Here it goes again
Book 1 of the elemental saga: Playing with Fire.
Intro: AU! --Based around the Buffy Novel The Book of Fours by Nancy Holder (for details see explanation at the end .
After their awakening to the power of the elements in ‘The Book of Fours’, Buffy, Willow, Faith and Cordelia defeated the Gatherer using the combined power of slayers past and present to defeat their opponent. However here fate takes a twist.
The 4 elementals bodies are destroyed in the battle, and the power of the line is unable to heal them, though it has destroyed the Gatherer.
However the PtB are unwilling to see the deaths of the four able to unlock the elemental ability to the extreme, instead they are reborn as personifications of the elements themselves and sent to a world in much more dire need than their own, unfortunately the four awaken in a lab having been placed in available bodies. Namely the attempts by one aka The Red Skull, in cloning children of key members of the Avengers. However, none of the Scoobies are ready and willing to play for the bad guys and bust out.
Together Buffy Summers, Faith Lehane, Willow Rosenberg and Cordelia Chase are about to take the world of Marvel by storm, and heaven help anyone who stands in their way.
Possible Pairing: Buffy/Tony Stark, Willow/Carol Danvers, Faith/Deadpool, Cordelia/Clint Barton.
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Buffy the Vampire SLayer or the Book of Fours. Joss Whedon and Nancy Holden own them repectively. The Avengers belong to Marvel.
“If we had another option, I would take it in a minute. But we need all four of you. Together, you are four. Everything to do with the gathering is made up of the Four Elements of the Arcana Mystica: Earth, Air, Water and Fire!”
“You. You are air, Buffy. Willow, water. Faith, fire. And Cordelia, earth.”
“Who’s the rainbow?”
(extract from The Book of Fours, Nancy Holder)
“I am the slayer.”
Buffy had spoken, but she recognised the voice was not just her own, but the voice of legions, each slayer renewing her vow, her covenant. Slayers of the ages…..
Then it was done.
“Well this is fun…I can see white, white, and oooh, there’s an extra sparkly bit of white over there.” Buffy drawled.
“Damn B, what tha’ heck is goin’ on here.” Faith bared her teeth, looking to her elder slayer sister for guidance.
“I really don’t know, but I can tell you that I don’t like it already.” Buffy muttered, a worrying feeling of impending doom coming upon her.
Never a good sign.
“Tell me about it, I mean I don’t know about you two, but my nails are in need of an emergency manicure, stat.” Cordelia emerged from further in the whiteness, whole once more, as though the Wanderer of Earth had never hacked her apart. Looking utterly disgruntled to-boot.
“Now Cor. I don’t think we’re exactly gonna get any manicure opportunities around here.” Willow emerged beside the other girl, and a swell of relief flooded through the blonde slayer at the sight of her best friend who she’d not seen since Willow, possessed by India Cohen, had thrown herself forward as a sacrifice for the Gatherer to protect Kit Boswell.
“Well hey, th’ gang’s all back together.” Faith grinned, expressing her happiness at their reunion with the spark in her dark eyes, despite her dry tone of voice.
“Yeah, but where are we?” Cordelia wrinkled her nose in distaste.
“And why are we here?” Willow added softly, clearly puzzling over the situation.
After a few moments of foot-tapping and staring pointedly at what she assumed to be a ceiling, Buffy tried again.
“Hellooooo?” she yelled, receiving an echo for her troubles. “Look is anyone there? ’Cos ya know, this standing around what looks to be the single most boring place on Earth, not exactly big on my to-do list.” Suddenly she paused her eyes widening. “Oh my God! This better not be Hell, damn it. And if it is how the hell did Angel survive 500 years of this and stay sane…Oh crud…”
“You’re not in Hell” came an amused and highly familiar voice drawled.
“Good to know.” Buffy huffed. “Well if you’re quite done in using was as in-flight entertainment care to make with the ‘splainy and tell me where I am?…Whistler. And while you’re at it you can tell me why the Powers brought me here, or am I going to have ‘fun’ guessing whilst I use your head as a bowling ball?” She arched an unimpressed eyebrow.
“Now Kid…Lets not be too extreme.” The balance demon stepped into view.
“ Start talkin’ balance-boy. Or I’ll be helping’ B. use you as th’ Spring fashion line.” Faith growled, stepping up to stand by her Slayer sister.
"I‘m sorry Kids. Its kind of a long story…but…you’re…well your bodies are dead. " Whistler gave them a sad smile, eyes filled with empathy.
“But you just said…!” Cordelia choked.
“I said you weren’t in hell or heaven.. Your stand off with the gatherer….well lets just say it left something behind, well, more like unlocked something within each of you, strong enough to ensure you cannot yet cross over, despite being technically dead.” Whistler gave her a small smirk that was positively wicked.
“How?” Willow gaped.
“So we’re essentially stuck in limbo? That sucks!” Cordelia frowned irritably, pulling out the full force of her Cordy SneerÔ at the balance demon. “Think of all the things I’ve never done, my career as an actress, the shoes I’ll never buy…”
“Yeah, ‘cos that is what’s important here.” Snorted Faith.
“Not necessarily Queenie.” Whistler drawled lazily.
“Ummm I’d really like to know what the HELL you’re talking about Whistler, so make with the S’plainy.” Buffy snarled. “And none of the cryptic-guy thing, because I am so prepared to go through with the rib-cage hat. I ‘m perfectly willing to experiment. Doesn‘t dead generally mean…dead…though there was that time with the master, but I doubt Xander‘s CPR is gonna help this time. I distinctly remember there being a rather gaping hole in my gut.”
The Balance demon’s face crumpled sadly at her question, filling her with foreboding.
"The Devourer was never meant to be summoned as such. The whole shebang knocked off the balance, made the future of the Slayer-line uncertain. Which I can tell you for a fact that the Big Kahunahs up there really weren’t expecting. That in turn created the opportunity for the First Evil to gain a foothold in this reality, and could even cause the end of Days. The only way to secure the Slayer line is for your continued existence as you four now hold the slayer source within you to an extent- Blondie and the other slayer tha’ most. The way to stop the End of Days is for you to willingly leave this plane of existence." Whistler explained solemnly, twirling the trademark fedora in his hands. “You’ll be transported to another world which can contain the abilities you obtained from the axes- wind, water, fire and earth- which you now hold to an extent. We believe this will subsequently prevent any imbalance in your dimension and the next slayer will be called.”
