Fish out of Water by Eena
Summary: Crossover with Anita Blake. Willow, Faith and Xander are transported to a different world.
Categories: Willow/Jason Characters: None
Genres: Crossover
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 1 Completed: No Word count: 19458 Read: 565 Published: 08/07/03 Updated: 08/07/03
- by Eena
Fish Out of Water

by Eena Angel
Part One:

Richard was bored. Very, very bored. Despite the fact there
was ready entertainment available, he was bored. Probably because he
was used to this sort of thing. The Circus of the Damned was good
for those of the non-supernatural stock. But Richard was Ulfric, the
large snake in the ring paled in comparison with some of the things
he had seen.


He flicked his eyes over at the reason why he was here. His
host, Jean-Claude, and his girlfriend Anita Blake. The two had
wanted to talk to him about the marks. Something about them
strengthening beyond control or like that. Big deal. That's been
happening since they did the damn ritual. And things were kind of
tense between the three of them. He couldn't handle the monster
Anita was turning into, and Anita wouldn't stop. So the three-way
was over, but the duo found a ready substitute in Micah. Richard
supposed he should be jealous, but he didn't care anymore. Anita was
no longer his lupa, a mutual decision; she was free to fuck whomever
she damn well pleased. It just wouldn't be him any longer.


His eyes turned back to the ring. The rest of the crowd was
very into the performance. Jean-Claude was trying that cobra trick
again. You'd think after they had to kill the last one the vampire
would have known better. But then again, Jean-Claude wasn't known
for his conventional attitude. If he wanted to see it, it would be
done.


His eyes began to roam again, taking in the others. His own
bodyguards, Jamil and Shang-Da were at his side. Sylvie was off with
some of the other wolves. Anita and Micah's leopards were all
present. Jason, Jean-Claude's pet wolf, was off running through the
masses. Richard knew Damien and Asher were around somewhere, but he couldn't see the other vampires.


Richard looked down at his watch. How much longer could this
show last? He just wanted out of here. Despite the mutual break-up
between him and Anita, he just wasn't in that place where he could
sit across from her and her two lovers in ease. In fact, he doubted
he would ever get there.


Jean-Claude noticed his restlessness. The vampire shot him a
grin and signalled the show was almost over. They would talk soon
enough. The big finale was on its way.


But it never got to happen. There was a big finale, don't
you doubt it, but it wasn't the one planned for. In fact, everything
that happened after his silent exchange with Jean-Claude was not
planned for. No one had seen this coming.


There was a slight shift in the air. If you were an ordinary
human, you would have not even noticed it. But Richard was not an
ordinary human. He wasn't even an ordinary werewolf. The air in
front of him was rippling with power. He shot the others a look and
saw they were becoming as agitated as he was.


"What's going on Jean-Claude?" he demanded of the vampire.


The Master of the City shrugged.


"I have no idea."


Richard would have argued further but then it happened. The
rippling stopped suddenly when something punched right through it.
Literally. Richard nearly fell to his knees at the force of it.


He raised his head to catch the swirling blue portal opening
above the centre ring. The other performers had rushed off in fear.
Only the large cobra remained and it was becoming skittish. The hole
or portal or whatever grew larger until it expanded over the heads of
every audience member. A wind picked up and thunder could be heard
in the distance. The crowd loved it, they had no idea it was real.
But Richard did.


He turned back to the ring just in time to see three figures
be spit out of the blue hole. As soon as they were out, the hole
closed in on itself and disappeared.


Richard got to his feet and made for the ring. The others
were right on his heels.


*****


Willow felt sick. Really, really sick. The I've-just-gotten-
off-a-massive-roller-coaster-after-eating-three-corndogs sick. Her
stomach was churning violently. She tried to get to her feet, but
found her head was in complete disagreement with that course of
action. What the hell happened?


She shook her head to clear away the fuzziness that existed
there. Very slowly, the redhead rose to her knees. She could hear
things, but they made no sense. She could pick out applause,
footsteps, and cheering. Maybe she was having another weird dream.
And was that hissing she heard?


Willow raised her head. And looked right at a very angry,
and very large cobra. Her heart stopped, she swear it did. Her
mouth hung open, words refusing to come out. Her limbs froze as she
stared in shock at the massive snake in front of her.


Then it slithered closer. That broke her out of her daze.
Willow let out an ear-splitting scream and scrambled to get away from
the creature. She could hear people screaming and such. Three
humans ran out in front of the cobra and starting to restrain it.
She watched with wide eyes. Were they out of their minds?


And then she heard it.


"WILLOW!"


"Xander?" she called back. The redhead swung her head
around. She caught a glimpse of her childhood friend making his way
over to her. At his side was Faith, the Slayer. Seeing her made
Willow feel infinitely better.


Both her friends ran over and helped the witch to her feet.
They stared collectively in horror at the large snake. The humans
were having little luck trying to calm the thing. Willow could make
out a group of people heading their way. They seemed torn between
facing them or restraining the snake. She shot a glance at the
snake. Hopefully, someone would choose the snake.


"Anyone else regressing to Graduation?" Xander asked, eyes
intent on the cobra. Willow gave a laugh at that. Thinking about
it, this did remind her of the Mayor a bit. But best on to dwell on
that.


"Ah Red," Faith nudged her. "I hate to sound really whining
or anything, but would you get us the hell out of here!"


Shaking herself, Willow finally steadied her nerves. She
bent her head and started whispering to herself. She felt magic
flood into her and knew her eyes had gone black. The redhead
gathered her power and cast her spell.


"Goddess Hecate, hear the words I say."


She raised her head, giving everyone in the ring a good look
at her black eyes. Energy crackled at her fingertips as she grasped
the hands of her friends.


"Transporta!" the witch screamed, sealing the spell. Light
flashed and then they were gone.


*****


Lightning flashed and they were gone. Richard looked around
the ring in disbelief. Where did they go?


He turned incredulous eyes to the others and found them as
confused as he was. He also saw the starting of fear in their eyes.
The snake had been restrained and returned to its cage, but the
strangers were gone. Richard turned back to the spot he had last
seen them. Where the Hell did they go?


The audience had no clue as to what was going on. They gave
them a standing ovation.


"We should retreat to my quarters," was the only thing Jean-
Claude had to say. Mutely, the others followed the vampire.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Two

Willow wasn't entirely sure where they were, which was why
she really couldn't pick out a good spot to send them in her spell.
All she did was ask for an isolated spot. And the spell adhered to
that.


When they materialized again, they were hovering over a
deserted alley. All three friends exchanged shocked looks before
plummeting to the ground. They landed in a painful heap, with Xander
at the bottom.


"Not that I usually complain about having two very lovely
ladies piled on top of me, but could you two get off!" came the
muffled demand from Xander.


Willow gave a little giggle before slithering off her friend.


"Well," she gasped. "That was interesting."


"Interesting my ass," Faith grumbled, rising to her feet.
The Slayer brushed the dirt of her jacket before turning to her
friend.


"Red, you're bleeding," she informed the witch in concern.
Puzzled, Willow brought her fingers up to her nose. Sure enough,
there was blood trickling down her nose.


"Would you look at that?" she giggled, speech slurring
slightly. Xander and Faith exchanged worried looks.


"You okay Wills?" Xander asked her gently.


"Of course," the redhead declared drunkenly. "I've never
been better. But I think I won't try that spell again. Takes too
much energy to transport three people. But other than that, I feel
super."


"Uh-huh," Faith nodded, giving her a disbelieving look. "I
think we better get her somewhere she can rest. Red looks paler than
usual."


"I do not!" Willow protested, whining slightly.


"I've got some cash on me," Xander offered. "Let's get our
asses to a motel or something. Hanging out in an alley all day is
not my idea of fun."


"We could have a three-way," Willow giggled, waggling her
eyebrows. "I bet you would think that was fun."


Xander went red and turned to Faith. The Slayer laughed and
shrugged before hauling both her friends to their feet.


"I think she just needs to sleep," Faith ascertained. "But
we better do this fast. I don't know where we are, but we need to
get organized fast. And since Red here is the brains of the outfit,
we better get her all better first."


Xander nodded before sweeping the redhead up in his arms.
Cautiously, they made their way out of the alley.


*****


"What the hell was that?" Richard demanded as soon as they
were in Jean-Claude's rooms.


"I have no idea, mon ami," the vampire insisted, raising his
hand for peace. "I have never seen such a thing."


"Who were they?" Anita jumped. "What were they?"


"Looked human," Micah offered. "Smelled human too. But also
smelled kind of off."


"The redhead has power," Asher announced, joining them. He
turned to Jean-Claude and offered him a piece of cloth. "We found
this in the ring. One of them is bleeding."


Jean-Claude took the cloth and looked at it closely.
Eventually he passed it along to the others. Richard grasped it in
his hands. It was a piece of a t-shirt. Smelled like it belonged to
a guy. There was a smear of blood on it. Not that much, but enough
for him to get a scent.


"Richard," Jean-Claude's call brought him out of his
thoughts. "Will you send your wolves out for them?"


Richard studied the cloth once more before answering.


"Yes," he agreed. "But only for tracking. We aren't killing
anyone until we know exactly what is going on."


That last remark had been directed more at Anita than the
others. And the small woman knew it. She stiffened slightly, eyes
flashing at the insinuation. Only Micah's hand on her arm stopped
her from starting an argument. Under the heavy gaze of the others,
she nodded, consenting to Richard's terms.


Richard sighed in relief before turning to Sylvie. He handed
her the cloth.


"Give this out," he instructed. "Tell them to track and to
report back. I don't want any of those three hurt."


Sylvie gave a nod before rushing off to do her Ulfric's
command. Richard turned back to the assembled.


"What do we do now?" Anita asked peevishly.


"We wait," Jean-Claude answered. Richard nodded his
agreement. Anita scowled and gave a frustrated sigh.


"I hate waiting."


*****


"You okay?"


Xander nodded at Faith's enquiry.


"Just a scratch," he assured her, fingering the new hole in
his shirt. "Must have gotten it on the way out of the blue thingy."


Faith nodded and handed him the alcohol and some bandages.


"Clean it," she instructed. "Don't want it getting
infected. We all need to be at our best right now."


"Gee Faith, I didn't know you cared," Xander mocked sighed at
her. "It makes my heart doing jumping things."


"I bet it makes other parts of you do jumping things too,"
Faith shot back easily, easing his crotch meaningfully. He followed
her gaze and gave her a grin.


"I knew you were only concerned about my dick," he
sniffled. "For once I'd like to be appreciated for something other
than my studly body and awesome manhood."


Faith tossed a pillow at his head, which he caught laughing.


"You're so full of it," she informed him, shaking her head
slightly. "I don't know why we put up with you."


"So I continue to put it in you?" Xander answered helpfully.
This time he couldn't avoid the food carton Faith chucked at his
head. He took it in the head, wincing as Chinese noodles splattered
all over his head.


"Hey, no throwing of food," he reprimanded her. "I don't
have that much money left. We have to ration for a while."


Faith winced.


"Sorry," she apologized. "I forgot. But things should get
better when Red wakes up. She's the brain, so she's bound to have a
plan or something."


"Or something is more like it," came the mumbled response
from the motel bed.


"Willow!" Xander shouted in joy, jumping onto the bed where
his friend lay. "I am so glad you're awake! We were kind of worried
for a second there."


"Good to have you back Red," Faith enthused from the
sidelines. "Because we are in so over our heads with this one."


"Yeah, what was with the giant snake?" Xander agreed,
frowning at the memory. "That place looked like a theatre or circus
or something. What was going there?"


Willow shook her head as she rose to a sitting position.


