Once More, Into The Breach
***For Krystel, who was the first winner of the serial contest on my group. She wanted to see three parts of this story, and I've been wanting to revise it, so here it is.***
Title: Fish Out Of Water
Disclaimer: Hamilton owns AB, Whedon owns BTVS.
Spoilers: S7 for BTVS, CS for AB.
Summary: Xander's hungry, Faith's cranky, and Willow's bemoaning the day any of them ever decided to be the 'good guys'. And as the title suggests, they're a little out of their depth . . .UNDER REVISION.
Part One: Once More, Into The Breach
There is a belief, one that is quite unfounded, that between the members of the Scooby Gang and their loved ones only one Golden Rule existed. And that rule was as follows: Don't die. However, that is not entirely the truth. The group of people who made up the Scooby Gang rarely followed this rule. Just look at the example of Buffy Summers, who had broken this rule twice in a span of six years. There was also Angel, who was sent body and soul to Hell and then managed to get himself thrown out. Spike also broke this rule during the battle with the First, and if he kept pestering Angel the way he did, he would most likely break it again in the near future.
Therefore, since it proved rather difficult for the Scoobies to actually follow this one rule, it would be near impossible for anyone to claim that it was their Golden Rule. The truth of the matter was, the Scoobies knew that following this rule was damn near impossible, especially considering the nature of their work. But that isn't to say that they didn't have a Golden Rule. They did, indeed, have such a rule, and it was one that they could all agree to follow without too much trouble. The rule was simply this: 'don't let others die'.
And it was precisely because of this rule that Willow now found herself in such a ridiculously difficult situation. The redheaded witch looked down at the latest problem with a sort of dazed look. She would rather not have to look at it, but she really had no other choice considering how she was dangling quite precariously on the edge of it.
The 'it' in question was a very large blue portal that had opened up just under her feet some forty seconds ago. In that short span of time, a lot of shit had happened. For one thing, the portal did an incredible job of taking her mind away from the young Slayers she was supposed to be supervising. Suddenly making sure that the six young girls were handling the nest extermination properly didn't seem nearly as important.
The first five seconds allowed a lot of thoughts to go through her mind, the most predominant being 'now you don't see that everyday'. At the sixth second she had managed to scream. That scream took up about four seconds, and at the eleventh second, Xander had managed to grab her arm to stop her from falling into the blue portal. At the twentieth second they both realized that the portal was getting bigger. The twenty-fifth second exposed the fact that there was some sort of pull from the portal that prevented them from scrambling away from it. On the thirty-third second Faith turned away from the rushing vampires to lend a helping hand, and at the fortieth second they all knew that it was pointless, because the portal would not be denied.
As one, and in a somewhat comical fashion, they all tipped over and fell into the great, blue beyond. Screaming was futile, Willow knew this by now, but she did it anyway. Xander joined her in her scream, while Faith let loose a stream of profanity that none of those six girls left behind would be able to repeat without blushing.
And then there was darkness . . .
. . . which was quickly accompanied by bright lights and loud noises.
Time had slowed for Willow once the portal had opened up at her feet. Even as she and her friends fell in, it felt as if they were moving in slow motion. But once the darkness had come and gone, she felt as if time had returned to normal. She became overwhelmingly aware of the lack of ground anywhere around her and she didn't have time to suck in enough air for another scream before she fell through the air and hit the ground hard.
She banged her head on the floor and stars swam before her eyes. Before she was given any time to recover, she was hit full force by the impact of Xander and Faith falling on top of her. Willow's eyes crossed as all the air was driven out of her body and she scrunched up her face in reaction to the pain. Both of her friends seemed likewise affected by their fall because they certainly weren't making moves to get off of her. Xander seemed like he was out for the count and only the sound of his breathing assured her that he was still alive. Faith appeared to be less affected by their ordeal, but she was still slow to move in the initial moments after they hit the ground. But once the brunette Slayer managed to gather her wits about her, she commenced swearing heavily again.
"What the fuck was that shit?" Faith growled as she very slowly slid off of Xander. Willow heard her, but she couldn't respond. Xander was definitely unconscious and very much a dead weight draped across her chest. She was having a lot of trouble regaining her breath and the impact had left her in such pain that she couldn't quite push him off of her. Faith eventually noticed this and pulled the larger man off the small female all squished underneath.
