Right, so, first off, I own nothin'. All characters belong to Jim Butcher and Joss Whedon. Second, I apologize, this is entirely off the cuff.
I stared. The girl had appeared in front of me out of nowhere. As in, literally appeared. I hadn’t felt a whisper of power, not even a hint of the Never-Never. My hair stood on edge. Whoever she was, she’d just pulled off something I thought was impossible. I shook myself and grasped my staff, gathering power, just in case-
“Oh, poop, this isn’t the Council headquarters!”
“Sorry, that’s two continents over. Just hang a sharp left in Scotland, can’t miss it.” Thank you brain, mouth engaged.
“Ooh! You have Watchers?”
“Darn it! That means I’m probably… wait, what kind of Council do you have?”
“White?” I guessed haphazardly.
She scrunched her nose. It made her look like a teenager. That, or a red-headed squirrel. “Is that kinda like a Gandalf white or a Saruman white? ‘cause I’m not so much with the many-colors thing. Gets hinky.”
I snorted. “I wouldn’t put it past the Merlin to- but if it helps you better, I’m more of a Grey.”
“Oh! You’re a wizard!”
“Why yes, I am. Even got the nifty staff they send when you save up enough box-tops.”
The girl blushed. “Sorry. It’s just, your magic’s all weird here, and you look like a cowboy, and I haven’t met any cowboy wizards, and anyone could be carrying a staff, and maybe you just like walking sticks with nifty carvings, though I kinda gotta say, I was wondering about all those rings because you don’t look like those really creepy guys who like to wear a ton of jewelry, but I didn’t know, and hey, who says that you couldn’t be all dressed up for some sort of crazy fanboy conference?!”
I was staring again. Had to kick that habit. “I don’t look like a cowboy!”
She giggled. “Y’kinda do, with your big hat and, and your belt and that ‘I’m a badass gunfighter!’ trenchcoat.”
“Don’t mock the coat, kid.”
“Oh, I wasn’t! There was no mockage! I just, kinda didn’t expect it here in the middle of- I am in Chicago, right? I did get that part right at least, right?”
“Yeah, you’re in Chicago.” Oh, hell. “That part? Wait, kid, you didn’t come through time, did you?” There were laws against that sort of thing. Laws I had to enforce, now that I wore one of those- I snorted, I really am grey- cloaks.
She paled. “What? Oh, no, I hope not! That would be all kinds of bad! Like bad, bad! Time travel is nasty and it causes all sorts of paradoxes, and ohmigod, what if I’ve changed the past?! Well, your past- but it could be my past! My other me’s past! Oh, my God, I might be screwing things up forever and all I wanted was to get home in time for Dawnie’s eighteenth birthday!”
“Kid, calm down and- look, I can’t keep calling you kid.”
“I should hope not! I’ve a fully mature witch, thank you very much!”
I winced. “I kinda noticed.” She blushed again. “What should I call you?”
“Willow. Willow Rosenberg. Oh! And you’re Harry Dresden!” She paled again. Kid must’ve had a heart like a horse, the way her face changed colors. “You’re Harry Dresden
. Oh, my God, I’m in a universe where they kill people for telepathy!”
Well, that was technically true, but- “Wait, universe?
Ki- Miss, you tried to teleport and ended up in a different universe?
” I guess that answered why I’d never heard of anyone porting.
“I didn’t mean to!” She wailed. “I was just in a hurry, so I used some of Dawnie’s blood because it’s faster and I’d jump straight to where she was! It wasn’t strong enough for dimensions! It wasn’t even wet!
You can’t open dimensional portals if it isn’t wet!”
“Obviously that line of reasoning failed.” I said dryly. Mentally, though, I was close to reeling. She talked about dimensions like it was something normal. Aside from the Never-Never, the closest I’d ever heard of dimensional travel was reaching past the Outer Gates, and that was never wise. The Outsiders didn’t take too kindly to human life. Well, life of any kind, actually. It seemed to offend them. We tried to keep those Gates shut. Just, you know, to be polite.
Willow seemed to be calming down. “I must’ve mixed the samples up, somehow. But I don’t see how
. I wasn’t even using a spell. And, no offense, but your books always made me feel kinda queasy, ‘cause, hello, reformed evil witch here. Oh, wait, I shouldn’t have said that, should I? You’re a Warden now, aren’t you? Are you? I don’t know how our universes line up! I mean, the books are two years apart story-wise, but they come out every year, and I know this by that high-pitched squeal every April when Dawnie- Dawnie!
” Willow hissed.
I really shouldn’t have been amused that a fairly powerful witch had been outwitted by a teenage girl, but she said evil, right? Isn’t that how things usually work out for evil witches? But she was in my universe now, which made her my evil witch problem. Well, reformed evil witch. Which… made her even more
my problem, didn’t it? Dammit.
I sighed. “Do you know how to get back to your universe?”
“Are we calling this a universe or dimension? ‘cause I’ve never been able to figure those out.”
“For the sake of argument, let’s say that a universe runs along timeline differences, and a dimension contains different natural laws.”
“Oh! So… this is probably both. That’s so confusing!”
“We’ll say dimension. They’re going to have similar timelines regardless. Can you get back to your dimension?”
Her face fell. “I don’t know. I don’t have Dawnie’s blood any more. Ohhh-
! And this was supposed to be a special
party! I had surprises and games and favors and everything!”
I sighed. Of course not. “Well, I can put you up for now, and we can try to figure something out in the morning.” I groaned as I stood up. Where was Mouse? He’d been surprisingly absent during this whole thing. I wasn’t sure if that was worrying or not. “I’ve got a couple extra blankets you can use on the couch.”
Her eyes lit up. “Thank you! I’m sorry to be such a bother! And don’t worry, I love cats, so I don’t mind if Mister decides to sit on me in the middle of the night.”
I shook my head. The fact that she’d read about me in another dimension was a little disconcerting. Oh, well. Time to think about it tomorrow. “You sure you’ll be all right? Won’t try a warming charm or something and burn down the apartment?”
Her face flushed. Huh, that was actually a new shade. Kinda cute. “I try not to use magic too much. Just for the big stuff, like apocalypses. It was just, this was going to be her birthday and…”
“We’ll take care of it in the morning. Have a good night.”
She sniffed. “G’night.”
Hells bells. Thomas wasn’t wrong when he said I’d fall for any girl with a sob story.