It’s still the 1st where you are, right?
I’ve been bogged down in essay-writing and other academic stuff, but I couldn’t let this anniversary pass without something. I started my WIP, After the Deluge on this comm, more years ago than I care to admit, and here is another chapter. Two, possibly three to follow. The first 26 chapters can be found here.
Rated PG13 for mild violence in this chapter, rather stronger overall.
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Can We Rest Now?
As the last echoes of the shot faded the odd figure on the bridge staggered and folded, settling half-over the frail handrail. At the same time most of the party flashed into action.
Buffy hurled herself at Oscar. She kicked his ankles hard, so they slid from beneath him, then forced his shoulders round as well as back., Within moments he was face-down in the dirt, his hands firmly gripped.
Witleof and Rupert Giles launched themselves towards the gantry and the wounded figure, still pulsating between solidity and transparency but now looking grey and wan. There was a problem which took some while to solve; he really did oscillate between two states, and in only one of them was it possible to grip any part of him. His would-be rescuers found their hands meeting more than once before they worked out the rhythm and were able to move him, with extreme gentleness, away from the bridge. The closer he was to the solid ground, however, the longer his insubstantial phases became.
Giles sighed. “I think this is as far as we dare move him.” He drew a hand across the victim’s forehead, which looked shiny and moist. His fingertips, however, remained dry. “He’s barely in our world as it is.” He raised his voice, “Miss Hartnett? I think your assistance would be of considerable utility here.”
The two experienced witches pushed their way through the rest of the group. Team work, it seemed, was essential to them. Their fingertips lightly touching on one side, they knelt and used the remaining hands to hover, palm downwards, over the supine victim. Both hummed quietly, as they moved the free hands across the body, as if giving a gentle massage at eight inches’ distance.
Sweat began to build on the brow of the older witch. “We could do with a third here. Althanea is a maiden. I’m … older. There’s a missing element.”
At the back of the group, closest to the exit, a scuffle broke out, hissed imprecations and a high-pitched yelp as Dawn’s boot cut a sliver from Andrew’s shin. “You do qualify. You know you do. Stop trying to give me that bullshit.”
Spike turned round to stare. His Nibblet’s vocabulary had come on a way since she’d been The Key. He lifted the scarred eyebrow as he watched the littlest Summers grab the nitwit by his collar and thrust him forward. She coughed to draw attention to herself. “Ladies? I have a feeling this person,” she was choosing her words with care, “could fit your needs. He has some magical experience, especially in demon-raising, and I am absolutely certain he qualifies in other ways.
Andrew glowered at her. She glared back. Her glare was much more intense than his glower. You could see him settle to the loss of his last shreds of dignity, Spike noted with interest. Then the boy straightened, as far as he could, and moved forward to the head of the inanimate figure. He spoke through gritted teeth, too quiet even for vampire hearing, but whatever he said, it was clearly enough. He hovered both palms above the face and joined in the hum, exactly on-pitch.
The pulsating figure grew slowly more solid, each phase lasting a little longer. Giles was fascinated, but stood back. Spike was fascinated too, but by the faces of those around him, especially of the little git his Slayer was still sitting on. Oscar grunted and looked up, but was suspiciously still as he watched the magic users working to undo his work. There was a sickening sense of smugness there too.
Spike had had enough. He strode forward and nudged Buffy. “Let me take over pet? Promise I won’t bite him. Not even a nibble, though it’s no more than the wanker deserves. Just think he might have a few more things to tell us.” As she moved aside for him, Spike nodded his thanks to his girl. That was a habit of thought he needed to get out of, pronto. Bloody dangerous thinking, that, for an infatuated creature of the night.
Still, first things, as they say. Without too much care for gentleness he wrenched the younger Giles upright, pushing the bound hands up to the shoulderblade so the berk had to stand almost on tiptoe. “Anything you’re not telling us, mate? Now could be a really good time to mention it, if so.” Oscar’s eyes widened a little and he grimaced, but his mouth stayed shut.
The bugger of it all was that in this company Spike could not really give him the seeing to he so demonstrably deserved. He did what he could, hoisting his hands higher, and with them his captive. Interesting, that. Must hurt quite a bit, but the little turd still wasn’t speaking. Angel muttered in his ears again. “My boy, my boy, you know this won’t work.” The speaker morphed form as he spoke. “Spike, my darling boy. He’s no fun to play with. You’re no fun to play with any more. A girl needs her fun, you know. Put the nasty boy down and come with me. We can have fun, just the two of us.”
“Dru, love? Just bugger off will you?” If anything was needed to convince Spike that he was working along the right tracks, the interventions of his sire and grandsire, or the hijacking of their images for intervention’s sake, this was certainly it. Sod it. Spike swung round, dragging Oscar with him, and thrust his face against the ragged stone and dirt of the cave wall. The head bounced back and Spike banged it forward again. Oscar squeaked.
The attention of most of the group was still on the magic circle, straining every sinew of enchantment to stabilise their patient. Buffy was not with them, though. She followed Spike and his captive to the wall. “Want any help, Spike? I don’t approve of torture in the normal way of things, but just sometimes I’m willing to make an exception. I have some sharp pointy things in my bag if you give me a minute.”
Spike hid a grin. His girl or not, she knew all about team work. He pushed the back of Oscar’s head a couple more times, for the heck of it rather than expecting results. The jerk was closer to cracking than he knew, though, and muttered grunts of pain were interrupted by pleas of stop. Spike obliged, twisting him round not very gently. The face was a mix of blood and mud, and the nose and eyes were nicely swollen.
Buffy moved in. Oscar could not see beyond the pair, and nobody could see him. Defeat spoke loud in his expression, but it was far from total. “Why not?” he muttered. At least, it was a close approximation – he sounded for all the world as if he had a good dose of catarrh. “It’s too late now anyway. The necessary creatures are gathered, and my part is done.”
Buffy had forgotten that Spike could growl quite that way, more animal than human. The planes of his face shifted, the blue merged into hot yellow, and the brow-ridges loomed. Oscar looked more panicked than before, but still held a faint smirk. “Too late, William. Too late. You will have a part to perform, but it is not this part.”
Buffy and Spike shared an eyeroll. Pop culture references at such times were not for every moron who came along. Puns and allusions had to be honed, took wit and inspiration. Not this crap.
“OK, Aragorn,” Buffy leaned in, “tell me right now what part you mean or I will remove all of your parts. Slowly. Probably messily too. What’s the what and how do we stop it?”
Echoes of a younger Slayer and another, younger, better Giles were there for a moment. Spike relaxed into a second’s nostalgia. Then he started to grasp what Oscar was saying.
This has been a great round of seasonal_spuffy. Thanks to everyone involved – fellow-mods, creators, readers and lurkers. It’s wonderful to see what amazing talent we still have in our own special corner of fandom. Here’s to the next decade!
Comments and feedback will be cuddled and snuggled to pieces.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/540695.html