Title: A Pocketful Of Hellmouth
Author: Restive Nature
Disclaimer:I do not own anything! All Buffy the Vampire Slayers and ideology belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. The Hollows 'verse and characters mentioned belong to Kim Harrison and HarperTorch
Rating: NC-17/ FR21 (This fiction contains explicit fem slash!)
Type: Action/ Adventure, smut
Pairing: Willow/ Faith
Summary: She had a job to do and nothing was going to deter her from it.
Spoilers/ Timeline: Post BtVS television series (this doesn't get into the Season 8 comic) and Rachel Morgan has left the agency and is working on her own now with Jenks. Alternates between 1st and 3rd POV
Feedback: Always welcome.
Distribution: Ask first, please.
A/N: You are going to probably see major OOC-ness here. This was written for Saturn for the Twisting the Hellmouth's 2007 FicAThon and unfortunately, I have never read Kim Harrison's Hollows series. But I will try my best.
A/N2: Sorry for how late this is. I've been dealing with family illness and allergic reactions to the pet cat while trying to write this.
Max Rating: FR21
fem slash, The Hollows crossovers, action, unexpected endings
A Pocketful Of Hellmouth
I could feel my apprehension growing as I drove through the quiet Cleveland streets, looking for the address my client had given me. Actually, the apprehension had started well before I had even reached Cleveland. Being based in Cincinnati, I really never had much occasion to get over this way. But when it was someone else footing the bill, I'd go where I needed to to get that much needed cash infusion that kept us all in beer and skittles. It wasn't even me that started the nervous butterflies jumping hoops and rolling around my stomach. No, that honor, dubious as it is, belonged to Jenks, my pixie back-up.
He'd been flitting around the passenger seat, rambling on and on about what his kids had been up to. Honestly, I'd been tuning it out, paying attention to the road and the other drivers around. Certainly didn't need to get into an accident, because this job's income was earmarked for something else and not for bodywork on my car. So I didn't really notice that he'd suddenly gone silent. I did notice when he shrieked at a passing road sign and was suddenly up in my face, the usually iridescent coloring of his pixie wings cycling through an ominous deep blue, to black, sometimes with tinges of red. That didn't bode well.
"Cleveland, Rachel?" he'd shouted, his arms gesticulating wildly. "You didn't tell me we were going to Cleveland!"
"What's wrong with Cleveland?" I muttered, trying to brush him out of my face. He allowed himself to be swept mere inches to the left, thankfully just in time so I could avoid sideswiping a car coming up beside me on the interstate.
"Hell's bells!" Jenks cried out in surprise. "You don't know?"
"Know what?" I demanded, slightly irritated. "I've never been before."
"Well," Jenks huffed, crossing his arms over his chest as he continued to hover in midair. "That explains it then."
"Explains what?" I demanded, frowning, annoyed at the little twerp who seemed to make it his life's mission to annoy me when I certainly needed it least. Not like I ever needed to be annoyed.
But that was the last I heard from him. I took my eyes off the road long enough to discover that Jenks was gone. Just... gone. He'd disappeared from where he'd been hovering around my left ear. I did risk life and limb for a moment to sweep the backseat with my eyes, but he wasn't hiding back there. Nor was he in the passenger's seat. Mystified, I turned some of my attention back to driving. What on earth could be so bad about Cleveland that Jenks would up and pull a fast one like that on me. I considered hauling out the cell phone and calling a contact or two. But since Cleveland was just ten more miles, it didn't seem like I'd get the info in time. Instead, I just kept driving.
The house, when I finally found it, looked like every other single house on the block with it. One story, porch light blazing, the curtains were drawn, but I could see a glimpse of lights inside the house, illuminating and back shadowing a figure in what I assumed to be the living room. Carefully easing my car into a parking spot across the street, I gathered the essentials I'd brought for this job, namely my splat gun. With what my current employer had told me, it seemed like the best bet for taking down this unlicensed witch that had caused so much havoc in her short lifetime.
As I climbed out of the car, I went over in my mind what information I'd been given. Willow Rosenberg, originally of Sunnydale, California. She'd started dabbling in witchcraft when she'd been in high school and there had been many odd occurrences, most of which were too minor to worry about. That all changed several years later when catastrophe struck in the form of Miss Willow trying to end the world. From what I heard, she damn near succeeded. But the world didn't end. She disappeared for a while, but then came back and tried to finish the job.
I hadn't paid too much attention when Ivy, my roommate and dear friend had called my attention to the news that a little Californian town had just become a major sinkhole, the disaster attributed to major fault lines and crumbling sewers and catacombs under the city. But when I heard the name of that town, a little antenna went up in my head. I guess I was half expecting the call when it finally came to pick up the Rosenberg witch. I just never imagined that she would be so close.
