elisi: (Spike DD by ruuger (NOT sharable!))
[personal profile] elisi
I survived the invasion Impish Girl's birthday party. Ten 12 year old girls for 2+ hours... /o\ Mind you, we kept them in the garden for most of the time - it was windy, but thankfully stayed dry. Impish Girl had decided that she wanted a 'Nerf War' (google Nerf Gun if you're not familiar), so that's what they had (as well as various party games) - they had great fun running around & fighting with their toy guns and capturing flags! :)

Anyway, as I need some peace & quiet I decided to post the next chapter of this. Enjoy! First chapter & notes here, and Master post of whole 'verse here.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Rating: Teen.
Characters: Spike, Angel, Illyria, Buffy, Scoobies + cameos from more or less everyone in the 'verse.
Feedback: Is bloody ambrosia! (The secret ingredient is otter...)
Word count: 2900 words approx.
Setting and Summary: This chapter takes place immediately after the first one, as the quest begins in earnest.


Chapter 2

“Sky the colour of blood. Check. Black craggy mountains. Check. Large disgusting pools of fuck-knows-what. Check. Atmosphere of sulphur. Check. Right then - where are the devils with pitch forks?”

Spike turned to Illyria, eyebrow questioningly raised. The place was beyond a joke - it was like some Heavy Metal fan’s trippy fantasy.

Illyria stared back, uncomprehending. “I do not know of any breed of devil that carries pitch forks. Pitch forks are tools for manual labour, not weapons... your query is illogical and strange.”

Spike opened his mouth and then closed it again, knowing a lost cause when he saw one.

“I think Spike might have a point,” Angel said, studying the surroundings. “This is the home dimension of W&H? The place they originally came from?”

“Do you doubt me?” Illyria asked, a note of anger creeping into her voice.

“Well...” Angel grimaced, “It’s all just a bit... cartoony?”

Illyria was obviously not familiar with the term.

Angel tried again. “In our culture, Hell is usually represented looking pretty much exactly as this place. Well except there’s no fire here. But overall - it just seems... weird.”

“That is not my concern,” Illyria replied coldly. She slowly turned around, impassive eyes charting the territory, before choosing a direction and wordlessly walking off. The vampires sighed and followed, trying not to think of how very dependant they were on her... If she left them, they would have no way of getting back home.

After a while Angel suddenly stopped, frowning. “Actually - what if W&H influenced humankind’s myths? They could have fed people’s fears with tales of this place. What if it isn’t some weird coincidence, but a kinda backwards proof of how much sway they hold over our world?”

Spike blinked, tried to absorb what Angel was saying, and then slowly shook his head.

“You think too much, mate. Don’t matter either way, does it? I’m more worried that that Raven fella was lying through his teeth. What the hell was that thing?”

Angel slowly mulled over the question. “Most primitive cultures have myths surrounding a raven - he’s knows as a trickster, and in most of them he inadvertedly creates the world by stealing the sun and moon...”

He stopped and turned to Spike. “You’ve never heard of any of this? Did you never get any sort of education?”

“I went to public school thank-you-very-much!” Spike retaliated. “But with Queen Victoria on the throne the superstitions of bleedin’ ‘indigenous’ peoples wasn’t exactly part of the curriculum. Mostly it was ‘this third of the world belongs to us! If the black bastards misbehave we chop their heads off.’ And as for the Irish...”

He shot Angel a challenging look, and Angel silently looked back, trying not to raise to the bait. Then he strode off ahead, jaw set.

Spike chuckled to himself, but as his eyes again met with the landscape his face fell. The ground was dry and cracked, and large rocks and stones were scattered over the plain on which he stood. Something that might be a pale sun hovered not far above the distant mountains. And dark clouds were gathering in the red sky.

’Just two days ago I was in Buffy’s bed...’ he thought, and somehow it might as well have been a millennium ago. He’d told her in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want her to join their fight, and yet he couldn’t help but imagine just how wonderful it would be to have her walking beside him, wrinkling her pretty nose at the smell and hefting that gorgeous Scythe, ready to do some violence.

He sighed. The sulphur would probably kill her and she had work to do herself. He could have gone to join her after he got rid of the ghostliness, but he hadn’t and that was that. Had chosen Angel’s fight instead and here he was, caught up in events and powers far beyond anything he’d ever wanted... who could have foreseen that a simple soul could cause such seismic ripples?

Too lost in thought to notice a vague scraping sound, he didn’t see the big savage brute until it jumped. Sharp yellow teeth snapped millimetres from his face as he automatically swung up his arm to block the attack. Then he brought up his knee, catching the thing solidly in the middle, and as it momentarily folded he pulled a dagger from his boot and slashed its throat. It fell down in a wobbly lump, and brownish, foul-smelling blood oozed out on the ground. Thanking the powers that he didn’t need to breathe, Spike did his best to wipe the dagger’s blade on the creature’s rough, prickly hide - he had a feeling the blood would eat right through his shirt.

