Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Anita BlakeRating:
graphic depictions of violenceDisclaimer:
I have no rights to or within the Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Anita Blake franchises, copyrights, characters or trademarks. This is for fun, not profit.Summary:
Inspired by Xander, Buffy takes a road trip of her own. Along the way, she rides on trains, hitchhikes, picks up the odd job, and makes new friends... whether she wants them or not.Additional Notes:
This fic fills xgirl2222
's prompt for Wishlist 2012 which I interpreted to mean a Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Anita Blake crossover with a parting, a meeting, and Asher, Jean-Claude, and Buffy. Also fills the "unrequited pining" square on my Hurt/Comfort Bingo card and the "Headache" square on my Cotton Candy Bingo card. Also answers Challenge #6910 (Play by the Rules) and Challenge #4842 (Vampires' Superiority Complex) on the Twisting the Hellmouth Website and partially answers the TTH100_2 Challenge. 093. Fair
St. Louis was a disaster. Aside from anything else, it seemed to be some sort of supernatural hotspot. Every time Buffy turned around, there was another supernatural creature, usually a werewolf. If riding the train had been uncomfortable, the city was a form of torture.I’d swear there was a Hellmouth under this city if I didn’t know better,
Buffy thought with a frown as she pushed her way through the crowded fair grounds. It was the third of July but that particular fair had promised two nights of exploding goodness. As someone who used a lot of fire in her personal and professional affairs, Buffy had a very strong love of fireworks. Maybe Giles can do a bit of research and just double check?
The fair had seemed like a good idea but her Slayer senses were jangling and giving her a headache. On every side, vampires, were-creatures, and demons pressed in against her amongst the crush of humanity. Buffy knew logically that she was fine and that she was in no immediate danger from being surrounded. But the situation still made her hands ache for the weight of her favorite sword or the smoothness of Mr. Pointy's shaft.
Irritated, but determined to see her fireworks, Buffy headed for the edges of the crowded fairgrounds. Once there, she found a lovely grassy rise to sit on. It was dark and far too small to be a hill but it gave Buffy an excellent view of her surroundings. And it was far enough away from everyone else that the nonhumans were just a slight pressure against the very edges of her senses.
Buffy was admiring the bright lights and the sound of hundreds of voices overlapping when her Slayer senses started jangling again. Scowling, Buffy looked around to see two vampires sauntering towards her spot. She called, “Go away. Get your own hill.”
It came out in English, thank everything holy.
They paused, staring at her through the darkness. Defiant, Buffy stared back.
The one on the left had long, curly black hair and dark blue eyes. He also seemed to think he was a pirate from the late eighteenth century. The other one was Asher with his lovely golden hair and pale blue eyes. Sadly, he was still a walking fashion disaster, this time dressed in a long, black duster and a tweed suit. Buffy suppressed the urge to look to see if he had leather elbow patches on his suit jacket.All of that hotness wasted on men who can’t even remotely dress themselves,
she thought with a sigh.
After a beat, in which the vampires stared at her expectantly, they kept marching up the hillside as if she had never told them to shove off. Buffy scowled.
“This is a personal moment," Buffy called, still speaking English. "So go find your own hill. Please.”
They stopped far too close to Buffy for her comfort.
“Darling, this area is open to the public,” the one with dark, curly hair said in French. Even though his expression was blank, his voice thrilled up and down her spine and tugged at her libido. It reminded Buffy unpleasantly of a dream in which she had let Lothos tie red ribbons into her hair. “We’re free to come here to enjoy the fireworks, the same as you.”
Scowling, Buffy leapt to her feet. Her hands brushed up and down her arms, as if she could brush away the touch of his voice.
“Don’t do that!” Buffy snapped, automatically switching to French too. She took a step back. If things became unpleasant, she intended to have enough freedom of motion to kick their asses. “That’s my least favorite vampire trick ever.”
And after months of laying the smack down on deranged were-creatures, being rotted on, and avoiding the Finger Flicks of Death, that was saying something.
