Wanted to pop this chapter up before I head home from work I have a few more chapters to post never fear! Hope all of you enjoy it!
“Willow, the crystal you gave Buffy to locate Ethan with, is this the spell you used to enchant it to his signature? And this symbol?” Tara pushed the scrap of paper over to Willow and stared at her aghast. “Do you realise what you’ve done?”
“Willow, the crystal you gave Buffy to locate Ethan with, is this the spell you used to enchant it to his signature? And this symbol?” Tara pushed the scrap of paper over to Willow and stared at her aghast. “Do you realise what you’ve done?”
“What is it honey?” Willow came over and glanced absently at the symbol she’d used as an anchor for the focus of the spell to track Ethan.
“Yeah, that was the one I used. I needed something to identify Ethan and well, he is a Chaos adept so I figured that was the way to go. Why?”
“It’s a Chaos symbol,” Tara replied, her face ashen. Her skin was crawling just looking at the image; it felt as if a hundred fire ants were biting her all at the same time. She briefly wondered why Willow hadn’t felt the same when she was casting the spell.
“What your very upset girlfriend is saying is that you’ve used a symbol that dark magic users use in Chaos magicks. Are you a practitioner of the black arts?” Anya cocked her head and studied Willow. “Xander has told me of some of the spells you’ve cast and they do border on slightly murky, especially that one we all were a victim to last year—the Will Be Done one. No wonder Hoffy’s interested in you. But this one takes the cake.”
Willow turned beet red with anger.
Tara interceded, trying to soothe her careless girlfriend. “Willow, it’s just that the spell we need to create for the return of the stolen piece of Giles’s soul is going to take a lot of work to avoid going into black magicks now. If you used this as the axis for the locator spell and the one that binds Spike and Buffy to the icon to help them use it for travelling to where Ethan is…well I just don’t know how we can work around it…”
“Holy hell!” Spike bellowed as his body finally stopped rebelling against the transportation spell the coin had used to get them to where they both were standing – well, sitting. The swirling thunder clouds that marked their passage from one Continent to the other gradually faded and the two travellers appeared in its stead.
“Spiiike?” Buffy whimpered and then retched. Her stomach was in about the same state as his after the roller coaster ride from California to…well, a dank dark cave with no natural light. Spike vamped out, trying to see if he could get his bearings. He gingerly extracted his crushed fingers from the Slayer’s death grip and massaged his mashed knuckles. The air in the place was stale and damp; all he could smell was moist earth and the residue of power in the ozone from the spell that had carried them here.
He knelt, ignoring the rather ominous squishing noises as he steadied himself with one hand in the peaty mud and reached around Buffy and fumbled in her backpack. There was a metallic click and then there was light. The cave that they had appeared in was massive; the walls were rough and seemed to be covered in purple crystal formations that weakly reflected the torchlight back at them. There were incipient stalactites and stalagmites dotting the ceiling and the floor.
“Have to thank demon girl when we get back, right good packer that one. Wonder if she put in a Swiss Army knife?” Spike shone the torch into Buffy’s pale face. “Christ Slayer, you gonna toss your cookies on my Docs again?”
Buffy firmed her lips and gingerly shook her head. “Mmmm, nope. Gah, someone could’ve said it was going to be like riding in the Tilt-A-Whirl.” She clutched her stomach and then staggered drunkenly to her feet. “Oh, hey! Check it out.” She opened her clenched fist and there sitting in the palm of her hand was the coin that had brought them to the caves they were in. “It stayed with me. I wonder why?”
Spike prodded it cautiously with his finger. “Can’t feel any mojo on it; maybe it’s burned out?” He gingerly took the piece from Buffy and slipped it into a pocket in his duster. “Best keep it secure until we can find a way to get rid of it safely.” He swung the torch about the cave, trying to get his bearing and the two blondes lurched backwards in surprise, hands raised defensively as the beam illuminated a twenty foot tall stature of a goat-headed man.
“Crap, it’s huge…” Buffy squeaked. She tilted her head back and stared in awe at the monolithic statue. “He’s kinda ugly, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, and it looks just like the engraving on the coin,” Spike growled.
