: I don't Anita Blake or Buffy or their worlds; I just like to play in them. A/N
: The pairing is actually Buffy/Asher/Rafael but there wasn't really a little ticky box for that! Darkness Rising - Chapter One
Sweat dripped down her face, getting in her eyes. It drenched the jog bra she was wearing; she’d long since gotten rid of her T-shirt. It trickled down her back. Her blonde hair was two shades darker, it was so soaked with the stuff. She blinked her eyes, quickly because the vampire was fast. He’d had 1000 years to hone his skills, after all, and being the slayer wasn’t helping her a tinker’s damn. What the hell was a tinker anyway?
She lifted her sword and blocked the incoming blow in the nick of time but it was delivered with such force that she felt it sing down her arm and into her chest and she knew her arm dropped a little. It was only a little bit but it was enough.
Damian drew back his arm and brought it down as hard as he could once and then twice and Buffy couldn’t hold her block any longer. She dropped into a crouch, tried a leg sweep but the vampire knew that trick as he’d been working with her for the last two weeks. He jumped over her leg, coming around behind her, swinging the sword.
She got to her feet, bringing her sword back around, just making the parry, letting out her breath as she used all of her own considerable strength to shove the vampire backwards. It moved him all of five inches and then he was back with a lunging strike to her upper arm that she wasn’t fast enough to dodge or block. She felt the skin break and the blood flow.
She spun away, tried to come up behind him but he was too fast for her and blocked her strike with an offensive one of his own. He drove her backwards in a flurry of blows that was so fast and so furious that it was all she could do to keep up, never mind get ahead of him. She ducked under a swing meant to take off her head and swung a fist at his left flank. It landed but, off balance as she was, didn’t even phase him. He caught her hand as it hit him and pulled her off her feet, sending her to the ground.
His knee came down beside her head and the sharp blade of his sword hit her throat. “You’re dead, Buffy. You’re dead and with you Asher and Rafael. And with them…all of us.”
She closed her eyes, breathing heavy, fist pounding the floor. She brought her hand up and covered her eyes as he took the sword away and stood. He reached a hand out and she took it, letting him pull her to her feet. “You’re too fast, too strong, too good.”
Jara spoke from her spot on the other side of the room. “You’re not paying attention, Buffy. You have other weapons.”
She looked around and then saw both Damian and Jara shaking their heads, Jara going so far as to throw her hands in the air.
“What? Can’t you vamps just say what you mean? Is it some weird thing with you? Like you die and suddenly along with being all sun allergic you can’t talk right anymore?”
“What were you doing last night?” Damian asked.
“Random much, nosy boy?” Buffy asked, picking her sword up off the floor.
“Just answer him.” Jara said.
“I was hanging with the wolves…you know that.”
“Yes. And was it the slayer, the warrior in you, that you called upon to allow you to do that?”
She nodded, saw the twin looks of disappointment and thought about it. The Slayer had been happy, beyond happy, to be let loose. But had it actually been
the Slayer that had been giving her the power to run with the wolves? She’d called on her connection with the wolves and, to a lesser extent the one with Jean Claude but she hadn’t really given much thought to where the power, any of her power, really, had come from. She’d thought it was all one big thing. All the Slayer. What did it matter anyway? She’d been told more times than she could count that she wasn’t allowed to slay the Council anyway.
“I don’t see the point?” She asked. “I can’t slay the Council.”
“You need to learn to use your abilities while your focus is elsewhere.” Damian said.
“You need to learn to use your abilities.” Jara corrected.
“Ha ha.” Buffy told the blonde vampire.
Jara smiled, flashing a lot of fang. “While you are fighting with Damian, call on your marks with Asher and Rafael.” She glanced at the two men standing near the wall on the other side. “Use your guards.”
Buffy also looked at the two men standing there and smiled. “Uh, no. I’m not “using” them for anything.”
Nico and Ralph were her bodyguards, assigned to her by Rafael. She grinned as she remembered that whole ridiculous conversation. Short, but ridiculous all the same... *****
“Rafael! You have to make them stop!” Buffy ran into his home office, slammed the door, locked it, leaning against it for good measure. He stood up from his desk, the look on his face worried as he looked her up and down for injuries, no doubt wondering how she possibly could have found trouble sitting on his sofa waiting for him to take care of one little thing before they could go.
