "Could the Grimmerie originally be from this world?" she asked. "I don't think the Wizard or Madam Morrible ever knew where it came from, but the book was well known to anyone with an interest in sorcery."
"It's possible," Giles conceded. "According to myths, the Grimmerie was the source of all modern magic. Every spell book is only a pale echo of the original magic contained in the book. Unfortunately, as is so often the case with myths, we have no idea if it is true, or for that matter where the book might have gone after it was created."
"So somehow it made its way to Oz," Willow mused. "Is it still there?" she asked Elphaba who nodded.
"When Fiyero sent me a note suggesting I fake my death, I planned to take the Grimmerie with me. I didn't want it to fall into the Wizards hands again," she explained. "But Glinda," she stopped speaking for a moment, as a tremulous smile came over her face, and her eyes went just a little moist. "Glinda is perhaps the most stubborn person I've ever met, but she's also one of the best people there is. Even though she must have still been angry that Fiyero ran away with me, she came to Kiamo Ko to try and help me. She'd been working for the Wizard at the time, and I was astonished that she'd come."
It had been hard, those last few days, she reflected quietly. Not just with dealing with what she thought was her failure to save Fiyero, but trying not to let herself sympathize with Dorothy, who only wanted to go home, and deal with the stress of the news that an army was marching on Kiamo Ko. Throughout the entire war, even though she'd been by herself, she hadn't felt alone because her last memory of Glinda had been of her sincere wish that she were happy. After their fight at the site of Nessa's death however, even that comfort had been denied her, and with Fiyero's death burning like acid in her soul, she had been edging towards true madness in those last few days. She actually began to shiver as she remembered how close she had come to the abyss, believing herself to be alone, a failure at everything, unable to protect those she loved, with nothing but death to look forward to. She had been willing to give in to the propaganda, to become truly wicked, for if she were going to be damned for it, then she was also going to act like it.
Her distress was obvious to her friends, but an arm on her shoulder helped steady her emotional turmoil, and she gave a grateful glance to Fiyero. "The Witch hunters were busy battering down the front gates, and I was trying to decide what to do about them, when Glinda appeared in the room. I never did find out how she managed that, but she begged me to let Dorothy go, and when I got Fiyero's message and told Glinda that he'd died as well, she wanted to fight with me when the hunters broke in. I wouldn't let her, but she was so earnest about it, about wanting to help me, to clear my name, that I knew the Grimmerie would be safe with her."
"It must have been hard to have been on opposite sides, but she sounds like she never let that get in the way of your friendship," Giles observed.
"There were times when we both let it get in the way," Elphaba said softly. "But when I really needed her she was there, she saved me in more ways than one. But for obvious reasons, after my 'death', I have no idea what happened to the book. I rather hope Glinda's put it to good use." She shrugged after finishing her story, and Fiyero leaned forward.
"I only saw Glinda the one time after the battle, and I made a point of avoiding her. I didn't want her to recognize me, but I did notice she had a big leather-bound book with her when she met with Dorothy after the Wizard left and helped her get home," Fiyero explained, and Giles nodded at his explanation.
"So what do we do about this Teftan?" Elphaba asked, trying to drag the discussion away from Oz, and back to the imminent threat. "Even if we wanted to give him the Grimmerie, we don't have it."
"Oh that's easy,” Buffy said with a grin. "The old fake and stake. We bundle up one of Giles' books, and when he lets his guard down, we stake him. I figure that me, Kennedy and Willow can handle it, if you two and Faith can deal with a quick patrol to make sure everyone knows it's business as usual."
Giles looked a bit nonplussed at the thought of using one of his precious books as bait, but it wasn't the first time they'd put together a plan like that, so he supposed he was used to it. They argued about a few more details, but essentially the plan was set for the next evening, and the meeting broke up. Perhaps not surprisingly, almost everyone wanted to ask Elphaba and Fiyero things about Oz, but everyone was also willing to be a little circumspect doing it as well, for which he was grateful.
So instead he went to find Xander, reasoning that he would be able to supply much of the needed information.
The ersatz bartender had returned to the kitchen, and was making a drink when Giles walked in. Without looking up from what he was doing, he nodded towards a glass of tea that was steaming on the counter, and Giles suppressed a sigh. Obviously Xander had been expecting something like this.
"Was there a reason you didn't mention any of this to us?" he asked. The question itself was mild, but the slightly reproving tone in his voice was less so.