"Fuck," the Slayer swore, her voice laced with a slight indication of pain. "Shit. Xander?" Willow heard some grunts and swishing of fabrics. Faith was trying to shake Xander awake. She didn't appear to be having any luck. "For fuck's sake . . . Willow? Please tell me that you're awake."
Willow coughed in response and rolled over onto her right side. When she opened her eyes, she was greeted by the sight of the back of Xander's head and Faith's knees. She turned her eyes upward and saw that the Slayer was leaning over her, brown eyes swimming with confusion and concern. Just behind Faith, Willow could make out the shapes of large lights and an oddly shaped ceiling. Willow shook her head and suddenly tuned into the sounds around her. There was screaming and shouting and cheering-was she dropped in the middle of a concert?
"What . . . ?"
"Don't know," Faith answered as she looked up and at whatever was around them. "But from the looks of it, it can't be good."
Always the optimist. Willow tried to move into an upright position so that she could assess their situation. Faith immediately grabbed her arm and pulled her into a sitting position. As she became vertical, Willow's head protested immensely to the action. Her vision swam as a wave of pain hit her. She moaned pitifully and fell against Faith. The Slayer supported her with her own body, the steady stream of curses leaving her mouth becoming worse by the second. Willow squeezed her eyes shut and willed the pain out of her body. Once the worst had past, she turned herself around to see where the noise was coming from.
"Is that a-"
"Crowd?" Faith finished for her. "Yup, that's a crowd. A very large crowd who just saw us fall out of a portal. And they're cheering their asses off. Any thoughts, Willow?"
Somehow 'no' didn't seem to cover it.
And here he thought it would be another boring night at the Circus.
Truth be told, the Circus was never boring. Certainly Jean-Claude did his best to make sure that things never got boring. After all, the Circus was meant to entertain people, and as the Ringmaster, Jean-Claude made sure that it always did. But for someone who was there some five to six days of the week, it did become a bit routine. After a while, one could expect what was going to happen at the Circus of the Damned. There was a schedule that was followed, certain people were guaranteed certain amounts of time on stage, and generally everything went according to plan. Right now, the lamia was currently on stage, working her stuff to the crowd's extreme pleasure. On any other night, she would have had twenty minutes to do her routine.
But not tonight.
Jason had been making his way down through the seats when he first felt it. It was like a huge cloud of magic had erupted inside the Circus and quickly filled every single inch of space within. To be honest, it knocked him flat on his butt. His beast began to panic and urge to shift and run away was very strong within him. But he resisted, and within seconds the feeling had passed, though the smell of magic remained.
It was then that the people around him started going a bit crazy. Some patrons were standing up in shock while others were shrieking with joy as they pointed to the centre of the arena. He followed their pointing fingers and saw what had gotten them so riled up.
A huge, swirling blue portal-totally like something out of Star Trek-had opened up at the top of the Circus. Transfixed, he had watched the portal, which started off relatively small, began to expand until it stretched several feet in length. For a few moments it simply remained there, a swirl of blue and black that made no sound, created no disturbance, but rather just hung above their heads. And just when most people had been convinced that nothing more spectacular would happen, the portal unceremoniously spit three bodies out into the air. In those first few seconds, those bodies seemed to be suspended right there. But when the portal constricted and then finally closed, they began to move.
Or more accurately, they began to hurtle towards the ground at break-neck speed.
They hit the ground, one after the one, making dull thuds as they collided with the arena floor. Jason hopped back up to his feet just as the crowd went nuts once more, cheering and clapping for the three new arrivals. The young werewolf spared them all a quick glance, noting that almost everyone seemed convinced that this was just part of the act. Only a few concerned faces stood out to him, some of which he recognized as fellow shapeshifters. No doubt they felt the impact of the magic just as strongly as he did, and they knew as well as he did that this was not part of the show.
The three figures in the ring were slowly starting to move. Immediately Jason recovered his senses and made a dash for the backstage area. He was greeted with a virtual mob of Circus employees, all of whom were gathered around the stage entrance. There were quite a few worried murmurs winding their way through that crowd. Their confusion was clear, and their fear just bubbling underneath the surface. He had to do a great deal of pushing to make his way through to the stage door, and once he cleared it he was greeted by a very worrisome sight. The lamia was riled and angry-and she was very quickly making her way over to the new arrivals.
