fandom: Buffy, Infinite, Miss A, Supernatural,[new fandoms are spoilery!]BEG, 9Muses
characters: Dawn/Sunggyu, Faith/Ruby/Sam, Woohyun, Spuffy, Fei, Jia, Willow, Angel, "unknown" woman[new characters are spoilery!]Miryo and Minha!
word count: ~4,000(/38,800)
summary: One doesn’t grow up the sister of a warrior without learning a little bit about knowing who needs protection. One doesn’t grow up surrounded by knights of old without wanting a cause worth fighting for.
a/n: This is it. This is the penultimate chapter that explains everything and all the pieces fall into place. I was terrified of writing this part (idk why) and is full of delightful women being snarky and loving each other. Not entirely sure how I feel about some of the characterization - but hopefully the relationship is clear from the banter.
[today's dedication is of a spoilery nature so here is a cut to save your reading experience]Many, many thanks and all my appreciation to angearia for being a flawless human being and my personal muse in developing the mythology of this universe. Please - either before or after reading this chapter - go and read her piece 'a woman scorned, you've been warned' as it has a direct influence on the characters in this story. ((I know I asked permission months ago - but it's taken this long to actually get to this point and I couldn't be more excited.)) Thank you for existing darling Emmie!
One more note: there will either be one more chapter or two (I haven't decided yet) to wrap-up this portion of the Noona-'verse. I'm thinking of officially titling this segment "Origins" (or something better probably). This is NOT the end of the Noona-'verse. I have individual stories/arcs in mind for all of the idols that will be a part of this Universe specifically. So stay tuned for more hijinx and makeouts! (And also a master post.)
Meng Jia first knew that she was going to be a Slayer when she was three years old.
That’s the way they tell it anyway.
She thinks sometimes that that’s much too young and the story her grandmother tells must be wrong.
The elderly like to romanticise the past, Fei likes to say with an affection smile.
She was full of shit, Jia always responds.
The way her grandmother tells the story, a precocious three-year-old Jia stabbed a pillow with a wooden spoon and firmly declared to a roomful of strangers just sitting down to dinner that it’s my job someday. Jia figures about ninety percent of that story is bullshit and that her grandmother had probably been filling her head with tales of vampires and Slayers for years before that and the stories just got stuck.
She never really figured that her grandmother’s stories were true at all. Just an old woman’s fantasies to cling to in a dark world.
Until she was thirteen and was moved by the “mayor” of their small village into his own compound to be a companion to his … daughter.
In Jia’s world, a town run by an ancient vampire and his eternally-teenaged ‘daughter’ (that may or may not change every hundred or so years) were commonplace mishaps.
A mystical girl who could kill vampires and defeat evil was a faery tale the grandmothers told their daughters to keep the light in their eyes.
Not that living in a town run by a vampire was really so bad. He was “out” as it were - fed to eat and not to kill (barring the males, who rarely lived past 25) and ruled his village of women and children with a softer hand than some of his human counterparts in the rural districts. Jia always just shrugged her shoulders and figured it could get worse and until then - this was her life, right?
Only then it got worse. And better.
Jia liked her bitter with her sweet. It came from a lifetime of stepping in tune with what the Universe threw at her.
Every decade or so the daughter of the village demanded a new female companion - a girl to grow up with, over and over. Jia never had any aspirations to become fodder for the girl’s ego - as many girls in the village did, spending their days polishing their manners and flirting with catastrophe - anyway, she was much too much of a tomboy to warrant any attention.
Except she did somehow and then she was living in the Great House with all the trappings and began having really uncomfortable dreams.
Of girls dying.
Her grandmother cried and wrung her hands and prayed In Her Name; actions that Jia could never decipher as fully worried or happy but always seemed to be some disastrous combination of the two that generally resulted in her having to run an errand somewhere treacherous or take a bath. All the women in her grandmother’s generation came to the house and cried and wrung their hands (and there was a bath - she just knew it was only a matter of time) and there was some kind of ceremony with ropes and face paint that she didn’t fully understand (being thirteen is confusing enough without the supernatural leaving well enough alone) and left them all dissatisfied.
So am I a Slayer or not?, Jia muttered biting her lip and crossing her arms over her chest defiantly.
Her grandmother made the sign of Her Name with one hand pressed to her lips, Maybe someday.
Several years later, kneeling beside her grandmother’s bedside she asked the one question through streaming tears she had never had the courage to ask until the end, I thought it was just a faery tale.