Buffy ignored Spike as she searched for Ethan. She clambered around some rocks and then squeaked in triumph. “Look.” She pointed to a fissure in the cave wall. “He must’ve sleazed his way out that way. Come on, we need to get going.” She headed off without a backward glance, her focus on getting her watcher’s stolen soul back and hopefully pounding Ethan into the next century. The creep was starting to get on her last nerve. She had really thought that the government would’ve been able to keep a hold on the slimeball. All he ever did was make trouble for her and Giles.
Spike’s shoulders slumped. “No point fighting it, mate. You already agreed to help the silly mare, best go along with her for now.” He shone the torch ahead and followed the diminutive slayer out of the cave. While it had once been the centre of worship for the Formorians, it now obviously lay abandoned. Forgotten by most, its power and influence diminished in the mists of time and with the advent of Christianity. There were few exceptions, such as a few Chaos worshipers and a certain law firm who had been there since the beginning of creation.
The only sound in the abandoned cave once the slayer and the vampire had left was the faint dripping of water. In the darkness there was a faint gleam of gold; the statue had opened and laying in the palm of the massive stone hand was a coin. The golden oval started to shimmer with building power as it slowly drew strength from the focus of chaos.
It waited, ready for it’s creator to use to move onwards when the time was right.
Anya flicked through a magazine and sighed. She was really bored; all this do-gooding seemed to entail little but sitting around waiting for Buffy to fight something large and hairy, and then come back for pizza and movies. She curled her legs up and tucked her feet under a small cushion. At least Giles’s apartment didn’t smell of cat pee and there were no angry parents yelling overhead. She sighed loudly and eyed Willow who was currently installed in Giles’s favourite armchair and building up a good sulk.
“Willow, you really should relax. It’s not like you negated the universe or anything.” Anya pasted on an appeasing smile and hoped that her cheering up was working. Her smile faded at the irritated glare Willow shot her. “Well, if you’d tried a Sumerian translation of the words to travel through space rather than the Latin you did use, then you would have,” Anya huffed at her and then lifted the ‘Modern Watcher’ magazine she’d found on the coffee table, utterly oblivious of the aghast expression on Willow’s face.
“Are you serious?” Willow shrieked.
“Yes she is, you silly bint. Now shut it, I have a pounding headache thanks to your dolly bird,” Ripper bellowed back from the bedroom.
They had moved him from the bathtub after Spike and Buffy had left and chained him to the headboard. The three of them had managed to drag the supine form of the older man up the stairs. It had been a struggle for three girls with no claim on superpowers but it at least made life easier for pee breaks. They had kept him unconscious for as long as they could, using the time to gather all the magical elements of Giles’s work into his weapons chest, and then had called the Super asking him to put it into storage for Mr Giles. Tara was checking that the chest was secure and that she had a copy of the key to the storage area in the basements. They had realised that Ripper was a consummate spellcaster and if they wanted to keep him contained until Buffy and Spike got back then the place had to be stripped. Once they were done, Tara and Willow were going to cast a confinement spell and then Ripper would be free to move around.
Willow’s lower lip trembled and she paled in horror at how close she’d come to wiping them all out. She looked over at Anya and then let her eyes drift downwards. She wasn’t going to get any sympathy from the ex-vengeance demoness. “I wish Tara was back…”
“You really should be very cautious about saying ‘I wish.’ That path can lead to vengeance and suppurating sores on your sexual organs,” Anya commented idly as she leapt up and headed into the kitchen. “Can I get you a soda?”
Willow sighed and shook her head; she had no idea what Xander saw in Anya. She was blunt, obsessed with sex and always said the wrong things in front of Tara, making her look bad in her lovers eyes.
“Hey!” Tara pushed open the door and waved at Willow. “All done. We can do the you know w…what.”
“What took you so long?” Willow hissed as she skittered past Anya and urged Tara into the apartment.
“I made this with some of Mr Giles’s supplies.” She held up a small pouch. Anya came round the breakfast bar and sniffed it.
“Oh very clever.” She nodded approvingly. “We need to hide this somewhere safe.”
“W…well, I…I…I was wondering if maybe you could wear it? Willow and I h…have to go to some classes and we’ll be researching the enjoining spell so we can’t be here all the time.” Tara gulped and waited for Anya to flip out.
Anya took the small pouch and eyed it briefly before tucking it into her bra. “So I get to baby sit the rogue?”
“Errr, yeah?” Tara nodded. “But we’ll take turns as much as we can so you don’t go stir crazy or anything.”
Anya shrugged. “Okay. It’s not like Xander’s around to play with. I can baby-sit Ripper.”
