Note: I do not own or claim to own any content or character's borrowed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer / Angel or The Dresden Files. Both belong to their respective owners.
Set sometime after Season 7 with some elements from the Season 8 graphic novel (so spoilers if you are reading them). For the Dresden Files set sometime after Turn Coat.
Huge thanks go to Erica for her offer to beta and giving up her time to make this story more readable for everyone.
“That's it Wills!” Xander barged into her room. “Intervention time!”
“What? Huh? Wah? What?” Willow looked up from the book she was pouring her attention to.
Xander grinned “You already said what.” He flopped down beside his bestest most mopey bud. “Seriously Will ever since the thing with Kennedy all you do is train, and then study, and then research. You, my dear, are in a funk and we are going to snap you on out of it!”
Willow sagged “I.. Xan I need to figure this Denarian thing out. I'm meeting with Michael in a few days and I have to have this big, heavy, Latin book translated somewhat.”
“Tough. Night off!” Xander started tugging on her arm.
“Xander I don't want a night off.” Willow tried to tug her arm back.
“No you wanted to get lost in dull, boring and stuffy books, thus intervention.” Xander gave Willow a floppy grin. “No if's ands or buts. Giles and that Rashid guy even think it's a good idea” Xander looked at her with his big brown pleading eyes.
“Just because I can't pour my energy into the crystals accurately anymore doesn't mean I need a night...” and then what she was saying caught up with Willow and she slumped in defeat. “Fine I need a night off. Where is Buffy? You said we, we means there's a Buffy.”
Xander grinned “Buffy is having the time of her life selecting two outfits for tonight.
A small pit of dread built itself in her stomach “Two?”
Xander cocked his head to the side “See now if you hadn't been too busy being mope-o girl you too could have vetoed the Buffy clothing selection. Me, I was saved by my manly charms and my sheer force of will.”
“And that Buffy doesn't have any guy clothes.” Willow put the book down and stepped away from it ready to see what horrors Buffy had in store for her.
“Thank heavens for that!” Xander slung an arm around Willow and gave her a tight squeeze. “Buffy is feeling generous, she even invited that Wizard guy Dresden to come! So who knows what she might lend you!”
Willow looked at Xander in shock “Buffy invited Harry? Warden Harry Dresden?” She blinked in amazement. She knew that Buffy had stopped muttering death threats at him when ever they were in the room together after the attack but she also knew that Buffy still wasn't overly fond of any Wizard.
“The one and only. Figured if you resisted the charms of Xander we could use it as pull. You don't want an intoxicated Buffy to decide he's a practice dummy right?” Xander ducked the hand by his head as it went to gently slap the back of it. “All's fair in cheering Willow up!”
“But... that's... that's just dirty fighting.”
Willow felt silly going out with a slayer, a Warden, and a Xander as a bodyguard. Plus she kept catching glimpses in the review mirror of a council car most likely filled with slayers. Too many teenage years of being in the car left Willow not trusting Buffy to drive. That and it became a convenient excuse for her friends to get drunk.
Still that much protection was over kill. She was back on semi-house arrest again. After the attack she wasn't allowed to go out with out having escorts. As if she couldn't take care of herself. But she hadn't felt like going out so she hadn't argued the point much.
Rashid had even put on pause their trips into the NeverNever until she got her magic grounded. Instead they were focusing on how maintain precise control of her powers even when she was in an emotional turmoil or funk. Which by the way was very difficult to do since magic was heavily emotionally influenced.
It had been so long since her, Buffy and Xander had all taken a night off and out together. When they started the New Council with Giles and all the Slayers had shown up they had all thought with their changing roles they would get more down time.
Little did they know back then that with their changing roles they would end up doing just as much, just as often. There was always something magical that needed doing or to be fixed, repairs to the castle, an emotional slayer crisis, or the end of the world.
Willow bumped arms with Xander gave herself a mental resolve face on having fun tonight. If only for her friends sake.
Plus it was nice to see them try and give Harry a chance. They were all going to have to work together after all. He wasn't really that bad, especially for a Warden.
By the time the car pulled up to the club Willow's laugh was a lot less forced. Xander relaxed slightly. He had been really worried about his friend burying herself under work and losing touch with everyone recently. They'd handled dumped Willow very poorly in the past and if he had learned one thing form it that was an emotionally charged upset best friend should not be neglected to wallow in self Willowy pity.
Especially if that best friend was a magical power house of a witch.
At the coat check Xander winked at Buffy and Willow and loudly exclaimed “Okay ladies time to show!”
Harry watched the friends interact with amusement. It was odd having a light night of fun. He didn't get many of those. Usually he was too busy getting beaten up, running from things that wanted to beat him up or recovering from trying to run from something that had been faster than him.
A social butterfly Harry Dresden was not.
