Hello again… This is the first part of my main entry for this community, a story called Measure For Measure. I’m going to try very hard to have the second part posted before midnight, but if I don’t manage it, I’ll post up on the free day if that’s all right. I’m awful for editing and re-editing and editing again! Anyway, I do hope you enjoy the faerie tale and thank you for reading! :)
Title: Measure for Measure – Part 1
Rated: PG to NC-17 – This part PG.
Pairing: Spike/Buffy – eventually
Timeline: Season 2, Angel is Angelus once again and Spike is chair-bound.
Summary: A strange and magical being wreaks havoc at a hillside in the woods of Sunnydale. People are disappearing, and that includes Scoobies and vampires alike. Can Buffy and Spike find some level ground, put their rivalry aside, and work together?
Author’s Note 1: So many thanks and squishy hugs go to a very darlin’woman and dear friend, just_sue. Also, thank you again to itmustbetuesday for this community, for this excellent challenge, and for the opportunity to share this story with everyone.
Author’s Note 2: This tale is loosely based on the Irish Faerie Tale “The Enchanted Cave of Cesh Corran”. This is perhaps how I’d see that Faerie Tale rekindled and revisited, in a Spuffy manner, a thousand years later, so to speak. *winks*
Disclaimery Thing: It’s all about Joss, Joss, Joss and multi-bazillion dollar corporations. Sheesh. *tisk* They own the pretties, not me, I only spin the dream a little further. Starving writer. Please don’t sue? OH! And all OC’s in this fic are mine! mine! mine! :P
Artwork: Odd-looking banner by yours truly *chuckle*. Brush credit goes to darkwaif.
Well, ‘twas the business of keeping the balance, of course. And isn’t that what life’s all about? Sure, it’s weights and measures. It’s numbers and figures and promises kept and promises broken. It’s killers and killed, birth and death, love and hate and everything in between, so long as there’s balance.
Emerging from a portal (that just happened to open at the side of a warehouse), he took a cautious step and peered out through the darkness, calling upon all of his senses to help him find his bearings. He knew the destination was correct, for he’d always arrived in close proximity of his intended target, but just exactly where he was at the moment needed to be sussed.
Closing his eyes and scenting the air, he nodded slowly as a few things registered. Timber, petrol… the sea… rusty hull… industry… “Jaysus,” he mumbled, his voice deep and rich and full of melody, “‘Tis the bloody docks.” Opening his eyes again, he looked to his left and noticed, not three feet away, the edge of the pier and the churning bay.
“Ah, lad,” he grumbled to himself as he rubbed the back of his neck in irritation, “What’re y’tryin’ t’do? Another stride and you’d be blowin’ bubbles in the deep Big Blue.”
A little exasperated, he took out a small piece of enchanted chalk and marked an ‘X’ on the ground before him (for he’d been in the pub a fair few hours before this, and the grey matter – no matter how enchanted – was still a little fuzzy), then made his way along the dock, noting his surroundings, mapping his every step. He needed to remember this place for the business of departures, you see, for he’d have to leave just exactly the way he came. Thank the gods he hadn’t landed in the bloody drink.
He shuddered and slowed when he sensed an evil in the place that coiled and swirled and clawed at his skin, but also, and he chuckled at this, he sensed a great deal of good. There was good here. And there was his balance. Not for long, though… and he knew it was coming, like the sunrises and sunsets, and tomorrows and ever-afters… it was coming, the wicked thing he was sent here to thwart.
Sighing, he shook his head and continued on, deciding that he’d go back to mapping his way. And just perhaps he’d marvel a little at his surroundings, too. He quickly noted that it was quite warm in this place! Ireland, no matter which realm you walked in, wasn’t at all balmy this time of year. With that thought he chuckled again and set his gaze on the path in front of him. He’d map his way and find his enemy warriors and get the ball rolling.
He couldn’t help but marvel… He was in a place unlike any other… He could see city lights for miles and miles. He could hear motors and lorries and was that a train? Yes indeed, it was. Familiar sure, and yet… not. Strolling along he took note of the buildings at the docks of Sunnydale, remembering, always remembering. A tackle shop and a warehouse or two, containers, contraptions and…
“Ah, good man… Brew.”
A pub. He was sorted. ‘And sure, what good is an Irishman if he isn’t fed and watered? Or perhaps watered more?’ he thought. He’d just stop in for a bite and a pint, and then he’d be on his way. Wouldn’t do to seek out the rivals – the Vampire and the Slayer – on an empty stomach, now would it?