"Does anyone remember how we got here?" she asked her
friends. Both shook their heads.


"All I remember is that we were out on patrol," Faith
shrugged. "Got into it with a few vamps and ended up here suddenly."


"After the blue thingy sucked us in," Xander added helpfully.


Willow nodded to herself.


"That's all I remember too," the witch sighed. "But
something else must have happened. A spell or something. Do we even
know where we are?"


"St. Louis," Faith supplied. "Says so on all the signs and
such."


"St. Louis?" Willow repeated, shaking her head. "Who the
hell would send us to St. Louis? And why?"


Xander shrugged.


"Don't have a clue," he answered. "But that's why you're
called the brains of the outfit. You're going to figure it out while
Faith-ula and myself stumble about blindly."


"That's helpful," Willow muttered.


"It's the way the system works," Xander grinned. "I've found
it very effective. So, shall we go figure out who sent us here?"


"First give me the phone," Willow instructed. "I'm going to
phone Giles and tell him where we are."


Faith nodded and clapped her on the back.


"See?" the Slayer declared. "We didn't even think of that.
Way to make with the thinking Red."


Willow shook her head and began to dial.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Three

"Do you know what's going on?"


Jason shook his head at Stephen's question.


"Dude, I don't think Richard knows what's going on," the
blonde answered, shrugging his shoulders slightly. "All we've been
told it to follow the scent. No physical harm though."


Stephen scrunched up his nose.


"Like we're a bunch of hunting dogs," he muttered. Jason
laughed at that.


"Well, we are dogs," he chuckled, throwing a flirtatious wink
at a passing blonde. "But not doing too good at the hunting right
now."


"St. Louis is a massive city," Stephen whined. "How do we
know this they're even still here? They could have hightailed it out
of town already. That's what I would have done."


Jason shrugged.


"Either way, have to leave a trail," Jason surmised. "Anita
says she's never met a witch that could transport three human bodies
very far. They have to have touched down somewhere around town."


"Anita's not always right," Stephen reminded him.


"No she's not," Jason agreed, running a hand through his
hair. "But the Ulfric wants them found. And what our Ulfric wants,
he gets."


*****


Willow was becoming very worried. When she placed the call
to Giles, a voice recording informed her that she was dialling a non-
existent number. Frustrated, she had placed a call to the operator
and asked to be patched through to Buffy's number. That's when she
was informed that there was no such place as Sunnydale California.


So they were walking around downtown. Xander was fighting
with a bank machine that told him his card didn't exist. He was
giving it back some lip. His card was right in his hands. He was
looking at it while it was existing! And so forth. Faith paced
behind him, biting her lip furiously. The Slayer was on edge, as
were they all. Willow had a sneaking suspicion they were farther
from home than she originally thought.


"Stupid automated machine!" Xander yelled at the ATM.


"Give it up Xander," she called out tiredly. "It isn't
working."


"Um, guys?" Faith called to them. "I think you should take a
look at this."


Curious, the redhead walked over to her friend. Faith had a
newspaper in hand and she looked like she had seen a ghost. Willow
looked over her shoulder, trying to see what made Faith so upset.
Then she saw it. A giant headline.


NEW ANGLE IN THE VAMPIRE RIGHTS BILL


"Did anyone just see that?" Xander asked from Faith's other
side. "Because I'm thinking that I hit my head on the way out of the
blue thingy."


Willow grabbed the paper speechlessly. Her eyes scanned over
the article. She read the words, but they made no sense. Vampire
rights? No one even knew vampires existed! Right?


She read the other headlines quickly. Something about an
advance in Preternatural Biology. A dragon sighting in the Middle
East. Something about an explosive show at the Circus of the Damned
last night, where three people fell out of a blue portal . . .


"Oh shit!" she exclaimed. Willow thrust the paper at her
friends. "That's us!"


Xander grabbed the paper, reading the article silently. His
face got progressively paler as he continued. Finally, he dropped
the paper and took his head into his hands.


"Where the fuck are we?"


*****


Jason looked over the small motel room with an observant
eye. They had cleaned up pretty well after themselves. All garbage
in the trash can, beds made. Usually people didn't bother and left
that for room service. Interesting trio they were tracking.


He glanced over at Stephen, who was going through the trash.
They were trying to get the scent of the other two. Hopefully they'd
be easier to find if they knew what they all smelled like.


Jason made his way over to the bed. He caught a glimpse of a
red strand of hair on the pillow. He picked it up gingerly and
brought it to his nose. Inhaling, he picked up the scent of one of
the females. It had to be a female. The scent was pretty clear on
that. It smelled like strawberries. And for some reason, Jason got
a massive hard on at the scent.


He grinned to himself. Suddenly tracking the strangers just
got a whole lot more appealing. He turned back to Stephen.


"Got anything?"


Stephen nodded, pulling out a napkin.


"The brunette," he ascertained, sniffing at it. "Smells
nice."


"Now we got `em," Jason grinned. He nodded at Stephen.


"Come on. Let's get these to Sylvie."


*****


Willow sat nervously in front of the computer. Her eyes
darted to the front counter of the store. Faith had the clerk more
than distracted. Xander himself was outside, playing lookout. The
man had spent the last of his money on buying Faith a lollipop, which
the Slayer was using to her full advantage. The poor clerk had a
raging hard on. Willow could see it from here.


She turned back to the computer screen. She felt a little
bad about what she was about to do, but she didn't have a choice.
They were in a really bad situation and they needed money. She
shifted through the bank's computer system. She created an account
for Xander's card and siphoned money into it. A lot of money, some
from everywhere. That should take care of them for a while.


Finished, she rose to her feet and snapped up the laptop and
wireless modem she had been using. Willow stopped at the front
counter next to Faith. She dropped her items on the counter and shot
the clerk a brilliant smile.


"We'll take these."


"Cash or credit?" the clerk asked, scanning the items.


"Credit," Willow replied, handing over the newly financed
card. The two girls waited patiently as he rang up their purchases.
Faith gave him a parting kiss before they sauntered out the door.


"Horny much?" the redhead tossed to her, making her way over
to Xander.


"Hey, he was really nice," Faith shrugged. "He deserved a
treat."


"And I am not going to ask what that meant," Xander
interjected. He turned to Willow.


"Got everything?"


Willow nodded and hefted the store bad.


"Let's get to a hotel," she instructed. "We have a lot of
research to do."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Four

"What do you make of this?" Anita asked Micah. The leopard
shrugged, eyes not moving from the television.


"I've never felt that kind of power before," he
answered. "It was like someone punched a hole right through the
fabric of reality. It hurt."


Anita nodded, agreeing with his words.


"What I don't get is, why there?" she mused. "If they were
strong enough to get themselves here, why wouldn't they go someplace
isolated? Why announce to everyone that they've arrived?"


"Maybe they didn't send themselves here," Micah suggested.


Anita frowned.


"But that begs another question," she sighed. "If someone
was able to send a powerful witch somewhere against her will, why?
And who the hell could do that?"


"Um Anita?" Micah interrupted, sitting up straighter on the
couch. "You should take a look at this."


Anita joined her lover in front of the television. She
watched the sudden news flash.


" . . . A vampire has killed six people in this bus station
this morning," the news reporter announced.


"Morning?" Anita repeated. "Vampires aren't awake in the
morning?"


Then, her phone started to ring. Micah tossed her a grin.


"Five bucks says that's Dolph," he wagered.


Anita grinned and picked up the phone. Micah was five
dollars richer.


*****


Jason waited patiently as Stephen questioned the clerk.


"They just bought a laptop," the clerk shrugged. "Nothing
else. They're really hot, but nothing out of the ordinary."


Jason grinned at that. Really hot, he bet they were. Their
scents reeked of sex. Really good sex. He needed to get into one of
their pants. Preferably the redhead, but he wouldn't mind either of
the others.


Stephen thanked the clerk and both of them walked out of the
store.


"He jerked off after they left," Stephen mused to Jason. The
blonde man laughed.


"You noticed that too, huh?" he shook his head, grinning. "I
can't wait to find these guys. They're too much fun."


Stephen rolled his eyes.


"I'm sure that's why you want to find them," he
scoffed. "But we better report this back to the others."


Jason nodded and led the way to the phone booth.


*****


Richard sat quietly in his classroom, waiting for the final
bell to ring. His students were getting antsy. He could see some of
the more rowdy ones actually squirming in their seats. He smiled to
himself. Teenagers were so amusing.


The bell rung and the kids raced for the door. He watched
them go in mirth. He was very worried about the new arrivals from
last night, but teaching always calmed him down. He really loved his
job.


His cell phone started ringing. He sighed. Class hadn't
ended for more than five minutes and there was already an emergency.


"Hello?"


"Richard?"


"Anita?"


"You near a television?"


"No."


"Get to one. And turn it to channel 6. You are not going to
believe this."


And then she hung up. He stared at the phone in his hand for
a moment. Sighing, he got up and made his way to the teachers'
lounge.


That woman was so strange sometimes.


*****


Willow sat in front of her laptop and she couldn't believe
her eyes. Vampire executioners, vampire civil rights, zombie raising
enterprises, what next?


"Ah, Wills," Xander called. "Can you look this way for a
second?"


Willow looked up and saw her friends motioning her to the
television. There was some sort of news flash going on. A vampire
attack at a train station.


"We have here one of the survivors," the reporter continued,
motioning a scared woman forward. "Ma'am can you tell us what you
saw?"


"It was a vampire!" the woman wailed. "But not. I don't
know. It drank blood, but its face was weird. It changed into an
animal face. I've never seen anything do that before!"


"Did it say anything?" the reporter pressed.


"It didn't make any sense," the woman shook her head. "She
kept rambling on about strange things. Something about stars and
dolls. And she said everything was singing blood at her."


The three of them stilled. Their heads whipped around and
they turned to stare shocked at one another. They all came to the
same conclusion at the same time.


"Drusilla!"


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Five

Willow stood on her tiptoes, trying to get a look around all
the other bystanders. She could see the police pushing back the
crowd, shouting at people to get back. She tossed Faith an
exasperated look. The Slayer gave her the barest of nods before
taking off. Faith would get inside, Willow knew it. Not much could
stop a Slayer.


"Are we sure about this?" Xander whispered in her ear. "I
mean, landing in jail would be so bad right about now."


"Don't worry," she whispered back. "Faith will be fine. I'd
like to see any of them stop her."


"Well, let's hope they don't," Xander muttered. "Already
seen too many strange things in this place. Hate to find out they
got someone who could stop a Slayer on the police force."


Willow patted his arm reassuringly before turning back to the
front of the train station. Faith was already inside. Now they just
had to wait.


*****


Richard was very confused. This wasn't right, it wasn't
right in the least. Vampires do not attack at daytime. They were
unconscious as long as the sun was up. It was a known fact. He
himself had seen it numerous times. As soon as the sun rose,
vampires were all but comatose.


So why did everyone claim a vampire had killed those people
in the train station. They all knew it was impossible, for an
ordinary vampire. But the reports didn't say anything about an
ordinary vampire. There were claims of an animal-like vampire with a
face with of ridges and fangs. Richard had never heard of such a
thing.


Neither had Anita. She was inside the station right now
while he and Micah waited outside. Jamil and Shang-Da were present,
as usual, and they were agitated as well. Something new and
dangerous had entered their territory, something with a thirst for
blood. They better find out what it was and fast.


"Richard!"


The alpha wolf turned at the sound of his name. He watched
curiously as Jason and Stephen approached.


"Aren't you supposed to be tracking?" he asked of them.


"We are," Jason responded. "They're here, somewhere in the
crowd."


Richard was startled at that piece of information. He
exchanged a look with Micah.