“And if we don’t?” Cordelia stepped up, hands on hips, eyebrow arched in that typical Queen C. expression.
“End of the world.” Whistler’s expression turned stern. “In fact, the end of a few worlds.”
“Oh, way to play the guilt trip.” Cordy huffed, folding her arms as she pouted.
“C’mon kids, we’re setting you up with a sweet deal. Re-incarnation with super-abilities increased and enhanced, added to blah blah blah.” Whistler smiled as though giving up a sales pitch.
“And why w-would we need our power enhanced?” Willow queried thoughtfully.
Buffy’s eyes narrowed and locked with Faith’s understanding ones.
“Cos the world we’re goin’ to will be worse than ours.” Faith scowled.
“No worse, just more…violent…” Whistler trailed off, as Faith and Buffy began to crack their knuckles. “No vampires…well fewer…It’s a champion dimension as opposed to yours which is a dark-gateway.”
“Violent?” Buffy snarled.
“You’ll see kids. Besides, there’s some people there who need help. You’ll know ‘em when you meet them.” Whistler sighed sadly.
“So you’re just gonna ditch us in the middle of a new world?” Cordy screeched.
“Yikes…That’s one set of pipes you’ve got there.” Whistler rubbed his ears exaggeratedly. “Anyway, who said you’d be ditched. You’ll have each other, and you’ll have one of these.” Whistler held up a plain black canvas duffle bag.
“Oh goody, bad fashion and another universe.” Snorted Cordelia. “Just what I didn’t want for Christmas, Santa.” She tossed her hair regally.
“Damn, Queenie’s on fire.” Faith murmured to a snickering Buffy.
“Tell me about it. We should have let her guard the Hellmouth, Spike would have had a nervous breakdown in days.” Buffy snorted quietly.
“We don’t really have much of a choice here, do we?” Willow fidgeted quietly.
“Nope.” Whistler chirruped.
“Ass.” Snorted Faith.
“They will be safe? The others?” Buffy demanded.
“Safe as houses Slayer…Well not as safe as your house, cos you know…its on the mouth of hell itself….And I’m goin’ to shut up now…” Whistler trailed off nervously at her murderous glare.
“Giles, Angel and the others will try and bring us back.” Buffy reminded him.
“Nopes. As far as everyone will be concerned the Devourer drained you guys dead when you sealed the bugger. Watcher boy and even a dumb-ass like Angel know better than to raise the dead.” Whistler beamed.
“Wow…” Buffy blinked quietly for a moment. “You guys have really thought this through.”
“Oh yeah. Well those guys don’t really have much to do other than sittin’ on their asses all day.” Whistler smirked, then gave a yelp, as he jumped to avoid a lightning bolt which hit precariously close to his foot. “I’m sorry, okay?” Whistler yowled, glancing upward, his Bronx accent particularly strong.
Rolling her eyes at his antics, Buffy couldn’t help but feel a tremor of excitement running down her spine. For such a long time defending the Hell mouth had taken up her life. Ever since being Called, she had felt…displaced. As if she didn’t truly belong. As it turned out she’d been right. The thought of a new life thrilled her somewhat,
“What’ll the new place look like, I mean will it be the same as home, or different. Will there even be an America?” Willow babbled in interest.
“Will there even be malls?” Cordelia squawked.
“What can I say Kid, cant give away the plot so early in the story.” Whistler pouted, but the effect was ruined by his brightly patterned lime green shirt.
“Hat-boy…” Faith trailed off threateningly.
"Alright, sheesh, you’ll be going to an alternate universe, where humans have fantastic powers, well some do. They’re known as superheroes. But you can tell no-one where you’re from. Under any circumstances.” Whistler glared.
“Well that’s not ominous at all…” Willow murmured, rolling her eyes.
“Well, good luck kids- Windy.” he smirked at a fiercely glaring Buffy. “Hot-head.” Faith bared her teeth at the address. “Drip.” Willow silently wished she could levitate more than a pencil so she could throw him across the room. “And…”
“Insult me and you will have nothing to show for it.” Cordy snapped, making him flinch back. “Besides, we didn’t even agree yet.”
“You’re not going to?” Whistler’s eyes grew panicked.
“Queenie didn’t say that, just that…an incentive would be nice.” Faith smirked leadingly.
“I-Incentive?” Whistler stammered.
“Yup.” Buffy nodded, eyes glinting. “But we haven’t decided on just what our sparkly motivational prize is gonna be yet, so girls- huddle time.” Buffy ordered.
“Who made you queen of the world?” Cordy huffed softly.
Buffy shot her a stern look and the earth-natured socialite fell in line swiftly, and the four began to whisper amongst one another, making Whistler more and more nervous as they even began to giggle.
Give him a turok-khan any time of day over teenage females giggling.
“Right, we’ll do it.” Buffy nodded, having apparently been dedicated spokesperson, the tiny blonde stood with a stern look in her ‘I‘m considering slaying you don‘t mess with me’ stance, the others nodding as backup. “But so long as a few conditions are met, and not for your boys, but our friends and…ya know…the world.”
“Well…I’m not really free to make any…” Whistler began.
“Then I suggest you free-ify yourself.” Buffy’s gaze narrowed into the trademark slayer stare, cowering the demon.
“Okie-dokie, free and unchained…shoot…not me.” Whistler stammered becoming increasingly nervous. “Please?”
“Number 1: We want a low down of what we can do. Earth, Wind, Fire, Air is kind of with the vague.” Buffy asserted, off a mental list.
“Number 2: We want lives other than fighting bad guys and you guys had better make sure of that.” Cordy studied her nails. “I for one, want to fulfil my acting dreams.”
Buffy and Willow managed to refrain from cringing at the memory of the ill-fated talent show, where they’d been…treated to Cordy’s on stage abilities.
Not an experience that they wanted to repeat, any time soon. Or, you know, at all.
Faith merely snorted a laugh at the thought of Cordy acting, unaware of the horror that would be unleashed. Should the cheerleader be allowed anywhere near a stage. It would not be a pretty sight, as Faith would learn eventually, even as Buffy and Willow cursed their ill-luck of being taught the same lesson twice.
