btvs: god of war

wip:give up the ghost, btvs/alpha&omega

Title: Give up the Ghost
Chapter 5:Part B: ready or not
Word Count: 2915
Prompt: #454 outcast @ tamingthemuse
Rating: FR13
Disclaimer: BtVS and all related characters are copyright of Joss Whedon and ME. The Alpha and Omega Series and all related characters are copyright of Patricia Briggs and Ace. No infringement intended.

Summary: Leah Cornick was a lot of things (most of them bad), but none would’ve guessed that she was a Slayer trapped within a wish.

A full stomach was the path towards contentment Anna decided as she hunted down the last of the sausage gravy on her plate with a home fry. Even Charles’ knowitall smirk wasn’t going to ruin her last bite and she consumed it with a happy hum before reaching for her juice to wash it down. Anna settled back in her chair to watch Illyria—Brother Wolf was doing the same, but for different reasons—as she devoured yet another stack of pancakes. She ate with a single-mindedness that bordered on wolf, Brother Wolf and Charles were insulted by that comparison, but there was a dainty quality to her bites that Anna found disturbing.

They felt like echoes of who she’d once been and Anna wasn’t entirely sure Illyria had ever been anything other than, well, Illyria. It was unsettling to think of her as a person rather than a creature that used glamour as easily as the fae, but she had the oddest assumption that her instincts were correct. Dawn retrieved another slice of bacon from the dwindling pile on the plate at the center of the table, drawing Anna’s and Brother Wolf’s attention. They watched her dip the bacon in what was left of her sausage gravy, eaten with a healthy dose of hot sauce, on her plate and eat it.

Her fingers were licked clean before she snagged her cup of coffee and downed the rest. It was a casual display ruined by the rapid beat of her heart and the sweat that gave her scent a damp edge. ‘Not prey,’ Anna cautioned them both and caught the quirking of Charles mouth, but Brother Wolf humphed at her and returned to his study of Illyria while Anna continued to watch over Dawn.

Leah was doing much the same from her seat between her sister and Bran. Anna wasn’t entirely certain, but she thought perhaps there was concern beneath all the bluster and casual ribbing the siblings had been treating one another to throughout the meal. Dawn’s auto-response to most inquires seemed set on sarcasm and Leah had welcomed the challenge—though her tendency to restructure words to suit her whim made Bran wince and had caused Charles to chuckle. Once.

Wood scraping over stone drew Anna’s focus and she watched as Illyria rose from her place beside Charles. “I wish to converse with the green,” her clarification of her actions explained exactly nothing and Anna frowned her at—along with everyone else—as Illyria nodded to Bran. “This meal was satisfactory.”

“She means that as a compliment,” Leah clarified the wrong part of Illyria’s statement before she inclined her head and ordered, “Try not to kill anyone,” she paused before tacking on, “unless you think it necessary for your continued survival.”

Gold glinted in Bran’s gaze and Leah’s head swiveled back towards him with an abruptness that startled Anna and told her Bran was likely shouting in his mate’s head. Illyria interrupted their silent exchange, “You presume something of this world could harm me,” her eyes narrowed and those fixed pupils somehow made her gaze more menacing, “You insult me.”

“Or,” Leah countered, sparing Bran a triumphant look, “I’m attempting to trick you into agreeing not to kill anyone.”

“Subterfuge,” Illyria spat the word.

“We can’t all be infallible god-kings,” she frowned at Bran, “Or a Marrok,” before turning back to Illyria, “Don’t kill anyone. I mean it.”

The order, like the banter, was delivered in a honeysweet tone, but the steel buried beneath all that sweetness was not lost on any of them and, Anna thought, it might be there because Leah half-expected Illyria to disobey at the first opportunity. There was an undercurrent of violence to Illyria that reminded Anna of Asil at his most crazed, but Charles corrected that thought with an unpleasant reminder of the destructive force his father could become.

Anna shivered with the comparison, wondering if this was one of those times in which Charles simply knew something or it was because he saw something in Illyria Anna didn’t, either way it didn’t bode well for any of them. The rest of the table remained quiet as Illyria stiffened beneath the order—perhaps feeling the weight of an dominant wolf’s will for the first time—and her human façade rolled back into place with the whisper of scales over stone.

