Willow sighed and sat up straighter in the chair she was sitting in. She shouldn’t be in here, it was a bad idea and she knew it. She was still surprised that she had let two men she had never met, no make that a strange vampire and a strange werewolf, talk her into following them into what they had openly admitted was the home of several other vampires and werewolves. It just emphasized how very tired she really was. She also knew she didn’t deserve any sympathy if she was hurt tonight. Both Jason and Asher seemed harmless enough, but they were dangerous nonetheless. Jean-Claude also seemed very polite and friendly but, again, vampire. Master vampires at that; both Jean-Claude and Asher.
She also wasn’t completely comfortable about waiting in a bedroom for Jason to return. Why was it so difficult for someone to just give her directions to a hotel? She just needed a few hours sleep so she could begin her search for Anya. She considered just leaving and finding a cab, but had quickly decided against it. Jean-Claude was the Master of the City, and the way she understood it that meant if anyone would know if a new demon or ‘witch’ was in the area it would be him. She couldn’t afford to alienate him.
“Jason should return soon,” Willow jumped and turned toward the voice that had startled her out of her thoughts.
“Could you make more noise, please?”
“I’m sorry,” Asher smiled slightly, his hair covering one side of his face. “I didn’t mean to startle you. Are you tired?”
“Yes, very,” Willow shrugged, “Can you tell me how to get to the hotel?”
“Jean-Claude wishes you to wait.”
“Why?” Willow asked. She had only spoken to the other vampire for a moment, what could he possibly want?
“You are a very powerful witch,” Asher stated, “We did not know you would be visiting, we did not even know you existed until Jason told us you were here. Jean-Claude just wishes to ensure you do not mean to harm our people.”
“I’m not here to harm anyone,” Willow frowned, “I just want to find my friend.”
“Why do you believe she is in St. Louis?” Asher asked, moving his head slightly so that his hair covered more of his face, leaving only one side visible and the rest covered in shadows.
Willow watched his movement and realized that he had adjusted his body to keep one side of his face covered in shadow and hair with every move she made. It was an almost unconscious movement on his part. He did it so easily she wasn’t sure he was even aware he had done it. What she couldn’t understand was why any man, or vampire, that looked like that would want to hide any part of his face. “Why do you do that?”
“Excuse me?” Asher asked, startled by the obvious change in topic.
“Cover your face. Every time I move you do too, so that I can’t see your whole face.”
“I don’t…” he began to protest.
“He does, but he won’t explain it to you,” Jason interrupted as he followed Jean-Claude into the large room.
“I’m sorry to keep you waiting,” Jean-Claude extended a hand to Willow. “I had to take care of another matter first.
“So I can go now?”
“As soon as we discuss why you are here,” Jean-Claude motioned for her to sit and pulled another chair closer to sit across from her.
“I’m just here to find my friend. If she tells me she wants to stay, I’ll leave, although I really think you would want her out of your town too. I mean, I haven’t done anything in St. Louis, or in this dimension for that matter, and she’s been…” Willow’s sentence trailed off as she noticed the looks on the three men’s faces. Her eyes widened when she realized what she had said. “I don’t suppose you didn’t catch that last part, huh?”
“The part about another dimension?” Jason asked grinning, leaning on the wall behind Jean-Claude, “Don’t suppose that’s some new slang for another state?”
“You can travel dimensions?” Jean-Claude asked, his face blank. The surprise he had let show a moment before completely gone now.
“Yes,” Willow replied cautiously, “This isn’t helping to prove I’m harmless, is it? I really don’t want anything but to speak to my friend. Then I’ll return home and you’ll never hear from me again.”
“If your friend left your dimension perhaps she doesn’t wish to be found,” Asher suggested.
“She didn’t leave voluntarily; she was killed by a vampire. I mean, not a vampire like you. These vampires were ugly and mean. Turok Han, I think Giles called them. They were like super vampires and the First was using them to destroy the world. Anya tired to protect Andrew, which was stupid because… well, Andrew, but she was killed. Xander is still upset and grieving, so I just want to be able to tell him she’s okay.”
“Do witches not need to breathe where you’re from?” Jason asked, trying to hide a smile and ignoring the look he was getting from both vampires.
Willow blushed, “Sorry, I kind of babble when I’m nervous.”
“This Anya,” Jean-Claude said, “Was killed by a Turok Han Vampire and you believe she is here, why?”
“She is, or was, a demon,” she explained, “She wasn’t when she died, but D’Hoffryn thinks she may still have been sent to another dimension that could use her…talents.”
“Those talents are?” Asher asked with a raised eyebrow.
“She’s a vengeance demon.”
“Vengeance demon?” Jason frowned, “What exactly does that mean?”
“In Anya’s case, it means she grants vengeance wishes to women who have been hurt by men. There are many demons like her, and they all sort of have their specialties. Anya’s is scorned women.”
“So then all of her victims would be male?” Asher asked, Willow caught the look he exchanged with Jean-Claude. The two vampires knew something and they weren’t going to share it.
“I suppose so, I never really asked about lesbians,” Willow frowned, “They can be scorned too. All of her stories were about men though.”
“We will help you find your friend, Miss Rosenberg,” Jean-Claude said, coming to his feet so quickly she hadn’t seen the movement. “You are welcome to use a guest room here, if you prefer, or Jason will escort you to a hotel.”
