elisi: (Spike DD by ruuger (NOT sharable!))
[personal profile] elisi
And more fic! Might post the next chapter fairly quickly as this is more of a tie-over than an actual chapter.

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: 1600 words approx.
Setting and Summary: As before. (Post-NFA epic quest thing.)


Chapter 3

Spike had a point, Angel thought. This was happening with increasing frequency, and that in itself might be something to worry about. Listening to the argument between the other two he found himself agreeing with most of what Spike said. Except of course it wasn’t that simple. He sighed.

“Spike - we’re going inside. If you want to sit on a rock out here and wait for us then that’s your choice! Illyria - do you know where there is a door?”

Seeing Spike’s glare, he continued. “I’d like some backup too - and the architect’s plans. But since neither exists we have to go with what we’ve got!”

He held Spike’s eyes, and saw the other reluctantly give in. Although as usual he had to say something:

“Whatever - I just think it’s as dumb as painting a target on your chest and jumping into a whole group of Slayers yelling: ‘I’m going to kill you!’”

“Yeah, but we don’t have a choice, do we?” He turned back to Illyria. “Door?”

She looked back as though he were a moron. “Can you not see it?”

“See what?”

He almost expected her to roll her eyes as she sighed. “The mountain is enchanted... The magic must be deceiving your eyes. Do you not see any of the dark signs?”

They both shook their heads, and Illyria - muttering something about the curse of lesser beings - walked over to the mountainside, slowly pressing the palms of both hands against the cold stone. Then she closed her eyes and stood still for so long that they thought she might have fallen asleep - except she didn’t really ‘do’ sleep...

Suddenly her eyes snapped open and she pulled away. The surface of the mountain appeared to shiver and bend, before a wavelike effect sprang forth from where her hands had rested and the vampires gasped.

In front of them was a large, ancient stone door, carved out of the rock-face with great skill, and covered in symbols that had once been inlaid with some dark material, judging by the faint traces in the corners. Above the door was a strange mark, obviously magical since it looked shiny and new, despite its great age.

“What’s that?” Spike asked, eyeing it warily.

“It was the first symbol of the Wolf, Ram and Hart,” Illyria replied. “It is a warning and an armour - set up when they were still trying to conquer this one world. How small they were...”

Angel frowned. “A warning - what does that mean? Any idea of what’s inside?”

Illyria shrugged, and wrestled the doors open. “This world is abandoned - I have seen nothing but ghosts and vermin so far. If there is still power and secrets left they will be here.”

And she strode into the darkness.

***

There was a lot of darkness. Endless corridors, chambers big and small, and sometimes large halls. All empty.

The air hung dead and still everywhere, the only scent the cold stone. Ears finely tuned to the minutest sound strained vainly - but there was nothing at all. Not even a drip of water or the skitter of a tiny bug...

Angel tried hard not to shudder. The place felt like a tomb, sealed up and left forever... except so far they had not seen anything except dust. But the covering spell had been strong - and W&H never wasted magic. There had to be something in here besides dust - something dangerous or valuable... something powerful.

They’d come to this world, hoping that the original home of W&H could yield some information about what had happened to them - and maybe even find a piece of the Dead Key... It was a long shot, only no one alive now would know of this world, so it would be an ideal hiding place. But as they walked deeper and deeper into the heart of the mountain a conversation echoed in his head:

“Permanent storage. If there's anything Wolfram & Hart excels at, it's keeping their unmentionables unmentioned.”

What was in here? Something they wanted keeping safe? Or something they wanted keeping safe from? And whatever it was, it was likely to be guarded by more than a spell...

The black upon black didn’t help. He had to use all his senses to keep track of the other two and make sure he didn’t walk into any walls. Vampire senses only helped so far, and having to focus so hard just on seeing where he was going was exhausting. Angel knew he was utterly lost, but Illyria claimed to remember every turn they’d taken and he sincerely hoped she was right.

“So - were you ever in here before?” Angel asked after they’d scaled a staircase that seemed to go on forever.

“This place was far too small to hold my splendour,” Illyria replied, disdainfully. “I came here once, when this world was still teeming with life - creatures and growing things of all kinds vying for supremacy. It amused me to see how these trivial beings thought they could fill a mountain with power and rule a world thus.”

She looked around at the dusty desolation, face like flint.

“I should have killed them then.”

“Would have made our lives a lot easier I’ve got to say!” Spike chipped in as he kicked up the dirt. “This place gives me the creeps! We sure there’s not a vengeful mummy or a cursed treasure tucked away somewhere?”

“We’re not sure of anything,” Angel said, secretly relieved that Spike had come to the same conclusion as he. “Illyria - should we try the basement?”