“Number 3: If there are any hellmouths or possible mortal enemies already prepared to go after us, we want forewarning at least.” Willow stated the next item on the list.
“Number 4: and listen up cos it’s the biggest of the bunch. No subtle meddling in our lives like B and Angel boy, kay. No manipulating, you’ll hafta be up-front about the entire deal.” Faith informed Whistler boldly.
“Righty then kiddos…” Whistler rubbed his hands together, thankful they hadn’t asked for…unlimited monetary assets or something like that which would have just been a pain, mainly for him due to what they would do upon realising he couldn‘t provide. “Lets go from the bottom…Number 4: This is a champions dimension, pretty much means the powers have no say on what goes on because too many of the big players- such as yourselves- are clustered in one dimensional slot. Pretty much amps up the whole free-will vibe.” He ticked it off on his finger, the girls looking, dare he say approving. “Number 3: No Hellmouths to speak of, they were unique to your dimension. That plane is however, pretty much crawling with baddies humans and none. Biggies to watch out for are Skrulls, aliens that can take on any appearance. And ultron- which is a type of mechanised virus-slash-robot. The Nazis may or may not also pop up at some points.”
“Wouldn’t that just be peachy with a side of keen, wouldn’t want things to get too easy an’ all.” Buffy snorted, deadpan.
“Tsch, we could dream.” Cordy sniffed.
“Number 2 was pretty much a given, you were going to awaken in the world with lives that have run parallel to your own but slight differences. Like no slayer-ness, no Sunnydale yadda yadda yadda. You’ll have those memories added onto your own and we’ll keep you near enough to one another for this to be successful.” Whistler assured with a smile.
“You’d better mister.” Willow shot the resolve-face in his direction, making him nod his eager affirmation.
“And number one…Well…A you’ve most likely figured already, you little missus are essentially going to obtain powers relating to your element. But I don’t really know the know-how for those powers, but the bosses have assured me when you wake up in the new dimension there’ll be details regarding your abilities to their fullest extent.” Whistler hesitantly responded, tugging at his collar.
“Gee you guys shouldn’t have.” Buffy deadpanned. “No, really, you shouldn’t.”
“It was our pleasure slayer.” Whistler’s smile curled into an almost vicious grin.
“Ass.” Faith snorted.
“Oh, enough of the posturing, make like the wizard and send us away from this…place…” Cordy interjected irritably.
“Gotta click your heels first Dorothy.” Whistler joked, “or maybe I just have to…”
He clicked his fingers.
And the girls were gone.
“Oh well, I suppose if I had two X chromosomes I’d be hostile too.” Whistler shook his head with an amused chuckle. “One thing’s for sure though, that universe doesn’t know what’s about to hit it…Wonder how pissed off their top cats are gonna be to find their plans have gone to seed.”
Whistler gave an excitable smile, turning to someone unseen.
“Yeah, it is going to be fun, ain’t it. Those kid’s are gonna do some real good and on the bonus side piss i them/i off to no end.
Life was good for a certain balance demon.
He hadn’t even lost any limbs, despite multiple threats. Apparently the protection spells weaved into what many would call a hideous (but he would refer to as life-saving) shirt, would not be put to the test today.
He was inordinately grateful of this fact.
It was an absolute pain putting himself back together again, not to mention the ‘humpty-dumpty’ jokes from the big guys in charge. Like they ever showed themselves to their beleaguered and extremely powerful champions in person. Oh no, they just sent Whistler, because he could ’pull himself together’ and get the job done.
Didn’t meant that it didn’t hurt.
He sometimes thought he should have stuck around in Brooklyn, there‘d have been less dismemberment and pain for one and less playing messenger boy for the powers to people who were more likely than not, going to blame said messenger and cause him rather significant amounts of pain.
On second thoughts, he owed that guy for the thing from that time with the….
Messenger boy was fine.
‘You think we’re dancing?’
‘I’m Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and you are?’
‘Having a secret identity in this town is a job of work.’
‘I’m sixteen years old Giles, I don’t wanna die.’
‘I feel good…I feel strong…’
‘You have fruit punch mouth.’
‘Angel…I love you…close your eyes…’
‘Life is hard, and it’s fighting…’
Her eyes snapped open as two sets of memories integrated into one another to produce the mother of all head-aches.
She really didn’t recommend it to anyone.
“How are the tests progressing?” A voice, a stranger….who?
“Beyond our wildest expectations, the subjects are all responding favourably, and we have yet to see any negative effects.”
She did not know the owner of that voice either, she decided, after a moment’s mental deliberation. They sounded excited, in their own way, and yet try as she might her eyes refused to open; to see the sources of the mysterious voices.
She felt as though she were floating underwater, and yet that was impossible as she would have surely drowned.
She was air not water.
“Up the testing, see how they react to radiation stimulus.” The first voice again, cold, cruel. Emotionless. Almost as harsh to her ears as Angelus’ that day after they had made love and Angel’s sol had gone bye-bye. Had tried to kill her.
“But if it’s too advanced, it could kill them all!”
Kill who, she wondered?
“The entire point of this project is to create warriors capable of defeating Captain America and the rest of his snivelling Avengers. What use is it if they merely have their progenitors gifts- and unpractised- it would be utterly pointless and a complete waste. What does it matter if they meets their end, we can simply create more successful models. Besides, their lives are ours to do with as I wish.” The voice made her want to shiver, gnawing at her bones with its frosty nature.
“But we could find it difficult to obtain the DNA necessary to create further models, it took all our contacts to obtain what we have now. It could set our research back years.” The second voice frantic, pleading, nervous…
“A risk we shall have to take. I expect the work to be done by the time I return from meeting our Russian counter-parts.”
Her eyelids fluttered open to gaze through the viscous fluid, noting the breathing mask strapped across her face and saw the tubes containing her friends, saw the needles and wires that ran from beneath her skin and felt nothing but horror.
She thrashed, terrified, realising belatedly that she truly was helpless, the restraints holding. Staring through the liquid that held her, into the most savage and terrifying, yellow eyes she had ever seen.
His face was brutal, like the devil himself. Blood red skin covered it, and his teeth were bared in a vicious snarl of triumph that scared her more than The Master ever had.
Her lips opened into a silent scream, and then she fell into darkness once more.
