This is my last post for the day I wanted to thank itmustbetuesday for hosting this wonderful ficathon and I am enjoying all the marvellous entries and anticipating so many more ^_^.
I am incredibly frustrated in not completing this fic for today as I have loved writing it, but sadly due to ill health over the last few weeks I was scuppered slightly and unable to complete The Chaos Factor in time for posting today – I have nearly finished chapter seven of the fic and I will be posting it on my LJ as well as popping it into my memories section – so if you are interested in following the rest of this fic and Spike and Buffy’s travels across the world chasing Ethan then keep an eye out on my LJ for updates, I will pop all chapters including future ones into my memories to make is easier to access them ^_^. I will be focusing on this fic and I will finish in one hit over the next couple of weeks.
Thank you so much for all your lovely comments I do hope you have enjoyed the fic so far!
The bone wrenching and stomach churning journey was only marginally less uncomfortable than the first time. Buffy’s eyes were screwed shut but she could still see small flashes of lighting through her lids. The spinning that threw their bodies around as they shifted from one place to another was disorientating, and not any easier to cope with the second time around.
There was a crackle, then a bang, and the two travellers appeared in a swirling cloud of magicks. Small bolts of lighting fired around the forms creating a halo of St. Elmos fire around the two travellers.
Buffy sank to her knees and braced herself on the cool, slick glass floor that they had landed on. She could hear Spike cussing a blue streak behind her. Turning her head, she watched as he fell backwards as if in slow motion. There was a clatter of wood on metal, breaking the silence of the sterile room as he staggered the wrong way and hit some sort of carved oak altar. Neither of them heard the small clinking sound as Ethan’s coin fell to the ground and rolled against the steel wall.
“Sodding magic!” Spike exclaimed, bracing himself on the steel wall as he tried to get his bearings. “Not going to toss your cookies again are you, Slayer?” Spike tilted his head at Buffy and then reached down to pull her onto her feet. She handed the now redundant Formorian coin to him and watched quietly as he tucked it away with the first one. Her nausea dissipated quickly as her body adjusted to the sensations the teleportation spell created within her.
“Gross much?” Buffy rubbed her stomach and figured the only way she was going to lose her lunch was if she had eaten something in the past few hours. Her stomach gurgled in agreement. She flushed red at Spike’s smirk and pointed look at her abdomen. “I’m fine. No puking, just hungry.” Pouting at Spike and before squinting around the brightly lit room, Buffy asked, “Where the hell are we?”
“No sodding idea. Though…” He paused, sniffing the air. “That Ethan git was in here a while ago. His scent is faint, but it’s still here.”
Buffy sighed in relief. “At least we’re still on his track.” She rubbed her hands together nervously and looked around the room. “This place is just so shiny and clean.”
“Bit different from the peat bog we just trudged through. Wonder what he’s doing here?”
Buffy shook her head. The funky cave with the goaty god made sense in a Hellmouthy kinda way. But clean and bright – with no weird ass idols around – nope, wasn’t making an iota of sense to her. “No idea, but we need to find some way to get outta here and find Ethan.”
In unison, the two travellers began to examine the large high-ceilinged room. It was a perfect square, the walls and ceiling constructed from brightly polished steel, and the floor was one large sheet of under-lit reinforced glass. Buffy picked up the altar and returned it to its original position; she ran her fingers over the carvings, trying to determine their origin.
“What are these?” She peered over her shoulder at Spike. He came over and squatted down beside to her.
They were familiar, he’d come across these type of symbols before. “Runes by the look of it.” Spike frowned down at the glass floor; he could have sworn for a second he saw something move in the light.
“Runes? Damn, where is Tara when we need her?” Buffy straightened, adjusted her backpack and then looked around the room again. Spike glanced over at her in surprise; he wondered if she had noticed that Red wasn’t the first name to cross her lips when something mystical cropped up. A frown creased her forehead. “Wait! What’s wrong with this picture?”
