elisi: (Spike DD by ruuger (NOT sharable!))
[personal profile] elisi
OK, so apparently the last chapter of this was posted on my birthday. Which is in October. I am so, so sorry.

For new friends: This is my big epic post-NFA WIP, where Spike, Angel & Illyria go on a big quest to undo the power of W&H. It has PLOT. And lots of character development and stuff. It is part of a 'verse but can easily be read on its own - if you go to the first chapter you can read a swift summary of what has gone before. And for my handful of readers - you might want to go back and just brush up on chapter 6? /o\

First chapter & notes here, and Master post of whole 'verse here.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Rating: Teen. (This chapter I'd warn for goriness.)
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: 3500 words approx.
Setting and Summary: As before. (Post-NFA epic quest thing.)


Chapter 7


Buffy didn’t like stairs. She’d never had any particular antipathy towards them before, but now she was beginning to develop some serious issues.

Why couldn’t Willow have fixed the lift while she was doing the big protection spell thing for the hotel? Sighing deeply, Buffy thought to herself that her friend had probably been too distracted researching that hell beastie that was supposed to herald the latest apocalypse, to worry about people’s legs...

“Why did you decide to have a room on the top floor?” she asked Spike petulantly, taking a tiny break before scaling what she hoped was the last flight.

He turned and looked at her. “It’s as far away from Angel’s as possible,” he replied, as though it was obvious, and then kept walking.

“Yeah - what’s up with that? Do you really dislike each other that much?”

He stopped halfway up and shot her a bemused look over his shoulder, eyebrow raised.

“Um - we’re vampires? This way we can’t hear each other.”

“Oh...” she replied, things suddenly falling into place. Oh. She’d never realised that vampire hearing was that good...

Did things ever stop being complicated?

Finally walking down a corridor she felt a need to change the subject, and asked what his old flat had been like.

He thought for a little moment, then shrugged. “Spartan. To go with the whole hero life-style...”

Then he stopped by the last door and slowly pushed it open.

“So - what do you think?”

There were happy secrets dancing in his eyes, and she stepped through the door she understood why.

Blinking against the the soft candlelight, she found that she was unable to stop the smile spreading across her face as she took in the large cosy bed, the mismatched furniture and the ornate rugs on the floor. The walls were dark red, like most other rooms in the hotel, and she could see a stash of weapons stacked in a corner.

Angel’s rooms were - as she remembered from his place in Sunnydale - elegant and furnished with great taste. But Spike - for some impossible, illogical reason - went straight for the warm and snuggly. This room, like the downstairs of his long-gone crypt, could not be at greater odds with the image he projected. And in the strangest, most wonderful way, it felt like finding a long-lost piece of home.

Seeing that he was waiting for an answer, she said the first thing that came into her head.

“Not so much with the spartan, more with the... comfy.”

“Remember that, do you?” he replied, his smile widening to match hers.

“Oh yeah,” she said, “and so do Rona and Vi - didn’t I tell you about that? They were all over me - or rather us - at the Slayer meet...”

Then, lifting an eyebrow, she couldn’t help teasing. “Anyway - does all this comfort mean you’ve given up on the hero thing?”

Chuckling he shook his head. “Figured that since I spend most of my time sleeping with a rock for a pillow, I deserved somethin’ nice back here. Also the old place wasn’t home - just a place to crash.”

“And this is? Home?”

“This has you,” he replied, reaching out and brushing a lock of hair off her face, and the catch in his voice made her swallow. She looked at him, at the flickering golden light skimming over his features, and the look in his eyes abruptly brought up memories she’d thought long forgotten...

“I’m drowning in you Summers, I’m drowning...”

The next moment the world went away, as he was kissing her and all she knew was that he should never, ever stop.

Somehow they ended up on the bed, which was wide and soft and she traced his features with a finger, trying to understand how come he could be so perfect in every way.

Then she caught sight of something over his shoulder - something hairy and large and green and bloody that had been hidden behind the door.

“Spike... What. Is. That?”

***

Angel didn’t know anyone else who started the day with beer. As he sipped his blood, he took in the look of bliss that passed over Spike’s face as he emptied the cool bottle, and wondered again at how exactly Spike worked. He seemed to defy logic.

It was mid-afternoon, and they were sitting in the kitchen of the Hyperion, having just got up. Spike had come in as Angel was taking his blood out of the microwave, still sleepy-eyed and tousle-haired and wearing only a pair of jeans. And smelling like Buffy and sex.

He’d stopped in the doorway and obviously contemplated turning back the way he’d come, but Angel had sighed and shaken his head.

“Just... whatever. Told you I was OK.”

