When Two Immovable Forces Collide
What happens when your gift is Death and you're hand delivered to the man himself?Disclaimer:
BtVS belongs to Joss Whedon. Laurell K. Hamilton owns the AnitaversePairings:
Complete AU. Its a major right turn after the Gift, and occurs at the beginning of the Anita books before she becomes involved with JC or anyone else, and retains her original viewpoint. Just my perspective of what might have occurred had someone, namely Buffy, been thrown in the mix from the beginning. Special Note:
Thanks as always to my beta Drea, She simple makes everything better. Love ya sweets.
Edward moved silently through the woods, blending with the darkness. His destination was a clearing a hundred yards ahead, where according to his Intel, he would find the target with his latest victim.
Something in the air had him changing direction. He veered to the right at a fast jog. Whatever was out here, its power signature was stronger than anything he had ever come across before. Any supernatural creatures in the area were long gone, which meant his target had booked.
Edward came to an abrupt halt when he found the power source. There lying on the forest floor beneath glowing lights lay a small crumpled body. He quickly scanned the surrounding area for other intruders. No one else was here, except him and the tiny shimmering body. Edward searched for signs of life, and caught the shallow rise and fall that showed the 'person' was still breathing.
Lightening suddenly shot out from the light, felling trees, uprooting soil, before entering the still unconscious body. It lifted it into the air, holding it there supine as an offering to the elements. Long golden hair fanned out into the current-filled air, giving the first sign as to the body's sex.
The lightning retracted into the lights, disregarding its bounty as it fell unheeded to the ground. A swirling motion started to shrink the glowing lights until they were no more than a single shining spark that simply disappeared. The air cleared leaving no sign anything unnatural had ever happened, except for the female body left behind.
Edward waited until he was sure nothing more would happen before he silently walked forward to investigate. He nudged the body with the toe of his boot. Nothing happened; the woman was either, injured badly and unconscious or dead. Gun ready in one hand, he bent down to check her pulse with the other. A slow steady pulse thrummed beneath his fingertips. He sighed, seeing no other choice; he picked her up and started the journey back to his car.
Buffy couldn't open her eyes. All she saw was black. It surrounded her, consumed her, nearly chocking her with its complete absorption of her mind and body. The pain she felt when she jumped through the portal followed her into the black.
She wanted to escape it, but there was nowhere to go. The black seemed endless. It held her too tightly. She wanted to scream, opened her mouth to find some release in that act alone, yet nothing escaped her lips.
She kept falling through the black, chased by the pain, imprisoned in silence. Then, she saw it, bright beautiful light. It came rushing at her, blinding her after so much darkness.
Buffy smiled when the glow surrounded her. It fooled her though, as it brightened her world, the pain she had hoped would stop increased a thousand-fold.
Suddenly, it went away, the black returned, and she knew no more.
Edward drove back to his hotel, cursing under his breath. Disappearing targets, finding naked people, uh women, floating in mid-air…these types of things happened to Anita, not him. He took a job, killed his target and charged handsomely for it, he might add. He hadn't earned the name Death by picking up strays.
He frowned, as he got out and reached into the backseat to pull out the still unconscious mystery woman. The dim hotel lighting gave him his first look at her face. Even under the dirt and scratches, he saw that she was beautiful.
Walking slowly up the stairs, he opened the hotel door, automatically checking for intruders. No one had entered the room while he was out. Good. He laid the woman on the bed, checking her over for injuries. Finding none, he went to the bathroom to get his medical supplies, before placing some calls.
He needed to get someone else to take over this job. Then, he'd call and talk Anita into taking the woman off his hands. She knew about this supernatural crap and would know what to do with her. His obligations to her would end, and he could get back to his life and doing what he did best, which was killing, not playing nursemaid.
Edward walked back into the bedroom to check on his uninvited guest. The next thing he knew, he felt his feet swept out from underneath him, saw the ceiling above him and a face come into view.
He felt one of his own knives pressed against his neck as a raspy voice asked, "Who are you and where am I?"
Edward couldn't believe she got the drop on him. He hadn't even realized she was no longer unconscious, let alone felt her behind him. She obviously knew how to use a knife. He tried to reach the gun hidden in his pocket. Her legs clamped around his middle imprisoning his arms next to his sides. Feral, green eyes stared into his, waiting for an answer.
"Name's Ted Forrester." He rasped out. "Found you in the woods after lightening had struck you far as I could tell. Brought you back here since there wasn't anyone else around. Just went to get some first aid supplies from the bathroom. As for where we are, little town outside Chicago. Who are you?"
She reached inside his coat, pulling out his cell phone. Ignoring him completely, she dialed a number, waiting for someone to answer. The canned message came on saying the number wasn't a working number. She pushed several buttons on his phone, staring at them in confusion. Edward started to move, stopping when the knife dug into his skin drawing a thin line of blood.
"What did you see where you found me?"
"Nothing just you."
The knife tip slid a little deeper. Edward's temper went up, as blood trailed down his neck, but until he knew what he was dealing with, he decided to play it cool.
"Some bright lights and lightning, that's it," he growled.
"Have you ever heard of a town called Sunnydale in California? It's about two hours outside LA," she asked, trying to hide the hope in her voice.
"Can't say that I've ever heard of it." He saw the light dim in her eyes. "You still haven't told me who you are."
"I'm not sure anymore. I used to be Buffy Summers."
Edward couldn't hide his smile of reluctant appreciation, as he listened to the shower running. He'd gone through his weapons and counted no less than five knives missing. Buffy, what the heck kinda name was that, had stolen them without his knowledge. They were no doubt in the shower with her. He knew he would have them with him in the same situation.