Spike sank down next to the altar, dropping his pack next to him as he leant against the wall. “You mean apart from us doing impersonations of sardines in a shiny tin can?”
“Spike, there’s no coin, so that means this is his last stop.” Hope blossomed inside her. Could this be the end of it? They could find Ethan and go home without chasing around villages of the damned, or anymore uber modern steel boxes. He was really bugging the hell out of her and she wanted Giles back ASAP, not freaky-assed Ripper who knew her mom too well. She shuddered at the thought before stuffing it firmly back into a box in the back of her mind and slamming the lid shut.
He scanned the sterile room again, nodding slowly as he rifled through one of the side pockets of his pack. He needed a smoke. When his fingers brushed against a pack he pulled it out, then stared in horror at the nicotine gum. “What the bloody…” He pulled out more packs of the generic brands of anti-smoking gum and threw them on the glass floor. “No!” Spike exclaimed in horror. “Oh god, no!” He rapidly emptied the pack onto the ground, his hands scrabbling through his clothes and weapons. “I don’t believe it,” he practically sobbed.
“What? What’s wrong? Did Anya forget to pack your security blanket or something?” Buffy teased.
“Sodding bint nicked all my fags and put these in their place.” Spike held one of the Nicorette packs between his thumb and forefinger, looking at it as if it were as much use to him as a pack of condoms with crosses printed on them. Unless they were the flavoured kind with the little…but he was determined not to be distracted.
“Oh.” Buffy took it. She shook her head at the horrified vampire. “It must’ve been Tara, I saw here putting some stuff in there for you… but I had no clue, I swear.” She failed to smother her giggles and snorted with laughter at the woebegone look on the forlorn vamp’s face. “Maybe she thought she was helping my lungs?”
Spike growled at her as he ripped open the pack of gum and stuffed a couple of tablets into his mouth, chewing on them furiously.
“I’m sorry. Next chance I get I’ll get you some, okay?” Buffy offered. Anything to stop him from sulking, even if it meant secondary smoke.
Spike grunted his thanks and began to stuff his belongings back into his pack.
“Let me help.” Buffy knelt down and folded some shirts before handing them to Spike. Working silently, they made swift work of the mess. Buffy reached for the brass knuckles, which had slid to the edge of the room. “Damn…” Her face fell at the gleam of gold that was revealed.
“What?” Spike glanced up from buckling the straps down on his backpack. His shoulder’s slumped at the sight of the small coin “Well that tosses your theory out of the metaphorical window.”
Buffy handed the weapon to Spike and picked up the coin that had been hidden beneath it, studying it closely. “It’s not working? Do you think Ethan’s already jumped?”
He shook his head. “No idea.” Spike took the oval coin from her and examined the etching. “An apple? What the bloody hell?” He stared at the image with a deep frown creasing his brow. Turning the coin over he searched for more clues, and then groaned at the familiar sight of an alphabet he had learned as a child. “Balls.”
“What?” She glanced over at the fuming vampire. “Do you recognise anything?”
Spike nodded as he slammed the coin down on the oak altar. The coin sank into the wood a little, before popping out, leaving a tiny circular indentation. It began to glow slightly as it pulled power from the focal point of the chaos magicks.
“The symbols are Greek,” he answered shortly. “So I guess if we don’t catch the git this time we’re heading there.”
“Well, crap.” Buffy stood up, stomping across the room to the far side and slamming her fist into the wall. Before either of them could say a word the entire wall began to move.
With a faint hiss of air, it slid away to reveal a nondescript corridor.
Ripper rolled onto his side and peered through the banister rails down into the room below. He had headed for safe ground after the blonde Wicca had caught them having a bit of fun playing cards. Yawning, Ripper stretched out on the bed as he watched the blonde berate the unrepentant brunette for letting her guard down.
He’d been so close to getting the talisman that would release his magicks. When the cheeky bint had pulled off her shirt, revealing a magnificent pair of breasts, it had fallen out of one of the pockets and landed near his foot. Until that moment he had not been able to work out how they had bound his magic. But the sight of the embroidered purse had triggered some long forgotten memory. He realised that the witches had caught him in a Devorian binding spell; the magic still there within him but just stuck behind a mystical barrier.
