Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Disclaimer: All things BtVS belong to Joss Whedon, et al. All things AB belong to Laurell K Hamilton, et al.
Distribution: The normal places.
Summary: Poetry Challenge #5.
//"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysertical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night..."
- from "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg//
Something was wrong with her, that much she knew. It was the when, the what, the where and the how that eluded her.
She sat up quickly, wincing at the pain in her head. “Wha –“
“You should be resting.”
Willow glanced over at the voice, frowning. “Jamil, what’s going on?”
The dark skinned werewolf raised an eyebrow. “You don’t remember?”
“No,” she shook her head. “I don’t remember anything past going with you guys and Buffy to that meeting place and then –“
“You were overcome by the munin.”
“The whatsis?” the red head couldn’t help her confusion. The word sounded completely foreign. Either she was still out of it, or the word wasn’t English to begin with.
“The munin are the collective spirits of the pack,” he offered without elaboration.
Willow sighed explosively. “C’mon, Jamil! I thought you and I were getting close. And now you’re all close-mouthed again. What’s going on?”
They’d been there for weeks, forging an alliance that could be a saving grace for Sunnydale in their coming battles. A guarantee of assistance if they only agreed the same not only to the Master of St. Louis, but the city’s Ulfric, as well.
She’d met Jamil right from the start – and he was different. Cold and aloof, she’d thought nevertheless that there was something there worth getting to know.
And she’d been right.
They’d kissed for the first time the other night. Lips locked in a heated embrace. Together, bodies pressed so that every bare inch of skin was touching. He’d been the one to break it off, for her own good.
But yet, knowing that a relationship between them could be disastrous – as human-lycanthrope relationships often were, they’d still found themselves lip to lip more often than not. Dancing the dance of the forbidden, as it were.
So, she’d thought they were close. Thought that he was, at the least, a friend.
And now this.
The not talking.
“There’s not much I can say,” he frowned.
“Why? Because I’m not pack?” she glared daggers at his back, not bothering to soften them when he turned to face her. His long hair was swaying, white beads clacking together gently.
“No,” he shook his head, those beads clicking again. “Because I don’t know what to tell you, Willow.”
She blinked in shock at the softness of his voice. It was so unlike him. Even in moments of passion he’d been. . . harder.
“The munin are not meant for humans to comprehend. They’re not meant to be a part of your mentality or physiology. I’ve only known two humans that were touched by the munin – one is Anita –“
“Who is a special case, as usual,” Willow filled in the silence, understanding what he was trying to say even though he hadn’t had the words to say it. “And the other?”
Jamil frowned, sitting on the edge of the bed next to her. She could see the smoothness of his muscles through the plain white t-shirt he was wearing. Such a sharp contrast to the fashionable threads he usually wore. Even his pants were simple – grey sweats that hung loose around legs she knew were just as well muscled as his arms and chest. No dress slacks and fancy shirts today. Which meant he’d done nothing more than stayed at home.
“The other. . .slowly went mad.”
Her met her eyes as the words left his mouth, and she knew with unerring certainty that the madness had been fatal, either because she’d taken her own life or others had been forced to take it for her.
Neither was a proposition she wanted to contemplate.
“Wow,” she whispered. “Um. . .not good odds, huh?”
The red head sighed, leaning back into the pillow. This was his bed, she realized with a start. These crisp black sheets were his. They smelled like him, musky with a hint of cologne.
“Well, that’s just great. There should be a warning sign at the entrance to the Lupanar, you know. Warning: Angry Lukoi Spirits Could Cause Madness, Death.”
“This isn’t something to joke about,” Jamil spat.
She looked over at him. It was hard to take offense at his tone when it was so obvious that he was worried about her.
“Joking is how I cope. Xander makes sarcastic comments, Buffy kicks ass. I either worry or joke. Would you rather I worry about something I can’t stop?”
She didn’t mean for it to come out as bitter as it sounded, especially since there was no reason for her to be bitter – yet. Just because Jamil didn’t have experience with a normal human being weathering the effects of these ‘munin’ didn’t mean that it couldn’t be done. And she wasn’t just any normal person, either. She was a witch. One of moderate power, at that. No weak mojo girl here.
So why be so bitter?
Because something in her said this could be different. That maybe she’d unknowingly walked into forces that were incompatible with her own body. That space of time after stepping into the Lupanar last night, to the point she had woken in Jamil’s bed – she couldn’t even remember that time or what had happened during it. Had she just blacked out? Had something taken control of her?
“You were screaming,” Jamil offered quietly, as if he read her mind. “Ten, maybe fifteen seconds passed from the time you stepped into the Lupanar and then you started just screaming. You fell to the ground. Buffy held one leg. Richard another. Shang-Da and I had your arms. And between the four of us we still could hardly hold you.”
Willow swallowed. That didn’t sound good.
“It lasted for . . five, ten minutes – and then you just stopped. Out cold,” he looked up into her eyes with the last words. “We brought you here, called Lillian. She said you were fine, but we all knew what had happened. We saw Anita go through it.”
“And she’s still alive and kickin’,” the witch offered with a light smile and a shrug. “Have a little faith, Jamil.”
“Faith,” he snorted. “You people come here with all these ideas about saving the world and look what happens – and I’m supposed to have faith?”
“Well, yeah,” Willow grinned. “Why not? Things happen. More often than not, to me and my friends. I take it staying away from the Lupanar isn’t enough to keep these munin away from me?”
“No. They will find you. Use you as an outlet.”
“For more screaming and thrashing?” she snorted.
“They can posess you. Take over your body. Inflict their personality upon you.”
Willow frowned. “And they don’t do this to other lukoi?”
“Our beasts would prevent such a thing.”
“Ah. Okay – so the solution is to make me furry, right? Like a last resort type of thing?”
He raised an eyebrow. “You would willingly become infected?”
She snorted. “If it comes down to living as lukoi or dying – you’d better believe I’d choose the furriness with a big ‘hell yeah’. But we’re not there yet.”
Something left him then, and his shoulders dropped. The fierce sadness that had permeated his being was replaced with what she could only describe as a sense of relief.
“No,” he shook his head. “We’re not there – yet.”
She patted the bed next to her, motioning for him to lay down. There was research to be done, but right now she just wanted to be held.
Everything would be okay – she knew that.
And sooner or later he’d see it, too.