Willow greeted Michael with a giant bear hug. She hadn't seen
her friend for her entire Christmas break and couldn't help but
miss him. He was the closest thing to a Xander-shaped friend that
she had in St. Louis. She tried to not think of the Scooby gang
much nowadays. She was trying to move past her past. She was
Michael gave an `oomph' to the crushing grip that Willow had
around his ribs. "I missed you too, Willow. Could you lighten
up a little on the hug? I still need to breath."
Willow gave an apologetic smile. "Oh, so sorry. Sometimes I
forget my own strength."
Michael just shook his head. "Quite alright. I heard that
breathing wasn't going to be in style this year."
Willow rolled her eyes and followed Michael out to his car. It was
time again for the monthly lupanar. Willow was holding out hope
that nothing strange or of the bad would happen this time. She
seemed to have a run of bad luck regarding lupanars. She would
avoid them if she could but that wasn't to be.
Michael and Willow regaled each other with what they did over the
break as they drove to the lupanar. Michael had spent some time
with his elderly grandmother. He had been envious of all the things
that Willow had been up to. She would have preferred boredom if it
meant having some peace. She was still trying to figure out how she
fit into the big picture regarding the supernatural community.
Traffic outside of St. Louis had been especially horrendous for the
duo. By the time they arrived, the majority of the pack had already
gone to the lupanar. They parked the car and made a dash for it.
Willow didn't want to be late. It brings undue attention to her
and she doesn't like undue attention.
The pack had already begun to form a loose circle in the center of
the lupanar. Willow beat Michael again. She managed to forgo her
little victory dance. She couldn't help the smirk though. He
rolled his eyes in response.
Michael nudged Willow and pointed out that Sylvie was trying to get
her attention. Willow slowly walked forward towards Sylvie. She
was trying to avoid attracting attention but wasn't succeeding.
A silence fell upon the members of the pack that Willow passed.
Willow silently cursed the curiosity of others. She hoped her face
wasn't beginning to show the tell-tale blush of embarrassment.
Sylvie smiled as Willow neared. Willow turned her back to the
pack. She didn't want to see the curious stares. Willow gave a
weak smile in return.
"Hi Sylvie. What do you need me for?"
Sylvie placed an arm around Willow's shoulder. "Think
you're up to channeling the munin?"
"I suppose. Isn't Anita going to be here?"
Sylvie leaned in with a conspirator's whisper, "No, she's
refusing to come to the lupanar. I don't know the reasons. I
don't think she has any other plans. She's probably pissed
at Richard for some reason."
Willow nodded her head and filed away that tidbit of information.
She needed to know these sorts of things if she was going to not be
a pawn. This had nothing to do with the sexy Ulfric who was the ex-
boyfriend of the woman they were discussing. Yeah, right.
Sylvie and Willow's little conversation was rudely interrupted by
the ever annoying Paris. She grabbed Willow's shoulder and
yanked her away from Sylvie. Paris looked angry.
Sylvie crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. "Paris, what is
Paris continued to hold onto Willow's shoulder much to
Willow's annoyance. "What are you two planning? Grooming
your little pet as the next Lupa? Without Sylvie's protection,
you would be everyone's little plaything." Paris sneered.
Willow forcibly removed Paris' hand from her shoulder. "I
don't need Sylvie's protection from the likes of you. And no
one is grooming me for anything. Afraid of the competition?"
Willow gave a sneer of her own.
Willow didn't feel the least bit intimidated by the likes of
Paris. While Lucy was a very physical opponent, Paris relied more
on cunning. Paris liked to manipulate her way out of possibly
Paris' eyes narrowed to slits. Willow could tell that she had
hit the mark with that remark. Willow felt the hairs on her arms
stand up. Paris was harnessing the power of her beast. She was
trying to make Willow back down and tuck her tail between her legs.
Willow wasn't having any of it. She was no longer mousey Willow.
Now, she was wolfy Willow.
Willow let down all her shields. She let Paris have a taste of the
power of her beast. Sylvie backed away from the maelstrom of energy
being created between the two. Paris' eyes widened in shock as
Willow stalked closer. Paris slowly backed away. Paris let out a
growl and broke eye contact first.
Sylvie rejoined Willow. She gave a hearty pat on Willow's back.
Willow grinned. She really hated bullies.
Sylvie got an evil smile. "So, does that mean you are going to
join the lupa race? It will piss off Paris something fierce."
Willow still feeling high on her bravado gave a shrug. "Why not.
If it will piss of Paris, I'm all for it. It's not like
Richard will actually pick me, Right?"
Sylvie gave a shrug of her own. "You never know."
Speaking of the devil, Richard walked through the crowd and joined
them. He had a disapproving frown on his face. "What was that
Sylvie answered first before Willow could. "Willow was just
standing up for herself. Paris backed down. I think I'm going
to go see what Gwen is up to." With that she beat a hasty
Willow mentally groaned. Sylvie was so devious. Willow looked up
expecting to see the frown still in place. She was pleasantly
surprised. Richard graced her with a smile.
"So, Willow, are you going to be constantly getting into fights
now? Not going to be a troublemaker are you?"
Willow could sense the patronizing tone in Richard's voice. It
made her teeth grind in reaction. Willow had a wonderfully evil
idea. Paris wasn't the only one who could be seductive.
"It all depends on you, my Ulfric," Willow purred. She laid
one hand on his very muscular arm. "If you pick me, I promise to
be as good as gold." Willow gave what she hoped was a sexy smile
and walked away.
Willow managed to not hyperventilate from what she had done. So,
much for letting others manipulate her. `I am such a pawn,'
she thought sourly.