Getting close to the house that belonged to Willow Rosenberg wasn't difficult at all. In fact there was something nagging at the back of my mind that made my steps fly a little more quickly than usual and in my haste I almost tripped on the black stiletto heels I was wearing. But as I cased the house, I came to realize, more by instinct than deductive reasoning, that someone, probably this girl Willow, had put up a magical barrier surrounding the house. It was similar, yet different feeling to the one I engaged around my own residence. Wondering just how strong the barrier was, I took the briefest second to open myself up to the flow of magic that came from the earth.
And wished I hadn't.
Memories and sensation rushed over me, my mind screaming at me to turn it off. Overlaid with a really strong urge to find the nearest hotel so I could scrub my skin clean of the invisible ooze that my body suddenly seemed mired in. I glanced down at my hands. There was nothing there, but still, the feeling that some creepy crawly was dancing the mambo across my skin was almost impossible to ignore.
Gasping slightly with the effort to break the link I had just created, I realized that this might not be the simple tag and brag that I had expected it to be. There was no help for it. I, Rachel Morgan, unlicensed slash dark witch catcher, was just going to have to hunker down and wait for this Rosenberg woman to reveal herself.
"Faith," Willow whined as she paced across the living room floor of the one story home that she'd managed to buy with the insurance settlement she and her family had received after the destruction of their homes and lives in Sunnydale. "I don't see why I can't go. Marta's expecting me. And so is everyone else. If you'd just tell me what was going on, then I'd have a better idea about..."
Faith sighed and rolled her eyes, tuning out the rest of Willow's babbling rant. At least she hadn't worked herself into fever pitch yet. Faith could still follow along what Willow was actually saying. The girl almost had her incessant need to speak faster than her lips could form the words, under control. But then, Faith realized that Willow only brought out that arsenal in her weaponry for two reasons. Either she was scared and or nervous and couldn't help it, or, like in this case, she thought it would help confuse and confound her opponent enough to let Willow get away with whatever she had in mind. Faith smirked as she realized this. She knew it was doubtful that the other members of B's little Scooby gang were aware of this.
In fact, that was the reason why Faith had been called in to deal with Willow on this night. As Giles had put it succinctly over the phone, Faith was the only one left of the core group that was still immune to Willow's resolve face. Faith sighed again as she recalled that conversation. Huh. If only the G-man knew...
"Faith!" Willow's strident voice called Faith back to the moment. "Are you ignoring me? I asked what was so important that I needed to miss my meeting tonight?"
Faith spread her hands wide, in a gesture resembling peace and ignorance, exactly what she was aiming for. "You got me there Red," she answered, shrugging one shoulder. "I was told to keep you from taking off while your friends got together a little surprise for you. When it's ready, they'll call and we'll head over."
"A surprise?" Willow asked, her forehead wrinkling in her consternation. "A good surprise right? Not a hellmouthy one. 'Cause after that battle with the T'nig'rhal last week, I really don't like those kind of surprises. But then, you should know what I'm talking about right?" Willow finally stopped pacing and let herself fall to the seat on the sofa right next to Faith. "Didn't you fight one a few months back?"
Faith nodded distractedly, pressing her lips together. "Yeah," she answered shortly.
"So what's my surprise Faith?" Willow pressed then, drawing her legs up underneath her, half-turned so that she was facing the dark-haired slayer.
"Don't know," Faith shrugged, although she actually had a pretty good idea.
"You do too so know," Willow accused, although her voice was light and tinkling and the smirk returned to Faith's lips. "See, I knew it!" Willow pointed out with alacrity. "What is it?"
"Not supposed to tell," Faith grunted, pleased that Willow had gotten off the subject of leaving the house.
"Oh please," Willow leaned forward, catching Faith's upper arm and dragging on it slightly. Barely enough pressure there to tell about. "Pleasepleasepleaseplease!"
"No," Faith laughed. It was always amusing to see Willow acting much younger than her physical years. She had such an irrepressible enthusiasm that was like a spark to the flame seeking moth. She had to turn her face away to try and school her features to sternness instead of the grin she had. When she did turn back, it was only to see that Willow was pulling out the medium guns, the big ones being the bag of magic hocus pocus that she had.
"Pease Faif," Willow simpered.