The sound made her stomach tighten and Charles straightened in his chair, preparing himself for an attack, as the scent of carrion faded to be replaced by lavender. Illyria could hide her scent better than any fae they’d encountered and it made Brother Wolf uneasy. Anna was more concerned with the fact that Illyria’s presence faded—the heavy weight of it had nearly proven her mate’s distrust of her—and that her gaze remained trained on Leah.

Anna recognized that look as one of predation, but she was uncertain if Illyria considered Leah her prey or another predator in her territory. Rather than rising to the challenge, as Leah had with Bran so many times in the past, she merely picked up her cup of tea and took a sip.

Anna’s nose told her that Leah wasn’t unaffected by Illyria’s challenge, but her scent didn’t hold the traces of acidity that Anna usually associated with fear. Charles was still doing his best to teach her to lead with her nose, but she watched Leah return the cup to the table under Illyria’s steady gaze as the rest of the room’s occupants awaited the outcome of this display of dominance. While Leah hadn’t met Illyria’s gaze, Anna didn’t believe she was losing and Bran’s relaxed pose gave credence to that assumption.

Mate,’ Brother Wolf’s voice filled her mind, clearer than Bran’s and twice as comforting, ‘you are not wrong,’ and Anna felt a kernel of respect forming in Charles for Leah. Its presence alleviated some of the unease that had been stirring in her since their conversation last night. They’d done their best to alleviate the pack’s fears—Asil had been surprising helpful in that regard, but Kara’s attendance had likely contributed to his helpfulness—now Anna just had to convince Bran that the changes in Leah were good ones to be nurtured.

A plan of action allowed her to refocus and she felt Charles’ curiosity with her sudden intensity, but Anna chose to focus on Illyria as the humanity she wore slid back into place and the tension drained away. Her head inclined, softly curled hair curtaining her features and playing down their sharpness as her mouth quirked. “I have missed you.”

The admission drew Leah’s gaze to hers, they met briefly before Leah directed it elsewhere, “I didn’t,” her smile was tired, “But then I wasn’t entirely myself.”

“No,” Illyria retorted with a smugness that stiffened Leah’s spine, “You are not.”

She left them—apparently she enjoyed getting the last word as much as Bran—heading into the kitchen. Anna heard the back door open and close while Leah stared at the place she’d vacated before she turned that considering gaze on Dawn and raised a brow, “She can converse with plants?”

Again not the statement Anna wanted clarified, but Dawn’s uncomfortable shifting and the sharpening of her scent told Anna it was the right question to have been asked. The witch snagged another piece of bacon and tore it into pieces, spreading them across her plate. The silence around them thickened and Anna expected Leah, or Bran, to break it and demand answers, but they remained patient. Dawn eventually lifted her head and popped a piece of bacon into her mouth.

“She can,” her head dipped, chin towards her chest as she picked up another piece, “she can also bend them to her will.”

“Plants?” Anna couldn’t help, but question. “How is that helpful?”

“Think of her as a plant alchemist.” Dawn ate the piece of bacon, giving herself a moment to gather her thoughts before she continued, “There was this weeping willow she imbued with her essence once and something tells me it and its descendants are going to be causing trouble for anyone that comes near them for a very long time.”

“Wonderful for the tree,” Leah leaned forward, pushing her plate to the side as she caught Dawn’s gaze and held it, “I’m more interested in how she’s able to do it. Illyria had lost that power before she’d even come to us. What else has she gained back?”

“She can alter time to some extent.” Anna stiffened at Dawn’s admission, but before anyone else could comment she strived onward with her explanation. “It costs her. Usually she loses consciousness shortly thereafter and you know how she feels about sleeping.”

“Do I?” Leah questioned.

“It’s beneath her,” Dawn rolled her eyes, “Technically we’re all beneath her.”

“Not the point,” Leah shook her head, “How did she get her powers back?” Dawn flinched and ducked her head. “You?” Leah snarled, rising to her feet, “Dawn, how could you? You know her goals.”

“To conquer all and live forever.” Dawn’s tone matched her sisters, but she remained seated as she argued, “Do you see her conquering much?”

