: #349 RadiusDisclaimer
: I own none of these characters, settings, or fandoms. They are the property of their respective creators and companies.
White light flooded Buffy’s vision and she stumbled forward when it cleared. A high-pitched whine screamed just overhead and she instinctively ducked at the noise. As she became more aware of her surroundings she saw the people around her yelling and running in panic as they threw fearful glances towards the sky.
She raised her own gaze to the sky and, despite everything she had seen and done as a slayer, felt her jaw want to drop in amazement. Aliens, at least she assumed so, were streaking through the skies above her and she could see the dark form of a portal rimmed in blue in the near distance.
Damn Whistler dumped her in the wrong dimension.
Red and gold flashed by in stark contrast to the blue fire emanating from the aliens’ flying transports. Her lips twisted into a smile as she recognized Tony’s alter ego Iron Man. “Guess Whistler gets to avoid a smack down after all.”
Pain seared through her brain and if it weren’t for her grip on the staff she would have fallen to her knees. She squeezed her eyes shut as she breathed through her nose and tried her best not to let the sudden nausea win. Images, thoughts, information flooded her senses and she struggled to make sense of it all. The millions of minute differences between her reality and this one took root in her mind and for a dizzying moment the two worlds were superimposed on each other. Her body shuddered once and the barrage of details slowed and coalesced into a unified understanding of how her new world worked and where she fit in.
Buffy opened her eyes and squared her shoulders. Her fingers tightened on her new staff as she quickly formed a plan of attack. If this truly was the world she had been dreaming of for the last few years, then the men whose lives she had been following would be at the heart of the battle doing their level best to close the portal. She looked to the sky again and it seemed Tony was staying within a rough radius of the portal presumably keeping the aliens corralled.
The slayer hesitated as she weighed her options. Obviously the portal needed to be closed to prevent any more aliens from coming through, but the civilians on the ground deserved to be protected as well. However, Whistler wouldn’t have been worried about time constraints without a valid reason.
So, the portal it was.
“Alright, Elder God Staff, let’s see what you can do,” she murmured. She went through a few practice moves that she hadn’t used since her early days of training with Giles to get a better understanding of the staff’s balance and quirks. Power thrummed through the wood and it was as if she could feel it itching for the upcoming fight. The corners of her mouth tugged into a slight frown and she hoped that wasn’t going to cause a problem down the road.
The screams around her doubled in both volume and horror as she felt the ground beneath her feet rumble slightly. It took her a moment to realize that a low bass tone was accompanying the tremor and she looked up to see an impossibly long being exit the portal. Its movements were less like flying and more like swimming through Earth’s atmosphere. She hadn’t even started fighting yet and her heart dropped to the bottom of her stomach. She wasn’t sure how she was going to tackle that opponent.
Even from a distance she could see smaller figures repelling from the creature, those she knew how to handle. She took off at a dead run towards the epicenter. Two blocks later she encountered her first resistance.
She ducked an energy blast as she approached the alien. Before it was able to get a second shot off, she swung the staff in a swift arc and smashed the side of its head, dropping it to the ground. She spun, leading with the silver tip of the staff to expand the radius of her reach and struck the alien approaching her from behind. Green eyes widened as she saw the sparks emanate from the point of contact. The alien’s body jerked spasmodically before joining his friend on the ground.
“Well hello super powered staff,” she said with a grin. “That should prove to be useful.”
The ground beneath her shook again more violently and she heard a loud explosion from the epicenter. Aliens nearby roared in anger and she could faintly make out an answering bellow from the same area as the explosion. She hoped that meant that the giant whatever was dead so she could concentrate on the easier one on one battles.
“Captain, you’re about to get company in the form of a blonde woman coming up from Madison,” Barton’s voice said clearly in Steve’s ear.
“Is she a threat?” Steve asked looking around the debris littered street. He could hear the emergency personnel behind him evacuating the civilians from the bank from which he had just been shot out of the window by a large blast.