So did I.
When the elders decided to finally send Jia away (for her own safety as well as their own - the last Slayer to perk the master’s interest had left him beaten, angry, and the village had suffered for a generation) they sent Fei as her guide. A woman adept at the arts of nature and the spirit realm. Her healing incantations and soups kept most of the village walking in the winter.
But a Slayer needed a guide, they said. And she was the best the village had to offer.
They didn’t argue or cry - because young girls do not argue with their elders. Young girls do not argue with elders who are sending them out of hell into freedom.
Their second night on the run, Jia dreamt of a red-haired spirit user and a hundred thousand girls waking from a deep sleep and a battle underground. She woke with a mark on her ribs and a migraine.
Fei took it all in stride, handed over chewing-gum infused with her best herbs, and made Jia meditate in Her Name before they moved on.
They both figured it was pretty damn lucky they left when they did - a Potential Slayer living in the village was one thing, a full-fledged Slayer with all the powers and metabolism would definitely be noticed. Especially living right under his nose.
The purple bruise on her ribs was sore for days. When Jia finally complained one night - sleeping on the hard floor of a young couple’s tiny home - Fei whispered into the darkness with her eyes still closed, It is Her Mark.
What does it mean?
Fei turned to her, a look of mild confusion on her face, When a Slayer is called in Her Name, she bears the Mark so that all will know she is protected. It is an honor.
Well you can have it, it hurts, Jia grumbled irritably. Nearly six years living as the companion to the most wealthy ‘family’ in the village had softened the edges poverty had tried to drill into her as a child; being on the run and sleeping on floors was making her downright mean.
Fei smiled, It’ll feel better in the morning.
The next morning Fei looked a little more ragged than usual, but her smile was just as bright and the stabbing pain in Jia’s ribs had dulled to a low ache.
Back then they were still just Slayer-and-mystical-guide so Jia didn’t mention it. Later, when their barriers disappeared and they became sisters and partners and friends, she thanked her and it felt too late, but with Fei everything came at the time it should and she smiled like it had happened yesterday.
Being a full-Slayer didn’t change much in Jia’s immediate world, except that Fei now expected her to train once they were settled and occasionally quizzed her on proper demon-killing techniques and she didn’t tire so easily. On the other hand, first they were on the run, and then they were organizing two young girls and seven ridiculous boys on an international journey, and then she sort of fell in love, and then they were settling into a whole new country… so it wasn’t like she was really afforded a lot of adjustment space.
They weren’t really expecting the reigning Sunnydale Slayer’s baby sister to end up in their lives in the innocuous way she did.
Was she totally and completely coming up with excuses to stay at home on weeknights cuddled up with Suji and Hoya watching bad reality tv dance competitions and heckling the fashion instead of doing her Slayer duty by patrolling at least their immediate neighborhood?
But then again, a few weeks after the purple bruise stopped aching, Jia and Fei talked over what her new dreams meant and they agreed the Slayer line had been shaken up in a brand new way and she was probably off the immediate hook, unless an Apocalypse cropped up in their backyard. Her dreams would keep them informed of any big nasties - as they always had - and they could continue with life just as it was before.
On the (other) other hand - meeting Buffy should have changed everything. But as cute as she was, Jia wasn’t ready to spill all of her hard-won secrets to someone she didn’t know.
So was she really surprised to find herself waking up in a wasteland reeking of ash and decay, wind whipping her hair around wildly, when she should be standing in the Summers’ living room listening to Dawn rattle out orders?
No. Not really, no.
Why aren’t you surprised little one?
“Because I didn’t listen to you,” Jia keeps her head buried in her lap, digs her fingers into the ocean of grit and sand and ash surrounding her.
You listened, you just didn’t act.
“Are you laughing at me?”
No. Jia feels a warm hand rest between her shoulderblades. I still remember a time when I was content to listen in stillness.
Jia raises her head and sees Fei smiling down at her serenely, her hand outstretched.
“It’s time I think, She’s calling.”
Jia scrambles ungracefully to her feet, always an oaf before Fei’s natural grace, “About time.”
I won’t wait long girls.
As they walk forward arm in arm, Jia and Fei lean into each other and giggle quietly. Their voices are lost on the wind.
Maybe we will be just as lost, Jia thinks.
I’ll still find you.
* * * * * *
Faith feels as though she’s been wandering for hours. Occasionally she screams out Ruby’s name and somewhere in the back of her mouth she can taste blood, her body’s response to either being apart from Ruby or somehow eliciting Ruby’s response through taste instead of sound.