“Is she a danger to us?” Anna broke into their conversation. “To the pack?”

“Best they keep their distance.”

“Not unless they piss her off.”

Dawn and Leah responded in tandem before pausing to look at one another, but it was Dawn that shook her head and continued, “It happened while we were looking for you and if it hadn’t we’d be dead several times over by now.”

“You were right,” Leah turned tiredly to Bran and Anna frowned when she noticed the circles beneath Leah’s eyes. They’d been hidden beneath her makeup, but the tone of the current conversation had highlighted how drained she must feel, “We have a lot more to discuss.”

“We do,” Dawn agreed casting a mutinous look towards Bran, “But first I need to have a little chat with you mate.”

Bran frowned—likely because Dawn had directed the request to Leah rather than Bran himself—before he gave a resigned sigh and questioned, “Privately?”

Charles stiffened beside her and Anna inclined her head with Bran’s suggestion since she knew he couldn’t abide a witch. That meant he wanted time alone with Leah’s sister and Anna wasn’t entirely supportive of the concept. Charles’ unease meant he shared her fears and Leah was watching Bran with an expression that Anna found somewhere between grateful and worried—Anna didn’t fault her the caution.

“Preferably,” Dawn replied in a tone that somehow matched Bran’s perfectly and Anna caught Leah’s head shake out of the corner of her eye.

“If one of you kills the other,” Leah cautioned, her smile more of a baring of teeth, “The survivor has to deal with me.”

Anna smiled, she couldn’t help it, and Charles settled some with Leah’s attempt at levity. He leveled his most impressive stare at Dawn—one that had frightened many a crazed wolf—and smiled. “Agreed.”

Blue eyes widened and Dawn’s heartrate surged, but her tone was bland as she countered, “Scary,” those eyes narrowed and flicked towards Leah, “She’s scarier though.”

Bran rose and did something that called the rooms attention to him rather than Dawn. Anna thought it was a Marrok thing and Charles’ watchful gaze made her think that assumption was an accurate one, but she was starting to wonder at Dawn’s ability to stand up to the two most dominant wolves in their pack. She watched the odd pair leave, heading towards Bran’s study with some trepidation. Charles’ warm presence at her side almost made her believe things would work out alright in the end—she was just a little concerned not everyone was going to make it to end of this alive.

“Da ordered the rest of the wolves to give Illyria a wide berth,” Charles stated suddenly and with about as much emotion as Dawn had mustered when she’d challenged him with Leah.

“If only we could order Illyria so thoroughly,” Leah stated in a wistful tone as she rose, “Help me with the dishes?”

It was a request and one made with her gaze directed towards the table as she started to gather the dishes. Dawn might not have realized what she was doing when she’d made her comment to Charles, but Leah had and, it appeared, if Charles allowed it she was going to ignore the gauntlet thrown before an older wolf with excellent control. While Brother Wolf was more interested in testing their merit against Illyria, Dawn’s suggestion that Leah was somehow more dangerous than them had intrigued him and he was now curious enough to test the theory.

However, Charles was unwilling to frighten or harm his father’s mate and chose instead to turn his lightening gaze downward, like Leah, and Anna settled a soothing hand on his wrist. Tension sang up his arm and brought the muscles to the forefront as she felt Brother Wolf’s irritation with Charles for taking their eyes off an opponent. Her mate lifted his gaze to Anna and she saw the golden hue before she chided Brother Wolf for allowing a few spiteful words to stir him up.

Truth,’ was thrust into her mind a snarl.

Anna tightened her grip on his wrist while she reminded the both of them, ‘Just because Dawn believes it to be true doesn’t mean Leah does,’ and released them. She took a step back and started to gather up the dishes with Leah.

Buffy’ Brother Wolf corrected with an exasperated huff and Anna knew he thought of her as two separate people now. Leah had been below his acknowledgement, someone to be tolerated and little else because of his respected for Bran, but Buffy was someone else entirely to him—powerful in her own right and worthy of his notice.

Charles was startled into inaction by Brother Wolf’s revelation and he stood motionless as Leah, her gaze still averted, broached the subject at hand. “I’d rather not play a game of one-upmanship, if that’s alright with you?”

