Title: Everyone Would Ride
Spoilers: AtS Seasons 1-4 (AU Season 5); BtVS 1-6 (AU Season 7); AB up to Cerulean Sins
Rating: 18 (mostly for language right now, but it is the Anita-verse, so you never know).
Pairings: I have absolutely no idea. But there will be some coming.
Disclaimers: I don’t own any of the characters, situations or dialogue found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel the Series, or the Anita Blake books.
Summary: Shang Da makes a wish. Now everyone has to deal with the consequences.
A/N: This fic was originally born from a fic-a-thon request from Candle, but it became apparent pretty early on that it was going to be more than a one shot so I had to scrap it. I only recently remembered that I had written it and decided to give it another attempt.
Shang Da sighed and ran a hand through his hair. His Ulfric was moping again. A snort escaped him. Moping wasn’t something Ulfrics were supposed to do. Growling, fighting, leading? Yes. Moping? Not so much.
He glanced at Jamil, who had just walked out of Richard’s room and closed the door. “Is he any better?”
Jamil shrugged, sending his long rows of braids swinging. He wasn’t thrilled with the current state of his Ulfric either, but even at his worst Richard was better than Raina and Marcus. “I don’t think so. Man, I hate this.”
“He’s like this every time he sees Anita. I can’t even blame her anymore. I don’t know what their issues are, but he and Anita aren’t getting back together anytime soon. He needs to accept that and move on. I wish he’d just get over himself and fall in love with someone else already.”
The lights flickered and a quiet male voice full of restrained glee said, “Done.”
Immediately, four unconscious women were lying in the middle of Richard’s living room. All pretty, all brunette. Jamil’s mouth dropped open in shock. He looked at Shang Da. “What the fuck?”
Shang Da shook his head in confusion, gaping and mute.
A groan came from one of the women on the floor. She sat up and looked around her, recognizing nothing. She checked her body for injuries, apparently finding none. “What the fuck?”
Shang Da’s mouth was still hanging open. The woman stood and stretched. Her eyes suddenly narrowed as she looked at him and Jamil. Shang Da closed his mouth and instinctively tensed in reaction. Whatever this woman was, it wasn’t completely human.
She spoke again, circling slowly until there was a coffee table and sofa between her and the two men. “Who the fuck are you? What the hell are you? Where the hell are we?”
Jamil answered. “I’m Jamil. This is Shang Da. You’re in Saint Louis.” The werewolf thing could wait until they figured out what was going on. The woman’s energy broadcasted ‘predator,’ but wasn’t anything with which he was familiar. Jamil didn’t feel obligated to give her any more information than was strictly necessary.
She nodded. “Faith.” Obviously she wasn’t in a sharing frame of mind either.
A groan from one of the women on the floor caught everyone’s attention. The first woman knelt down to her, shaking her shoulder roughly. “Anya, wake your ass up. We’re not in the hotel.”
Anya sat up quickly and looked around. “No, you’re right, this is definitely not the Hyperion. Where is it? Who are they?”
“St. Louis. They’re Jamil and Shang Da.”
“That’s all you’ve got to say?”
“They’re really hot.”
“I blame Xander.” Faith rolled her eyes. Anya’d been blaming everything from a bad case of food poisoning to the relative weakness of the Euro on Xander since she’d left Sunnydale after Willow had left the Magic Box huge pile of rubble a few months earlier.
“Me too.” Another woman sat up, brushed her hair back into place, and straightened her clothes.
“Cordelia, you don’t even know what’s going on.” Faith was highly unaccustomed to being the voice of reason for the group and she wasn’t sure exactly how she felt about it.
“Doesn’t matter.” Cordelia looked at the guys. “Ooh, hotties.” Jamil and Shang Da shifted position slightly, suddenly feeling very much like pieces of beef. “So, what’s the sitch?”
“Well, it looks like you, me, Anya, and Fred got sent to Saint Louis somehow. We’re in an apartment with a couple of great-looking non-human type guys. You now know as much as we do.”
Before Jamil could ask how Faith knew they weren’t completely human, Richard walked out of his bedroom wearing only a pair of jeans. He went into the kitchen, pulled a glass out of the cupboard, and began filling it with water from the tap. He moved to the fridge and began rummaging for something to eat.