“What are you witches whispering about?” Ripper growled and the three girls could hear the headboard smashing against the wall as he tried to free himself. “Hubble bubble, toil and trouble…” he taunted them as he grunted and thrashed against the chains keeping him contained.
“Nothing,” Anya sing songed as she watched Willow and Tara perform the spell that would let them in and out but keep Ripper from leaving and causing chaos on the Hellmouth. She fingered the pouch that Tara had given her. It was a simple spell but a clever one.
Ripper would not know what had hit him until he tried to cast a spell. Tara had bound his powers and given the control over to Anya. ‘Oh this is going to be so much fun.’
“Let me check that it’s not sunny.” Buffy stuck her head out of the entrance of the cave system they’d been trudging through. She took in a deep breath of the cool night air. “It’s okay. Come on.” She stepped out into the crisp Irish night and peered curiously around; the cool night air made her breath visible as she greedily inhaled the country air.
“Looks like we’re in the middle of nowhere.” Spike slipped past Buffy’s still form and examined the area. They were standing in a valley; there was a thick wood to the far end and in between nothing but fields and streams. There was no sign of Ethan. He looked behind them and spotted a path following the slope of the valley. “He must’ve headed up that way. Come on, Pet.” In their hurry to get out of the cave, neither of them remembered the crystal Willow had enchanted for them; it was tucked away in Buffy’s backpack waiting to be rediscovered.
Buffy hefted her rucksack and trotted after the vampire. Part of her wondered why she wasn’t pissed at the bloodsucker, but mainly she was relieved he was here to help. It wasn’t like she’d ever been anywhere outside of the US and Spike had been around the world a few times.
Her innate animosity had been fading for a while. Especially recently; it had started at the beginning of the summer. Spike had appeared on patrol one night, lugging a sword and with a stake or two tucked into his pockets. After she pounded him once on the nose to keep him on his toes, she’d demanded an explanation.
He was there to keep her company, figured that the others were too busy to help out. She had stared at him blankly, stunned into silence. One thing Buffy had learned was that if she stared at the peroxide pain in her ass and not say anything, he usually crumbled and started to talk. It had worked again that night. Spike had caved and began to ramble on about getting his violence the only way the Initiative had left him, fighting demons and vamps. His only snarky remark being that Captain Cardboard had let her down when he’d turned tail and run home to his mommy and that he was here to watch her back. There had been a wary look in his eyes, one that had stopped her from pounding on him; instead they had begun to patrol the cemeteries together, occasionally exchanging a quip or two. None of the usual verbal sparring matches. Something intrinsic had changed in Spike after he’d been chipped and he had slowly changed. Infact, he was still evolving. Buffy wasn’t sure what into, but it was a hell of lot better than the Spike who had originally pitched up in Sunnydale.
If things progressed the way they were, they might even end up being friends.
Spike and Buffy stood and stared at the wreck of a village. The sheer decay of the place told them that it had been uninhabited for over a century, if not more. The desolation of the once quaint Irish community was complete. All that remained was a hollow shell. Houses with no roofs, walls crumbling under the onslaught of ivy and other insidious climbers, which had torn away at the bricks and mortar leaving nothing but crumbled remains. In the distance there was a mournful ringing of the long forgotten church bell, the wind now it’s only reason for chiming its discordant noise. Buffy shivered and wrapped her thin arms around her body, trying to ward off the creeping sense of horror and sadness the place evoked within her.
“Where are we?” Buffy stared at the ivy covered building she was in front of. All of the structures were in a similar state of dilapidated disrepair and covered in foliage, some even had trees growing out of their eaves. “I don’t get it. Where are all the people? How come a whole village is deserted?” A true city girl through and through, the silence of the place was getting to her and then some.
Spike frowned and sniffed the air. There was no trace of the Chaos adept. He looked around at the weed infested street; in the distance he could hear a door creaking as it swung on its hinges. The place was deader than he was. All it needed was a ball of tumble weed and it would be a bonafide ghost town. “Not a clue. Come on, let’s try and find the market place. There might be some sort of sign or something.” He headed off down one of the side streets, striding past the empty houses. Their black windows stared back at him, empty of light or life. The place was starting to give him the creeps.