He wondered briefly how they did it. Just switched a part of themselves off and had fun. Then he caught the slayer scanning the room with a predatory gaze and Willow slipping protection charms onto Xander when he wasn't paying attention. And Xander glaring with his one eye at just about every and any guy who looked twice at one of the girls.
And then the women took off their long jackets and Harry's throat got dry. Willow looked amazing. The bright emerald green dress she was wearing was shorter than anything Harry thought he had ever seen her way before but it showcased her legs amazingly. He tore his gaze away from her hopefully before anyone had noticed his glance turn into a stare and willed his mouth to work “Wow.”
Xander let out a full and loud laugh as he slapped Harry on the back “You and me, we're going to be very good friends. Us Casanova types we have to stick together.” Then wrapped an arm around both Willow and Buffy “Lovely ladies bring me to the beer”
In no short time Buffy and Xander had run off to the dance floor leaving Willow sitting nursing her drink and Harry with his beer.
A 1000 Watt smile lit up Willow's face “Thanks for coming tonight. It's nice to have company while Buffy and Xander do their thing”
“You don't dance?” Harry took a sip on his beer. She was just an attractive woman. He had seen many attractive women in his life. He had dealt with Fae on a semi regular basis. Just because he was noticing only now that Willow was indeed a very attractive woman didn't mean he had to make things awkward between the two of them.
Willow shook her head and her cheeks flushed slightly “A little. But I'm more of a watcher than a dancer in places like this. Buffy can't sit still at the best of times and if Xander had been born just a little later they would have put him on Ritalin.” She confided.
Harry chuckled and tried to think of a topic that he could bring up that didn't involve demons, killing things or trying to not be killed. He was saved when Willow started talking again “Molly's a sweet kid.”
Harry blinked something must have happened while Willow was out of the room when they were at Michael's house. Because when they got to the door he was sure Molly was ready to claw Willow's face off.
“How did you end up taking her as an apprentice?”
Harry gave Willow a censored version of how Molly became his apprentice. From they he went into the Pranet, a network that he had helped to create aimed at low level magic users and protecting them from predators. People who didn't have the power to make it into the White Council but still had enough they used to get targeted, used and killed. And then magical theory. Her knowledge was impressive. Harry suspected that if Bob could control his need to make inappropriate comments the two of them would get along very well. Also probably debate for a long, long time.
By the time they took a break from talking Harry noticed the tail end of his beer was warm. “I'm going to get another, you want anything?”
Willow looked at the table of glasses. “Water. One of us” she gestured to the dance floor where she assumed her friends were “has to stay sober enough to make sure we all get home alive.”
Harry nodded and took off towards the bar.
He was joined very quickly and very conveniently by one Xander Harris.
This Xander looked a lot less carefree than the earlier young man. “Harry!” Xander still called rather warmly “Got a second?”
Harry nodded “Just getting a refill. You want?”
“Sure.” Xander nodded and made his way over to a quiet out of the way area.
After managing with an almost magical skill to get served in a busy club Harry held one beer carefully in his gloved arm and hoped nothing would bump into it too much. He had lost use of his hand when it had been burnt horribly. The burns were slowly healing. The hand was slowly getting better and he was getting more and more use from it as time went on. Eventually it would look like nothing at all had ever happened. One of the perks of being a Wizard. Right now though for all it's progress if someone were to bump too hard into his hand he would most likely lose a beer to the floor.
“What's up?” Harry offered Xander the beer.
“Thanks” again was the friendly but stern smile. “We need to talk.”
Nothing good usually comes out of a conversation like that Harry was on edge thinking the worst like a possible attack. Xander took a sip of his beer “So Willow...” he trailed off and paused “... wow.”
“She does look...” Harry racked his brain trying to think of something nice he could say about Willow to her best male friend.
“Wow?” Xander provided. “Look you're a good guy. Probably a lot more suited to Willow than her ex and hell all we have to go on is you two have spent all night talking and you think she looks ... wow” Xander took another sip of beer “Willow is our friend and we like our Willow to be happy. Tonight Willow seems like she's having fun and we just wanted to say thanks.”
Harry blinked this conversation wasn't going the way he'd expected to.
Xander smiled really big and cheerfully added “And oh! If you ever make her cry for any reason I've called dips on your kneecaps and Buffy said something about needing a new sparring partner.” Xander raised his beer in salute and went off to find Buffy.
Harry doubled back to the bar to grab a water and made his way back to Willow and the table slightly put off by Xander's threats. It wasn't like he was chasing Willow. Sure she was smart, pretty, magical, had some similar interests, wouldn't turn her nose up at having to run from the occasional demon and actually seemed to enjoy time with him. Plus it wasn't like she would ever be interested in him. Harry almost had himself convinced.
And then the red head looked up and smiled at him.