The small blonde reminded him of Anita. He wondered what the two women would think about each other. They would either love or hate each other on sight. He hadn't gotten through to Anita, when he had tried earlier. While his 'guest' was otherwise occupied, he decided to try again. He dialed her number and waited for her to answer. He was ready to hang up, when he finally heard the standard Anita greeting.
"Blake, here. What do you want?"
"Calling in a favor, Anita." He could see her frown over the phone.
"I'm up to my ears in vampire murders here, Edward. I barely have time to finish a cup of coffee, let alone hand out favors."
Edward held the phone away to decrease the volume impact to his ear. "I'll make you a deal. We'll come help you with your problem, and you help me with mine. See you sometime tomorrow. Thanks, Anita."
He hung up quickly, before she could say no, or ask any questions.
Anita stared at the phone in frustration. She admitted having Edward here as a backup wouldn't hurt. She started toward her bedroom for some much-needed sleep. Stopping in her tracks, she realized what he had said.
"Who's we Edward? What the hell are you dragging me into this time?"
"Who's Anita?" Buffy stood in the doorway, toweling her hair. She had confiscated one of his button-down shirts and hit just above mid-thigh.
He admitted that it looked good on her. "Feel better? You certainly look better. Do you want me to check the bandage?"
Edward placed the gun he had finished cleaning back in his bag. He stowed it by the bed he had claimed, before standing to face her.
"Anita, your wife, lover, sister, parole officer, madam, what?"
Buffy's eyebrow went up, imitating Spike at his most irritating. Edward's blue eyes sparkled for the barest moments, before he quickly hid behind his empty shield.
"She's an acquaintance. We work together on cases sometimes. Kinda watch each other's back, whenever we need it. She's a Vampire Executioner for the state of Missouri and an Animator."
Buffy's heart flipped over when she heard this Anita's title. She wondered if an Executioner was this world's version of a Slayer. She had no idea what an Animator was though.
"When are 'we' going and what exactly is the problem 'we' are supposed to help her with?"
She tossed the towel onto the sink behind her and grabbed a comb. Keeping several feet between them, she sat on the bed and started detangling her hair.
He watched her cautious movements. Leaning against the in-room desk, he crossed his arms when he asked, "You asked me what year it was, because it was a different year when you left. Sunnydale doesn't exist here, but I'm betting it did from wherever you're from. If you tell me what happened to send you here, I'll tell you everything you want to know about this world."
Her green eyes watched the man who had 'saved' her. She didn't quite know what to think about him. He didn't have to help her. From the way he acted, it probably wasn't his first reaction in similar situations. He hadn't tried anything funny and helped her even when she hadn't asked for any. Her Slayer sense told her he was human. A normal human, she certainly didn't think so. He moved with an ease and awareness that came from training and well-honed skills. There really wasn't anyone else for her to trust, so she told her story, well enough for him to get a clear idea of whom and what she was.
He compared the differences between their worlds. The life he chose for himself and the reasons behind it wouldn't change in either world, but how he would move through them would. The laws he carefully used for his own purposes might work against him in her alternate dimension.
"I don't think our outlook on the monsters is all that different. Unfortunately, the government decided vamps are 'people' and have rights. They can't vote, yet. Sure, they have people working on it for them though. Actually, have to the proper paperwork to kill vamps here. Anita's a licensed Executioner, can do it all right and proper. Me, I work for people who have lost people important to them and can't get any satisfaction from local police. Normally, the ones I go after are rogues, or just too high up the chain for anyone to get close enough to do the job. Might say I have higher connections."
Edward's eyes became a lifeless, robotic stare. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about."
"Save it soldier boy. Who am I going to tell your secret to? Who would believe me, and if they did you could what, disappear me? What does it matter anyway? In case it's slipped your mind, I've like literally dropped into this world from a glowy hole in the sky."
She glared at him; thought about what she had just said and started laughing.
Edward watched her for several moments. His lips twitched, turned up into a smile, and then he couldn't stop himself and released what passed for laughter in Edward's world. His shoulders shook upwards once, perhaps twice before he remembered who he was. The smile did linger around his lips for several minutes longer then slowly faded.
"Case in point. Pack up; you can sleep in the car after I explain everything. Something tells me, you're the perfect back up for this job."
He explained the differences between their worlds. Her reaction to vampire rights lined up with his. She wasn't too happy her 'calling' was illegal and that she could go to jail for carrying a stake. He soothed her injured feelings with promises of lovely weapons, even as she told him about her dislike for guns. After he explained that silver was the only way to kill a lycanthrope, she conceded to carry one - only one.
Exhaustion finally overtook her and she fell asleep in the passenger seat. He couldn't stop his eyes from wandering from the road over to her relaxed body. She appeared so peaceful. He found it hard to believe everything she had told him about her life, but he had seen too much in his time to discount it. Not to mention the way she moved, a normal human didn't move that way, or have that much strength, unless they're a human servant. He knew she wasn't. Oh, he saw the faded scars on her neck. They weren't those left by a Master Vampire to create a human servant. They resembled attack marks - old ones.
She was a puzzle and he liked nothing more than solving them. If she were too dangerous to keep around, he'd kill her without thinking twice about it. Edward wondered if she would prove as much of a challenge as Anita. He thought it ironic that two small, powerful women had landed in his life, one figuratively and the other literally.
He smiled when he thought about Anita's problem in St. Louis. It just so happened, his next job was to take out the Master of the City. Who was he not to economize his work schedule, while he helped a friend?