Asher arched an eyebrow at his friend who shrugged at him. They both turned to stare at Buffy, as if they were waiting for something. She tried to ignore it and them.I know that dark-haired one from somewhere,
Buffy thought. But where?
“I’m taking my vote back,” Buffy blurted as she suddenly remembered where she had seen him. “You don’t deserve to win the this year's Hottest Vampire in America. Your personality is much too uncute.”
The Master of the City gaped at her. Asher laughed. It was flat and normal and Buffy decided that she liked it. She still refused to directly look either one in the eyes, just in case. There was no way that she was going to go out like poor Kendra, without even a last fight.
“Pardon us, miss,” Jean-Claude replied, his eyes narrowing and his mouth tightening. “But your own manners were far from cordial.”
“I was in a certain sort of mood but it's gone now,” Buffy informed him. "You killed it."
Asher smiled. “So were we. As you already know, I'm Asher and this is Jean-Claude. I'm afraid that I did not think to ask for your name the last time we met.”
“You may call me Anne.”
“Very well,” Asher said pleasantly, his expression as blank as Jean-Claude’s. “Are you waiting for your friends, Anne?”
Buffy snorted. “It would be a long wait if I were. They’re still in California.”
“Your family, perhaps?” Asher persisted.
Buffy's right hand moved to rest over the small of her back where Mr. Pointy always laid in wait for naughty vampires. Warily, she asked, “Why do you want to know?”
“It's merely small talk,” soothed Asher. “I meant no harm in asking. We merely wished to determine if our presence was going to be disruptive.”
She eyed them suspiciously for another moment or two then said, “You can stay. But you’d better not get too close to me.”
Asher inclined his head. “As you wish.”
The fireworks were spectacular, even if she ended up watching them with two master vampires. Buffy was delighted by the sight of red, white, and blue explosions against the night sky. She clasped her hands together when shrieking golden rockets flipped in circles and gasped when the explosions formed the blue stars and red and white stripes of the flag. The finale lit up the night sky. It was brilliant even if it left her temporarily deaf.
When the vampires tried to ask her out for coffee, Buffy politely declined. Humming, she instead sauntered back to the nearest bus station and the crush of humanity that was sure to be there.
The promise of another set of fireworks left Buffy in an amazingly good mood the next day despite the lack of slaying opportunities in the immediate area.There’s obviously at least one decent vampire hunter in Missouri,
Buffy thought. And there aren't any listings in the city. The pirate must run a tight ship. I can't afford to stay here too much longer, then.
That night, when Buffy went out to the fairgrounds again, she discovered that the vampiric duo had already claimed her spot.
“Toddle off, darling,” Asher said cheerfully. “This place is taken.”
Buffy flipped her hair at him and then joined them anyway. She was careful to stand close enough to be sociable but not so close that they would have an easy time ripping her throat out. Life lessons learned in Sunnydale are already serving me well.
“This area is open to the public. I could stand here and stare at you two all night if I wanted to.”
To demonstrate her rather frivolous point, Buffy stared at them rather intently. The Master of the City looked like he had just stepped off of the cover of a bodice-ripping romance novel. Asher still looked like he let Giles pick out his clothes for him. Staring at their poor fashion choices was actually rather irritating. Buffy switched to admiring their hair and eyes and the shape of their jaws without ever directly looking either one in the eyes.They're both really handsome. For vampires, which I don’t date anymore because, as history has already shown, down that road lays badness. It's a shame that Asher always covers up at least half of his face. Maybe he’d be willing to tuck his hair behind his ear so that I can see all of it?
Buffy thought as she watched the visible corner of Asher’s mouth turn down into a grimace. If Buffy’s vision was anything less than Slayerly, she never would have seen it in the dark. Not that wanting to admire their pretty-ness is the same as wanting to tap them. It isn't. Really. Especially since I already know how fantastic tapping Asher would be. Bad thoughts! Bad Buffy!
“Enough,” Asher snapped, tilting his head so that his hair fell more thickly over that one side of his face.