“Anya, you really were exposing yourself to some risk by encouraging that man. What would Xander say?”
Anya shrugged mutinously. “We were only having a bit of fun.” A small pang of discomfort filled her at the mention of her forgotten boyfriend, but the image of Ripper’s wickedly twinkling eyes repressed it.
Tara shook her head and stared at the girl. Her sharp eyes missed nothing. There was an air of hidden excitement around Xander’s slightly odd girlfriend. She looked over her shoulder up the stairs. Brushing her heavy blonde hair from her face, Tara stared calmly up at Ripper’s smirking countenance. They were very similar. Tara could sense an air of suppressed wickedness and charm to both of them that was so engaging.
She frowned, worry lines creasing her forehead.
The vibes between them were almost palpable, it vibrated across their auras. Tara stared at Mr Giles, and then Anya. It had more of a presence than anything between Anya and Xander, which confused her.
She didn’t know what to do.
Was it up to her to interfere?
She had heard stories of how – at some point – Willow, Xander and Buffy had all interfered with each other’s friendships and relationships in the past. The utter betrayal of Xander, when he hadn’t explained to Buffy that Willow was re-souling Angelus, ranked very highly on her wrong list. The three core Scoobies were probably too interdependent on each other.
Taking a calming breath, she decided it was not her place to say, or do, anything. They were adults, both of them, and she wasn’t their mother. As long as there was no mischief, and Anya was honest with Xander when he came back then she wouldn’t interfere. Her decision made, Tara released a deep breath – one she hadn’t realised she was holding.
“It’s not like I shagged her upside down and half way to happy land, did I?” Ripper teased, and then stood to lean nonchalantly on the rails. “The bird was up for it, and it’s not like she isn’t a card sharp. I was practically in the nip.”
Tara suppressed a small smile at that.
“Well, Ripper, you should not underestimate your opponents, really! As if I have not played poker before. For goodness sake, I knew the muse who inspired the first game.” She nodded at him and then twirled the pouch around and round on her index finger. “And if you think I would be naïve enough to let you get your hands on the real thing…then you must think I came down in the last rainfall.” She flicked her wrist and let the pouch sail up through the air towards him. It hit Ripper in the chest; his hand rose automatically and caught the decoy.
Admiration filled his eyes as he looked down at the small bag and its contents. “Clever girl.”
“Why, thank you.” Anya shot a small smile at Ripper, and then she ducked her head, examining her hands when she caught Tara watching their exchange.
“I came to give you this.” Tara headed to the front door; she picked up the bags of food and put them on the breakfast bar. “I need to get back to class. Can I trust you two to behave?” she asked worriedly. “Or do I need to do some sort of anti-lust spell?” she enquired, unconsciously choosing the same avenue that her girlfriend had picked a few years ago.
Anya straightened her skirt, looked up at Ripper and shrugged noncommittally. Unlike the two others, she could accept that someone else inhabited Giles’ body, and it wasn’t the Slayer’s watcher.
No, this was an altogether more interesting man.
It was only after Tara had settled down with Willow to go over the spell she had created—to return Giles’ soul to his body—that the blonde Wiccan realised that neither Ripper nor Anya had said they would behave.
Buffy peered through the door, looking up and down the corridor anxiously. “It’s clear.”
Spike stepped past carrying both their packs. Stopping, he sniffed the air. “He’s been through here a while back.”
Hope filled Buffy, maybe this time they were closer to catching Ethan.
She was starting to panic over the time delay between jumps; Ethan always had a head start on them. The worried girl stepped out onto the pale grey carpeted floor and followed Spike. There was nothing on the walls to give them an idea as to where they were. All she could think of was at least there was no mud, and no freaking abandoned villages of the damned. Caught up in her thoughts, the diminutive blonde walked straight into Spike’s stationary form, her face mashing into black leather.