“Hello, salty goodness.”
At the unknown female voice, he started, banging the back of his head on the freezer. He stood up, rubbing his head gingerly, seeing one woman standing across the room from his Hati and Skoll. There were two women sitting up at her feet and another laying on the floor next to them. He didn’t know any of them and they didn’t feel like pack. “Jamil, Shang Da? Care to explain what’s going on?”
“These women appeared out of nowhere.” Richard looked at Shang Da incredulously. The man looked like he normally did–dressed like he’d stepped out of a GQ magazine. No tinfoil hats. No drooling. No unknown languages. He looked at the woman who was standing and raised an eyebrow in question. Maybe she’d make more sense.
“Dunno what happened, big guy. One minute we’re researching demons in Los Angeles, next thing we know we’re on the floor in St. Louis.” Apparently satisfied for the moment that there was no threat, she took a seat on his coffee table.
“Demons?” So much for sanity and reason.
“Well, crap.” Faith looked at Cordelia and Anya, who shrugged. Without Wesley, Giles or Willow around, someone else was going to have to say something intelligent. Studying her options, Faith immediately poked Fred. “Fred, wake up. You’re on.”
She groaned. “On what?”
“We’re in St. Louis. And we’ve got civilians to deal with. It’s your turn to give the speech.”
Fred sat up and pushed her glasses back on her head, where they acted like a headband. She looked around the room, saw no immediate threat, and blinked. Whoever the ‘civilians’ were, they were certainly good looking.
“Okay. Um. See, demons and vampires and werewolves and stuff like that? Um, they’re all real. Not like monster movie real, but really real, y’know? But don’t worry, none of us are werewolves or vampires.” Fred felt momentarily guilty about not telling the men about slayers or demons, but figured Cordelia, Anya, and Faith would say something if it became necessary.
Why were the men smirking at her? Sure, her speech wasn’t as smooth and polished as Wesley’s, and certainly not as well-rehearsed as Mr. Giles’s, but it wasn’t that bad, was it? Usually people were much more surprised than amused when she told them the part about the vampires.
“Of course they’re real. They’re legal citizens with rights and everything.” The big guy without a shirt on looked down at Fred. She immediately stood, feeling slightly more confident now that she was on both feet.
“Ya’ll don’t have to be sarcastic and mean. I was only telling you the truth.” She glared up at the guy. Boy, he was really tall. “Plus, you’re being rude. What’s your name?”
He smiled briefly. “I’m Richard Zeeman. And I wasn’t being sarcastic.” He introduced Jamil and Shang Da to the women and received their names in exchange. Once his meaning sunk in, Fred’s mouth dropped open in surprise, Cordelia and Faith looked disgusted, and Anya looked pensive. Exactly how long had they been out of it?
Faith put her hands on her hips. “Let’s assume for a second that I believe you, Z-man. Who’s the brain trust who gave soulless vamps rights? Who kills them when they get out of control? What about slayers?”
Richard smiled again at the brash woman. Something about Faith made the hackles on the back of his neck stand up, but she seemed to truly understand vampires, unlike Anita, who apparently thought they were there for sex. But why was she so certain they were soulless? That had never been proven and most of the world’s religions were still debating the subject.
“What’s a slayer?” Jamil interrupted before Richard could tell Faith about the Supreme Court and vampire executioners, who had recently been granted U.S. Marshal status.
Faith let out a huge sigh. “Into each generation, a slayer is born. Y’know, except for this one, since this generation has had two since 1997. Anyway, the slayers are given special abilities and they’re s’posed to kill the baddies out there that no one knows about–some of the demons...most of the vampires...”
Cordelia and Anya rolled their eyes at each other. Faith’s speech was definitely different, even if it was technically more accurate than the one they were used to hearing.
“But...how do you do that without a court order?” Shang Da, normally so reticent, was visibly disturbed by what they had been told.
“Court order, schmort order.”
At Faith’s blasé words, Jamil looked at Shang Da, then at Richard, incredulous. “You kill vampires without a court order?”