“Buffy, what is it? Are you hurt? What happened?” He came around and took her by the shoulders.
She shook her head. “They keep calling me “My Queen” and “Roma” and trying to kiss my hands. And bowing. You have to make them stop.”
His heart stopped its rapid beating and he rested his forehead against hers. “You scared me. Don’t do that to me.”
“I’m serious! They’ve all gone insane, Rafael.” She pouted at him.
“They’re not insane, Buffy. You’re their queen.”
“I’m so not.”
“You are so.”
“Are…I am not doing this. You are, basically, married to their king, which makes you their queen. You are their protector, which makes you their queen. You love them, which makes you th…”
“Yeah, yeah…but do they have to do all that bowing? And that hand kissing thing? And can’t they just call me Buffy? Or even ‘hey you?’”
He laughed and pulled her into a hug. “Buffy.”
“What?” She hugged him back.
He was still laughing as he shook his head and pulled back, holding on to her hands as he backed up to sit on the edge of his desk, pulling her with him. “We do have to talk about something. I had hoped to soften you up with dinner first.”
“Uh oh…sounds serious.”
“It’s about your guards.”
“I don’t have guards. I don’t want guards. I don’t need guards.” She pulled her hands out of his and backed back towards the door. “Good talk.”
He reached out and caught her. “No. You need guards. I have them. Anita has them. Richard has them. Everyone has them.”
She tilted her head to the side. “Rafael. If everyone were jumping off a bridge, would you do that, too? Hmm?”
He sat there for a full minute and stared at her. She was pretty sure she broke him. She blinked innocently at him until he finally shook his head and said, “I’m assigning you Nicodemus and Alpharatto. They’re two of the strongest alphas in the Rodere.”
“No. But thanks.”
“Buffy, you’re the Roma of the Dark Crown clan, the largest wererat clan in the United States. You are the human servant of the second in command to the Master of the City of St. Louis. Both of these things put you in a position of danger. In addition, in your human job, your partner is Anita Blake…”
“Yeah…” she poked him in the chest. “Whose brilliant work was THAT? Hello!”
“That’s not the point. The point is, you’re taking the guards. You can either be a good girl and accept them...”
“Whoa…you just said what now? Be a good girl?”
“Perhaps not the best choice of words, but Buffy look at it from my side. I can’t have my queen running around with no guards.” He grinned at her. “The other kings will make fun of me…think I can’t afford it.”
She rolled her eyes. “On one condition.”
He sighed. “Why must you always put conditions on everything?”
“Can’t have you getting bored.”
“What’s the condition?”
“They’re MY guards. Mine and mine alone. That means they do what I say. Not what YOU say, what I say. Even if what I say isn’t what you say.”
“Of course.” He agreed so quickly that she was a billion percent positive he never even heard what she said. Certainly he should have been suspicious that she’d given in too quickly. Sometimes, for such a smart man he was kinda stupid when it came to her, she thought.
“I want you to order them. Like now, when you give them to me.” ******
And he had. The dumbass.
They were both big, both dark-haired, dark-skinned, both pretty much had BAD-ASS written all over them. They were so easy going that Buffy had fallen in love with them pretty much immediately. When it came to the mystical stuff, Ralph was the stronger of the two, giving Buffy a harder “ping” on her senses while it was Nico who had him beat when it came to physical strength. Buffy was pretty sure he could bench press a truck or four.
She shook her head. “I’m not using them.” She said again.
Damian gripped her chin in his hand. “Buffy, you must understand something. The Council, and any enemy we face, will not hesitate to use anything and anyone against us. You must not be afraid to do the same.” He jerked her head, none too gently either, so she was staring at the guards. The looked impassively back at her. “They understand. They serve you and Rafael not out of fear like so many others but out of love. If YOU do not use them when the time comes, your enemies WILL.”
She pulled her head away and looked at him. “I don’t even know how to do what you want!” Aggravation leaked from her voice.
Jara spoke up. “But you do, Buffy. You do it with Jamil and Shang Da all the time. When you keep them from shifting their hands during your spars.”
She frowned. “No…that’s just messing around.”
Damian actually rolled his eyes at her. “Well, then, let us ‘mess around’.” And that was all the warning she got before he shoved her roughly away from him and swung his sword. She blocked it and swerved out of his way, spinning around off to his side, striking out with her own blade, feeling a petty little surge of satisfaction as she drew blood when she hit his hip, slicing through the fabric of his pants. She took two quick steps back, readying for his next attack, which came almost before she was set.