“Sorry, love.” Spike glanced down and a genuine smile crossed his handsome features as he watched Buffy rub her nose. He pulled open the door to his left; it was the first that they had come across in the long corridor and behind it they discovered janitorial supplies. “We can stash our bits and bobs in here.” He tossed the two backpacks in the room and then let the door snick shut. His strong pale skinned hand reached for the door handle and yanked it off. “Best be safe.” He tucked it into a pocket of his duster and headed off with Buffy on his heels.
“God! Enough with the sudden stoppage!” Buffy grumbled. She shoved Spike aside and slipped past him rubbing her nose again. “How many times do I have to mash my face into your back?” She trailed off as she saw the problem. “Oh…”
“Yeah, oh. Looks like its end of the line for me, Slayer.” He stepped cautiously back and peered into the sunlit foyer. A pale grey marble floor extended for about forty feet, the walls covered in the same expensive marble, all etched with the same runes that they had found on the oak altar. The walls arched upwards into a barrel vault ceiling, the entire space about three stories high. There were long clear glass columns running up the sides of the walls in all four corners and running along the arches in the ceiling. But the main problem for Spike was the walls of glass running down two sides. Beyond the windows, all that could be seen was snow covered gardens and fir trees running along the boundaries in the distance.
Buffy scanned the spacious room, her eyes spotting the reception desk and above it the gold words -L.O.K.I Enterprises – were fixed to the wall. “Oh look. A phone. We can call Wills.” She made to move forward and Spike grabbed her hand.
“Wait!” he admonished. Then he swore loudly and yanked his hand back. “Hang about.” Spike stared at his unblemished skin.
Buffy skidded to a halt and looked back at Spike; she focused on him and not the tingling sensation in her fingers from the brief contact of their flesh. “What?” she asked impatiently.
Spike took a deep unnecessary breath. “Watch.” He thrust his hand into the pale sunlight and wriggled his fingers. “Look, no flames.” A manic grin split his face as he looked out of the windows into broad daylight.
Buffy frowned in confusion; she reached over and ran her fingers lightly over the back of Spike’s hand. With her head bowed she didn’t notice the sudden dilation of his pupils, or hear the faint gasp of surprise from the vampire. “I don’t get it. What happened to you?” Unnoticed by either of them, there was a flash of movement in one of the columns.
“Dunno.” He shrugged and then stepped into the marble lined foyer. He held his arms up and turned slowly in a circle. “But its ruddy brilliant, haven’t seen the light of day since…well, you know when.” Both of them nodded, remembering their fight in the quad in broad daylight. Spike then bounced up and down. “It’s a bloody miracle.” He shot past Buffy and headed to the tall windows, pressing his hands against the cold glass as he looked out into the day. “It’s so beautiful, I had forgotten.”
He cringed at his inner William slipping out and cleared his throat gruffly.
Buffy watched the enthralled vampire silently. His childlike glee was something that she had never expected to witness, but she liked it. Grinning at his back, she headed for the reception desk that ran the length of the wall. Slipping around the back, she headed for the work area and absently ran her hands along the highly polished oak counter. Buffy sat down in the high backed leather chair and reached for the phone. “Spike, any idea how to work one of these?” She pressed at various buttons trying to get an outside line. Inadvertently her fingers pressed a small black button and a row of small security screens flickered to life. “Whoa.”
Spike tore himself away from the glass and vaulted over the desk, landing lightly on his feet next to Buffy. He squinted at all the screens. “Looks like we’re in some office building.” He reached over her shoulder and grabbed a handful of business cards and examined them. “In sodding Norway! God, can’t that effing git find more interesting places to drag us to? First we end up in my bog trotting Irish grandgit’s spawning ground and now Norway? What’s sodding wrong with London or Paris? Nooo, we have to end up in the middle of a winter wonderland that Slartybartfast designed crinkly bits for…”
“What?” Buffy squeaked. “Norway? Crinkly bits? Has the sun got to you or something? And what’s wrong with Norway? Not all of us have done the ‘all you can eat world tour.’” She reached over and pulled out a sheet of paper from under a folder next to her hand. It was an expensive piece of paper with an embossed letterhead on the top. “L.O.K.I. Enterprises?” She looked up at Spike, her green eyes sparkling with questions. “What the hell do crinkly bits have to do with enterprise?”
