Disclaimer: I don't own.
A/N: Feedback is very necessary here as this is a whole new style for me. Oh, and I completely redid the first chapter.
I thought the bathroom had been opulent, all marble and rich woods but the living room had it beat hands down. So had the bedroom I'd passed though in order to get there. Rich leather and dark wood filled a room that had to be a least a century old judging by the fact that there was actual plaster on the walls and intricate nineteenth century detail work everywhere. But, while the room had a definite look of history to it, there was also a lot in the way of modern around. The leather chair I was standing behind was new, an ornate cabinet held a massive flat screen tv and there was a laptop sitting on the antique desk across the room.
Both of which would probably never work again now that I'd been standing there trying to figure out just what the hell was going on for the last fifteen minutes. Wizards and technology don't mix well, I could kill a wireless phone at fifty paces easy even on a good day.
And I had a feeling it wasn't going to turn out to be a good day.
I kept my position, one that didn't leave me with my back exposed and my will just as ready to go as it'd been the instant I'd seen the crossbow pointed at my chest and listened. I could hear the Murphy alike in the bedroom, the sounds of getting dressed had started about five minutes before, but when the hairdryer started going I got the feeling I should be insulted.
For all she knew she was turning her back on Darth Vader so she could dry her hair. Seriously, I wasn't sure if I should be impressed, insulted or worried because she was so confident I wasn't going to either run or kill her the second her back was turned. I currently didn't have plans to do either but she didn't know that.
But then again, after going through everything I could find in the room I was pretty sure she wasn't normal. The half a dozen Medieval style weapons that looked like they'd seen real use I'd found around the room had been the tip off but it'd been the search of the desk that had given me some real information. Well, that and a look out the window.
The sound of the hairdryer running while sitting on the marble counter top in the bathroom droned on in the back of my hearing as I went over the search results that had come up while I'd finished my shower and gotten dressed. Swiping Mr Freakishly Tall's wallet had been so easy as he'd passed by me that it had almost bordered on sad. Which meant he was definitely human, a magic user based on what I'd felt. but human.
And he didn't exist. I frowned and looked over all the little boxes that revealed the search results again. I hadn't done much to create the search, Willow had programmed it well enough that even I could use the software and database searches, but I did know that coming up with no results was of the bad. If I remembered right the three different types that we, the Council used, covered everything from a database of supernatural entities and artifacts to stuff Willow had managed to tap into from several international government databases. Even the yellow pages.
And on Harry Dresden, Wizard for Hire, I'd gotten a big fat helping of nothing.
And here I'd thought I'd be dealing with another day of massive boredom during my retirement. Which just went to prove my point that you could force a slayer to retire after ten years of crazy death or near death experiences and apocalypses but that so didn't mean that the crazy was going to leave me alone. I shook my head and let out a sigh as I looked myself in the mirror.
“Well, you were right.” I muttered to myself. “And now you've got to deal with it.” which some tiny part of me didn't want to do. Not because I couldn't handle what I was pretty sure was a guy who'd just gotten dragged into my world by accident but because it meant I was going to have to get help sending him home.
The fact that he'd seen me completely naked had nothing to do with it, honest.
Don't look at me like that, anyone who knows me is well aware of my track record with denial. And having insane situations dropped in my lap. But I hadn't survived to be the oldest living Slayer in history by being a complete moron no matter what anyone thought or said so I knew I had to make the phone call and then go out into the living room of the Council House I was staying in and try to explain to some poor weirdo who'd seen me naked that it was all a big mistake and I'd try and get him home.
And then figure out who was trying to kill me, again. Though I had to admit the bathroom thing was kinda new.
I picked up my cell phone and hit speed dial three-magic man, magic portal based on the symbols I'd seen and the couple I'd managed to remember enough to write down meant I needed my not so resident these days witch to make with the mojo. I frowned when it went to voice mail but left a message. And then went a step further and left a message with whatever mini slayer was manning the phones at the Council House in Rio.
I shook my head and shoved the phone in my pocket, it figures. Then I shut off the hair dryer, grabbed the borrowed wallet and headed for the living room.
I'd spent the last five months mentally complaining about my retirement but I'd never been stupid enough to even think the w word which just went to show that the universe had managed to find a way to screw with me in new and inventive ways.
