Title: Just Another Night
Summary: Mid-year Fic-a-thon Response for Mauzi. It’s just another night patrolling in beautiful downtown Cleveland for Willow and Faith. Except for two feet of snow. And the Orcs. And the cute guys with long hair and weapons. And the brief guest appearance by a random Jurisfiction officer.
Spoilers: All of Angel (including Season 5 and the finale); All of BtVS; LotR
Rating: 15 (Mostly because of Faith’s mouth)
Pairings: None, really.
Disclaimers: I don’t own any of the characters, situations or dialogue found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series, the Lord of the Rings series of books and/or movies, or Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. No intent to defame or gain profit from this story is intended (or expected).
A/N: As much as I would like it to be, the idea behind Jurisfiction is 100% not mine. If you're interested in the idea, I highly recommend Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, since the idea and all the characters belong to him. Besides, it's written for well-read book/literary geeks. What could be better than that?
Genre: Lord of the Rings, Roswell, WWE
Max Rating: NC-17
Characters: Buffy-Willow, Faith, and Anya; Lord of the Rings-Aragorn, Legolas, Faramir, Eomer; Roswell-Michael, Kyle, Maria, Isabel; WWE-Jericho, Edge, HHH, Lita, Batista
Want to See: Willow and Faith actually getting along
Not Want to See: Slash
“I’m going out for a walk.” Faith stood by the front door. She was wearing a heavy down ski vest, a wool cap pulled down over her ears, a scarf, jeans, and heavy low-heeled hiking boots and carrying a crossbow, wearing a stake and broadsword. Definitely not her first choice in clothing, but not freezing to death in the late February Cleveland weather had its own appeal. Plus, the weather reminded her a little of Boston.
“Want company?” Willow walked to the doorway of the living room, book in hand.
“Wouldn’t say no to it.”
“Hang on a minute, then. I have to get dressed.”
Willow hadn’t adjusted to the cold weather as well as everyone else had and, as she’d told everyone over breakfast that morning, was currently wearing a pair of wooly ski socks, long underwear, a wool turtleneck sweater, a heavy ski sweater over that, and jeans. While Faith watched, she pulled on a pair of earmuffs, a wool hat, wrapped a scarf around her neck and pulled on a pair of heavy lined boots. Rolling her eyes at the redhead, she handed over a heavy down jacket and ski gloves from the closet.
All things considered, it was probably a good thing Willow wasn’t living in Cleveland permanently. By the time she finished getting dressed, any apocalypse could be over. She was just visiting while she dropped off the newest flock of Slayer recruits.
Faith snorted. “You gonna be able to move in that, Red?”
Willow’s eyes angled up at the corners, indicating a smile of some kind. Her response was muffled.
Willow pulled the scarf down from in front of her mouth. “Yep. Not like we’ll be fighting anything anyway.”
Faith nodded and pulled the front door open. “Good point. At least the snow’s good for something. Everyone stays inside, including vamps and demons.”
The women walked outside. Willow immediately started shivering. Faith locked the front door to the house and they started down the sidewalk. A combination of snow, ice, and rock salt crystals crunched under their feet.
Faith grinned inwardly–she still couldn’t get over the fact that she had her very own house key, the ability to return to the same house every day, and the opportunity to be with the same people. People who were learning to accept her as she was now, not as she’d been six years before.
Dawn was in Cleveland as well, but on more of an indefinite basis. She was probably in bed burrowed under a down comforter and three quilts, reading, the way she had been for weeks now.
Buffy hadn’t taken the news of Angel’s death at all well and Dawn had decided to be elsewhere while Xander and Giles brought her out of her catatonia. Not because she didn’t love Buffy, but because Xander and Giles could take care of her. Dawn had argued that if she had stayed, her sister would have used caring for her as an excuse not to deal. No one disagreed.