“No, she’s coming to help,” he replied. After a moments pause he added, “I think. She’s been taking out every Chitauri she’s encountered so far.”
“Understood. I’ve got eyes on her now,” Steve said as he caught sight of a petite blonde coming around the corner. She was dressed in form fitting leathers and was carrying a staff that was nearly a foot taller than she was. Her gaze swept the area for possible threats and he swore she hesitated a moment when she saw him.
She weaved her way through the throng of people to approach him. “I take it you’re part of the resistance I keep seeing evidence of,” she said with a weary smile.
“I hear you’ve been doing your own part,” he acknowledged with a nod of his head. Something about her was familiar and he could feel genuine hope building inside him. “Captain America,” he said, holding his hand out.
He watched as several emotions flickered across her face too fast for him to place a name to all of them before she settled into back into her smile. “Going with titles, gotcha. Then I would be called Slayer,” she replied shaking his hand, her grip strong and sure.
“Slayer? Slayer of what?” He asked, studying her more closely. Even as tired as he was, Steve knew better than to judge people based on their appearances, but her frame belied her name.
“Today it would be these freaky alien things,” she said with a grimace. “After today, who knows? But we’ll go with Slayer for now.”
As curious as he was about her title, there were more important things to worry about. Already he was beginning to feel guilty for taking a few moments to catch his breath while the battle continued to rage on around him but he had been fighting nonstop for over an hour and even his enhanced body grew tired. Still the nagging notion that he knew Slayer from somewhere itched at his subconscious but he shoved it aside.
“Would you care to join me?” He asked, gesturing towards the center of the battle.
A fierce grin stretched across her lips and her green eyes lit up. “Captain, I thought you’d never ask.”
He gave her a curt nod before leading her towards Stark Tower. Without his cowl on, he felt strangely exposed and wondered if maybe he should’ve introduced himself by his given name. She had seemed slightly taken aback when he had used his title, but this was business now and he needed to stay focused.
From the corner of his eye he could see her moving easily beside him, no hint of fear about where they were headed. He got the brief impression that wherever he had seen her before had just been small glimpses. That maybe they had never actually met and just passed each other on the street, which was entirely possible in a city of this size.
It didn’t take long before they were surrounded by more Chitauri and found themselves fighting once more. He could hear her staff nearly singing in the air as she spun it in deadly arcs connecting time after time with the enemy. Bright sparks of energy crackled over their bodies every time the silver tipped ends struck them and he wondered where she had found the weapon.
Lightning rained down from the sky and struck the aliens closest to them. A moment later, Thor landed next to them, his red cape fluttering around his legs.
“Effective,” Slayer said approvingly looking at the dead bodies around them, only leaning slightly on her staff. While her breathing seemed heavier than before, she didn’t appear to be overtaxing herself. She had moved with complete awareness of her surroundings, even when he was throwing his shield. More than once she had neatly sidestepped or ducked to avoid it even when it was approaching her from behind.
He only had time for a quick introduction before the next wave of Chitauri came towards them. In his ear Natasha informed him that she may have found a way to shut the portal down and it was the best news he had heard all day. He could feel fatigue beginning to build and he was honestly worried how much longer they were going to be able to hold out.
Thor’s hammer returned to his outstretched hand as his own shield returned from his last throw. Behind him Slayer thrust the end of her staff into one that had daringly got too close. He turned only to be struck by a lucky energy blast and he dropped to the ground. Dimly he was aware of her yelling her defiance as they pressed in closer, sensing an opening with his injury.
Her staff rapped sharply on the ground in front of him and he blinked as he witnessed several shots glance off a hazy energy shield that suddenly appeared. “Well that’s new,” she muttered above him and he briefly wondered what she meant by the comment.
Thor roared as he struck a nearby car causing it to flip several times taking out several Chitauri with the move.
A feminine hand reached in front of him and he gladly took the help up. With a grimace, he pressed his hand against his abdomen where he had been struck.
“You okay?” She asked softly, her eyes filled with concern.