She got her sword up in front of her face just in time and the weapons made a sharp clanging sound as they clashed. She grabbed his wrist and thrust him backwards. In frustration, she opened the marks between her and Asher and Rafael and opened them wide.
Since the bonding, she’d been very careful to do only small things, mostly because she was terrified that she didn’t know what the hell she was doing. When she’d first gotten here she’d been running around forcing people to shift on the whim of her mood and that had been with no power. She didn’t want to hurt anyone.
So…a little pinhole, really, here and there. Just to show each other small memories, funny ones. Even when she had Rafael had taken out the convict vampires, which was the biggest thing they’d done with the marks, it was just the two of them and it was more like a nail hole.
But this, this was like being flooded with power and she had a brief flash of terror, fear that she’d cause every shifter in the city to change in the most horribly painful ways, and right after the full moon, too.
She blocked his next blow and reached out with her senses, searching the building. Damian and Jara wanted her to use her guards, but even she knew that was a stupid thing to do. They were her guards for God’s sake. If she used them, she’d be defenseless. She hadn’t learned nothing at all from her rat-king boyfriend. A small smile crossed her face as she found something she could use. She blocked another blow, struck out with her own blow, backed Damian up a step but lost that step when she lost a bit of focus while she was sending out her call.
She put her other hand on the grip of the sword, using both of them to give her a little more power because she needed just a few more seconds. She could hear them coming. With a two-handed swing, using all her strength, she wound up like she was swinging at a baseball and…well, swung. Damian blocked it but it cost him a few precious seconds to get back into position but by then it was too late. Rats were pouring out of the open storage closet door. Real rats that Buffy had found in the dungeons; rats that answered her call.
They swarmed across the training room floor and, piling on top of one another, over the red-haired vampire, causing him to back himself right against the far wall next to Nico and Ralph, who the smaller rats ignored, who were laughing at Damian’s predicament and grinning at their queen.
Jara clapped her hands, also laughing, while Damian smiled and nodded his head, saying, “Call them off!”
They all felt the magic building the air and, thinking it was Buffy figuring out how to “call it off” waited patiently.
There was a sharp popping sound behind Jara and Buffy, who was facing the other way, laughing at Damian and the rats, turned around, suddenly stopped laughing, suddenly stopped breathing.
Jara turned at the popping, saw the six strangers, had the briefest of brief seconds to wonder who they were and how they’d gotten in. She pulled back her lips, hissed at them, fangs bared and took a step forward. ~~**~~
The air suddenly came rushing back, along with the light and everything else and Faith sucked in a huge, gasping breath of air. She opened her eyes and took everything in. The first thing she noticed was they were all there and alive, and the second thing was that they were definitely not in a forest full of werewolves.
They were in some kind of training room. Her first quick glance took in stone walls, high-shine wooden floor, thin mats on the half the floor but really high quality padding, you could move on them and not sink but you could fall on them and not hurt. Same on the walls. Punching bags and heavy bags in one corner. Weapons on racks all around. Enough about the room, Faith thought.
Focus on the pissed of vampire in front of them. Pissed but not evil, she was sure. She relaxed a bit and was about to say something, try to diffuse the tension, when she saw Kennedy pull the scythe from the back sheath, twirl it around and plunge it at the vampire in a single, deadly motion.
“Kennedy, no!” Faith yelled, but it was too late. The younger slayer had struck and with enough force that the stake end of the scythe had come out the female vampire’s back. The vampire staggered backwards, looking with confusion and pain-filled eyes at the weapon sticking out of her chest, her hands coming up to grab the shaft as she took two steps back, then three.
Faith heard a scream and looked up. “Fuck!” She swore.
Buffy watched in horror, first as Giles, Willow, Xander, Dawn, Faith and Kennedy appeared out of nowhere and then as Kennedy shoved the scythe into Jara’s chest. She gasped as she felt a jolt of pain in her chest and then the tingle that she associated with Jara was just gone. Just not there anymore.
