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The Greatest Show on Earth

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Summary: *Finally Completed!* Challenge Response, W/Nathaniel

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anita Blake > Willow-Centered > Pairing: NathanielEenaAngelFR181026,87662128,2477 Jan 034 Jun 03Yes

The Greatest Show on Earth

Title: The Greatest Show on Earth
Author: eena_angel2001
Email: igrewal@sfu.ca or eena_angel@hotmail.com
Rating: R
Category: Anita Blake/BTVS crossover
Pairing: Willow/Nathaniel
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone, except Bob.
Spoilers: Season Six for BTVS and Narcissus in Chains for Anita Blake
Summary: Challenge Response

Original Challenge:

I was riding the trolley home the other day and thinking (not much
else to do
for that 45 minute ride, ya know?) about writing a fic involving
Willow working at the Circus of the Damned. I then scrapped it,
knowing darn well I have no business starting another fic when I have
7 or 8 WiPs. So - here's my challenge.

Using that snippet of a plot bunny, write a fic wherein Willow is,
for some
reason, working at the Circus of the Damned. The story should include
enough
background to give us an idea as to WHY she is working there and not
currently chillin' on the Hellmouth.

Stipulations:
1) Willow can't be related to anyone from the AB 'verse. That just
makes it too easy.
2) Pairings should be W/Jason, W/Stephen, W/Gregory, or W/Nathaniel,
bonus if you can make it W/Jamil or W/Shang-Da in some PLAUSIBLE way.
3) Willow working as a main attraction, not as a ticket seller or
anything
else so mundane.
4) Willow doing some hella wicked magic.
5) A new big bad that is not lycanthrope or Council.

Anyway - run with it and have fun. Hopefully someone will take me up
on it and bring my poor plot snippet to life.

