The Red Witch

Chapter 14

Willow floated upon a fluffy cloud that smelled faintly of lemons and even more faintly of vanilla. She could not open her eyes. She was trapped in the same darkness she'd fallen into before, yet she was too tired and too comfortable to be as afraid as she should have been. There was a hint of light to her left though it wasn't something that she could see really, but she could sense it at the very edges of her cloud as if it were trying to attract her attention, to tempt her into noticing it fully. Willow struggled to turn to it to see it and then she realized that she could not move, that she did not have the strength to even twitch a finger. The effort she put in though made her so much more tired than she had been before and oblivion called again. She tried next to use the faint sense of light to see something anything in the dark she was in. And it was only then that she realized that she could not feel any part of her body at all not even whether or not her eyes were open or closed. She was completely cut off from her physical self as though she were some kind of ghost or worse, because ghosts at least could move around.

Now the panic began to set in as she could not tell if she even existed, if she was even alive. She felt herself floating (whatever "herself" was) but she had very little tangible connection to anything outside her thoughts and even that was slight due to exhaustion. She could not feel any part of her body or make it move. Even the light she sensed was beyond her ability to confirm its presence, for all she knew she made it up so that she would not be totally alone and broken in the dark. The only thing she was even the least bit sure of was the feel of the cloud under her and the very faint scents that accompanied it, unfortunately that was not enough to soothe her.

Before her panic became full blown however another of her senses became active and she realized that she could hear something, that there was something to hear. Water sloshed gently somewhere close by and two voices carried on a conversation somewhere near the water. The voices sounded female as far as she could tell and one sounded older than the other reminding her of her beloved bubbe who died while Willow was still in elementary school. She felt comforted by the thought of her grandmother and gave herself over to listening to the words with all the attention she could given her fatigue.

"She's not waking Mother. Shouldn't she be awake by now? It has been days since the healing." The sounds of water stopped, which helped Willow focus more on the voices.

"She'll wake in her own time precious. There was more than physical wounds for her to heal and some wounds require more time and care than others."

"What do you mean?" A sensation of cool like an ice cube rubbed along fevered skin, filled Willow's being and surrounded her soothing a pain she had not before been aware of.

"Surely you felt it my daughter as it was very obvious to me and you were closer to her in the healing than I. She carries many scars some fresh and some very old and many self inflicted, yet none of those that concern me lay on her person. Emotional abrasions and mental ones take more energy and more will to overcome. When she does awake, which won't be soon, she and I will have lots of work to do."

"Mother I could..." The feeling of soothing coolness stopped and left Willow wishing for it to return.

"You could, but you won't. This young one will hate me by the end of things and she will need a friend. You no doubt have many similar experiences in common and you are better suited for a friendly confidant role because of that. Let me be the one who breaks her so she may be rebuilt." Water began sloshing again closer to Willow than it had before.

"She will not hate you forever Mother, I couldn't."

"No stubborn as you are that you couldn't do." Amusement and affection showed clearly in the tone of voice strengthening Willow's impression of this woman being something like her bubbe. The coolness was back and with the call to oblivion stronger than before. There was no ignoring it this time and before she had time to notice all though and awareness ceased.

"Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep, four have gone astray..." Sang an annoying blonde vampire right next to the ear of an irritated dark haired Slayer.

Poor Faith had just barely closed her eyes after having returned from her task when she was disturbed by Kennedy or mini Faith as some called her. Kennedy had been quite purposely left at the Summer's residence when new sleeping arrangements were made for the Potentials. So having the talkative brunette leaning over her meant nothing good. As it turned out it was a really, really bad omen to be awakened by an overeager Potential in the middle of the night. Four of the newer girls from Buffy's place had taken off once all the Scoobies had either left or fallen asleep. Apparently they were stupid enough to believe the First and were making a bid for freedom and thus depriving Faith of her rest because Buffy was still AWOL and Willow with her.

Two of the four had come with the newest group of girls from South America and one had never had a run in with the bringers at all. No doubt she saw the Scoobies as evil entities that brought her into danger rather than saviors who rescued her from it. Faith had no idea which way they might have gone but the bus station or airport were probably good places to start. Tara was woken and had agreed to do a locator spell, which probably was useless because the girls had taken all their belongings and were not demons that gave off strong signals. Still she was going to try with Anya's help while Xander drove to the bus station and Giles tried the airport. Faith had opted to attempt to track them on foot a task that was made both easier and harder when Spike spotted her and joined in.

