You'll never understand how badly I feel about the length of delay on getting this chapter done and posted. Yes, there was a few real life issues (house cleaning, gardening, allergies/sick) that slowed me down, but mostly it was the chapter itself, or at least the content of said chapter. The funny or sad thing is that I didn't believe (before starting) that there would be anything hard about this
chapter - I was more worried about chapter four and then later the epilogue if you must know.
(Chapter four because I knew going in that there would be a battle going on, and I'm not real keen on writing battles, so I fully expected chapter four to be difficult for me. As for the epilogue I didn't/don't expect that to be as hard as chapter four (or three) the main thing with it that could pose a problem is the fact that there are some things revealed which must be very carefully worded otherwise certain things won't make any sense - no big battles or anything, just an extreme need for careful wording.)
Chapter three being as hard to write as it was took me completely by surprise. I finished the first rough draft some time ago, but I realized I wasn't happy with it, so I waited, then added some more, but it still didn't seem finished. Finally, after spending a week sick, I came back and managed to get it finished, but it wasn't easy. The good news is that the first rough draft of chapter four is almost done, so hopefully the wait for the next chapter will be a bit shorter than the wait for this chapter was. Consequences IV - Blast From the Past
Buffy looked around, and her eyes landed on Anita. She could see the conflict in Anita's eyes. It was clear Anita wanted to come with them to help, but something was holding her back.
Buffy turned to Barbossa. "You can get us back? Here, right? After the Company is put to rest again?"
"I believe so. Of course, you'll have to talk to King Swan
about the details."
Buffy wasn't sure why he'd put such an emphasis on King Swan, and after a moment she decided not to ask. It could be anything really, and on the whole it wasn't any of her business. Though she would be deeply disappointed if it was simply because Elizabeth was a woman. Trouble was that Buffy knew enough about history to know that back in the day females didn't always get the respect they deserved, but Buffy honestly believed Barbossa was better than that.
Of course, Buffy also knew that Barbossa could lie with the best of them, but she honestly didn't believe he was lying.
When Buffy looked back to Anita, Anita nodded. Buffy could admit that she was glad, since it was clear they were dealing, or would be dealing with some form of zombie having Anita along could only be a plus.
"I'll gather some things," Anita said, and turned to go. She paused to speak with Jean-Claude, who was finally returning.
Richard stepped forward, and Buffy realized that a crowd had formed around the small group at some point. Thankfully, it wasn't a large crowd, but several people who hadn't been there before were now standing around talking among themselves.
As Richard announced he would be going with them, Buffy could tell that many of the natives were stunned.
Before Buffy herself could ask why, someone from the crowd did, and Richard explained that if they didn't fix things in the past then the future might be changed. Buffy almost pointed out that they might not be dealing with this realities past, or at least she didn't think they were. However, before she opened her mouth, she realized she could be wrong, and it never hurt to have more back-up.
When Narcissus stepped forward, Buffy couldn't stop her mouth from dropping open. Richard while not having surprised her as much as he had others had surprised her a bit, Narcissus simply stunned her. She understood the reasons the others were going, even the two wererats who were going as bodyguards for Anita, but Narcissus was a mystery, and would probably stay that way since he wasn't responding to any questions. He silently returned to stand next to his bodyguards.
Buffy didn't believe for a moment that Narcissus cared about the past, and from what she understood he wasn't close to any of the other natives, at least none of the ones who were going with them.So why did he care?
Buffy asked herself. Then she thought of Cordelia, and wondered if perhaps Narcissus, like Cordelia, cared more about everything than he was given credit for.~ * ~ * ~
Xander felt Buffy's hand on his arm, and he allowed her to guide him slightly away from the crowd. They ended up far enough away that a human wouldn't be able to hear them, but Xander wasn't sure if they were far enough away to keep the vampires and lycanthropes from hearing them. Of course, since they probably wouldn't be interested in what was being said it was probably a moot point.
"What? Spike asked when Buffy stopped moving.
Buffy smiled. "Just thought I'd give everyone a bit of privacy to say their goodbyes and all."
As Buffy and Spike talked, Xander found himself looking at Spike. They'd been together for some time now, and yet Xander had never really considered himself with Spike. He told himself that both he and Spike were with Buffy, which was, Xander could admit, not exactly the truth. The three of them had been together in every way, but somehow it was easier for Xander to believe that they were with Buffy not each other.