Faith exhaled heavily with frustration. Usually, the people who knew about vampires and all the weird shit that went munch in the night were pretty damn happy to hear what she did for a living. Not the alpha hottie squad in front of her. Maybe all the testosterone gave them brain damage or something.
“All the time. We all do. Y’know, because in general they’re soulless assholes with no fashion sense who eat people. And eating people is wrong.” She nodded once, very clear on that point. And Giles worried that she hadn’t learned anything in prison. Ha!
Jamil, Shang Da, and Richard weren’t sure what to say. Faith had just admitted killing vampires without prior sanctions from a law enforcement agency–a crime that would send her to prison for the rest of her life–but she seemed completely unconcerned. None of her friends looked worried about her admission either, which made the situation extremely unusual. Even Anita didn’t kill vamps without a court order.
As usual, Cordelia was ready to argue with Faith over inconsequential details. “You know that’s not completely true, Faith. When Angel’s all ‘evil twin,’ he’s got great fashion sense. Plus, his IQ goes up about fifty points. What’s the deal with that, anyway?”
Faith shrugged. “Dunno.”
After pondering for a second, Fred lowered her glasses to her nose and adjusted them. “It’s not that he’s smarter when he’s evil, Cordy. It’s probably just that without a soul, he’s able to use more of the intelligence and experience he’s gotten over the past few hundred years.”
Jamil and Shang Da looked positively bewildered. If he hadn’t been so confused himself, Richard probably would have enjoyed the moment. As it was, he gestured silently towards the kitchen table. He and the women all took chairs, with Jamil standing directly behind him and Shang Da leaning against the wall behind Faith, sensing that she was the most direct threat to his Ulfric’s safety.
Richard made a movement to brush his hair out of eyes, then remembered that he’d cut it and dropped his hand to the table. “Can we get back to where you ladies just appeared out of thin air in the middle of my living room?”
Anya was immediately on the defensive, crossing her arms in front of her. “We weren’t doing anything we haven’t done a hundred times before. Cordelia had a vision, the guys went out to do some reconnaissance work, tons of boring research, blah-dee-blah-dee-blah. No one said anything out loud in front of the books.”
Probably because they’d gotten bored and started surfing the internet with the idea of redecorating the Hyperion lobby, but Anya thought that probably wasn’t important. An absolutely horrible idea occurred to her and she pierced Richard with a glare. “I think a better question would be what you were doing right before we showed up.”
Richard decided to leave the issue of psychic visions alone for a minute. “I was changing my clothes.”
“Uh huh. Nice change. I don’t know what you had on before, but I approve very much of what you’ve got on now. Do you have a pencil and paper?”
While Richard blushed and tried to follow the quick change of subject, Jamil leaned backwards over the counter and grabbed the pad and pen next to Richard’s telephone and handed them to Anya. She made a note and looked directly at him. Jamil made a concerted effort not to take a step back. She pointed the pen at him like a veteran reporter. “And you, what were you doing?”
“I was talking to Shang Da in the living room.” She made another note.
“What were you talking about?”
Shang Da glanced sheepishly at his Ulfric, who couldn’t hide the small smile. Sheepish was definitely a new look for Shang Da. “Richard.”
The smile changed to a frown as Anya made another note on her pad, but Shang Da continued, knowing that he would face retribution later but wanting to find answers. “He went through a really bad break-up a while ago and he’d just gotten back from seeing her. He was very despondent.”
Jamil snorted. That was certainly one way of putting it.
“Uh huh. And what did you say about that?”
Shang Da looked apologetically at Richard. “I said I wished he’d get over himself and fall in love with someone else already.” Richard closed his eyes in embarrassment.
“Holy fucking crap!” Anya threw her hands up in the air in frustration, along with the pen and paper. Cordelia was groaning and banging her head into the table while Faith stood up and began pacing furiously behind Fred, muttering.
“Problem?” Jamil asked, dryly.
Anya was sputtering with anger. “Y...y...you morons! You complete and total imbecilic mouth-breathing half-wits! Do you know what you’ve done?”