It took less than a minute for the bedroom door to open after the hair dryer shut off and for the blonde, Buffy, based on the mail I'd gone though, to come out. Before, the lower half of my body had appreciated the sight of a pretty woman naked while my brain had said “Danger! Danger!” due to the crossbow but now I had to agree with my lower half.
She was tiny, maybe a couple of inches taller than Murphy even without the heeled boots she was wearing, but built with the same look of gymnastic grace on a slightly lighter scale. Murphy had a bit more obvious muscle, she had a bit more height. And the blue jeans, green tank top and long golden hair only served to make the differences more apparent. Sun kissed, green eyed and sporting features that would have been right at home among the Summer Court she wasn't just pretty but subtly beautiful in a way that could have been upgraded to gorgeous if she'd been smiling.
And she wasn't smiling.
“Welcome to Oz, Mr. Dresden.” she said and the “Danger! Danger!” came back. Though I did have to appreciate her sense of humor. I let out a snort. “That make you Glenda the Good Witch then, Ms. Summers?” I asked, it was only fair. I did a mental check and yep.
A shadow passed behind her eyes for a heartbeat and then her lips twitched and her head tilted to the side. “Not even close. I left her a voice mail though." her eyes twitched to the desk for a hearbeat. "Mail.” .
“Wallet.” I returned with a matching raised eyebrow and she held my wallet up for me to see. I found my lips quirking despite the situation. “Nicely done.” I admitted, I hadn't felt a thing when she'd lifted it off me. Which explained how she knew my name.
She tossed the wallet over. “I'm good with my hands.” she said and then her expression changed and a slight blush started across her chest. “And that sounded a whole lot dirtier than I meant it.”
I found myself actually smiling at her obvious embarrassment. It was a big change from most of the beautiful women I'd met. They generally wanted to kill, eat or enslave me. “So you want to tell me what the hell is going on?” I asked her, getting serious. Sure, she was nice to look at but even in my book of weird this was a new one.
“Short version?” she asked.
“Shortest.” I agreed.
She started heading for the sofa as though she didn't have a care in the world, like she hadn't been holding a freakin crossbow aimed at me less than half an hour before. “You don't exist.” she said and plopped down on the couch.
I blinked at her. And then did it again. Funny, I was pretty sure I did exist otherwise I'd been getting screwed on a whole new level I hadn't known was possible for my entire life. “What?” I demanded, alarmed.
From her spot on the couch she gave me that same look from the bathroom, the one where she clearly thought I was brain damaged and said. “Did you miss the Wizard of Oz metaphor, Dorthy? Hit your head maybe? This is not your world, wizard boy.”
I gave her a suspicious look as my stomach started tying itself in knots. “How can you be sure?”
She raised a golden eyebrow. “Slayer.”
I frowned harder at her. What did a hair band have to do with any of this? “What?” I asked.
She started ticking off with her fingers as she spoke. “Watchers Council. Devon Coven. The Scourge of Europe. Wolfram and Hart. Hellmouth. Ring any bells?”
And now that my stomach had gotten itself all knotted up. “No.” I admitted.
“If you had any real magical talent in this world you'd know at least a couple of those therefore...” she went on like she was speaking to a slow child again. “Not. Your. World.” she shrugged. “Plus I Googled you."
My stomach felt like someone was playing soccer with it's knotted shape. “Hell's Bells! How did this happen?” I found myself leaning on the chair. Oh god, Molly. If the Council found out I was gone they'd execute her.
“Piss anyone off lately?” Buffy asked, the tone oddly flippant.
I looked at her “Define lately?” I asked. Sure, I'd pissed lots of people and things off but no one in particular in the last couple of months.
Like I said, I have authority issues. And luck so bad it's bordering on divine intervention or a really freakishly strong curse.
Define lately huh? Well he sounded as bad as I did. And looked it too. Between the obvious bulge of the gun in his pocket, the long thin stick tied into the inside of his coat, the smell of over a dozen different things that I knew for sure were for spells, and the set of rings on his hand that gave off a low hum of power I knew he walked around as armed as I did on a daily basis. Well, more armed actually. I don't like guns.
Try taking a bullet to the heart and see how fond of guns you are afterward.