"You keep pouting like that," Faith warned good-naturedly, "and I'm gonna have to bite that lip off." Caught up in the moment, Willow added an artful and completely fake lip quiver to her lower lip, drawing Faith's eye directly to it. She considered warning Willow again, but loved having the element of surprise on her side, in all matters of life. She darted forward, almost faster that Willow could see. But the moment the shift in the furniture they sat on began, Willow's senses kicked into tune and she jerked back slightly.
But there wasn't the loud snap that she expected. She'd already pulled her lip back in. What she got was the last thing she ever expected and that was Faith's mouth on hers. It startled her, how soft Faith's lips were. Willow never knew until now, that the lipsticks Faith chose, like her hair-raising shade of deep purple or her come-fuck-me red always had Vitamin E in them for the health of her mouth. Willow never knew that she could hear her heartbeat as loudly as she did in that moment without aid of medical equipment or meditation. And Faith's scent, aside from the usual hint of sex and blood, arousal and carnage... Willow never knew that underneath it all was the scent of something earthy. Not musk, but of fresh loam, or the seas crashing against cliffs. It was... different and refreshing and Willow just knew that she liked it. It was the only thing in that moment that she did know.
All too soon, was it seconds? Minutes? Whatever it was, the two women pulled back from one another, both with startled puzzlement in their eyes. Faith was the first to glance away, looking down at her arm that had come to rest across the back of the sofa. Willow opened her mouth, unsure of what she would say, only knowing that the situation really called for... words.
"I'm sorry," Faith mumbled, her cheeks flaming. What on earth had possessed her?
"Oh no," Willow cut in. "It was, um, actually I liked it. I mean, of course I liked it. Hello! Gay here. But... did you. I mean, I always thought that, you know? Wild Faith and all. I guess I mean-!"
"Can we do it again?"
Willow's eyes widened as she tried frantically to decipher Faith's meaning. But before she could even begin to form a coherent word, Faith's hands were framing her face, pulling her gently towards the dark-haired wanton. Her eyes drifted shut as Faith carefully rubbed her lips across Willow's, the pressure gentle yet firm. A small sigh escaped her.
Faith heard it and echoed it silently in her mind, trying to shut off the voice screaming in the back of her mind that she shouldn't be doing this. Well, the this she wasn't sure about was Willow. Because she had done that before. Every once in a while, Faith yearned for a little tenderness. Unfortunately most of the guys she had targeted in the past with her get some, get gone philosophy couldn't touch tenderness with a ten foot pole. And so to satisfy that need she'd artfully searched out swinging couples looking for a good threesome. But still, even with her experience and knowledge, this was Willow. Willow!
And then it didn't matter anymore as Willow, the fiery headed witch was kissing her back. Her lips parting under Faith's, her tongue darting out to taste and explore. Faith shifted closer on the sofa, feeling Willow's knees pressing against her thigh. She sought out Willow's tongue, sliding her own into the depths of the woman before her.
Time was lost to them as Faith's hands began to drift lower. Willow, surprisingly in Faith's opinion, was no wallflower when it came to this. Catching Faith's hands, now resting on her shoulder's, guided them to her breasts, pulling back from their heated kiss for just a moment to nod her encouragement. Faith pressed a kiss to the underside of Willow's jaw as her hands cupped Willow's breasts, the heaviness filling her hands like ripe peaches. Her thumbs brushed over the hardening nipples, showing her that Willow was indeed enjoying the stimulation. But Faith wanted more. Whatever she'd learned in her life, patience still wasn't that high on her list of virtues.
Pulling her hands away, moving them to Willow's sides, she inched her fingers quickly down the material of Willow's heavy sweater. When she found the hem of the pullover, she jerked upwards and Willow obligingly leaned forward and Faith took the opportunity presented to her to capture Willow's soft pliant lips once more.
They had to break apart as Faith pulled Willow's top from her. Her head caught for a moment in the tight neckline and it afforded Faith a moment to admire the creamy ivory colored lace bra that her friend wore.
"Damn girl," Faith breathed. She yanked at the sweater, enjoying the resulting tousling of Willow's locks. She'd forgotten how curly the ends got when Willow wore it short. Willow pulled the sweater from her arm and let it drop to the floor beside them.
"Are you sure about this Faith?" Willow asked once more, this time finally able to get the actual words out. She was on familiar ground here, but she had no sure clue when it came to Faith.
"If I didn't want to, I wouldn't," Faith assured her. And Willow knew that to be true about Faith. The way she was licking at her lower lip gave Willow all the assurance she needed. It had been so long since someone, since Kennedy, now months gone and broken up, slaying overseas, had looked at her with that hunger in his or her eyes. "Come here," Faith instructed quietly as she quickly pulled her own t-shirt up and away.