She awoke once more to blinding pain, bubbling across her skin and making her writhe in her underwater prison.
“Does he not understand what could happen if we lose….subjects…” The panicked voice from earlier sounded in her head, fuzzy through the blur of pain.
“As far as I can tell, he doesn’t care as long as he destroys Captain America.” Came another, a new individual casually talking about experimenting on her and her friends, as she’d now figured out.
She felt the anger swell inside her, she was Buffy the Vampire slayer, and she was no-one’s lab rat.
The anger grew stronger and stronger as she strained her restraints that would have troubled a slayer but began to give little by little as the pain and anger grew and she focused all of it into one single though.
She had to get outoutout!
The tube which held Buffy Summers, known to her captors as the Fight-star Experiment, began to crack and shattered in an almighty explosion almost like a whirlwind to those observing.
Sending glass and the liquid that had acted as amniotic fluid, flying away from her and sirens blaring left and right as she staggered from the remaining tube, glass crunching beneath her bare feet and yet not hurting her.
Her muscles felt jittery, almost uncontrollable with energy as she ripped wires and sensors from her person, noting she was clad in a simple, grey body-suit that almost reminded her of a one piece swim-suit.
Ripping the mask from her face, she choked in fresh oxygen, feeling the slimy liquid drip from her skin, eyelashes fluttering in confusion. Everything seeming over-bright, glaring overhead lightning making her wince, even as she watched the scientists scrambling away in panic.
Like ants. She noted distantly.
They’d been so calm and collected before when they were hurting her…But now they cowered from her.
What did they know that she did not?
She was a slayer, she didn’t hurt humans, no matter how bastardly they were. Even following Ford’s betrayal she’d let him live, though he’d thrown his life away to become a vampire mere minutes later as far as she could tell.
The liquid fell from her hair, sticky wet and warm as opposed to the chilled air that seemed to swirl around her in patterns, almost as if welcoming one of their own.
She’d already silently decided that this world sucked, not to mention that if she ever saw that rat-bastard balance demon again there wouldn’t even be enough of him to make a hat with.
She clenched her fists, taking in a deep breath and resorting to some of the little used calming techniques that Giles had taught her in order to relax her muscles.
The siren was blaring loudly and her senses which seemed so much stronger, picked up movement in the previously abandoned corridor, sound of marching boots.
As the armed men in green military gear burst in, weapons at the ready they were faced with a petite, blonde in very little, looking ridiculously small and emaciated as she panted in mouthfuls of oxygen.
Yet when a pair of almost glowing green eyes snapped open, taking them in emotionlessly. The usually emotionless warriors of the Red Skull’s elite found themselves more scared than they’d ever been before.
Faith the Vampire Slayer had been awake since they’d zapped her with the ray thing, silently planning a method of escape even as she writhed against the bindings which held her.
The sight of her slayer-sister bursting from her own prison like a butterfly from a cocoon---If the butterfly had, you know, super powers and wicked mad ass-kicking skills---energised the dark haired girl as she attempted to aid the closest thing she had to someone who could understand her.
She kicked madly as the tin-soldiers appeared, desperate to help Buffy and get some payback, she just had to get away and then…
She almost yowled in pain as her bindings were severed, floating in the water as she held up her hands, taking in the silver claws of metal that had emerged from between her knuckles and had hurt like hell.
But her attention was drawn to the battle outside, able to tell B was refraining from actually hurting the soldiers as she flipped and tumbled at speeds and with a strength that no slayer had.
Apparently B had gotten a boost of her own, Faith noted watching the bullets literally bounce off the Blonde’s skin.
Clenching her fists she thrust her hands forward to slice an opening in her prison, surprised when the glass gave way as though it were pink paper or something.
She could get used to the accessories if they were that cool, Faith noted even as she slipped through the gap, tearing the mad-scientists stuff from her skin. Eager to get it as far from her person as she possibly could.
Almost smirking as the removed items suddenly set fire.
“Smokin’…” She growled, through a husky, ill-used voice.
Drawing attention to herself.
“You ’kay B?” Faith tilted her head, even as she peeled back her teeth in the imitation of an animalistic snarl at the blonde’s opponents.
Halting the fuckers in their tracks.
She still had it, clearly.
“Better now you’re up and at ’em, F.” Buffy teased back, her voice equally dry.
“Well, ya know me. One gal army.” Faith snorted, cracking her neck as she dropped into a crouch glancing at the soldiers, angling her claws. “Nice to see ya saved some for me.”
“Well, I’m just generous like that.” Buffy snarked dryly. “You okay to handle this while I get the others out?”
“Five by five.” Faith grinned before lunging, the soldiers finally seeming to remember where the triggers on their little pea-shooters were, but she didn’t let that stop her.
By the stinging feeling she could tell some of them had winged her, and yet the injuries weren’t there, almost vanished as soon as they were made, making Faith silently exultant.
How ’bout those upgrades.
She bared her teeth in a fierce mockery of a smile, claws slicing her attackers with ease.
“Come get some boys,” she couldn’t fault them for all but cowering before her.
Buffy smirked as Faith started kicking butt, moving faster than she’d ever been able to before, picking up one of the guns, despite the fact she hated the things. Her mind already providing ways to use or disarm the weapon, pity she was doing neither.
Stepping up to the tube that held Willow she pulled back the butt of the rifle and smashed it into the glass with all the strength she had, sending spider web cracks running through the reinforced glass.
All it would take was a second hit. There was a pinging sound as another bullet bounced away, having hit her. Apparently her powers included bullet proof these days. Though how that matched with the wind was beyond her.
She was just grateful that it was there.
With a jerk of movement, the surface before her was shattered before her strength, and she stepped aside as the liquid gushed out onto the floor making it slicker than before. Not that Faith had any problems, moving with an even greater grace than ever before as she twisted and flipped with her shiny new claws.
“Wills. Up and at ’em, rise and shine.” She tapped her best friend’s face gently, noting that though she now had hair, it was in a short bob as opposed to the usual length.
“Ghhh?” Willow groaned blearily as her eyes fluttered open, as Buffy pulled away the girl’s breathing material.
“Wakey wakey Wills; not the best time to sleep right now.” Buffy forced a grin despite the grim situation, not wanting to worry the wiccan who looked like she’d not even be able to levitate a dust mote at this point.
