Title- Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
Disclaimer- I almost literally own nothing, not to mention BtVS or Anita Blake
Pairing- None as of now
Summary- Buffy jumps through Glory's portal, but her body doesn't pop out the other side. Considered AU after that. Willow takes the logical step of looking for Buffy before attempting to resurrect her. She discovers that the Slayer is alive. The story of Willow searching for her lost friend.
Spoilers- Through season 5 for BtVS and Cerulean Sins for Anita Blake.
Unbeknownst to one Elizabeth Anne Summers, she had a guardian angel of a sorts. Sorta. Well, maybe not really, but it's the results that matter, right?
When she had made her first appearance in Los Angelos six months earlier, it had taken Buffy less than twelve hours to destroy a trio of relatively young -if seventy eight plus was considered young- vampires. This would have demanded swift and merciless retribution from the Master of the City, but he and his closest lieutenants didn't survive the next twenty four hours.
This pattern was repeated up and down the west coast before the Slayer decided to make her way east. When one was on the run from the police, slaying became considerably more difficult. By the time Buffy reached St. Louis, she'd accumulated a 'confirmed' kill count of fifty five, four of which were Masters of their cities; Los Angelos, San Francisco, Sacremento, and Houston, respectively.
Buffy's continued survival would have been seriously in question had she remained free long enough to challenge the undead of the city. Without doing any research, she could not have known that the Master of the City was part of an almost unheard of triumverate, a mystical alliance between a Werewolf King and a Necromancer/Executioner, arguably giving him the most power outside of the Vampire Council with a few arguable exceptions. Perhaps she was lucky that she'd been injured taking out the first vampires she'd encountered in the city.
The Vampire Council's solution to the Slayer had been a hit squad, one which Jean-Claude, the Master of St. Louis had denied entry. He didn't particularly care about the Slayer's continued survival, and in fact feared her more than he cared to admit, but one didn't allow others to come into his territory and usurp his authority in a manner that he should be responsible for dealing with. Buffy likely would not have survived the night after being taken into police custody had another member of the Master's triumverate taken an interest.
Anita Blake, the Executioner, had put out the word to those in the know that retribution against the Slayer would be met with lethal force. Anita's reputation served to discourage more than one would be assassin. The same threats kept her lover and his minions, the aformention Jean-Claude, in check. It wasn't that Anita particularly believed the Slayer's story about being from another world, or that she had been gifted with special powers to destroy vampires, but the girl was human and had made a point of avoiding lycanthropes and other obviously different, though not necessarily dangerous strains of humanity. She could easily imagine herself in a similar situtation if a few events in the past had gone differently.
Then there was the Humans Against Vampires angle. The Slayer, a human girl, intelligent, beautiful, and quite obviously not a monster who had taken down a frightening number of bloodsucking undead. She was the poster child HAV -and by proxy Humans First- had prayed for but never gotten. And the icing on the cake? She was on trial for destroying vampires. A trial could be carried to the Supreme Court...which could conceivably lead to Addison vs Clarke being repealed. Well, they could cope.
And finally, it didn't hurt that Buffy was being held in the headquarters of RPIT; the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team. Having the only officers trained in combat against preternatural forces and cells warded against harmful magic provided both a deterrent and a defense against potential threats.
The library proved helpful, if more than a little disturbing. Willow would have liked to stay longer, but the library would soon be closing. Without a library card -and without a valid state driver's license, there was no hope of getting one without resorting to magic- she was unable to check out materials, but she believed that she'd been able to make headway into this version of Earth's twisted history.
The supernatural -or preternatural, as it was most commonly referred to here- was a widely known aspect of reality, one that while not embraced by the majority of humanity, was at least accepted as valid. This opened a whole can of worms, everything from lycanthropes and vampires, to witches and Easter Bunnies. Well, not so much Easter Bunnies.
Lycanthropes, varying from the standard werewolf which Willow was quite familiar with, to creatures as exotic as swan and snake lycanthropes. Virtually every major animal species was represented by at least one strain of lycanthropy. And like the discrimination so prevalent in Willow's world that was only now beginning to fade away, lycanthropes had been targeted by society, either out of maliscious hate or unreasoning fear, as a new kind of second class citizen. Men and women, who through no fault of their own became cursed with an incurable disease, saw their livelihoods disappear when they were outted as weres. Willow could sympathize. Some people reacted badly to homosexuals and quite a few more reacted even more harshly to witches.