If Jean-Claude wanted to make it through the night without casualties, he was going to have to work FAST.
Every time she blinked, the crowd of people cheering and clapping refused to fade away. And after about five minutes of it, she decided that maybe this wasn't all a hallucination and that she better check to make sure Xander wasn't too badly hurt.
Willow painfully rolled over to her other side and saw that her best friend was still motionless. She reached out and poked him gently. "Xander?" Silence. Another poke. "Xander?" More silence. A slightly harder poke. "Alexander Harris, wake up this instant!"
Xander groaned and began to shift away from her. "No sex tonight," he murmured into the ground. That wasn't the response she was expecting. Arching an eyebrow, she looked from her semi-conscious friend to Faith.
"Did he just say what I think he said?" she asked. Faith smirked and then shrugged before she got to her feet. The Slayer shook her head as if trying to shake off her stupor. Once this was accomplished, the brunette took a good look at their surroundings.
And stopped dead in her tracks.
Willow watched as Faith tensed up, her hands curling into fists at her sides. Willow didn't like the looks of that. She had been hanging around with Slayers for enough years to know what that meant. Almost against her own will, the redhead moved her head so that she could see around Faith. What she saw there left her speechless.
"What the fuck is that shit?" Faith had no such problem. The Slayer was alert, edgy, and had her eyes trained on the creature that was slithering ever closer to them. And Willow meant slithering, because the creature in question was some sort of half-snake, half-woman hybrid. The creature caught her gaze and smiled, sending a flash of fangs her way. Okay, correction, it appeared to be a half-snake, half-vampire thingy. Things were getting better by the second.
"Back off!" Faith was looking real dangerous by now, and if Willow had been that thing that was heading their way, she would have stopped cold at the sound of Faith's voice. But the creature was not Willow, and apparently did not have enough survival skills to recognize a viable threat when one presented itself. The creature only came closer, mouth stretching wide to reveal quite an impressive array of teeth. Faith was undaunted by the display and once the creature failed to heed her warning, she leapt into action.
By the time that Faith had thrown her first bout of kicks and punches, the crowd had apparently caught onto the fact that something was out of place. When Faith lashed out and sent the snaky thing flying back some ten feet, some of them started to get a bit panicked. The sounds of applause was gradually replaced by the sounds of whispers, frightened murmurs, and some shrieks. The situation was very quickly spiralling out of control.
And Xander still wasn't awake.
"Xander!" Willow all but pounced on the inert man. She ignored the pain the movement caused her and began to violently shake her best friend. Xander groaned a few more times, but was unable to remain asleep because of her relentless attack.
"What?" he growled as he struggled to sit up. Willow just rolled her eyes and decided to wait until he remembered what had happened. It didn't take long for Xander to realize that something was not right, and as he struggled to fully grasp what had happened, Faith began to call for their attention.
"Um guys? There's more than one."
And indeed there was. Willow stifled a moan as she noticed the various figures emerging onto the scene. A quick look was all she needed to know that these were not regular people coming towards them. Some of them were very pale, the telltale signs of a vampire, and others were practically prowling towards them. They approached in a circle, almost every eye trained on Faith. The Slayer appeared to calm as she faced the new arrivals, but Willow could tell that she was getting very nervous.
"God damn it." Oh, Xander had joined them at last. The man lurched to his feet to stand beside Faith, pulling at his eye patch in anxiety as he took stock of their situation. "What the hell?"
"My sentiments exactly," Faith muttered. Willow licked her lips nervously and twisted her hands in her lap, debatting the pros and cons of using magic in this situation. However, the decision was made for her when the snaky-she-thing burst through the approaching circle of creatures and launched itself right at Faith and Xander.
Willow's right hand came up immediately and the redhead felt energy surge through her. Soon a bright flash erupted from the centre of her palm and made a beeline for the snaky thing. The bolt struck it in the chest and threw it clear of her friends. By now the crowd was going nuts and Willow heard the sounds of a stampede as people rushed for the exit. The approaching circle of creatures began moving more swiftly towards them.
"Guys! Hands!" Willow threw out both her hands in their direction. Without further prodding, both Faith and Xander dropped down to her side and grabbed one hand each. Willow grasped their hands firmly and shut her eyes. Latin words came tumbling from her lips as a wind picked up around them.
Within seconds they had disappeared, leaving chaos and hysteria in their wake.