Spike had nodded, although he’d not looked quite convinced, and gone to fetch a beer. Of course Spike was onto something, because it wasn’t easy for Angel at all, but he’d decided to just go with it... for Buffy’s sake. He didn’t want to make her uncomfortable. And he couldn’t really fault her for being attracted to Spike - his family had always been beautiful...

“So Buffy liked your room then?” he asked, unable to think of anything else to say, and mentally kicking himself the second the words left his mouth.

Spike nodded and then tried to curb the wide smile that spread across his face, before suddenly frowning.

“She didn’t like Olaf. Made me put him in the room next door.”

His voice was petulant, and this time it was Angel trying to hide a smile.

“You mean Buffy doesn’t like mutilated troll heads? How strange...”

Spike scowled and Angel felt back on firmer ground. He’d watched with interest as Spike had furnished his room - wondering if he’d changed since they’d last shared accommodation a century before (Sunnydale didn’t count), and, much to his secret delight, discovering that he’d not. You could apparently take the Victorian out of the drawing room, but not vice versa. Fair enough, Spike wasn’t big on knick-knacks, but Angel would bet the entire hotel that Spike had in some way replicated his childhood interiors. With the odd addition of course... He had really taken to the troll head, and was currently trying to decide whether to try to shrink it or boil off the flesh and use it as a punchbowl. Angel wondered what Buffy had thought of those options, or if she’d just wanted rid of it, full stop.

And maybe she’d been a bit put off by the Anya connection too...

After they’d fought their way out of Olaf’s village, Angel had tried to extract some more information about Anya, having only the vaguest memory of an attractive young woman by Xander’s side.

Spike had not been particularly forthcoming, but Angel had slowly wheedled the story out of him - having been run through again helping well in the piling on of guilt. Of course once Spike relayed the circumstances of the ‘one time’, Angel began to see just how awkward and painful the whole situation had been. He’d also learned more about Buffy’s initial relationship with Spike than he’d really wished.

“I mean he was some sort of God right?” Angel belatedly realised that Spike was still speaking. “A minor one, but still - shouldn’t I get some sort of props for taking him down?”

Angel silently shook his head, before getting up to rinse his cup. He was absolutely not getting involved.

“You inviting Nina round tonight? Know Buffy would like to meet her.”

“What?”

Angel turned, stared at Spike. “Let them... meet?”

Spike nodded, as though this was a perfectly sane thing to say.

“They’re curious, and they’ll probably get along. An’ since Buffy is here for a few days...”

It would be awkward. Very awkward. Angel didn’t like awkward. He’d managed to keep the Buffy-part of his life separate from the Nina-part and that’s how he’d like it to continue.

He grimaced. “Wouldn’t it be... awkward?”

Spike laughed. “You do not know the meaning of the word ‘awkward’, trust me. There was this one time...”

He stopped, then bit his lip and shook his head. “Not telling you that one. Anyway, I’m just saying that they’re going to be all civilised and nice... So why not try?”

Damn. But there seemed no way around it - he could imagine that Buffy would start asking too, as soon as she returned. Oh he really did hate it when Spike was right.

“I guess. If she’s free...”

“Like she’s going to pass up a chance like that!” Spike was grinning, and then with perfect aim threw the empty bottle into the bin. Standing up he shot Angel a droll look.

“Dunno what you’re so worried about. What’s the worst that’s gonna happen? Hell if you can look me in the eyes on a daily basis...”

Staring back, Angel was momentarily speechless. Then he answered, features immobile and voice tightly controlled.

“That’s different.”

A beat, then Spike abruptly looked away.

“S’posse it is...”

Then without another word he walked off - not quite using vampire speed, but nearly.

Closing his eyes Angel swore quietly. What did Spike have to go do that for? Their whole relationship and getting along hinged on not bringing up those parts of their past. That way only lay pain - pain and regret and all sorts of other things that were far too tender to touch upon. And they had dealt with it. Put it behind them. Moved on. Maybe one day in the far distant future they could talk about it... but not yet. Had Spike swapped his brain for a bag of sawdust or something? Damn him.

Slowly Angel unclenched his hands and took a deep breath. Call Nina - that was the thing to do. Let her meet Buffy, and then her curiosity would be satisfied and they needn’t meet again...

A few minutes later he had arranged to pick her up after college - she was staying late to finish a project, so it would be nicely dark before she was done. Of course it was risky for him to go out, but the protection spell on Nina’s family was strong enough for an all-out apocalypse, so he’d only be putting himself at risk... and after Spike had insisted on taking Buffy out to a romantic dinner the night before, W&H or no, if anyone had wanted to throw bombs at them it’d have happened already...