Shang Da glared at Anya, seriously unhappy with being insulted. Jamil and Richard didn’t seem too pleased about it either. “No, but you’re going to tell us. Now.”
Now Anya was up and pacing. Faith stopped before there could be a collision and smacked the palms of both hands on the table. “You motherfucking yahoos made a goddamn wish, that’s what happened!”
“So what?” Jamil was unimpressed by the display and didn’t budge from his post behind Richard.
Anya pointed at Richard. “You were heartbroken.” She pointed at Shang Da. “You made a wish.” She pointed at herself, Fred, Faith, and Cordelia. “We got sent here. Wherever the hell here is.” She ran her hands through her hair.
“Saint Louis. We already told you that.”
“Yes, but whose Saint Louis?”
There was more than one? “Ours.”
Cordelia snorted and lifted her head from the table. “Thank you, brain trust. That was incredibly non-helpful.”
Fred scanned the room. “Do ya’ll have a computer, or an atlas, maybe?”
The non sequiturs were definitely starting to annoy Richard. “Yes.”
“Good. May I borrow them for a few minutes, please?”
He stood and walked into the bedroom, returning with a dog-eared road atlas and a wireless laptop computer, which he set in front of her and booted up while he waited impatiently for an explanation. Fred took the atlas from him and studied the index. She turned to the correct page and looked up at Faith, who had resumed pacing. “Sunnydale’s not on the map.”
“Shitfire!” She whirled on Anya. “Which asshole friend of yours did this to us?”
She thought for a second. “If I had to guess, I’d say it was Manny. He’s been looking for a way to get back at me for a while now. We both got called to the same couple–guy’d been cheating on his wife with some woman who bilked him for everything he had. Wife wanted vengeance for the cheating slime, husband had fallen in love with his mistress and wanted her back. Manny’s thing is justice for the heartbroken male, y’know. Anyway, she wished for her husband’s penis to fall off, which it did–not very original, but effective nonetheless. The stories I could tell you...”
She looked at the men, smirking when she saw all their legs were crossed. “Anyway, Manny makes the woman return to the guy, who’s now peeing through a reed and terrified of sex altogether. So, they live platonically for the rest of their lives, which wasn’t nearly what Manny had in mind. He’s ticked because I one-upped him, but he can’t do anything to me because I was just doing my job and he doesn’t want to get into trouble with D’Hoffryn.”
Cordelia saw where this was going. “Then you became human, but you didn’t break any guy’s heart, so he couldn’t get you that way. That explains what you’re doing here. What the heck are the rest of us doing here?”
Fred glanced up from the laptop, where she’d just verified that there was no mention of Sunnydale anywhere on the Internet. She looked at Shang Da. “You wished Richard would fall in love, right?”
She studied Richard carefully. He fought the urge to squirm in his chair like a kindergartener. “Are you kind of picky about women?”
“I guess you could say that.” Shang Da and Jamil recovered some of their humor and smirked at Richard. Yeah, one woman in five years could definitely be considered ‘kind of picky.’ He’d had sex with a lot of women in his search for a replacement lupa, but there’d been no one serious enough to compete with his ideal of life with Anita Blake, which, incidentally, bore little to no resemblance to their actual life together. It seemed that everyone knew that fact but Richard.
“That’s it!” She grinned. No one else had caught up with her, though. There were a lot of confused faces. She waited patiently for everyone to catch up.
“What’s huh, Fred?”
“We’re a dating pool.” Fred was happy that she’d come up with the solution, then thought about the implications and frowned, still bruised from her break-up with Charles. And, y’know, resentful of being forced to be a member of some kind of transdimensional dating service. “I don’t think I should be dating anyone right now. You’re probably very nice and all, but I just got out of a bad relationship...”
Shang Da and Jamil were definitely smiling now, letting Fred ramble on. Faith rolled her eyes and interrupted before she had to get Fred out of the hole she was digging herself with a bulldozer. “So, your theory is that we’re here so alpha man has a good selection of women to choose from so he can fall madly in love?”
Richard’s eyebrows and forehead creased as he frowned. Alpha man?
Fred nodded. “Basically, yes.”
“That’s the dumbest ass thing I’ve ever heard.”
