Title: Chance Encounters (1/1)
Disclaimer: Joss owns Buffy characters and LKH owns AB characters.
Feedback: Yes please, it makes me happy.
Distribution: Twisting the Hellmouth, and anyone else I gave permission to archive my stuff, anyone else ask and you shall receive.
Summary: Sequel to I'm with you.
Notes: Takes place 4 yrs after the event of I'm with you.
Willow stood looking out the window of her room, wondering if maybe her life was now changing for the better. The hellmouth was closed. The cost of that had been very high, which was why her feelings were warring within her. The hellmouth closing was good but loosing Giles, Buffy and Xander was too high a price to pay. Only Anya, Dawn, Spike and herself had survived the closing but surviving and being alive weren't the same thing. Spike had headed for LA he was reminded that family was always good to have no mater what. She knew he would be happy there, even Angel would be glad to have him after all eternity was lonely without someone by your side.
Anya was grieving the only way she knew how, by going back to being a vengeance demon with relish. She had decided that being human cost too much, she had lost the only human she had ever loved although she felt fondness for the remaining Scooby members no one could replace Xander. Everyone understood and had wished her well. Dawn had completely lost touch with the world; she was in a catatonic state, relieving her nightmares over and over again. It was very painful to see her that way but loosing Buffy had broken something inside her. Willow hoped she could one day come back to the world but for now she needed to take care of her.
Willow knew she would need money to take care of herself and Dawn but no one had planned for the closing of the hellmouth. She had worked for Anya, as had everyone else regardless of the degrees they had received from college. How could she put her degree to work if she really didn't know anything about her field? She had to move away from Sunnydale, it had to many memories both good and bad. LA wasn't an option since she didn't want to get roped into helping Angel with his redemption, she wanted peace and quiet and a steady job were she could provide Dawn with the care she needed. She was at a loss about such a place.
Except that she remembered her sabbatical, she had driven through St. Louis and loved it. Preternatural enough not to be all American but not over flowing with the evilness like LA. Far enough away from California and all its memories. She had one memory there but not there and it wasn't bad, she looked back on it with a certain degree of fondness since that one night with the rat king had changed her life for the better. She had researched enough about the city to know she needed connections to be able to live there. Those she had from one William the Bloody and Angelus. The tricky part was the job; she could raise zombies that was too much like resurrecting Buffy for her taste. The only thing she had left was getting a job as a stripper, which she definitely didn't think, was a good normal job or joining the preternatural circus that was run by the Master of the City. She chose the circus after all illusions and conjuring weren't tapping into any dark magic's within her, she could do that.
Calling Angel and talking him and Spike into negotiating her way into the city as well as job at the circus had taken some doing but in the end they had relented. They knew she couldn't stay in Sunnydale or go to LA, she was done with the world saving gig the hours sucked and the pay was lousy. Willow would never refuse to help Angel but she wasn't going to be on hand for the help. She had Dawn to think about now and what she needed was normal and as not helllmuthy as possible, not maybe loosing Willow to some big bad.
"Dawnie, we are finally here. I know it's been a rough couple of months but we can finally be normal. I mean other than the obvious needing introductions to the Master of the City by Angel and Spike and working at the Circus, we can be normal. I'm didn't check out apartments or anything online because I wanted you to be able to choose one with me as well as shopping for the new place. It'll be so much fun." Willow talked to Dawn who didn't acknowledge anything. Willow was starting to lose hope of bringing Dawn back from whatever nightmares trapped her inside herself. It had been 5 months since the closing Dawn had come around from being a living statue to being a walking one. It was frustrating to see her like that but Willow couldn't do anything she had tried to find Dawn as she had Buffy so many years ago but Dawn didn't want to come out. Dawn was fighting to stay in, living with Buffy through memories long past.
"I know you can hear me Dawn. I hope you like living here with me. Spike said he would come visit, as did Angel. For now we will just have to meet the Master and stay at his place for a couple a days while I get situated and such. She unstrapped Dawn from her seat and led her down the aisle of the jet to the door; she wasn't prepared for the reception.
Willow was standing at the steps looking out at the many people that had turned out to do something she wasn't sure what...yet. She did notice something immediately though. "I feel decidedly under dressed. Did your people forget to tell my people about the leather theme? I wasn't aware there was anyone coming to meet me except for the taxi driver." Willow had pushed Dawn behind her as soon as she had seen the crowd. They weren't normal.