Faith and Willow walked for a few blocks in silence, thinking their own thoughts. Faith glanced at her companion. Willow had changed a lot over the past few years–Joyce Summers’s death, Tara’s death, Warren’s murder, almost ending the world, training with the coven in England, activating the slayers, Anya’s death, Wes’s death, Angel’s death–they’d all had an effect on her personality. Oh, she could still babble with the best of them when she was nervous or excited, but now she understood the value of stillness.
They might not be truly happy, but they were content for the moment. As Willow had told her on more than one occasion, it beat the hell out of most of the alternatives. No argument there either.
Eventually Willow spoke. “You given it any more thought?”
“Yeah. Seems like I can’t think ‘bout anything else. ‘Cept Wes. And Angel.”
Spike and some blue-haired chick he claimed used to be Fred had stopped by the previous May to tell them about Angel’s and Wes’s deaths. They were somewhere in Cleveland and showed up when they were needed, but otherwise they kept to themselves. Spike refused to speak to or about Buffy and Giles, saying only that their stubbornness had led to good people getting killed.
Faith hadn’t been surprised by the depth of her grief for Angel. He’d been the only person who ever believed in her and supported her, even when she was a homicidal murderer who had just tortured his best friends and had nowhere else to go. He’d taught her about redemption and making amends. What had knocked her on her ass had been the grief she felt over her Watcher’s death, as if they’d left something unfinished just when it was starting to get interesting.
But that wasn’t what Willow was asking. “And?”
Faith sighed. “I can’t take his name. I’d be Faith Angel. Ugh.”
Willow chuckled. “Oooo...you’d have to get a halo. Maybe some wings. Oh! You’d have to take harp lessons!” As Willow’s voice took on a tempo that was very close to a babble, Faith resumed speaking. She’d never hear the end of it if Willow got it into her head that this would actually be a good idea. Or worse, if Willow told Xander.
“I’ve been thinking about Faith Wyndam-Price...to honor Wes. But I can’t take his name without asking him–there was too much, y’know? Plus I’m not sure he’d think it’s such an honor. I can’t take Fred’s last name–I guess Mr. and Mrs. Burkle are still around and I wouldn’t want to drag them into anything. Barely met Gunn. Being a Summers would be way too much pressure...not to mention extra dangerous...and I really don’t wanna date vamps and I think that’s a requirement...”
Faith broke off, inevitably thinking about life as a Summers girl. On the one hand, it was everything she’d ever wanted. On the other hand, she’d always be odd-woman out. Whatever their history, B and Dawnie remembered being sisters. And they remembered her less than favorably. Well, B did anyway. Dawn hadn’t threatened to set her on fire. Willow said this was a good sign. But it still didn’t mean she was good sister material for them. Christ, she hated brooding. She was getting to be as good at it as Angel. As Angel used to be. Damn it.
Her current problem was actually one of the everyday non-apocalyptic kind, which was kinda nice, if somewhat unusual. Willow had finally hacked into the LAPD and Stockton Correctional Facility’s databases the week before and removed all traces of Faith’s incarceration.
She’d also made a short trip to California and done some memory removal work on anyone Faith remembered coming into contact with–not changing their memories of what she had said and done, just blurring them a little. She’d cried for a full day afterward but had later explained that Faith’s safety and security was well worth the memories. Even the bad ones.
Unfortunately, she couldn’t finish creating a new identity for Faith until the woman picked a new last name–which meant that she didn’t have a driver’s license, she didn’t have any school records, she couldn’t get a job, she didn’t have a birth certificate, she couldn’t get a bank account...the list went on and on. Giles had put his foot down yesterday and said that if Faith didn’t pick one by the end of the day, he’d pick one for her.
“...and I definitely can’t go by Harris. The squick factor’s way too high, even for me...”
Willow cringed at the thought but tried to be positive. “You could always go on Springer.”
Faith just looked at her. Willow pulled the scarf tighter around her mouth. They continued walking until they passed a warehouse and heard sounds of fighting inside. They took off at a run.
