Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Witchblade. Buffy belongs to Whedon, and Witchblade belongs to TNT and Top Cow comics. No money made.
A/N: This one is in no way related to the Witchblade xover I did earlier this month. But it, like the other one, has some art that inspired it. This art (and plotbunny) comes from Slinky_And_The_BloodyWands, and if you want to see it with the art, please visit my LJ at patriciatepes dot livejournal dot com (remove spaces, replace with periods). As for the setting, it's set post-S5 for Buffy and somewhere within S1 of Witchblade. I hope I do Slink's wonderful idea justice! Anyhow, please enjoy!
Willow wasn't sure she liked the way Mr. Irons was looking at her. It wasn't that whole, 'I'm a kid, so this is creepy," thing, but it sure felt that way. She was seated in his office—a very plain, futuristic look to it. It was fairly empty, the walls and floor done in identical material and stark white. His desk was a splash of silver as it lay out before the red-head. The only object in the room that drew Willow's eyes was a pedestal, a worn book lying closed atop it. The book was very out of place, and it looked like just the sort of thing that she would love to get her hands on. In fact, her eyes kept sweeping over to it, and it was becoming harder to concentrate on what Mr. Irons—as in, the Kenneth Irons, who owned half of New York City through investments—was saying.
But she shook herself, putting a bright smile on her face. She nodded, hoping that that would work for whatever it was that Irons had just said. His cold, steel-like eyes locked on her, and Willow had the sneaking suspicion that he knew her eyes had been on the book. But he said nothing, leaning back in his rolling office chair, his slicked-back white hair and charcoal gray suit making him a perfect addition to his office. He steepled his fingers, arching a thin brow at her.
"Tell me again, Ms. Rosenberg, why you sought out this internship, so far away from your home town of—" His eyes floated down to the paper before him, before rising again to lock with hers, "—Sunnydale, California?"
Willow had the feeling that the truth wasn't going to get her the job. A paid internship that was a rarity of its kind, with a company whose fingers were in all kinds of pies. But if she told Irons that the reason she had taken the summer off from being in Sunnydale because she had considered raising her friend—the vampire slayer—from the dead, and then been sent a vision from The Powers That Be that that should be the last thing she should do, she would probably be escorted from the building in a pretty white, wrap-around jacket that, for all its old-schoolness, would match perfectly with the décor. So, instead, she grinned, flipping her stylishly messing hair a little and waving a dismissive hand.
"Well, I just needed a break, and it was such an incredible opportunity, to work with the Kenneth Irons," Willow said.
At least it wasn't a flat out lie, just not the whole truth. Irons leaned forward in his chair, resting his now clasped hands on the desk.
"Well, your credentials are unmatched by the other applicants," he said, slowly, measured, as his own eyes sweep over toward the odd tome.
Willow suddenly felt a coldness sweep over her. Something from deep inside was telling her to move, to leave now, and never look back. Suddenly, Irons smiled and stood. And good interview etiquette told Willow that she should stand as well. Irons held out his hand, and she shook it reflexively.
"Well, if you'll accept, I'd be more than happy to give you the internship. It is a live-in position, you understand, as about half of my business, sometimes more, is conducted at my personal manor."
No, Willow hadn't known that. But that saved her the trouble of trying to find an apartment in New York City. She nodded.
"Thank you! That sounds great," she gushed.
Irons smiled, slipping a hand behind her back as he began to slowly lead her not to the door, but toward the tome on the pedestal.
"You'll be around artifacts much like the one here. I saw you eyeing it earlier," he said as the two came to a stop before it.
Willow's mouth moved like that of a goldfish's, but Irons was still smiling kindly at her. But, and this might have been just five years worth of being the slayer's friend sneaking up on her, something behind his eyes… the smile wasn't the only thing there. Definitely screaming ulterior motive. But she was just being crazy. After all, Buffy had said it was the slayer that attracted trouble, that it was drawn to the slayer because of her power. Willow shouldn't have this problem. Then again, with her witchcraft… but she batted that thought away as well. After that intensely painful vision from The Powers, Willow had gone a little cold turkey. No spells unless absolutely necessary.
"It's lovely. I-I've always had a thing for old books, I guess," she said, trying her best to lean away from the book.
But Irons' hand was still on her back, and he was gently pushing her forward, urging her toward the book. It had a beautiful design, very floral, on the cover, and the words In Historia de Witchblade were inscribed in what appeared to be gold leaf. Willow's hand, despite herself, rose, hovering over the word "Witchblade." She began to lower her hand, fully intending on opening the book, getting lost in whatever was inside, when the door to the office opened.