Harry sat down feeling slightly more awkward as he passed her the water she asked for earlier.
“Thanks, I'm parched” Willow took a sip of water and jumped right back into the conversation they had been having completely unaware of the interaction between Xander and Harry. Sure he was a little more quiet but he was probably tired. They had been all working hard recently.
Eventually though she was able to get him back into the conversation.
They chatted with out interruption until a Russian accent broke in “I should have known if I ended up in Russia I would run into you Harry Dresden!”
Harry turned around and greeted the last remaining Knight of the Cross “Sanya!” Harry gestured to a seat at the table he was sitting at. “Not that I'm not happy to see you but what brings you to Scotland?”
Sanya grinned “Funny thing. I was getting a train to London and ended up here.” he shrugged. “Must have work to do here.”
The Knight sat down comfortably with his drink “Aren't you going to introduce me to your beautiful friend Harry?” Sanya grinned warmly at the red head as a light blush spread across her cheeks.
Harry frowned slightly and shifted his weight. He liked the other man, he did. He was just a little too flirty and forward for a nice girl like Willow. “Careful Sanya this little one comes with bodyguards.”
Willow glared at Harry crossing her arms under her chest adorably. Not understanding the testosterone flying in the air. “This not so little one can take care of herself.” Willow puffed herself up as if it would make her some how seem taller.
At Sanya though she smiled warmly “Willow” and offered her hand.
With perfect timing Buffy bounced back to the table a grin on her face and her hair slightly mussed from dancing. “Willow!” she cried in mock shock. “Your secret is out! Really you lurk at tables not because you don't want to dance but because when our backs are turned all the attractive men come to say hi!”
Buffy shot a huge grin at Sanya. While he turned his attention to Buffy. “Dresden one day you must tell me how a man like you finds himself in the company of such beautiful women.”
Buffy's grin widened and she stole a sip of Willow's water. “Promise Wills, I have no scary mouth diseases.”
Willow rolled her eyes at Buffy's antics. “Buffy meet Sanya was it? And Sanya meet Buffy. Be careful though in about three seconds she's going to drag you out onto the dance floor if you don't start running now”
“Naw. He has at least three minutes. This song is just so undanceable.” Buffy slid into the remaining seat. “Plus I have to borrow Willow for a sec.” Just as quickly as she sat Buffy bounced back up and grabbed Willow's arm “Bathroom, it's a girl thing.”
Sanya whistled under his breath as the two women darted across the club. “So really Harry what is your secret?”
Harry rolled his eyes and raised his beer to his mouth. “No secret my friend, just work.”
“So the private investigator work brings the beautiful ladies?” Sanya cocked an eyebrow at the other men.
Harry shook his head “Willow's bodyguards? I'm one of them.” The threat clear in Harry's tone.
Sanya held up his hands “Easy comrade. I will not be sniffing around your little red. Though her friend...” the Russian man trailed off. “You are not her bodyguard too are you?”
“No, that one I am sure can give you a run for your money.” Harry apparently gave the right answer because Sanya's grin got wider.
Sanya turned serious “Michael did not take up the sword again?”
Harry shook his head “No. He is still recovering and now working for the Watcher's Council”
Sanya nodded. “Any luck finding someone to take the swords? I am getting very tired my friend.”
Harry raked his hand through his hair as a small wave of guilt hit him. He hadn't even had a chance to really, really look. “The only one the swords showed interest in was Murphy and she wouldn't leave her other sacred duty, Chicago. Sorry man.”
Closed off in the bathroom Willow looked at Buffy “Girl thing?”
“What? I couldn't very well say I want to drag Willow to the bathroom to get dirt on how things are going with Harry and any info she's got on you!” Buffy started fixing her hair. “So how are things going with Harry?” she asked cheerfully.
“They're fun. Did you know he know magic things I don't” Willow chirped out.
Buffy stopped fixing her hair and turned to face her friend “Willow, Willow, Willow...” Buffy sighed.
“What?” Willow's face crunched up slightly in confusion.
“Oh dear little, sweet, innocent Willow there is so much you do not understand.” Buffy hopped up on a dry spot on the counter. “What do you think about Harry?”
“He's nice.” Willow answered simply.
“And.” Buffy coached.
“And? He's nice. He's a powerful wizard. He doesn't seem to want to kill us. He's very good stopping things from killing me and he's a man.”
“A very attractive man.” Buffy added from the counter.
Willow turned her head and eyes to the ceiling. “He isn't without appeal in a manly sort of rugged way I guess. Buffy was this supposed to be a set up?”
Willow knew from Buffy's face that she had caught her out. “Buffy! Ken and I only broke up a week ago! I'm so not ready or looking right now!”
“Fiiine no more matchmaker games.” Buffy hopped off the counter and approached Willow with an apologetic look on her face. “We're forgiven? Pleeeease?”