Willow caught her lower lip between her teeth when she realized that Faith, unlike her, wasn't wearing a bra. She reached forward slowly, one hand tracing from Faith's collarbone down her silky smooth skin, glancing over a small crescent moon scar.
"Yeah," Faith murmured, shivering slightly under the light contact. She glanced down at herself as Willow's hand reached her breast, watching her thumb rub a circle over her distended nipple. Willow continued for a moment longer before continuing her downward search, finally coming to rest at the waistband of Faith's jeans. She caught one of the loops with her forefinger and gave a small, sharp yank.
"We should get rid of these," Willow smiled gently. Faith nodded, standing with alacrity. Now that her mind was made up, it seemed she couldn't wait. Holding out her hand, she waited for Willow to follow suit. Once the redhead was standing, Faith quickly unsnapped her jeans button and pulled the band away from her waist, the zipper opening of its own accord as she pulled the material apart. Hooking her thumbs in the band and catching the black lace thong, peeling them down slowly, enjoying the sudden hitch in Willow's breathing. Once the clothing had reached her thighs, Faith moved her hands to simply push the fabric, letting gravity take it. She stepped out of the pool of jeans and underwear, towards Willow, one arm catching her around the waist.
"Your turn," she pointed out, searching for the zipper of Willow's ankle length, tight, denim skirt. It was at the side and it gave as easily as her own had. Faith pushed the skirt away, leaving the underwear for the moment. She really wanted to see the combination that Willow had chosen today of all days to wear. Would it match? Would it not? Did it matter? Not really.
Willow's panties were ivory as well. And the color set of the creamy tone of the fair and only slightly freckled skin. Her mouth curved in a grin, Faith pulled Willow's hips to her, molding their lower bodies together as her lips sought out Willow's neck. Willow's arms wrapped around Faith's shoulders, her hands coming up to tangle in long brown tresses that were nearly as wild as the woman who wore them. Faith leaned back slightly so that she could reach up to pull the thin material of Willow's bra away from her skin, ducking her head to whisper kisses across the until now covered breast. Willow let her head fall back as she held Faith to her body. Faith pushed Willow's arms back to her side, her hands reaching for the straps of the barrier between them. With her top finally bared, Willow took the rest of matters into her own hands and pushed her underwear down, pulling her hips back to accomplish the feat.
"Goddess Faith, I want you," she whispered as Faith's mouth latched onto a nipple, her fingers rolling the other between them. It had been way too long, for either of them.
"I like the way you say that," Faith murmured as she nudged Willow back again towards the couch. Willow's knees caught at the edge of the cushion and she sank down gratefully, watching as Faith loomed above her.
Faith pushed gently at Willow's shoulders and the redhead twisted slightly as she reclined on the couch, her head just missing the armrest. Faith followed her down, coming to rest, one leg between Willow's, the other brushing against the back cushion of the sofa. She held herself slightly above Willow's chest, waiting for the readiness of full body intimate connection. It came quickly as Willow reached for her again. Christ, her hands felt good, strong as they caught her neck and pulled.
Faith whispered a kiss against the corner of Willow's mouth, tracing her finger's over the other woman's jaw. As she moved lower, she felt the corded tension of Willow's throat, stretching to reach and she lowered herself a little more. Slowly, not sure of how tender Willow might like her tenderness, she let her hand wander down the tone and fighting trim body of her fellow senior slayer's best friend. Oh, better not to think about B or any of the others. This was strictly between her and Willow.
Somehow, Faith knew Willow's body as her fingers unnerringly searched out Willow's core. Willow let out a gasp, bucking slightly as Faith's finger traced over the sensitive skin surrounding Willow's clit. Faith smiled into her kiss as she pressed a little harder, feeling a light sheen of moisture. Willow's thighs spread of their own accord, her hands moving between their bodies to capture Faith's breasts.
"Yeah Red, touch me," she groaned out as her thumb ran circles over Willow's clit. Willow bucked again, whimpering slightly. "More?" she demanded lightly, pleased when Willow nodded. Abandoning the drugging kisses they were exchanging, Faith pushed up onto her hands and knees, scooting backwards as Willow shifted to allow her room.
"Faith?" her voice was hesitant, but Faith didn't bother with reassurances. Again, she decided, patience, not a lot of fun. She was more of a do now type of girl. And she wanted Willow writhing underneath her. With a wicked smirk, she positioned herself between Willow's legs and watched Willow watching her. The redhead was pushed up, bracing herself on her elbows, eying Faith with anticipation and just the tiniest bit of apprehension. Faith didn't mind. It could have been there from their past history or just because Willow knew what a wild card Faith was and wouldn't know what to expect from her.
