Title: Another Redhead in Her LifeAuthor:
Right, I actually went and checked to be sure this time… Buffy the Vampire Slayer
, Angel: the Series
, and all associated characters belong to Fran and Kaz Kuzui. Merida and the rest of the cast of Brave
is owned by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. Not mine, don't sue, and so forth and so on.Summary:
A request for power brings forth a new woman in her life, one with lessons to teach Willow about trying to take shortcuts.Joe's Note:
As you can probably guess by the title, this was inspired by AnimeRonin's The Other Redhead In His Life
. The general idea was floating around in my head, but his story provided an idea for how to properly execute it. Maybe seeing this go by will encourage him to sit down and actually do something with the project that he's been claiming 'soon' on for four years and change now?
Willow Rosenberg frowned as she slowly orbited the ritual circle she'd prepared, glancing back and forth between it and the book in her hands as she quadruple-checked her work. Everything had to be perfect - the chalk outline, the placement of the runes, the runes themselves - or all sorts of horrible things could happen to her. And while she recognized the irony inherent in putting lots of time and effort into taking a shortcut… well, she wanted to take a shortcut, not get torn apart by the ritual's magic or sucked into a hell dimension or something like that.
It wasn't her fault, though. The shortcut thing, that was. After all, if Giles was actually willing to teach her magic instead of foisting her off on books that she barely found intelligible despite her intellect in hopes of discouraging - or at least stalling - her, then she wouldn't be resorting to measures like this. All she wanted was someone to help her develop the incredible gift she'd discovered she possessed. Was that too much to ask for? Not to mention that developing her burgeoning magical abilities into something useful would increase her chances of living to see graduation. While sure, Buffy was the Slayer and all… how long did Willow want to rely on her best friend to bail her out whenever something went wrong? Wouldn't it be better to be able to save herself instead of constantly being the damsel in distress?
"Here goes nothing." Willow finished her inspection of the circle and sank to the floor at a prearranged point, carefully settling in between the various implements she'd need to complete the ritual. Ceremonial dagger, check. Wooden bowl that she'd had to carve herself just for the ritual, check. Tank containing six live white mice, check. "No turning back now." Setting the book down atop her left knee, she read over the ritual one last time before picking up the dagger and the bowl. Willow settled the bowl on her right knee, opposite of the book, and then held her right hand over it as she sliced her palm with the blade in her left hand. Wincing, she bit her lip to avoid crying out in pain as the rich red blood oozed down her hand and dripped into the bowl below. She waited a few seconds, letting a fair amount gather in the bottom of the bowl, and then began the ritual to summon the entity. "I call you forth, granter of power, with my blood that I willingly spill. With hope and with humility, I beseech you to come forth." Setting the knife down on the floor at her right, Willow grabbed the bowl of blood and leaned forward, carefully spilling it into the center of the ritual circle. When the last drop finally hit the floor, Willow dropped the bowl next to the knife and grabbed the ritual's final component. "With this sacrifice of blood and nourishment, I call you forth."
Opening the door atop the plastic tank, Willow tipped it over and let the mice drop into the pool of blood. And then she waited.
It didn't take long for the entity to respond to her call. Willow jumped as the blood caught fire without warning, eliciting horrific screeches from the mice as they were burned alive. Jaw dropping, the redhead stared at the spectacle with wide eyes. The book hadn't mentioned anything about that! Before her second thoughts could take root, though, a figure rose up out of the bloody flames. "Ugh, I hate you humans. Can't you come up with a better way to summon me? Blood and flames are horrible on a girl's wardrobe." Shaking herself clean, the foot and a half tall version of Cordelia crossed her arms over her chest as she stared up at Willow. "All right, let's make this quick. I want to get back to my mani-pedi."
Willow's mouth work soundlessly, her eyes growing even wider as the pint-sized Cordelia fluttered up into the air on a quartet of diaphanous wings, peering about the library curiously. Finally, she managed to string together a one word question, and felt remarkably proud of herself for that feat. "Cordelia?"
"If that's what you want to call me. I'm just taking her form because I looked into your memories and she's the person who matches my personality the best." Faedelia floated closer, eventually coming in for a landing atop the book that was resting on Willow's left knee. "But that's not important. What is, on the other hand? What you want from me. Because like I said, I have things I'd rather be doing right now. The sooner you tell me what you want, the sooner I can say yes or no and the sooner and I can get back to my life."