“Are you sure we’re in Ireland?” Buffy asked as she trotted along behind him. Her senses on alert, the whole place was giving her a major wiggins. “We could be in an alternate dimension, one where there are no people and we are all alone for ever!” Her voice rose with a budding hysteria. Spike glanced over at her . One steely look of his baby blues knocked away any idea of her having a massive panic attack. Buffy gulped and then forced down her fears with a Slayer-like determination. “We must be in Ireland right?” she asked meekly.
“Not a frigging clue, Slayer. Bloody well should be. All I wanted was a nice pint of Guinness and instead no, I have to end up here in the village of the ruddy well empty! Without a whiff of a good drink…” Spike turned a corner down the narrow street and sighed with relief; his instincts had been right. He stepped into the abandoned Market Square. In the centre stood a well. Part of its circular wall was missing, as if it had been kicked in. The remains of the bucket lay on the cobbles and the rope it had been attached to swung in the cool night air. The peroxided vampire scanned the area and then his eye alighted on the village hall and the carved foundation stone. “Over there,” he pointed and headed off without a backward glance, his temper barely contained as a slow sickening realisation was beginning to dawn.
Buffy paused, looking around curiously at the quaint cobblestone square, the utter silence and desolation starting to get to her. When Willow had said Ireland she had thought maybe she’d see some nice fields, visit a pub and hear some quaint Irish band playing fiddles or something.
Totally gloomy weirdsville with Spike behaving like a freak, being nice to her all the time and now with the helping! And Ethan? Well he was totally absent. Something made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up on end and she reached behind her to the stake tucked into her waistband. Her fingers slid around its familiar form and she pulled it out. Buffy sighed, drawing strength from her weapon; it reassured her with its familiar weight. The wood grain was smooth under her fingertips and instantly calmed her.
“Balls.” Spike swore under his breath and then shot around and stormed over to Buffy. “Come on, Slayer. Let’s get moving.” He mentally cursed whatever gods were watching over him and the Slayer. This was the last place in the universe he had ever expected to visit and to have the Slayer with him for it was just beyond a joke. He was not in the mood for the Sturm un drangst that this place would evoke in the slender blonde girl he was towing along behind him. He carried on walking, swearing under his breath while his pale fingers gently clasped Buffy’s wrist, his thumb consciously stroking the fragile skin on the underside.
“What? Wait! What did the stone say?” Buffy let herself be hustled along by the obviously annoyed vamp; she was freaked by his reaction, but all too happy to leave the creepy-assed ghostie village of the damned. His boot heels hammered a sharp staccato as he headed off down another side street, towing her along in his wake. In his eagerness to get out of the desolate place, Spike missed the shadow in the upstairs window of the Village hall who had been watching their every move.
They twisted and turned as they followed the almost claustrophobic alley for a few minutes before they burst out into the tree-filled cemetery of the church that ran along the side of the village. Spike sniffed the air; there were no signs of recently burials, and he couldn’t scent newly rotting corpses anywhere. Just the familiar smells of soil and trees.
“Come on, we need to get to that git and go home.” Spike’s already chilled body had dropped several degrees in temperature as he read the name of the village. He’d never been there, but he’d heard enough about it from Darla once she got a drink in her and wanted to reminisce about the good old days. It was the last sodding place the Slayer should be, not now, not when she had a mission. The distraction of this place would be too much and he didn’t have time to put another girl back together.
“Okay, enough with the taciturn guy.” Buffy yanked her hand free and then stumbled backwards. “Crap!” she squealed and fell onto a grave. She rolled over and pushed herself up. “God, déjà vu much?” she grumbled. The amount of times she had fallen onto freshly turned plots or into open graves in her career as a Slayer, she thought she’d be used to it. But no, instead she had that knee jerk hair raising on the back of her neck, cos falling on dead bodies equalled a massive eww in her book.
Spike growled. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and lit one; the flare of his lighter flickered and the glow from the flame illuminated the planes of his face, shadows casting his high cheekbones in relief. He took a deep pull on the cigarette, letting the nicotine calm him. The name of the village of the damned was all too familiar. He wanted to get out of here before the Slayer found out. ‘Hang about, she’s stopped bitching and moaning.’ Spike looked down at the frozen form of the slim girl. “Oh for God’s sake, what are the bloody odds of that!” he bellowed and threw away his half smoked cigarette before he reached down and yanked Buffy’s unresisting form to her feet.
