I don’t own BtVs or Anita Blake. They belong to Joss Whedon and Laurell K. HamiltonAuthor’s notes:
This story might be a little slow on the updates, but at this point in time I have every intention of finishing it.
Buffy didn’t like the hell dimensions.
didn’t like them.
They were hot, even to a girl from California, stinky, icky and, most of all, host to the ugliest demons she’d ever seen. Or close to, anyway.
reason she’d come was because the nasties had kidnapped Dawn, and Buffy had made it very, very clear that anyone who messed with Dawn answered to her and she wasn’t about to withdraw her protection now. Dawn had to be kept safe, in Buffy’s opinion, and safe meant as far away from these uglies as possible. The only real consolation was that they hadn’t kidnapped her for her Keyness but merely her connection to ‘The’ Slayer.
At her side Faith let out a loud whoop and skewered another demon. She seemed to be having the time of her life fighting the endless swarm of monsters.
"So, Willow," Buffy called over her shoulder as another couple of demons attacked her. She casually lopped one in half at the waist and blocked the second’s attack. "How long?"
Behind her Willow was trying to cast a transportation spell to take them all back to Cleveland. It wasn’t a particularly hard spell, but it was extremely risky because it was very hard to target a landing spot. No one wanted to be magiced to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean or appear three thousand feet above the ground.
And going cross-dimension was even worse. Or so Willow said, and they had to take her word for it because she was probably the only witch that could go cross-dimension without needing an alternate source of power. There was a reason, she had said, that most portals were permanent, like the one ‘Slaver Ken’ had used.
"Almost done!" Willow called back as she motioned Dawn, and Xander in closer. Buffy and Faith both drove the demons out a bit further to give her more space. "Now."
The two Slayers turned and leapt. The second they both touched down inside the circle there was a blinding flash of white light and they were gone leaving only dead demon corpses behind.
"Well shit, B," Faith said, breaking the silence after they arrived. "This ain’t Cleveland."
Indeed, it definitely wasn’t Cleveland. For one thing, Cleveland didn’t have quite so many trees and it had a lot more buildings. Which wasn’t really saying anything, considering that they’d landed in the middle of a forest.
"That’s okay," Willow said. "I can take us from here to Cleveland, easy. It’s not as hard as inter-dimensional travel."
With a wave of her hand she made to cast the spell that would take them all to the city, but instead had to dodge as the tree nearest her exploded into a cloud of sawdust. They all ducked.
"Right," Willow said shakily as they all got back to their feet. "I have no idea why that happened. Let me try again."
"No!" Buffy and Xander both yelled and then smiled sheepishly at each other.
"Just rest, Will," Xander continued. "We can call the Slayerettes to come and get us."
"Yeah, Willow, just take a rest," Dawn chimed in as she pulled out her cell phone and punched in a memorized number. "I’ll call home."
"That’s funny," she said a few minutes later. "It says that I haven’t got a valid phone service. You know, one of those recordings you get?” Dawn trailed off.
The five exchanged uneasy looks. They knew all too well how things could be changed by magic. Willow cleared her throat.
"Uh, guys, let me cast a location spell, okay?" There was a general mumble of agreement and they all sat in a rough circle and waited for Willow to finish.
"Uh oh," she said when she had. "Uh oh."
"Uh oh?" Buffy looked alarmed. "Uh oh isn’t good."
"Second that!" Xander chimed in.
"Red?" Faith asked. "C’mon Red, explain."
"Well," Willow began. "I think I landed us in the wrong dimension."
"Wrong dimension?" Dawn asked worried. "That doesn’t sound good. Not good at all."
"And that’s not the worst of it." Willow sounded like she really, really didn’t want to say it. "I don’t think I’ll be able to get us home anytime soon."
"Why?" everyone wanted to know.
"Imagine that the … multi-verse, we’ll call it, is layered like the Earth." Willow paused, choosing her words carefully though it was obvious that she didn’t like the simile. "In the middle is ‘Heaven’ or whatever you want to call the place that the Powers that Be ‘live’. That’s where all the magic and power comes from. Things like The Key." She cast an uneasy glance at Dawn.
"‘Heaven’ is like the Earth’s inner core. Around that are all the other universes, but they’re not full layers; they’re too small compared to ‘Heaven’ to encompass it fully, but they’re like the tectonic plates and the continents and stuff." She frowned. "Okay, so that’s not really a good comparison but it was the best I could do. Tara explained it really well… without all the Earthy metaphors and all." She smiled sheepishly. "Bad babbling Willow again."
"That’s all real nice and stuff," Buffy said, waving her hands around. "But on with the ‘splainy?"