"What do you want to bet they know something about this?" the
leopard mused. Richard didn't respond. He had a feeling they all
knew the answer to that one. He turned back to his wolves.


"Find them."


*****


Anita cast a curious glance around her. The station was
deserted except for the numerous cops milling about. But the freaky
thing was, even the cops were silent. No one was talking. Everyone
was scared or shocked.


She flicked her eyes over to the body bags. They had good
reason to be shocked. Whatever did this completely drained the
bodies of blood and then tore their throats out. It wasn't a pretty
sight.


Anita sighed and sat back on her heels. She looked once more
at the fractured doll lying at her feet. The survivors claimed the
monster seemed to be having a discussion with it. But apparently,
she and the dolly had a falling out. The creature had smashed it to
pieces. Witnesses claimed she stated that it was misbehaving.
Great, a nut job monster. She was looking forward to this case.


Rising to her feet, Anita brushed her hands off on the legs
of her jeans. She saw Dolph off brooding the corner. The large man
had a lot of problems with her lifestyle, but chose to ignore them
for the most part. She was one of the best in the game and he knew
it. His task force depended on her input a lot of the time.


Sighing, Anita made her way over to him, preparing to
disappoint him. She would like to help, she would, but even she had
no clue as to what happened here. She doubted anyone did.


The case was out of this world.


*****


Faith watched as the small brunette made her way over to some
large man. From the way he held himself and the way others regarded
him, the Slayer assumed he was in charge. And the poor guy looked
lost.


Making sure that no one was watching, Faith slinked over to
the pieces of broken doll. If they hadn't been sure before, now
there was confirmation. It had to have been Druscilla and the one
from their world. Her and the others had come to the solution that
this was not a parallel universe. If it were, Sunnydale and all its
inhabitants would have to exist. But they didn't, so this place was
something else entirely.


Of course, now that they knew Druscilla was here, they had a
good idea as to how they themselves were sent here. If Faith ever
got her hands on that crazy vampire bitch . . . Well, it wouldn't be
pretty.


Faith shot another look at the small woman. She had been in
that circus place last night. The Slayer wondered who she was, what
she was. Faith sensed something other than human in that one. But
that could be saved for another time. Right now, her concern was
Druscilla. Unfortunately, there were no more clues to where she was
in this place.


Faith grabbed a piece of doll and made her way out of the
building.


*****


Willow was getting anxious. Faith had been in there for a
little while now. Normally, she wouldn't even care. The Slayer was
more than able to take care of herself. But Xander was right. This
place was extremely different. There was no telling what Faith was
walking into. The redhead couldn't help but worry.


She cast a glance at Xander next to her. He was worried
too. This whole world that they landed in was too foreign, too
strange. If was difficult being out of your element. He would feel
much better when Faith returned. Then all three of them could
hightail it out of this place. He wasn't looking forward to a
confrontation with Druscilla. Not when the whack job still referred
to him as her kitten. He gave a slight shiver at the thought. Nope,
meeting up with Druscilla was not high on his list of fun things to
do.


Willow started to tap her foot in impatience. Where was
Faith? It shouldn't be taking her this long. Or was that just her?


"It shouldn't be taking this long," Xander spoke suddenly.
Well, at least it wasn't just her.


"Maybe we should go in after her," Willow mused, rising to
her tiptoes again. She looked over and around the masses in front of
her. Just when she was about to give Xander the word to go, she
caught a glimpse of Faith. The Slayer was weaving her way through
the crowd and to her friends. Willow let out a sigh of relief.


"Thank the Goddess," she muttered to herself. Faith came to
a stop in front of them, giving both a bright smile. However, the
smile soon faded as the Slayer's gazed fixed over their shoulders.


"We have company," she announced to her friends. Confused,
Willow and Xander turned around to follow her gaze. To find
themselves quite surrounded. Willow's eyes flicked over the circle
of people around them. She could feel power coming off of them.
Meaning they were strong, meaning they could take out her and her
friends pretty easily.


"Oh shit."


*****


Jason had seen her through the masses of people. She was a
tiny thing, but her red hair was like a beacon. She was fidgeting on
the spot, occasionally jumping to get a look over the heads of
others. Her taller male friend stood next to her, gazing at the
station with no difficulty. Jason laughed when he saw her shoot her
friend an irritated look. She seemed put off at the height advantage.


He cast a look out over the crowd. The rest of the wolves
were advancing on them as well. They were making their way
discreetly through the bystanders, hoping to encircle the strangers.
They were lucky. Neither of the two noticed their presence. They
seemed intent on the station. Jason wondered what they knew about
the supposed new monster among them. A vampire that could remain
awake at daytime. He never heard of such a thing.


Finally, they were all in position. The last member of the
trio joined up with her friends. This one noticed them right away
and alerted her friends.


Jason watched the redhead turn with anticipation. He wasn't
disappointed when he got a good look at her. Pale skin, wide green
eyes, and a lithe little body. She looked good enough to eat. Jason
wondered if Richard or Jean-Claude would allow him to play with this
one.


The redhead stared at them with fear in her eyes.


"Oh shit."


He nearly burst into laughter. She was too cute.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Six

Willow was having one of those days. Well, more like one of those
weeks. It had started off just fine. The usual patrolling and such,
but it all went to hell sometime last night. When they had been
sucked into a blue thingy and left in some whacked world where the
supernatural was embraced and given civil rights. And on top of
that, the looniest vampire bitch of them all was running around
somewhere. And finally, they were being surrounded by a bunch
of . . . somethings. Willow couldn't tell, but she knew there was
power in them.


"We aren't going to hurt you," a tall, dark-haired one started.
Willow was thinking he was the leader. All the other folks were
giving him lots of room. And they seemed to be paying attention to
everything he said. However, the Scoobies were not impressed.Faith
sneered at him.


"I'd like to see any of you try," the Slayer tossed back, feet going
into a defensive stance. Willow yelped and elbowed her.


"Do not invite trouble!" she hissed at her friend. "And we're in a
public space, not to mention totally surrounded. You don't do
anything. I would like to be alive when I find a way home."
That seemed to sober the brunette and she lowered her fists. The
dark-haired one nodded and turned to Willow.


"We don't want to hurt you," he started again. "But we will use
force. You need to come with us. We have some questions for you."


"Is this the part where you tell us you have vays of making us talk?"
Xander intoned innocently. The man was trying to joke, but anyone
could see the danger reflecting in his eyes. He had put himself in
front of Willow and though there was a smile on his face, they all
knew he was pissed.


"Don't make this more difficult than it has to be," the same man
sighed. "You need to answer some questions. Like this thing that
killed those people in there. I have the strangest feeling you know
something about this new breed of vampire."


"New breed?" Faith repeated. "Try old school. I don't know exactly
how your vamps are here, but Dru's pretty average. Completely out of
her mind, but average."


"At least it's not Angelus," Willow added helpfully. "He's a mean fish-
killing vampire."


"Are you coming or not?" demanded a slightly shorter dark-haired man.


"We are not going anywhere with a bunch of weirdos we just met,"
Xander tossed back. "Sorry, but we're new here and are having some
trust issues."


"My name is Richard," the taller one replied immediately. "I am
Ulfric."


Faith frowned.


"Are you Richard or Ulfric?"


"I think Richard is his name and Ulfric is his title," Willow jumped
in. "What kind of title it is, I have no idea. But it sounds like a
title. And he says it the way you say you're the-you know."


"What?" Richard demanded.


"The bomb," Faith answered vaguely. "Okay, so we know who you are.
Now tell us what you are."


Their captors exchanged incredulous looks before turning back to them.
"He's Ulfric," a short blonde man repeated. Willow rolled her eyes.


"We got that part," she shot back. "But what the hell does it mean?"


"It means I'm the alpha wolf," Richard replied evenly. It took a few
seconds for that to stink in.


"Damn," Xander whispered, paling. "They're all werewolves."


*****


Zane was feeling a little bored. After last night's hubbub, you'd
think there would be more to do around here. But no, the Circus was
empty. The wolves were out hunting the strangers and the cats were
left to guard the sleeping Masters.


But there wasn't anything to protect the sleeping Masters from. No
one came here during daytime. It made no sense, unless that person
wanted to kill Jean-Claude. But that was never going to happen. You
would have to make it through legions of lycanthropes before you
could even hope to enter the private rooms. And no one was that
powerful. Well, no one that was awake right now.


Zane sighed and flicked a glance across the ring at Nathaniel. The
aubrun haired man noticed his attention and gave a slight shrug of
his shoulders. He didn't see anything either. Zane almost wished
someone would try something. He was too wound up to just sit here.
And you know the funny thing about wishes? They almost always come
true when you don't want them to. And that's what happened to Zane.
The doors of the Circus burst open and a slightly smoking figure came
tumbling in. Once inside, the person slammed the door shut and threw
off the blanket that had covered them.


Zane's breath caught in his throat. Standing there was one of the
most beautiful women he had ever seen. She was a classical beauty,
with long black hair and pale skin. Her dark eyes seemed to
twinkle. And Zane would have made a pass at her or something, except
for one thing.


She wasn't human. That lovely creature was a vampire. But now he
wanted to know, how the hell was she awake? The sun wouldn't set for
another two hours.


"Hello Kitten," she purred at him. "Mummy's going to go pay a visit
to the sleepy heads. You don't mind do you?"


He let loose a growl to answer her question. Zane lunged at her,
preparing to go into leopard mode. She flung him across the room
with one hit. Growling behind him told him that Nathaniel had
already changed. Zane shook his head and transformed, his body
automatically healing from the blow. He sent warning growls off down
the corridor. More growls answered him.


The vampiress looked on in interest as more leopards emerged from
hiding. Zane nearly smirked. They had her surrounded. Any normal
creature would have run. But this didn't seem to be a normal
creature.


"Oh my!" she declared, clapping her hands together. "The Sleeping
Beauties have oh so many kitty cats. Princess wants just as many."
Then her face changed. Gone was the startling beauty from before.
In its place was a hideous thing with ridges and fangs. Glowing
yellow eyes took them all in and the creature smiled.


"Who wants to play with Mummy?"


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Seven

"If one more person sniffs me, I'll give these wolfies
something to howl about."


Willow bit back laughter at the absurdity of the remark. She
shot a glance over at one of their captors, Jason as he introduced
himself. She knew how Faith felt. That one kept sniffing in her
direction, once directly, but other times just around her. It made
Xander very non-happy. Willow just thought it was hilarious. But
Faith was starting to get annoyed with it.


The wolves were trying to understand what they were. They
were human enough, to a certain point. They were trying to
understand how Faith could smell like a human, but also not like a
human at the same time. The Slayer had put up with it to a point.
Now, she was getting ready to give them a public display of what she
was. If only Willow would let her hit one of them.


"No," the redhead whispered, as if reading her mind. "No
violence. We do this their way."


"But I like my way better," Faith whined.


"Me too," Xander added from his spot next to the
brunette. "Let Faith knock some heads. Then we might get some
answers out of these people."


"No violence," Willow whispered again. "How many times do I
have to say that? No fighting, no hitting, no maiming, no nothing!"


Faith and Xander gave her identical pouts. Willow merely
glared at them.


"No violence," she stated again. "Unless they try
something. Then all the violence you want."


Her friends brightened considerably.


"But no provoking them into trying something," she added as
an afterthought.


They deflated once again.


*****


Jason had to keep himself from laughing out loud. He had
been listening in the strangers' conversation, so had the others, and
the redhead continued to amuse him. She seemed more like a mother
than a friend to the other two.