She brought her stack of dishes into the kitchen, Anna following behind and Charles brought up the rear as he agreed in a conversation tone, “It would end badly.”

“It would end in death,” Leah turned then, chin rising as she met Charles’ gaze and held it, “Mine or yours.”

Anna felt, more than saw, Charles’ surprise with Leah’s admission and Brother Wolf was smug in both their minds. “Is that how it would end?” Charles questioned, his voice tinged with only a slight rumble.

“It would,” their gazes held as Leah confessed, “She is strong and uncompromising.”

“Most wolves are,” Anna interrupted, drawing their focus away from each other and to her and she drew on her wolf to keep from shivering beneath their combined gazes. “I’ve come to realize.”

Leah smiled, it softened her gaze and she kept it that way as she agreed, “I think you’re right.”

“She usually is,” Charles added a put-upon sigh to his statement that made Anna roll her eyes and Leah stare up at in him wonder.

“I was hoping to ask a favor,” the request was offered in a timid voice before Leah sighed and finished stronger with, “rather than cause the shedding of blood.”

Leah left Charles to deal with the last bit without her to glower at by giving him her back—which was an insult in and of itself—and Anna moved between them to give Charles a chance to gather himself and Brother Wolf time to come to grips with Leah’s admission. Keeping herself between Leah and her mate, Anna dropped off the dishes and took an inordinate amount of time to collect the freshly scrubbed and dried pans and griddle. Charles emotions were still raging, but his breathing and heartbeat had evened enough so that she trusted him enough to step away from them to return her gathered items to their proper homes.

Anna cast a furative glance at Charles from beneath her lashes and saw that he stood a few feet from Leah, studying the back of her head as she filled the sink with water and a few drops of soap. The dishes in his hands cracked and Anna straightened from putting away the pans to see Charles staring downward and Leah’s spine had straightened, but that appeared to have been her reaction as she started to wash the dishes. Anna spared Charles a frown before she returned the griddle to cabinet beside the stove and shut the door with enough force to bang it.

Charles’ head lifted and the gaze that met hers was human brown and filled with confusion. She cast a pointed look at the broken plates and it spurned him into action. He deposited the pieces of ceramic into the trash before dropping off his silverware in the sink, his close proximity was greeted with a silence from Leah, and he returned to the table to gather more. Anna finished putting away the last pot before grabbing a towel and dried the first plate Leah rinsed off.

Anna’s curiosity forced her to ask, “What was the favor?”

“Dishes first,” was Leah’s reply to her question and Anna smiled when she added, “Charles isn’t the only one swallowing their wolf right now.”

“Dominants,” Anna retorted with exasperation and her wolf’s approval.

Both of them frowned at her and she grinned back at them—utterly unrepentant.
*gigglesnort* The thought of Illyria being responsible for the Whomping Willow is absolutely perfect. It would explain just so much!

I love the nonverbal going on between the characters, which makes total sense with the werewolf/mate things going on. :) And have I mentioned just how much I love Brother Wolf and Anna?

Love the mixture of Buffy/Leah. You've got a good blend going on that is totally believable with everything leading up to now. And I think when they get full control of the wolf, Bran's world is going to get flipped around.

Looking forward to Dawn and Bran's talk. That should be interesting. ;)
I was worried I made the willow tree reference a little too vague, but once I started actually pondering what Illyria could do with vegetation that just kinda sprang on me. ;) I’m thinking of peppering a few more nods to other fandoms as I go.

Anna tends to be more observant than Buffy which helps when I do her scenes. I think her abuse by her first pack made her more inclined to know what others are doing around her at all times. Leah had no need to know because she entrusted her status as Bran’s mate to keep her safe. Buffy is an odd mashup of the two when it comes to her observational skills.

I’m having fun with thinking through how each character would react to the scene at hand and then attempting to blend them. Depending on whom they’re interacting with actually makes the different personalities more prominent. Bran brings out Leah while Dawn and Anna bring out Buffy and Charles will get his chance in the next chapter.

There might be a smidge of bloodshed between those two. Dawn is a hell of a lot scarier than she’s led them to believe. Her being afraid or worried is not going to stop her from taking action. Hell it might spurn her into action. ;)