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The prin-fucking-cess of Norway [userpic]
Advent - Prologue
by The prin-fucking-cess of Norway (3hours)
at December 31st, 2013 (06:03 am)
Tags: , , ,

tidings and joy: Sarah McLachlan - Angel (Live) | Powered by Last.fm

Just in time for my posting day (in select time zones at least), here's my action/adventure/mystery Christmas fic! Not gonna say much more about it other than that it's new - you'll find out the rest as you read. Yes, I am that serious about the mystery part ;)



Setting: Post-NFA, the comics do not exist.
Rating: FRM
Warning: None for now
Disclaimer: The characters are sadly not mine. I just play with them.
Betas: knifeedgefic keeps me sane, and spuffy_luvr cheers me on. I couldn't do this without either of them ♥



Advent
for Noel of Spike 2013


Prologue


Thud. Thump. Thump.

More than a century of experience had Spike rolling off the mattress and onto his feet before he was properly awake. Bright light flooded the room. He scuttled into a corner to try and find shade, but there was none, and he thanked his lucky stars he’d passed out drunk still in his clothes. It would buy him a few, crucial seconds to get his bearings. His arms moved to shield his face on autopilot as he blinked frantically to regain his vision and separate dream from reality.

Light without searing pain usually meant he was dreaming, but this felt all too real. Someone was babbling apologies. He turned towards the sound, blinked some more, and slowly the startled witch in the middle of the room came into focus. It dawned on him her presence likely explained the lack of sizzling vampire flesh.

“...So sorry, I didn't mean to—” Willow hunched down to pick up the scattered books and looked up at him sheepishly. The orb of light that floated above her head dimmed, but it was still strong enough to make his sore eyes sting. “I haven't fully mastered the whole teleportation thing yet. It's a piece of cake to hone in on the right location or person, but you're supposed to visualize the immediate surroundings so you know where to place yourself when you land and, well... I'm not very good at it.”

Willow glanced around for somewhere to put them, and he caught the brief grimace when she took in the sorry state of the wobbly table they'd toppled from. She reached out to brush away some of the cigarette butts and ash, but he didn't know why she bothered; the covers were already dirty.

“Geez, Spike, if you were human, I'd worry about your lungs. At least I know what to get you for Christmas: an ashtray. Anyway, thankfully it was just books – you don't want to know how many things I've broken. Oh, and I knocked over Giles' antique globe last week, and he's been giving me the silent treatment since. It didn't even break! It just got banged up a bit and two of the wooden feet came off, but—”

Willow.” He spoke her name sharply, with all the tartness of a vampire who'd just been rudely woken up in the middle of the day. It worked; her mouth snapped shut and cut off her rambling nonsense. “What the hell are you doing here?”

She pouted while he got up and tried to get his bearings. “That's a nice way to greet an old friend you haven't seen in ages.”

The friendship reference did not escape him, but, sleepy and bewildered, he let it pass undisputed. “Good to see you. You look great. How've you been? And what the bloody buggering hell are you doing in my lair?”

“Lair?” Willow scanned the dingy room, and her gaze lingered on the corner where he kept the ratty, stained mattress he used as a bed, and on the piles of empty bottles and other trash lining most of the walls. The demon landlord had him hooked up to the grid, but Spike hadn't gotten around to tracking down any lamps yet. He still used candles and an old oil lamp he'd salvaged, neither of which had the greatest reach. The witchlight was merciless in comparison and illuminated every last dirty, dank and depressing detail of the place he called home. Willow stuck out her foot to nudge a broken mug out of the way, wrinkled her nose, and raised an eyebrow in his direction. “It's the basement of an abandoned house and part of it has caved in; calling it a lair is kind of an overstatement, isn't it?”

He glared at her and took a couple menacing steps in her direction.

“Okay, okay.” She held up her hands but didn't back away. A wave of nostalgia for the good old days washed over him, when a single look from him had been enough to make her cower in fear. “I've come to ask for help. We need you.”

Although he'd expected as much, he couldn't help but groan mentally, and the weariness deep in his bones made itself known. He braced his shoulders to keep them from slumping. No reason to let it show.

“Apocalypse time again, is it?”

Not even a full year had passed since the catastrophic battle in the streets of LA. He'd licked his wounds afterward – both those carved in his flesh and the much deeper ones cut into his heart – and once he was able, he'd taken off with the intent of getting as far away as possible. He'd drunk his way through half the fifty states, constantly on the move and refusing to sleep unless absolutely necessary to keep the nightmares at bay. By the time he washed up the shores of Lake Erie he was exhausted. He knew he’d been reeled in by the subtle hum of the Hellmouth, but he didn't care; it just meant he'd have plenty to do.