The trouble with that was that even Xander couldn't put his head far enough into the sand to ignore the few times that something had happened between the two of them without Buffy, or at least with Buffy only watching. Still there was a part of Xander that thought those times were flukes, or a way for them to make Buffy hot more than anything else. After all, while he had gotten along with Spike better than he ever had Angel, it wasn't as though he and Spike had ever been good buddies either. Xander was certain Spike was only tolerating him because of Buffy, and while Xander had been cool with that, he was coming to realize that thought bothered him.
Xander suppressed a sigh. It was almost funny all the things Xander had felt for Spike through the years. First, of course, was pretty much indifference, Spike was a vampire therefore Spike needed to die; nothing personal, just business. Then everything had changed, and after Buffy's death, Xander had been shocked to realize that he respected Spike more than he ever had Angel, which had thrown Xander for a loop. But Xander had come to realize that for whatever reason, it seemed to be the death of Joyce Summers that had been a turning point for Spike.
Of course, it hadn't been until after Buffy's death that Xander had even thought about it, because the year before Joyce died despite himself Xander had managed to forget that Spike was an evil vampire, which hadn't went well. The night after they defeated Adam, Xander had resolved to himself that he would never again forget that Spike was an evil vampire, which Xander could admit now had been why he'd been so hostile toward Spike for several years, even after Spike had stopped betraying them.
The ironic part was that the summer after Buffy's death when Spike had continued to fight by their side, Xander had come to realize with a great and terrible shock that he respected Spike much more than he'd ever respected Angel. That had almost done him in, because some time before that Xander had admitted, if only to himself, that Angel wasn't so bad. Angel generally tried to do the right thing and should have been more worthy of respect than Spike. That was when Xander realized that the respect came from the fact that Spike was a vampire without a soul actually fighting the good fight. Chipped or not, Xander suspected that Angelus would have never helped them the way Spike had.
Angel, the vampire cursed with a soul, the vampire trying to right the wrongs he'd committed. Certainly that was worthy of respect, especially considering that Spike hadn't been trying to make amends or right any wrongs. At first Spike had only jumped in because he liked fighting, and since he couldn't fight humans he'd settle for fighting demons, and of course later he'd done most of it because he'd wanted to impress Buffy. However, despite those facts, Xander couldn't deny that it was the vampire without a soul (Spike) who had chosen to fight the good fight without any direct Powers That Be intervention. Xander never could bring himself to completely forget that even after being cursed with a soul Angel had spent about a hundred years on his ass doing nothing, which lead Xander to believe that if it hadn't been for the Powers That Be prompting him the vaunted vampire with a soul would still be in an alley somewhere sitting on his ass doing nothing.
The funny, or sad (depending on your point of view) thing was that even before Spike had confirmed some of the things Xander had long suspected about Angel; such as the fact that soul or not Angel would have stayed with the gruesome foursome had Darla not been quite so disgusted with the vampire with a soul, which meant that it was very likely that soul or not Angel would have reverted to his killing ways. Maybe not as extreme as without the soul, but a killer all the same. Now thanks to Spike, Xander couldn't help but wonder if everything he'd ever suspected about Angel was correct.
Such as the fact that no matter how hard he tried not to think about it, Xander couldn't escape certain thoughts about Angel, Jesse, and Darla. Had he merely stood back and watched as Darla took Jesse down into the tunnels to the Master? Thankfully, Xander could admit that he truly didn't believe that to be the case, Angel might be an ass, but despite what Xander might say or think, he really didn't believe Angel was a giant flaming jack-ass. Of course, soul or not Angel was a vampire, which meant that he would have needed to be in the tomb before sunrise. It also meant that Angel had likely still been there when Xander had shown up to follow Buffy down, though Xander hadn't seen him. However, the kicker was that when Darla had escaped with Jesse it had still been very dark out, which meant that Angel could have easily arrived after Darla took Jesse.
Of course, Angel could still be blamed for letting Xander and Buffy go down into the tunnels without his aid, but Xander never could bring himself to get overly worked up about that, which was strange since they'd almost been killed that day. It had only been a quirky twist of fate, or rather design that had allowed them to escape, and even then they almost hadn't made it.
Xander shuddered. If it hadn't been for that twist of fate he would be Vander himself. For a brief moment, Xander wondered what a vampire Buffy would be like. He knew what a Buffy vampire would look like, but the Billy inspired Buffy vampire hadn't exactly behaved like a vampire, she'd still been herself merely looking like a vampire.
Xander shook himself. He hadn't meant to let his mind go off on an Angel tangent, though sadly that had been happening more and more since the alternate universe Angelus had shown up.