Once they were inside the warehouse, the two girls surveyed the scene. Two men were surrounded by hundreds of vampires and things that looked like the Turok-Han from two years before. One was tall and elegant looking, with long blond hair that hung down his back. He was firing arrows at the creatures with unerring accuracy. The other was brunette and looked much more rugged. He whirled fluidly, using a sword to decapitate the creatures closest to him.
Faith inhaled sharply and shrugged out of her vest, never letting go of the crossbow. Willow removed her gloves, hat, earmuffs, scarf and jacket. She didn’t have a weapon, but since defeating the First she really didn’t need one.
“I’ll get the vamps. You help those two. ‘Kay?” Beside her, Willow nodded silently and crept towards the two men, who weren’t doing too badly on their own. They had even started a pile of those Turok-Han like guys.
From her place behind a cement pillar, Faith aimed at the vampires. She shot five in rapid succession, turning them into dust. Then the other fifteen figured out where the shots were coming from and advanced on her in one big group.
“What do you think you’re going to do? You’re just a little girl.” Faith’s jaw dropped in shock.
“Seriously, dude. Where you been? I’m a slayer.”
“Slayer’s blonde.” This from a blond vamp who looked like a skateboarder and reeked of pot.
“And in Europe.” A redhead who was apparently turned during the grunge era, wearing overlarge jeans and a hoodie sweatshirt, spoke next. Faith couldn’t stand it anymore. She started laughing.
“Wow. Did you miss every memo that’s gone out in, like, ever? I’ve been a slayer for six years. Went homicidal for a while, but I’m better now.”
She decapitated the skaterboarder, then turned to the others. “Okay, so it’s a process.”
One of the vamps got a clue and started to run. She threw the stake through the air and caught him straight through the heart. He dusted instantly. So much for Darwin.
“Plus, totally the wrong city to settle down in, guys. I mean, seriously. We only set up a slayer training facility right next to the damn hellmouth.”
“More little girls...” The guy who growled this was big, burly, and looked like he hadn’t showered since the twenties. Dark hair hung in greasy, lank strings in his face and he was dressed from head to toe in black leather.
“Not girls. Slay-ers. And, yeah, as long as we’re sharing? See that redhead over there? She’s the one that made ‘em. Take my word for it–don’t piss her off.”
Tired of explaining, she pulled the broadsword from its sheath at her side and began decapitating them. Five minutes later, she was coughing and spitting out fifteen vamps’ worth of dust.
Meanwhile, Willow walked over to the men but stood ten feet away. She inhaled deeply, centered herself, and drew power from the earth. Her hair and eyes darkened, she put her arms out and said, “Thicken.”
The creatures began moving as if in slow motion. Unfortunately, she’d forgotten she was near a hellmouth again and pulled too much power. The warriors were also moving at half speed. Angry with herself, Willow grimaced. She hadn’t made a stupid mistake like that in months. She pointed directly at the men. “Release.”
Visibly confused but still aware of the threat from the drooling creatures, they instantly began moving at full speed and used Willow’s spell to their advantage, hacking, slashing, and yelling to each other in a language she didn’t understand.
Faith dove into the fray with her sword and a yell as soon as she’d finished with the vamps. Unfortunately the dive was mistimed and she landed on the blond guy, taking him down to the cement floor, where they heard an ominous thud.
“What have you done?” The dark-haired guy was apparently good at multi-tasking. He was yelling at Faith and killing things with his sword at the same time. Willow was impressed.
Faith, not as good at multi-tasking, ignored him, jumped to her feet and looked around for her sword. It had fallen out of reach when she landed and there was now a creepy thing standing between her and it and closing in. Without thinking, she grabbed the bow from the unconscious blond and took some arrows from the quiver on his back. She began firing arrows at the things and they dropped like stones as they were hit. The power and accuracy of the bow was astounding. She started to grin. “Red, you gotta try this!”
“Bit busy now, Faith!” Willow was visibly starting to tire. Her hair was returning to its regular shade of red and her eyes were beginning to bleed back to green. Faith knew she wouldn’t be able to help much longer. They’d have to end it soon.
The blond on the floor groaned and sat up. “Aragorn?”