Still, I had a pretty powerful magic user standing in my temporary living room looking like he was about to start hyperventilating. “Look, it's not a big deal.” I began. It wasn't, really. I knew Willow could get him home and then I could start dealing with whatever had dropped him in my bathroom. Which I was oddly looking forward to. A vampire or demon a week if I was lucky enough to stumble across them had gotten old in the first two months of my retirement.
I tried to sound reassuring. “I'm sure Willow can get you home. She'll call me back, I'll explain what's the what, she'll pop over from Rio and make with the witchy powers.” I had the feeling I failed based on the look he was giving me.
Ok, so I'm a little out of practice with the people thing. Which so wasn't my fault. I hadn't wanted to retire, dammit!
I kept looking at him, Harry, my brain supplied and I forced myself to keep a straight face as those stupid books and movies came to mind. A wizard. Named Harry. Way way way too easy.
Punning and snark are an art and I so wasn't going to lower myself to that level. Yet.
It's been a long five months.
He stood there, his dark hair falling over eyes that were nearly as dark and freaking looming over the giant brown leather chair that I could fit in twice over. Dear gods he was tall. Then he looked up after about three minutes, refused to meet my eyes again, and asked. “What about you? What if this isn't about me?”
Ok, so not what I was expecting. I shrugged and replied. “I'll handle it.” without the help of the Scoobies, thank you very much. I'd just tell Willow it was someone on his end that had done it and once she was gone I'd figure out who was after me.
If they were after me. Which was pretty likely given my life but for once I wasn't complaining.
Five long, boring months. And now I sounded like Faith.
His expression changed and I knew that look. I'd seen it way too many times on Angel's face over the years. It was that 'must protect woman' face. Which wasn't a bad thing if said woman wasn't able to bench press a freaking compact car these days. “Someone, possibly from this world and wanting to kill you, just did something that the most powerful wizards in my world can't pull off and you'll 'handle it'.” he said. The skepticism was so thick I could have reached out and touched it.
I blinked at him. Seriously? What a bunch of wimps. I knew of freaking high schoolers that had managed to summon demons from other worlds and dimensions. I shrugged and replied. “Yeah, I'll handle it.”
He looked at me like I was an idiot. Which I am not. I'm not Willow smart but I'm not stupid. “But you don't use magic.” he pushed, and oh goody he was the stubborn type. It figured.
“So you're the Tin Man.” he said.
“Hey!” I protested, offended. Plus, my metaphor. “You don't know...” I stopped as my phone started ringing in my pocket. I glared at him and pulled it out. The screen said Rio House and I flipped it open.
“Wills, hey I need a favor.”
“Willow isn't available, Buffy. And she won't be for the next five days. Astral projection. ” Kennedy's voice sounded as snotty and smarmy as ever. And then it sank in. Crap! I glanced over at Harry standing behind the chair. He had a look on his face like he could hear the whole conversation and was kinda surprised by something.
“Fine. The second that she's available I need her to come to me. I've got a Code Alice looming in my living room.” I told her.
“Aren't you at Winchester House right now?” Kennedy asked, actually sounding surprised.
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Popped in right through the wards. I'm pretty sure he's not a threat but I think he'd like to get home.”
Kennedy made a humming sound. Our, the Council's, ward system was pretty heavy duty. Andrew had boasted that the ones on the castle in Scotland could stand up to pretty much anything, even gods, once it reached its five hear mark and had time to settle properly. “I'll have her call you. You think you'll be ok until then?”
I glanced at Harry, he did not look happy. “Yeah, I just want to get him home.” I replied and hung up. I put the phone in my jeans pocket and frowned. Five days? What the hell was a gonna do with a NBA sized wizard for five days?
And then a little voice, that sounded annoyingly like Faith's said exactly what she thought I could do with him for five days. I mentally punched the little Faith voice in the mouth and tried to ignore what it'd said.
“You heard that.” there was no denying he had, just based on his expression. He crossed his arms and gave my nose a stare.
“I did, five days, Tin Man.” he replied.
I sighed. “You're not going to let this go are you?” I asked.
“Not a chance.” he agreed. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back. Of course someone was probably trying to kill me, of course I was stuck with a guy who thought I was a damsel in distress, and of course I was now stuck with him for the better part of a week.
Oh and he'd seen me naked.
Well, I'd had worse days.
Feedback is kinda essential here if I'm gonna keep going. And I'd kinda like to since I've outlined all the way up until the events of Cold Days