Jinni

Part One

No one really knew who she was. Several people tried to ask,
but only got the coldest of stares in response. And believe it or
not, she was intimidating when angry. You wouldn't think it from her
tiny frame and slender body, but danger radiated under the surface of
that little redhead. And if you couldn't tell by looking at her, you
could definitely tell by watching her perform.
Anyway, not knowing who she is was the only thing that really
bothered Anita about her. Well, not only, but the most prominent.
The others included where she came from, where she got that kind of
power, and finally, why the hell Jean-Claude hired her. The vampire
was not one to take big risks, especially not with one hell of a
powerful witch whom he knew nothing about. But he allowed it
anyway. And that bothered Anita. Why would he do that? Hadn't he
learned his lesson about messing with powerful beings? What was his
ulterior motive? Did he even have one? Was it because the girl was
beautiful and deadly? Maybe the vampire wanted to sample her behind
Anita's back.
Minor jealousy on her part was another that bothered Anita
about the new girl. Not a lot of jealous, but enough. Besides, it's
not like the girl was any real threat to Anita. Not with her long
red hair that was like spun fire, her pale alabaster skin which
brought out her enchanting green eyes, or that lithe little body the
boys and girls of the Circus appreciated. No, not a threat in the
least.
So why did Anita want to get rid of her? She just didn't
want the girl around on principle. Maybe she just didn't like the
fact that she was no longer the most powerful woman on the block.
Because the little redhead could most likely kick her butt, magically
speaking. No one had tried out the redhead's fighting skills. No
one was that stupid. The fact that with one look she could terrify
most vampires was frightening enough. But who really wanted to
provoke the girl into a fight.
Anita did. Just a little. So she could prove to herself
that she could do it. Not to prove to Jean-Claude or Micah, who
looked at the redhead like she was a verifiable full course meal,
that she was better than the rookie. Nope, it would be just for her
own curiosity.
Yeah right.
Anita shifted uncomfortably. She didn't like having these
thoughts. She was not a jealous person. Unless you count all those
times when she saw a woman throw herself at Richard. But that was
beside the point. And this girl wasn't doing anything of the sort.
She didn't flirt with Anita's men; she hardly even looked their way.
Maybe the real problem was the despite the cold shoulder, all of
Anita's men were captivated by the redhead. Maybe that's what made
her so angry, so jealous.
Or maybe the girl was just evil and Anita would have to kill
her. There was always hope.
The Executioner shot a glance at her boyfriends. They were
caught up in the redhead's performance. She really couldn't blame
them. It was a good act. Oh wait, she did blame them. It was like
she wasn't even in the room. Anita wasn't used to that feeling, not
with her boys. She didn't like it one bit.
Sighing, she turned back to the act. Anita could try to
enjoy herself. After all, the redhead was just here to work.
Nothing else. And Anita knew that for a fact. Several of the other
workers and hanger-ons had tried to persuade the girl to sleep with
them. Others were nicer and just asked her out. Some just plain
grabbed at whatever was available. Those ones got put into
hospitals, the nicer ones got polite rejections, and the sex beggers
usually got a knee to the groin. And she didn't exactly bias on
that, anyone could get a knee to the groin from the new girl. If she
didn't like you, she didn't like you.
All she wanted to do was work. At least, that's what Anita
was told. She hadn't actually talked to the girl herself yet. She
had seen plenty of her performances, but never spoke to her. The
girl didn't really give much time for that. After the show was over,
she just packed up her stuff and left. She never hung around, never
went out with the others. She was a loner and she fought hard to
protect her privacy. It made Anita wonder what she was trying to
hide.
The girl was doing some sort of trick with fire. She was
slowly building more and more of it, from her magic of course. Soon,
it looked like the whole ring was on fire. She waved her hands and
the fire collected and took shape. There was a type of belly-dancing
music on. The redhead lightly swung her hips in junction with the
notes, but generally kept her focus on the fire. Eventually,
everyone could make out the shape she had intended. It looked like a
dragon. Even from her spot, Anita could see the intricate design of
scales and wings. The redhead put a lot of power into it. The fire
dragon approached its mistress, circling her several times.
Suddenly, it wrapped itself around her. The redhead rose up and
floated before the crowd. The fire encircled her, still in the form
of the dragon. Everyone could see the fire on her skin; smell the
scent of burnt hair. People started becoming frantic, was she
burning herself?
But no, the redhead remained okay. She hung above the ring,
hips moving to the beat of her music. The fire dragon continued to
coil around her, occasionally flying over the heads of the audience.
They could feel the heat of it, knew it was real fire. But it had no
effect on the redhead. She continued to dance as the fire covered
her body.
Then the music stopped. The redhead stopped her dancing and
you had a moment before she went up in flames. The crowd began to
panic, as they only saw the burning figure. And then with a large
bang, it was all gone. She was back on the ground, perched
nonchalantly on a table. The fire dragon continued to weave its away
around her form. When its head reached her shoulder, the body began
to change. The fire disappeared and was replaced by an actual
feathered serpent. And with that, the redhead blew a kiss to the
audience.
The crowd went wild. Anita obligatorily got to her feet and
clapped along with everyone else. If nothing else, the redhead knew
how to put on a show. Anita would just feel better if she knew and
what the girl exactly was. And one of these days she would find out.
One of these days, Anita would uncover everything about
Willow Rosenburg. Even if it killed her.
*****
Part Two