“No!” She screamed as she dropped her sword and ran. “NoNONONOnonono! Jara, no nononononono…Please, nononono….” She hit the floor on her knees and slid the last foot, catching Jara in her lap just before she hit the floor, the vampire’s hands falling from the scythe as she landed on Buffy’s legs. “Jara, no, no, don’t do this to me, Jara…”
She was dimly aware that the rats had moved, had moved fast and were now forming a wall between she and the Scoobies, that Nico and Ralph had drawn their guns and were standing between them as well. She was aware, vaguely, that sent all that fear and pain and yes, hate through their bond and that Asher and Rafael were coming, that Asher, in fact, was already here. Jean Claude was coming. She was distantly, in some disjointed part of her mind, aware of the fact that she’d slammed the marks shut before things had gotten out of hand. And she heard, she supposed, Dawn saying her name, Kennedy demanding to know what was going on, but all she could think about in the conscious part of her mind was that Jara, her best girlfriend, was dead. Permanently dead.
She brushed the blonde hair from the still face, wiped away the line of blood that trickled from the corner of her mouth. She picked up one of Jara’s limp hands, smiled a little at the nails…”Buffy, this is ridiculous. Not to mention completely undignified.” Jara yanked her hand away.
Buffy rolled her eyes. “How long have you been a vampire, Jara? Like two years? Not nearly long enough for you be going off about things being undignified. Seriously, just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you can’t live a little.” Buffy pulled the vampire’s hand back onto the table and continued painting the fingernails bubble-gum pink. “Besides, it’s cute. Just like you.”
She put the hand across Jara’s stomach and reached across for the other one, placing it carefully on top of the first one. ”You know, you get more and more ridiculous every day, Buffy.” Jara muttered. Still, Buffy noticed, she wasn’t moving.
The slayer shrugged and let the sand trickle through her fingers. “Like I keep telling you…just because you’re dead….” She trailed off for half a second and waited for Jara to join her to finish it… “doesn’t mean you can’t live a little.” She shoved the mini shovel back in her little red mini bucket and grinned. “So, who do you think is going to have to clean this up?”
This time Jara grinned back, fangs sticking out for all the world to see, if there had been anyone but them here. “I have no idea but I feel really bad for whoever it is.” She laughed out loud and looked around, reaching over and grabbing her novelty glass from where Buffy had stuck it in a hole in the sand. “Where do you even come up with this stuff?”
“My head is a twisted and scary place.” She said as she, too, reached for her glass. While Jara’s pineapple-shaped glass was filled with freshly squeezed Graham, hers contained a yummy nutritious strawberry-banana smoothie.
She clinked it against Jara’s and said “Happy Beach Party Day!” The fact that their beach was fifty 50-pound bags of sand Buffy had opened up and spread around a room she’d found unused at the Circus, a bunch of floor lamps substituting for the sun and no water at all was beside the point. They had fun drinks in happy little glasses complete with umbrellas, they had bikinis, they had sunglasses, they had beach towels and lawn-chair loungers and they had beach toys. It was totally a happy beach party day.
Jara took a swig of her drink, put it back in its hole and looked at Buffy. “You know, in all seriousness, I’m really glad you’re here.”
“Yeah, me too. Gotta work on the tan.”
“No, Buffy. Serious for a minute.” She shifted in her chair so they were face to face and shoved the completely unnecessary sunglasses on top of her head, waiting until Buffy did the same. “I didn’t want to be a vampire.” She said.
“Really? You seem to love it. I mean, you know, all with the perky and stuff.”
“I was dating this guy, how stupid am I,” she snorted, quite unlike the usually happy-go-lucky vampire, “I didn’t even know he was a vampire, then suddenly, oh look, I’m a vampire, too.”
Buffy frowned and sat up in her chair. “Isn’t that illegal?”
“Most definitely. Jean Claude took care of it and then took me in and I got used to the idea. I mean you play the hand you’re dealt, right?”
Who knew that better than she did, Buffy thought. “Yeah, not much else you can do.”
“They’re, all Jean Claude’s vampires, I mean, they’re all like…” she trailed off, looking for the right word.
“Old? Stuffy? Stuck in like 1400?” Buffy supplied helpfully.
Jara laughed again. “Exactly! See what I mean? You…you’re like this huge breath of fresh air. I mean they’re great and all but they have no idea what it’s like to be 20 years old and a girl and…they just don’t get it.”
Buffy reached over and impulsively hugged the vampire. She picked up Jara’s glass, handed it to her. “Drink your Graham. We have tanning to do before the sun goes down.” She pulled Jara’s glasses back down and cranked up the radio.