"Ah, Nottingham," Irons said, and Willow gave a start, whirling to look at the new arrival.
He was dressed all in black, his hair—the same ebony as his clothes—pulled back into a low ponytail, and he came to a stop just on the inside of the door, clasping his hands behind his back.
"This is Willow Rosenberg, our new intern," Irons said, finally stepping away from Willow. He turned, adding, "Ms. Rosenberg, this is my personal assistant, Ian Nottingham. If you have any questions and cannot find me, please seek out Ian. He should be able to assist you."
"Okay, thanks," Willow muttered, the words barely audible.
Her throat suddenly felt dry, like she was becoming dehydrated. Ian's eyes drifted over to her, and Willow noted that the whole beard-mustache-goatee combo that he had going on really didn't help to make him seem any less threatening. Alarms were ringing in Willow's head again, and had she been in Sunnydale, she would've been out of that office quick like a bunny. But this wasn't Sunnydale, and she was just being silly, she was sure.
"Ms. Rosenberg," Irons said, but Willow raised a hand.
"Willow, please," she said.
He grinned. "Very well, then. Willow, if you'll please wait just outside. I must have a word with Ian in private, but then he'll be able to assist you with your move-in to the manor."
Willow nodded, and she walked out of the office at the level that could've been confused "speed." And it was no mistake that she was careful not to brush against Ian on the way out. Something about these two was making her Sunnydale Siren ring… But, again, with the silliness. She was sure.
"She knows something, sir," Nottingham said the moment the door had closed after Willow.
"She knows nothing. Not yet. But she did seem rather interesting, didn't she?" Irons said, moving to stare out the circular window that overlooked the city's skyline.
"You… had a reason for choosing her?" Nottingham asked.
Irons smiled, turning at the waist to stare at his assistant, as he had described Ian to Willow.
"Indeed I did. From the moment she entered the room, it ached," he said, rubbing the twin, circular scars on his right hand, gained from his brief moment of wearing the Witchblade.
"Yes. I believe, Ian, that our Ms. Rosenberg has great power within her. And, better yet, she knows it."
Irons crossed the room, stopping just before Nottingham.
"She could be of great use to us, especially where the Witchblade is concerned."
"You plan to have her cross paths with Detective Pezzini?" Nottingham asked.
"No. I plan to use the magic that Willow is without a doubt capable of to have Pezzini cross paths with me."
Nottingham raised a questioning brow, but Irons only grinned.
"Sara has been… reluctant, to be close with me. I fear she doesn't trust me," Irons lamented.
Nottingham remained silent, and Irons thought that for the best. After all, that statement was not one to be argued with. So, he continued.
"There is a spell, one that has been, sadly, beyond my capacity to perform. But it can enchant the wearer of the Witchblade. Ultimately, it would put Sara under my complete control."
"Just the way you want her," Ian noted.
Irons bristled. Of course, this was truth. But Nottingham was getting brazen, wanton. Ian would need to be chastised, and soon, lest it grow into blatant disobedience. But now, it was time for other things.
"Go to her, Ian. Make her comfortable. Give her some meaningless tasks. I shall do the same. Soon, once I have it all gathered, I will have her perform the spell. But not a moment before I say, understood?"
Nottingham responded with a slight inclination of his head. Irons grinned and bid him gone.
Two weeks. Exactly two weeks was how long it took for the shit to hit the fan. Prior to the end of that fortnight, Willow had actually been enjoying her new job. She had gotten to catalogue and untold number of historical artifacts—some of which she was sure Giles would've loved to have known about. She had even come across a few with some magical properties. But nothing of the evil. Nothing of the "not good" variety. Until two weeks had passed, and Willow entered Irons' main sitting room to find the man himself standing in front of a roaring fire. He turned to her, grinning like the snake who knew he had dinner.
Willow paused, those familiar alarms ringing again. She ignored them, again, and grinned back.
"I finished all that paperwork you wanted done, Mr. Irons," she said.
"Well done. But I'm glad I caught you for another reason, Willow," Irons said, now walking toward her.
He nodded, and he gestured to the wrought iron staircase that spiraled upward to a catwalk that led to rooms that Willow had not been to inside the massive manor—Irons' personal quarters.
"If you would be so kind as to follow me," he said.