Willow waited patiently on the table. She knew as soon as
the show was over, a legion of teenagers would come running over.
They couldn't help themselves. Everyone always asked the same
question.
"Is that really a dragon?"
Willow looked up with a smile on her smile. Behind her was a
group of teenagers, the oldest being about sixteen. They were
regarding her with a certain amount of awe in their eyes. And as for
the serpent, they flickered between scared and curious.
"No, he's not a dragon," she finally answered. "He's just a
feathered serpent. He can fly and he looks like a dragon, but he
isn't one. He can't breathe fire."
"Does he bite?"
"Only if I tell him to," the redhead smiled. Her extended
her right arm, the one he was coiled around, out to the teenagers.
"You can pet him if you want?"
The group looked slightly on edge. Willow couldn't help but
smirk when two kids, one boy and one girl finally stepped forward.
The girl nudged the boy ahead of her, eyes intent on the serpent.
Slowly, the boy reached out a shaky hand to the serpent and lightly
brushed his fingertips over its scales.
"Hey!" he declared to his friends. "It's soft!"
"Why is it soft?" the girl asked, feeling the scales for
herself.
"Because he is a feathered serpent," Willow replied. "The
scales are hard and protective, but feather like. Helps with his
flying."
"What's his name?" the youngest of the group asked, boldly
petting the serpent now she knew it did not bite. Willow smiled at
the serpent in pride.
"His name is Bob," she announced with great pomp.
"Bob?" a girl repeated. "Why Bob? You can't name a serpent
Bob."
"Why not?" Willow demanded, allowing a confused frown to come
to her face. "Bob's a nice name. And he likes it, don't you Bob?"
The serpent hissed happily in response. Willow smiled down
at him, tickling the spot under his chin.
"Where did you get Bob?"
"I found him," Willow revealed. "In my hometown. I was
walking by the lake and I heard these weird hissing noises. Look
behind a bush and find him, all injured and hungry. I picked him up,
took him home, fixed him up, and then he just didn't leave again."
"So, you domesticated him?"
"Kind of," Willow agreed. "But I haven't actually done
anything to tame him. He was just a baby when I found him, and since
I took care of him, he'll be with me until he is able to take care of
himself."
"He'll leave one day?" the youngest asked. "Won't you be
sad?"
"Maybe," Willow shrugged. "But he isn't mine to keep. Just
mine to enjoy for a while."
The line of questions ended there as adults came up and
claimed their children. A few of them turned back and waved at her,
which she returned with a knowing smile. They would be back
tomorrow, hoping catch another glimpse of her and Bob. They always
would. Willow was told she had become very enchanting.
Now if she could only feel like anything but crap.
*****
The day ended like any other. She gathered her things, shot
down many invitations and had to knee a few groins before she was out
of the Circus. She calmly piled her things into her car, putting
Bob's cage in the front seat. She didn't like putting him in there,
but city bylaws required that she have him locked up when outside.
Like he would do anything. Feathered serpents are not dangerous,
they're guardians by nature. But people were too ready to confuse
them with dragons, despite their much smaller frame.
Anyway, she did it the same as she always did. Packed up by
herself, refusing any help offered. Maybe she was being cold, maybe
she was being stubborn, but Willow didn't particularly cared. She
wasn't here to make friends, wasn't here to do anything but work and
make some money. And she did make money, lots of it. Jean-Claude
paid her an awful lot for her performances. He was a pretty okay
guy. You know, for a vampire.
Willow sighed to herself and slid behind the driver's wheel.
She kind of liked her boss. He seemed like the right mix of Angel,