Faith lowered her head and blew a soft breath across Willow's core. While the other woman shivered, tingles racing up and down her spine, Faith inhaled the familiar aroma of aroused female. It was one she actually knew well. Lifting her eyes to once again meet Willow's, her tongue darted out, touching not her clit, but the skin around it, following the curve of flesh that hooded over her clit.
"Damn it," Willow groaned. "Quit teasing."
"You got it Red," Faith grunted before lowering her mouth to flesh. Her tongue ran circles around Willow's clit, like a tiny whirlwind, before sucking the tiny nub between her teeth, nibbling gently.
"Oh, oh!" Willow gasped, her hips arching, her hands tangling in Faith's hair. Faith used one hand to press Willow's hips back down. She flicked the nub between her teeth with her tongue while her other hand crept towards Willow's passage. With her thumb, she swept over and over the opening, not entering, but still teasing. In moments, Willow was caught between bucking upwards and pressing downwards, wanting both. "Please Faith," she whined softly. Faith shook her head minutely back and forth, the movement still pleasurable to Willow. Before the witch could respond again, Faith let her loose and swooped lower, imitating her thumb, sweeping her tongue up and down Willow's flesh. She pushed Willow's thighs even further apart, opening her completely to Faith before pressing her tongue inside Willow's passage.
The redhead tasted as sweet as Faith had known she would. Almost as if the essence of every spice and ingredient she'd used in her spell casting had been infused in Willow's very skin. She was tangy and sharp, sweet and creamy. And Faith couldn't get enough of the taste. Willow's hips worked under her, jerking in short motions as Faith pushed in deeper. Her nose rubbed against Willow's clit and the other woman keened softly, her body arching under Faith. But it wasn't good enough for Faith. She wanted to make Willow scream.
She moved back to alternating between sucking on Willow's clit, twisting it in her teeth, her fingers pressing into the her lover's body and laving at her core with her tongue. She could feel Willow's entire body quivering, her breathing growing more ragged. She felt her own body unconsciously seeking exactly what she was giving, the moisture of her arousal seeping down the insides of her thighs. Willow's never got that far as Faith lapped it from the heated skin. When finally she felt Willow's passage tensing around her fingers, Faith thrust quickly with her fingers.
"Ah Faith," Willow cried out, her head falling back with a soft whoomp on the sofa cushion. "Oh Goddess, need to-! Ah yes!"
Faith pressed her tongue into Willow's passage, darting as deeply as she could, her nose and chin pressed firmly into flesh as her own hips bucked, aroused by Willow's unbridled response, by her babble that filled Faith's ears as the other woman came under Faith's ministrations. As she finally pulled back, rubbing her lips across the tender flesh, Faith once more glanced up. She was only slightly startled to see the feral gleam in Willow's eyes before suddenly, their positions were reversed.
Willow stared down at Faith. She'd received quite a surprise this night. A few actually. And startling, the biggest one was actually that Faith apparently did know how to, and liked to cuddle. It seemed it just had to be with the right person. And Willow was one of those persons. Her hand seemed to move of it's own accord as Willow caressed the thick length of locks where Faith's head rested on her stomach. The sofa didn't really afford them much room, both of them together and Faith had drifted lower, tucking herself between Willow and the back cushion, her legs curled up while Willow was stretched full out, completely sated and restful. Her hand stilled for a moment as a thought occurred to Willow. She'd seen this before with Buffy. Every once in a while, the blond slayer liked to be pampered, treated like a lady. Was it possible that Faith needed a little TLC too? That maybe Faith wanted to be the protected one for once in her life?
Wondering at the sudden cessation of motion from Willow's hand, Faith turned her head to glance up at the redhead. She watched her for a moment before she opened her mouth to ask Willow if everything was okay. Or something like that. Maybe Faith wasn't so sure she wanted to know.
But whatever it was that would have spilled from her mouth though, was interrupted by the shrill ring of Willow's cell phone. She turned to locate it visually, seeing it across the room on her desk. One quick peak at Faith told her that the slayer wasn't ready yet, so Willow rose to answer, pulling clothes on as she went. Faith reluctantly began to follow suit, glancing at the clock on the wall as she did. Well, they weren't in danger of being late for the surprise the Scoobies had cooked up.