“I’ll live,” he assured her before taking in another deep breath. The pain in his abdomen settled into a dull ache that matched the rest of his body.
“I can close it,” Natasha said in his ear. “Can anybody copy? I can shut the portal down.”
Steve could feel his knees nearly give out in relief. “Do it!” He ordered causing Slayer to give him a strange look. He merely pointed to the tiny communication device he had in his ear and her eyes lit with understanding.
“No, wait,” Tony interrupted, his voice tight with tension.
“Stark, these things are still coming,” Steve argued over the comms.
“I got a nuke coming in. It’s gonna blow in less than a minute,” Tony informed him. “And I know just where to put it.”
Steve felt his blood run cold as he understood what he was saying. “Stark, you know that’s a one-way trip,” he argued. His heart was sick knowing that he was about to lose another teammate and there was nothing he could do about it.
Buffy let out a shout of joy as she saw Tony come back through the portal towards Earth. Her stomach had done an uneasy flip-flop when Steve had explained what was happening. It hadn’t seemed fair that she had just got here to truly help only to lose Tony before she had properly met him. She could tell that Steve wasn’t happy giving the order to close the portal but knew he was only thinking of the greater good. The slayer had been there before and didn’t envy him having to make that decision.
“He’s not slowing down,” Thor said from the other side of Steve. She hadn’t spent as much with Thor as some of the others, and she was always struck by how much larger than life he always seemed in person. The tiny blonde had been happily surprised to see that the Asgardian had made it back to Earth.
Thor began swinging his hammer to ostensibly fly into the air and catch Tony, but instead she saw a hulking green body fly over their heads and capture Tony’s free falling form. He grasped the nearby building and skidded down it causing large pieces of stone and concrete to rain down onto the mostly empty street.
The Hulk landed on his back holding Tony encased in his Iron Man suit tight to his chest. With a grunt, he shoved him off and onto the street while they ran over to meet them. Thor rolled him over onto his back and ripped his faceplate off to reveal Tony’s still features beneath.
Buffy’s eyes watered as she realized the thing in his chest wasn’t glowing and she knew that wasn’t a good sign. It wasn’t fair that he had managed to make it back only to still have died in the attempt.
She jumped slightly as the Hulk roared at Tony and then laughed with joy as he sucked in a huge breath and opened his eyes.
“What the hell? What just happened?” Tony asked, looking more than a little dazed. “Please tell me no one kissed me,” he rattled off and then his eyes landed on her. For a brief moment she thought she saw recognition there only for it to slide away. “Hold that, she could kiss me. Tell me you kissed me.”
“Hate to disappoint you, but no,” she said with a happy smile.
Buffy felt more than saw the Hulk notice her for the first time and she turned to look at him. There was definite recognition in his green eyes as he crouched down so that he was almost eye level with her.
“Be careful,” Steve cautioned. “He’s a little unpredictable.”
She shook her head as she confidently laid one of her hands on his own. It seemed impossibly tiny against his own but she didn‘t let it waver. “He won’t hurt me,” she said, smiling up at the large green face in front of her.
“Lady,” he rumbled at her with an answering smile which would terrify most people.
“Good work today,” she said, doing her best at keeping her gaze open and truthful. It had taken several times of visiting the Hulk before they had built this rapport and she wasn’t going to jeopardize it now.
“Huh, beauty and the beast,” Tony muttered softly before continuing at his normal volume. “Can we eat? I’m hungry. There’s a shawarma joint about two blocks from here. I don’t know what it is, but I want to try it.”
“We’re not finished yet,” Thor reminded him solemnly.
“And then shawarma after?” Tony asked hopefully causing Buffy to laugh.
“Shawarma after,” Steve assured him before looking over at Buffy. “Would you like to join us?”
Buffy looked into his bright blue eyes and hoped the invitation would eventually extend to more than just food one day. “Sure. You’ve killed my plans of fighting off the bad guys for the rest of the day, so why not?”