"You didn't have a need to know," Xander answered as he finished up his own drink and turned towards the older man. "When Elphaba and Fiyero got here, she was on the edge. She'd just been in a multi-year war, that for all intents and purpose she'd lost, and in which she had to make her best friend believe she was dead, before being exiled not just from her home country, but from her home universe."
Giles blanched a little at his recitation. "That would be hard on anyone I imagine."
"It gets worse Giles. She was in her first year at Shiz when she met the Wizard and went into opposition," he said quietly. "She was nineteen when she became the most hated person in the land. She's only twenty-three or so now, and unlike us, she didn't have friends to help her or stand with her."
"A lot like previous Slayers then."
"Worse in some ways, at least they had Watchers. They might start younger, but they're also heroes, and they have some support. Elphaba had no one, and was hated everywhere. So yeah, when a green girl arrived along with her scarecrow companion, both of them somewhat messed up in the head and looking for a place of safety, I kept their confidences. You didn't need to know she was from Oz, or that she had been the Wicked Witch, because all that mattered was that they were good people, and needed a place to go."
"You clearly expected them to have to tell us eventually though," Giles pointed out.
The look Xander gave him was grim, but there was a little humor in it. "Come on G-man, I don't believe in coincidence anymore than you do. Of course I figured that them showing up was going to lead to a messy problem somewhere down the line. When have random strangers with weird powers and looks ever spelled anything but trouble for us? I just figured the shit hit the fan, there wasn't any point in stirring the pot."
"I understand," Giles said after a few moments of silence. "And for what it's worth, I think you did the right thing."
Xander gave Giles a lopsided grin. "Good, because even if most of what the Wizard said about her was propaganda, remember that the Wizard at least knew the truth, and he was terrified of her power. I don't know how much of her power is tied up in her belief that the Grimmerie is what made her powerful, but you and I both know that with the exception of the most minor magics that any fool who can read Latin can do," he grinned at Giles despite himself. "Real power flows from the Witch, not their spell book. The Wizard had the resources of his entire world at his disposal, and the only reason she was stopped was because she chose to be stopped."
With that uncomfortable thought rolling around in his head, Giles left Xander to his drink.
The next night came quickly enough, and Faith, Fiyero and Elphaba set out on their regular patrol. The distance of a day had helped calm the worst excesses in Faith's questions, and it had allowed Fiyero and Elphaba to regain their composures and the green Witch was back to her usual sarcastic self. It was one of the things that Faith wholly approved of about Elphaba.
That didn't stop her from asking a few questions though.
"So what's it like to fly?" Faith asked, a few minutes into the patrol. "I mean, it's one thing to be in a plane, but to actually be flying on a broomstick. That's got to be a thrill and a half."
"It is that," Elphaba responded. "Until you realize you're hundreds of feet in the air being held up by a piece of wood and some twigs. I never traveled during thunderstorms, not because I hated the wet but because I was petrified of being hit by lightning."
"Ouch," Faith said with a grin.
Elphaba snorted. "They also don't tell you about how cold it gets when you're flying at speed. I swear there were times I thought I was going to be known as the wicked Popsicle of the west." Behind them Fiyero snorted at that, and Elphaba gave him a dirty look that was only slightly marred by the grin on her face. Privately she was amazed she could joke about it at all. Apparently coming clean to the others had more of a cathartic effect than she'd expected.
"Well, at least you're the right color to be a Popsicle," Faith said with a grin, and ducked as the expected swipe passed harmlessly over her head. Elphaba didn't mind Faith teasing her about her skin all that much, because she knew the dark-haired girl meant no offense with it. Unlike the many and varied barbs that had been thrown her way in Oz, there was only gentle humor in it, much the same way she made fun of Buffy's height.
"I'll have you know," she began to retort when Faith held up a hand in a universal stop motion. She remained motionless for a few seconds, then turned sharply to her left.
"We've got some action," she said by way of explanation as she broke into a run, with Fiyero and Elphaba close behind her. The three made their way to an abandoned warehouse, which Faith noted was labeled 'Calor' something or other. She spared it no concern as she made her way down the hallway of the warehouse and to the central room where she found what she'd been looking for. The quartet of vampires didn't seem very surprised to see her though.
"Aww," Faith crooned. "Four of you boys just for me. I'm touched." Elphaba holding the small axe she used, and Fiyero with his pair of hatchets spread out behind her. Even at her worst she could probably take on four vamps by herself, but it was always nice to have backup. That was especially true when she suddenly realized that her Slayer sense was registering something else coming up behind her. The situational awareness provided by the Slayer essence immediately told her what was going on.
