note: follows Laying the Groundwork, and takes place concurrently with Demona's Reaction.
Disclaimer: I do not own anyone from BtVS or Disney's Gargoyles
Distribution: Bite Me, WLS, NHA, WWW, Twisting the Hellmouth - anyone else please ask first.
note: Things diverged in S4. Willow & Spike have now moved to New York, where Willow accepted a position from Mr. David Xanatos as a teacher for a group of gargoyle clones.
Willow Rosenberg had been the Third for the ritual. A spell demanding an unusually high amount of power, and a barely twenty year old mortal woman had stood there, casting a ritual that she hadn't known existed a week before. Not only had she been powerful enough, but she'd come through it whole, undamaged by the demands of the power, or so drained that it killed her. Magic could be very dangerous, after all.
Not only that, but the feeling of her magic had been unexpected. Not at all the normal for a human. Her magic felt like rushing water, like growing leaves and the subtle edge of twilight. And yet... and yet all that elemental energy had been filtered through humanity. It felt like a blending of human magic and elemental energy, something that was almost unheard of. Almost being a very important word there.
What were referred to as the Fae were not a single type, not a single people as humans were, or of an essence cast into myriad shapes as the gargoyles were, but a complex and varied mingling of beings. Some of them were almost wholly energy or spirit, beings of mind and power and soul, but no bodies. Others were shaped from the very bones of the earth, the earth kin: giants, dwarven folk, gnomes, strange scuttling things for which humans had no words. Others were formed of lighter things, but still children of earth and magic: Shape-changers, tree-spirits, things that inspired the tales of flower fairies and mushroom children. Others, like himself, were of a variety of elflike peoples, not human nor shaped of the earth, but from air, water, or will itself. All of them were accounted among the Fae.
Willow felt like a blending of the Fae and of humanity. Not the type of Fae such as himself, or the Lady Titania, but some sort of nature spirit of some sort. Except that even the nature Fae were generally easy enough to recognize, to identify by the shape and feeling of their power. Willow didn't feel like any single type of being, but as if she was a blending of types.
Nothing in the careful background search or the even more intensive one that they had ordered after hiring her had hinted that Willow Rosenberg was anything but human. They'd uncovered her connection to three different Slayers, with a fourth in her family tree on her father's side, and the startling news that she'd been living over the Hellmouth, but nothing to hint that she was anything but human. A genius and one of the better computer experts they'd had the experience to encounter, and if she hacked with anywhere near the determination and flair that she cast magic... But they should have found something if it was there to find. They'd found nothing.
But a similar search on Anastasia Reynard had shown an equally human background, if considerably less danger. And Anastasia Reynard had proven to be none other than Titania in disguise. Certain proof that an investigation could not be a promise to learn everything.
She had been intriguing before, even when they'd considered her as little more than a teacher for the clones, someone that wouldn't panic at teaching non-humans, someone who would know when and how to duck for cover in case of trouble. She'd handled the gargoyles so calmly, had in fact met some before. She'd asked careful questions at her interview - perhaps not everything that a professional businesswoman might have asked, but far more than a 'simple college student' would have been expected to ask. Far more and better questions than many starting employees at Xanatos did ask, and without giving away any of her own secrets in her questions. Granted, they'd learned of her magic, and the fact that her roommate was a vampire anyhow, but not from her.
Her roommate was another layer of complication. William was William the Bloody, more recently known as Spike. He could be ruthless, was adaptable and inventive, and had nearly killed one of the Fae once, almost sixty years ago. Not a particularly powerful Fae, or anyone that Puck or Owen would be inclined towards avenging, but the simple fact that a mortal born creature had come so close to killing any of the Fae was... unsettling. If he was staying with Willow, or Willow with him, then he had a motivation. That felt very uncomfortable as well.
She was also rather pretty, in an almost too youthful sort of way. It wasn't just that her coloring was intensely noticeable, or that the intelligence in her was almost visible as a spark in her eyes. It certainly couldn't be something so simple - neither Owen Burnett or Puck could be thrown off-balance by something as simple as a pretty face.
But all of it together... Yes, all of those things together made Willow rather baffling and interesting. He should try to learn more about her. Just to be safe.
Of course, it would be no burden to learn more about her. To learn more of the charming seeming young woman who had accepted a job teaching cloned gargoyles and fought at the side of a Slayer. Someone with power strong enough to match one of the Fae. Someone far less predictable than an initial thought would suggest.
At least he would be able to study her without her knowing who and what he was. If his shields and disguises were good enough to prevent his discovery by Lord Oberon, they should hold against a young woman. Part of that would naturally be the layers of delicately woven suggestions that there was nothing remarkable about him, nothing worth a deeper more careful look... And a simple magical glance would reveal nothing magical, nothing of interest to the Fae. He'd modeled his Owen-signature on Preston Vogel, someone he'd met while planning his disguise, and employee of Halcylon Reynard. Capable, dull, possessing less magic than a typical block of concrete and about as much personality... It should be flawless. Of course, if someone did look deeper, they might see something. If they knew who he was, they could look through the seeming dullness. But why would they bother?
Yes, learning more about Willow might become a very important thing indeed. Not just the flat facts of her life, but how she thought, reacted... the quirks of her personality that had to be seen to understand. And if he could find any explanation for the feeling of elemental energies in her power... so much the better.
end Owen's Reaction