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Devil's Dance

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Devil’s Dance
Author: Jami
Rating: FR-T
Pairing: W/Aus, along with some W/S and possible W/S/Aus
Spoilers: Only for flashbacks that have taken place on Angel and Buffy. Think Fool for Love and Destiny. Nothing too specific though since this is completely an alternate universe.
Summary: A Watcher’s obsession leads her down a dark path.
Distribution: Red’s Soulmates, Near Her Always, anyone want, just ask.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, don’t sue, I have no money to give you anyways.
Author’s Notes: This is something different, and takes place in the 1800s, which I am no expert in. I have no doubt I’ll make some flubs, but bear with me.
Feedback: I live for it!!

 

Chapter 1:

 

Her heels clacked loudly on the wood floor as she strode at a fierce pace down the maze of halls, her long red hair bouncing wildly from the force of her movements as she rushed down the dimly lit corridor.

Reaching an unadorned wood door she knocked loudly and swiftly but didn’t wait a beat before turning the knob and stepping inside. The men and sole woman inside looked up at her abrupt entrance, most expressions scornful at the interruption, others merely disgruntled and unimpressed as she murmured embarrassed apologies and slipped into her seat near the far corner of the long table that served as the centerpiece for the small, shadowed room.

“As I was saying,” the gruff, displeased voice belonging to the older gentleman at the head of the table announced, sparing the young woman a short glare before returning his attention to the others hanging on his word. “It is with a very solemn heart that I am to inform you all that Miss Cole did not survive after the heinous attack she and her Watcher suffered last night in the West End.”

A soft murmur swept through the room, some voices filled with dismay, others with frustration, but sharp green eyes observed keenly that none felt true sadness at the loss they had just sustained. Lives were sacrificed all the time in their line of work and people, even the Chosen, became expendable. The only disappointment they were feeling stemmed from the fact that one of their own was defeated. Even then, Sophie Cole could and would be replaced.

“Did Mr. Wendt also succumb to his injuries?” Marie Stansfield asked from her corner of the table, leaning forward, lined and worn face aglow from the gaslights that lit their conference quarters. True concern, Willow noted with a small bit of interest, was etched on the middle-aged woman’s face.

“He is unwell but expected to make a full recovery,” George Whiting, an older gentleman with salt and pepper hair and a graying mustache that seemed to eclipse his small, thin face, replied as he leaned back in his chair at the head of the table. As the leader of their small and albeit flourishing underground organization, Mr. Whiting relished in the power and influence he had over others and did little to conceal that fact.

Marie nodded in singular relief while the rest of the men seated around them displayed little emotion either way.

“A new Slayer has been called?” questioned Mr. Grant with slight exasperation as he ran a hand down his sallow face.

“As always, yes,” Whiting replied, clasping his hands together on the edge of the table. “She is currently being housed in Paris—”

“When is she to come to London?” Willow interrupted; her curiosity and desperation making it impossible for her to keep her tongue in check.

“She is not, Miss Rosenberg,” Whiting bit out, annoyance written across his weathered face, silently demanding that she remained quiet.

“But sir—” she tried to argue but was swiftly cut off.

“The decision has been made,” he responded shortly, “by those of us more knowledgeable. London is too dangerous a place for a Slayer so new to her powers. She is to train in Dublin and when she is deemed prepared she will be brought here.”

“With all due respect, sir,” Willow attempted her hand at diplomacy, a skill she sorely lacked, “it is because London is so dangerous that we need her here. The Scourge has taken root once more and people are dying en masse.”

“I am well aware of the Scourge’s presence,” he snapped, “but an untrained girl who lacks control will do little more than join the ranks of the perished if she is simply thrown into a fight she cannot win. We will not speak of this any further. Mr. Billings, you will be sent to retrieve Miss Laurent in Paris and accompany her to Dublin. You will teach her, train her, and when you deem her ready you will send word to the Council. Understood?”

“Yes sir,” the young Englishman nodded deeply, a lock of thick black hair falling over his eyes.

“Excuse me, Mr. Whiting,” Willow stopped him, her earlier worry giving way to frustration.

“This meeting has come to an end,” he declared loudly, drowning out her protestations easily as he rapped his fist on the table and pushed his chair back to stand, others following his lead at a slower pace. “We will reconvene in a week’s time. In the meantime, I suggest that you, Mr. Billings, begin packing. As for the rest of you, do keep the unfortunate Mr. Wendt in your thoughts.” Marie bowed her head graciously at that. “That is all.”

