Disclaimer: I don't own anything. BtVS and AtS characters are property of Joss Whedon. The CHZO mythos cast belong to Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, and the games are available at http://www.fullyramblomatic.com.
A/N: This little brainchild of mine ended up in my head after I had the bright idea to play Trilby's Notes in a dark apartment with no one home. I didn't sleep that night, instead producing this chapter between bouts of looking around to make sure there wasn't any inexplicable red writing on my walls. Spoilers for this story is AtS up to mid-season 3, BtVS up to mid-season 6. Set after 5 Days a Stranger, totally AUing after that for the CHZO mythos, though information from 7 days a Skeptic, 6 Days a Sacrifice, and Trilby's Notes all appear, so the spoiler rating for that is the entire Mythos. And after that little ramble, it's Storytime!
Chapter 1: Monday is not a happy day
Oh dear god how he hated Teddy Bears now. It was just that simple. He was back in the DeFoe Manor again, holding that damn bear, flecks of salt digging into his hands as he clutched it tightly. It was staring up at him with those cold, gleaming black eyes, and he knew what happened next.
Next the surging, pulsing feeling of something entering into his body uninvited came over him for the second time in two days, lighter and more innocent than the first time. He knew what happened next. The darkness happened next, the feeling of floating in a blissful oblivion. And then… How had the saying went? Ah yes, a long drop and a sudden stop as he fell back into his body, jerking with the new feeling of being overcoming him.
Now came the flames… Simone was screaming, pulling him along. Past the TV, the extension cord now lost to the spirit that resided within that damnable wooden god. He and Simone ran past the couch where Trilby always slept, into the parlor, where the grand staircase resided. The phone was burning, acrid plastic giving off smoke in waves as the banister caught alight. None of them knew it, but every day Phillip had picked up that phone and dialed several numbers, swearing furiously because the lines were always dead.
Remembering Philip always caused Jim to stumble at this part, as the shock came over him again. “Come on!” shouted Simone, tugging on him again. “It’s letting us go, come on!” he turned to ask Trilby if it was true, but Trilby was nowhere to be seen. “Come ON!” Simone urged him once again, and now was when everything began to blur. The doors were opening, the wind was at his back, urging him onward as fresh, smoke-free air came into his lungs. An invisible force pushed him forward, and he thought that it had to be the hand of God as he tasted sweet freedom once more. Jim ran forward several more steps, suspended in bliss…
Jim, after landing facefirst on the ground and getting a good taste of grass, would later come to the conclusion that God simply didn’t push that hard, and was he felt was the shockwave from the force of the Manor igniting. Which would explain the heat. But the bliss had felt nice too.
“TRILBY!” Simone’s shriek rang out, and Jim looked up, turned around just in time to see a gray hat out of the corner of his vision. And suddenly it wasn’t Simone screaming for Trilby, it was him.
“TRILBY!” Jim’s scream went out to an empty room, as he woke up in his bed at home. He looked around, and swore. It had been 3 weeks since the manor exploded. It had been 4 weeks since he had first taken the dare to go inside. It had been 3 weeks and 4 days since AJ’s body had been found. It had been 3 weeks and 2 days since Philip had died. It had been 2 days since he’d talked to Simone on the phone. Counting made him feel better.
Not by much, though. The horrors of that manor stayed with him. It was the beginning of the summer holidays, and he was taking advantage of that fact to get all of his freaking out over with before he had to return to school. The thought of going back filled him with dread. Once, he would’ve been excited to see his friends again. Now, looking into their eyes he would know that not a single one of them had known death. They would treat everything as if it were the same, ask him to recount the tale again and again. After all, it was adventure, something every young man longed for.
“James?” his mother’s voice from the other side of the door interrupted his reverie.
“Yes Mum?” he asked wearily. Judging by the way the sunlight was flooding his room, he had slept late again, and sitting up and looking at the clock confirmed his suspicions. He had slept for 12 hours, but the constant litany of nightmares left him just as tired as when he had finally succumbed to sleep.
“You have mail here for you. It’s from your school, I think it might be your booklist. Would you like me to bring it in?” His mother entered the room before he could offer denial or consent. She was like that sometimes. “I’ll just sit this down on the table right quick, and leave you to wake up a bit more, okay luv?”