Angelus, and Spike. One would think that combination would be
frightening, and it probably was on occasion. But it made Willow
feel right at home. She was used to docile creatures that could rip
her throat out at the slightly provocation. She liked it, made
things familiar.
Willow started up the car and pulled out of the parking lot.
One thing she didn't understand about Jean-Claude was his choice in
women. Well, in one woman. Anita Blake. Willow didn't particularly
think badly of the woman, but she was the goddamn Executioner. The
redhead had heard enough stories about what this chick did to demons
and vampires. She didn't understand why Jean-Claude would be dating
her. It was suicidal, it was wrong. It was like Buffy and Angel.
Willow shook her head to clear her thoughts of her best
friend. She didn't want to think of Buffy, to think of Dawn, to
think of what she did to them. It still hurt too much to
acknowledge. That's why she left home. Packed up everything,
brought Bob, and moved to St. Louis. To get away from the pain the
Hellmouth held for her and the guilt that would eat at her everyday.
It was too hard.
Willow pulled into her apartment building's parking lot. She
parked in her spot and commenced pulled her stuff out. Somehow, she
managed to make it all the way up to her apartment without dropping a
thing. But she wasn't able to open it for the life of her.
Impatiently, Willow stomped on her door and waited until she
heard the lock being slid open. The door opened to reveal Xander
staring amusedly at her.
"If you would just ask for help in the parking lot," he
started off.
"Then who would open the door?" Willow countered, pushing her
way in. "Besides, I got this. I'm not an invalid you know."
Xander chuckled at her offended tone and starting taking
things off her. Yes, she had brought Xander too. The man had
actually come up with the idea. The two best friends, moving on from
the place that held so much hurt for them. She couldn't deal with
her trip down the dark side; he couldn't deal with the mess he made
with Anya. And after finding out she was a vengeance demon once
more, well, Xander just couldn't stay anymore.
So they left together. Just the two of them once again,
after so many years. And they were like they once were. Happy and
friends. Like a brother and sister pair. Willow didn't know if she
could have made it this far without Xander. She didn't really want
to find out. It made life easier to have her Xander-shaped friend
around.
And they worked and lived like they didn't have a care in the
world. He worked at this weird bar, Guilty Pleasures, another one of
Jean-Claude's joints. It was actually a strip club, but Xander
decided it was best if he was just the bartender. Though Jean-Claude
had tried to persuade him to change his mind, several times. Willow
had never actually been to this bar. Xander worked the same shift
that she worked at the Circus. And she didn't really want to go.
Sitting in bar ogling half naked men wasn't her idea of fun. Maybe
for Faith or Buffy, but not for Willow. She wouldn't last two
minutes before spontaneously combusting from blushing. And she
didn't particularly want any of her fellow employees to know she was
like that. It would ruin her carefully constructed image of the ice
princess.
"Good day at work?" Xander asked, bringing her out of her
thoughts. Willow sighed and made for the shower.
"I'll tell you when I'm done."
"Need company?" he teased her.
"If you're man enough," she teased back, slipping into her
room. Xander just laughed and settled down on the couch to watch
television. He let Bob out of his cage and allowed the serpent to
coil up his arm.
"So Bob," he started conversationally. "You want to watch
Dawson's Creek or Nikita?"
The serpent hissed in response. Xander nodded agreeably,
turning the remote to the television.
"Nikita it is."
*****
Part Three