In the woods not far from the cemetery, in a place where young and old and good and evil of Sunnydale would come ‘to park’, a terrible thing was stirring. There on the hillside, marred by a new type of fauna for this area – queer knobbled bushes and vines and shadows, a strange opening formed. To the outside world it was completely invisible, for the being that suddenly emerged from the earthen floor held within his power the ability to alter the perception of those beyond the entrance.
But this being was also weak from centuries of restless dream-sleep, his mind addled with myriad emotions – grief, sorrow, hatred, rage – and just being, just breathing again was taking so much of his strength. He’d need time to recover and gather his thoughts, tend to his broken heart and make good his plans. He had paid dearly for this opportunity. He’d fashioned this idea with his hatred, and drawn up the contract with his sweat, and gladly, oh so gladly, he’d signed his name in blood.
In a mansion on a hilltop bathed in moonlight and shadows, a dreadful place to be sure, three vampires mulled about (one in the confines of an old wheelchair), in anything but harmony.
“Dru… Love…” Spike sighed, “If you poke my legs one more time with that sodding cane I‘m going t’have t’hurt you.” Rolling himself back just a little, quietly cursing the wheelchair and his giggling mate, he dipped his chin and grit his teeth, a quiet growl letting her know he’d had quite enough.
“My Spike,” Dru sing-songed to her beloved boy, “Does it tingle?”
He shrugged. “Wouldn’t describe it as ‘tingle’, as such, but yeah. If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. It bloody hurts.” Indeed, it hurt his pride more than anything.
Satisfied, she raised the cane and slapped it down on her palm. “Ah, but isn’t it a pleasureful pain, my blondy boy? Mummy only wants to make it better.”
Though he loved her as he did, this little scenario was getting… old. He shook his head and grasped the wheels, intent on rolling away to the solitude of their bedroom, when he heard his Grandsire mutter in irritation.
“Dru, I can think of a million better things you could be doing with your hands.”
This earned a cheeky, wild smile from the pale, dark-haired beauty. Sidling up to where Angelus sat sprawled on an old leather chair, she knelt in front of him and drew the tip of the cane slowly up and down the inside of his thigh.
“And my cane?” she asked, batting her lashes.
Angelus was on his feet in an instant, growling and swatting the cane away. “Not now, Dru. I…” His growl deepened as the demon ridges of his forehead rose and sharp fangs dropped. Looking down at her, for she was still kneeling and cowering somewhat at his feet, he grasped her hair and softened his voice just a touch.
“I’m in the mood for something a little different tonight. I’m hungry… No, I’m famished. I don’t just want bloodshed, I want a blood bath.” He looked at Spike for a moment and shook his head, then turned to the dark beauty before him again. “I want to take a little trip down memory lane.”
Drusilla nodded slowly, dark eyes fixed on her Daddy. And then, like a flash, her expression changed, and she cut her glance to the doorway. Her voice, when she spoke, was cold and full of eerie wonder. “No, Daddy… I think Lover’s Lane would be much, much better. Trees and shrubs and moonlight and giggling pixies, and we mustn’t forget the lovers all tied and writhing and grinding under the stars – too busy to see us, too dizzy to care. THAT’s the lane I wish to stroll along tonight, my Sire.”
Spike rolled his eyes and spoke bitterly. “Yeah, sounds like a right boring rumble in the bushes, y’ask me. Gonna happen upon a bunch o’ vamps in borrowed wheels, no doubt making new vamps and doing their best t’further our cause. Sounds like old business t’me, love. Plus,” and this was his true beef with the plan, “I can’t exactly go with you now, can I?”
Angelus chuckled darkly. “I’m afraid Big Wheels has a point, princess, though that really hasn’t stopped us before, has it?” Lifting her to her feet, he turned her towards Spike and wrapped his arms about her waist, his hands drifting downward to raise her pretty dress, exposing her pale flesh inch by inch as he smirked at his chair-bound Grandchilde.
Drusilla writhed against her Sire, resting her head back against his shoulder and mewling, hips rocking to meet his strong hands, urge them higher. “No,” she purred, “It really hasn’t.”
Spike grit his teeth, turning his eyes away quickly. Heart aching, he practically spat, “Do whatever you like. Got plans, I have. Got things t’do. Yeah,” he muttered as he turned the chair and made to leave, “All sorts o’ things.”
An instant of clarity struck the vampiress and she pulled away slightly from her Sire. It seemed that there was a hint of apology in her expression. “Spike…”
Risking a ray of hope, Spike stopped and turned to look at her, his heart in his eyes.
At Angelus’ soft growl, that moment of clarity for Dru was wiped away, and she was back in his arms, giggling and purring again as she gazed at her blondy boy. “I’ll bring you a doggie bag.”
