Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Dresden or the Dresden Files as they are the property of the great Jim Butcher. Nor do I own Buffy or any other characters of the Buffy-verse as they belong to Joss. I make no profit from this aside from trying out a new writing style. Please don't sue me because you won't get much more than a cat, a computer and possibly my book collection.
A/N: Now I know I really really should not be starting another series as I have way too many open at the moment (those who read Watching Forever forgive me, I have half of the final chapter done and the epilogue I will try to work on it once I'm not up to my eyeballs in work) And I also know that I said I wouldn't be posting anything until late August but this has been eating at me and I wanted to find a way to celebrate my third year here on TTH.
So please give me a break if you don't see another update for a while and humor me with reviews because this is an experiment into a Very different writing style than I'm used to. Later chapters will be sent to the amazing and wonderful Muse on Paradise Lost who has agreed to help with with this little project (bless her) so they will be cleaner than this one is.
Now, let's see if I've got something decent or complete crap on my hands.
You know those moments when your brain goes “Oh crap.” and you've got seconds to decide to act? Yeah, everyone does. Hell, I've had the misfortune to experience that particular problem a lot more times than most. However, most of my oh crap moments tend involve faeries, fallen angels or purple monkey demons flinging flaming poo.
They generally don't involve five foot tall blondes holding projectile weapons unless Murphy is around.
And the last time I'd checked they'd never involved said blonde being naked, scarred, and pointing the weapon at me while looking disturbingly calm and prepared to fire if I so much as twitched wrong. Which the the blonde standing across from me in a bathroom that was almost as big as my basement apartment was currently doing. I did a quick sweep of my surroundings, careful not to move anything but my eyes in case the blonde in question was looking for a reason to shoot the crossbow she had aimed at my chest.
It was pretty clear I hadn't been expected, if the naked factor hadn't tipped me off then the running water from the shower behind me and strong smell of vanilla shampoo that was still in the blonde's hair were both pretty obvious signs. That and the feel of foreign magic sticking to my skin like sweat on a humid day was about as big and blatant as the Hollywood sign.
“Where am I?” I asked, because not two minutes before I'd been in the woods with my apprentice Molly practicing her thurmaturgy.
She raised one golden eyebrow at me and said in a dry tone. “My bathroom.”
I scowled at her, smartass remarks are only funny out of the good guys. “How'd I get here?”
“Magic.” she said, like she was speaking to a very small, and possibly brain damaged child.
“You wanna elaborate on that?” I asked her, adding her knowledge that magic was real to the possibilities of who she was and how I'd ended up in her bathroom. She shifted the crossbow a bit and I eyed it.
“My eyes are up here.” my eyes went up to hers out of pure instinct at the order and I blinked and focused my gaze on her chin. I was used to people barking orders or threats at me, a lot of people don't like me, but I almost never listened to them.
I have authority issues, shocker.
But I had with her. Not that the view behind the crossbow was bad, actually the lower half of my body liked it, really liked it, but if she didn't want me looking I was willing to accommodate. Besides, the tone, it was something I was way too familiar with, it was the tone of someone who had power, who led and was used to people following her orders. “I'm more interested in the other view.” ok, so I was baiting her but she had the crossbow at chest level.
The eyebrow went up again. “Cute. Who sent you to kill me?” she replied, as dry as a desert.
Now it was my turn to raise my eyebrows. I raised my hands and realized with some alarm, ok a lot of alarm, that my staff was gone. Well that wasn't good. I knew I'd had it in the woods. “Look lady, I don't know who you are or how the hell I got here. And I've got no plans to hurt you unless you try it first.” I chanced a glance down at the crossbow still pointed at my chest, the thing was hard core, expensive looking. “Why do you have a crossbow in the bathroom anyway?”
“Really? There's like a million questions going on here and that's the one you go for?” she looked at me like I was an idiot and then rolled her eyes. And in that moment I could have sworn she was related to Murphy, which was a bit of a scary thought. “Well, I'm kinda hoping you don't decide to go Tuco on me.” I said, between the running water behind me from the shower and the slick of foreign magic on my skin I knew pulling off anything big on the magic scale might not be the greatest idea I'd ever had but I could manage a shield.
“Says the guy who looks like he's trying to get his Eastwood on.” she said and gave me a pointed look. I blinked, a tiny bit surprised, she actually got the reference which meant I could rule out a lot of things that she wasn't. But it still didn't mean I knew what the hell was going on. Of course, I was pretty sure she wasn't the one responsible for whatever mess I'd landed in now.
You know, what with her naked and wet and stars and stones I needed to think with the upper brain.
She let out an exasperated sounding sigh. “Ok, so here's what we're gonna do.” she lowered the crossbow and I blinked, surprised yet again. “You're human. Not a normal human but right now I'm sitting in a glass house kinda with the naked and uncomfortable.” I was about to say something that was likely to get the crossbow pointed at my chest again when she put up her free hand up. “Wrangle your snark monster, we've got to get this sorted out.”
My lips twitched, I didn't want to admit it but I was starting to like her. “You're being awfully trusting.” I didn't have any plans on hurting her but she had even more scars than I did and that generally didn't mean she led a quiet life. And I was doing my best not to think about the fact that it looked like she'd lived through a war or three. I've got a tick about protecting women.
Don't judge. I've had it bite me in the ass enough to know that it's stupid but I can't help it.
Of course, I had about twenty possibilities and angles that seemed remotely possible about what was going on and about fifty more that were a lot less possible and a lot more likely considering my luck but I wasn't going to settle on any of them till I knew more.
And if getting some answers also meant I no longer had a crossbow pointed at my chest and might actually manage to get out of some mess without blowing something up then I was all for it. She set the crossbow on the vanity and reached for a robe hanging on a hook to her left. “Worst you can do is kill me.” she put the robe on and pulled her still lightly dripping hair out from under it.
I found myself frowning at her. “You don't sound all that concerned.”
She started tying the fuzzy green robe like I wasn't even there, another point in the not out to kill me score sheet. Women who wore fuzzy robes generally didn't go around trying to kill people. Which made me feel oddly uncomfortable. It wasn't like I could leave, she was between me and the door. “I can't tell if you're clueless or just a really good liar.”
I put my hands in my pocket because now that I didn't have them up waiting do deflect a crossbow bolt I felt kinda awkward. “Huh?”
She turned, looked at me over her shoulder like I was an idiot, again. “Me and magic are generally unmixy things but even I can feel it coming off you.”
I narrowed my eyes, well that checked vanilla human off the list. And raised a lot more questions. “What are you?”
Something flickered behind her eyes. resentment or maybe anger. “Retired.” she reached behind her for the door handle, and I suddenly felt a knot growing in my stomach as she opened the bathroom door and burnt orange sunlight filled outline around her