"Fiyero, door!" she snapped as she began backing away from the vampires, but it was too late as another quartet came in through the door they'd just came in through as well. They were now thoroughly surrounded. Still, eight against three wasn't terrible odds, and she was fairly sure they had no idea just how tough a customer they'd find Fiyero, given that he was virtually indestructible. Elphaba wasn't a great shakes as a physical fighter, but she'd probably draw at least one, maybe two vampires away. Another two for Fiyero, that left her with four. No time for messing about, she decided as she pulled a stake from her jacket.
"Time to play."
Etienne watched from the rafters as the Slayer and her companions sprang into battle. Despite being outnumbered, she didn't hesitate, and Etienne had to respect that. He didn't respect it a great deal, because eight against three should still be plenty as it was likely that Buffy would bring her best warriors to the meeting with Lord Teftan. He was therefore surprised when it took less than ten seconds for two of his troops to be turned to dust, with a third following almost immediately from the strange man in the green tunic.
He growled in anger as he ordered the additional four troops to descend and join the battle. Antonio had detailed twelve troops for this battle, feeling that it would be plenty, and Etienne wished he had sent twice as many. He eyed the switch he held in his hand for a moment, considering the best timing he could use. Antonio had wanted something to send a message to the Slayer, something involving fire, and unless he heard from the majordomo or lord Teftan, he was at his own discretion as to when to use the explosives strategically placed around this building.
It had not been picked at random, this warehouse. During the day it was a busy place, as it supplied portable gas canisters for everything from hiking cookers to boats, and all that gas stored in this warehouse would make for a very pretty explosion if need be. An added bonus was that this part of the warehouse only had one exit except for the big garage-doors. Not to mention that the Slayer was almost directly under one of the canisters that would come crashing down when he flipped the switch. Crushed to death, and then immediately immolated, he thought to himself. Now that's a message to send to the Slayer.
His troops had orders to withdraw as soon as the explosions went off, as fire was one of those things that vampires didn't like anymore than humans did. He grinned to himself at the thought of the Slayer being burnt alive. It would be a horrible death, and one that would make the world a better place for all vampires.
He waited a few moments more, for the Slayer to be in perfect position, even if it did cost him four more soldiers, and then he pressed the switch.
Elphaba rather disliked physical combat. Her catfight with Glinda notwithstanding, she'd almost never been in a physical altercation with anyone, preferring to rely on her magic or her broom to get out of trouble. She wasn't about to let Fiyero go on patrol by himself though, so she'd learned the basics of using the axe she was holding, but she was still just an amateur. However Fiyero had been quite okay with that and the two of them worked well together. His invulnerability to physical harm, not to mention his fighting skills from both his youth in the Arjiki, and his time in the guard meant he was almost as good with his paired hatchets as he was with the crossbow, and as long as she kept the vampires from overwhelming him, he was quite capable of holding them off.
So when a vampire tried to duck around him and leap on his back, Elphaba was there to swing her own axe, and neatly sever his head from his shoulders. Fiyero turned to her and gave a grin. "Thanks beautiful," he yelled. There were only a couple of them left now, so hopefully this wouldn't last too much longer. She was about to call something back when an explosion knocked them both off their feet. The force of the explosion sent Elphaba slamming into the ground hard enough to knock all the air from her, and leave her ears ringing. It took her a few moments to get herself collected, and by that time Fiyero was also levering himself to his feet.
He turned to look at her and said something, but she couldn't make out what. No, she realized. he wasn't looking at her, but past her. She spun around, and saw that Faith was also just getting to her feet, and Elphaba was confused for a moment even as Fiyero came running past. That's when she saw the large canister coming down towards her. Without thinking she threw her hands forward, trying to use the magic that Willow had shown her, and feeling her techniques fight against her innate magic. Now that she knew the Grimmerie had a history in this world, she thought she might have an idea why that was, but it didn't matter. Every erg of her willpower was put into trying to slow the canisters descent, and she succeeded marginally enough that it allowed Fiyero to barrel into Faith, knocking her off her feet for the second time in less than ten seconds.
However she wasn't quite fast enough, and let out a scream as the canister clipped Fiyero's head, as he tried to roll clear with Faith. She ran over to him, oblivious of the danger the canister represented, and checked him, even as Faith was looking around.
"He's still breathing," She said loudly so that Faith could hear her. "But I don't know what kind of damage it might have done."