“B-Bingo. Lets get you out.” Buffy reached out and ripped loose the solid metal cuffs with an ease that a slayer would never have found possible. Indeed, as far as Buffy could tell her strength had more than tripled.
Like she didn’t have enough trouble with breaking stuff already.
Willow found herself coughing in air, barely able to stand even as Buffy supported her out of the tube. Her limbs feeling like wet noodles, limp and immovable despite her best efforts to the contrary.
“I…” Willow stuttered out, her speech slurred. “I’m f…”
She swayed, making Buffy shift her higher on the blonde’s shoulder, to take the weight.
“If your next word is fine, I’m gonna smack ya.” Buffy snorted, setting her down beside the now shattered tank. “Cos you’re not.”
“No.” Willow agreed with a quiet moan, pushing the heel of her palm to her forehead in an attempt to remove her migraine. “Really not of the fine.”
In fact Willow doubted she would be ‘fine’ any time soon.
“Hang tight, kay. Gotta go get Queen C out.” Buffy gave a weak grin, revealing just how exhausted she was with a severe lack of punning.
Willow nodded, swaying slightly where she’d been left, taking in the sight of Faith fighting commandos in her stride as though it happened every day. Willow assumed she was in shock, vaguely noticing that Faith had apparently sprouted long metal claws even as the sound of Cordelia’s prison shattering before Buffy’s fists rang out into the air. The nasty sticky stuff flooding out and Buffy reaching in to drag out the still form of the once vapid socialite and now a Scooby gang official member.
Even if she wasn’t dating Xander anymore.
Though, Willow momentarily considered, if all their significant other got places on the team, they really needed to start getting membership cards or something.
Her eyes took in her surroundings, falling on the computer banks along the closest wall, making a swift decision. She may not be able to fight, but she could do her own part.
Stumbling she hurried to her feet, staggering to the computers and began to work, visibly calming as the familiar code flickered across the screen, even if it was more advanced than she was used to.
Her fingers flew across, typing rapidly, there was a reason that super secret company (that she’d later identified as an offshoot of Microsoft after hacking their databanks) had wanted her to work for them at the age of 17. And she was about to show these men in black (though technically it was green) just why that was.
Her gaze took in the information before her, her almost photographic memory noting everything before her even as her horror grew with the information that she took in. Oh the Powers had left information on their abilities around, and the reason their bodies had them.
She felt ill, even as she watched Cordelia shrink into a tiny form barely bigger than her thumb, complete with wings and an extremely shrill voice.
Some things never changed.
“What the hell is this!” Shrieked Cordelia Chase in a voice that sent jocks whimpering, nerds (other than Summer’s lot) heading for the hills, and whipped her Cordettes in line in an instant.
Problem was that said voice sounded like she’d downed about three balloon full’s of helium, even as she hovered in mid-air.
Hovered, as in she had icky bug wings that were enough to make her cringe.
She sooo needed retail therapy, and stat.
Buffy Summers wearing what could only be described as a crime against fashion---seriously when had unitards ever been in?---gaped at her. Looking ridiculously large, though it was in fact Cordelia that had shrunk about 10 times to…
Oh god, she looked like tinkerbell.
“This is your fault Summers, I don’t fully know how, but I know that it is.” Cordelia squawked.
“You know that for a fact, or is your spidey sense just tingling? Or should I say fly senses?” The slayer smirked earning a huff of frustration from the mini-fied cheerleader.
“If and when I get back to my normal statuesque height, you are so dead. Slayer or not.” Cordy folded her arms resolutely.
“I’m cowering on the inside, really.” Buffy snorted as she snatched the protesting Cordelia out of the air.
“We really need to blow this popsicle stand B.” Faith called, sheathing her claws with such a casual gesture that if Cordelia hadn’t known better she’d have said that the streetwalker-slayer had always had shiny pieces of metal sticking out of her hands.
“Clothing would be good.” Buffy stated wryly.
“Take your pick. Though Thumbelina might have some trouble,” Faith snorted at a huffy Cordelia who took to the air as the slayers began to strip some of the pile o unconscious soldiers, pulling on oversized sweaters and combat trousers. Stuffing the toes of large boots with what were clearly very nasty, sweaty socks, in a way that made Cordy cringe even as the pair laced up the boots.
“Red, get over here and suit up.” Faith called as she grabbed at a second jumper even as Buffy started going through pockets of the unconscious men.
“You upgrading to theft after your impressive repertoire of arson and GBH?” Cordelia snorted scathingly as she fluttered around Buffy’s head, finding some improvement in her situation in irritating the other girl, a long standing tradition between the two.
“When they’ve been experimenting on us and doing the hell knows what, I don’t really class it as theft, more like requisitioning, besides, there might even be a way to change you back.” Buffy pointed out, partially distracted by her petty felony.
There was a pause as Cordelia processed this, before her flight became even more erratic.
“Well what are you waiting for, get a move on! There could be stuff we need on those GI Joe’s, honestly, am I the only one here who actually thinks?” She snapped.
Completely missing the particularly vigorous, mutual eye rolls between the two slayers.
“Wills, get over here. We need to get out.” Buffy called even as the red-head hurried away from whatever she’d been doing in the corner dragging something behind her, the bag as promised by Whistler, and apparently it was heavy.
With a shift of her muscles, Buffy grabbed hold of the canvas carry-all, slinging it over her shoulders with casual ease, completely ambivalent to its apparent weight, chuckling quietly as Faith hurried Willow through dress-age.
“Any idea where we are?” Buffy questioned her friend, who’d been working her techno-fuu on the computers.
“Got a map up here.” Willow tapped her head smugly.
“Right,” Buffy asserted, falling into the leading role with an ease born of four years of active slay hood under her belt. “Faith you’re up front, those claws should be able to take down any teams.”
“I’d smell ’em a mile off. Apparently the big guys decided to upgrade the ol’ slayer senses off the map.” Faith grinned smugly.
“Right, I’ll take the rear, Willow you’re between us, giving Faith directions as we go.” Buffy nodded, as the red-head pulled on a lab coat one of the scientists must have dropped, over her oversized pullover.
“Cordy…” Buffy paused, before the brunette settled herself in the pocket of Willow’s lab coat.
“Don’t get used to it Rosenberg.” Was the only response from the now fairy-fied cheerleader.
