ONE: On Stages, And How We Set Them
ON RAMONA FLOWERS, AND HOW SHE BECAME A SLAYERby Listener+++++
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scott Pilgrim, and Anita Blake. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++Warnings:This story is rated FR-18 for language, violence, and sexual situations (both hetero- and non-). There are trigger warnings for angst, child abuse (spoken, not shown), and normal, loving relationships between adults. Finally, the story contains major and minor character death.The story is COMPLETE, and runs about 67,000 words in total. It is 25 chapters long, plus an author’s note. It was not beta’d -- any mistakes are mine and mine alone.Continuity Notes:The following story takes place in November 2009. Its canon is Buffy Seasons 1-7, Scott Pilgrim (the movie), and Anita Blake (through Hit List).BtVS: Six years post-”Chosen”. Ignores most of Angel. Ignores most of Buffy Season 8 (which I have read), although I did borrow some characters and situations.SP: The filmed version of Scott Pilgrim took place in April 2009. Ignores most of the comics (which I have read as well), but again, I borrowed a few characters and situations. For the sake of argument, let’s say Ramona is 25 (because she was 25 in the film) and Scott is 24 (because his birthday occurs sometime during the run of the comics, which was about one chronological year).AB: I’m going to be honest with you here -- there are so many interconnections between characters and so many power-of-the-week moments in the last ten or so Anita books that I’ve just mashed them all together. If you’ve read up through the one where she goes to Vegas, you should be okay.RRHOF: I’ve never been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an important location in this story. I don’t know if they have basement levels, but for the purposes of the story, just go with it.All research, names, and so forth came from a combination of Wikipedia and buffy.wikia.com. Mostly the latter.+++++ONE: On Stages, And How We Set Them
Scott Pilgrim -- once the greatest fighter in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, although no one really knew about it because, you know, it was Scott Pilgrim
-- said goodnight to his boss and stepped onto the sidewalk outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Lake-effect breezes ruffled his hair, and he turned up the collar of his jacket before shoving his hands into his pockets and heading off toward the bus station.
Last April -- only six months ago -- Scott had followed Ramona V. Flowers through a door in the middle of the street outside the Chaos Theatre and they’d ended up... well... not in Cleveland
. But the subspace highway only terminated in so many places, and Cleveland was the best of the available options. Ramona could work anywhere, and had quickly snapped up an open position with a document courier company; Scott had had to bum around for a while before Wallace had made a call and gotten him a job at the Hall of Fame.
He missed Wallace. He missed his friends. But he had Ramona, and hey, if you’re going to start your life over from scratch, it certainly helps to have a cute girl who loves you, and whose evil ex-Boyfriend you and your Chinese ninja ex-girlfriend had kicked the ever-living crap out of. Kind of made her owe you a little something, cut you a little more slack than might normally be expected.
At least, that was what Scott had thought.
But for the past month or so, things hadn’t been going so well. Ramona had been out late at night, and she’d been less communicative when she was with him. Of course, when she realized he was getting mopey, she’d just have sex with him.
At some point, Scott hoped he’d be a strong enough man to say: “No. Let’s not have sex right now. I want to talk about this.”
“No,” Ramona said. “Let’s not have sex right now. I want to talk about this.”
“Talk about what?” Scott and Ramona were sitting on opposite sides of a thrift-store coffee table, an empty plate of what had once been garlic bread between them. Scott knew how to make other foods, but Ramona had discovered he made garlic bread whenever he had something stressful to say because he knew she liked it. The bread was supposed to be a side dish to baked asparagus and fettuccine alfredo -- Scott said it was amazing what you could get in a jar here in the U.S. -- but there hadn’t been any clean saucepans and their colander had melted and Scott had forgotten to turn the oven down so the asparagus was brown and crispy instead of green and plump and a little crunchy, so garlic bread it was. “What do we have to talk about?”
“Come on, Scott. Every time you ask me what’s wrong, and I don’t want to talk, you get all nudgy and want to have sex with me.”
“Don’t you want to have sex with me?”
Ramona smiled a little half-smile, eyebrows going up. Her hair was raven-black, darker than her brows for once. She knew Scott wasn’t sure he liked the color, but he really had no say over what she did to her hair. “Of course I do,” she said. “It’s just... we shouldn’t use sex as an excuse not to talk to each other.”
“We are talking to each other,” Scott said quickly. “We’re talking right now, aren’t we?”
“Yes, Scott.” She saw him trying to make himself calm down -- he was probably listening to some sort of internal monologue -- but after a moment, it appeared he gave up on that. “I just want to know what you’re doing at night, is all. Why can’t you tell me?”
She pressed her lips together and exhaled slowly. “It’s... complicated.”
“I punched seven of your evil exes so hard that they turned into coins. That’s
She reached across the table and put her hand over his. “It really isn’t. Compared to this, that’s nothing.”
