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Fan Fiction: They Also Serve
Chapter Nine: By Any Other Name
"Liberty, equality - bad principles! The only true principle for humanity is justice; and justice to the feeble is protection and kindness."
Willow didn't manage to reach anyone by phone, either on Xander's cell or at Buffy's house, and neither she nor Tara could remember Giles' mobile number. They decided to try again from the hospital, then tucked the phone into the glove compartment and set off.
They were still en route when the road suddenly dropped out from under them, then slammed upward, jarring the car with brutal force. It took Tara a few seconds to blink the drowsiness from her eyes and realize what was going on; by the time she did, the earthquake had already sent the car tumbling toward the ditch. The shriek of damaged metal filled her ears, worse than any alarm clock she'd ever awakened to.
"Oh my God," Willow whispered, pale and shaking, as they came to an abrupt halt. Her side of the car was raised higher than Tara's, and the seatbelt was all that was keeping her from being thrown into Tara's lap. "Tara? Amy?" She craned her neck around as the earth stilled, trying to see what had happened to the injured girl.
Tara touched a trembling hand to her forehead where it had made contact with the passenger window in the initial jolt; it felt deeply bruised, but there was no blood. "Willow...?" She still felt slightly disconnected, as though she weren't entirely awake; was this some sort of nightmare?
"Tara," Willow breathed, and turned wide, shocked green eyes on her girlfriend before fumbling with her seatbelt and straining towards the back seat again. "I've got to check on Amy," she said, her voice tight with worry. "She wasn't belted in!"
"Was, was that an earthquake?" Tara released the catch on her own seatbelt, struggling to sit upright and make some sense out of the sudden chaos.
The catch on Willow's seatbelt abruptly came loose. Without that tough strap of fabric there was nothing to keep her in her seat, and she tumbled immediately into Tara's lap. "Ow," she said, rubbing her hip where it had collided with one of the non-upholstered bits of the car's interior. "Sorry, baby, are you okay?"
"I'll be fine," Tara reassured her. In other circumstances she might have enjoyed the lapful of Willow, but all she wanted to do at that moment was to calm the worry in those wide green eyes.
A weak groan issued from the back seat. Willow immediately eased her weight off of Tara's legs, inching towards the corner of the car Amy's voice was coming from. "Amy?" she called, softly. "Are you awake?"
Amy had already been badly injured before the quake; Tara didn't even want to imagine how much pain she must be in at the moment. There was no way they would make it to the hospital now in any kind of reasonable time frame, and the 911 lines were probably already choked with panicky citizens.
"Oh God." Willow sounded stricken, and she took several deep breaths before leaning back to meet Tara's concerned gaze. "There's blood on her lips, Tara, I think she has internal injuries. Is there any way we can get her out of the car?"
The doors on Tara's side of the car were firmly wedged against the ground; the only way out would be through the driver's side doors, which were up in the air at an angle. Tara might be able to get out, and Willow could, but removing Amy was going to be nearly impossible. Even if levitating her were possible-- which, given Tara's current exhaustion, was a big "if"-- the tilt of the car and the positions of the seats would complicate things even further. "I, I don't know," she said, helplessly.
Suddenly, they heard a knocking sound on the windshield. Tara straightened abruptly in her seat, hoping that some Good Samaritan had stopped on the road to help them, but found herself face to face with Anya instead. The vengeance demon was in human face and wore a worried frown as she craned her neck to look into the car's interior.
"Anya?" Tara exclaimed, momentarily surprised to see the other girl. Then she remembered; of course Anya would be here. She had been the one to warn them about Amy in the first place; she could sense Amy's need for vengeance, or something like that, and she could teleport.
"Anya?" Willow echoed, then gasped. "Anya! Maybe she can help us!" She scrambled up the length of the back seat and braced her shoulder against the door, then started pulling on the door handle. The door opened slightly, but the weight of it immediately slammed it shut again.
Anya watched as Willow attempted the door a few more times, then shook her head. She walked around to that side of the car, out of Tara's line of sight, and then a sudden wrenching sound came from the door Willow was struggling with. It gave a sort of tortured metallic groan, then disappeared entirely. Apparently, the demon Anyanka was a great deal stronger than she'd been as a human.
The door clanged to the pavement outside. Anya peered in through the new opening, wearing a strange little smirk. "This is Xander's car, isn't it?" she asked. "I don't think his insurance will cover this damage."
"Money later, Anya," Willow chided her, out of habit. "Can you help Amy?"
"Well, that depends on Amy, doesn't it?" Anya said brightly, with a false smile. She stared intently down at the foot-well behind Tara's seat, where Amy's crumpled form had come to rest. "Amy, can you hear me?"
A muffled, liquid moan was her only answer.
Anya face settled into a determined expression. "Willow, help her up. She can't breathe properly all scrunched up like that."
"But she's hurt!" Willow objected. "If I move her who knows what kind of damage it'll do, she has all kinds of broken bones."
"She's dying anyway," Anya said bluntly. "Just get her mostly upright so she can talk. She has to be able to make a wish, or I can't do anything to help."
"A wish?" Tara repeated. What kind of wish could Amy possibly make that would help her? Anya was a vengeance demon, after all. Was it ethical to let Amy use her dying breaths to possibly maim or kill another human being, even if it was Warren? "I don't think..."