“Well team, lets head out.” Buffy snorted wryly.
“Please tell me you did not just say team?” Was Faith’s snorted response as she lead the way.
“It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Was Buffy’s rather petulant response.
Faith led the way, red’s murmured instructions to guide her, trusting Buffy to watch her back even as she moved. Trying to ignore Queen C’s bitching.
This was more her area, avoidance and take down.
The damp scent of the air was enough to confirm that they were underground, some sort of military facility or something, she assumed. Like all those conspiracy freaks went on about governments using to experiment on people.
Who knew, it could have been true, it apparently was in this universe, dimension or whatever it was called.
Faith didn’t appreciate it.
As she was all too eager to prove to her captors.
Speaking of whom, she smirked as another group rounded the corner ahead, launching herself through the air to land in a crouch directly in front of them, claws and teeth bared as she sliced through them. Incapacitating wounds only, or B would get all pissy.
They dropped their guns, useless at such close range. And swiftly found out what a bad idea it was to engage a slayer at close range. He held her frame taut with an almost beserker rage that she liked to slip into during her fights. Fall into her emtions and just let loose.
She lashed out with her claws, taking out a hamstring, and watching a man crumple, before gouging another.
“Keeping up with the pace B?” She called back as the sound of fighting in the air, moving forward, past the now downed morons that had tried to stop them.
“Why wouldn’t I?” Buffy’s perky response was all the reassurance Faith needed, and she allowed a mocking grin to cross her face.
“Well, I know you old timers, thought you might need a break.” She taunted the older slayer lightly.
“Ha ha, age before Beauty, F.”
“So we agree I’m better lookin’ then?” Faith chuckled a smoky laugh.
“There should be a service elevator up ahead, to take up to the surface.” Willow’s voice cut through the witty banter and Faith nodded, already catching sight of the steel doors that would lead the way to freedom.
“Golden.” Faith nodded, reaching the steel-plated doors noting the eye-scanner thing she’d seen on a few of the secret agent movies played on her cheap, grainy screened motel TV.
Her gaze fell to her claws, and didn’t that just sound totally out of wack, even as she stabbed them into the metal doors, slicing through as though they were can openers on a can or something.
B was better with the puns.
She was hotter though, so it was fair.
She lashed out with her leg, kicking away the centre of her ‘art work’ that remained of the doors, leaving a hole which led into the elevator.
The group of four…Well, three and a bit, hurried into the shaft.
“We’ll hafta climb, it’s on lockdown.” Willow groaned, as she studied the controls.
“Can’t you just do some of your witch-fuu and…” Faith waved her hands in what she interpreted as a ‘zapping’ motion.
“Magic is a delicate art, and doesn’t go well with technology. I can’t just wave my hand at the damn controls and…” Willow was mid-way through demonstration, when red sparks crackled from her hands, hit the screen and suddenly the elevator jerked sending those without supernatural reflexes or were already bunched in a pocket, to the floor.
“You were sayin’ red? Looks like you got an upgrade too.” Faith grinned smugly to the wiccan, who merely pulled a worried face.
Looked like red knew more than she was letting on.
When they got out of here those beans were definitely being spilled, but for now Faith would enjoy the ride to the surface and fresh air once again.
“I don’t know what to be more disturbed by, the fact that you can hotwire military style jeeps or that I let you do it.” Buffy snorted, deadpan, as she held on for dear life.
The canvas covered, typical green jeep, bounced through the snow on its heavy treaded tires, Buffy in the passenger seat, Faith driving (though the only reason they’d allowed it was because Buffy would most likely kill them all, Cordy was too short to reach the seatbelt, let alone the pedals and Willow couldn’t drive) a decision that Buffy was beginning to regret.
They had, however, appeared to have lost their pursuers. For the moment, and Willow was yelling directions to the nearest settlement using the map they’d found in the glove compartment, from her seat in the back of the truck, styled with benches along the sides like in the war films, the black duffle at her side. The red-head looking decidedly green from the jerking motion.
Cordy was tucked into the top pocket of Buffy’s jacket, and not happy about it at all.
“Where the hell are we anyway? Lapland?” Buffy growled as they lurched over another dip in the so-called track that was really just snow.
“Canada!” Willow called, “I recognise some of the names on the map.”
“Canada! Why the hell are we in Canada? Nobody’s from Canada.” Cordelia squawked, ore indignant about the coolness rating of the area than the fact that they were guinea pigs for some super-secret organisation.
“We’ll hafta ditch the truck at the next town. It’ll be too recognisable otherwise.” Faith called over the noise of the engine.
“You seem worryingly comfortable with being on the run.” Buffy commented lightly.
“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.” Faith grinned back, wickedly.
Buffy snorted quietly “Ok, what are our options?”
“Let me see, we've got quick death, slow death, painful death, cold, lonely death…” Cordelia drawled from her pocket space.
“I am so close to putting you in a jam jar and forgetting about you, queen bee.” Faith pointed, not taking their eyes off the road.
“I’d like to see you get past Buffy.” Cordelia snorted, and Buffy made no mention that she’d probably be leading the charge to help her sister-slayer.
Wouldn’t do to give mini-Cordy a hernia. Her excitability tolerance seemed to directly relate to her size and that was just asking for trouble. Buffy was willing to bet the other girl, no matter how tiny, had sharp, sharp little teeth.
“So, new universe, what do we know other than we’ve been held captive by crazies.” Buffy interrupted the oncoming spat.
“We weren’t in captivity.” Willow’s solemn, non-fun-Willow voice echoed from the back.
“Odd, ‘cos with all the being strapped down and all, it sure as hell felt like captivity.” Faith interjected, and Cordelia seemed to agree.
Clearly the first sign of the apocalypse. The real (as in biblical) one, not some wannabe upstart trying to do it for fun or anything.
“Whoa, back up and rewind, these bodies?” Buffy started in shock, spinning in her seat to look at her blatantly miserable friend.
“Ours were destroyed back in our old world remember. Whistler said we’d have new vessels? Was no one else listening to the messenger of the dimensional controllers?” Willow explained, to her blank audience. She huffed a pout before continuing. “The PtB shoved us into some brain dead bodies they had handy. Namely clones created at that facility designed to help that terrorist organisation conquer America.”