“Alright mum,” he murmured tiredly. Might as well see what was in the letter, he reasoned.
“And dear god James, try not to rip it up this time. The school secretaries were quite upset last time.” With that, Mrs. Fowler left the room. Jim froze.
Two days previous, he had received the list of books he was to read over the summer, and which one to write reports about. Topping the list was Gulliver’s Travels. He had been so convinced that it was the manor striking at him again that he had shredded and burned the list. Three hours later, when his parents came home, he had still been curled up in the corner, only slightly better as he talked on the phone with Ms. Taylor.
He had finally consented to leave the phone so that his mother could call the school and explain that Jim Fowler needed a new booklist. His parents hadn’t understood what was wrong. His mother had happily suggested that maybe whoever had locked him in the manor was a student playing a prank, and had subsequently decided to help him catch up on his reading.
Jim’s breathing quickened. He couldn’t explain to his parents what had happened in the manor, why it had caught fire. They were already looking at him like one of their patients, looking for the reason why his brain worked. It would only get worse if he told them he had been possessed, tried to kill Trilby… and then Trilby had actually died less than two hours later. He couldn’t tell them that the corpse of a government agent was chained up in the bottom of the pool, or that he had been the one to find Phillip Harty dead on the floor.
He held his letter in trembling fingers, knowing that he had to face the words inside at some point. The same words he had read before. It was just the title of a book, after all. He had preferred Terry Pratchett. Slitting open the letter, his stomach lurched as he realized the words were different. Mr. James Fowler or Legal Guardian,
We regret to inform you that you/your child will not be admitted back to Harrington School For Boys after his recent truancy offense. This act was…
The letter fell from his hands, and for the first time since he ended his conversation with Simone, he smiled. He wouldn’t have to return to school, wouldn’t have to deal with the mass of kids who thought that what he had seen and done were absolutely wicked, wouldn’t have to be dared to do anything and everything now that he had fearlessly faced a week in DeFoe Manor.
Maybe today it was worth getting up. Maybe today he would get dressed, comb his hair, do all the normal things, so he could see the facial expression on his parent’s faces when they found out that not only could he not go back to Harrington’s, but most likely wouldn’t be accepted anywhere else, either. He had probably just ruined everything for them. He was strangely comfortable with that. Trilby’s Flat, somewhere in London
Trilby woke up in a cold sweat, shaking. He grabbed the sheets and wrapped his fists around them, willing himself to not pick up the phone and call Simone. She thought he was dead, and it was for the best. His fence had delivered the number at his request, but he knew he could never call it. It was for the best that they believed their less-than-law-abiding friend was lost to the flames. For the best. It rang through his head as a mantra, keeping him from contacting the only two people in the country, possibly in the world that could understand.
He got up, and picked up the phone, running through the numbers and waiting for the voice on the other end to answer. “Mr. Mallet’s hardware, how may I help you?” came the heavy Brixton accent from the other end of the line.
“Drop the act, Champ. Do you have anything new in my prospects?” he asked. One of these days he was going to have to talk to his fence about covers that couldn’t be blown through with a quick Google search.
“Sorry, boy. No creepy old mansions for you to be a gentleman about,” he said. “Though a couple of corporations could do with some rattling, y’see, and”
“Not about jobs, you nit!” he shouted, cutting him off. “About the you-know-what from you-know-where! Have you heard anything?”
“Well now you’re just plum not makin’ sense, Trilby,” said Champ.
“The idol, you moron!” Oh yeah. Trilby was going to need to take a shot or two after this conversation was over. In a gentlemanly fashion, of course. His fence did good work, but was rather thick at times.
“Oh, that. Meant to tell ya earlier. Some old antiques dealer had it, but he went and got himself killed. Chahal, I believe his name was. Autopsy said it was a neck rupture. Idol was one of the things the looters ‘round his house stole, see.” Trilby paled. Neck rupture. Good god.
“A neck rupture?” he asked, clenching the phone until the plastic threatened to crack. “Like his throat was cut open?”
“Nope,” said Champ, cheerfully oblivious. “Couple o’ holes went and opened up in his big neck artery, blood came out through the skin. Looks like a snakebite, if ya ask me.”
“Anyone associated that might know where it is?” he asked tensely.