Damian moved to pull the weapon from the vampire’s chest and Buffy shoved him backwards. “No! Maybe Anita can…fix it, do something, save her. We should leave it there.”
“No! Leave it alone.” She waved her hand at the others. “Do something with them.”
He turned and looked over his shoulder at the intruders. They were lined up against the wall, they’d been disarmed by himself and the rat guards and were currently being held in place by not only Nico and Ralph but by Buffy’s little rats. There was really nothing he could do with them.
Giles couldn’t back any further into the wall than he already was but that didn’t stop him from trying. He said, “Buffy”, again but it had no effect. She obviously didn’t hear them. She was still on the floor with the dead vampire, who hadn’t turned to dust. He could gleefully strangle Kennedy. He could only hope that whoever this Anita person was she could do something for the vampire.
He turned his gaze to the other vampire, the one with the long blood-red hair. “You must understand that we meant no harm.”
“Shut up.” This came from one of the gun-toting big men who emphasized his words by cocking the gun with a loud clicking noise.
Buffy suddenly lifted her head, made a small sobbing noise and very gently shifted the vampire’s body off her lap. Maybe she was finally going to talk to them, he thought. He watched her scrub at her face as she got to her feet, barely spare them a glance as she turned around, took two steps and was caught up in the arms of a man he hadn’t even seen come in.
“Are you all right, mon amour
?” He pressed kisses up her neck and across her face as his hands wrapped around her upper arms and held her away, looking her up and down.
She nodded, cupped her hand over his cheek. “It’s not me. It’s Jara.” Giles was amazed at how much calmer Buffy suddenly seemed.
The man placed another kiss on Buffy’s forehead, took her hand, and finally turned to look at them and nearly took Giles’ breath away. Giles liked women but even he had to admit the man was stunningly gorgeous. He heard Faith suck in a sharp breath. He heard Dawn give a little “eep”. He didn’t think it was because of the man’s beauty. This man hated him, hated them all and it practically shone from the husky blue eyes that finally met his. He swallowed and said, “Buffy, dear, it was an accident. You have to believe me.”
“Perhaps it was an accident, but is it an accident that you have invaded my home without being invited?” Yet another man Giles hadn’t seen enter the room asked, this one no less gorgeous than the blonde one holding Buffy’s hand, but dark-haired with darker blue eyes. He was accompanied by four men and was holding the hand of a dark-haired woman and they both came to stand next to Buffy and the blonde-haired man, the dark-haired man running a hand down Buffy’s hair, saying “Are you all right, cher
?” , as the four men formed a half-circle behind them.
Buffy nodded at both of them and then said, “Anita, it’s Jara.”
The dark-haired woman, Anita, Giles presumed, nodded. “Yeah, we know…I’m really sorry, Buffy.”
Buffy shook her head. “No…you can fix her. Like you saved Damian.”
Giles watched Anita and the dark-haired man share a look, and then the dark-haired man and the blonde-haired man share a look.
Buffy frowned. “What? What’s with all the looking?”
The blonde-haired man took her chin in his hand. “Mon coeur
, you know that I would give you anything you wished for, if I could. My very life if only you asked.” He waited for her nod. “Nothing can be done for Jara.”
“Damian is over 1000 years old, Buffy. With strong blood ties to the Master of the City. Jara is not even two. With only minimal ties. I am so very sorry, mon amour
, I know what she means to you.” He pulled her into his arms and Giles watched as her arms came around his waist and she held him close.
He watched as the big men that were guarding them looked at the dark-haired man, saw pain in their eyes as well. The dark-haired man waved a hand and two of men in the half circle behind them drew weapons and moved to take the place of the guards, leaving the guards to move over to Buffy and the blonde man.
Giles watched in fascination as both guards fell to their knees beside them. Buffy lifted her head and smiled sadly as one of them took her hand, held it to his forehead and said, “My Queen, I am so sorry.” He kissed her hand and held it to his forehead again. He bowed his head as he let it go.
The other guard, took it, repeated the ritual, saying, “Roma, the Rodere mourns your loss.”
She moved her other arm from around Asher and used both hands under their chins to push them to their feet as she nodded. “Thank you.” She pulled them into a mini little group hug. “Thank you.” She whispered again as she pulled back.
She wiped her eyes again and looked at Jean Claude as she leaned back against Asher and his arms came around her from behind. “Someone needs to tell Requiem.” She pointedly ignored the Scoobies. She just really couldn’t deal with them at all right now.