"Not our biggest problem," Faith said back, and for the first time Elphaba focused on the room around her. Whatever had caused the explosion had set half the room on fire. Fortune however, had left them a way out. Faith didn't hesitate, grabbing Fiyero and slinging him over her shoulder. Being a Slayer meant she was more than strong enough to carry him around, and she pointed at the exit urgently. The fire was rapidly spreading, and small bangs kept sounding as the smaller gas-canisters began heating up and exploding. Fortunately, the warehouse wasn't fully stocked at the moment, but it was still bad, and between the heat and the smoke, it was definitely a bad situation.
The two of them, made their way across the warehouse floor towards the exit, as fast as they could safely manage, but just as they made it to the door, Faith's danger-sense screamed at her, and she instinctively threw herself forward even as a piece of flaming debris came crashing down behind her. She scrambled to her feet, and looked back only to see Elphaba on the other side of the beam that had come down.
Elphaba staggered back from the flaming wreckage that had come down between her and Faith. She could still see the other woman through the flames, and was relieved to note that Faith was still carrying an un-burnt Fiyero, but as the two women's gazes met, they both realized that there was no way Elphaba was going to get out this way.
"Go," Elphaba shouted over the roar of the fire. "Get out of here, I'll find another way."
For what seemed like an eternity, but was probably no more than a second or two, Faith gazed at her green companion, then finally she nodded once sharply. "You'd better get your ass out of here Green E, I don't want to be the one explaining to Fiyero that I let you get turned into Witch ala barbeque." Elphaba gave her a solid grin and Faith quickly turned and continued down the hallway to the exit.
As soon as she was sure the Slayer couldn't see her, the smile left Elphaba's face, and she turned to look at the warehouse burning all around her. Despite her brave words, she hadn't seen any other available exits as they made their way towards this one, and she was far from confident of finding one. What was even more worrying was that the smoke was beginning to seriously affect her ability to breathe, even as the heat was making her skin glisten with moisture.
She ducked down and began searching, using what she knew of human construction to try and extrapolate where there might be other exits, but every place she tried, all she found was more burning debris, impassable as the first exit. Finally, in the smoke and haze she stumbled over a piece of wreckage and crashed to the ground. Rolling onto her back, the smoke threatening to overwhelm her, she caught a glint of reflected light off the ceiling as she spotted a skylight. The sight of the night sky took her mind back years to the last time she'd been truly trapped with nowhere to go.
It had been one of the hardest days in her life. After having spent most of the morning exploring the Emerald City with Glinda, they had gone for their meeting with the Wizard. The unbridled joy and awe she had felt for the wizened old man who was regarded as the Wonderful Wizard by all of Oz had turned to ash in her mouth when she realized what he truly was. A cynical manipulator of the worst kind, willing to harm anyone, or anything to achieve his goals. In a fit of anger and desperation, she had seized the Grimmerie and run for it, eventually ending up trapped in an attic with Glinda, who seemed to be alternating between anger and pleading, both of which had been fueled by fear.
With Guards trying to batter down the doors, and no visible exits except a sealed window, she had reached for the Grimmerie in desperation, chanting the only spell she could read in the book, in a desperate attempt to give her and Glinda a way out. The levitation spell had performed brilliantly, turning an ordinary broom into one capable of flight. It was much better than having sprouted wings herself, and as she'd held the broom, she had turned to her friend.
"Well?" she asked, holding out the broom to Glinda. "Are you coming?"
Her voice had been equal parts begging and desperation. The Wizard had to be stopped, and since no one else knew the truth, it would have to be them. Glinda had taken a step forward, reached out a hand as if to grab the broom, and then pulled it back. Elphaba hadn't been able to stop the devastated expression from passing over her face as Glinda reached for one of the open cupboards. She didn't want to fight the Wizard alone, and she had no other friends. She also had no choice, and that thought drove her to action. Even as Glinda turned away from her she began stuffing the book back into her bag.
"Elphie, you're trembling," Glinda said, as she pulled a cloak off the shelf and walked over to where Elphaba was putting the book away in her bag. "Here." Glinda put the cloak around her neck and fastened it, even as her friend straightened up, touched by the intent behind the gift. Glinda might not be coming with her, but they weren't going to part as anything but friends either. For a moment the two of them just gazed at each other, whole conversations being exchanged in a single look.
"I hope you're happy," Glinda finally said, and unlike her earlier comment, this was meant sincerely. "Now that you're choosing this."