“Is that him? Is it? Oh my God, is it?” Buffy wriggled against Spike’s hands, her attempt to get free inadvertently triggering the chip. He lurched backwards, digging the heel of his hand into his temple. She sank back down onto her knees and raised a trembling hand to the weather worn letters etched into the tombstone. Her index finger traced the name over and over as she tried not to burst into tears. Her hand resting on the damp grass covering the century old grave clenched as she tried not to scream out, her fingers digging past the blades of grass and into the peaty Irish soil, as if she were trying to reach his coffin. Deep down she knew that Angel was not in the ground, he was somewhere in LA, but the entire situation was just wigging her out on a level beyond she was accustomed. And the icing on the cake for this magical mystery tour was the whole ending up in his birthplace and now sitting on his abandoned grave.
Spike squatted down next to her and gently took her frozen hand in his. “Come on, pet. Let’s get you out of here. Enough with the ghosts of the past, let Spike take care of you, yeah?” he crooned in a reassuring voice. The same voice he’d used to calm down Dru after one of her episodes. It seemed to have a soothing effect on the stunned blonde huddled at his feet. Her fingers still ran over the ancient words carved into the worn granite; wind and rain had softened the edges of the tombstone and blurred the lettering to the point that some of it was undecipherable. But she could make out that he had been the beloved brother of Cathy.
“I guess he ate her right?” Her voice sounded thin and reedy as she laid her hand over the lettering, offering a silent prayer for the long dead girl.
Before Spike could even begin to form a reply to her sad query, they both heard a faint sound. Their heads snapped around and they leapt fluidly to their feet.
“It came from over there.” Buffy pointed to the far end of the church yard. In unison the two of them shot off into the night, chasing the faint sound of fading footsteps that were heading away from the village and back the way they had come.
Leaving behind them the remains of the crumbling empty grave of a man who had a massive impact on both their lives.
Ethan grabbed his side as he ran.
“I am getting too old for this!” he gasped to himself as his legs pumped erratically his frantic eyes scanned behind him searching for his pursuers. Ethan dodged and reeled between the trees and then leapt over the small stone wall that was the boundary of the cemetery and the open fields. He landed heavily and then straightened; glancing over his shoulder, he could see the bright blond hair of both his pursuers in the moonlight. Briefly Ethan wondered who the pale black clad man was, and then he dismissed the man as insignificant. The Slayer was his main problem. Taking a deep breath, he began to run.
Minutes passed, the silence of the valley broken only by his panting breath and the occasional shout to stop from his pursuers.
The stitch was causing him to double over in pain; but he had to get back to the cave. The Chaos mage slipped on the dew damp grass and crashed to his knees and he bit his lip to stifle the scream of agony.
“Bloody Slayer, how the hell did she find me?” he grumbled as he hoisted himself back onto his feet and started running again. Ethan had hoped to spend a few hours sleeping in the old village while he gathered his energy from the focal point for chaos worship. He needed more power to move onto the next point in his journey. But it had been interrupted; all he could do was pray to Janus that there was enough juice in the coin and combined with his power it would get him on his way. He needed to put some distance between himself and Ripper’s determined slayer. He had experienced her wrath on several occasions and wasn’t eager to taste his own blood again.
Ethan had bargained on at least four hours or so, allowing time for him to recuperate and for the innate power in the caves and the idol to infuse into his gold coin, his ticket out of there. He had picked the spots carefully, each known for its power and connections with Chaos. All that the sharp-faced man had needed to recover from the massive amounts of energy he had to expend to get to where he was heading. It wasn’t as if he could hop on a plane and fly there, not with the customs men wanting to check all baggage. He wouldn’t be able to explain away the Muo-Ping glowing away in his hand luggage. Ethan giggled at the imagined conversation of him trying to explain that away.
Ethan stumbled over a rock, slid down a slope and splashed through an icy cold stream. He bit his lower lip to stop himself from crying out in pain. Instead he let his body slither down the incline. If he slowed down the Ripper’s little girl would catch up with him and then it would be all over. Wolfram and Hart would have his guts for garters. He had to complete this job otherwise Lilah had promised to hand him back to the US government, and there was no way he was going back to that hellhole. If it meant a small delivery job to get him free of there, then so be it.
It had been rather amusing when Lilah had briefed him about his job.
Talk about sins of the grandmothers coming back to roost on her grandson’s shoulders.
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/161718.html