Keep busy and keep his head down, that was the plan. He'd been successful until now.

“Oh! No, we're good for world-saving right now actually, this is more of a practical thing,” Willow said.

“Practical, huh?” He edged around her and opened the small, battered fridge to grab a pack of blood. He might as well have some while he was up, especially as he felt drained dry at the mere thought of getting involved in the Slayer's business again. “Who's we?”

“Well...” She hesitated. Her gaze dropped to her nails and she studied them intently. “Me and Faith, mostly.”

He froze, the pack halfway to his mouth. “Not Buffy?”

“No, she's doing other things. She's sort of off duty from the whole Slayer thing.” Willow looked up at him with a flash of something fierce and protective in her eyes, as though she expected – or perhaps was used to – objections. “Buffy's never been able to take a vacation before and totally deserves it after all those years. She's had a rough time.”

“I know.” He changed faces and ripped a gash in the plastic. “Was there for most of it.”

Strong, green eyes framed by golden locks appear unbidden in his mind. He pushed the image away before had to relive the agony of watching them dull with pain and sadness all over again.

Willow met his gaze and offered him the smallest of smiles. “The Council is still recovering from the First's attack, and Giles is all over the place trying to recruit and train new Watchers. There were less than a dozen left after the explosion, and we're discovering new Slayers all the time.”

He let her carry on undisturbed while he poured his blood into a bowl – none of his cups were clean – and put it into the microwave, hoping she'd reach the point without too many detours. While it spun around he stared at her. She looked more gaunt than he remembered and had a pinched look around the eyes.

“There are over three hundred now, and we know we're just scraping the top of the barrel. So many are still oblivious to what's happened to them, they live in the middle of nowhere and our ads don’t reach them. Giles thinks there might be as many as a thousand, spread out all over the world.” Her eyes shone as she spoke, both with awe and pride at having been responsible for calling them all. “Trouble is, there's nowhere to put them all. Xander and a couple of Watchers are out tracking them down, but with the Council's headquarters gone we've run into a ton of problems. They've managed to arrange for passports and visas so the Slayers can be brought to England, but we've run out of space. Giles' family estate houses around fifty, and the other surviving Watchers have taken in as many as they can, but we've still got more than half in motel rooms.”

When the timer neared zero, he cut it off to prevent the ding from interrupting her and set about crushing some Weetabix into the bowl. She looked away hurriedly.

“Um. So we've bought this old boarding school in... I forgot the name but it was something-shire. It's a fixer-upper – the place has been abandoned for decades – but it's huge and once it's renovated it should be able to take them all and have room to spare. Faith's there with a few Slayers to oversee the building process and help where they can to make it go faster.”

He nodded absently, opted not to mention how most of England was called something-shire, and shoved a spoonful of warm blood and mushy Weetabix into his mouth. “Mm-hm, fascinating, and where do I fit in?”

“Three hundred Slayers, but only one to teach them and keep them in line.”

Her answer did not come as a surprise; he'd seen where her monologue was headed from a mile away, but he was reluctant to play babysitter and teacher to a gaggle of teenage girls again. Soul or no he'd be damned if he was going to make it easy for her.

“Just one?”

“I'm no Slayer.” Willow shrugged. “If it was a matter of teaching them to float pencils and shoot them into vampire hearts I'd be all over it, but... I do what I can. I'm involved in the coven, too, and we're working on trying to prevent apocalypses before they get off the ground to cut us some slack while we get organized. Faith's pretty much on her own, and she didn't even want to be doing this in the first place. She only said yes because we had no one else.”

“What about the ones who fought alongside us in Sunnydale? Surely some of them survived, and they've already been trained. No experts of course, but they know enough to begin training others.”

“They’re holding down the fort at various Hellmouths around the world. And when not out fighting they're trying to set up some kind of a base. The plan is to have the new Slayers sort of intern with the experienced ones before being sent off on their own.”

“Right.” He swallowed down another spoonful and wondered how come he hadn't heard anything about a Slayer here in Cleveland. “So you need me to what, exactly? Return to old Blighty and teach baby Slayers how to fight at this school of yours?”

Willow furrowed her brows. “If that means England, then yes.”

The more he thought about it, the more the general idea appealed to him. He had no ties to this Hellmouth, a drastic change of scenery could only do him good, and it had been far too long since he'd set foot on British soil. England would always be home to him, and deep down he missed it more than he'd willingly admit. Getting tangled up in Slayer business on the other hand did not appeal.

“What's in it for me?”

Her eyes widened and she faltered. “Oh. Um, I think... Uh. We sort of hoped you'd help because it's the right thing to do. We're in a desperate situation here, but I could probably sneak you onto the payroll... If you want money, I mean.” She frowned. “It'll have to be under a fake name, though.”