“Seems accurate,” Faith grumbles to herself as she trods through the hazy grey… everything.
Wherever she is she’s ready to kick the ass of the person who decided that a sheer negligee swirling around her ankles and bare feet were really the most appropriate hiking gear.
You are the one being stubborn.
The vaguely amused voice fills her head and Faith knows instantly that no matter where she looks, that voice wasn’t carried to her on the wind.
“What do you want bitch?” she screams into the dark sky.
They’re all waiting for you.
“Yeah - I don’t do so great with demands. Maybe I’ll just wait right here and they can all find ME instead, how’s that for a twist?”
Faith swears she hears a chuckle and goosebumps appear on her arm.
Hyeonsil was right about you.
“Yeah I’m really glad. Give him my best. I’m sure he was a shit lay anyway.”
The wind around Faith warmed which was nearly as disconcerting as the strange laughing in her head, but slightly more welcome as she was walking around practically naked.
“Hey perv, what’s with the get-up anyway?”
Don’t you like it?
Faith blushed as the wind softened and slowed as it wrapped around her, a slight purr edging into the voice. “I’d like it fine if I was between silk sheets with a glass of champagne in my hand, but this shithole at least requires… panties.”
Faith’s voice faltered on the word panties. She’s not entirely she’s ever used that word seriously in her life since she was four years old. The sheer white negligee had long sleeves and clasped with pearl-seed buttons from under her breasts to just below her navel before opening out and dragging to the floor. There was literally nothing between her and the elements. “And white, come on. Surely Hyemi told you I ain’t no virgin sacrifice.”
If that’s what I wanted you for, the world would surely be in trouble.
“Delusions of grandeur much? You’re in charge of the world now? You seem like you’re mostly in charge of stripping me naked and making me wander around in miles of smelly dirt.”
Close your eyes Slayer.
“Alright, but I want our safe word to be platypus,” she grinned. She was starting to like the talking wind.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Buffy’s voice erupted onto her worn senses.
Faith opened her eyes with shock and gratefully took Buffy’s hug when it was offered. “How did you get here?”
“Well Willow and I just sort of woke up here and had to wait,” Buffy gestured to Willow who waved awkwardly. “Jia and Fei wandered in a few minutes later and then you just sort of popped in. It was weird, right?”
“Totally weird,” Willow responded dutifully.
Faith quirked her eyebrows at the group, “What’s with the matching get-ups? I thought I was the only one.” They were all in the same robes Faith had been wearing earlier - only with a matching bikini-esque getup underneath.
“You still are the only one,” the one Faith was pretty sure was called Fei said with a smile. She looked down and instead of white, saw a sheer red robe. “Sweet,” she whispered to herself.
Buffy grinned at her wildly.
“Hey! They’re all here! Can you knock it off with the theatrics now?”
They all turned to the newcomer, a young girl with soft brown hair swirling around her back, bright wide eyes, and long thin limbs. She was lounging on a rock that definitely wasn’t there seconds before, a nail file in her hand and an ipod hooked to her belt, the telltale white cords of headphones disappearing under her hair. She was wearing skinny jeans, stiletto heels, and a breezy black top. Buffy briefly reflected that the outfit reminded her of Fei and almost turned to say something, but then thought that maybe this wasn’t the time.
Don’t shout at me.
“Don’t be a pompous old fart.”
I am not old.
The girls stayed mostly silent while the teenager on the rock had an argument with their invisible host, not really knowing what to do next.
“Guys?” Dawn tapped Buffy’s shoulder. “Are you okay? I’m so sor--”
“Dawnie!!!” Buffy screeched and tackled her sister (still dressed like a normal human in jeans and a tshirt Faith noted ruefully). “What are you doing here?! What are we doing here?! What’s going on?!”
Dawn nodded towards the rock, “We’re here because… because she wanted to talk to us.”
Now leaned up against the rock that still housed the annoyed teenager was a woman clad very similar to themselves - except all in black. Her hair was shaved just above her ears about three inches, the rest lay in long, soft curls falling nearly to her waist. Beneath the black robe Faith could just make out the tattoos of short blades on her hipbones. She had a regal, if slightly frantic, look about her.
Fei stepped forward, pressing her left hand to her lips in a strange gesture, “In Your Name.”
“Yes,” the woman laughed, the voice finally floating in the air the way it should. “In My Name.”