Willow quickly realized that the vampires of this world were an entirely different animal than what she and her friends had dealt with back in Sunnydale. It was a great deal more difficult for a person to be turned by this world's species of vampire. From there, the differences only grew more drastic. The personality of a vampire didn't appear to change after being turned, but there was no proof of the vampires soul remaining intact. It was a hotly debated topic; were vampires innately evil? If not, why did holy object react -and by react, Willow meant glow brightly and sometimes burst into flame- so violently to their presence? The arguments were too numerous to list in any meaningful form, too many of which made absolutely no sense.
The standard vampiric strength, speed, and endurance appeared to be present. Then came the powers. Willow couldn't be sure what was true and what was mere speculation or pure myth, just as she was certain that the surface of this particular topic had barely been scratched. Mesmerism, a skill only displayed by two vampires in her world -Dru and Dracula- was a standard ability of 'all' vampires, no matter their age. There were eye witness accounts of flying vampires, though none could be confirmed and completely unsubstantiated but widely believed rumors that some vampires could control specific animals and their lycanthrope cousins.
Of weakness, vampires had many, but not all were what Willow had grown accustommed to. Holy water and sunlight burned and holy items repelled as per the norm. Wooden stakes worked, but there were documented cases of master vampires surviving such impalement. Not a real suprise there, since the Master back in high school had needed a virtual tree trunk through the heart to end his existance and Kakistos had taken a four by four to put down. Silver startled Willow. Metal of any kind could inflict pain on the vampires of her world, but unless it was used to decapitate the vampire, the wounds never proved fatal or more than an annoyance. Here, silver, especially through the heart or brain, proved tremendously effective. Willow wondered to herself how Buffy had racked up her kills. Had she used her traditional methods of stake and sword? Or had the Slayer branched out to firearms packing silver ammo? Whatever got the job done, she supposed.
Willow tried to imagine Buffy's reaction when her first vampire kill didn't dust like it was supposed to. Recalling Faith's fall from grace, panic probably didn't even begin to describe the Slayer's response.
At least as startling as this world's knowledge of and attitude towards vampires and lycanthropes, was the widespread use of magic. Covens operated openly and occult bookstores and magic supply shops could be found everywhere. Witches and warlocks could be found in numerous sectors of the work force, doing everything from warding business with magical alarm systems to raising the dead in order to settle legal disputes between living relatives. Then again, there were a number of laws specifically geared towards practitioners of magic, most of which were incredibly harsh. Willow wouldn't have minded the laws so much on her own world if it meant that magic could be practiced in the open and without prejudice. With a little thought on the subject, Willow hastily changed her mind. She'd broken several of this worlds magical laws on too many occassions to count. Most times, she'd even had a good reason. Look where that had gotten Buffy...
"You have a visitor."
Buffy looked up from the severely out of date fashion magazine she'd been flipping through and sighed in resignation. Visitations had been few and far between the past few weeks, and while most had been with her attorney, there had been others, reporters being the most prevalent. The Slayer allowed herself to be restrained by the officers who had come to escort her, despite how humiliating it was. She was led to a private visitation room, something of a suprise, and escorted inside.
The man sitting at the table across from her was of average height, with a slight build and plain features. His bland eyes and brown hair filled out a thoroughly unremarkable package. All in all, the man came across to Buffy as thoroughly forgettable, someone who would blend into a crowd with ease.
The escorting officers left her alone with her visitor after securing her restraints to eyebolts in the floor and table top. She had to fight down an evil little chuckle at the futility of their precautions.
"Buffy, may I call you Buffy?"
"I'd prefer Ms. Summers, if you don't mind?"
"If you say so, Ms. Summers. You may call me Mr. Jones or Michael, whichever you prefer."
"So, Mr. Jones, who do you work for? You don't strike me as a reporter or psychiatrist. Mrs. Maison would have told me if any of her associates intended to drop by. Can't be from the prosecution, or else Mrs. Maison would be here too. Well, that narrows it down to government agent. Am I right?"
"I could pretend otherwise, but you are correct, Ms. Summers. I do work for the government. My duties are varied, but I often function as a recruiter."
"Let me guess, you're here to offer me a full pardon if I agree to work for some super secret government organization?" Buffy was suprised that this particular offer hadn't been made earlier.