***

Life was a strange, strange thing, Angel thought. His own life in particular. The way it lurched wildly from despair to brief bursts of happiness always confused him, and he was not good at grasping the good while it was there.

But this moment, walking along hand in hand with his beautiful girlfriend on a cool November evening, was pretty perfect. They were chatting - she was telling him about about her studies and her family, and he was relating tales from various dimensions, and it was just... comfortable. Easy. He studied her, the animated face, the woollen jacket, her warm hand clasped in his, and he still felt that it was a dream. This didn’t happen...

His women, his relationships had always been incredible... and complicated. Difficult. Heartbreaking.

But things with Nina were different. She liked him. He liked her. And that was it. He’d broken up with her, and she’d been mad. And then taken him back and things were OK again. No drama. Angel wasn’t entirely sure how to deal with a relationship that didn’t contain drama, but he was beginning to suspect that he liked it very much indeed.

“So... where was I?”

“Something about the weird melty land?”

“Oh...” he frowned. “No, that was just boring. After that we went to a place where we talked to these three witches who sent us on a wild goose chase round 5 different dimensions... Remind me never to trust witches again. Except for Willow of course - when she isn’t evil.”

“Actually - I’ve been meaning to ask... this big spell thing that Willow did on the hotel. How does it work?”

“Um...” he thought for a moment. “Basically anyone not included in the spell enters a parallel world when they go through the gates. So they could blow the whole building up, and it’d make no difference to us... She said it was a variation of a spell she did a few years ago in Sunnydale, but I didn’t quite catch the details.”

“Smart!”

He smiled. “Willow was always smart.”

They were nearly there now, and he turned to look at her, reaching out and stroking her face. “You are so beautiful...”

She laughed. “You’re just saying that to stop me worrying about meeting Buffy.”

He looked at her, before shaking his head. “No I’m not.” Then he leaned in and kissed her, and she happily responded; her body moulding itself to fit his, and her scent - so clear and clean, but with an undercurrent of feral blood thirst running through it - made him shiver.

Slowly he pulled away, looking into her eyes, and he was unable to stop a smile spreading across his face.

Then he offered her his arm, and nodding towards the gates asked, “Shall we?”

She grinned and put her arm though his. “We shall!”

***

Grumbling in disgust, Willow threw ‘The Anthology of Pan-Dimensional Creatures and Beings’ across the table. She knew it all by heart anyway. And the other books had been even less help.

‘The Beast, heralding the Ending of All Things, will appear in the Desert of the Desolate, one year before the Great Rising.’

And that was all... there was something about its horns, but the translation was... impossible. Not to mention the fact that trying to figure out which desert was proving far more difficult than she’d ever imagined. In a fit of despair she’d even shown it to Angel a few weeks before. He had frowned in an encouraging manner, before telling her about The Beast (with horns!) that had been running around LA a few years before, blocking out the sun and such like. But then he’d grinned.

“Of course that was before I killed it...”

So that had been another dead end. Although if that Beast had been the one mentioned in these texts also, then all this research was for nothing.

She needed a distraction. Maybe she could call someone for a chat? It wasn’t far from dawn here, so Buffy ought to be up... wherever she was.

The phone only rang twice before Buffy picked up.

“Willow! Hi! How are you? Actually... just hang on, I need to go somewhere where I can talk in peace... Spike’s still asleep...”

Willow listened in silence as there was some scuffling and then the sound of a door opening.

“OK, this should be... oh no! Troll head. Yuk!”

“Um... troll head?” Willow frowned. There were some non-sequiteurs that were just too bizarre to follow.

“Remember Olaf? Spike and Angel ran across him in some helldimension and Spike decided to kill him and bring the head home as a souvenir or something. Just gross. Didn’t realise he’d put it this room.” Buffy made a shuddery sort of sound and Willow heard a door being firmly shut.

“Anything happen that didn’t involve trolls?” Willow asked, putting up her feet on a chair and studying the sunrise that was just beginning outside. She shouldn’t have stayed up so late, but she was still jet-lagged and couldn’t sleep.

“M-hm!” There was definite glee in Buffy’s voice. “I met Angel’s girlfriend last night!”

“Oooh tell tell! What’s she like? Do you want me to hate her too?”

Buffy laughed. “No, no need to hate her, even though she is lovely. In a perfectly-normal-just-happens-to-be-a-werewolf-and-dating-Angel-kinda-way... It’s just so weird! I mean... Angel. Dating. And they held hands and he smiled lots. Which is good of course, but...”