Faith did a double take. Aragorn? Lord of the Rings Aragorn?
“Legolas!” Chop, thrust, chop, swing, dodge. “You are well?” Swing, slice, grunt, duck.
“My head aches, but I am well otherwise.”
Willow heard that and looked at Faith strangely. Huh. Maybe it wasn’t just Faith hearing things. Going with that theme, then...these must be...
“Orcs! Faith, they’re orcs! That’s so cool!” Rejuvenated by her realization, Willow was practically bouncing with excitement, pulling more energy from the earth. Her hair bled to white and her eyes darkened with the influx of power. “Halto.”
The Orcs stopped moving. Aragorn shot an incredulous look at Willow, then happily went around the remaining fifty or so of them, lopping off heads easily, ending the immediate danger, if not the cleanup. Willow ended her spell, releasing the power back into the earth and thanking the earth for its use. The bodies fell to the ground with a thump.
Legolas was looking around for something. He finally peered at Faith. He studied her from head to toe and glared at her hands.
Legolas was in Lord of the Rings, too. And was supposed to be wicked accurate with his legendary bow. The bow currently in Faith’s hands. Oops. She sheepishly placed the bow and arrows next to the Legolas guy. “Cool bow. Arrows aren’t bad either.” He glared at her.
Aragorn approached Willow. “Are you a wizard? Or a sorceress?”
Willow blushed. “Um, neither, actually. Well, maybe a sorceress, depending on how you define things. But really, I’m just a witch.”
Faith groaned. Willow was excited and nervous. She knew what was coming.
“And can I say how cool it is to meet you? I mean, I’ve read the books like ten times, but I never thought I’d ever get to meet you in person! Wow! I mean, you’re Aragorn. And you’re Legolas! That means that you’re an...” She peaked at Legolas’s ears and squealed. “Faith, he’s an elf! Like a real elf-y elf and everything!”
Yep, it was official. Red was vibrating with excitement. They were still trying to recover from the last time–when she’d been hacking the LAPD database, she’d eaten a whole box of chocolate espresso beans. It took her and three other slayers to tie her to the bed until she stopped shaking.
Faith grinned. “I see his ears.” She walked around behind him and gave a low whistle. “I also see his perfect elven butt.”
Legolas blushed. Who were these strange women? One was obviously a practitioner of magic. And the other? The woman who stole his bow? He looked quizzically at Faith.
“Are you a shield-maiden of Rohan?”
“Shield-maiden.” Willow and Faith snickered at Legolas’s question. Willow looked at Faith and started laughing so hard she actually had to sit down, which made Faith start laughing.
“Maiden. Funny.” Faith wiped tears from her eyes.
By this time, Aragorn had lost patience with both the women and his entire situation. He was in an unfamiliar building with unfamiliar women who were laughing at Legolas and surrounded by Orc corpses. “Witch, I demand that my companion and I be returned to the Fellowship immediately.”
Willow hemmed and hawed for a minute. “Um, well see, that’s great, but I don’t know how you got here.” She was suddenly being threatened at sword point. Faith’s expression darkened, but a quick head-shake from Willow stopped her from further action.
“You are a sorceress. Our presence here must be your doing.”
“Well, normally, you’d be right about that. But, you see, it’s like this...” Faith groaned. Nothing good ever followed that phrase. Willow continued, “I didn’t do it. I haven’t done any spells since I left Brazil. Well, until tonight, of course. And a couple of weeks ago in California. But nothing before we saw you guys, I swear! Hey! What happened where you were? Maybe Gandalf or Saruman did something. Didja ever think of that, huh, mister stubbly king-guy?”
Aragorn’s mouth dropped open. “How do you know of Gandalf and Saruman? How do you know I am Isildur’s heir?”
“Duh, it was totally in all the books. I’m still a little confused about the heir thing, though...”
Oops. Looks like Red had stuck her foot in it. To the hip.
“I am not a character in a tale. I am a man.”