Whenever W&H had moved out no one had obviously bothered to take the prisoners with. There were row upon row upon row of cells and torture chambers, bones scattered everywhere - some so fantastical that Angel began to wonder in earnest what this world had been like in its heyday...

Unlike Spike - who had as always been swift to accept the new surroundings - he himself kept being haunted by the thought that this was how Connor had grown up - except worse of course. Far worse. There were days when he still hated Wesley with such intensity that it frightened him. He could forgive - had forgiven Wesley long ago - but he couldn’t forget. And yet... had Wesley been wrong? Should Angel have told him, after he regained his memories, how in the end he had cut his son’s throat?

Suddenly Illyria lifted her face, like a police dog catching a scent. Smiling she set off down a narrow, unassuming tunnel and the vampires followed. It appeared to go on forever and kept going down. They had to be deep, deep underground by now and it was as though the weight of the mountain above them was slowly coming to rest on Angel’s shoulders. This darkness and quiet was strangely reminiscent of his prison at the bottom of the ocean... and The Deeper Well. This was a place of death, fallen off the edge of time, and the coldness and oppressive silence was seeping into him. He fervently wished that someone would speak, and yet he couldn’t seem to make a sound.

He suddenly remembered the Eve-induced nightmare, the hollow emptiness, the terror of - this. This endless darkness. This feeling. He could still clearly picture his friends’ anger; hear Lorne’s words echo in his head:

“Now you're gettin' it. Everything hurts, and then we die. Or in your case, everything hurts and... then you go on... and on... and on... and on.”

He ran a hand across his face, trying to rub away the feeling of hopelessness. No good ever came of it. Focus on the goal, focus on the reason for fighting...

And although it felt as though much of that dream had become real, the differences were what he could hold onto. He’d lost his friends and the shanshu, and Buffy had chosen Spike... but...

His friends hadn’t betrayed him or left him behind, and Spike had not stolen the shanshu - that had been Angel’s own sacrifice. And the fight was still his, even if he’d handed the prophecy to Spike.

He wasn’t sure if he felt guilty or robbed over giving Spike his destiny. He’d been so used to carrying the responsibility and hope that he still felt adrift. They hadn’t spoken of the issue since Angel had told Spike about how he’d signed the thing away - what Spike’s thoughts were he couldn’t guess... or maybe he could. Mostly he tried not to dwell on it, since it invariably made him feel feel even more depressed than usual... There was a tiny voice somewhere deep, deep inside that said that it wasn’t fair that Spike got all the breaks and he got - this. And whenever he did get a break - a tiny glimpse of what lay beyond - it was snatched away.

Why did the price for freedom have to be so steep?

And then all of a sudden, interrupting Angel’s glum thoughts, there was in front of them a large door, made out of what appeared to be reinforced stainless steel. Above was the same symbol they had seen outside.

“So...” Spike said, and although Angel would never have admitted it, it was good to hear his voice. “What d’you reckon is behind Door Number 1? Zombie army? Another dragon?”

Angel reached out and found that the handle moved smoothly. Sword hefted in one hand he quickly pushed open the door - and blinked against the sudden bright light and the sight that greeted him.

“On the whole a dragon might have been preferable...” he said grimly.


Chapter 4.

(no subject)

Date: 22 July 2013 09:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebcake.livejournal.com
Oh, yes! Thanks for the reminder post, as this went entirely under the radar.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for Angel, truth be told, but his thoughts definitely indicate the feeling of endless doom to which they are all being subjected. I'm sure that is all part of the plan of the Partners...if indeed they have a plan. Up 'til now, it seemed they were being outplayed by our motely crew, but the other shoe is bound to drop at any time!

Thanks for continuing with this!

(no subject)

Date: 22 July 2013 10:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-royal-anna.livejournal.com
Oooh! I loved the atmospheric build up, and am intrigued by the fate worse than dragons that awaits!

This was a place of death, fallen off the edge of time, and the coldness and oppressive silence was seeping into him. He fervently wished that someone would speak, and yet he couldn’t seem to make a sound.

It's almost hypnotic, and yet Spike manages to cut through it all in a monosyllable. And I love this:

although Angel would never have admitted it, it was good to hear his voice

(no subject)

Date: 23 July 2013 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] devilscrayon.livejournal.com
Hooray, more of the story! Can't wait to see what happens next...

(no subject)

Date: 23 July 2013 03:28 pm (UTC)
sarian71: (Buffy reading)
From: [personal profile] sarian71
Wow, I really love the sense of adventure in this story!

“On the whole a dragon might have been preferable...” he said grimly.

Well, that sounds scary... *bites nails*

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