He exchanged a look with Sylvie, who didn't seem to notice.
She was rather busy staring at the young man they were escorting.
Now that was interesting. Sylvie didn't usually like to play with
men. But then again, you didn't meet too many humans like these.
They radiated danger; you could feel it bubbling underneath the
surface of their skin. But there was also a sense of decency there,
one not found in most creatures anywhere. Maybe that's what she
liked about him. Danger and humanity, all in one.


As for Jason, he was really into that redhead. He wasn't
sure what that was about. Maybe it was the stench of power that
rolled off her. Maybe it was that her scent of strawberries gave him
a hard on. Maybe it was just that she radiated such strength, but
looked so darn cute and innocent. Jason didn't know. All he knew
was that he really wanted to try something. But Richard had
forbidden him from doing so. So had Jean-Claude for that matter.
Apparently they wanted him on his best behaviour.


He tuned back into the strangers' conversation. They still
didn't know their names. The three had refused to give it to them.
They were being stubborn. Richard had given up and just ordered them
to be taken to the Circus of the Damned. Maybe he was just going to
let Jean-Claude or Asher at them. Those two were intimidating, if
nothing else. But Jason had a feeling that his Red wouldn't back
down from anyone. Especially not a vampire. The three of them
didn't seem to hold the undead in that high of regard. In fact, they
seemed to look find them amusing or something.


Jason's eyes returned forward as the three stopped talking.
They were now outside the Circus doors. And they had been wrenched
right off.


An alarmed murmur went off among the wolves as they inspected
the broken entrance. Richard moved forward but was held back by
Shang-Da. Jamil led the way in, cautiously sniffing at the
building. The wolves all gathered around their alpha and captives
and pushed their way forward.


"It's okay!" came the shout from Jamil. Relaxing
considerably, Richard pushed through to the front of the line and led
his pack in.


The sight that greeted them as shocking none the least. The
Circus had been trashed. Props and seats were ripped apart and throw
all over the stage. Jason could smell the blood that covered various
parts of the ring. His heart leapt in concern for his master.


Zane ambled over to Richard. The leopard was hurting but
healing fast. Micah stepped forward and checked him for injuries.


"I'm fine," Zane assured him. "We all are. Got our asses
handed to us, but we're all fine."


"What happened here?" Richard demanded. "Where is Jean-
Claude?"


Zane's eyes flicked to the strangers. He seemed to be
appraising them or something. Richard stepped into his line of
vision and repeated his question.


"What happened here?"


Zane blinked, as if remembering that Richard as even there.


"Some freaked out vampire," the leopard finally answered. "I
don't know how, but she was awake at daytime. And she nearly got
into the back rooms. I guessed she underestimated the number of us.
She attacked. The ones up front got hurt, but the others chased her
off. Good thing Anita insisted on extra security today. The chick
was after Jean-Claude."


"Did she talk funny?"


Everyone turned at the sound of the redhead's voice. She
blushed a bit when she saw all eyes were on her, but pressed on.


"Did she talk funny?" she repeated, stepping closer to
Zane. "Make references to a Daddy or call herself Princess?"


"Yeah, she did," Zane affirmed. "And called herself Mummy
too. Had this trippy British accent. Kept calling us her kittens."


The male stranger stiffened noticeably at that. The three of
them exchanged worried looks. Richard turned on them, stepping right
in front of the redhead.


"All right, I've had enough," the Ulfric declared. "Who are
you and who the hell is this vampire?"


"Well, I'm just Willow, and I'd appreciate it if you backed
up a step or two," the redhead tossed back angrily. She continued to
glare at Richard until the larger man consented and stepped back.
She gave an audible sigh of relief and then rubbed her eyes tiredly.


"Like I said, I'm Willow," she nodded at her
friends. "That's Faith and Xander. We're not from around here
exactly. And we don't know how we got here either. But I'm betting
it has a lot to do with Drusilla, the crazy vampire bitch y'all so
worked up about."


Richard huffed a bit.


"That's not good enough," he told her.


"Well maybe if you share some, we'll tell you more," Faith
suggested, stepping up to the front. "Or you could try something.
Please try something. I haven't hit anything in a whole day. I'm
getting antsy."


Richard just stared at the slight little brunette in front of
him. Jason was having a hard time not laughing. She actually looked
serious.


"How about we skip the violence for the evening, eh?" a voice
drifted down from the corridor. Jason gave a slight shiver at the
sound of his master's voice.


"I've already had quite the exciting day," Jean-Claude
continued, stepping out into the arena. "And I was asleep for most
of it. Now, can't we resolve this like civilized people?"


The brunette, Faith, snapped her head in his direction. She
tilted her head and took a sniff of the air, much like a shifter
would do. Her eye's widened and nostril's flared as she took a
defensive stance. Her lip curled back into a sneer and she
practically spat at Jean-Claude.


"Vampire."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Eight

"Down girl," Willow whisper to Faith, taking hold of the
Slayer's arm. The Slayer was practically snarling with contained
rage. All her senses were going out of whack. This was a vampire,
but not a vampire. Nothing she was ever used to. He was much more
powerful and her gut was telling her to attack. To eliminate this
foreign threat before it got too close.


Willow knew this. She was pretty good at reading her
friend. The Slayer was running on her most primal instincts right
now, and Willow couldn't really blame her. This creature, this
vampire, in front of them was unlike anything she had ever seen
before in her life. The power radiating off him was much more
intense than most vampires. Well, most vampires in her world.


"Master," Xander choked out. Willow barely nodded. This guy
was like the Master. His powers were far more advanced than the
Master's, but the similarities were there. And that didn't make
Faith any happier.


Willow dug her fingernails into the Slayer's arm.


"Don't do anything," she hissed at her. "Back down."


The vampire had been watching them with a curious gleam in
his eyes. Willow looked right into his eyes and realized he was
trying to charm the Slayer. She gave a little laugh at that. No
wonder Faith was practically salivating. Her Slayer senses knew she
was in danger of falling under this guy's spell.


"Stop doing that," she advised him. "The more you do it, the
more she wants to kill her. It's like a built in security system
with her kind."


The vampire looked a bit startled. He quickly covered that
with a smile and Willow felt his eyes lose the magic. Slowly, Faith
calmed and gathered her pose once again. Her eyes still glared
daggers at the vampire, but she no longer wanted to kill him. Yet.


The vampire watched them in amusement.


"Well, now you must explain what her kind is," he stated
simply, speaking directly to Willow. The redhead rolled her eyes.


"Don't try to mojo on me either," the witch shot at him. "Or
I'll be compelled to turn you into a rat."


The masses started murmuring at that threat. The wolf Jason
started chuckling silently. She tossed him a look.


"Think I can't?" she asked him. His eyes sparkled when she
addressed him directly.


"I don't want to presume anything," he answered.


"Then shut up," she tossed back. Willow turned back to the
vampire.


"Who the hell are you?"


"I am Jean-Claude," he introduced himself. "Master of the
city. But then again, you already knew that, didn't you?"


"Actually, we didn't," Xander responded, confused.


"But you said Master when you say him," Richard countered.


"Oh, that, no, not what you think," Xander waved off. "Just
stating a resemblance he has to vampire we used to know back home.
He called himself the Master."


"Does Master of the City mean something big and important?"
Faith needled innocently. Willow hushed her immediately.


"What did I say about provoking?" she whispered to the
brunette. Faith gave her a slight pout, but refused to relax her
defensive stance. Willow allowed it. The vampire was putting Faith
on edge, and with good reason. Best to on your guard when surrounded
by strange and powerful beings.


"Master of the city means he controls all the vampires in St.
Louis," Richard offered, trying to diffuse the situation. "Any
vampire entering the city must have his permission and live by his
rules."


"Wow," Faith muttered sarcastically. "I'm all kinds of
impressed."


Willow shushed her once more.


"I am told you know things about our new arrival," Jean-
Claude started, ignoring Faith's comments. "You must understand that
I need answers. I do not appreciate attempts on my life."


"You're dead," Xander countered. "What does it really
matter?"


"All right, that's it," Willow turned her glare on her
friends. "Can I get a moment alone with these guys? We seemed to be
on two totally different pages."


"But this creature," Jean-Claude interrupted, anger coming to
his voice for the first time. "What is she? Where is she?"


"If we knew where she was, we'd go get her," Willow
sighed. "Stupid bitch is probably reason why we're here. And she
probably won't come back when you're awake. I mean, you've got lots
more power than she does. And Dru is essentially a child. She's
probably just licking her wounds and crying for her Daddy. Won't be
a threat for a little while."


"But who is she?" Jean-Claude demanded. "Why did she come
here? For me and mine?"


"Because she's off her rocker?" Willow threw her hands up in
the air. "Your guess is as good as mine. Dru hasn't been all there
since she was made. In fact, Angelus waited until she wasn't all
there to turn her. The whole order of Aurelius got their kicks that
way."


Jean-Claude seemed to falter at her words.


"Did you say Aurelius?"


Willow nodded.


"The order of Aurelius," she confirmed. "That's what the
Master called his family. I for one don't get it. Maybe it was his
real name or his last name or something."


"It was the name of his sire," another voice answered.
Willow picked out another vampire slinking out of the shadows. He
was really handsome. Golden hair, pale blue eyes, face of a Greek
god. But his hair was placed to cover half of his face. He remained
a bit in the shadows, as if keeping one side of himself hidden.


Faith got tenser. Too many vampires for the Slayer's liking.


"How do you know that?" she demanded of him.


"Very simple," he answered. "Aurelius is a very powerful
member of the Council."


There was a brief silence before Xander interrupted it with a
frustrated sigh.


"They have a Council. What's next? Vampire rights
lobbyists?"



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Nine

"They have Vampire Rights lobbyists?"


Willow shook her head at Xander's exclamation. The man had
yet to let go of that fact after Sylvie informed him that they do
exist. Xander had been irate on the principle of the matter.
Vampires don't want to vote, they want to kill and maim and such.
That had led to a very interesting debate between Xander and the
Master of the City himself.


The redhead cast a glance around the room they had been
given. Well, locked in was more like it. She had demanded a moment
alone with her friends and they had been dumped in here. There were
guards on the door. Jason and Stephen, the two wolves who had
apparently been hunting them for the last day or two. Jason, the
blonde one, was a little weird, and more than a little attractive.
And he seemed to like her. When she had brushed past him to enter
the room, he had taken another sniff of her hair. His hand lightly
brushed over the crotch of her jeans and Willow hadn't been able to
stop herself from blushing. She had gotten warm all over, warm and
scared. She had no idea what the lycanthropes were like in this
world, best not to get involved with them.


Luckily, the naughty touching had gone unnoticed by her
friends. Xander was still freaked out over the whole Druscilla and
vampire rights issue while Faith was on edge. Too many vampires for
the Slayer's tastes. Willow sympathized, she did, but she wished
Faith would stop trying to start something. Something told her the
vampires in this world would take the concept of the Slayer harder
than the ones in their own world.


So, Willow wanted to keep them and all their abilities a
secret for a while. It was bad enough they knew she was a witch, but
it wouldn't do to let them know how powerful of a one she was. After
all, the whole thing about her going up against a hell god, and
winning, might make them nervous. And Willow felt like these people
were not ones to handle nervousness lightly.


They were waiting on this Anita woman. The rest of them
spoke of her like she was some sort of messiah or something. Faith
informed her that it was the little brunette from the night of their
arrival. Willow shouldn't have been that impressed, but then again,
she knew that big surprises often came in little packages.


"And to top it all off," Xander continued to rant. "They're
sniffing us. I understand the need to know what we are, but that is
just disturbing. It's more animal than human, and you'd think they
would want to act more human."