Spike stared blankly at his dark beauty and slowly shook his head. His jaw set in his anger, in his hurt, he snarled as he drew away quickly, “Bring me one more sodding pup and I’ll tear this place apart.”
Angelus mocked a sigh and then shook his head. “Yes, I’m sure he has quite a destructive reach from where he’s sitting,” he snickered as he watched Spike roll away.
Dru dipped her chin and giggled, then called out to the darkness. “Oh, my boy, when you’re playing later, don’t be too friendly with the other boys and girls, now will you? Especially the Irish one. He’s trouble.”
“What are you babbling about now, princess?” her dark haired sire asked. “Are you seeing boys and girls and Irishmen? Are they all together? Sounds like fun. I’m thinking sandwich meat for some reason. A kid sandwich, and… a pint.”
Taking his batty Dru by the hand, Angelus hauled her toward the stairs and out into the night. He’d decided that he could do with a walk in the woods near the cemetery, in that place where lovers go to be alone. He so wanted to watch them for a little while.
Before he ate them.
Watching his Sire and Grandsire leave, his expression full of hurt and disgust, Spike wheeled the chair back out into the center of the room. Stopping within a pool of moonlight, he turned his face upward as if to bathe in the moons soft glow. He took deep, calming, albeit unneeded breaths and let his anger cool somewhat, or rather, give over to something else: determination.
Lifting one foot off a rest and then the other, he grasped the handles of the chair, his knuckles turning pure white with the intensity of his grip, and as majestic ridges rose upon his brow, his striking sapphire eyes swirling gold, he growled a ferocious growl and pushed off the seat.
With a triumphant snarl he stood there, bathed in moonlight, tall and proud, his chest heaving with exertion. Oh, he hadn’t long to go at all. He was nearly there. He’d be the Big Bad again in no time. Cool, full lips curved rather wickedly as he considered that thought, and he decided right then and there that the minute he was up to scratch he’d teach his Grandsire a lesson or six about who he had become in his absence, about who he was capable of being again.
Sod the bloody rules, he thought. He was going to show Angelus just exactly what he’d be missing. He’d show Dru. He’d have his unlife back.
A beat or two, and all of his glorious thoughts came crashing down around him though, and he slumped back down into the chair and hung his head. A vicious little voice whispered bitterly in his ear and he tisked and slapped his palm down on his knee. The message was this, and glaringly blunt: What made him think that Dru would have acted any differently around her Sire, even if Spike was in full fit, fighting form? Surely she’d still be all about her Daddy. She’d taunt him just like this. Hell, she’d done it for decades before Angelus was cursed with the soul. What would make this time any different?
Trying so hard not to give in to the voice of doubt, he snarled and rolled away to the bedroom, intent on strengthening his legs and back even more, doing whatever it took to mend, to be whole again.
Xander and Cordy had a secret. It involved her car, his lips and the enormously effective moonlight-blocking abilities of a very shady tree.
“Oh god,” he breathed, chuckling somewhat as he nibbled her ear, “If Buffy knew we were here she’d have a cow.” He chuckled more. “No, scratch that. I’m sure she’d drop a whole herd.”
“EW!” Cordy pushed him away and frowned. “And hey! Do you ALWAYS have to mention her when we park?”
Xander shrugged somewhat sheepishly. “Come on. You have to admit, this is dangerous.” His eyes danced and he leaned in again. “It’s exciting… so dark, so quiet. Your lips, my lips… And who knows what’s outside? She could have walked right by on patrol.”
“Xander!” She pushed him back again, then shook her head and reached for the door handle.
He stopped her with hushed words and the touch of his hand, and he drew her back to him gently. “I’m sorry, really I am. I was only playing around.” He kissed her temple and then cupped her cheek. “I love being here with you.”
And she was buying it again, and closing her eyes, and she let him sway her back to his team with touch and gestures and kisses.
If she heard an eerily quiet, sorrowful melody coming from the hillside, she didn’t let on right away, because all Cordy could think about right then was enjoying Xander’s lips of lurve for as long as she could before his curfew ended the evening for both of them.
Buffy made her way through the cemetery as she had done every other night. She followed the same paths, wound her way ‘round the same headstones as always. To be honest, this route had become boring. She’d swapped it up a few times, of course, starting at the Smyth mausoleum and working her way toward the Howard plot, or making the Stevenson row of plots the starting point and finishing up at the gates to the forest.
She chose the latter tonight, and she finished her rounds quickly, dusting four vamps all vying for a late night mourner. ‘Stupid late night mourner,’ she thought, and she’d told him in no certain terms, “Stick to daylight hours only, you’ll live longer.”