"You too," Elphaba responded, taking the blonde girls hand in her own. "I hope it brings you bliss, and I hope you're happy, my friend."
Glinda and Elphaba both moved forward and gave each other a bone-crushing hug, because arguments notwithstanding, they were friends. A sudden smash from the door broke the two of them apart, and Elphie disappeared into the shadows by the sealed window even as the Gale force broke into the room. Two of the soldiers seized Glinda, even as the rest tried to see the Green Witch in the dark room.
"Let go of me," Glinda shouted at the two guards, even as a voice echoed from the dark.
"It's not her. She has nothing to do with this." The dark attic was suddenly bathed in light as Elphaba threw open the shutters and leapt onto the ledge of the large window. She ignored the slightly queasy feeling from being up this high, and smiled darkly at the guards who were only just beginning to turn towards her. "I'm the one you want," she shouted at them. "It's me!" and with one final defiant cry, she stepped backwards off the windowsill and disappeared from view.
"Elphie!," Glinda's horrified scream echoed through the room as the guards, stunned by Elphaba's actions, didn't hold onto her well enough and Glinda raced for the window, desperately looking for her friend. To her astonishment, and from the sounds coming from the guards behind her, their fear and awe, Elphaba rose up, maybe twenty feet from the tower, hanging in mid-air.
"If you care to find me, look to the western sky," she told Glinda with what could only be described as a mischievous grin. "And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free." She'd said it softly enough that Glinda had been able to hear her, but the guards hadn't. Then her face turned serious again, and the proclaimed Wicked Witch glared at the guards just coming up behind the blonde woman. "And to those who'd ground me, take this message back from me. Tell him that I am defying gravity, and that no one in all of Oz, no Wizard, that there is or was, is ever going to bring me down." she spat the word 'wizard' like an insult, even as she began to hear cries coming from the ground as the inhabitants of the Emerald city had begun to notice her hanging in the sky.
She kicked the broom she was sitting on and flew it in a circle once around the tower, and Elphaba was amazed at how responsive it was to her desires. As she came round to the window again, staying well clear of the guards pikes, and her eyes met Glindas one more time.
"I hope you're happy," Glinda silently mouthed at her friend, and Elphaba gave her a fractional nod, before spinning the broom around in a tight circle and taking off towards the soon to be setting sun.
The memory faded from Elphaba's mind, and the reality of her situation sunk back in as the smoke caused her to cough uncontrollably for several seconds. If only she still had the Grimmerie, she could have given the old levitation spell another try. Even as the thought flitted through her mind, her eyes narrowed as the sights and sounds of the warehouse seemed to suddenly recede into the distance, and before her, she saw the almost indecipherable script of the Grimmerie as clearly as if she was holding the book itself.
Having nothing to lose, and with the memory of her broom fresh in her mind, she began to chant.
Glinda the good tried to sleep the sleep of those who, if not entirely innocent, had at least earned a good rest. Unfortunately for her, ever since that day in Kiamo Ko, she hadn't had a good nights sleep at all. Every night she had a dream, and every night it was the same dream. Her argument with Elphaba, the reconciliation, and the death of her best friend. At first the dream had left her waking up in the middle of the night, moaning Elphie's name as devastated by the loss as when it first happened.
Things had changed over the long months, and the dreams had become less nightmares, than a reminder of her friend. Of course, there was that other reason why the dreams didn't bother her as much, but she didn't dwell on that if she could avoid it. She was so familiar with the dream by now, that she was almost always aware that she was dreaming; only this time, the dream was different. As Chistery pulled the curtain across the alcove she was hiding in, rather than seeing the battle played out through silhouettes of torchlight, instead there was silence, and the image of flickering flames.
Unsure of what was happening, and even knowing she was dreaming, she moved to the curtain and drew it back, only to have her eyes widen as she saw an unfamiliar room, a warehouse by the looks of it, and it was on fire. It wasn't the fire that drew her eyes though, but the figure laying on her back in-between several of the stacks. She was unmistakably Elphaba, but she looked more than a little singed. Glinda reached forward to go to her aid, only to snap awake in her bed.
For a single instant, she didn't understand why her dream had changed, and then her eyes noticed the room was awash in green light. She came upright in her bed, staring at the pedestal on which she put the Grimmerie every night after she was done studying it, only to see green light pouring off it, even as it hovered half a foot off the pedestal. Faster than she had ever moved, she clambered out of bed to see which page was open, and her eyes narrowed, as she realized that someone was accessing the Grimmerie.