"Oh, right! So the closer to the central ‘Heaven’ dimension you are the easier it is to grab power and the more common magic is because you don’t need to be as strong to reach it. In some of the closer dimension magic is something everyone can do because you have less layers to go through to get it. That’s why I don’t think I’ll be able to take us home. It’ll take a while for us to get used to the way our powers work here, because there’s less resistance than we’re used to."
"I think I get it," Xander said, stalling Buffy’s inevitable questions. "It’s like going to push a really heavy boulder only to find someone has switched it with a balloon while you were away."
Willow beamed at him. "Yes! Like that!"
"Okay, but you can transport us back, right?" Dawn asked with a frown. "Eventually."
Willow nodded. "Probably, but not soon and it’s not that simple. Okay, kinda like this. Imagine a street. One sidewalk is our dimension and the other is here. The road in the middle is all the dimensions in between. We walked across the road – through that hell dimension – to get here, but we have to jump over it to get back, ‘cause they probably don’t want to see us again. That’s the problem because I don’t know how many dimensions are in between us and home or if I need to cross at a diagonal or anything! It’s like shooting in the dark, we could go anywhere!"
"Whoa, calm down, Will," Xander said. "Take a deep breath. We’ll work this out somehow. We always have before, right?"
"Right," Faith said. "If Red can’t take us back, we have to find a place to stay here."
The others looked at her in surprise. "What?" she defended. "I was runaway girl, remember?"
"Just surprised," Xander said. "I didn’t expect you to have anything helpful to say."
"That’s what I thought of you," Faith replied, somewhat nastily. "And look how right I am."
"Hey, hey, chill," Dawn said, interrupting. "Faith had a good idea. We need somewhere to stay. So uh… do we have any money?"
Buffy nodded. "Emergency cash," she quipped pulling a wad out of her inside jacket pocket. "For situations just like this."
"Or for when there’s a sale," Willow teased, trying to lighten the mood. Buffy made a face at her.
"Great minds think alike," Xander said, pulling a stash of cash out of his own pocket. "Though, obviously not about the shopping thing, ‘cause … just no."
Faith, Willow and Dawn added their loose change to the pile. It didn’t really amount up to a lot.
"There’s about enough to get us a crummy motel room for about a week," Faith decided. "And that’s pushing it." Then she looked troubled. “If this place even uses money at all.”
Dawn shook her head. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” she said. “If it doesn’t… well, we can think of something then.”
"Do you think that’s enough time, Will?" Xander asked.
Willow shook her head. "I don’t know," she said helplessly. "It just depends."
"Then someone needs to get a job," Dawn said decisively. "This won’t hold us out for long, especially if we need to buy magic ingredients."
"If there even are magic shops in this world," Buffy put in gloomily. "This could be like the world with no shrimp except ix-nay on the magic."
"Well," Xander said hesitantly. "How about we find civilization first?"
"Sounds like a plan to me," Faith said, standing and brushing dirt off her leather pants. "Which way do we go?"
They picked a direction and walked.
As it turned out they hadn’t landed too far from civilization at all; they had touched down in one of the Ohio state parks. From then on it hadn’t taken them too long to find a shop to buy a newspaper, and though it was similar enough between this place and their own there was a rather dramatic difference.
"Vampire legalisation?" Willow whisper-shouted to the others as she saw the heading. "Insane!"
A nearby couple cast them a strange look and they retreated to an unoccupied area.
Xander nodded emphatically. "Imagine, deadboys with rights." He gave a shudder that was only half false.
"This place is crazy," Buffy declared once she’d read the article. "At least there seem to be some
normal people here."
"Uh, Buffy?" Dawn pointed out. "I don’t think that people who go around burning houses can be considered normal. And the name Humans First sounds so tacky."
It was Faith who had the strongest reaction though. "Illegal to hunt vamps?" she said in near-lethal disgust. "Are you sure you didn’t pick up a joke newspaper, Red? This is… insane of apocalyptic proportions." She slammed her hand down and almost broke the park bench they were sitting on. It was a measure of how uneasy they were that none of them commented on it.
"If this universe is this
different to our own…" Dawn began, chewing on her lower lip. "Then we really need to learn its laws, or we’re going to get in trouble."
"Sure, Dawn," Buffy scoffed. "Be practical. Can’t you just let us finish spazzing first?"
Dawn glared at her sister. "Well, excuse
me. I’m stuck here too, you know. I don’t like this anymore than you do, but I’d like to be stuck in jail even less."
"Dawn’s right," Willow sighed. "We need to know what we’re dealing with. I suggest we get some law books or history books or something. From what little we know magic is a big thing here, so it’s probably regulated as well."
"Look," Xander said, looking around nervously. "That’s all well and good, but can we find a place to stay? It’s getting dark."
Indeed it was; the shadows were lengthening and in an hour or two the vampires would be able to crawl outside. They didn’t want to be out when that happened.