“Spike!” Angel looked out from behind a large boulder. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Tryin’ to stay alive!” he replied and walked around the dead body. “Watch out for surprise attacks.”

Angel nodded silently and they set off again, once more side by side. Illyria walked ahead of them, her course as straight as if she were an arrow.

“Where are we going?” Spike asked after a while, and Angel shrugged. “No idea. I tried to ask a minute ago, but she didn’t answer.”

Spike sighed again, and silence fell.

As senses slowly grew more accustomed to the place they began to pick up on scents and sounds, and when four skinny demons brandishing crude weapons fell on them some time later they were ready. The grey indistinct shadows slowly lengthened, and they fought off several more attacks - although oddly Illyria was not bothered in this manner. Whatever vibe she sent out, the creatures did not touch her.

It was - as far as they could tell - many hours since they had first arrived and darkness was stealing across the sky. They were now amongst what in a normal landscape would be hills, but here was just large naked rocks jutting up. Here and there little withered bush-like shrubs clung to the rock, and they could hear skittering above their heads - even once or twice caught sight of small monkey-like creatures.

The sunset was abrupt and the world was now lit up by nothing more than a scant scattering of faint stars, as smudged and indistinct as the the sun. The darkness, changing the reds and murky greeny-browns of the landscape into familiar grey, didn’t bother them, but after having walked for what seemed to be more than the lenght of two nights and no new daytime apparently being near, they decided to find a cave and get some much needed rest.

Not long after Spike lay with his head on his duster, letting his eyes travel over Angel beside him and then towards Illyria’s immobile form seated at the entrance. Was this what they had to look forward to?

“You know what’s one of the best things about girlfriends?” he asked, and Angel turned his head, obviously unsure where Spike was going with the question.

“Soft, warm beds!” Spike said, and Angel smiled, then asked: “And the worst thing?”

“Nagging!” Spike promptly replied, and Angel chuckled.

After a moment Spike continued, a little unsure. “About me and Buffy seein’ each other... you’re OK with that, right? Since she actually wants to have a go at some sort of long-term thing...”

He swallowed, still overwhelmed at having somehow won in life’s lottery, and then caught Angel’s eyes.

There was a moment, then Angel looked away. “Told you so already,” he replied and Spike nodded a little uncertainly.

“Course,” he answered, but couldn’t help feeling that things had changed a fair bit since their first conversation a week ago. There was a difference between ‘going on a date’ and ‘dating’ - and he and Buffy had moved from one to the other almost without noticing.

The main issue now being his and Angel’s... ‘friendship’. Spike didn’t like that word, since it implied a choice to be in each other’s company, which was very far from the reality of their situation. But they got along, maintaining a careful balance. Like tightrope walkers. Only Buffy was bound to upset things...

Problem was of course that they’d dealt with the ‘Buffy issue’ months ago and ‘moved on’. Not very successfully from her - in Spike’s case at least - but from fighting over her. It was a pattern, Spike realised - bicker, fight, deal, move on. And Buffy had been a closed chapter. But now there was friction where there had been none, and it was bound to be awkward.

Then Angel turned back, a sudden mischievous look in his eyes. “Don’t suppose you told her about the girl in Germany?”

Spike’s nostrils flared. “No... and nothing happened with the girl in Germany!”

“Because I dragged you away!”

Spike scowled. “Wish that black eye I gave you hadn’t faded so quickly... ‘Is your boyfriend always this jealous?’ Coulda bloody well killed you! First chance I’d had in months.”

“We were supposed to keep a low profile, not chat up exchange students and impressing them with tales of our adventures!” Angel’s face still had hints of amusement, but a more serious side shone through.

“I saved her from a demon attack - she was grateful. I’d have been gone before she woke up... I never signed up for the hundred year abstinence.” Spike was feeling petulant, but he couldn’t help it. Not like Illyria was willing to give it up...

Of course in the last week he’d had a feast he could never have foreseen, so maybe Angel had been onto something after all. Deciding that there was no point in dwelling on things he could do nothing about he closed his eyes, calling forth the image of Buffy. Soon he was drifting off, caught in happy memories.

It was a few hours later when Angel suddenly sat bolt upright, crying out as he hit his head on the low sloping roof of the cave.

Spike blinked and rose up on his elbow. “What now?” he asked, and Angel winced in pain and then frowned.

“I-I’m not sure. There was a bright light... and my head hurts...” his voice trailed off, and Spike yawned. “Don’t go into the light mate, no good ever comes of it. Also I don’t feel like waking up next to a small pile of dust. We’ll find a bigger cave next time.”

Angel shook his head. “No - it was...” He rubbed his head, uncertain.

“...a bad dream! Try burning to death and dealing with the nightmares that come from that!” Spike finished. “Go back to sleep.” He lay back down and tried without much success to be comfortable on the hard ground. “I was dreaming of...” he chuckled and didn’t finish the sentence. “Why don’t you try counting werewolves jumping over a fence?”