Buffy blinked. Without her conscious intent, her eyes drifted over to the Master of the City. She arched her eyebrows at him.
“Asher dislikes being stared at,” explained Monsieur Pirate Shirt.
“Geez, you’re touchy. I was just admiring him – I mean, his hair! I was admiring his hair! Again!”And now the vampires are staring at me. Again,
Buffy thought, her cheeks burning. The distinct lack of blood lust, horror, or terror in their eyes made Buffy even more uncomfortable. Way to go mouth. No more talking for you.
She turned to stare at the fairgrounds, her other senses remaining highly attuned to the vampires. They did nothing. Absolutely nothing.Why doesn’t the ground ever open up when you need it to? Sure, things are always rumbling and splitting open when I’ve got plans or dates or whatever. But now, when I really need a disaster of epic proportions, I’ve got nothing! Not even a breeze! And –
An explosion ripped through the air. When white and blue sparks burst into existence overhead, Buffy breathed a sigh of relief. Thank you, fireworks!
The Master of the City waited until after the fireworks to ask, “Have you had anything to eat, miss?”
Buffy hesitated. “Not recently.”
The man’s smile was positively charming. “Allow us to treat you to dinner.”
Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. St. Louis’ master tilted his head so that his lovely dark hair fell across his forehead as sweetly as Angel’s ever did. Do vampires practice that move? Did he steal it from Angel? Or did Angel steal it from him?
“My mother always said not to get in the car with strangers.”
"Ah, but we're no longer strangers, miss," Jean-Claude countered. "We’ve watched fireworks together."
Buffy huffed a laugh. "I'm still not getting into a car with you."
"Then perhaps we can meet somewhere?" Jean-Claude suggested. "Do you like Mexican food?"
Buffy giggled. Mexican food with French vampires!
“Is there a problem?” Asher asked.
Buffy shook her head. “No. It's fine. Mexican food sounds wonderful.”
Jean-Claude gave Buffy directions to a nearby restaurant named La Cantina
, promised to meet them there and then disappeared into the shadows, leaving Buffy with Asher and a rather awkward silence.
“So, what’s he really want?” Buffy asked as she began to lead Asher back to the nearest bus stop. Asher followed her lead, his stare disconcertingly blank. It made Buffy miss the Aurelian line. Sure they were crazy, soulless, and evil, but you never had to wonder what they were thinking.
“You agreed to a meeting despite being suspicious of Jean-Claude’s intentions?”
“He promised me free food. And I’m curious. And, hey, eating Mexican food with French vampires! I'm not going to pass up that sort of opportunity. But mostly, I’m going for the free food.”
Asher laughed, his face coming alive with his good humor. Despite herself, Buffy smiled back at him.
“He is merely curious. It is rare for someone to be so entirely uninterested in him.”
“Most people are turned off by rudeness, blatant hostility, and general standoffishness.”
“Jean-Claude sees it as a challenge. Such things are aphrodisiacs to him.”
Buffy groaned. She slapped the palm of her hand against her forehead.
“It’s not fair! Why do I always have to attract the crazy ones? Isn’t he with that short, angry-looking woman? The one with the permanent scowl?”
Asher’s laughter rolled over her. If his previous laughs had been pleasant, this one was like the best massage ever. Her muscles relaxing under the pleasurable sensation, Buffy sighed, “I really wish you wouldn’t do that.”
"I am sorry," Asher said. He even sounded like he meant it. "It is an ingrained habit by now to showcase my remaining beauties."
His bitterness bit at her skin. Buffy rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, if you’re blind, maybe. Look, stop fishing for compliments. You’re a honey. I know it. You know it. But if you keep making me tell you about it, my head’s going to explode, which would suck. But, hey, on the bright side, it’d kill that outfit.”
Asher's laughter was an odd thing, made up of equal parts wistfulness and wry amusement.
“You dislike these clothes?” he asked.