Anita frowned. “Requiem?”
Buffy looked at the body and smiled. “Yeah…it was a new thing…””I’ve never worn so little out in public in my life. And that includes summers when my mother dressed me in a diaper.”
Buffy snorted as she looked around the club. “Now who’s exaggerating. Besides, you look awesome.” She ran her gaze over her vampire buddy, taking in her look from head to toe. She’d finally gotten the perky vampire out of her ponytail and into this century with some sexily tousled waves that fell around her shoulders, looking like she’d just crawled out of someone’s bed after having a really good time. Her ‘so little’ dress was red and consisted of mostly straps that crissed and crossed at strategic locations and hit her about mid thigh. She wore matching heels. Buffy had done her makeup. As Buffy had said, she looked awesome.
Buffy herself was wearing a black halter and red leather pants paired with what she considered to be the kick assiest pair of combat boots ever.
“How come you don’t have to be dressed like a hooker?” Jara asked.
Buffy just laughed and dragged her friend further into the club. Danse Macabre was like nothing Buffy had ever seen. Jason had been telling her about it for a while but she hadn’t gotten around to going until now. The crowed seemed to be an even mix of human, shifter and vampire and they seemed to be getting along just fine. The dance floor was crowded…all three of them, and so were the bars, at least all the ones that Buffy could see.
She glanced behind her, saw her ever-present guards rolling their eyes and trying to keep up, which made her laugh even more. They really were too cute.
She finally found a semi-clear spot on the dance floor that would fit two people and stopped, started to dance, frowned when her partner just stood there. “You kinda hafta move. It’s in the definition of dancing.”
“I don’t dance.” Jara yelled back.
“No really. I can’t dance.”
“Just because you’re dead….” She waited with a grin on her face as Jara rolled her eyes and finished with her, “…doesn’t mean you can’t live a little…” She reached out, grabbed the vampire’s hips and goofily started swaying them back and forth. “See? Not a big.”
“Did I mention how ridiculous you are?”
“Um, only about eighty times today, so you’ve got a few more to go!”
“Okay, then, you’re comp…no, no…” the vampire, if possible, paled.
“What?” Buffy turned to see what Jara was looking at and frowned when she didn’t see anything alarming at all. She looked back at her friend.
“Nothing…can we go?” she started to head off the dance floor but Buffy grabbed her arm.
“No! What is it? Do I need weapons?”
“No! No weapons! No…it’s Requiem.”
“Requiem? So?” It wasn’t unusual to find any of Jean Claude’s vampires in any of Jean Claude’s businesses. She didn’t get what the big deal was.
“Buffy, can’t we just go?”
“Who cares if Requiem is here? He’s probably just working. You’re allowed to be here…” she trailed off as the light bulb in her head finally came on. “Oh. You and Requiem? Since when? Oh my God! Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Shut up, would you? There is no me and Requiem. He’s old and Belle’s and I’m stupid and young and nothing.” She sighed and tried to pull Buffy off the dance floor.
Buffy frowned and looked around, finally spotting Requiem with, of all people, Asher. Neither of the men had noticed them. Not yet anyway. Oh, but Buffy was so going to change that. And Jara’s seriously low self esteem while she was at it.
“You want him?”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? He’s…”
“I heard you talking stupid, Jara. There’s nothing wrong with you and if you want him, there’s no reason at all you can’t have him. We just need to make him notice you.” And if Asher got a little…bothered in the process, hey, bonus fun for her later!
“He’s never going to notice me.”
“Wanna bet?” Buffy’s grin was pure evil. She might not be descended from a long line of Belle Morte sex-maniac vampires and she might not be all succubus and incubus-y but she knew a thing or two. And the first thing she knew was…”What you have to remember is that men, no matter if they’re dead or alive, no matter what dimension, are pervs. Follow my lead.”
She grinned as Jara shook her head, then nodded her head, then shook her head and finally just shrugged.
As the music changed to a thumping, pulsing heavy baseline beat Buffy grabbed Jara’s hand, threading their fingers together, muttering, “And don’t worry, because you totally know I don’t roll this way…” and raised their joined hands over their heads, brought their bodies close together. She used the index finger of her other hand to subtly move Jara’s hand so that it rested on her leather-covered thigh then let her own lie on Jara’s hip. She glanced out of the corner of her eye at Requiem and Asher but they were still talking business at the bar. Other men were looking, though.