Cordelia shook her head. “It can’t possibly be the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard, Faith. Oh, no, wait, you weren’t there for the ‘let’s throw hummus at the Mayor’ plan. Maybe it can.” Deciding discretion was the better part of not being thrown across the room by an angry slayer, she declined to remind Faith of exactly what she had been up to at that moment.
“Off topic, Cordelia.” Even Anya knew not to bring up the Mayor’s ascension. Faith was still pretty protective of his memory, demon snake or not.
The men were back to looking bewildered. These women had come up with a plan for something that involved throwing chickpea spread at an elected official? This Manny guy sure had a warped sense of humor if he thought Richard would fall in love with anyone that cracked–even if the ex-love of his life was a necromancer vampire executioner who was psychically bound to both himself and the Master vampire of the city of Saint Louis.
Fred looked at her friends. Everyone seemed to have calmed down. Cordelia was studying Richard and Faith was leaning against the wall beside Shang Da, probably trying to figure out what kind of non-human he was. They weren’t happy about the situation, but they didn’t appear to be in any immediate danger. “Now what?”
Anya sighed. “I guess we wait for Manny to show up and gloat, then we smash the little worm’s power center.”
“Why can’t you just go back to Demon Central and beat the hell out of him again?” Faith smirked at Cordelia’s question and wondered who the practical person would be at Angel Investigations until the four of them got back. Probably Gunn. Which immediately led to the question of what they would do if Cordelia had a vision while they were here, but that was a problem for later.
Another sigh. She hated explaining. “Because I’m affected by the wish, either I or someone else has to break his power center. Like when alterna-Giles broke mine during your wish that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. I’m blocked from Arashmahar until that happens. Or until, y’know, half-naked guy here falls in love with one of us, ending the wish.”
Faith began tapping her right thigh with her fingers. “So we wait. Sounds like a plan. Where are we gonna bunk ‘til then?”
The men looked alarmed. They were staying?
“You’re staying?” Richard blurted the question, then looked properly chagrined. So much for the manners his mother had drilled into him.
“Yeah, we’re probably gonna be stuck here for a while. Any hints on where we could find a place to stay?”
Richard grinned evilly as an idea occurred to him. Talk about poetic justice. He could hardly wait to see Jean Claude’s face when he dropped off the four horsewomen of the apocalypse at Circus of the Damned. “Yeah, I think I know a place.”
Faith stopped tapping her leg and pushed off the wall. “Before we go anywhere, I gotta know, ‘cuz it’s driving me nuts. What are you guys?”
She rolled her shoulders, processing the new information and adapting her slaying instincts accordingly. “Wicked.”
Fred gave the men a delighted smile, excited because she’d never met a werewolf before. She began compiling a mental list of questions for later, when the men knew them better and weren’t feeling quite so defensive. Cordelia and Anya appeared unimpressed, as if they met werewolves every day. The men shared a look. They certainly hadn’t been expecting that reaction. There was still a great deal of prejudice against weres in society. Speaking of...
Richard cleared his throat. “Um, if you could please not say anything to anyone about me being a werewolf, I’d appreciate it.”
Now Cordelia looked confused. Oz had never had an issue about telling people. “Why?”
“I’m a junior high science teacher. If the school board found out what I am...I’d lose my job.” He didn’t mention that he’d never be able to get another one.
“Wow. That sucks.” She glanced at Fred, Faith, and Anya, accepting their nods and shrugs as positive responses. “Don’t worry, we won’t say anything. You wouldn’t believe some of the secrets we keep.”
“Thanks.” Richard smiled widely at the women, changing his entire demeanor. Faith got a predatory look in her eye and Cordelia began fanning herself with one hand.
“You’re welcome.” A shiver went down Shang Da’s spine as Faith literally purred at Richard.
“You know what we are...but what are you?”
After more shrugs, Anya went around the room systematically, pointing at herself first. “Vengeance demon. Vampire slayer. Half-demon seer. Physicist.”
“Oh.” Richard grinned. Yes, sending one and one-half demons, a genetically programmed vampire slayer and a physicist who brought chaos and confusion in their wake would definitely help balance the scales with Jean Claude.