He paused, the spoon hovering in front of his mouth. “How come?”

“Um.” Her cheeks turned pink. “Faith and I agreed it'd be best not to tell Giles we were gonna approach you.”

A slow, sly smile spread on his face. “Right. Guess it's no surprise the council doesn't want anything to do with me.”

Giles doesn't want to, but some of the other Watchers are less uptight. You really caught their interest what with getting a soul voluntarily and the whole saving-the-world gig.”

“Don't plan on doing an encore, and the last thing I want is the Council watching me.” He grimaced. “Those buggers are just as likely to go Mengele on a poor demon and vivisect to find out what makes us tick as the toy soldiers were.”

“Maybe, but you'd be far away from them. Their new headquarters are in London.”

“What about the school? Where's that located?”

“Uh, hang on.” She pulled a folded piece of paper from her pocket and peered at it. “It's in Shropshire, in the western part of Britain. Near Ludlow, if you know where that is?”

“Bloody hell, that's nearly in Wales.”

“I only saw it twice. It's beautiful there.”

He made a show of pacing the room and feigned thinking it over, but if anything the fact the witch and the dark Slayer were going behind Rupert's back only helped seal the deal.

He'd go, but he'd do it on his own terms.

“All right, I'll come,” he said after a minute or so had passed. “But I won't commit to anything, is that clear? I want to see the place, how you lot have set it up, and how vamp friendly it really is. If I don't like it, I'm out.”

Willow bit her lip but nodded. “Deal.” Her expression turned curious. “Have you ever flown before? I can't bring anyone along when I teleport – too many risks – but you've obviously crossed the ocean in the past—”

“No planes. I travel by boat.”

“That takes too long. I can-”

No planes.” She frowned and parted her lips, presumably to try and reason with him, but he beat her to it. “And that's non-negotiable.” He pointed at the window high up on the wall covered in black spray-paint. “Planes have a nasty habit of turning into giant fireballs when something goes wrong, and unless you have one with necro-tempered glass tucked away, daylight's gonna be an issue. Can't make them close all the windows where I'm sitting without a damn good explanation, and I’m not riding in the cargo hold like some bleeding animal.”

Willow crossed her arms. “It’ll take much longer, and what if the ship does a Titanic?”

“Minor inconvenience.” He shrugged. He knew he was being difficult, but he wanted the extra time traveling by sea would give him to sober up and sort his head out. “I don't need to breathe, and I know how to swim. As long as I stay deep enough to be out of the sun's reach, I'll be fine. Hell, it wouldn't be the first time.”

The frown she wore told him she had her doubts, but he stared her down until she nodded.

“Okay, fine. Can you get to New York? I'll arrange everything and find you there.”

“Yeah, no problem. Give me a day to settle up with my landlord and tie up some loose ends, then I'll go.”

Willow extinguished the witchlight and disappeared. Spike sighed and tried not to look around. Plunged once more into darkness and shadow, the room had all the charm and comfort of a coffin and made him feel deader than usual. He squared his shoulders and decided he was more than ready to crawl out of this hellhole.

It could only get better.

*


Chapter one will be posted as soon as I'm done editing/polishing.

Comments

Posted by: velvetwhip (velvetwhip)
Posted at: December 31st, 2013 05:36 am (UTC)
Black and White Spike

This is quite an intriguing beginning! Can't wait to see the fireworks once Spike arrives in England - especially if/when Giles tumbles to the arrangement. I am greatly lookung forward to seeing what you have in store.


Gabrielle

Posted by: JaniceO (comlodge)
Posted at: December 31st, 2013 08:51 am (UTC)
red3

I'm hooked. Love me some post NFA. Love sneaking behind Giles' back. Love me some Faith, Willow and Spike. It can only get better. :D

Posted by: slaymesoftly (slaymesoftly)
Posted at: December 31st, 2013 06:41 pm (UTC)

Interesting beginning. I'll be looking forward to more of it. :)

Posted by: Rebcake (rebcake)
Posted at: January 1st, 2014 09:30 am (UTC)
btvs_top5_xmas

He made a show of pacing the room and feigned thinking it over, but if anything the fact the witch and the dark Slayer were going behind Rupert's back only helped seal the deal.

Heh. Makes sense to me. I'm very interested to see where this is going! An adventure! Hooray!

Posted by: xspike4evax (xspike4evax)
Posted at: January 3rd, 2014 03:16 pm (UTC)
Spike

Great beginning! I thought you did a really good job with Spike's character.
Looking forward to more!!

Posted by: of_too_minds (of_too_minds)
Posted at: January 4th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
nametag

Very cool premise. I love the idea of sticking it to Giles - his anti-Spike prejudice is just stupid at this point.