Her mood, admittedly, was awful. Her… hatred of Angel… no Angelus, she had to remind herself. It was Angelus she hated. Her hatred of Angelus was so clawing. It was beginning to colour her every thought, every opinion, every hope, every dream. It was consuming, and no matter how hard she tried to keep it under check, she was slowly losing herself to the immensity of it all. It was too huge.
Picking up the pace as she strode through the forest, she didn’t even notice Cordy’s car parked tonight. She’d noticed every other night, and never let on, but tonight she was too immersed in her grief and pain to care.
He’d toyed with her this evening, Angelus, and he’d laughed at the hurt in her eyes. He’d returned to the spot where they’d played the parts of the ghost lovers not so long ago. He’d returned to taunt her, to haunt her, and he played that Sadie Hawkins Tragedy theme song, crooned it with a sneer. And when she stormed through the door, panting and biting back tears, pulling her stake, he was off, and at that moment she didn’t even have the strength to give chase.
She swiped angrily at tears as they trickled down her cheeks, and she stopped in a small clearing near the hillside. She had to get a grip. She had to take him out. If only she could focus. If only she had… a diversion.
It would seem the fates were listening just then, for Buffy heard a very sorrowful song. It was ever so faint, the words from a language she didn’t recognize, yet beautiful and lyrical all the same. The song, like a mournful whisper, called to her, and she listened intently and closed her eyes. Though it should be impossible, she understood the words. It sounded like an old man’s voice, and he was singing of loss and murder, and heartache… and he wanted vengeance. He wanted his loved ones back.
Buffy blinked and wiped her cheeks again, straightening, intent on finding the source of this song. Angelus forgotten, she peered through oddly shaped bushes and noted a shadowed indentation on the hill. The air around her was scented… like clover and honey, and she puzzled over how that could be.
Coming closer, she drew back knobbled branches to get a closer look, and her eyes widened at what she briefly saw. There was a wizen old man, kneeling on the floor, singing to the ground as if his heart and soul lay there. And he slowly circled his palms on the earthen floor, gathering piles of dirt in four perfect little mounds. His eyes were wet with tears, and indeed, tears trickled down the coarse and twining hairs of his beard, dropping on each little earthen mound like delicate droplets of life-giving water to a gardener’s well cared for soil.
His pain… the words he sang were like windows… windows on a room seemingly unending, wall to wall torment and heartache the contents therein. The Slayer stilled when she felt it, her own pain answering the quiet song, though she didn’t utter a word. Her own heartache welled up again in response, and she frowned and clenched her fists, compassion for the old man drawing her closer… closer. She didn’t feel the evil swirling around him, no, not at first. It wasn’t until she was inches from the entrance.
Something within her screamed for recognition, then, and Buffy gasped, and blinked and turned away quickly. What had she just seen? What had she stumbled upon? Surely she’d had a long night, and a hard day, as with every other day, and maybe it was all catching up with her? Maybe she was exhausted? Maybe…
But that song! That man!
And just like that, the song faded, and when she turned to look again, there was naught but a shadowed indentation on the hill, and the fading scent of clover and honey, and the odd little trees, the night all around her, and everything quiet again.
“Giles… gotta tell Giles.”
She took off at a running pace through the trees, back up through the cemetery and down the street, determined not to stop til she’d told her watcher just exactly what she’d seen.
In a darkened corner of the bar at the docks, the Irishman sat. In one hand he held a tall, cool pint; in the other he held the future. He watched images flicker upon a swirling green globe of mist as it hovered over his palm, and his expression soured or brightened depending on what he saw. Deciding that the present should be his focus, he swiped his thumb across the swirl of mist, and settled back to sip his pint and study the players of this, his latest mission.
He stilled at the sight of the Vampire, watching him curse and snarl and spit rage-filled words at the people who continuously hurt him. He watched him place a large chunk of heavy masonry across his ankles and strain to lift it with his legs, there in his lonely room, and he admired the determination in his expression as he worked diligently to strengthen himself, ready himself…
A swipe of his thumb and he settled his eyes on the Slayer then, noted the pain in her eyes as she paced down the street, and though he couldn’t hear what she was saying, he knew the subject of her lonely rant, and his mind wandered back to the vampire then… and he smiled just a little.
Finishing his pint, he squeezed his palm shut, hope in his eyes, and as the swirl of green mist filtered and dispersed between his fingers, he wondered if by some small miracle he might find the Watcher’s house quickly and meet her there.
For it was time.
End part 1
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/112356.html