Getting no response, the young man continued. "I mean, I can sympathize," he mused. "When I was a hyena, it was hard to control instincts like that. I wanted to sniff everything out just to make sure it wasn't a threat. Of course, it only served to make me insanely hungry, so you guys can understand why this does not sit well with me."


Willow frowned at him. "Didn't you say you couldn't remember any of that?" she asked him.

Xander paled and started to laugh nervously. "Right, I said I didn't remember," he sputtered, eyes looking for an adequate diversion.


"Way to dig yourself in a hole," Faith enthused from her spot
in the corner. Xander angered at that and decided on the best change
of topic.


"Faith had sex with Spike," he spat out, pointing at the
Slayer accusingly. Willow's eyes bugged while Faith went into a rage.


"You little rat!" she declared, balling up her fists as she
charged at the cowering Xander. "I ought to-"


"Okay, knock it off," Willow intercepted, jumping up to ward
off the irate Slayer. "We all need to be in one piece for whatever
the hell is going down. And Xander, just go back to pretending you
didn't remember the hyena thing."


"Gotcha boss," he nodded.


"And as for Faith and her sleeping with Spike," Willow
stated, turning back to the embarrassed Slayer with a mischievous
glint in her eyes. "On a scale of one to ten, where would you put
Spike's spike?"


*****


"Hyena?" Stephen repeated, frowning at Jason. "He didn't
smell like a shifter. How the hell could we have missed that?"


"He said when he was a hyena," Jason corrected. "Maybe it
was a passing thing."


"What, like animal possession?" Stephen laughed.


Jason shrugged, smile on his own features. "You never know."


*****


"Who the hell is Aurelius?"


Jean-Claude sighed at Anita's impatient demand. The brunette
had come to the Circus less than pleased with the new monster that
had touched down in St. Louis. She had spent the last few hours at
the morgue. What she had seen there shook her to the core. She
hated looked at that and not knowing what did it. And not knowing
how to stop it.


Only to be told that they were people who knew, and they
weren't telling. Anita could understand that they were afraid. They
kept referring to home, as in a place very far from here. But it
shouldn't matter when there were lives at stake. Especially not when
one of those lives was her boyfriend's.


"Aurelius is one of the oldest of our people," Asher answered
for him. "The other elders place him at about ten thousand years."


"Ten thousand?" Richard repeated. "This gets better and
better."


"One of Aurelius's most impressive powers is the ability to
retain consciousness during the daytime," Jean-Claude continued. "It
is among many that he possesses."


"There was a story," Asher added. "It was forever circling
around the ranks of the undead. A tale of one of Aurelius's
childer. A reckless and dangerous individual named Linus. The
rumours were that Linus was entirely too evil for the likes of his
sire. As punishment for his disobedience, Aurelius sent Linus away."


"What, he sent him to Siberia?" Anita asked, not impressed.


"Not quite," Jean-Claude chuckled. "As the stories go, he
sent him across the fabric of realities, into a world like our own,
but at the same time not."


"You mean to tell me that he sent another vampire to a
different dimension?" Anita scoffed. "Excuse me if I'm disbelieving
here."


"I'm with Anita," Richard added. "Sounds farfetched."


"That is how the story goes," Asher shrugged. "Whether it is
true or not, only the oldest of vampires know."


"But if what these children say is true, then it is very
likely," Jean-Claude elaborated. "If this new vampire, Druscilla, is
indeed of the order of Aurelius, it is possible that Linus carried on
the family in this new world."


"Are you trying to tell me that those three are from another
dimension?" Anita demanded. This just got stupider and stupider.


"I did not say that ma petite," Jean-Claude assured her.
Anita sighed in relief. At least they were all still sane.


Then the vampire continued.


"I'm only saying that is a possibility. We will not know
until they tell us."


"Then what are we waiting for?" Richard asked. Anita nodded
her agreement.


"Let's go ask them."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Ten

"If we knew why we were here, we would be working on getting
back!"
Willow felt her anger rising about ten fold. Didn't these
people get it? They had no clue as to how they got here. If they
knew, they'd get their asses home as quick as they could.
"How come I don't believe you?" the woman, Anita, shot back
sarcastically.
"Because you have an inferiority complex and second guessing
everything makes you feel bigger?" Faith suggested lightly. Willow
grimaced and rubbed her forehead. Apparently the talk about keeping
snide remarks to herself had gone over the Slayer's head. She wished
Faith would stop antagonizing people. Especially very strong people
who seemed slightly agitated.
"Look, could we just get some cooperation out of you guys?"
asked Richard, Willow was guessing he was the reasonable one.
"If you guys want information, it's a two way street," Xander
replied evenly. "Tell us what you know about Aurelius, we get
sharing about the crazy vampire bitch."
"You're not in a position to barter here," Anita hissed out
through clenched teeth.
"Then neither are you," Willow shot back. "You've seen what
I can do. Do you think you could really keep us here? We want
answers too, that's why we've stayed this long. Now get the stick
out of your ass and act cooperative."
Anita bristled slightly while the vampires decided to step
in. Jean-Claude had entered the room while Asher remained on the
outside, still hidden in shadow. Willow wondered why he did that.
"Aurelius is one of the oldest members of the Council," Asher
announced from his spot. "He's roughly ten thousand years old, give
or take."
The three Sunnydalers paled at that.
"Ten thousand?" Xander repeated, voice faint. Faith and
Willow remained mute. They were thinking along the same lines. Ten
thousand years old!
"Ten thousand years old!" Xander continued. "That's four
more than Mr. Khaki Trousers!"
"Khaki Trousers?" Anita repeated, frown on his face.
"Or was it Mr. Kissing Toast?" Xander mumbled, looking down
at the floor deep in thought.
"Shut up Xander," Willow murmured, wide eyes turning to the
vampires.
"Is that for real?"
Jean-Claude nodded. Faith moaned and dropped her head into
her hands.
"It's never easy," the Slayer whined. "It's always the
hardest bullshit the PTB can cook up."
"But at least there's no hell gods," Willow offered meekly.
The brunette gave her a weak smile at that.
"Yeah, thank heaven for small mercies."
"Hell gods?" Richard repeated.
"Or was that kaleidoscope?" Xander continued to mutter.
"Kaikestos!" Faith shouted at him. "Kaikestos! I killed
him! Took a support beam, but I killed him?"
"You?" Asher repeated. "With a support beam? How could one
as tiny as yourself pick up a support beam? What are you?"
"None of your business," Faith shot back at him. She looked
at Willow. "Red, what are we going to do?"
Willow looked back at her with shocked eyes.
"How am I supposed to know?"
"You're the boss," Xander supplied. "Remember the plaque?"
"Can we not bring up the plaque," Willow moaned, dropping her
head into her hands.
"Plaque?" Richard repeated. Faith gave him a look.
"You know any other words than the ones people say to you?"
she asked snidely. "And the plaque is none of your business, as is
the hell god. Actually, we are all none of your business. You have
to understand that we're in a foreign place and we don't like any
you."
"My heart is breaking," Anita shot at her.
"If you want, I can add your legs to the list," Faith
retorted.
"No violence!" Willow commanded, jumping off the
couch. "Okay, you want to know the truth, here it is. We were
sucked through a blue portal and ended up here. We're thinking
possible inter-dimensional travel here, because this is all out of
whack. Where we come from, no one knows about vampires, shifters, or
demons of any kind. People live their merry lives in ignorance,
except for the chosen few who are supposed to keep a lid on the
monsters so the world won't end."
"Are you one of those chosen few?" Asher asked calmly from
the doorway.
"Okay we are, you nitwit," Faith rolled her eyes. "How else
would we know about all this?"
"Let's not call the scary strong vampires names," Xander
suggested. "Since Wills said no violence, getting them all riled up
would be counter-productive."
"Hello!" Willow waved her hands. "Remember me? I was
ranting and I'm not done yet. As for Druscilla, she is the most
insane creature on the face of our Earth. She's most likely
schizophrenic; her mind can't handle things as well as others. She's
off in her own little world most of the time. Only problem is, she's
lucid enough to cause a lot of trouble. Why she wants to kill you is
beyond me. Maybe you just offend her on a personal basis. Maybe she
just wants your position. Maybe she just doesn't like your hair. I
don't know. No one ever knows with Dru!"
This time she was done. Her chest was heaving and
unbeknownst to her, her eyes had gone black. The redhead had had
quiet enough of all of this. The others remained silent, not wanting
to set her off. It was all interrupted when Jason stuck his head
into the room.
"Uh, just want to let you know, that we found some of her
blood," he called into the room, eyes going from person to
person. "We got a scent. We can go get her whenever you want."
Richard and Anita both turned to Jean-Claude for answers.
"We wait until dawn," he decided. "That way, she won't be
able to run off. And if our guests would be so kind as to help?"
The trio exchanged looks. Willow turned back to them, her
eyes gone back to their normal green. She nodded agreeably.
"We'll do it. After all, we want to go home. And that bitch
is most likely the key."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Eleven