Willow didn't quite make it in time and she had to wait a moment before whomever had been calling had left his or her message. Willow flipped open the model and cycled through her options until she hit the voice mail key. She pulled the phone up to her ear, her back still to Faith, taking a moment to recover from what had just happened. Wondering vaguely if Faith was doing the same. But what she heard in that forty second message was enough to wipe Faith and the intimacy they'd just shared from the front of her mind. Dropping the phone, she whirled around, knowing only that she had to run. As she dashed to the front door, she heard Faith's startled exclamation of her name.
"I have to go," she gasped.
"What?" Faith demanded. She had her mission clear. Keep Willow home until they were called for. This panicked response to a phone call was not supposed to be in the cards. But apparently it was. Belatedly, Faith hurried after her charge, wondering what in the hellmouth was going on.
"They're after me," Willow shouted as she yanked open the front door.
"Who's after you?" Faith called as she hurried after the red-headed woman.
"Witch catcher," Willow panted as she hurried down the steps.
"And now she's caught you," came a new voice, rising up from the side of the house.
I actually didn't have too long to wait. The Rosenberg witch was foolish enough to panic, that much was clear. From what I heard, the telephone ringing and the sudden shouting, and then with the appearance outside and what I heard... Someone must have warned her. Well, I'd have to look into that. It wasn't good business to have my tags warned before I got to them. Sure, it could add a little thrill to the chase, but still with the nauseating feel of the oppressive Cleveland air suffocating me, I wasn't in the mood for it tonight.
I rose up from my hiding spot and made myself known. The two women, one, redheaded that I knew to be Rosenberg and another woman, a young lady that looked like she took the party hard line a little too seriously whipped around to locate me where I had hunkered down in the shadows. Knowing that the element of surprise was the biggest advantage I had, I wasted no time in raising my splat gun which was carefully loaded with the necessary spell components that I'd need to knock this girl out.
But I had seriously misjudged the other girl's presence. I hadn't sensed anything magically inclined about her, but there was something there. When she moved faster than I could really see, my first thought was demon. But she looked like no demon I had ever encountered. She looked perfectly human.
"Willow!" she shrieked, launching her body forward even as my gun went off, knocking the witch out of the way. The spell hit, doing exactly as it was supposed to, putting the dark haired girl under. Swearing under my breath, I readied another shot, but as I kept Rosenberg in my sights, I felt that eerie sensation racing up and down the back of my neck again. And I could swear that her eyes flashed black. A sure sign of a dark witch, that much I knew.
"You shouldn't have done that," my opponent actually growled at me. Before I could retort, my splat gun went flying out of my hands. Damn it, looked like I was going to have an old-fashioned fight on my hands. I just hoped I was up to it. I crouched slightly, waiting to see which way she'd go, running ready spells through my mind. My repertoire for cases like this were limited, especially as I really didn't want to open myself up to the ley lines that ran through this town. They were... tainted somehow.
Rosenberg threw one arm forward and one to the ground, but instead of taking from the earth, she shocked me entirely. And I do mean literally. She took from me, energy, life force whatever you want to call it, but I could see it pulled from my body to rush through her outstretched hand down to her friends form lying supine on the ground.
But instead of draining me, once the girl on the ground began to stir, it stopped. And left me feeling slightly lightheaded. With a dazed groan, the other woman pushed up off the ground and jumped to her feet, whirling around to confront me.
Faith barely knew what hit her. She'd never been subject to being hit with unprovoked mojo before. Becoming a Slayer had been an entirely different story. She'd simply woken up one day loaded for bear with power and a woman showing up on her doorstep telling her that she now had a destiny. Working the magical artifact that Mayor Wilkins had left her, well she'd been expecting that, since she was the one who had instigated the change into B's body. This, having a gun fired at her and being hit with who knew what was outside of Faith's realm.
The brief unconsciousness was not to her liking though. When the lassitude and paralyzing sensation lifted, courtesy she knew, of Willow, Faith was spitting ready for a fight. Pushing up off the ground, she saw that Willow was in about the same position, angered at the provocation and ready to throw anything and everything at this woman crouched before them. Faith sprang to her feet and advanced quickly. More quickly than in a normal fight, because right now, she wasn't of a mind to toy with her prey. The woman had come here to hurt Willow. And there was no way in hell that Faith was going to allow that.
The redheaded woman before her didn't cower, her face lifted to meet the onslaught that she had to know was coming. In fact, under other circumstances, Faith might have admired the woman's courage under fire, but not now. The first satisfying slam of her fist against the woman's temple was just the beginning. It knocked her to the side and Faith darted in to hit her again. The woman raised her arm to ward off coming blows and Faith could just dimly hear Willow yelling from somewhere behind her. Turning slightly to make sure that Willow was okay, Faith ducked back from a return punch from her adversary. She caught the woman's fist in her right hand, thankful that when it came to the beat down, she was admirably ambidextrous. She pulled on the fist, bringing the woman forward into her left palm. The crunching of her nose breaking echoed through the night and seeing the blood trickling down, curving around the lines of her mouth inflamed Faith's fighting instincts.