“The murder? Oh, it’s kinda close to you, out in Surrey. I wouldn’t go there, they got the cops all around, see.” He said, still not on the same page as Trilby.
“The Idol, Champ! We were talking about the Idol!” He moved away from the dresser towards the decanter on the dresser. After the conversation wasn’t soon enough.
“Oh, that. Only one t’see it afore he got kilt was his assistant, Siobhan O’Malley. She’s a crazy one though. Said he was murdered by monsters with distorted faces and yellow eyes, an’ they were takin’ the idol to California. Not much help there, though she is a looker,” Champ replied. Trilby could practically see the happy leer on Champ’s face.
“Give me her address,” he said tersely. “I’ll pay her a visit.” He took down the address Champ rattled off to him, nad the number as well. After that, he hung up the phone. Not a very gentlemanly action, but such luxuries were usually forgotten around Champ. He had that effect on people.Fowler Residence, Living Room
“Expelled,” his father’s voice was flat, looking at the words on the letter without really reading them. “My son’s just been expelled from a very prestigious boarding school. Dear god…”
Jim was fighting laughter. He had planned to be sullen and angry at everything today, but the good news of his expulsion struck him into a more nonchalant and apathetic façade. “Yep,” he said. “Something about me getting into a situation beyond my control doesn’t sit right with them.”
“Oh my god,” said his mother. “We’ll be just like the Rosenbergs, in America. Their daughter never transferred to Harvard like they’d said she would, nobody let them hear the end of it. And now, of all times, when we’re touring in the fall!”
His father groaned. “Son, I know that acting out in such a manner as responding to peer pressure is normal in adolescents of your age range, but five days loitering about in an old house before burning it down, with symptoms of depression afterwards? That’s not healthy expression, son!” And there it was. It always came down to psychology with his parents. At this point he’d rather have them convert to Optimology and disregard psychological study entirely than listen to more of it.
“I didn’t want to stay there!” he said hotly, glaring at his parents. “We were trapped!”
“Trapped? Oh you were trapped now! Well why didn’t you just jimmy open a window or kick the doors down?” his mother demanded, her voice bordering on hysterical.
“We couldn’t,” he ground out. “That’s the definition of Trapped. No. Way. OUT!” every day for the past three weeks they had this conversation. He was sick of it. Why couldn’t they discuss how disappointed they were in him? Why did everything come back to the manor that, while burnt down, still loomed over his life as a specter of blood and ash?
“Now James,” his mother began tremulously. “That hardly justifies arson.” That was the final straw for Jim. He stood up and walked towards the door.
“I’m going out!” he called over his shoulder, grabbing his coat from the stand near the door and slinging it about him. He slammed the door behind him. It seemed like the psychologically appropriate thing to do.
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Fowler said, standing. “I’m afraid we never got to discuss the possibility of public schooling due to his projections of anger.”
“Well,” sighed Mr. Fowler “Might as well head to plan B. Give your brother in California a ring, see if he’ll take the boy.”Los Angeles, California: Wesley Wyndam-Pryce’s apartment
The telephone was, damn it all, interrupting his drunken stupor. A man in his position only got to get well and truly pissed every once in a while, and there was a telephone. Interrupting. Like a big… thing that interrupted stuff.
Bloody hell, and there went the west coast again, draining him of his quaint English vernacular. That could also be the alcohol, but it was less stressful to blame it on California. And there it went again with its incessant jangling. He lurched up. “S’pose I ought to answer it,” he mumbled. Picking it up created blessed silence. “Hello?”
“Wesley!” trilled a voice on the other line. “Guess whoooo?”
“Um…” He was honestly at a loss. He knew he should remember the voice, but he was a little out of it at the moment.
“Your favorite siiiiister!” Oh bloody hell. Jessica hadn’t called him in years, and the last time he’d seen her was at her wedding to that Fowler git. “I have a bit of a weighty favor to ask you, but you did promise the last time we spoke!”
“Hello Jessica, nice to hear from you too,” he deadpanned. “What do you need?” Typical of Jess. Never one to see beyond her own nose.
“Well, my son Jim, he’s 17 now, recently left his boarding school. I suspect he was asserting his independence. I merely need you to take care of him for the next year or so, until he’s legally of age to go to uni!” she said cheerfully.