Faith gave him the once-over. Okay, so he looked and sounded pretty damn real. But seriously–she’d read the books in prison, since they weren’t big on letting her out to go to the movies to catch the latest blockbuster in Stockton. He matched his description to the letter. Even for the hellmouth, this was pretty damn strange.
Quiet reigned for a few minutes while they stared at each other. Typically, Willow spoke first.
“Research! We have to do research!” Willow and Faith put their outerwear back on and Willow led the way back to the house. Aragorn followed behind, looking at the cars, streetlights, and buildings with a combined attitude of fear and awe. His facial expression didn’t change when he looked at Willow. She glared at him.
“Stop looking at me. It’s wigging me out.” Confused, but not wanting to anger their guide sorcerer, Aragorn resumed looking around.
Legolas and Faith followed behind, Faith keeping an eye out for vampires since they were apparently willing to brave the weather for something to eat. He eventually loosened up enough to ask to see Faith’s sword.
“It weighs more than I believed after watching you wield it.”
“Yeah, I get that a lot. I’m a slayer. It makes things lighter. Except, y’know, life and dating and stuff like that.”
“What is a slayer? I am unfamiliar with this race of warriors.” Faith rolled her eyes. She hated giving the slayer speech. Maybe because for her, it had never been true. She sighed and gave the speech, “Into every generation, a slayer is born...”.
Legolas was enraptured as she spoke. Aragorn overheard her and slowed down to hear what she had to say, his mind racing with the possibilities. An entire race of women warriors with the strength and speed of the Orcs? Maybe some would be willing to return with them to fight against Sauron’s armies.
They got to the house. Faith unlocked the door. No one seemed to be around, which was a nice change. Usually there were a whole gaggle of girls clustered around the television, arguing over the remote.
“Faith? Willow?” Dawn called from upstairs.
“Yeah, Dawn, what?”
“Um...could you come up here for a second?”
“We’re kinda in the middle of something, D. Can’t you come down here?”
Pause. “Yeah, um, it’ll be just a minute...”
Dawn came down the stairs a few minutes later in a long flannel nightgown and baby seal slippers carrying a book, following a man who just screamed ‘Fed.’ Non-descript appearance, bad shoes, dark suit and tie. Faith tensed automatically. “Hey guys. Um, funny story...”
Willow interrupted, exasperated. “Who are you?” Would Dawn never learn to stop letting strange men into the house?
“Jurisfiction, miss. I’m here to collect them.” He motioned with his head towards where Aragorn and Legolas were standing.
Dawn peeked around Willow. “Oooo, Tolkein didn’t say they were such hotties...” Legolas winked at the girl, knowing a compliment when he heard one.
Willow looked at the Jurisfiction guy. “You know how they got here? And how to send them back?”
The guy studied Dawn carefully. “I have a good idea of how they got here. But all my superiors care about is that it’s my job to return them.” Dawn let out a sigh of relief. At least she wouldn’t be getting in any more trouble than she was in already.
“Go ahead, then.” The man took Legolas’s and Aragorn’s hands and led them towards Dawn. Aragorn refused to budge.
“We cannot leave yet. I wish to attempt to recruit more warriors for the fight against Sauron. Then we may leave.”
“Uh, no, pal. You really can’t. Totally against the rules.” Dawn giggled. Aragorn had glared at the guy and then begun a decidedly non-regal pout when he realized the guy wouldn’t change his mind. The Jurisfiction guy opened Dawn’s book, read a few lines of text, and all three were gone minutes later.
Faith sat down where she was standing. Willow sat on the stairs. They both stared at Dawn. “That was fucking nuts! What the hell just happened here? Dawn?”
Dawn made a face and walked into the living room. Willow followed her, taking a seat on the couch. Faith made a beeline straight for the kitchen. She took a six-pack of beer out of the refrigerator and walked into the living room, sitting at the other end of the couch from Willow and putting the beer on the table. It had been that kind of a night.
Without a word, she opened one bottle and handed it to Willow. She took another out of the cardboard and opened it, taking a swig. When she was settled, she looked at Dawn.