Willow's brow furrowed, but she nodded all the same. After all, it had been two weeks and nothing had tried to kill her. So far, so good. The two mounted the stairs and made their way down the hall, not stopping until they reached a room almost at the very end. It was closed by two doors, and Irons pushed both open.
"After you," he said.
As Willow stepped inside, her breath caught. The room had wall-to-wall bookshelves, everyone laden with heavy tomes, and in the center was a large, circular oak table. Upon the table was a single open book, and, if Willow was not mistaken, all the ingredients for a spellcasting.
"What is this?" she asked breathlessly.
"I have to confess, there was more than one reason as to why I offered you the internship with my company," he said, directing her closer to the table.
Dried bundles of various herbs were scattered about, a large pewter bowl lay empty just in front of her. A candelabra with three tall, tapered black candles stood just to Willow's right, and a shudder ran down her spine. After all, it had been so long since she had done a spell.
"I need a spell done, and don't deny your power. I know you're just as aware of it as I am," Irons said, lifting a hand before Willow could act like she thought the man crazy. "I've been… having difficulty in acquiring a certain artifact that I most desire. This spell will rectify that situation. I have all the necessary ingredients."
This felt like one of those half-truths moment, so Willow glanced up through her eyelashes at Irons, her hands resting on the table as if she could feel the power of the spell before she could even work it.
"Why don't you do it, if you know about it?"
"Sadly, I haven't the power. If you do this, I will pay you much more than the entire internship combined."
Money wasn't exactly what Willow was worried about. She pursed her lips.
"What's the artifact?"
"The Witchblade. Will you do it, the spell?"
Her tongue darted out, wetting her lips. "It's like a location spell, right?"
"Something like that."
Another half-truth, she could hear it in his voice. But, despite herself, Willow's mind flew back to the tome in Irons' office. She nodded.
Irons grinned, pointing to the book that lay open to her left. "The spell is there."
Willow nodded and she began. She chanted the incantation, adding herbs and animal parts as it was called upon. She lit them ablaze, chanting another line of spell. She could feel something welling inside of her, as if she had just regained the function of some very important organ, like a lung. The power was surging through her, and it felt wonderful. She chanted on, adding more and more.
"Acciperesanguinemin directionem gerentis," Willow chanted… and paused.
She knew those words… some of them. She blinked, looking back at Irons, who had watched all of this with great interest.
"'Blood of the wielder?'" she asked.
"Ah, yes," he said, withdrawing a vial of the crimson substance from within the folds of his jacket.
"Blood spells are…" Willow said, letting the sentence hang.
"Continue," Irons said, and it sounded like more of an order.
Willow nodded, taking the vial and uncorking it. However, before a single drop could roll out, a pain assaulted her. She gasped, her eyes flying open wide, and another vision flew before her eyes. She saw a woman she had never met, and around her wrist was a bracelet whose single jewel glowed like a warm fire. She was a cop, as proven by the next part of the vision, and she fought the good fight. Then, Irons flew across her mind's eye, his grin evil as a snake coiled about his feet. She could see scars on his hand, two moons interlocking, and they went from being flesh colored to coal black. Fire burned Willow's being, and suddenly the woman, the cop, was being hurt. And Irons was the one doing the hurting.
The vision ended and Willow gasped, falling forward. She was careful, though, to make sure that not a single drop of the blood fell into the bowl.
"What happened?" Irons demanded, his eyes wild. "Finish it!"
Willow whirled, backing toward the door of the room with the vial clasped tightly in both hands. She shook her head.
"No. No it isn't yours," she said, not quite knowing the full meaning of the words, but knowing them to be true nonetheless.
"Come back here!"
"No!" Willow cried, throwing the vial down so that it shattered at her feet.
And she ran, ran until she reached outside of the manor. She didn't stop until she was far enough away so that she was sure that she was safely out of Irons' grasp. She stooped forward, resting her hands on her knees and gasping. Suddenly, she turned her eyes skyward.
"What the hell, Powers?" she shouted. "You stop me from raising my best friend from the dead for this? So I can be used by an evil man to hurt a good woman? Well, thank you but no thanks! You can kiss my ass! I'm going back to Sunnydale, and I will raise Buffy Summers from the dead!"
Willow straightened then, reaching into her pocket and withdrawing her cell. She called a taxi, giving the dispatch the best description for where she was that she could. As soon as that call ended, she made another, booking the next flight to California.