“But what is ‘this’?” he asked. When she didn’t answer, he pulled away and got up off the floor. The little apartment’s living room didn’t have much room to live in, which meant pacing was pretty much out of the question, but Scott managed it. “What’s so secret that you can’t even tell me? I tell you everything!”
“Yes, Scott. You do.” And he did -- he told her about the boring minutiae of his day at work; he told her about the people he saw on the bus or at Target; he told her he was in lesbians with her, even though that joke was way old now and anyway Ramona knew what he meant. “But I can’t tell you about this.”
He looked down at her, suddenly all concern. “Are you... are you sick? Because I’ve heard things about health care here, and I know we’re supposed to have ‘domestic partner coverage’ even though we’re not gay-married or whatever, and--”
“I’m not sick.”
He stopped babbling for a moment. “You know,” he said, “now that I think about it... do you ever actually get sick? Or hurt?”
“I can be hurt, Scott.”
“I mean physically.” He paced back and forth again. “I’ve never seen you get bruised or anything, even when we get, you know... rough.” His voice got all quiet just then, but he recovered. “And you use that enormous hammer, which I can’t even come close to swinging like you do, and--”
While he’d been talking, Ramona had moved to stand in front of him. Scott dug a knuckle against the side of his head. “Stupid brain.”
“Look, Scott, I can’t talk about it, okay?” Ramona took his hands in hers and put them around her waist. “I promise you I’m not cheating, and I promise you I’m not leaving you. Not over this, anyway.” Scott grinned. “Okay?”
“Okay.” Scott let her kiss him. One of her hands was-- “Mmmph?”
“Let’s have sex now.”+++++
“We need her.” Faith, as usual, didn’t beat around the bush. “There’s a damn Hellmouth here, and she’s a fuckin’ great fighter.” She inclined her head toward Vi; the redhead had a mottled bruise along the side of her face, and behind her, Rona was holding an icepack to Vi’s left shoulder. “Look what she did to her.”
“Yes, well, she’s certainly talented.” Giles pushed his glasses up on his nose. “Do we have any idea why she wasn’t activated with the others?”
“Nothing,” said Isabel, a witch who worked closely with Xander down in the command center. Willow had taken one look at her all those years ago and practically stamped her “research assistant.” “As far as we know, Willow’s spell activated everyone, and she was certainly alive at the time.”
“Where was she?”
“Saratoga Springs, New York.” Isabel clicked her mouse; the file came up on the meeting room screen. “Born and raised there, went to college in Carolina, then moved to New York City and stayed around until last winter, when she moved to Toronto to work for Amazon.ca. Fell off the grid for a while around the summer, and only recently resurfaced here.”
Faith raised an eyebrow. “Punky, ain’t she.” On the screen, Ramona had electric blue hair. “That still doesn’t tell us anything about how she escaped the spell.”
“Maybe... maybe she didn’t.”
Faith gave Giles a look. “How’d you figure?”
“Look at this,” he said, tapping his own computer. Isabel changed the source so Giles could have the floor, thankful that he’d finally decided to join the twenty-first century instead of calling computers nothing more than ‘infernal machines’. “According to the records of the old Council, some sort of field was present around the area for part of that year. It’s conceivable that that field blocked her from being activated.”
“Oh, she was activated, all right,” Vi said, poking experimentally at her face. “Otherwise how do you explain this?”
“Could be she just didn’t feel it.” Rona squeezed Vi’s uninjured shoulder -- the two had become close friends over the years. “Could be she got the power, but not the mental stuff the rest of us did.”
“Perhaps.” Giles tapped at his keyboard a bit. “The field is rather unique. Isabel, are there any records--”
“Way ahead of you,” she said. She took the screen back and wrote a complex query in a matter of seconds. It took about five more to find records of the field. “Looks like it’s in a different place every year. Right now, eastern Oregon.”
“But what is it?” Faith asked.
“It looks like some sort of Vegan convention,” Isabel said.
“We’ve had reports from some of our watchers about strange things coming from Vegan warriors,” Giles said. “I’d say, if a sufficiently powerful Vegan was in the presence of a slayer when she was called, that Vegan could prevent her from knowing it was happening.”
“Makes sense,” Isabel said.
“Not to me.” Faith leaned back in her chair. “But I’ll take you guys’s word for it.”
“Thank you so much,” Giles said in that long-suffering tone Faith knew so well. “Faith, I’d like you to keep an eye on Miss Flowers. All that power, and now knowledge of us... she could become very dangerous.”
“Sure thing.” Faith popped up out of her chair like a spring was attached to her ass and made sure that her leather trenchcoat -- a gift from Angel -- swirled just right.
“Violet,” Giles said -- Vi rolled her eyes; Faith knew she hated when anyone used her full name. “Why don’t you get some rest... unless you think you need to visit the infirmary.”