She used her hand on the vampire’s hip to guide her movements as she brought their hands down and around behind Jara’s back, pulling her closer. She bit back a laugh at the look on the girl’s face. She couldn’t decide whether she was nervous, scared or having a blast. She leaned in and while she was only whispering in the vamp’s ear, to everyone around them it looked much naughtier. “Loosen up, relax and have fun. Trust me.” She pulled her head back. Jara nodded and Buffy felt some of the tension leak from her body, her movements become more fluid. Another glance around and the men they were trying to attract were still not looking but more of the ones around them were.
Buffy let go of the hand she was holding and used her now free one to slide it up Jara’s back and into her tumbling mass of hair, jerking her head back. Using the handful of hair, she spun the vampire around, spun them both around, splayed her hand across the vampire’s stomach, and pulling Jara flush against her, began moving them in sensuous hip swaying, grinding movements that matched the pulsing drum beat of the music. Jara tipped her head back, resting it on Buffy’s shoulder. She pressed her lips to Buffy’s ear. “He’s looking…now what?”
“Keep dancing.” She used the hand on Jara’s stomach to push downward, causing the other girl to slither down the front of Buffy’s body, turning back to face her as she wriggled back up.
“May we cut in?” It was Requiem who asked, unable to take his eyes off Jara.
Buffy shrugged but shot a grin at Jara. “Well, we were sort of having a private party here but I guess so.”
Giles was trying to figure out the dynamics of the group when he realized more people were coming, this time another two dark-haired men and the most muscular woman Giles had ever seen, and how was it possible that all of the people in this dimension were so bloody good-looking? The dark-haired man who was smaller than the other went immediately to Buffy, who stepped out of the blonde man’s embrace and into his arms.
, are you all right?” He kissed the top of her head as he rubbed his hands up and down her back.
The two who had come in with the new dark-haired man both fell to their knees beside Buffy, taking her hands, as the guards had done and Giles watched as they repeated the forehead, lips, forehead ritual, as they called Buffy “My Queen” and offered their condolences.
He frowned as he tried to figure things out. The blonde man had called her “my love” and “my heart”, the first dark-haired man had called her “darling”. The men guarding her and the new people had called her “my queen” and something he didn’t understand that he assumed was a language specific to this dimension. The new dark-haired man had called her “my queen” as well. Both the blonde-haired man and the new dark-haired man had held her and the guards and the new men, who he assumed were also some kind of guards had bowed to her. He was so confused. He wished he could just talk to her. He could see from here the pain she was in.
The only names he had were that the dark-haired woman was Anita, the dead vampire was Jara and the man with the blood-red hair was a vampire who was over 1000 years old named Damian who was apparently powerful enough to be over 1000 years old and still look human. He must be the head vampire, Giles thought, though it had been the first dark-haired man who said this was his home. Perhaps they were all visiting for some reason.
The second dark-haired man, Buffy and the blonde man had moved to stand together, Buffy in the center, an arm around the waist of each man, her head resting on the blonde man’s chest. The first dark-haired man was now staring at their group and Giles cleared his throat, ready to apologize again but the first dark-haired man spoke before he had a chance.
“Master. We were practicing when there was a disturbance. We turned and they were just here. Jara was the closest. She turned around and this one,” he pointed to Kennedy, “pulled a weapon and stabbed her.” He pointed at Faith. “That one tried to stop her.”
“Maybe they’ll only kill Kennedy.” Dawn muttered under her breath.
Xander elbowed her in the stomach.
The first dark-haired man looked at Buffy for a long moment and Giles had a feeling there was more going on there than just looking. Finally, he said, “Buffy?”
Buffy sighed and took a step forward. “I’ve spent the past five months and change learning your laws, Jean Claude, and they’re pretty clear on what you’re supposed to do here. I mean they pretty much invaded our territory, killed,” Her voice cracked and she swallowed, took a breath and tried again. “Killed one our people. The sentence is death.”
“Buffy!” Dawn screeched. She’d been kidding when she’d said kill Kennedy. She didn’t think anyone would actually die.
“You fucking bitch!” Kennedy yelled and had actually managed to take two entire steps before she was face down on the ground, Nico’s booted foot on the back of her neck, rats crawling over the rest of her, and a gun held to her head. No one had even seen him move.