"And how are you going to stop me?" Anya said fiercely. "Are you going to kill her before she can talk? Or leave her curled up and drowning in her own blood? I didn't think so. Willow, help her sit. Now."
There was silence in the car for a moment, followed by sounds of movement behind Tara's seat. She swallowed hard and turned around, leaning over the headrest to get a glimpse of what was going on, then wished she hadn't. Amy looked terrible. Her eyes were open, but unfocused, and what skin was left undamaged was pale and beaded with sweat. There was far too much blood, and it was getting on Willow's clothes as the redhead struggled to follow Anya's orders and shift her sometime friend into a better position.
"Good," Anya said, a moment later. "Amy. Can you hear me, Amy? I need you to repeat after me."
"What..." Amy rasped. Her voice was so weak, Tara could hardly hear it, but Anya seemed unconcerned.
"Just repeat after me. I'll make it all better, I promise. Say these words. 'I wish'..." She trailed off deliberately, waiting for Amy's response.
Amy blinked, and a little more awareness came into her glassy eyes. "I wish..." she whispered, then nearly choked on a wet cough.
"Don't pass out, we're not done yet!" Anya ordered. "Now say, 'the wounds that were given to me'..."
It took several tries for Amy to get all the words out, but she did. Meanwhile, Tara shared a startled look with Willow. This wasn't the sort of wish they'd been expecting.
"Almost done," Anya praised the injured girl. "Good thing you were conscious. Now say, 'would rebound on he who caused them'."
"Would... would rebound..." Amy tried to swallow, and her voice faded away entirely. Tears were running down her face as she mouthed the last words. "On he who caused them."
"Good enough." Anya nodded, and her face shifted into its demonic aspect. "Done."
Amy gasped suddenly, filling her lungs with air; then her eyes rolled up in her head, and she fainted. There was still blood everywhere, but all the wounds and bruising that had marred her skin were gone, and she wasn't nearly as pale as before. Willow hastily pressed her fingers to the girl's pulse, then looked up at Anya in wonder. "You healed her," she said.
"Not really." Anya's face shifted back to its human aspect, and she met Willow's gaze with a matter-of-fact expression. "I just transferred the wounds elsewhere. Warren should be in a lot of pain right about now."
"Won't that kill him?" Tara asked. She was happy Amy was all right-- she hadn't expected that outcome-- but the idea of killing another human through vengeance still troubled her.
"Not while he's carrying the Orbs of Nezzla'khan," Anya said, with a shrug. "But it might slow him down long enough for Xander to stop him."
"Xander found him?" Willow sounded worried again. "He was just supposed to look for Amy. He can't fight Warren!"
"Oh, Xander has Giles with him," Anya said, dismissively. "There's something strange about Giles lately; he's got a lot more power than he did last year. He can protect Xander if he needs to. Not that Xander doesn't deserve to get beaten into a pulp..." She turned away, but not before Tara saw the hurt etched into the lines around her mouth. "Anyway, I should be going."
"Wait," Tara called after her.
Anya turned back, smoothing her face into a bland mask again. "What?"
"I, I just wanted to say... thanks," Tara said, with a small smile. She and Anya had been auxiliary Scoobies together for a long while. So maybe Anya wasn't with Xander anymore, but for awhile there Tara hadn't been with Willow, either. She knew all about that outcast feeling. And somehow, despite Anya's renewed demon nature, she didn't think Anya had stopped caring.
Anya favored her with a slight curving of the lips in return. "You don't need to thank me," she said. "It's all in a day's work for a justice demon." Then, with a snap of her fingers, she was gone.
Justice demon? Tara thought. A vengeance demon by any other name? Well, of Anya's recently granted wishes, she knew of three; if the witnesses were to be believed, only one of those three had caused pain, and none had been fatal. Maybe Anya really had learned something from her time as a human.
"I can't believe that just happened," Willow murmured, interrupting Tara's thoughts.
Tara shook her head and began squirming around in the seat again, bracing her feet so that she could climb into the backseat and out the door-hole. "W-which part? The thing with Xander, the cave, the earthquake, or Anya saving Amy?" She laughed a little as she pulled herself out of the car.
Willow grinned tiredly. "Some first day back for you, huh?" she said, looking up at Tara. "Do you think... Ooof!" She grunted as Amy stirred again and accidentally elbowed her in the stomach.
"Wha...?" Amy blinked her eyes open, then tried to pull herself out of Willow's grasp. She failed the first time as the car's slope caught her by surprise, but soon managed to follow Tara out through the former side door. Willow wasn't far behind.
Amy plucked at the bloody ruin of her clothes, then looked up at the other two witches in confusion. "What... was that all a nightmare? Did I really get trapped in a cave-in? I vaguely remember you guys pulling me out, and some other girl, but... why am I OK?" She sounded very lost. "And what happened to the car?"
Willow looked at Tara, then put a companionable hand on Amy's arm. "It's a long story, Amy. Maybe we better tell it on the way back to Buffy's, though... it's starting to get dark, and I don't have any stakes on me."
Tara glanced up at the colors fading on the horizon, and shivered. "That sounds like a good idea," she said. The area they were in was sparsely populated, and Revello Drive was a good few miles away. They would be lucky to get there without any trouble.
She linked her right arm through Willow's left and aimed her feet in that direction, muttering under her breath as they went.
"Vampires and werewolves and demons, oh my..."
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