elisi: (Spike DD by ruuger (NOT sharable!))
[personal profile] elisi
And more! Sorry the gap has been so long, but RL has been rather busy...

First chapter & notes here (on LJ), for DW just follow the tags, and Master post of whole 'verse here (also tagged on DW).

Can also be found on AO3.


Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Rating: Teen. (Same warnings as the show basically.)
Characters: Spike, Angel, Illyria, Buffy, Scoobies + cameos from more or less everyone in the 'verse.
Main Ships: Spike/Buffy, Angel/Nina
Feedback: Is bloody ambrosia! (The secret ingredient is otter...)
Word count (this chapter): 2500 words approx.
Setting and Summary: As before. (Post-NFA epic quest thing.)
Beta: The ever wonderful [personal profile] kathyh



Chapter 9

“Kvennkyn ikki loyvd!”

The doorman/bouncer, easily 3 feet taller than Angel and with a grey-green scaly hide, stared impassively at Illyria, who suddenly began to bristle.

“Sorry what was that?” Spike cut in, and the demon took in the two vampires.

“Oh, she’s with you? An’ you’re English-speakers? Sorry - thought she was a Huldra in some fancy threads, hence the language confusion. ‘Fraid she can’t come in - wimmin not allowed.”

Spike’s eyebrows went up a good inch, and he turned to look at Angel, who was equally thrown.

Illyria tilted her head and looked at the demon with murder in her eyes.

“I am not a ‘woman’ - I am a God, far beyond such simple concepts as male and female! Foolish imbecile, I will rip your spine out through your chest and feed your carcass to my worshippers!”

The demon leisurely let his eyes travel over her, and then shook his head again. “Sorry Princess. I’ve got rules to work with, and that religious bullshit won’t wash - I’ve seen enough nut-jobs settin’ up cults to last me three lifetimes.”

Seeing that Illyria was about to explode, Spike and Angel grabbed hold of an arm each, and pulled her back.

“Just need a moment with our lady!” Spike said to the bouncer, who nodded sagely.

Illyria, furious, never took her eyes off her new mortal enemy. “How dare you - heathen! I will tear you and every creature within limb from limb! I will raze this place to the ground! My armies-”

“Yeah your Highness, that’s not going to help, is it?” Spike replied when they were far away enough not to be overheard, and Illyria fumed at him.

Angel sighed and shook his head. “I said this was a bad idea-”

But Spike cut in. “No, sorry, this is a good idea. We’ve been following her ideas - and yours - ever since we started, and we’ve got exactly nowhere in the last year. This-” he waved a hand towards the bar stretched out behind them, “-will work! An’ if it doesn’t, at least we’ll have had a good time. And as for you Miss Universe, we’re here to get info, and we can’t get any of that if you’ve ripped everyone’s head off.”

Angel sighed again. Spike had a point... They had been to dimension upon dimension by now, and nowhere had they found more pieces of the Dead Key. Endless negotiations, ‘dead cert’ tips, witches, warlocks, ‘holy’ places... all useless.

Fed up, Spike had suggested they search out this demon bar, famous throughout most of the places they’d been to - apparently the gathering place for all the worst riff-raff throughout the dimensions. Spike reckoned they could get someone to talk, since liquor tended to loosen the tongue, and, having run out of counter-arguments, Angel had agreed. Except now of course they had a different problem...

“Why does this place not allow females? Both sexes are equally revolting, but surely life-givers should be honoured in some way? And why does that worthless speck of muck think that I am female?”

Spike bit his lip, and Angel tried to keep a straight face, thankfully succeeding - but only just.

Illyria had surprised them both by her ingenious manner of transporting her scarab guide - she had braided a strand of her hair, and the beetle was stuck at the top end of the braid, looking like a small, fancy hair-clip of some sort. Only this ornament, combined with her delicate features and general shape, gave her an unmistakable air of not just being female, but feminine.

“Well you look like a bird, and, what’s more, you behave like one too! I’ve had this self-same argument with Buffy once,” Spike shot back. “Say - why don’t you skip off back home and google the suffragette movement and feminism? You can come back later and free the women here from the shackles of oppression before picking us up. How does that sound?”

Illyria of course ignored every word. “It is not permitted to judge me on my appearance. I did not choose this shell.”

Spike shrugged. “Yeah good luck with that - ‘fraid that’s how the world works. Shame for you that that Knox bloke wasn’t gay...”