“A hotel is fine,” Willow replied, “And thank you for your help. Do you know where she is? Is that why you agreed to help?”
“I do not know where she is,” Jean-Claude responded, “I believe I’ve heard rumors of someone that could be your friend. If she is the person I’ve heard of, I suggest you take her away quickly when we find her. She is in a great deal of danger if she remains here.”
“I’ll do my best, but I won’t force her to leave. I forced Buffy and it was bad… I won’t take Anya away if she’s happy.”
“Encouraging her to leave would be for the best, but I understand your need to not force the issue. We will leave you in Jason’s hands now, as it is almost dawn. I will send someone to pick you up tomorrow evening and we will begin your search.”
Willow pulled the door open to reveal the smiling werewolf and couldn’t suppress a grin of her own. She liked Jason, had liked him almost immediately. There weren’t many people who flirted quite so shamelessly with her; Buffy yes, but never her. Kennedy had, but this was different; Jason’s teasing didn’t cause her the discomfort Kennedy’s had. She really wasn’t even sure he was aware he was doing it at all.
“Your car awaits,” he said, bowing at the waist.
“You’re my ride?” Willow frowned, and stepped back so he could enter, “Aren’t you early, and don’t you have a real job to be at?”
“Umm…yes, I’m your ride. I am early but I thought you might like to grab lunch first,” Jason explained, “And I don’t have to be at my real job until later tonight.”
“Okay, actually I am starving. I was just going to call room service when you knocked.”
“C’mon, lunch is on Jean-Claude,” Jason said.
Willow grabbed her purse and followed him out the door. Half an hour later she was sitting across from him, waiting for their lunch to arrive. He was on the phone with Jean-Claude, something that had concerned him; he had taken the call after explaining it was unusual for the vampire to be up this early. She still wondered about his job, he had teased her every time she asked, saying she would find out soon. He said he would even take her to work with him if she asked nicely, but wouldn’t actually tell her what he did.
They had talked about other things though; mostly he answered her questions about werewolves. He had explained to her the pack structure that they used, and about the various other lycanthropes that lived in St. Louis. “Is everything all right?” Willow asked when he set his phone on the table.
“It looks like your friend may have struck again,” he said, frowning, “Jean-Claude wants you at the Circus as soon as possible.”
“Why?” Willow asked, she was supposed to be there after dark anyway. She wasn’t sure why a few more hours would matter.
“He wants her gone before Anita finds her.”
This wasn’t the first time Jason had mentioned Anita. He had said she’d be at the Circus of the Damned the night before but she hadn’t been, or at least Willow hadn’t seen her. “Anita?”
“She’s a vampire executioner,” Jason explained, “and Jean-Claude’s human servant, but she also works with the police on preternatural crimes and she’s been investigating all the bizarre deaths lately. She has no problem branching out to kill other…things. If your friend is responsible for all the deaths and Anita finds her…”
“No chance of letting her walking away, huh?” Willow frowned. Jason shook his head, “That doesn’t explain why he wants me there so quickly. Why does it matter to him that Anita may kill Anya before I find her?”
“He’s afraid of you, Willow,” Jason explained, “After you left last night, he contacted some…people. Apparently you are well known interdimensionally. He’s afraid of what you’ll do if your friend dies.”
Willow waited until the waitress walked away before answering, “I know what Anya is capable of. If she’s killing and the only way to stop her is for the police to kill her I can understand that. I won’t be happy, she is my friend, but if there’s a legitimate reason to kill her… I would like to find her and bring her home with me, but she’s hurting people and she knows the risks she’s taking. I’m not going to go all evil and vein-y if someone needs to protect innocent lives.”
Willow wasn’t sure how to explain her feelings on this to Jason. She wasn’t going to react to Anya’s death like she had Tara’s for a lot of reasons. She loved Anya, but she wasn’t in love with her. Tara was an innocent bystander, Anya wasn’t. Anya was killing people, she was a demon. If Anya was killed because she was a handy excuse that would be different, not end the world different, but different; but if Anya was killed to stop more deaths at her hands, then that was something she would have to deal with…and not tell Xander.
“Evil and vein-y?” Jason asked raising an eyebrow.
“Dark magick Willow is not me at my most attractive,” Willow answered smiling, “But believe me I understand the desire to kill Anya.”
“Did you really skin a man alive?” Jason asked. Jean-Claude had told both him and Asher what he had learned about the redhead. Most of which seemed hard to match with the friendly woman across from him, “For killing your girlfriend?”
Willow blushed and nodded. “And tried to end the world… But I saved it later so that makes up for it, right?”
“Yeah, but I was more concerned about the girlfriend part being true.”
“Sorry,” she shrugged, “So are you helping me search, then?”
“I’m your daytime help,” he explained, “But Asher will be helping you at night. You can search much faster that way.”
“He can fly, and the mind tricks thing may be helpful.”
“Fly? Really?” Willow asked in surprise, “Never knew a vampire that could fly. Then again, Spike and Angel are really the only ones I spent any time with.”
“Yes, he can fly,” Jason said.
“Can he fly and make sure I don’t see his whole face at the same time?”
“He’s very good at that,” Jason said, “He’s not going to let you see his face, not until he’s ready.”
“It’s not my story to tell,” Jason frowned, “You need to ask him, just don’t pressure him to show you unless you really think you can deal, okay, he doesn’t need more rejection. Are you ready to go, we don’t want Jean-Claude to get impatient?”