Angel nodded slowly, and with a puzzled look laid back down.

***

It was the next evening when Spike went hunting. They were still amongst the hills, the distant mountains having neared a little after two days’ march, and as he heard the now familiar skittering above them he turned to Angel. “I’m hungry. Hold my coat - I’m gonna go get us somethin’ to eat!”

He let his gameface come forth, scanning the air for scents, but Angel hadn’t moved. He was looking at Spike with an odd look on his face, then shook his head. “Spike - we’re not animals.”

Spike stared at him for a long minute, then closed his eyes and shook his head. “I am not having this discussion with you again. Not now, not ever, OK? Just hold the bloody coat!”

Thrusting it into Angel’s hands he then leapt up onto a ledge, before silently creeping further up the jagged rock. Darkness had now fallen everywhere, and with senses keen and alert he stalked towards the place where he could sense a whole colony of the little critters. It was exhilarating - primitive instincts welling up as he moved forwards as careful and precise as a cat.

The little animals were gathered together on one of the topmost points, chattering quietly as they moved around, their wide eyes faintly reflecting the light from the dim stars. Spike smiled. In a flash he was by the edge of one of the wide ledges, plucked off an unsuspecting victim before it had time to call out, and as he moved away again with the same unnatural speed his fangs were already in the creature’s neck. He couldn’t care less about what he was - all he knew was that he was friggin’ built for this. The blood wasn’t anything to write home about, being somewhat inferior to pig, but the feel of hot blood gushing into his mouth straight from the vein, heart still pumping, was pure bliss.

Having swiftly drained the little body, he thought that he’d nab a few more for himself and then make a nice collection for Angel. The easiest thing would be to wring their necks of course, but there was nothing like a live kill - and he knew Angel felt the same even if he’d never admit it... maybe he could knock them out? He tried to study the dead carcass in his hand and figured that a quick blow to the head ought to stun it for a while. The skull was fairly thick.

Making his way back to the group, as silent as a small detached piece of darkness, he began thinking that this hell dimension travelling could have its upsides.

Not long after he was climbing back down to Angel, full and content and with a trio of unconscious creatures in his hand, and he began wondering why he’d so automatically relied on butcher’s blood all these years.

Angel was waiting - with that look on his face that said that the argument hadn’t gone away - but it swiftly gave way to barely concealed hunger.

Spike held out his catch and said, putting as much emphasis on the words as he could: “We are demons. End of story.”

Angel stared at him for the longest time, and Spike couldn’t guess at what thoughts went through his head. But he was obviously not going to share, as he with a curt ‘thanks’ plucked the dinner from Spike’s hand and walked off to eat in private.

***

Oddly - or maybe not so oddly - eating 'the fruits of the land' made the place feel more real. As Spike went off on his third hunting expedition on the eve of the fifth day, he realised that he had begun to adjust to the environment in earnest. The eery silence didn't feel oppressive anymore, as his ears were now perfectly attuned to the minute sounds that meant the difference between being prey or predator. The rocks had their own unique faintly shiny texture that he’d never seen elsewhere, with tiny mosses and grasses clinging to any crack or fissure. Apart from the small monkey creatures and the randomly attacking demons, they'd also glimpsed larger beasts, thickly coated and many-horned, in the distance. It was a whole world unto itself, vast and mostly empty, with many-layered scents underneath the sulphur, and the remnants of an ecosystem existing without a care for the plans of evil things.

He stopped for a moment on an apex with a clear view over the plains ahead, and thought to himself that the place wasn't all that bad, truth be told. Ugly as sin of course, and he was missing TV and Scotch already; but they’d just been through a hot, claustrophobic summer, moving from place to place via the less savoury parts of Europe, always looking over their shoulder and sleeping with one eye open, never trusting anyone - and the quiet of this place was surprisingly soothing. Kill or be killed was a far simpler way of life than the webs W&H tried to spin.

Then he raised his eyes and looked towards the mountains in the distance... a distance that narrowed day by day. He could begin to discern towers and structures clinging to the sides, ugly and dark, and he sighed. There was trouble up there, and Illyria was making a beeline for it... He was beginning to feel increasingly like Frodo and Sam walking towards Mordor, which was not a comforting thought.

***

It was hard to make out how much time passed. The nights seemed longer and the days shorter than on earth, but by how much they couldn't tell. After more than 14 days of travel they finally came to the feet of the mountains, but judging by the distance they had covered it was more like 4 weeks of ordinary time.

Angel looked upwards, taking in the steep and jagged sides towering above them and shook his head. "We gonna climb that? Should have brought rope and special boots... I'm not sure it can be done."

Illyria tilted her head. "We will not climb the mountains - the fortress is on the inside."

Spike stared at her, eyes widening. "We're going inside? Well fuck that!"


Chapter 3.
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