He looked at Spike, and managed to push all thoughts of Angel aside. Xander couldn't deny, at least to himself, that Spike was a good looking man, or vampire. Men do by choice what demons do by nature.
Xander frowned. Where did that come from?
It seemed like a quote, but Xander couldn't place it, and considering his earlier thoughts about Spike, Xander couldn't help but wonder if something was trying to tell him that Spike was actually better than he was. After all, since they'd started this little adventure, Xander knew he didn't have the same amount of moral high ground that he'd once held. Sure, Xander had only killed humans in self-defense, but at the moment Xander couldn't help but feel as though that didn't matter, especially considering that Spike had gone against his own nature time and time again to help them out.
After a moment, Spike seemed to become aware that Xander was watching, because he looked up. Xander tried to look away, but couldn't.
Xander shook himself. "Nothing," Xander lied, but he was barely comfortable with the things he was thinking at the moment, he wasn't about to voice them. Voicing them would make them real, and making them real would be bad.
Spike seemed to realize that there was something
going on inside his head, and for a moment, Xander was afraid Spike was going to force the issue, but finally Spike turned back to Buffy, and Xander allowed himself to relax.
Then a horrible thought forced its way through Xander's mind. What if Spike really did care about him?
Xander barely managed not to laugh at his own idiocy, and his mind calmed ever so slightly. Of course, Spike didn't care about him, Spike cared about Buffy, and only tolerated Xander because of Buffy. Xander didn't like to admit it, but that was the main reason for his melt-down awhile back. He'd been terrified that Spike was going to decide if he had to put up with a Xander that it would be better to put up with a vampire Xander. And Xander knew better than to delude himself, he knew Buffy cared more about Spike than she did him, so if Spike decided to choose Vander, Buffy would follow, and Xander would be out in the cold alone. Considering what an ass he'd been to everyone over the years it was probably where he deserved to be.
Xander felt his throat tighten. Damn!
Buffy and Spike were both looking at him, Buffy seemed to be waiting for a response from him, which meant he'd missed something. At least she didn't seem to have an inkling about what was really going through his head, which was good. However, it was clear from the look on Spike's face that he was about to push. That couldn't be allowed, Xander was not up to having a conversation right now, not that he ever wanted to have this conversation.
"Bite me," Xander said softly. Where the fuck did that come from?
Spike's face blanked, almost as though he knew what Xander was doing. Xander almost laughed. How the hell could Spike know what he was doing since Xander himself wasn't sure? Buffy's eyes widened, but she didn't look as though she suspected anything.
"Whelp?" Spike asked, his voice sounded a bit strangled.
"Xander?" Buffy asked, her voice had a hint of shock.
Xander took a deep breath, and tried to come up with some response that wouldn't give everything away. He just wasn't ready to be completely exposed. The odd thought that he owed Vander an apology worked through his mind.
The question was did he really want Spike to bite him? Shockingly, Xander realized that the answer was yes. The bite from Angelus had hurt at first, then everything had changed, and in that moment Xander realized that this was an experience he should have had with Spike, not some random vampire trying to kill him, which is basically what this Angelus was.
"Sorry," Xander finally replied. "Just trying to tell my brain to shut up."
Xander almost laughed when both Buffy and Spike seemed to relax.
As they started moving back toward the group, Xander felt Spike's arm come around his shoulders.
"You know I'd love to bite you, right?" He whispered, and Xander shivered. "But now is hardly the time."
Xander tried to look confused, but when Spike smirked, he knew he'd failed.
"We're about to jump into a battle," Spike continued. "You'll need your strength for that."
Xander nodded, and was surprised when the feeling of rejection he'd been expecting never materialized. Possibly because he knew that Spike wasn't actually rejecting him, though it probably didn't hurt that Spike still had his arm draped around Xander.
As they reached the others, Xander realized he needed to get his emotions under control. Going into battle with your head screwed on backwards just wasn't a good idea. It would probably be better to go into battle weak from blood loss instead of emotions out of control.~ * ~ * ~
Finally, Elizabeth and William returned, and Buffy couldn't help but smirk. They both looked rumpled, several others seemed amused as well.
Elizabeth ignored everyone, and began working the magic to open the portal. Since she was using a crystal, Buffy suspected she was borrowing power from someone else.
As the portal opened, Buffy realized that there was a part of her that was sad Angeles wouldn't be coming with them into the past. Even though he wasn't her Angel, or even her Angeles, there was a part of her that wanted to fight by his side, just to see if he was as good as her Angel. At least that's what she told herself as she stepped into the portal.