Then abruptly he looked down as his words caught up with him. Angel couldn’t help wincing himself, as layer upon layer of familiar guilt settled over him. Illyria was so utterly unlike Fred that mostly it was easy to forget whose features she inhabited, but Spike’s words had yet again brought up the endless barrage of ‘what if’s’ that he usually tried to avoid thinking about. He sighed.

“Illyria... it’s not like you’d enjoy it anyway. If I remember rightly you... don’t have much patience with drunken demons.”

She looked from one to the other, and then much to their surprise nodded, an unsettling look in her cold, blue eyes. Maybe she was thinking back to the few occasions when the two of them had been drunk - or maybe she was remembering Wesley?

“Very well.”

Then she abruptly turned on her heel and walked off.

Angel looked after her. “Well that went... better than I thought. Unless of course she’s actually gone off to get an army.”

He frowned, knowing that she was endlessly unpredictable, but Spike shrugged. “Let’s worry about that when the army turns up. Actually -” he chuckled, “we were lucky the doorman didn’t think she was a stripper...”

Angel nodded silently, easily being able to picture Illyria’s reaction to such an insinuation, and was grateful for small mercies.

“Well - shall we?” Spike asked. “It looks like rain and I’d like to get inside!”

“Fine,” Angel replied, glumly raising his eyes up at the dark brown sky, in which murky, sticky-looking clouds hung low over the valley, as though trying to smother the decrepit town - if the collection of hovels, mud-huts and assorted dwellings could really be called ‘a town’. The bar, although filthy, ugly, and looking like it might collapse at any moment, seemed almost grand in comparison.

A little later they were inside, and as the barman - a Karathmamanyuhg demon with odd hairy spots all over his face - got them their drinks, Spike looked around, and shook his head.

“What is it?” Angel asked, knowing well when Spike was dissatisfied with something.

“Dunno... Just thought...” Spike tilted his head and studied a group of particularly nasty-looking Ttakarashs’ in a corner, “Thought it be more like... Tortuga, and less like Willy’s.”

“Tortuga?” Angel asked, and Spike looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “Pirates of the Caribbean? Pirate hide-out with round the clock fighting and shagging?”

“Oh,” Angel replied. He remembered it now, and was personally grateful for the differences. Ignoring Spike he struck up a conversation with the barman and found out who’d be the best creatures to ask for advice when it came to treasure hunting of the ancient variety.

They were pointed towards a table populated with demons so aged Angel wondered if they were still alive, and hadn’t been mummified and left as a visitor attraction - The Prince of Lies would have felt right at home. Spike looked at them and tried not to pull a face. “Hoped that there might be some... well some interestin’ characters here, y’know? Somethin’ to give this place its reputation...”

Which confirmed to Angel that the other had been looking forward to a fun time, rather than information gathering. Well, such was life.

“Probably just a slow day,” he said, and then made the appropriate excuses and offering of liquid gifts before settling down at the veterans’ table.

And, just as Spike had predicted, soon enough they were regaled with tales from far and wide - some they’d heard of, but many they hadn’t. There was apparently a dragon somewhere on a hoard, all fairytale-like; and a treasure at the bottom of the sea in a dimension populated by vicious mermaids. A grizzly little gnome-like demon spoke of a ‘most trusted servant’ of the Senior Partners who kept all sort of secrets (although he might have retired by now), and a pale, speckly-red demon - who had lost most of his limbs and all but one eye - told them about a ‘cursed treasure’ guarded by an immortal warrior...

After a long while one demon, black and wearing an old tunic, so worn and threadbare that it was impossible to tell what colour it had originally been, sat up and shook itself awake. Bright yellow eyes studied Angel, and then it spoke up, voice croaky and whispery.

“Oooooh now. If it is true treasure you’re after, there is only one place to go. Mind you, you need bravery and cunning more than anyone who yet has lived...” He raised a shaky arm and looked Angel straight in the eye. “Back when I was young, and my sword-arm strong, I was the shield carrier of Grohmul-Djun - you have heard of him, surely? The greatest warrior that ever breathed...”

Angel could see the faces around him sink into the tired, glassy look that always accompanied those who’ve heard a tale a thousand times, and sure enough the grizzly gnome-demon cut in.

“Quiet. These youngsters are more likely to kill the dragon of Qusth’thak than to return from the Labyrinth. Why no one-”

“I’ve killed a dragon,” Angel cut in. “Please, shield-carrier of Grohmul, continue.”