If suprised by her insight, Mr. Jones showed no outward sign Buffy could detect. "You are more or less correct, Ms Summers. A pardon is out of the question, of course. Your case has garnered too much public attention for such a solution. Standard operating procedure would be to fake your death in a manner rendering identification by dental records necessary. Plastic surgery would be needed to change your appearance. Certain magical rituals would also be used in order to alter your mystical signature in such a way as to render any divination searching for you to fail."
Buffy nodded along with Mr. Jones. That all made sense, even if talking about faking her death and permanently altering her appearance was pretty damned unsettling.
"I've worked with the government before, Mr. Jones. I ended up nearly getting killed by a mad scientist's pet demons. Then the mad scientist, who just happened to be my Psychology 101 teacher at the time, was killed by her own freakish Frankenstein monster. In case you're interested, it was part demon, human, and machine. I barely killed it before it could create an army of cyber-demon super soldiers. Of course, I shouldn't be telling you any of this, since I signed that nondisclosure agreement. What are they gonna do about it, though? None of that even happened on this world." Buffy had been hoping for some sort of reaction, if only an incredulous sneer or a condescending smirk. Nothing. Mr. Jones just regarded her impassivly.
"It's not my place to judge the validity of your claims, Ms. Summers. My purpose today is to evaluate your potential interest in our offer. Depending on your decision, others will make contact to arrange further proceedings."
"Believe me or not, Mr. Jones. If I get out of here, I will continue slaying vampires and any other creature that threatens the humans of this world, no matter how ungrateful and stupid they are. If your offer comes with rules against the slaying, you can tell your boss to get bent."
"On the contrary, Ms. Summers, it is your 'slaying' ability, as you call it, that has drawn my superiors' attention. We make a point of recruiting people with extraordinary abilities and allowing them utilize them to the fullest of their potential."
A few moments passed in silence before Buffy replied. "I'll thank about it. Does the offer come with a deadline?"
"Excellent, Ms. Summers, most excellent. There is no deadline, but you have made many enemies, Ms. Summers, and one or more of them could reach you at any time. Up till the time of your death, the offer stands." With that, Mr. Jones stood and made his way to the door.
In the past couple years, as her magical prowess and inner reserves of energy grew by leaps and bounds, Willow had made a common practice of shielding herself. Not only did it limit danger from outside magical influence, shielding also hid her nature as a powerful witch from those with the eyes to see such things. Another benefit, and a vital one at that, was that sufficiently elaborate personal shields prevented the dark magic that permeated the Hellmouth from insinuating itself into her own well of inner strength. Using the evil energies was not dangerous if one was carefully grounded and made sure to dismiss any of the unused power.
More than once in the months following Buffy's disappearance, Willow had slipped, drawing energy without caution. The rush of wielding dark magic was hard to describe and Willow didn't really want to think about the repressed and base emotions it roused in her. Afterwards, she'd always felt dirty, both inside and out. Cleansing her aura of the tainted magic was far more difficult than washing the ashes of an immolated demon from her skin.
Willow was thankful for all the time she'd spent learning to build and maintain her personal protections. Walking down the seemingly normal streets of St. Louis, she could feel hundreds of psychic sensitives within her maximum sensory radius of just under one mile. Untrained or weak sensitives wouldn't likely be able to identify her, even if they could sense her presence. It was the tightly controlled auras, many of them shielded to one degree or another, that really concerned Willow.
Modesty was all well and good, but Willow knew she was powerful, unnaturally powerful. From the exploits of famous practitioners documented in the city's library, Willow was certain that few here had ever reached her level. If she wished to remain hidden from the natives, many of whom she was certain would try to exploit her -such was human and inhuman nature- she'd have to keeps her shields locked up tight. There could be no more emotional outbursts like earlier. She'd gotten lucky with the newspaper. No one had seen that little display. The poor, unfortunate Radio Shack...well, that could be explained by faulty wiring and a massive power surge, maybe.
Now she had to worry about tracking Buffy down. She had her map, still in its plastic package. Now all she needed was a native crystal, preferrably unworked, and a quiet place to perform the locator spell.
Author's Notes - I figure that Buffy's success at slaughtering vampires, some of which had been caught on video, would draw the attention of the same people who trained Edward. You gotta admit, Buffy would make a kickass assassin. I don't intend for Buffy to go spook or anything, but this could be used to tie in a lot of other characters for one reason or another.