“We’re ready. Start explaining.”
“Um, okay. Remember, I didn’t do anything on purpose, right?” Dawn started to shiver. When she thought about it, Faith and Willow together and angry or disappointed were way scarier than anything Buffy could threaten her with. You know, assuming she was in the shape to threaten anybody these days. Stupid Angel.
“You never do, D. Tell us what happened.”
“Well, I was reading Lord of the Rings. And I got a paper cut. A deep one. And I bled on the book. Um, yeah, sorry about that, Faith. I’ll buy you a new one.”
Willow’s eyes widened. “Oh! You opened a portal into the book, didn’t you? That’s what brought them here!”
“That’s what the guy said.”
“How’d the guy get here?”
Dawn shrugged. “No idea. Just showed up. Since no one invited him in, I decided I didn’t need to stake him.”
“What’s his story?”
“He’s a fiction cop. He makes sure that the fiction characters stay in the right books and that no one hurts them or changes their stories. He followed the guys here. Hey, did you know that Jane Eyre used to have a completely different ending?”
Before Willow could get caught up in what was obviously a deliberate attempt on Dawn’s part to change the subject, Faith spoke up. “Have they done something to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Not that they weren’t ten kinds of cute, but I totally could have done without having to fight the Orcs.”
Dawn’s eyes widened. “You fought Orcs? That’s so cool!”
She started babbling her story to Willow while Willow told her the story of the Orcs and Faith just listened, eventually dozing off.
Faith woke up a few hours later from her spot on the couch, covered in a blanket, and looked at the clock on the wall. Crap. Giles would be calling any minute for her answer to the whole last name thing. What to do? As if on cue, the phone rang.
“Faith? It’s Giles.”
“What’s your answer?”
“I’m having a really tough time deciding. It’s a big thing, y’know?” Giles’s sigh could be heard over the phone lines.
“I understand, Faith. Maybe you should just select one from the telephone directory.”
“I don’t want some stranger’s name, Giles. I just need some advice.”
“Choose the name of someone you respect. Very few of us get to choose who we’re related to, Faith.” She thought for a few minutes more until she had a brainstorm, weighed the pros and cons, then spoke. “Rosenberg. I choose Rosenberg.”
“Good choice.” Giles nodded on his end, please that the matter was finally settled, and with a surprising amount of grace from Faith. They chatted for a few minutes about Buffy and Faith related their adventures from the night before. Giles tried desperately not to be deeply envious about her meeting Aragorn and Legolas and fighting the Orcs but failed with both style and flair. Then they both hung up. Faith heard a sniff from the stairwell and went to investigate.
“Willow?” The redhead was perched on the stairs in a pair of baggy sweatpants and sweater and sniffing tears back.
“You chose my name? Out of everybody?” Faith nodded once, solemnly. “Why?”
“Because you totally kick ass, Red. I mean, you’re hell on a computer, you can make Orcs stand still just by thinking at them, and you’re all kinds of brilliant. Sure, you almost destroyed the world and you killed a guy, but you’re making amends for that. Like me. Plus, you were one of the first people who treated me like a person after the whole breaking out of prison thing. Helped me get settled here with the newbie slayers. Made me feel valued, helped me be safe. Totally an older sister thing. So I went with it.”
Faith paused, uncertain, then looked at Willow, who now had tears running down her cheeks. “Is that okay? ‘Cuz, I mean, I can totally call Giles back and tell him to call me Faith Smith or something...”
Willow shook her head furiously. “Don’t you dare! I always wanted a younger sister, especially now that my parents are gone and I don’t have anybody.” She sniffed again, then stood to catch Faith in a tight hug. “Faith and Willow Rosenberg.”
“Faith Angel Rosenberg, I think.” She looked shyly at Willow. “You think?”
“Yeah, I think.” Willow giggled. “And the demons think the Summers sisters are scary! Hah! They don’t know scary!”
Faith suddenly had another thought. “Hey, if I’m your sister, does that make me Jewish?”