He could feel the respect go up a few notches, and the black demon tried to sit a little straighter.

“Back in the days of yore, when all the worlds sought out the Ramulka-ha, my master entered the Labyrinth of Ramulkl, as many before him, to find the treasures and forbidden items that are fabled to be contained within its centre. Oh I recall the day so clearly - we had come to the Citadel of the Ramulka-ha Clan - a mighty warlock breaking down the barriers between the worlds for the sake of my master’s quest - and spent a day amongst the brilliance of the shining city. Oh, you have never seen such a sight...”

There followed a long description of the town, and many praises of the skills of the Ramulka-ha clan, who had apparently been the one-stop-shop for luxuries in the ancient demon worlds.

With snail-like speed the demon finally got back to the tale of the Labyrinth. “Taller than the tallest tree, taller than the towers on Tlinkoos, the greatest thing I ever saw. My master released me from my servitude, but even so I waited for him for many days. But he never returned and in the end I found my way home to my own people...”

An ugly, lumpy brown demon, with three small, skittering eyes, sneered. “Your stories are useless. The home of the Ramulka-ha has been closed for years upon years, everyone knows that. My guess is that they finally had enough wealth and decided that they were too good for the rest of us. I too saw the great city in my youth, and recall the way they barely permitted anyone to look upon it, let alone walk in it. Proud and haughty every one of them, contemptuous of anyone who didn’t fawn over their precious baubles... And even before they decided to ‘retire’, the Champions who wished to enter the Labyrinth had to ‘negotiate’ with the clan before they were permitted to go through the hidden gateway, to ascertain if they were ‘worthy’ - mark my words it was their gold they were testing!”

Angel figured that the demon had wanted nothing more than to own such a ‘bauble’, and was wondering if there was a way to exploit this to get him to talk more, when there was a sudden commotion outside.

Spike, who’d been doing his best not to nod off, turned and tried to peer out of the little window that was nearly caked over with grime, and swore softly under his breath.

“Holy fuck it can’t be...”

Then his head snapped round as the new-comers entered, and his eyes followed them as though hypnotised as they walked up to the bar.

Suddenly a wide, excited grin spread across his face. “I knew it! This bar is best bloody bar in the history of forever!”

In a swift flourish he got up, but Angel’s quick hand on his arm held him back.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Spike stared at him like he was an idiot. “Where do you think? I’m going to buy them a drink!”

“But-”

Angel indicated the ancient story tellers with a small tilt of his head, but Spike just grinned. “You seem to be gettin’ on fine - don’t need me!”

Angel glared at him silently.

“Oh come on Angel - when will I ever get a chance like this again? I mean... I didn’t even know they were real!”

He turned again to take in the figures that were now leaning nonchalantly against the bar, as the barman effusively and submissively rushed to get their drinks, and Angel sighed.

“Fine - but you do know that you’re turning into Andrew, right?”

“Maybe Andrew is onto something... You have fun with your Ramulka-what’s-it chat,” Spike replied, not really listening anymore, as he untangled himself from Angel’s grip before sauntering up to the bar, face as excited and in awe as the night when he’d first seen what Angelus could do...

Sighing Angel turned back to the antediluvian relics around the table, who were now busy talking about the way the younger generation were useless and never showed the proper respect to their elders, and part of him desperately wanted to just say ‘forget it’ and join Spike... but someone had to get some info, and now, because he had a feeling Illyria would never grace the place with her presence again. Presuming she didn’t decide to smite it with some kind of hellfire.

When Angel carried Spike out many, many hours later - a boneless, inert body held together by his coat - Angel reflected grimly that it was lucky for whatever plans Buffy had for Christmas that Spike would have at least a day to sober up before he was due to meet her. Angel would even get ample time to torment him during the hangover from hell that would soon show up... Presuming of course that Illyria came back for them.

But when he looked around he saw her waiting, as calm and impassive as ever. Whether this was good or bad he wasn’t sure - mostly he was just relieved.

She looked at Spike with barely concealed disgust, and didn’t say a word as she opened a portal to the Hyperion. Realising that they were in the lobby, Angel sighed and dumped Spike on the sofa in the office. No way he was carrying him up all those stairs.

But five minutes later Angel came back and threw a blanket over him. In the spirit of Christmas, or something.




Chapter 10: Christmas Angel on DW

Chapter 10: Christmas Angel on LJ

(The next few chapters will center on Angel & Spike's respective Christmasses. Am aiming to post a chapter a week.)
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