“You don’t want to be talking to her like that. And you don’t want to be trying to touch her in any way, shape or form. You hearing me?” When she didn’t answer him, he gave her neck a little shove with his foot. “You need a hearing aid?”
“I hear you.” Kennedy said.
“But,” Buffy continued, “I would ask for mercy for them, because they’re a bunch of freaking idiots who don’t know what the hell they’re doing.” She shook her head at them and stepped back.
Giles wasn’t sure if it was his turn to talk so he waited; glad he did when the dark-haired man, whom he now knew as Jean Claude, looked at him. “Why are you here?”
“We came to get Buffy!” Dawn answered for him. Giles closed his eyes and wished he could gag the whole bloody lot of them. Except, oddly enough, Faith. He opened his eyes in time to see looks flying around between everyone on the other side, and the dark-haired man who had called her his queen and the blonde man take Buffy’s hands. He didn’t miss the worry on their faces, even though it was quickly hidden.
Jean Claude spoke again. “How did you get here?”
Giles shot Dawn a look, telling her with that look to shut her bloody mouth and let him handle this. “Well, you see, we thought Buffy was in trouble and we tried to, to assist her and when that failed, we thought to come and help her ourselves.”
“You tried to bring me home and it didn’t work?” Buffy spoke to Willow.
Willow nodded. “Ye-Yes. I didn’t want to.” She added.
“We s-saw you being attacked by werewolves.”
She frowned. “Attacked by werewolves?”
“Last night, cher
.” Jean Claude said. “Your run.”
She looked at the pile of swords and the ax that the guards and Damian had confiscated, at the scythe still sticking out of Jara’s chest. “You were going to, what? Pop in, kill a bunch of innocent people, grab me and pop back home?”
“Buffy.” Xander said. “We thought you were being attacked. We tried to pull you out, it didn’t work. We were coming to get you and bring you home. Where you belong anyway.” He rolled his eyes and added, in a voice that clearly said she was acting like a child, “I think you’ve had enough of a vacation. And frankly, your ungrateful attitude is disgusting. We were risking our lives to help you.”
He turned to Willow. “Can you tell how much time is left?”
Willow looked from the hurt look on Buffy’s face to the defiant one on Xander’s and dug the beacon out of her pocket. “Not so much. I think it’s kinda messed up because it’s been way longer than ten minutes if the werewolves were last night.”
Kennedy, finally allowed up off the floor to rejoin the others, sent a smirk in Buffy’s direction.
Anita looked at Jean Claude. “Can I shoot them?”
“Non, ma petite
” . He looked at Buffy; she wasn’t crying but it was a close thing. He looked at Asher and it was only because he’d spent years loving him that he could see the rage. He looked at Rafael and could see the anger clearly evident on his face. He looked at the group of Buffy’s so-called friends.
“Our laws are clear but mercy has been asked for. We will convene a tribunal. One hour.” ~~**~~
Anya rubbed Phillips bowed head. “It’s not your fault, sweetie. You couldn’t have known.”
His reply was muffled since his face was covered by his hands. He’d been crying for the last ten minutes. She looked at Tara over his hunched form. The former witch placed a hand on his head and said, “Phillip, she’s right. You did what you thought was right. You saved a lot of lives.”
He jerked his head up. “I killed Jara! She’d be alive if I had just stayed out of it!”
“Well, that’s true…” he sobbed loudly and slapped his face back into his hands, missing Tara’s glare at Anya.
“Anya, stop helping.” Tara said quietly.
“What? It is true. Jara would be alive if he hadn’t meddled and delayed their arrival.” Phillip sobbed even louder, but Anya just talked even louder, nearly yelling. “But how many wolves would be dead instead?”
He stayed hunched over, but turned his head, the sobbing now just hitching breaths. “You think so?”
Anya nodded. “I know so. Two slayers, Xander and Giles? Silver weapons? They’d have done some damage, Phillip.”
“Can’t we help her? Jara, I mean?”
Tara shook her head. “I think we’ve really done enough this time. I think we should just let it play out the way it plays out.”
Anya shared a glance with Phillip and then nodded her head. “Sure, you’re right, Tara.”
Tara looked at both of them, eyes narrowed, for a long moment. “I mean it.”
They both nodded, both said, “Right, we know.” Phillip added, “No more interfering.”