"I am Jean-Claude the Master of the City, and this is my entourage. I believe you are Angelus and Spike's witch? Willow Rosenburg." I nodded. He was French and spoke with a pretty accent but I had no idea why he was all about the show of force.
"Exchanging pleasantries is nice and I don't mean to be rude but why are you here? With your what do you call it? Following or whatever." On second though that was rude he was her boss after all. "Forgive me...its been a long flight. Do you mind if I get off and go to my hotel and rest I'm sure we can dispense with the pleasantries and showing off for now. I'm not here to cause trouble I'm here to work and be normal as possible. I'm not joining your side in anything, so you can dispense with the courting of my favor or think I will be an asset. I am Switzerland and neutral. I will not join your adversaries but I wont help you unless it's in my personal interest as in me or mine are being threatened. Do we understand each other Jean-Claude?" He had no expression but I knew he was not happy with my answers. His people wore neutral expressions but I could tell some had been amused others like the guy standing next to him had found my speech extremely funny.
"Agreed. Although Cherie I don't like having neutral people in my city. You will be staying at the Circus until you find suitable accommodations for you and your companion I presume." I nodded it hadn't been a question but a politely worded demand. I was startled that he knew about Dawn then remembered Angel and Spike would have mentioned her.
"Fair enough. Now that we have finished the do you think we can go to the Circus? I really am tired."
"Of course how remiss of me. By the way my following as you say are the important people of this city, I thought you needed to meet. Asher is my right hand. Anita is my human servant, Richard is the Ulfric of the Thronnos Rokke Clan, Micah is the Nimir-Raj of the Maneater and Blooddrinkers Clans..." He was calmly going from person to person I nodded to everyone. This was such a waste of time I didn't care and wasn't interested in the politics. I noticed someone and my heart stopped as I had followed his introductions. ".... Rafael,"
"The rat king." I finished for him. That had definitely surprised everyone; they all turned from me to him and back again as if to find out how I could know him.
"You know Rafael?" The tall guy who was Ulfreak asked.
"We met, under different circumstance a long time ago." When I was a different person and the world had been so different, death had not taken my life completely then, my friends although not with me then had been alive and well.
"Well, I leave you to ride with him and catch up, Jason can help with your bags." Wow everyone scrambled to do his implied orders; within seconds only Rafael and his people and Jason and Dawn were left. How ubber cool to have that kinds of authority.
"So...we meet again." I laughed at the absurdity of quoting super villains.
"We do at that Chica we do at that." He said with a slight smile. That made me ask my nest question.
"Is that a good thing?" I asked. He nodded and walked up to me.
"Vamos it's late and you're tired. We can figure this out when you are settled. I'm at your service as are my people. We have a very good real estate woman who gives nice discounts." I was so caught up with seeing him again I had completely forgotten that Dawn was still standing behind me.
"Fuck." I cursed Rafael looked startled. I winced. "Sorry not you its just my friend she's not well and I see you and I'm all forget that she's with me I'm such a bad person and she's very important to me." I was helping her down the stairs and leading her to the limo waiting for us. I put her inside and turned to see understanding in Rafael's eyes.
"She is loca...yes?" It took me a moment to understand what he meant.
"Fuck no, she's not crazy. Just withdrawn inside herself, I swear she isn't dangerous in the least."
"I'm sorry Pequena I dint mean to upset you. I thought that you meant not well as in crazy. Do not worry she will be fine if she has you looking after her."
"You don't know me so how can you be so sure?" I wasn't sure, hadn't been sure about anything in a long time.
"Your brought her with you when you could have left her in one of those hospitals for crazy people as many would have done." I must have looked as horrified as I felt because he hugged me to him pressing a slight kiss to my forehead.
"I hate to break up your reunion but your bags are in the trunk and I'm ready to go, if you two don't mind I would like to get to the Circus before I miss my favorite movie they are showing it on TNT tonight in like 30 minutes so can we?" I think his name was Jason, I laughed at his reasons for hurrying us up, and we followed him into the limo he sat across from Dawn.
"What's the movie?" I asked him, he looks confused and them smiled.
"Interview with the Vampire." I laughed, that was Spike's favorite as well.
Rafael gave me a slight smile and I returned it wondering if things were finally changing for the better. I was glad to see Rafael again, even if nothing came of this, it was nice to have a sort of friend in strange surroundings. Things were definitely looking up and I was glad that I had decided to move here. Who would have thought a chance encounter would have changed my views twice in my lifetime.