“I never thought I’d say that…” Fei faltered and stepped back, Jia reaching out to hold her around the waist, resting her chin on Fei’s shoulder to stare at the woman lounging on the rock with obvious interest and a little bit of fear.
“You scared the hell out of them,” Dawn said snappishly. “Was all of this really necessary?”
“No,” said the girl on the rock. She looked up from her ipod (or phone? did one get reception in an alternate dimension or dreamspace or whatever?), “She’s just bored or something.”
“This is important, Minha,” the woman looked down at her charge with something bordering on annoyance and affection.
“Everything always is.”
“Ex-Excuse me?” Willow tentatively raised her hand like she was in a crowded and unruly class. Faith would have made a joke if she didn’t understand the instinct to make the situation understandable. “Why are we here?”
“You are here because she asked for you to be,” the woman nodded towards Dawn.
“Now that’s not fair,” Dawn interrupted. “We’re here because… well like something totally weird is happening and it just so happens that we’re like…”
“Super powerful or whatever blah blah mystical portents, multiple realities blah blah - can’t we just give them the CliffNotes?”
Faith smiled over at the girl with the i-phone-thingy. Whatever was going on, she wanted to be on that girl’s team. (Everyone else turned various shades of green.)
Dawn sighed, “Okay CliffNotes - We blew up the Hellmouth to destroy the First and then Angel changed reality to stop a big bad PTB and rewrote shit so She piggy-backed on the energy he used to put Sunnydale back the way it was only under Her Name so it’s protected and now the place needs guardians or something I’m not really sure but also I can see the other reality - the one She and Angel wrote over with their magick mojo - and it’s really confusing.”
They all stared at her and Dawn squirmed.
“Oh yeah - and Anya’s dead and Cordy’s in a coma and I’m hoping we can fix that.”
“With Her Blessing,” Fei whispered.
“And our power,” said Willow slowly.
Dawn shrugged, “Basically.” She looked over her shoulder at the tattooed woman who was smiling oddly over at them and then stage-whispered, “Also it’s a pretty big deal that She’s here. She’s like… bigger than a PTB or something.”
“An Old One,” Minha rolled slightly on her rock as she said it. “There used to be a lot…” She reached out and ran her fingers through the woman’s hair. “Now there’s….”
“Just her?” Willow blurted out.
“In Her Name,” Fei and Jia said in unison, their hands on their lips.
“Older than the Powers that Be?” Buffy whispered. “I thought that was like… the end and the beginning or whatever.”
“Those infants!” The woman threw back her head and laughed. “They were mere babes crawling over themselves when I came to the peak of my power.”
“And there’s only you?” Faith couldn’t hide the scepticism out of her voice. You can’t just waltz in and rewrite her entire mythology (again) without some serious doubts.
“I have three sisters.”
“But everyone just says In Her Name. There’s four of them, but no one knows their names anymore, and time has made them all one,” Minha said softly, an odd expression on her face. Faith wanted to say it was like wistfulness, but it wasn’t quite the right word.
“Like the Goddess… the Wife, the Mother, the Maiden, the Crone!” Willow’s eyes shined the way they did when she had a research breakthrough.
“More like Mi Hye, Hyo Jin, Hyo Jin, and Ga In,” Minha giggled.
“Miryo,” the woman pointed at herself. “Our names have changed probably several hundreds of times, our numbers have grown and dwindled, there is always at least one. Now there are four. My sisters.”
“Crazy bats,” Minha muttered.
Miryo ignored her, “Only you bear my mark, which is why I brought you here.”
Jia blushed and tried to hide behind Fei.
“Oh don’t worry - I won’t make you do anything just yet. My sisters collect Slayers for sport, I was very surprised when Minha brought word that you lived into the new age of a thousand Slayers.”
“Is that what they are calling it?” Willow whispered in awe.
Dawn coughed, “We can’t stay here forever, we need to get this done before the magick fades and we can’t fix anything.”
“What magick, Dawnie?” Willow placed her hand on Dawn’s shoulder.
“The magick overkill from Angel’s spell and the Hellmouth closing, the window to piggyback on that energy is closing fast and once it does… Anya’s gone for good and we can’t get her back.”
“You’re changing things for selfish reasons, Hyeonsil,” Miryo shook her head. “Remember I warned you against this.”
Dawn looked at the group fiercely, “Do you want to lose Anya? And Cordy? Do you?” They avoided her eyes, Willow turned bright red. Dawn turned on Miryo, “Do you want to be responsible for saving thousands and letting two die worthlessly?”