“Have you never cracked a spine in your life?” Spiked asked as he fiddled with the phone system.
“Huh? Ewww.” Buffy scrunched up her face at the mental image of broken backs.
“Read a book!”
“Oh…yes, I have.” She smacked him on the elbow and rolled her eyes at him.
Spike pressed a few buttons then handed the receiver to Buffy. “Here, I’m going out for a breather and to the check the area out. Something’s off. Why is it three foot deep with snow in the middle of summer?” He stomped off, muttering under his breath about some guy called Douglas Adams and how she wouldn’t recognise a classic if it bit her in the arse.
“Wills? Hey, Spike made the phone work! Hi!” Buffy began to chatter excitedly with her friend, her eyes watching every move the vamp made. “We went to Ireland, which was kinda weird. But now we’re in Norway!” She paused for a moment listening to Willow’s excited response. “I know, it’s all kinds of cool.”
Spike pulled at the doors. “Sodding locked of course.” He turned to Buffy. “Oi, is there a release or something?” Buffy carried on talking to a sleepy Willow and searched the area. She shook her head in defeat.
“Figures, probably locked in for the duration.” He patted his pockets, searching hopefully for a fag but to no avail. Sauntering back to reception, he joined Buffy and listened to her fill in Red on what had happened so far.
She was taking notes on a sheet of paper, her face screwed up in adorable concentration. “Okay, so chaos focal points for jumpage. We’re not gonna grow horns or anything are we?” Spike stared in horror at the slayer as if she had sprouted said horns instantaneously. “Oh, you have the spell worked out for getting Giles all fixed.” She carried on oblivious to the snickering from Spike. “A fax number? Why? Have you got a fax in the dorm? Oh on the computer. That’s all kinds of neat. How do I find a number? Oh thanks, Spike.” She rattled off the number to the machine sitting a little further down the desk. Within seconds it began to print off a sheet of paper filled with Tara’s large looping handwriting. “Got it. So this will send Giles back and also bring us along for the ride?” Buffy sighed in relief as Willow replied. “So all we do is get that bottle thingie off Ethan, open it, Spike does the spell cos me and the Latin are so unmixy. And we all know he can make with the magic.” She arched a disapproving brow at Spike. “Can we say Du Lac cross, Spike?”
“Yeah…yeah. Pet, I can, as you so eloquently put it, make with the magic. I just choose not to abuse it or rely on it. I’ve always been a fists and fangs vamp and not into the mojo unless it was really essential.”
Buffy opened her mouth to retaliate but was interrupted by Spike holding up a hand. His eyes flickered gold as his face shifted to vampire prominance. Tilting his head he growled slightly in the back of this throat. Buffy closed her eyes and tried to focus on whatever he was hearing.
“Shhh, Willow. Spike’s heard something,” she hissed into the receiver. Her mind filled with all sorts of disastrous possibilities, the least terrifying being that she and Spike were arrested for trespassing and ranging up to hairy fire breathing trolls. She figured that being in Norway there had to be trolls, the fiery breath was optional.
Spike cocked his head. There was something coming, he could hear it. “Slayer, hang up now! We need get out of here.”
A/N A couple of links for Loki and Runes incase you are interested. The reasoning for choosing Loki for a focus of Ethan to recharge his powers and for the next point is that Loki is know as being a trickester and a focus for chaos in some form – hence us using him as the Norwegian connection for Ethan. He is also a neutral god neither good or evil which I found fascinating.
Well I managed to leave you on a cliffhanger – but the next chapter will be up in the next couple of days on I hope to see you all over there soon :)
will be up next with something rather ingenious for you all the enjoy – I do hope you have had as much fun as we have today!
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/162595.html