The blows began to rain down in earnest and Willow gasped. Yes the woman had attacked her, hitting Faith instead when her friend had reacted instinctively to protect her. But this was... it was Sunnydale Faith all over again it seemed and it scared her worse than being caught as an unlicensed witch.
"Faith," she called, moving forward to the two combatants. Well, that wasn't right term for them, since after that first attempt to defend herself, the woman hadn't been given another chance to get a shot in. "Faith!" she screamed, catching her friend's arm in midair. Faith's chestnut locks whirled as she turned to see why Willow was stopping her. "She's human Faith," she pressed, boring her eyes into the Slayer's.
Finally the words seemed to sink in as Faith relaxed her grip slightly, though she didn't let the other woman go. Unfortunately, relaxing her guard even that much, gave the other redhead, the one laying on the ground, the opportunity to put her own powers and gumption to work.
"I don't like repeating myself," Willow suddenly snapped, even though her eyes were still on Faith. "Don't do that!"
"Why not?" the other witch demanded, her voice husky and thick through the bloody nose she sported.
"Because you're obviously not used to the effects of a Hellmouth and it'll make everything you do go all wonky," Willow explained coldly, finally turning her attention back to the victim of Faith's fury.
Hellmouth? The word filled me with an unknown dread. This word was something I'd only heard in passing back from my training days, many years ago. And it was always spoken of with a hushed tone, like one you'd hear in a funeral parlor. No one had ever taken the time to explain what exactly it was to me. Had only told me that I'd recognize it if I encountered it and basically, not to encounter it. Cleveland was the Hellmouth?
"What do you mean 'wonky'?" I demanded. I could only assume what the word meant.
"She means," the woman who'd been trying to thrash me drawled softly, "that the energy you witches tend to open yourself up to is completely dark. Infected by the essence of the hellmouth that lingers not to far from here. It twists everything you try to do and if you're real lucky, it'll only kill you. Otherwise, it'll take out a helluva lot more than that when things go bad. And believe, on a hellmouth, things always go bad."
I believed her.
Apart from the words having a ring of truth to them, I could see in her eyes that she knew firsthand about these horrors. And then the words began to sink in. Sunnydale, things going bad, was that what had happened to Willow Rosenberg? Had this been the reason that everyone in the business had avoided that place like the plague? At least the good witches I knew. Well, it didn't hurt to ask. "Is that what happened in Sunnydale? Was it a hellmouth?" Both of the other women nodded. I let out a heavy sigh and my head dropped back for just a moment. "Well isn't that just peachy," I huffed.
"With a side of keen," Rosenberg chuckled. Apparently now that the situation was under their control, everything was hunky dory for them.
"So who the hell are you?" the other one demanded, loosening her grip on my fist, which I was extremely thankful for. Damn this girl was strong.
"Rachel Morgan," I answered shortly. "Unlicensed witch catcher."
It took a moment, but I saw recognition dawn in the brunette, yet none in Miss Rosenberg. "Ah son of a bitch!" she swore loudly, glancing around. "You're Jenks' friend!" She stood up and started looking around in earnest. "Where is the little bastard?"
"You know him?" I demanded, also rising to my feet, albeit a little more unsteadily. "And not here. When he found out we were coming to Cleveland, he bailed on me."
"Smart pixie," Faith, her name suddenly popped back into my mind, growled. It was kind of hard to take in when someone was trying to introduce your nose to your brain internally. And thinking of such, I tested it gingerly, wincing. Yup, definitely broken.
"You know a pixie?" Willow asked, sounding very amused. Faith glanced back at her friend.
"Yeah," Faith grinned. "He got in my way a few times and I told him to stay the hell outta my way or I was gonna yank off those wings of his and feed them to him."
I couldn't help my eyes widening again. No wonder he'd been in such a panic. But still, they knew who I was and I knew one half of who they were. Regardless, I still had a job to do. "As illuminating as this has been, Miss Rosenberg is an unlicensed witch."
"Oh I know, I know," Willow huffed, her fingers nimbly twisting the hem of the material of her long sleeved sweater she was wearing. "I mean, I didn't know about licensing until after Sunnydale. And the coven in Devon never said anything until recently."
"You're in touch with the Devon coven?" I asked. That was information I hadn't had. Willow nodded.
"She was working with them after things went bad in Sunnydale," Faith pointed out quietly, "tryin' to get her head on straight."
