A Small Favor
rating: no worse than the comics or show - mention of theft, and supernatural creatures & dangers.
pairing: Willow/Remy QPC #135
disclaimer: I do not own anyone from BtVS or from X-Men/Marvel Comics.
distribution: any lists that I send it to, otherwise please ask.
note: AU post season 4 BtVS, AU in general from X-Men. Tara was a demon & left after that was uncovered. Remy never joined the X-Men.
Willow found herself blinking as she attempted to process everything that Giles had just told her. One of the most prosperous residents of the Los Angeles suburbs had in his possession a talisman that could summon a dark and terrible power to this earth, and was just enough of a dabbler in magic to try it? More so, SHE was supposed to come up with a plan to get said talisman away from him?
If Giles hadn't been so serious, she'd be laughing right now. After Spike had discovered the fact that her girlfriend had really been a demon in disguise, trying to manipulate her for some still undetermined ulterior motive, she'd felt like her life had fallen apart. Her parents had been home just enough to interrogate her every few months about her schoolwork, generally right in time for her efforts to study for mid-terms. The dorm had been half wrecked from a combination of a big demon and a terrible storm, forcing her to move back into her parents house and completely frying her computer.
"Giles... how am I supposed to get this talisman anyhow?" She really had no idea what to do about this situation.
Giles sighed, attempting to take a drink of his tea only to discover that the cup was already empty. "I don't really know... buy it, steal it... just make certain that he doesn't use it to open that portal."
"Steal it? Giles, I'm not a thief! Wait... hmmm... I think... Let me go make a few phone calls." Willow's mind was working quickly. She wasn't a thief, she couldn't possible get the talisman by herself. But... maybe she could hire someone to do the job for her?
After a few phone calls and some careful negotiation, Willow found herself speaking to 'a representative of the Guild'. She'd contacted the New Orleans Thieves Guild, the finest gathering of independent thieves on the continent. They didn't belong to the Mafia, the Yakuza, or any of the Triad gangs. They worked for themselves, or for private contracts for particular jobs.
She found herself talking to a man with a charming Cajun accent. He seemed determined to flirt shamelessly while getting the details of what she wanted done. It wasn't particularly complex, she wanted them to send someone to remove a particular talisman, which she could fax a description and illustration of, yes, there was a photograph to a fax number if they'd give her one. She had the address where it was kept, and there was bound to be other easily removable items that they might find of interest. She just wanted them to have someone steal the talisman and bring it to her.
All they wanted in return was the Potion of AlHamir. It was a carefully brewed potion that would slow the aging process by a factor of ten, so that a person would only age one year for every ten that passed. Complicated, but she could get the ingredients, and it was within her abilities to make it.
"No' going to be a problem. We get de talisman for you, have it delivered right to your door. Jus' be ready wit' the potion." The Cajun on the other end seemed appallingly cheerful as he hung up the phone.
She made her way to the Magic Box, one hand moving in what could have been arcane patterns as she considered the list of ingredients. She wasn't actually making mystical gestures, but more of a motion narrated mental listing of the procedures involved. Chopping, stirring, sifting, straining... it was a complicated potion. The fact that she was muttering the ingredients under her breath like a litany didn't help.
"Willow, what exactly are you doing?" Giles sounded rather disturbed as he offered the question in place of a greeting.
She looked up, giving a small smile. "I contacted someone to arrange to get a hold of that item you mentioned. There was just a teeny little matter of what they wanted in exchange... a certain... aromatic blend." She glanced at the gathering of people browsing the section of New Age books and tarot cards.
Following her rapid glance, Giles sighed at the customers. "Yes... will this blend be particularly troublesome?"
"More complicated, tedious and time consuming than anything else. And some of the ingredients are a bit expensive. I'll just go get it started in the back." For a moment, Willow let herself try to imagine how her life might have gone if Sunnydale was a normal town, one without the hordes of demons and vampires. She drew a blank, unable to picture herself in a 'normal life'.
It took her three days to brew the potion. By the end, her skin had picked up the scent of it, something faintly like cedar and ginger and a hint of amber. The potion was perfect, and she'd placed it into a light brown bottle, the neck collared with chips of tiger eye and bronze beads, giving it an exotic look. Carefully, she placed it in her backpack, and made her way back to the Rosenberg residence, simply feeling glad that her parents were gone again. She let herself into the house, closing the door behind her, and sighed, reaching her senses out as she tried to relax...
And felt someone else in the house. He was lounging on the couch, his aura non-threatening, but not quite human. "Who are you, and why are you here?"
"You wanted me to bring you something. I got the talisman, do you got the potion of AlHamir?" It was the same Cajun accented voice from the phone.
She carefully pulled it out of her backpack, her senses alert for anything. Walking closer, she tried to get a good look at her... visitor? her thief? "Your eyes seem to be glowing... shall I assume that you're a mutant?"
"Correct. You didn't mention how pretty you are over the phone." He sounded as if he was still flirting with her.
She made her way to the table, a careful thought lighting a few candles. The flickering golden light gave a little illumination, showing that the man was fairly handsome, and looked human except for his eyes, red coals on pools of shadow. His clothing was torn, and there was fresh blood at his shoulder.
"There were a few complications at the residence." He held up the talisman in one hand. Smiling in something halfway between flirtatious and arrogant, he continued. "The price has gone up. Have dinner with me on Friday."
Willow felt herself gaping at him. The very idea that someone would want a date with her was never very well established in her mind, and to have this man, charming, handsome, and highly capable in his chosen profession demanding a date with her... "You're having me go to dinner with you? Like a date? As part of the price for stealing the talisman? This would only happen to me..."
"Dinner, Friday. I pick you up at eight." He was smiling, as if he had some idea how much turmoil his words had thrown her into, and found it interesting.
She gave a small laugh, managing to keep herself from hysterics by a tiny thread of control. He really wanted her to go to dinner with him, although she couldn't quite follow why he would want that. "Right... Dinner. Okay, but I need your name."
He reached out, kissing one of her hands. "I am Remy. Friday won't be here soon enough, belle Willow."
With a smile, he held up the talisman, it's power feeling almost like a hissing buzz, and pressed it into the hand that he'd kissed, a small smile implying that someone else might not have been able to give her the talisman. She held up the bottle, and he carefully, almost reverently lifted the bottle, looking at the fluid inside with intensity. "You came through with your side... all the more reason to spend more time with you. There are a lot of people who think that we don't play fair."
Willow felt like her heart was beating faster, and she was aware of his scent, a hint of musk, and something almost like spices... mmm. "People don't expect your Guild to deal in a professional manner? But... if you didn't... well, didn't provide the specified services, wouldn't people stop hiring you?"
"Something like. But they want to look down on us for being thieves, an' it easier if we don't have that professional streak in us. There is also the fact that most people would not have been able to find this potion... You got some talent. Beautiful, talented, and willing to give me and my guild some credit for integrity... is it any wonder I want to get to know you better?" His voice almost sounded wistful, as if hinting that he'd found far too many people who were determined to think badly of him.
"I don't know you well enough to look down on you... and that was out loud, wasn't it? You're a very handsome man, Remy. It would be interesting and... umm... I'd like to get to know you better." She could feel herself blushing.
end Small Favor?