“Oh great. That’s all we need.” Buffy groaned. “We’re wanted criminals.”
“Not really, no-one knows about it from what I managed to get off the computer. Not SHEILD or the Avengers or the X-men.” Willow listen aloud.
“Now, wait a sec. I recognise some of those names from Xander’s comics.” Buffy interjected.
“Alternate universe where superheroes are real. Some influence must have leaked through into our world to create the comic in ours.” Willow lectured.
“Geekland, we’re in geek land.” Cordelia wailed quietly. “Even after we break up, Harris still manages to mess with my life, even in another universe.”
“Bad day. Started out bad, pretty much stayed that way.” Buffy simply muttered under her breath as she massaged the bridge of her nose.
“Long story short, we’ve gotten bodies that are biological children of some of the biggest heroes on the planet. The computer back at the facility had a list of that and our abilities. Like Whistler said there would be.”
“As if the vengeance demons weren’t already a prime example of be careful what you wish for, now the PtB have to get in on the act.” Groaned Buffy, irritably.
“Well, yeah…kinda…” Willow agreed. “Those upgrades aren’t so much ours as…”
“Those we’ve inheriting from Mommy and Daddy Test-tube?” Faith muttered crossly.
“You wouldn’t have happened to have learnt said list would you Wills?” Buffy queried lightly, knowing full well the other girl would have.
“Well, yeah.” Willow nodded. “Faith, you’ve got the DNA of the mutant Wolverine of the X-men and Avengers, heightened senses and healing skills that can take a bullet to the head at point blank and have you out and about in no time. The claws are a metal called adamatium, its unbreakable and is laced across your whole skeleton. A surgical procedure. Unlike your…ahem…progenitor, you’ve also got a blade that’ll come out of your heel on both feet. As for the fire since our brainwave patterns peaked and they exposed us to some type of radiation you’ve shown skill in manipulating fire and drawing strength from sources of heat.”
“Sweet.” Faith kissed her bicep with a flirty grin. “Can’t wait to try it out.
“Eyes on the…” There was no road, an Buffy grasped for a word. “…snow?”
“Cordy’s ability is related to the Avengers Hank Pym aka Antman and Janet Van Dyne known as Wasp.” Willow continued.
“Bugs…it had to be bugs, urgh!” Cordy grouched.
“They can control their height at will and go from tiny to giant using what are known as Pym particles. Like Wasp you sprout wings when you shrink, but she has the ability to blast energy that you don’t seem to.” Willow listed. “For the earth ability that popped up they recorded the ability to manipulate both plants and earth along with being able to communi…talk to plants.”
“Why the hell would I want to talk to plants?” Bristled Cordy from her perch. “And how do I get big again?”
“Improve your conversation skills.” Faith snarked under her breath, even as Willow stammered to assure Cordelia that when they stopped for the night or something, they‘d sort this out.
“How about me?” Buffy interjected, sensing an argument brewing on the horizon once more.
“You’re…okay…up…Have you heard of Captain America, leader of the Avengers?” Willow started, querying.
“Not so much, isn’t he a super-soldier or something? But I’m noticing a pattern with these ‘avengers’. We were supposed to fight them right? Be their equal and opposite. Their anti-heroes?”
“We’re the bad guys of this performance?” Faith squawked in surprise. “That just…completely sucks.”
“Unfortunately that seems to have been the plan.” Willow nodded, shivering in cold, and encouraging Buffy to turn up the heater, as far as the Blonde could tell she appeared to have become kind of impervious to cold.
“So hit me, apart from being all none bullet hittable, what can I look forward to?” Buffy swiftly changed the subject.
“Um…Pretty much you’ve got the peak potential out of physical attributes in humans, as in a super-super-slayer. You’ve technically got the potential to be a tactical genius, you’re immune to most diseases and poisons. Including alcohol.” Willow began to list.
“Ha, sucks to be you B.” Faith cackled.
“It doesn’t affect you either.” Willow smirked, making Faith curse vigorously. “You’ve got your slayer knowledge to help you anyway but you’re like super strong, fast and flexible now and according to their notes they believed the DNA they’d obtained of Captain America would allow you knowledge of how to use this…” She hefted what looked to be a pure black shield from the canvas bag. Which had apparently what had weighted it down. “It’s not made of vibranium like Captain America’s, it’s adamantium like Faith’s claws but with practise you should be able to put it to good use.”
“Sweet.” Faith nodded thoughtfully.
“As for the bullet proof thing, that’s an added extra that Captain America doesn’t have, they aren’t sure how you got that, but they’ve been using adamantium to get through your skin so I’d say you’re pretty resilient. They didn’t have a chance to test out your elemental ability, but I think its kind of safe to say that the mini-cyclone in the lab might be linked.” Willow smiled weakly.
“Oh goodie…What about you Wills?” Buffy narrowed her gaze on the other girl, worried about the moment of awkward silence that followed.
“My…donor…is a mutant called the Scarlet Witch, or Wanda Maximoff, she’s a witch with an aptitude for chaos magic which is what you saw from me back at the lab. It reacted to my panicked state. She also has a mutation to control probabilities but they don’t think I inherited that. Added to which is the ability to manipulate water and ice.” She blushed furiously. “Apparently I froze a tube.”
The two slayers snorted quietly, even as they drove, trying to keep in good spirit. The pair having more experience with black humour than the other two.
“So…we got a plan?” Faith queried.
“We could go find them…our…parents?” Willow questioned to complete silence in the jeep to her suggestion.
“Yeah, cos that’ll go over sooo well, ‘hi there we’re genetically your spawn created in a lab by one of your nemeses without your permission in order to destroy you and trn your abilities against your home country’…That’ll go over well.” Cordelia commented dryly.
“I have to agree Wills.” Buffy nodded, anyway, as far as she was concerned Joyce was her Mom. Not some test tube.
“Never needed parents before, why would that change any now?” Faith stated emotionlessly, making it clear to the others that Willow had hit a sore spot with the comment about their ‘parents’. “Now, a real plan this time.”
There was a moment’s hesitation and then---
“Don’t die?” Cordy suggested lightly.
“Sounds like a Scooby-plan to me.” Snickered Buffy.
“Don’t die it is.” Willow nodded, even as the truck drove further away from the labs.
“We found the car dumped in ….” Reported Henrich Jeder.