"Oh," was all I could say. "Well, that still doesn't change things. Unless you have a license, I'm gonna have to take you in." Willow swallowed heavily, glancing back and forth between myself and her friend. I could just see the wheels turning in her head. She took one step forward.
"I understand," was all she managed to whisper before her friend pushed her back.
"You're not going anywhere with her Red," Faith averred.
"But Faith," Willow frowned, "I knew I was breaking the rules. I mean, I was trying to work with the coven, but with everything going on..."
"That's just it Red," Faith sighed. "Damn it. B and the rest of the Scoobies are gonna kill me for ruinin' the surprise."
I'm sure my face mirrored the other witch in front of me. What surprise?
"The thing tonight was the ceremony to present you with your license," Faith continued, biting at her lower lip. Willow's eyes widened. "There was gonna be a whole shebang an' everything." She turned back to me. "Will that get you off her case?"
"I'd have to verify it through proper channels," I informed the woman. And that wouldn't be too hard. I had contacts with the Devon coven, one of whom I had been considering calling earlier. I really wish I had, I decided, sniffing heavily to try and stem the trickle of blood still flowing from my nose. Suddenly, a handkerchief appeared before me. I glanced up at the other witch and she gave me a small smile and even tinier wave.
"I uh, have a question?" she muttered, waiting until I had wiped away the majority of the blood.
"Who hired you? I mean, if the coven was planning on licensing me right away, and I'm really grateful that they decided to get it done with, but why would one of them call out a contract on me? It's not like I have tons of enemies that might... oh!"
I took advantage of whatever brainstorm had stopped her in her verbal tracks. "It was an Amy Madison. Said she knew you from high school. You turned her into a rat, among other things."
Willow's jaw dropped. This was just too much and had been going on for too long. "That bitch!" Both Faith and Rachel's eyes widened upon that proclamation. "She did that to herself. I'm the one that turned her back into a human!"
"Wasn't she the one that did that whole guilt trip spell?" Faith interrupted and Willow nodded vehemently, blushing suddenly. By the way Faith lowered her eyes suddenly, Rachel could sense that there was a whole lot of something else going on there. Faith turned to Rachel, "if there's anyone you should be out to catch, it's her. I don't think she ever got licensed herself. Did she Red?"
"Not that I'm aware," Willow shook her head.
"Tell you what," Faith suddenly grinned. "I think it'd probably be in the Council's best interest to apprehend this unlicensed brat that's out to cause trouble. Don't you?" Willow grinned as well and nodded. Faith turned fully to face Rachel. "Double your fee if you pick her ass up and deliver her to the Watcher's Council."
Rachel's eyes widened to comic proportions. Obviously this woman had heard of them, seeing how they pretty much predated most organized excursions the world around.
"Let me do some checking and I'll definitely get back to you."
"Well, I guess that takes care of that," Willow sighed as they watched their new, dare she think it... ally, drive off.
"Yeah it does," Faith agreed.
"I can't believe you had that much cash on hand," Willow smirked.
"Oh well," Faith shrugged, ducking her head a little bit. "I figured I'd spend most of my night hangin' at the bar."
"My party is going to be at a bar?" Willow asked, her forehead wrinkling as she took that in.
"Well, no," Faith shrugged. "There'll be a bar there..."
"Oh," Willow nodded slowly. "Um Faith, about earlier..."
"Man, Giles is gonna kill me," Faith interrupted quickly. "I wasn't supposed to tell ya."
"Well under the circumstances," Willow offered quietly.
"And I mean, I got this really kickin' dress for it an' all," Faith went on. "Everyone was lookin' forward to surprising you for a change."
"I promise, I'll act all surprised-y," Willow countered, determined to get to what she wanted to talk about. What they needed to talk about. "But Faith-!"
"We can still make it a surprise for everyone else though," Faith announced, a glint in her eyes. "Maybe my... coming out party?" She watched with satisfaction as the nervousness faded from the redhead's eyes and a faint blush spread over her cheeks.
"Faith, are you-?"
"Yeah," Faith nodded, feeling a lot more sure of herself than she'd been in recent memory. Even though, when she reached out her hand to Willow, she noticed that it was trembling just the slightest bit. "You know that dress I mentioned?" Willow stared down at the proferred hand for a moment before finally taking it in hers, their fingers entwining. And the moment Faith felt Willow's grasp in hers, the trembling stopped. "Well didn't I ever tell you?" She pulled Willow a step closer, raising their hands and pressing a gentle kiss to Willow knuckles. "That Red's my favorite color?"