Xander wondered why he always ended up in these kinds of
situations. After all, he was a good person. He went to work, paid
his bills, stopped apocalypses, didn't that qualify him for rewards
instead of punishments? Isn't the celestial system supposed to keep
those sorts of things balanced? Why did he always end up the butt
monkey?
Like now, he was out with two werewolves that he didn't even
know hunting for some loony bin who thought he was her pet. The
whole freaking world was out of whack. And did he mention the
sniffing was becoming freak some?
But he had to do it. The order came from Willow herself.
And since he was the genius that declared her boss of him, he had to
listen to the redhead. So that's why he was with two wolves,
checking abandoned mansions in St. Louis. Faith had taken off with
two wolves of her own. They were checking out the crypts and tombs
in the cemeteries while Willow and her team got old abandoned
factories. The usual Dru haunts.
"What is your deal with this vampire?"
Xander looked down at the question. Sylvie, one of the
higher ranking wolves, was looking at him questioning. Which was
better than her looking at him hungrily. Not that Xander minded
getting attention from beautiful women, but it was different in this
case. He wasn't sure if she wanted to fuck him or eat him. Maybe
both. He didn't know. This world was strange. And he could have
sworn one of the other wolves say she was gay. But then again, maybe
she was just bisexual. Xander was okay with that. After all, his
best friend liked to flit across from side to side.
"My deal?" he repeated slightly confused.
"Yeah," came the agreement from Jamil, his other sometimes-
furry companion. "You seem to be scared of her while the other two
just dislike her."
Xander frowned at that. There was slight ridicule in the
man's voice when he said Xander was scared of Druscilla. He didn't
appreciate it. Xander had faced down a lot of crap in his lifetime.
Having someone insinuate he was a coward irked him.
"I was seventeen," he started off, glaring directly at
Jamil. "Through a series of freak accidents and some magical
interference, Druscilla decided to take a liking to me. When it
first started off, she was under some love spell. I had known about
vampires and stuff for about two years but that was the closest I
ever cut it. She wanted to make me right then and there. And the
thing was, I couldn't have fought her off. I'm just a regular
human. Nothing I could have done except die slowly. She was so damn
close that one night . . ."
Xander trailed off, taking his eyes off of Jamil as he went
back to that night in his head. He had only confided in Willow how
much that night had scared him. Dru had been so close to making him
into some monster that probably would have wreaked havoc on his
friends and family.
"I don't know why," he continued again, not even caring if
they were listening. "But even after the spell was off, she seemed
to drift towards me. Maybe because in her insane mind, she had been
in love with me, which meant she must like me. Kept calling me her
kitten and asking me if I wanted to play. And trust me, I read up on
her idea of play. It gave me nightmares for about a month. I just
thank god that Spike got her out of town soon after that. Just having
her in the same town is not good for my nerves."
Sylvie nodded slightly and some sort of understanding shone
in Jamil's face.
"That must have been difficult, for one so young," the larger
man consented.
"It was," Xander affirmed. "And now you can understand why
hunting for her is making me slightly wiggy."
"Why did you come then?" Sylvie asked. "You could have
remained at the Circus with the others."
"Wills told me to go," Xander replied, shrugging his
shoulders carelessly. "And what Wills says goes. And Dru is a
certified whack job. Whatever she thinks about me, she's probably
still going to do bad things to innocent people. Best to find her
and stop her before that happens."
"Very noble of you," Jamil approved. Xander just shrugged
again.
"It's not a big deal. Courage and nobility is just a product
of my better friends rubbing off on me. Believe me, cause otherwise,
I'd be on the other side of the freaking planet right now."
The wolves chuckled while Xander looked confused.
"What? It's true."
*****
"But what are you?"
Faith rolled her eyes at the question. She favoured the
wolf, Stephen, with a smirk.
"I'm just me," she replied sweetly. "Completely through and
through."
"You don't like giving straight answers do you?" Stephen
muttered.
"Not if I can help it," Faith returned easily. "Besides, no
offence to you guys, but I'm not sharing my secrets with a bunch of
werewolves I just met. It's not a personal thing, but back home,
it's a survival thing."
"You don't smell all human yourself," Shang-Da
interrupted. "So don't be too quick to differentiate between us."
"And Captain Cardboard speaks," Faith replied
sarcastically. "I was wondering if that mouth of yours was just for
show."
The wolf merely shot her a smile, fangs glinting a bit.
Faith just yawned.
"Seen scarier dude," she told him. "Way scarier. In fact,
I've faced down a seventy-foot snake with just B at my side. Sorry,
but you just don't compare."
"Who's B?" Stephen interjected. Faith tossed him a mild
glare.
"You're a nosy one," she commented. "B's a friend of ours,
back home."
"Is she like you?" Shang-Da asked. "Not quite human?"
"B's exactly like me," Faith smirked. "But blonder and
sometimes whinier."
"Now there's a scary thought," Shang-Da muttered, stopping to
sniff around a mausoleum.
"I knew it!" Faith declared, pointing a finger at
him. "You're a closet smart-mouth."
The wolf in question just gave her an exasperated look.
Stephen however, found her actions to be extremely amusing. The boy
was practically skipping amongst the tombstones, chuckling to
himself. Faith smiled at the sight. Reminded her a bit of Dawn when
the younger Summers could needle her way onto patrols. Faith shook
her head and tried to concentrate. Thinking about home would not
solve the matter at hand. Dru, the crazy vampire bitch that Faith
was going to make a point of staking. Point of staking, cute pun.
"She's not here," Shang-Da announced. His eyes scanned the
rest of the cemetery. "I can't smell her anywhere."
Stephen nodded his agreement and Faith sighed.
"All right," the Slayer consented. "That's what, five down,
six to go?"
"About," Stephen confirmed.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Faith tossed at them, making
her way to the exit.
"Let's get a move on it. I want to be home in time for RAW
on Monday."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Twelve

Willow wished her hands would stop shaking. She was just a
bundle of nerves and things were not getting any better.
Maybe she shouldn't have agreed to let Jason in her group.
But then people would wonder what was up and Willow didn't want to
explain that his presence distracted her with naughty thoughts.
Xander probably wouldn't handle that well at all.
The wolf in question shot her another grin. Willow averted
her eyes, turning to focus on the brunette woman beside her. Anita
Blake, the Executioner. Now there's a title one does not get idly.
"What more can you tell us about this Dru?" Anita asked, eyes
scanning the area carefully. They stood outside yet another
warehouse. They had been to about twenty in total, and so far, no
Dru.
"What more is there?" Willow shrugged. "She's off her
rocker. When she was human, she was a seer of sorts. It brought her
to the attention of Angelus, a vamp known as the Scourge of Europe."
"Sounds like a fun guy," Jason snorted.
"You have no idea," Willow muttered to herself. "Anyway, he
became obsessed with her. He hunted her slowly, killing each and
every member of her family one by one. He did it to slowly drive her
out of her mind. Finally, she was trying to join the sisterhood and
he botched that up. Broke into her initiation ceremony and
slaughtered all the nuns inside, save her. Turned her on the spot."
Anita let out a whistle.
"That's barbaric," the brunette grimaced. "What a monster."
"I know," Willow sighed. "And trust me, it was absolutely
horrible. We've all known what it's like having Angelus obsessed
with you. It's not fun."
"Angelus was obsessed with you?" Jason asked shocked.
"No, he was obsessed with Buffy and all her friends," Willow
answered lamely. "And that's a whole different story best saved for
another time."
"What's with the dolls?" Anita asked, nearing another door.
"She's a schizo," Willow shrugged. "From what I can tell,
she likes having conversations with them. Dru is nothing more than
an immortal child. She can't even take care of herself most of the
time. Spike and Angel had to do it for her. But I guess she's
gained some independence in the last few years. Never thought she
would try something like this on her own."
"Maybe she's not alone on it," Anita mused.
"And that's what scares me," Willow admitted with a sigh.
She looked up at the warehouse in front of her and concentrated. If
she were Dru, where would she hide?
"I smell her," Jason announced, whispering in her ear.
Willow jumped a little at that. How did he manage to sneak up on her
like that? Damn were-animals, they were forever doing this.
Anita seemed less fazed by it. She merely withdrew her gun
and tried to push Willow behind her. The witch couldn't help but
laugh.
"What are you doing?" she giggled. Anita shot her a strange
look.
"Getting ready to go in," she replied, tone confused.
"I meant the gun," Willow clarified. "What do you plan on
doing with that?"
"Shooting her?" Anita answered, eyebrow arched.
"Um, bullets don't hurt vampires," Willow informed her with a
smile. "At least not in our world. You're better off sticking to
crosses and stakes."
"Bullet's don't hurt them?" Jason repeated with surprise.
"Well, they hurt, but they don't really faze them," Willow
shrugged. "Definitely won't kill them. Only wood or decapitation
will do that."
"Interesting vamps you got in your world," Anita murmured,
putting her gun away for the convenience of a long blade. Willow
nodded approvingly and then pushed her way in. Anita and Jason
followed her, sputtering about safety and the such. Whatever. The
faster they found Dru, the faster Willow got to go home.
"Dru!" she announced loudly, ignoring the hushing coming from
her group. "Dru! Get your undead butt out here!"
"What are you doing?" Anita hissed at her.
"Getting the vampire bitch," Willow mumbled in reply. "Dru!
Don't make me come and find you!"
"What is wrong with you?" Anita demanded, swinging her
around. "This is not how we do things here!"
"It's how we do them back home," Willow retorted. "Dru!"
"Here I come Little Tree!" came the cheerful reply. Willow
gave Anita a knowing look. She turned around to face Dru as the
vampiress stepped out into the open.
"Well, here I am!" Druscilla declared happily. "What is it
that you need?"
"First of all, what the hell are we doing here?" Willow
yelled at the vampire. "Are you out of what is left of your goddamn
mind? Inter-dimensional travel is so dangerous! Do you even know
where we are?"
"I know exactly where we are," Dru chirped happily. "This is
great, great granddaddy's home."
"Great, great . . ." Willow trailed off. "That Aurelius guy?"
Dru nodded.
"He offered to bring me here," the vampire revealed.
"But why?" Anita demanded. "What are you up to?"
"Now, that would be telling," Dru stage-whispered. Her eyes
flicked to Jason. "Nice little puppy. He wants to play with the
Little Tree. Maybe you should let him."
"Why did you drag us along?" Willow demanded, ignoring her
ramblings.
"Well, obviously great granddaddy would want some sort of
prize for bringing me," Dru rolled her eyes. "And the blood of a
powerful witch and a Slayer. And as for Kitten, well, I just wanted
to bring him along."
"You promised Faith and me to Aurelius?" Willow repeated,
anger building up inside of her.
"Yes, but he's running a little late," Dru smirked. "You
have a good two days of life left."
Willow didn't know if she wanted to laugh or scream.
"How do we get back?" she demanded through clenched teeth.
"You don't," the vampire replied happily. "That's the fun of
it."
The lightning bolt left her hand before she even knew she had
summoned it. Dru jumped aside as the bolt flew past, crashing
somewhere behind her. Sparks flew and things tumbled to the floor.
Jason knocked her to the floor as things went fell around them.
When it ended, the three of them raised their heads to find
Dru gone and the warehouse in shambles. Anita turned to Willow with
a frown.
"Do you know you have a serious impulse control problem?"



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Thirteen

"If you had controlled yourself, she wouldn't have gotten
away!"

"Oh right, because you so had her trapped. What were you
going to do Anita? Shoot her?"

Faith shot Xander a worried look, rising to her feet as Anita
and Willow burst back into the Circus with Jason at their heels.
Both women seemed to be very angry about something or the other and
appeared to be taking it out on each other. Faith wasn't worried
about Anita so much as Willow. The redhead's green eyes were lined
with black, letting the Slayer know she was damn close to losing it.
Xander saw it too, immediately stepping between the ladies and
drawing Willow off.

"What happened?" he asked Willow, pulling her into the seat
next to his. Willow sighed, leaning back in her chair.

"We found Dru," she revealed.

"And then we lost her due to Willow's rather rash behaviour-
and oh my god I'm Richard," Anita rambled on, getting a slightly
worried look on her face. The Ulfric glared at the mention of his
name, sending Anita a dirty look. The brunette just flashed him a
bright smile before collapsing into a chair herself.

"Sorry for flipping," she mumbled in Willow's general
direction.

"I'm sorry about the thunderbolt," Willow consented
grudgingly.

"Thunderbolt?" Micah repeated. "What happened?"

"We found Dru," Jason repeated. "And then she made Willow
angry so she let loose a thunderbolt. Dru got away but the naughty
warehouse she was hiding in was given the sound beating it deserved."
Willow glared at the wolf, sticking her tongue out at him.

"Oh, what do you know?" she huffed. "Besides, it's not like
I was trying to demolish the warehouse. I was aiming for Dru, but
then the bitch ducked. It was so not even my fault."

Faith sent her an amused look and Willow wilted a bit.

"Maybe it was a teeny tiny itty bitty part my fault," the
redhead consented. "But that changes nothing. Oh, and by the way,
we're screwed."

"What's up Red?" Faith asked, a bit of apprehensive in her
voice.

"She doesn't know the way home," Willow revealed. "Actually,
she says there isn't one. We're stuck here!"

It took a few moments for that to sink in with the others.
Xander stared at his best friend in mute shock while Faith wavered a
bit on her feet. Finally, the brunette Slayer spoke.
"No way home?" she stated in a slightly strained
voice. "There's no way home. There's no way home. THERE IS NO
FUCKING WAY HOME!"

"I don't believe this!" Xander shouted, jumping to his feet
and pacing in agitation. "There has to be a way home! She did
something stupid with the mojo. We figure it out and then reverse
it. I mean, we fixed all those whacked out spells of Willows, how
hard could this be? And hello, Willow made Buffy come back to life.
I think she can handle sending us home."

"I can't do anything without a spell," she reminded him
tiredly, sinking back into her chair. "And here's the next part of
my great news, she didn't use a spell."

"Then how did we end up here?" Faith demanded.

"She said Aurelius brought her here," Anita answered,
bringing their attention back to the others in the room. "She didn't
do a thing but ask Aurelius to bring her here. And he did it."

"But why?" Xander asked in a confused voice. "Why bother?
She's high maintenance, the kind no self-respecting vamp needs."