Her Grimmerie. Her final gift from Elphaba, and one which she had promised to her friend that she would use for good. And now someone else was using it, without her permission for an unknown purpose.
Anyone looking and listening would not have been able to find Glinda the Good in her expression as she used the only words that matched her mood.
"Oh hell no!"
Elphaba managed to stay conscious only by concentrating on the chanting she was doing. She didn't know how she was remembering the Grimmerie when the book had been known to change the very words on the pages, but it gave her something to focus her mind on regardless. The smoke had in fact gotten so bad, that she was only barely aware of the sound of shattering glass coming from the skylight, until something landed in her left hand, which had been lying beside her. She turned her head, and her eyes widened in amazement as she saw her broom. The one she'd abandoned in Oz, and which Glinda had brought to Nights and given to Xander as a memento.
Just the realization that somehow she'd tapped into her powers without the Grimmerie gave her renewed strength and she struggled to her feet. With her broom in hand, the fire seemed distant and unimportant, even the smoke seemed less painful in her lungs now. She positioned herself on the broom with the ease of long practice and looked up into the night sky through the skylight.
Outside Faith was beginning to get frantic. She'd dumped Fiyero's unconscious body against the wall across the alleyway of the exit they’d come out of, then immediately broken open a door in that building and stolen a fire-extinguisher to get back and help Elphaba. Despite the woman's confidant words, Faith wasn't nearly as sanguine about her chances of getting out of the blazing building. Unfortunately the one fire-extinguisher she'd been able to find hadn't done her much good, and the sheer amount of burning debris meant there was no way she could get through. Her eyes darted from side to side trying to come up with some plan other than doing nothing while her friend might be burned alive, but no inspiration was coming to her.
So it was with some surprise when she heard what could only be described as a joyful cackling coming from inside the building, and using her acute Slayer senses, she tracked the sound as it seemed to be rising. It was an absurd conclusion, but her ears hadn't ever lied to her, and her gaze tracked upwards even as something dark shot into the night sky. Between the flames and the stars, she could easily make out the green face and hands, and her face split into a grin of pure glee as Elphaba rose into the sky.
"Yes," she shouted, jumping into the air. "Score one for the green girl."
She'd obviously shouted loudly enough for Elphaba to hear her, and she brought the broom round in a wide arc, and down into the alley. She brought the broom to a stop and leapt off it, with all the grace of a professional hang-glider coming in for a landing, and slightly soot-stained, and breathing heavily, she raised an eyebrow at Faith.
"You have got to take me for a ride on that thing," Faith said, her eyes never leaving the broom. "That looked awesome."
"It has its moments," Elphaba agreed, then looked past Faith at where Fiyero was laying. "Is he okay?"
Glancing back, Faith nodded. "Far as I can tell. Don't know how a man made of straw gets knocked out, but there you have it." She eyed the burning building. "We should check in and get back. If the vamps set a trap for us, then they've probably set one for B as well."
Elphaba seemed to hesitate for a moment. "Faith, could you get Fiyero back to the house. I can get to Buffy faster this way," her voice trailed off as she nodded her head to the side, and Faith smirked at her.
"You want to go play on your magic broom don't you?" she asked and then laughed when Elphaba's green skin seemed to go a little dark on the cheeks. "Go, I'll get Fiyero back and come join you. Just promise me I get a ride at some point."
"You got it," Elphaba responded with a grin, as she swung the broom downwards, and with a flash of green and motion, she was shooting off into the sky again. Faith just shook her head in amusement, even as she heard the approach of sirens. She quickly grabbed Fiyero who was just starting to wake up, and helped him to his feet. The scarecrow looked at the Slayer, then from side to side, his motions becoming more frantic as he looked around.
"Don't worry, she made it out" Faith explained, and pointed at the figure flying off into the night-sky. She was almost invisible unless you knew where to look, and Fiyero sighed deeply. "Yup, don't know how but your girlfriend found herself a broom to fly around on. "
"She always did have the oddest sense of timing," Fiyero said with the sort of resigned amusement that probably stood him in good stead dealing with the witch. "We're okay, and Elphaba's okay, and that's all that matters."
"You're taking this awfully well," Faith noted.
"I've had lots of practice," he responded with a grin as the two of them made their way into the night and away from the burning warehouse. "And besides, you're just jealous that you don't have a flying broom."
"Damn straight I am," Faith said with a laugh. "Come on, let's get home."
Next up, the evening from Buffy's point of view, and Glinda puts on her traveling gear.