“Sir,” Willow called in a hushed voice as she maneuvered her way through the small crowd of men in stiff wool suits until she reached Whiting, placing a hand on his arm to garner his attention when it looked as if he were planning on ignoring her entirely.

“What is it, Miss Rosenberg?” he asked in exasperation, seeing that he wouldn’t be able to escape before she cornered him. Blocked by the other men making their way out of the chamber through the only door in the room, he was given no other choice than to indulge her.

“I…I was told that I was to be the next Watcher assigned,” she mumbled, her hand dropping from his arm and her eyes meeting him plaintively, with a hint of anger at his apparent snub.

“Plans have changed,” he shrugged nonchalantly as he watched the last of the evening’s participants step into the hall, leaving only the two of them in the conference chambers. “There was some concern that you were not adequately prepared to handle to such a responsibility. I’m afraid your tardiness this evening simply proved that to those who remained undecided.”

“I was only late,” she replied indignantly, clenching her fists at her side, “because you said you needed a book from Thompson’s library. You know how stubborn he can be. I spent hours convincing him to give me the book, and only because you said you needed it immediately.”

“Do you have it?” Whiting remarked curiously, bushy eyebrows raised. Willow nodded distractedly and reached for a satchel at her side, removing the parcel and handing it to him without flourish. “Ah, lovely,” he smiled tightly. “My wife will be exceedingly pleased.”

“Your…wife,” she repeated dumbly, wondering what the poor old woman had to do with anything.

“Mmm, yes,” he murmured, “Anniversary present. I’m sure she will love it.”

“You had me running across London all afternoon for that?” Willow asked incredulously, openmouthed at the audacity. “If it wasn’t for that I would have been on time. In fact I would have been early. I’m always early.”

“Quite tragic,” he commiserated halfheartedly. “Now are we done here? I do have other matters to attend to this evening.”

“This isn’t fair,” she cried as he sidestepped her and started for the door. “I deserve that position. I’ve worked harder than any other man and woman on the Council. You owe me that. And more importantly you know that the Slayer belongs here, in London. We can’t spare her—”

“For the last time,” Whiting sighed in exasperation, turning to face her as he stood framed in the doorway, “the Slayer will be sent to Dublin. Chosen or not, she is no use to us without training. She is no match for the likes of the Scourge of Europe, you must acknowledge that. And,” he eyed her contemptuously, “the Council owes you nothing. We all do our part, no one is more deserving than any other. You were passed over because you are too young and too inexperienced. We almost lost one of our own tonight, I do not wish to add to the number of casualties we sustain. As for fair, it plays no part. We fight in a battle at which were are sorely outnumbered. If life were fair, good men would always prevail. Sadly that isn’t so, is it Miss Rosenberg?”

Tipping his hat, a mocking attempt at being courteous, he bid her a silent farewell and left her standing alone in the Council’s chambers.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Her journey home was quiet and subdued as she sat inside the darkened cab, listening to the repetitive clacking of the horses’ hooves. They slowed to a stop and Willow was shaken out of her despondent stupor as the door to the cab opened, her driver offering her a gentlemanly hand as she stepped down onto the cold ground.

“Thank you,” she murmured, paying him his due and heading up the steps to her flat.

Her front door closed behind her softly and she turned the lock on it just to be safe. Vampires needed invitations to come inside a home, but many other creatures of the night needed no such welcome. A locked door was not much protection, but it gave the illusion of security. Ever since she joined the Watcher’s Council, seen what she had seen, she treasured these pithy illusions more than anything in the world.

If she was more of a realist she’d never sleep at night.

Willow’s eyes fell to the slightly crumpled newspaper lying open on her modest desk as she slipped off her bulky winter coat, draping it across her unadorned wooden chair. It was opened to the third page, right where she had left off that morning before she had left to begin her futile search for Mr. Whiting.

There were more dead, found tortured and mutilated in the heart of London. Some people were blaming animals, due to the vicious bites found on many of the victims. But there were no animals in the city that could do something so brutal. Only demons, masquerading as one of the populous, could be responsible for such heinous acts. They were strong, they were nearly unstoppable, they were the Scourge of Europe. And without at Slayer to stop them, they would soon bring the whole of London to its knees.

The rest of the Council was apparently ready and willing to watch passively as these creatures tore through the city, resigned to the idea that they could do nothing to stem the violence until the Slayer was fully trained.

Willow couldn’t ignore it though, and she would not be satisfied simply sitting back and watching the carnage. Something would have to be done. Someone would have to take a stand. She may be alone in the fight, but the Scourge would be stopped.

Even if it was the last thing she did.