Nodding slowly, Willow did her best to compose her thoughts. While the book hadn't said anything about the entity being overly malicious, she was still making a deal with an otherworldly entity. One wrong word could result in her request being rejected… or twisted into something that technically fulfilled her request while not being anything at all like what she actually wanted. "Okay. So, um, if you were in my head, then you know about Buffy. Right?" Faedelia nodded in response. "Well, I was thinking that it'd be nice to be able to protect myself and so-"
"-you want me to make you more powerful?" Launching herself back up into the air, Faedelia snapped her fingers several times in rapid succession, turning the pages of the magic book… to reveal content that Willow had never seen before. And she'd read the entire darn thing. "Ooh. There's an idea. What do you think of…" Turning sideways, Faedelia snapped her fingers again as she gestured theatrically to the ritual circle. A ball of golden light appeared, expanding into a humanoid figure that solidified into a copy of Willow wearing an odd blue, red, and yellow jumpsuit. "Willow Mahr Vehl! All it'd take is a few tweaked genes and suddenly you have flight, invulnerability, super-strength, super-speed, energy blasts from your hands…"
Willow blinked owlishly. If the entity could read her mind and knew things about her, how the heck had they ended up there? Shaking her head, the redhead tried again. "Thanks, but that's a little too flashy for me. No, I was thi-"
Snapping her fingers again, Faedelia added another clone of Willow to the ritual circle. A naked one. Eep. "I gotcha. You're friends with the Slayer, your enemies are vampires and demons… you need to be more of a 'terror in the night' type. In that case, what about…" Faedelia flicked her hand, sending a glob of something black flying at the nude doppelgänger. It spread over her body, shaping itself into matte black armor with a golden bat stretched across the chest. "Nanananananana Batwillow!"
"No! I'm a witch, and-"
"Well you're not a very good one if you need my help to protect yourself." After flipping a few pages further into the book, Faedelia added two more versions of Willow to the increasingly crowded ritual circle: one in a red corset, panties, and boots and the other in this weird… skanky… tuxedo-y… thing. The latter had a top hat, the former had a tiara and a cape. Both of them were significantly larger up top than the real Willow; she wasn't sure whether to feel jealous or freaked out about that. "Wanda Maximoff and Zatanna Zatara are pretty awesome witches. I could pull a few strings, make it so that you're born as a Wanda or Zatanna somewhere in the multiverse. You'd live there, grow up as them, train and become powerful, then come back here to kick some ass. Or if you want to keep the red hair, Ginny Weasley's always an option. What do you think?"
Taking a deep breath, Willow let it out slowly as she composed her thoughts. Simple and assertive, she told herself. Don't give the entity room to steal her thought and run with it. "A teacher. I want someone to come and teach me. Or to go to someone who can teach me and come back. I don't want you to mess with my DNA or turn me into Batgirl or make me live someone else's life… I just want someone to teach me what I need to know."
Faedelia let out a sigh as she spun back around to face Willow, throwing her hands up in the air. "Well why didn't you just say so?" She snapped her fingers several times, dissolving the various copies of Willows. "I know the perfect person to introduce you to. Have fun."
Something began to emerge from the mix of blood and flames - and how Willow hadn't set off the library's smoke detector, she had no idea - even as Faedelia dove into the mess, disappearing from sight. It grew larger and larger, slowly gaining enough definition that Willow could make out the form of a person roughly her own size who was curled into a ball. Her own size… oh goddess, had Faedelia sent the Wanda-her or the Zatanna-her to this world to teach her? That was going to be all kinds of weird and awkward.
That became less of a concern as the figure gained further definition in the form of wild, wavy hair that fell to the middle of her back, and a long and old-fashioned dress. A thin belt was wrapped around the girl's waist, a quiver full of arrows hanging from her right hip, and an old-fashioned recurve bow rested on her back. The flames burned out with an angry huff, taking the last of the blood with it and giving Willow a good look at her new teacher. Fiery red hair, pale pink skin, a pretty blue and cream dress, brown leather belt and boots… and suspicious blue eyes staring up at her. "Oh! Hi! I'm Willow. What's your name?"
"Chan eil mi a' tuigsinn. Dè tha thu ag iarraidh? Cé go bhfuil tú? Cá bhfuil mé?" The girl jumped to her feet, looking around wildly as she backed away from Willow. On one backward step, she stumbled slightly and shot a glance down at her feet, narrowing her eyes at what she found. Kicking the charred mouse carcass at Willow, she pointed an accusing finger in her summoner's direction. "Ban-draoidh! Ban-draoidh!"
Okay. This was something she'd been prepared for. Sorta. Not the anger, but the language barrier. Hopping to her feet just in time to avoid the charred mouse missile, Willow scrambled over to the nearby table, grabbing another book that she'd left open on the proper spell. "Goddess Athena, work thy will…" The book vibrated in Willow's hands, disrupting her concentration, and she peeked over the top of it to find an arrow with white fletching sticking out of the spine. In the center of the room, her fellow redhead stood with her bow at the ready as she nocked another arrow.