"What about Spike?" Faith asked curiously.

"Again, no self-respecting vampire," he reiterated. "Spike
was full of himself, but the boy was pathetic and had unhealthy
dependency issues. But again, why bother with Dru? What's she got
that he wants?"

The three new arrivals fell silent. Anita clasped her hands
in front of herself, refusing to look at anyone. Jason shuffled his
feet a bit, glancing at his Ulfric every now and then. Willow drew
her knees up to her chin, hiding her face amongst her legs, arms, and
hair. Faith felt her heart drop at the sight.

"What is it Red?" she asked in a slightly frightened voice.

"Wills?" Xander called in a soft voice. "What's going on?"

The redhead sighed, not raising her head but giving the
answer anyway. Unfortunately she spoke right into her knees, her
words extremely muffled.

"Come again?"

"She promised him the blood of a witch and Slayer," Willow
repeated, raising her head a bit. She shot Faith a serious look.

"She promised him us."

"She did what?" Faith exploded, jumping to her feet. "That
loony bitch did what?"

"Aurelius is heading into town to drain us dry," Willow
clarified, letting her legs fall back down, revealing her pouting
face. "We're part of the travel fare."

Faith stood still, clenching her fists beside her. The
entire room backed away from her slightly, feeling the rage rolling
off her. The were-animals were slightly confused, not understanding
their own instinctive reaction, but knowing not to be within arm's
reach of the girl right now. Richard muddled over the title Slayer,
wondering what it entailed while also knowing this was not the time
to find out.

"Um, what about me?"

The question from Xander broke the tense silence. Willow
shot him a slightly shocked look, as if remembering his plight as
well. The redhead promptly went as red as her hair and sunk back
into herself.

"Wills?" Xander prompted, fear evident in his voice now.

"You don't need to worry," Jason interjected from the
sidelines. "She isn't feeding you to Aurelius."

"Then what-"

"She wants you all for herself," Anita filled in. "I'm
assuming you're her Kitten. She said she just wanted to play with
you."

He went pale at that, shaking as he sank back down into his
own seat. He stared forward for a minute before burying his head
into his hands.

"We are so screwed."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Fourteen

"Are you well?"

The question, so softly spoken, jerked Faith right out of her
thoughts. The brunette had been sulking quite heavily in one of the
darker corners of the Circus upon hearing Willow's news. Xander had
pushed everyone back from the broody Slayer, claiming Faith just
needed time to get down with her inner Angel. If she wasn't so
completely numbed by the revelation they would not be heading home
any time soon, Faith would have decked him for that. Boy just didn't
know when to leave the Dead Man alone.

And she had been left alone for quite a long while now, with only
Willow venturing near with food just once. But now, there was this
intrusion on her brood time, totally unwelcomed and unexpected. Only
once had she turned around did she figure out the speaker and his
purpose.

"You heard me?" he continued, slinking in the shadows around her.
Faith narrowed her eyes, following the vampire with her eyes. She
heard the slightest chuckle com from him and she bristled. It was
meant to cause shivers to go down her back, to make her unbalanced.
"Haven't you learned yet?" she muttered. "That shit don't work on
me."

"Ah yes," came the answer. "You do seem to have a bit of a
resistance to vampiric charms."

And with that statement, he stopped his stalking of her. He leaned
up against the wall to her left, only one half of his face visible in
the light. The other half which she could barely make out in the
shadows, even with her Slayer vision, was clouded over by his hair.
A neat trick, one obviously refined by this particular vamp. She
only wondered why he bothered. Jean-Claude seemed to enjoy being in
the limelight, having everyone look down on his beauty in
admiration. From what she had seen of this vamp's face, he was even
better looking than JC. So why did he hide?

"You also seem to have very acute hearing," he continued, as if
unaware of her silent scrutiny. "And you are incredibly agile and
have the potential of possessing supernatural speed. I can see you
have strength, despite your small frame, but I doubt I know the full
extent of it."

"You going somewhere with all this?" Faith demanded, schooling her
face into an uninterested look. "Because I already know all this
shit."

He was silent, pushing off from the wall and approaching her with
silent footsteps. The Slayer in her wanted her to either launch
forward with kicks and punches, or to run away as fast as she could.
But no, she practiced restraint this time, staring right back at the
vampire towering over her. He still did that thing where he was half
in shadow and half in not, like he planned for that with every step
he took.

"What is a Slayer?" he asked with a pretence of politeness in his
voice. But Faith could tell that it wasn't a question, it was a
demand.

"JC sent you to find out?" she asked, eyes arched. She let a cocky
smirk curve her lips as she held his gaze. In the back of her mind,
she knew she shouldn't be doing this. She could see this vampire
trying to attempt something while she looked up at him, feeling his
presence trying to push past her own. But Faith was the Slayer, and
she had learned long ago what to do when someone was trying to get
into your head.

"You have an impression ability to resist the mind roll," he finally
stated. "I have met no such human who could do this before."
"I'm not exactly a normal human," Faith shrugged, stepping back as
the brief contest of wills seemed to be over. She was shaking
inside, not liking the residual fear she was feeling from this
vampire's attempts to get her. The vamps here were way to powerful
for her, having way too many extra tricks that they should in no way
be allowed to possess. Hell, Kaikeistos didn't have this kind of
power and that vamp had lived for six thousand years!

"Then what form of creature are you?" he demanded next, stepping
further back into the shadows. "We know the redhead to be a witch,
the boy to be an insanely brave human, but you we have yet to know
anything about. What are you?"

"I don't see how that is any of your business," Faith returned
smoothly. "Ash, really hun, stop pushing. It just makes me kind of
angry."

"We are in this together now, ma petite," he drawled. "Perhaps it
would be wise not to have any secrets from one another. Especially
not when Aurelius and his deranged granddaugther descend upon us."

"Fine," Faith consented, folding her arms over her chest. "You tell
me something and I'll tell you something."

"It seems fair enough," he bowed his head. "What is it you desire to
know?"

"Why do you do that?"

He frowned, or seemed to. Hard to tell when half his face was hidden.
"Do what?"

"Hide half your face," she clarified, gesturing to his face with her
hand. "What's up with that?"

The question seemed to harden him, his eyes becoming inhumanly cold
as he regarded her.

"Of all the things to ask . . ." he murmured. Faith shrugged,
tossing him a teasing smirk.

"Well, I'm a quirky kind of girl," she replied. "Now, on with the
explanation or we're done here."

He didn't say anything for the longest time. Faith scoffed, giving a
final shrug before trying to shoulder past him. A vise-like grip on
her arm stopped her. She was quick to rotate her arm, breaking his
hold and spinning around to face him.

She was unprepared for the sight in front of her, her breath catching
in her throat. He had lifted his hair off that side of his face,
showing to her what lay underneath. It was a ragged mess of scars
and one bright blue eye. The skin of reddish and marred, contrasting
horribly with the perfect, pale side. Her eyes traveled downwards,
noting that some of his neck bore the same scars. Without asking she
knew they went down further, underneath his clothes.

"Ouch," she finally managed to say. "What happened?"

"Holy water," he replied, replacing his hair to cover the scars. She
laughed, rolling her eyes at the vamp.

"That's it?" she scoffed. "So you got badly dosed. You'll be fine
in a few days."

He was staring at her oddly.

"What makes you think such a thing?" he demanded, voice hoarse.
Faith felt her eyes widen and guard go up as the vampire in front of
her became increasingly angered.

"Hey, relax," she back-pedaled. "I'm just saying, vamps heal fast.
It should be okay in a few days."

"From holy water?" he spat. "I have had this for years, the scars do
not heal-"

"Years?" Faith cut in. "How can it have been years. I mean, I've
dosed plenty of vamps with holy water. If they get away, they're
usually fine within a day or two. The burning is never permanent."

"A day or two?" he repeated, voice faint. "They heal that fast . . .
how is it possible?"

"I don't know," Faith shrugged. "Hell, I thought you guys would heal
faster. I mean, you've got tons of wicked powers that our vamps
could never ever get. I don't get why you wouldn't heal as fast."

"It seems there are more differences between the two races than we
thought," Asher murmured, hand going to his face. "Imagine, being
able to heal this atrocity . . ."

Faith felt kind of bad for a second. She was guessing her reaction
hadn't helped the vamp's feelings about his face, considering how
kick ass gorgeous he must have been in the first place. Of course,
she was also kind of furious with herself for feeling bad for a
vampire. Slayers do not feel for vampires, they slay them.

On the other hand, B not only felt for vampires sometimes, she also
bedded them on occasion. And techincally, B was the Slayer to end
all Slayers.

"They are weaker than us in so many ways," Asher continued to murmur
thoughtfully, bringing Faith out of her thoughts. "They are so much
more easily killed than us. Just a mere stake through the heart and
they fall to dust. They have no such abilities as mind-rolling,
flying, or any of the other things that we in this world possess.
And yet they have so many advantages over us. Awareness during the
day, faster healing, and apparently not as a damaging aversion to
holy things as we do."

"Yep," Faith nodded. "Totally different ends of the spectrum."

He laughed at that, sliding off the wall and approaching her.
"I suppose somewhere in the middle would the perfect vampire," he
mused.

Faith froze, smile fading from her lips quickly. Asher looked down
at her in concern.

"Ma petite?" he ventured. She started, blinking rapidly as she
thought over what he said.

"What did you say?" she demanded in a croak of a voice. Asher looked
horribly confused.

"Sorry-"

"You said, that perfect vampire thing!" Faith prompted him, voice
filled with urgency. "What did you said again?"

"I said that if we are different ends of the spectrum that somewhere
in the middle there would be a perfect vampire," he shrugged, looking
at her warily. "Why?"

Faith felt like the floor had given out from under her. She looked
at the vampire with fear in her dark eyes.

"I think we're in deeper shit than we know."

"Ma petite?"

She shook her head, grabbing him by the arm.
"Never mind. I have to talk to Red. Now."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Fifteen

"What's Human's First?"

Sylvie frowned, walking further into the room Xander had been given
for the night. The young man was sitting in front of the television,
frowning in confusion at the screen. The werewolf made her way to
sit next to him, seeing that he was watching the news.

"Oh Lord," she muttered, shaking her head. "Don't those fools ever
give up?"

"Who are they?" Xander asked again. "And why are they on the news?"

Sylvie shook her head again, glaring at the screen. There was a live
report coming from outside the train station. The same train station
that this foreign vampire, Druscilla, had attacked the other day. It
was like a giant rally outside, people shouting and picketing while
the cops tried to hold them at bay.

"Human's First is a human activist group," she finally
answered. "They are the most extreme of the anti-vampire groups.
I'm actually surprised that they've come out into the public eye, but
with Druscilla's stunt they probably think the ball is in their court
or something."

"The most extreme?" Xander repeated, squinting at the screen. "They
don't look that extreme."

"Wait until they start marching through the Blood district with
torches," Sylvie snorted.

"Would they?" he asked incredulously.

"I wouldn't put it past them," the werewolf rolled her eyes. "But
they're the worst, but not the most annoying. Human's Against
Vampires might be the most annoying, but they're not nearly as
dangerous, or crazy."

"This place is so weird," Xander sighed, leaning back against the
foot of his bed. He changed the channel, surfing through the
channels mindlessly.

"I thought you would be in agreement with the activists groups?"
Sylvie told him. "I mean, you and Jean-Claude did have that agrument
over vampire's rights and the nature of the undead."

"And I thought I had the argument won," Xander shrugged. "But, like
everything else in this world, things are too different."

"Vampires really that different?"