Faith was still not comfortable with William the Bloody even though he was supposedly a "good" vampire. Truth be told she still had issues with Angel sometimes though she owed him everything and counted him a friend. Buffy always got along better with the vamps than she did. Faith was more likely to kill a vamp on sight than exchange witty banter or kiss them. Then there was the fact that Spike as he was called now had killed two Slayers before. Faith had no idea why Buffy kept him around, even if he was occasionally handy, had it been up to her he'd have been ashes years ago.

It had been half an hour since Tara had called an reported her third failed attempt at the locator spell. Faith hadn't expected that it'd be that easy anyway. Everyone else had assumed the girls had run off and stayed together, but Faith wasn't so sure of that. After all three of the girls lived in completely different continents than North America and the other lived out in Idaho somewhere. If they were all trying to go back home then a bus would be easier and cheaper for Julie than the others and there were several that ran at night despite the risk from nightlife (and perhaps because of it). She and Spike were taking the long way to the bus station, which was very near the ominous "Welcome to Sunnydale" sign. Xander was supposed to check the bus station then make his way slowly back towards them so that they could meet in the middle, but Faith had a bad feeling. It told her that if Julie or the others had gone that way then they never reached their destination.

Faith's ringtone blasting out into the sudden silence startled both Spike and her. She had been intently surveying the area for any hint that the Potentials had come that way and Spike had just stopped singing while he studied the entrance of a play park across the street. Glancing at the id on the phone Faith quickly answered the call and stopped walking when she noticed Spike had stopped and was still staring at the park with his head cocked a little.

"Any news G-man?" Faith asked suddenly worried he'd found something they'd end up wishing he didn't.

"Faith I found three of our missing girls..." Faith could practically hear him cleaning his glasses through the phone which was not a good sign.

"Spit it out G-man we don't have all night here." Faith said in a rush because she turned to follow Spike who'd began to make his way toward the park at a quick pace while taking deep breaths of the night air.

"They're dead. All three of them. I found them just outside the airport on the side of the road... They've been torn apart, demons most likely maybe even Turok Han, some have bites." A sigh followed by a chocked noise that could been G holding back a sob. "I'm going to get them out of the street then take them somewhere until we can put them to rest."

"Damn G. This is so fucked up." Faith was brought to a standstill by the news, but Spike was still running up ahead of her. "Was the blonde with them? Julie?"

"No just Amerika, Lucia and Portia."

"Alright, well I think Spike might be smelling her now then, he is running towards something. I'll call you back when I find something tell Xander not to go back unless he hears from us we might need a car."

"Got it. I hope you find her alive Faith, I truly do."

Faith hung up and then took off full speed after Spike. She wasn't so sure Julie would want to be found alive, not if the things that found her fellow Potentials had found her. Damn.

Faith ran as fast as she could to catch up with Spike, but she'd lost track of him during her call with Giles. So she did the best she could to stretch her Slayer senses to find him. Using those she got an impression of a large group of vamps up ahead. Running even faster than she thought she could she soon came upon a big fight as Spike had taken on a group of seven vamps. Looking around before joining the fray she spotted a blond head of hair laying upon the grass attached to a very still figure. For a second she debated going to the girl or fighting, but when one of the vamps broke off from the battle to go after the girl again she ran and tackled him away from her.

Pulling her stake out she stabbed the startled bloodsucker in the heart then took a brief look at the girl who was still breathing with a steady pulse even if it wasn't as strong as Faith would have liked. She then joined Spike fighting back to back with him. This group while not Turok Han, was almost as bad. The vamps looked as if they had not been feeding regularly which made them even more dangerous than normal. They fought savagely biting, kicking, and clawing at Spike and Faith without any strategy except to hurt them and probably drain Faith's blood as well as the girl's. Spike had dusted one before Faith joined him so with the one Faith took out that left them with 2 to 5 odds. So even with the extra viciousness of the vamps and the branch to the back of the head Spike took the two of them managed to end the fight quickly enough.

Faith checked over the girl more thoroughly. There were several severe bite marks on her that showed lots of bruising as well as a broken arm and probably several cracked if not fractured ribs. Faith wanted to avoid going to the hospital because the wanna be Slayer would be more vulnerable away from everyone especially given the way the night has gone. So making a decision and hoping it wasn't the wrong one she called Xander then Giles. Dawn was not long away so Spike would go back with her to Buffy's and with any luck either Tara or Willow would be able to help the girl without requiring major medical intervention and splitting their forces further.

I apologize for the long time between updates. Unfortunately I have been going through several issues that required all my time. I am working on giving myself more regular time for my writing. As promised this story will be finished more chapters will be posted soon without the very long break in between. I think it will go out to about thirty chapters given my outline. Thanks for sticking with me. Reviews are appreciated.