“Weird, right?” Willow finished, smiling wryly and trying to stifle a yawn.

“Oh yeah. Much with the weirdness... But I’m dealing. I’m Coping!Buffy. Oh and we - as in me and Nina - went shopping today! Things are way different than when I used to live here. I mean apart from half the city being flattened by demon armies... All the shops that used to be cool are total no-go’s. But Nina showed me this gorgeous new shoe shop where I got the most adorable pumps - oh and she told me that Angel dumped her ‘for her own good’ before the big battle went down. Apparently she’s still making him pay for that!”

Willow could vividly picture the wicked grin on Buffy’s face. And abruptly she remembered her friend crying inconsolably many years ago now... who could ever have foreseen that the story could have such a happy ending?

“So... you’re bonding over Angel’s misplaced protectiveness and shoes? Sounds wonderful...”

There might have been a twinge of jealously in that last sentence, but Willow couldn’t help herself. And Buffy obviosuly picked up on it.

“So... where are you? Hiding in a library somewhere busy working?”

And now Buffy sounded guilty. Willow sighed. “Australia at the moment. I’m just so bored that I’m actually considering conjuring up an imaginary friend to keep me company. Of course when I was in London I had Andrew, but that was worse than being alone. And not even he could make sense of these texts. And if there really is another apocalypse on the way, it’d help to know. Like when and where and what...”

There was silence on the other end for a long moment. It had been a year and a half since they beat The First. There had been a feeling of elation, of having made a significant step forwards. And now with this new thing, they were losing grip... there were supposed to be signs and warnings, but if they couldn’t find them in time they’d be completely clueless. It didn’t help to have an army of Slayers, if it was in the wrong place. Then Buffy spoke again, voice light, skirting around the issue.

“I’d offer to help, but... Not really my forte. But - in good news I got you a really neat surprise! So when you come round next time that’ll be waiting for you. Oh and remember Illyria - the deity that makes Glory look humble? Guess what her favourite thing is - after eviscerating her enemies of course? Spike’s Playstation. Most of the time I’ve been here she’s been, like, glued to it, playing some game or other called ‘Crush Bandicooties’. It’s way, way beyond bizarre! Actually, that reminds me...”

Buffy’s voice suddenly turned hesitating, “...do I remind you of Fiona from Shrek?”

Willow blinked in confusion. “Um... I suppose you look a bit like Cameron Diaz... Why?”

“We watched Shrek last night and Spike had this really weird theory - but I don’t think being a Slayer is at all like turning green and fat and also my voice doesn’t make things explode - except for that one time with the Gentlemen, but that was magic and therefore doesn’t count, and did I tell you about the restaurant we - as in Spike and I - went out to the day before yesterday? Soooo romantic...”

A ‘Buffy In Love’ was a truly incredible creature, Willow thought. It had been so long since she’d observed it, that she’d almost forgotten just how - exuberant her friend could be, and she found herself being somewhat relieved that there was a half a world between them. Silently she half-wished that she herself had a new love to distract her... Not that she and Kennedy weren’t good, but - that kind of distraction would be very welcome.

As she listened with half an ear to Buffy’s happy chatter, she absentmindedly flicked through a book the local Watcher had brought in and a strange symbol caught her eyes. Wasn’t that the same as... Swiftly retrieving the Anthology she almost whooped with joy, because it was her hellbeastie! She could only work out one symbol in 10, but it was enough to show her that there was new info. Buffy abruptly bid goodbye since Spike had woken up, and Willow distractedly wished them both a nice day. She had an apocalypse to plan...

TBC.

(no subject)

Date: 5 May 2014 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ragnarok-08.livejournal.com
This is really good :D

(no subject)

Date: 5 May 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rebcake.livejournal.com
¡Yay! More story! (You're doing better than, I, El.)

I like the "between adventures" sections so much! With everything temporarily normal, nice dinners, video games, troll heads, and beer breakfasts. It all has the feel of shore leave, which is what it is, and it's lovely. Hopeful, even with looming apocalypse. It's nice to see Bubbly Buffy is still there, underneath it all. Your Willow is well-draw. She's so complicated. She wants to be the confidant, but she has moved past that role, whether she likes it or not.

Thanks for updating!

(no subject)

Date: 5 May 2014 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-royal-anna.livejournal.com
A lovely bank holiday treat! Especially as I realised I was very behind, and had three chapters' worth to catch up on.

You write all the characters and their interactions so beautifully, but Spike through Angel's eyes may be the best thing ever.

You could apparently take the Victorian out of the drawing room, but not vice versa.

Hee! Angel, he of the era of superior interior decorating. It's good to know he wins at something. :)

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