“Careful Hyeonsil, you aren’t the one in charge here,” Miryo intoned in a deadly voice.
Dawn drew herself up, “Not today.”
Faith was pretty sure she had never been more proud or terrified of her little sister in that moment. She exchanged pointed looks with Buffy and saw the same facial expression reflected there.
Yeah. They were all made from the same stuff.
(It wasn’t all that comforting.)
Minha carefully arranged them in a circle: Faith - Dawn - Buffy - Willow - Fei - Jia.
Miryo stood in the center and Faith was struck once again how ancient and otherworldly she really was.
Behind her, Minha’s phone chimed, “Sorry to interrupt! But that’s Sera? We should probably check in with her before … er I mean after all this is done?” She waved her hands at the circle as if it was an inconvenient book club setting up in her living room.
“Sara?” Faith tried to mentally calculate which of Miryo’s sisters took that name.
“Sera,” Minha repeated. “My sister.” She looked up at their surprised faces, “What you think I take care of them all by myself? I have sisters, too! Eight of them.”
“Handmaidens,” Miryo nodded to herself.
“Muses,” Minha hissed.
“Handmaidens,” Miryo repeated stubbornly (though Faith detected a small smile on the corners of her mouth).
“Mu--” Minha’s voice raised and then stopped short. “Oh whatever. You’re just trying to make me mad now.” She collapsed back onto the rock, muttering to herself.
“In order to save your friends -” Miryo looked pointedly at Dawn, “and also bind the magick as you call it, in place, I need all six of you.” She looked at each one of them. “You are all so very important. Don’t let my handmaiden’s sense of humor distract you from the serious of this place and this time. You,” she directed her gaze to Willow, “you cast a powerful spell that has started the Age of a Thousand Slayers. But your strength alone cannot bind this age intact for what is to come.”
Willow ducked her head and shuffled her feet, Buffy took her hand and squeezed it affectionately.
“That kind of power is too large for one body. So, we have the Slayer marked in My Name and the twice-dead Slayer, to bind the spell to the Earth,” Miryo took Buffy and Jia’s palms in her hand, slicing them open with one of her long fingernails, their blood dripping into a cup she held beneath them. “The Warrior and the Earth bound in blood.”
“Two spirit and earth workers, one from the West and one from the East to bind the spell to the spirit and the Air,” Miryo reached out and plucked a hair from Fei and Willow’s heads and placed them in the cup. “Two women bound to Spirit with Air.”
“The Slayer bound to a demon, to maintain a balance between the Earth and Spirit,” Faith held her breath as Miryo kissed her on the lips and then blew into the cup. “The Fire of love burns in the blood of opposites and binds them together.”
“The girl who is the Key, my Hyeonsil, to bind them all together and make them true,” Dawn gave out a little sob and as she did so, Miryo caught a single tear into the cup. “Tears of the Transient one binds them all in one place, fluid and changeable as the tide and time.”
She caught Faith and Dawn’s hands in her own, “You are what binds them, you keep the peace, you keep the balance. You are both doubled and contradictory, you exist in two spaces at once and they keep you grounded.” Faith shook a little. That wasn’t supposed to be her. There must be some mistake! Miryo continued, “You will both see - I cannot protect you from it all.”
Dawn’s face seemed drained of all color, “The others, too? The ones asleep?”
Miryo cocked her head to one side, “Yes. Four will see. Four will not. Six to bind the spell, Two to break it one last time. Eight women bound to keep My Name Alive another day.”
She suddenly seemed very tired, her shoulders drooped slightly.
She pressed the cup into Dawn’s hands, “Drink and then you will wake and all will be as I said.”
“Hold onto her or she may not come back with you.” Miryo started to walk away and then stopped, “Oh yes. Don’t call me. We’ll call you.” She put her arm around Minha’s shoulder - who waved, smiling, to them - and then they disappeared into the wind.
They stood still for a moment.
“Ready?” Dawn croaked. “I want to get the hell out of here.”
“And shower,” Jia said.
“And eat,” Buffy groaned.
They all giggled a bit and then crowded around Dawn, arms and hands all intertwined.
“Here goes nothing.”
final note: thank you so very much for sticking by me through this - you who are still here with me. this has changed the way I write and feel about fandom and is very much my happy place. I hope you'll continue to read when I begin exploring other stories within this Universe. I love you all so much and could not have done this without you!