“Jess, I’m honestly not in a position to take care of a teenager right now.” A cursory inspection of his dingy apartment settled that matter.
“You promised me you’d take care of him while we were traveling if the school couldn’t!” she replied hotly. “Besides, the most you’d have to do is be sure that he gets his homework in and goes to school. James is very good at taking care of himself.” Something about her tone made Wesley think she was lying through her teeth. Brothers knew these things.
“Jess, I really can’t…”
“Not to mention I’d pay for all of his expenses, and if you need to find a bigger place nearby, I can pay to have you relocated. Lord knows it’s all going to be cheaper than Harrington’s anyways, so” Jessica continued to prattle on about how her son would be no trouble at all.
“Jessica, I’m a drunk!” Wes shouted, cutting her off. A long, thick stretch of silence greeted him.
“I drink. A ton. I’m drunk right now, in fact.” She probably didn’t want to know that, but it served her right to try and pawn her child off on him like a piece of furniture. Lord knows he couldn’t even help baby Connor, let alone a 17 year old that probably had a lifetime of trauma due to being raised by his shallow pop psychologist of an older sister.
“Oh, Wesley… I’m sorry to burden you like this, but I really can’t think of anywhere else to send him! He’s been questioned for Arson, expelled from school. I can’t thank you enough for taking him!” Bloody Hell! Had she even heard him?
“Jessica, I really don’t think that I should be…” She cut him off again.
“And I know Jim will just love having a positive male influence in his life, considering that many adolescents these days have conflicts with their fathers, and thus look elsewhere for male role models! Now, I’ve got his flight booked to arrive tomorrow, it honestly was the only one I could find that left before we did. Can you pick him up at 3 pm pacific time at LAX?”
A flight? Already booked? Oh bugger. It looked like Jessica was bound and determined for her son to spend the school year with him. “Yeah… I can manage,” he said weakly. He looked around his apartment. He might need to pick up the bottles. And clean up a bit. And shower. And if he was in a really inspired mood, put on a different set of clothes. These had been hanging off him for about a week. Maybe a second shower.
“Oh, thank you so very much Wesley! Ah, you’re the perfect little brother! Well, I have to go tell James that we’ve made arrangements, but it was so great to talk to you again! Ta!” Wait. What? It seemed like James had about as much time to prepare as he did. Bloody Jessica.
He lurched to his feet, grabbing his keys on the way out. First item on the agenda: sobriety. Coffee was sounding great.O’Malley residence, Surrey
Siobhan woke up with the same ache in her heart that had plagued her for the past week. It hurt to do anything, it didn’t even seem worth it to get out of bed. Abe was murdered, and she knew who did it. The problem is, nobody would believe monsters. Just looters. On PCP.
Last she checked, PCP didn’t do anything to the teeth. Didn’t make you grab men and bite into their neck without spilling a drop of blood. Didn’t make you go on about how your master needed the idol to teach the Slayer the name of the King. It was like some fucked-up horror show, prancing through her mind at high speeds, as the monsters flouted her power over Chahal while she… Hid. Of all the shameful things, she hid.
She leaned her head back against the headboard, drawing her knees up to her chest. Oh god, what was to become of her? Everything went between numb and hurting. The redhead had always prided herself on being strong, but this blew her every defense out of the water. She was strong right up until she watched her mentor die.
A knock on her door interrupted her thoughts. She got up, ignoring the ache in her left leg as she slid on her dressing gown and opened the door. “I’m sorry, right now’s really not a good time Sir,” she said to the man standing in the doorway. He couldn’t have been past his thirties, but he still looked every inch the gentleman. Rather dashing, in fact. And here she was with bedhair and a dressing gown.
“Madame, my name is Trilby, and I’m afraid I must discuss some things with you,” he said gallantly. “Things concerning the death of Dr. Chahal.”
“I’ve already told the police everything!” Tears threatened to well up in her eyes. “I don’t know what more I can do!”
“Ms. O’Malley, if my assumptions are correct surrounding what was stolen from him, I think you can do quite a bit for me…”A/N: And that’s all she wrote. For now. If you can’t guess, I’m doing this in 8 chapters, Monday to Monday. Expect the next one up sometime in the next week. I promise this story will not go abandoned!