"But who is she?"
Nathaniel watched as Micah rolled his eyes at Anita's back.
The leopard was well aware that the Nimir-Raj and his Nimir-Ra didn't
exactly see eye to eye on the topic at hand. Micah thought Anita was
being overly paranoid; Anita thought he was getting lax. Nathaniel
didn't really have an opinion. He had yet to see the cause of such
domestic disturbance.
Willow, some new attraction at the Circus. He hadn't
actually seen her perform, but Zane had assured him it was a
magnificent show. The new redhead seemed to offer some quality
entertainment, on and off stage. More than once had he heard the
stories of what she did to those who dared to proposition her. It
sounded funny, he wanted to meet her.
But Anita was convinced that the girl was bad in some way.
She probably wouldn't allow him near her. Her new rules about who he
got to end up with. She decides, must have her approval. And
Nathaniel doubted that she would give approval for him to even meet
the witch. Anita thought she was something evil, or at least up to
no good. Nathaniel was withholding judgement.
"And what kind of name is Bob?" Anita raved. "Who names a
feathered serpent Bob?"
"What would you name him?" Zane asked casually. Anita
faltered for a second.
"I wouldn't name him Bob," she muttered resignedly.
"Well, obviously Willow would," Cherry shrugged. "I fail to
see how it makes her evil."
"I didn't say it made her evil," Anita answered
exasperatedly. "It just bothers me. I don't know why, but that girl
bothers me. Why would someone with that kind of power work in the
Circus?"
"You'd prefer she use it to take over the world?" Micah asked
innocently. Anita turned on her leopards, irritation all over her
face.
"Why are you all so snotty this evening?" she demanded. "I'm
trying to tell you I feel something is off with this girl. She's
going to cause trouble. I can feel it."
"She's just a witch," Micah declared exasperated. "If she
was up to no good, why would Jean-Claude hire her? Don't you trust
his judgement?"
"Not in this case," Anita shot back. "There's something
about her. I don't know what it is, but it can't be good. In my
experience, it's not good to trust powerful strangers."
"She's totally harmless!" Zane protested.
"And the ones who look harmless are the most dangerous,"
Anita concluded. "Because you lax around them and then they go for
the kill."
Micah rolled his eyes once more.
"Aren't you over doing it?" he asked her. "Maybe she's just
here to get away from something. People run away all the time
Anita. Sometimes things are just too painful for them to stay where
they are. I know how that feels."
Anita looked at him, face softening considerably.
"I know that," she muttered. "But I'd feel better knowing
more about her. Micah, she's just too powerful for me to let it
slide. God, I think she's stronger than me."
Those words hung in the air.
"Are you sure?" Nathaniel asked, becoming slightly worried
himself. Anita was the strongest person he ever met. But if there
was someone stronger out there, he shuddered to think of the
consequences.
"She is," Anita confirmed. "I can feel it inside me. This
girl, she's something else all together. She could be the most
dangerous foe we've ever come up against."
*****
"Ow!" Willow cried, shooting her reflection an angry glare.
She couldn't believe how painful this was. It was like some sort of
eternal punishment. But what could she do? Willow was consigned to
her fate.
Sighing, she hefted the brush again and brought it down her
hair again.
"Ow!" she cried out once more. She put down the offensive
brush, only slightly cheerier because she was now done combing out
the knots in her wet hair. Willow frowned and wondered again why she
had let it grow out so long again. She was so used to short hair
that having any style beyond her shoulders was difficult for her.
Willow gave her reflection another grimace before heading out of her
bathroom.
The redhead made her way tiredly to the living room. She
plopped down on the couch next to Xander, extending her arm for Bob.
The serpent coiled up her arm, resting its head on her shoulder.
"I knew he liked you better," Xander jostled her. "Man, I am
not feeling the love right now."
Willow gave him a sideways grin.
"That's what you get for ordering anchovies on the pizza,"
she told him, motioning to their dinner.
"But I like anchovies," Xander protested. "Besides, it's not
like you have to eat them. You could pick them off."
Willow made a dismissive gesture, making the anchovies
disappear off her selected slice.
"Or you could make with the mojo," Xander shrugged. "Either
way, not a big deal."
"Oh nice of you to think so," Willow grinned at him. "Any
hoot, how was work?"
"Well, it was okay," Xander shrugged. "Of course, working at
a place very men strip all day long, doesn't make me too
comfortable. Especially with all those female customers who offer me
all kinds of things to join the ranks of the nude."
"Propositioned again, huh?" Willow sympathized.
"Yeah, what about you?" Xander looked at her. "How was the
show? And any disturbing propositions on your end?"
"Show went well," Willow nodded, eyes on the
television. "Bob's got some more teenage fans."
"Well, he is quite a heart throb," Xander joked, tickling
under the serpent's chin.
"Yeah," Willow giggled. "And as for propositions, one guy
asked him to become his Mamasita, whatever that means."
"It's from wrestling," Xander offered. "Some guy with a
mullet who speaks in a horrible Spanish accent always says it."
Willow made a face at him.
"You still watch wrestling?"
"Yeah, well, they brought back Hogan," Xander
shrugged. "Figured it be worth my time. But, you know, whatever."
"Sound like Harmony," Willow needled him.
"Bite me witch," he tossed back good-naturedly. "So,
anything else?"
"The Executioner was there," Willow shrugged. "I don't think
she likes me much. Sat through the whole show with this sour look on
her face."
"Probably think you're competition," Xander poked her. "You
know, for the affections of her lover vamp. You do realize how
biteable you are, don't you? I mean, Spike always says so."
"Well, she doesn't have anything to worry about," Willow
shook her head. "I have no interest in the undead."
"Good to know," Xander nodded, turning back to the
television. "So, what are you doing tomorrow?"
"Nothing much, not until work," Willow shrugged. "Why? What
you want to do?"
"We could go car shopping," Xander suggested. "I mean, that
old rust bucket downstairs is just not doing it for me anymore. And
Jean-Claude does pay us enough. We could afford a new one."
"You do realize that he only pays us that much because he
wants you to strip for him, right?" Willow teased.
Xander made a face and shuddered visibly.
"Don't go there."
*****
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