Buffy tapped his forearm with the tip of her forefinger then led him away from the fairgrounds’ parking lot and toward the nearest road.
“Until I met you, I thought only middle-aged English men who worked in libraries wore tweed.” She squinted at him. “You weren’t ever secretly middle-aged and English, were you?”
“No, I’m afraid not. I hesitate to ask, but we seem to be heading away from the parking lot.”
"I took the bus," Buffy said. She enjoyed Asher's look of abject horror. This is gonna be so much fun!
It was more fun than Buffy had anticipated since the bus was packed. She got squashed against Asher's chest where she guiltily enjoyed the shape and feel of him and maybe shimmied a bit more than she needed to when the bus went over bumps or into potholes. For his part, Asher was as pliable as granite. He looked nearly ready to weep with relief when Buffy announced that this was their stop and stretched over to pull the cord.
They walked a block, turned right, walked another two, and there was a tiny restaurant named La Cantina.
It had twinkling Christmas lights up in its windows. Jean-Claude, who was waiting for them outside, smiled at them in greeting.
"I didn't think that your sort of vampire could eat," Buffy said after a waiter seated them. She was perusing the menu. So was Jean-Claude.
"We cannot," he said regretfully. "But I enjoy the scents nonetheless. Do you like soup?"
In short order, Buffy found herself bartering with Jean-Claude as to her menu choices while Asher watched them with an indulgent smile. As the Slayer, the calories were unimportant. And, since they were fighting over food, winning was unimportant. It was more the joy of a conflict, no matter how mundane. At the close of negotiations, Buffy leaned back in her seat and grinned at Jean-Claude, who grinned back at her.Fighting and one of the two Hs,
Buffy thought contently, her thoughts drifting to a long ago conversation with Faith. A heartbeat later, Buffy decided that it would probably be highly inappropriate to kiss either vampire. And maybe a conflict of interests. And insane.
Across from her the two vampires across from her began to reminiscence. She listened as Jean-Claude and Asher bickered about something that happened in Spain in 1702.
"It was your fault and you know it, Jean-Claude," Buffy finally decided, as a memory came clear. "If you hadn't set fire to that prince's summer villa-"
"Accidentally!" Jean-Claude protested with utterly false innocence.
"Intentionally," Buffy said sternly. "Which, by the way, you had no business visiting in the first place."
"I had business matters to discuss with the prince."
"With his wife,"
Buffy corrected. "Not that I think you two did much talking until the prince walked in on you going at it."
Jean-Claude grinned. "He could have joined us."
"Not everyone is as easy as you and Asher," Buffy replied and then froze as other memories of Jean-Claude, memories that were also not hers, opened up to her mind's eye. Across from her, Asher looked unspeakably smug. Jean-Claude looked stunned. For herself, Buffy felt like she might melt from the heat of her blush. Despite that, Buffy managed to aim a glare at Asher. " Vampires are evil.
You did this on purpose, didn't you?"
Grinning triumphantly, Asher asked, "So you remember Jean-Claude, too?"
Buffy squeezed her eyes shut. Behind her eyelids, she could still see Asher and Jean-Claude laughing while naked and crammed into an old-fashioned bathtub together.
"I do now,"
she grumbled. When the Asher and Jean-Claude from Buffy's memories began kissing each other and woefully dry Julianna (and, since she experienced the memories from Julianna's perspective, it seemed like they were kissing Buffy herself), Buffy opened her eyes. She scrubbed her hands across her face. "Ohhh, boy, do I remember him now. Why would you do this to me?"
"Are the memories so unpleasant?" Asher demanded, drawing back sharply.
"They aren't mine!
" Buffy snapped. "I shouldn't know anything about your knees or how he got the scars on his back or the sounds that - or anything else
. I should know absolutely nothing about either of you! I was happier when all I knew from Julianna was a bunch of languages and a few useful skills!"
Buffy slammed her chair back and stormed out of the restaurant, ignoring Asher's shout to her or Jean-Claude's sharp words with Asher. Later that night, she caught the first train to anywhere.