“I don't know about that I need to rearrange my room and I could do with a big strong slayer to lift the furniture” Willow darted out the door before Buffy splashed her with water from the sink.
As they returned to the table Willow announced “Three more dances Buffy and then it's time to go”
Buffy saluted “Yes sir!” and grabbed Sanya's hand. “Come show this American how Russian men dance.”
Sitting at the table with Harry, Willow lost track of time as he told her stories about some of the battles and situations that he had been in with Sanya.
The next time Willow had a second to look at her watch she hadn't realized how late it had got. It was certainly later than three songs. She tilted her head towards the dance floor “Shall we round up our stragglers and get them home and in bed before they turn into pumpkins?”
“That late already?” Harry asked.
“It's 1am and we have to get all the way back to the castle.” Willow stood from her seat and stretched out her shoulders.
By the time they were leaving Harry understood why she felt the need to start rounding up her tipsy friends before the club closed. He watched with amusement while the bantered and bargained and tried to gain a few more dances before they had to go. There were pleas and whines and then defeat when Willow had presented what she called a resolve face.
Willow smiled gently at Sanya “Need a ride to your hotel?”
Sanya's eyes darted from his dance partner who was riding in Willows car to Willow “If you perhaps have room I wouldn't turn down a ride.”
Willow dangled the keys “I'm driving so I don't have to be cramped in the back.”
The entire ride home Harry's eyes kept darting to the rear view mirror.
Willow briefly took her eyes of the rood to glance at him and then back at the mirror. Someone was tailing them.
Only this car was different from the one that followed them from Slayer Central. And that set both Willow and Harry on edge.
Willow's eyes flicked back to Buffy and Xander “Don't look. Behind us...” she trailed off and rolled her eyes “I said don't look Xander!”
“We need to get some where very public” Dresden offered. Supernatural attackers and human ones would be much less likely to make a move if there were witnesses.
Willow nodded in agreement focusing on the road and the car behind her “Clubs will be closing. Any suggestions?”
They didn't make it far when the van that had been tailing them speed up in front of them and threw two somethings out of the back. As Willow hit the breaks of the car everyone could see a bright purple Mohawk and an anarchy shirt. Simone, the leader of a group rouge slayer was waving cheerfully with one hand as she gave their car the finger.
Simone had split from Slayer Central over ideological differences. She thought that the slayers could and should be a threat to everyone. She wanted a slayer revolution, to overthrow the oppression of humanity and replace it with the oppression of humanity by the slayers. A mix of radical idealism, violence and youth.
Before anyone in the car could react they stopped suddenly as Willow threw out some magic to help the breaks stopping before they hit what ever had been tossed out of the van. Even with the help of magic they stopped short only a foot or two at the most.
Harry had a sinking feeling in his stomach. He had seen dead bodies before. He raised his hand to his neck to try and ease the pain from whiplash. He hadn't recognized the woman as one of the Denarians though. He swore mentally. No job was ever easy. “Who was that?”
“Simone” Buffy answered through gritted teeth. Trust that bitch to show up just as things were calming down here. “She better not be out recruiting again.”
“Rouge slayer. All sorts of baddness.” Xander provided.
“Guys.” Came Willow's shaky voice. “I think we should go out and see what exactly they threw at us.”
“Could be a trap” Xander added from the back.
“Could also be someone needing our help. We go out and stay on our guard.” Then Willow did something that confused Sanya and Harry a bit, she turned to her blonde friend “Sound good Buffy?”
Buffy frowned “You guys should stay in the car. Where it's safe.”
And noone in the car liked that idea. There were protests from all around.
In the end everyone got out and everyone stayed on guard just in case it was a trap.
Harry's gut had been right it was two seemingly dead bodies.
As they got closer features got more and more clear and then Xander called from up head “Willow! Turn away!”
The only problem was when someone calls your name you normally turn to look. A strangled scream came out of her throat. Lying there on the road were the bodies of Ira and Sheila Rosenberg. While they may not have been the best parents of her life she never expected to find them beaten, tortured and dead on the side of the road tossed by there by someone who wanted to give her the finger.
Willow stopped walking and just stood there staring. Numb. Everything was numb. This can't be happening. Her brain tried to make sense of the scene in front of it.
Harry got to Willow first while her friends dealt with the bodies and discussed with efficiency what exactly should be done. He gripped her by the shoulders and turned her away from the scene in front of her into his chest blocking her view and just held tight.
As Harry stood there he heard her whimpers shift into full out sobs.
Buffy and Sanya made quick work of putting the bodies in the trunk. Xander coaxed Willow into the back seat and Harry took the keys and just hoped the modern car held out for him until they got to the castle.
He didn't think he was going to get Willow's best friends more than three inches away from her on the ride home. He didn't think he wanted to try.