“Of course you did.” The Red Skull cut him off from where he was observing the screens showing the escape of the most recent projects on a loop. “They were created to be the equal to the Avengers, to think on their feet. They did. Just not in our favour. It was never going to be as easy as simply following a tracking device. But no matter, they will be found and returned to us. And when they are they’ll be made to understand exactly what their purpose in life is.”
Heinrich silently shivered at the chilling tone of his commander’s voice.
“But for now, we allow our agent to find them.” The warped figure smirked, before pausing and tilting his head. “Oh, and Captain Jeder?”
The pistol shot rang loudly in the air and the figure in uniform crumpled to the floor with blood leaking from his forehead.
“The thousand year Riech does not appreciate failure…and neither do I.”
“Please? Faith you have to let me do this.” Buffy’s gaze burned seriously into the eyes of the other slayer, relentless in its persistence.
“No.” Faith’s response was blunt and utterly to the point, as she steeled herself for yet another battle.
“C’mon!” Buffy whined with a pout.
“No.” Faith muttered, eyebrow twitching.
“But…” Buffy pulled out the wide eyed look.
“Nuh-uh, no way and never ever B.” Faith shook her head resolutely as she shifted the car into gear, as they drove down the highway. “If you think I’m letting you behind the wheel after what happened in Montréal that head butt from the bar fight in Quebec did more than rattle that little blonde head of yours.”
“One time, I was barely near the guy.” Buffy huffed, staring out the window having crossed the border into the US.
“He had to throw himself off his bike.” Faith quirked an unimpressed eyebrow.
“He overreacted.” Buffy responded resolutely.
“He was on a motor-bike.” Faith replied, disbelieving.
Buffy fell silent at her response, unable to think of a suitable comeback, peering out the window at the uninspiring scenery around them.
“Didn’t you start that Bar fight, Faith?” Cordelia questioned from the backseat, back to her normal height after numerous attempts which had left the former cheerleader spring boarding from Giaganta to Thumbelina repeatedly.
Buffy had wished for a camera.
The group had been travelling for almost a week now attempting to find their way in a new world which was actually pretty similar to their own, except that super powered individuals had a habit of prancing around in ridiculously brightly coloured spandex and the like. Buffy prayed it wasn’t a requirement, and Cordy had already point blank refused to wear clashing primary colours.
It may not have been the smartest of decisions but the four had decided to make their way to New York, it was a big city with chances to get work for the individuals that technically had no past. Even if it was where the Avengers were based in Stark Tower. They’d kept to the time honoured and fair approach of...oh in all honesty they’d gotten a map, a blindfold and a knife.
Though Buffy wasn’t entirely convinced that Willow’s newly burgeoning and extremely large magical ability hadn’t picked up on its mistress’ wants and intervened in her favour.
Neither was Faith judging by the full hour of sulking that the brunette had gone through, which had eventually cumulated in said bar-fight.
Buffy meanwhile was already missing the sunshine state of California, home to sun, sand and sky.
'Where had the sunshine has gone?' she wondered, as she gazed out at the rain-filled sky that looked ready to let rip.
Their current car was a pretty banged up SUV that they’d actually bought legally, though granted they’d gotten the money for it from a combination of cage fights and Buffy using her slay…Super-soldier-ly powers to hustle truckers at pool.
She was getting rather good at it.
Willow was also proving talented at counting cards.
And Cordy was as good at hording money as any rich person, guarding it like a dragon, though Buffy had witnessed the other girl actually just sniffing the money from time to time. As though she missed it or something.
Which was just disturbing on a whole other level.
“Propaganda from Blondie here to avoid admitting that she was irritated that they wouldn’t let her into the bar because they thought she was 16.” Faith snorted.
“Really? I could have sworn that you threw a punch when they wouldn’t let you fight. And you wanted to prove you could.” Willow commented over the laptop that had been in the black bag and was compact enough to be useful.
“I thought that was it.” Buffy sniffed, tossing the designated driver a drink which Faith took an eager drink from before pulling a face.
“Blearh, water B? Ya tryin at kill me?” She wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“Sorry, the vodka must have been in my other clear plastic bottle marked Evian.” Snarked the blonde slayer/super soldier hybrid. “I’ll double check next time.”
“Damn straight.” Drawled Faith as she tossed the bottle back to Buffy, who was settled into her designated spot- shotgun.
The brunette was keeping rather stringently to the whole ’don’t let Buffy drive on pain of death’ rule she’d apparently made up in Montréal.
Which sucked, because she wasn’t that bad!
Okay, so she’d hit a few signposts, knocked down a few trash cans, and that road-barrier had just been asking to be hit, sitting there all smug and pompous because people weren’t allowed to go through it.
The motorbike guy had been a total fluke.
Besides he wasn’t even hurt and had offered her his number.
It wasn’t like she could date him, being on the run from a secret, yet murderous, organisation. But it did a world of good for her ego.
Kind of made her feel like James Bond, only with breasts…and without the gun and the corny chat up lines…
Or, you know, not James Bond.
End of Chapter.
 Background knowledge of The Book of Four, Buffy Novelisation by Nancy Holder:
Taking place during Buffy's third season, Faith and Buffy are the current Slayers. When mayhem caused by tidal waves and burning forests begin to erupts in Sunnydale as well as vicious attackers appearing with ceremonial axes, the gang knows that something is up. A woman named Cecile Lafitte has sent her element-based servants (known as the Wanderers) to kill the Slayers with special axes, each with its own set element. An a consecutive slayer: Faith being the Slayer of Fire and Buffy being the Slayer of Air. Each Slayer has a special axe made to destroy the Slayer of that particular element. There are four axes in total; air, fire, water and earth. Should Faith and Buffy both be killed with their specific axes then it's believed that the line of Slayers will die out forever. Cecile wanted to bring forth the Gatherer, an old one of enormous power, and the only way to do so is to have the Slayers killed, which would feed the demon enough power to bring him forth into the world. Giles figures out that they need answers from the Watcher of the Slayer that preceded Buffy, India Cohen.
During the final confrontation with the Gatherer, Willow and Cordelia briefly serve as hosts for India and Kendra respectively. As they sacrifice themselves to end the Gatherer they are resurrected by the power of the slayer line. However n this AU something different occurs.