"Well, I'm going to take JC as an example on this," he
continued. "He's like in love with Anita. Really in love, listening
to her and stuff when in reality he could just forcefully take her
and not put up with her bullshit. And I'm assuming there is a lot of
bullshit, she just seems like she's a bit messed up. I mean, how
many boyfriends does she have?"

Sylvie gave a chuckle, allowing him to continue on.

"And the whole point with that ramble is, JC loves her, almost like a
human loves," Xander sighed, rubbing his hands together as he tried
to explain. "And that means one thing: souls."

"Souls?" Sylvie repeated. "What do souls have to do with anything?"

"Well, for starters, our vampires don't have any."

She felt like her eyes would pop out of her head they had gone so
wide.

"They don't have souls," she repeated, her tone breathless with
disbelief. "But-"

"Vampires in our world are just demons, through and through," Xander
explained. "No souls, just all kinds of evil and no real way to
limit. And no real motivation to limit it. But here, you guys have
souled vamps wandering around, and that makes a big difference."

"Not to some people," Sylvie pointed out. "To some people, they're
monsters. Hell, I'm a monster on the sheer principle of what I am."

"But it's always about who, not what," Xander amended earnestly. "I
know this is going to sound corny, but it's what on the inside of a
person, who they are that determines something like that. It's just
the same thing like it is with humans. They have the souls, and they
have the ability to make the choice. They can be evil or good, it's
all up to the person."

"That's pretty deep," Sylvie informed him. "Not too many people
think that way."

"Well, living on the Hellmouth, you learn quite a few things," Xander
sighed. "And the most important thing is that nothing is black and
white, it's all grey. I've known demons that are better than some
humans I've met."

"Interesting place your home," she quipped. He rolled his eyes,
settling on some music channel finally.

"You could say that," he consented. "You could also say it was Hell
on earth, which is what I say. All the time."

Anything she had to say was interrupted when Faith burst into the
room. The brunette seemed a bit frantic, looking around the room
while Asher came up rather calmly behind her.

"Where's Red?" was the question she barked at Xander. The man in
question just arched an eyebrow.

"She's lounging about with some of the cuddly furballs," he shrugged,
frowning at his friend. "What's wrong?"

"I think I figured something out," Faith explained. "And it's a lot
worse than anything else that's happened since we got here."

"That's pretty damn bad," Xander murmured in concern, getting to his
feet quickly. He extended a hand to Sylvie absently, pulling the
werewolf to her feet before heading towards Faith.

"Let's find Willow."

*****

"She's drunk!"

Jason wanted to cower in fear when he saw the look in Faith's eyes.
The girl looked absolutely pissed when she looked upon Willow,
something that made his beast rage up inside him. His instincts were
telling him to run before the slip of a girl took some of her anger
out on him.

"Oh, it's not their fault," came the slurred protest from the
intoxicated redhead beside him. "I threatened to shrink them to like
four inches tall if they stopped the liquor flow."

Jason could only nod his head in agreement, remembering the exact
threat the witch had delivered. The news Druscilla had given her
during the day had depressed the hell out of her, and she had just
wanted to get tanked. He, alongside with Stephen, had been left
alone with her. After her fifth beer, they tried to cut her off.

That was when her eyes bled black. They had gotten her another six
pack rather quickly after that.

So she was way past drunk when Faith stomped into the room, demanding
to speak to her friend. He was a bit curious about what was up,
seeing Xander, Sylvie, and Asher following her.

"Red, I need you sober," Faith hissed out through clenched teeth.
The redhead just snickered, pointing at her friend while she tried
not to fall over.

"Too bad for you!" the redhead squeaked. "Because after all the beer
I had, no amount coffee could even help."

"We have a bit of a situation Wills," Xander piped up from the
back. "And we could use your input on it."

"Why?" Willow demanded, mood darkening. "Not like anything could be
worse than what has already happened. Stupid vampire bitch brought
us here to feed her granddad. Our lives suck."

"They could suck more," Faith muttered. "Especially if I'm right."

"Could not!" Willow protested before looking chastised. "Could they?"

"I think Druscilla's here to make a breed of super vampires."

The redhead stopped, eyes bugging before her face dissolved into a
pouting expression.

"That would do it."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Part Sixteen

"That's absurd."

Faith closed her eyes and tried her best not to growl. It was hard,
mind you, very very hard. But she had to have some sort of calm for
this. Willow was sober once more, but feeling none too good at the
moment. Xander was waiting on her explanation like everyone else,
and so that left Faith to lay out the problem.

Which was really hard to do with one very sceptical vampire
executioner trying to shoot down everything you said. Faith wasn't
one to have so much patience with one person, but she figured she
would kind of have to in this instance. Despite the fact that Anita
was annoying, Faith knew she was going to need the woman's help
eventually.

Besides, she could always kick her ass later.

"I'm telling you, it's a possibility," the brunette snapped, dark
eyes looking Anita's way. "Now you can either help or get out of the
way. Because from the way I see it, there's a whole bunch of shit
that's about to go down, and you being an asswipe will not help."

Anita was about to explode, she really was. Who the hell did this
girl think she was? Anita had seen and dealt with much more scary
things than this girl could even imagine. The Executioner didn't
give a damn what a slayer was, Faith had no business talking to her
like that.

"Listen-"

"Anita," this came from Asher. The vampire stepped out of the
shadows, moving to stand next to Jean-Claude. He was looking at the
Executioner meaningfully.

"Let Faith continue," he requested softly. "She does have a point to
make."

Anita sighed, nodding her head in consent. Faith just rolled her
eyes, looking around the room to make sure everyone was paying
attention. Richard and his bodyguards stood off to one corner, with
Sylvie and Xander next to him. Faith found it amusing that Xander
just followed Sylvie wherever she went, and vice versa. Richard for
the most part seemed to be dividing his attention between that and
what Faith had to say.

Jean-Claude, like she had mentioned, was with Asher in the middle of
the room. The Master of the City had very little to say after Faith
had let her bomb drop. He looked like he was willing to give her the
benefit of the doubt which Faith was grateful for. She couldn't
quite prove her theory so much as she feared and suspected it might
be true.

Anita and Micah stood on Jean-Claude's other side, and Faith felt
like ignoring them for the moment. Faith didn't have much of a
problem with Micah, seeing as she hardly ever conversed with the
leopard, but Anita was a problem. She really didn't want to get into
another argument with the woman. There were far more important
things to be discussed at the moment. Faith had to be the mature one.

Willow would have been proud of Faith, if she wasn't feeling so
sick. The redhead was seated on the couch in Jean-Claude's living
room, curled up in between Jason and Stephen. It was funny the way
the two wolves had taken to the redhead, but Faith suspected Jason's
attachment had more to do with his hormones while Stephen probably
just adored Red in a brotherly-type fashion.

"Anyway, like I was saying," Faith started off again, proud that she
didn't shoot a glare Anita's way at her words. "I think that Dru had
a little more on her mind in bringing us all here than just feeding
her great granddaddy or whatever. The bitch had to have a plan, and
the more absurd of a plan, the more likely that its the one Dru
thought up."

"But what you're suggesting," Jean-Claude spoke up. "There is no
guarantee that they could produce the kind of vampire they want. We
do not know, perhaps if they attempt this, they will only produce one
that shares all our weaknesses, not our strengths."

"And that's where I had some problem with it too," Faith
conceded. "So I gave the whole situation some thought. Dru said she
brought me and Red here to feed to Aurelius, that that was the price
he wanted for bringing her and Xander here. Now, as good as our
blood would be, there's no way it would last him that long. And
there would a hell of a fight on his part to even get his hands on
it. I mean, no offence to you guys, I don't care how powerful beings
are in this world, there is no way in hell a vamp would get close
enough to snack on my neck without my permission."

"Faith's right," came the support from Willow. The redhead still
looked a bit green, but her face was pretty resolved. "After all, he
wasn't waiting for us when we came out. If he really wanted to eat
us, he should have been waiting to get us while we were disoriented.
But we've had plenty of time to gather up our strength and get our
bearings. And we've discovered our powers are as potent here as they
were back home, so Aurelius is looking at some pretty slim odds of
getting his meal."

"Exactly," Faith nodded. "So, if he didn't just want to eat us, what
the hell does he want from us?"

"We don't know that he wants you to make a race of super vampires,"
Anita jumped in. "I agree that something is definitely up, but
jumping to that conclusion, well . . ."

"I know," the Slayer agreed. "But the more I think about it, the
more it makes sense. If they could pull this off, there would no one
who could stop them. Think about it, Aurelius would be so much more
powerful than your guys' little Council thingy. He could lay waste
to anything and everything he wanted, and no one would be able to
stop him. Not with these new vamps."

"What about you?" Richard spoke up. "Wouldn't you be able to stop
them?"

"It's a possibility," Xander answered, speaking up for the first
time. "But if it gets to the point where the super vamps come into
existence, well, we'll have to assume that my femmes would be dead."

"Exactly," Faith agreed. "It makes sense that we're not here as some
sort of snack. I mean, why waste that much energy just to get some
grub, am I right? But if we were important to some sort of ritual or
spell, if we had something Aurelius and Dru needed to complete
whatever their plan might be, then all of this would make sense."

"But what about Xander?" came the question from Micah. "Again, why
bother bringing a third if you didn't need him? No offence."

"None taken," Xander returned easily. "Kind of wondering that
myself."

"Well, from what we can gather, we don't know why Xander is here,"
Willow finally managed to answer. "It might be what Dru said in the
warehouse, that she just wanted to bring him along."

"Or that she wanted to use him as a prototype for the super vamp,"
Faith guessed, shrugging her shoulders. "Your guess is as good as
mine."

Xander made a face at Faith's words.

"I hate your guess," he muttered dejectedly. Faith shot him a wry
smile, one that faded fast as she looked back at Jean-Claude.

"You need to let us out," the brunette told him. "I need to hunt
down Druscilla and fast. Whatever's going down, she's probably a
very big part of it. And if we hope on stopping Aurelius, our best
chance is at stopping Dru."

"But if Dru is killed, then there's a chance you could never go
home," Asher pointed out softly. Faith subdued at that, looking
sadly between her friends.

"What does it matter?" Willow asked remorsefully. "If we kill her,
we cut off our chances of getting home. We leave her alive, we run a
greater chance of dying here. And given a choice, I've always
preferred life, no matter how fucked up it can get."

"And even if we make it through whatever Dru's got planned, there's
no guarantee that she would let us go home anyway," Xander
added. "Damned if we do, damned if we don't."

"So we do and get back at the bitch along the way," Faith finished
for her friends. "Because for all this crap she's pulled on us, I'm
going to put that bitch through some serious hurt. So, JC, what's it
gonna be?"

The Master looked at a loss for words. He looked at Anita first, but
the brunette had nothing to add for the moment. No doubt she was
pondering the horror of a race of super vamps. Richard made no
motions or suggestions, as did Asher. Finally, turning back to
Faith, the vampire could only nod his head.

"But, you will take some of our people with you," he added. "And the
redhead and the boy will stay here."

"The boy?" Xander repeated in an offended tone. "I'm just the boy?"

"You got it," Faith agreed, ignoring Xander and stopping Willow's
protest with a wave of her hand. "You've got to concentrate on the
magic aspect of it. Find out if they could find a way to make this
work."

Willow closed her mouth, sighing as she nodded. People began
shuffling out of the room, Richard and Jean-Claude discussing who to
send along with Faith. Willow staggered to her feet with the help of
Jason and Stephen, going slightly greener in the face than before.
Xander was the last to leave the room, shooting an angry glare over
his shoulder at the Master of the City.

"'Boy' my ass."




TBC...
This story archived at http://nha.magical-worlds.us/viewstory.php?sid=1807