“I’m fine,” she told him. “I get worse than this from vampires on a regular basis.” And she had some of the fastest healing abilities Faith -- or any of the other slayers -- had ever seen. Faster even than Buffy, who could be mauled by a pack of demons and have nothing to show for it but a little scratch two days hence. “Good night,” she said as she got up from the chair.
The meeting broke up then -- Giles stayed in the conference room, staring at Ramona’s file. Faith, meanwhile, made her way to the garage. If she was going out on a solo patrol, she was definitely taking her bike.+++++
After all these years of walking through cemeteries, looking for vampires, Buffy was of the mind that there was really nothing new to be seen. Headstones, nice grass, the occasional crypt; she’d seen it all before.
But this was new.
Buffy had felt the magic pulling at her from back at the rental car. Scythe in hand, she stalked slowly across the graveyard, close enough that she could see who was casting the spell. The woman wasn’t using words, not in the way Willow did, although she was definitely praying. Praying and cursing.
Buffy watched as the woman sliced her arm and walked a circle around a smallish crypt -- smaller than Spike’s had been, anyway. When the circle closed, Buffy felt the electricity of it crawl along her skin. She held the scythe away from her body, ready to attack whatever came out of the crypt.
Nothing came out.
And, after a long moment, the woman sank to her knees, broke the circle by ripping a chunk of grass and dirt out of the ground, and started to cry.
Great. Crying people. Not Buffy’s best thing. But this woman had done magic, and that meant others might come. Vampires, demons, who-knows-what.
“Hi,” Buffy said, stepping into the clearing near the crypt. “Are you okay?”
The woman looked up, pale face framed with heavy, dark hair. “Who are you?”
“I’m Buffy,” she said. “The vampire slayer.”
“Oh.” The other woman got to her feet. “I’m Anita.”
“Hi, Anita.” Buffy noticed her checking out the scythe and smiled. “Slayer. Weapon. You understand.”
“I guess.” Anita cleaned her knife on the tail of her shirt, then slipped it into a forearm sheath. “What are you doing here?”
“I... felt something.”
“That was probably me.”
“Right.” Buffy took a few steps closer. She still felt the tingle of magic coming from this woman. It wasn’t slayer power, she was sure about that, but it was something... different. “So, are you a witch?”
Anita shook her head. “I’m... I was
... an animator.”
“What, like, cartoons?”
“No.” A look flickered across Anita’s face, some emotion Buffy couldn’t quite pin down. “As in, animating the dead.”
“Oh. Well, that’s... interesting.” Subconsciously, Buffy adjusted her grip on the scythe. She’d never met someone who raised zombies and wasn’t also evil. “What are you doing here?”
“I’m just trying to go home.”
“Home? Where’s that?”
Anita looked around and laughed, the kind of laugh that says ‘I’m trying so very hard not to cry;. “St. Louis.”
“We’re... we’re in St. Louis. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“No,” Anita said. “I’m most definitely not all right.”
Then she told Buffy about the portal.+++++
Kennedy was asleep, but Willow’s frantic mind wouldn’t let her drop off. Not just yet.
Still, she was content to breathe in the scent of Kennedy’s hair, to feel the slayer’s heat next to her body -- she blushed at the mental double-entendre, but slayers really were hotter, by about a degree and a half -- and to simply enjoy this quiet moment.
Kennedy made a noise in her dream, and Willow couldn’t help a little giggle. She was so different from Tara; where Tara had been all cool softness and sweetness, Kennedy was fiery and sharp. Willow often found herself in the position of having to be the reasonable one.
Most of the time. When they were intimate, it was Willow who took charge, not Kennedy. Another difference from Tara.
Why was she thinking so much about her, anyway? It wasn’t her birthday -- that was last month -- and it wasn’t their anniversary, and while it still hurt to think about her, she knew Tara wouldn’t have wanted her to pine the rest of her life away. She would’ve wanted her to live.
Willow rolled onto her back. Kennedy gave a little moan and rolled with her, stretching an arm and a leg across the witch’s body. Willow felt a smile touch her lips; she leaned down and kissed the top of Kennedy’s head.
The Slayer woke up -- Willow felt her muscles go from relaxed to ready, even though Kennedy was so not a threat. “You only do that when you’re thinking about her.”
“I know,” Willow whispered, stroking Kennedy’s hand with hers. “Go to sleep.”
Kennedy ran her hand across Willow’s stomach, where the top of her pajamas didn’t quite meet the bottom. “Don’t want to sleep anymore.” She turned, propping herself up on her elbow. “What do you want to do?”
Kennedy always had the most innocent expression when she asked questions like that. Willow knew it was because she liked to manipulate her into doing what she wanted. And Willow, perfectly aware, was only too happy to oblige.+++++Your feedback is welcome.