Buffy shrugged as she stepped out on the other side. "Oh well," she said to herself. Maybe he wasn't here, but she was sure she'd get a chance to fight by his side at some point.
Xander was clutching her hand, and Buffy wasn't going to complain, because clearly while this was described as a safe place for pirates it really looked anything but safe for man or beast. At least Xander had taken the time to change back into his pirate clothing, so he looked like he belonged.
Jean-Claude and Asher had also changed, and looked as much the part as Xander, but no one else had changed, so they were standing out like sore thumbs. Actually it probably wasn't that bad, as most of them were wearing something black, though Anita and Richard did stand out a bit more wearing blue jeans.
"I knew I should have taken the time to wash my clothes the other day," Anita said softly, and Buffy had the impression she was talking to herself.
Buffy felt her lip curl as she looked around. The people were bad enough, but the place looked terrible, the building itself seemed stable enough, and the space inside was large, it actually resembled a cave, and despite the numerous torches along the walls it was dark dank and dirty.
There was one long table in the center, where it seemed only the members of the Court were allowed to set. Apparently, everyone else would be forced to stand around. At least the table and surrounding chairs seemed dust free, though there were a few stains on the table and chairs that Buffy was going to be hard-pressed to ignore. The ones on the walls and floor would be easier to ignore since she would be able to just avoid looking at those.
The members of the Court surprised her, because they all seemed clean and well dressed. There was also another woman among them, which surprised Buffy. The woman appeared to be Asian in descent, and she was a very healthy looking woman. She was at least twice the size of Buffy and Elizabeth, and Buffy thought that was a kind estimate.
"Lady Buffy, Pirate Lord of the Mediterranean Sea, and her crew," someone beside Elizabeth announced, and everyone turned to them.
Buffy pulled on her very old Los Angeles high school experience, and managed to hold herself regally, or at least she thought so. And others must have thought so too, because she was drawing approving looks from all around.
Out of the corner of her eye, she could tell that the only one of their party that was stunned was Vander. But what struck Buffy as strange was that Jean-Claude and Asher were looking at her with something resembling awe. Of course, they'd been doing that off and on since discovering that William Turner was Captain of the Flying Dutchman, why they were directing their awe at her instead of him she could only guess, but they seemed impressed that she was able to call William Turner a friend.
She moved forward, and knew that Spike and Xander were on her heels with the others trailing behind them. However, before she could get to the table, a badly dressed pirate stepped in her path. She almost sighed. She'd expected she'd have to rough up someone to prove she was a proper pirate captain, she just hadn't been looking forward to it.
"You're a pretty little thing," he said, stepping into her personal space.
Buffy didn't waste time, she just brought her leg around and swept his feet out from under him. She directed a glare around the room before starting toward the table again. The glare must have done the trick, because she made it to the table without further incident.
She took a seat next to a man with long dark hair and a mustache. Buffy realized she had probably chosen to set next to him, because he reminded her a bit of Xander, though she suspected that was more due to the way he was dressed than anything else, because if you looked into his face he didn't look anything like Xander.
"I am Ammand, the Corsair," he said. "The Lady
to your left is Mistress Ching."
Buffy was grateful for the names, even if she didn't exactly like the way Ammand was looking at her. It wasn't sexual, it was that he seemed to be reading her mind, which made her uncomfortable. She tried to her best not to let anything of what she was feeling show on her face.
Across from Mistress Ching was an older man, who Ammand said was Eduardo Villanueva. She could overhear some of their conversation, and knew that this would be his last meeting. Apparently, he'd finally found someone he felt worthy of taking his place in the Court. Mistress Ching admitted that she'd recently started hunting for a replacement as well.
Finally, Buffy learned who everyone was as Elizabeth moved to take a seat at the head of the table after sharing a very passionate kiss with William. He watched her for a second before turning and practically running outside. It seemed his time on land was up.
Seated to Elizabeths left was Sri Sumbhajee, Pirate Lord of the Indian Ocean. He was also an older man, but somehow he wore his age better than Eduardo Villanueva, or maybe it was just his funky hair style. To her right was Gentleman Jocard, Pirate Lord of the Atlantic Ocean. He was a slim trim African American, he wasn't bad looking, but something about his face kept her from calling him handsome, probably the look in his eyes.
Barbossa was directly across from Buffy, and Jack Sparrow was seated beside him and across from Ammand. Buffy wondered why Jack appeared to be a little nervous, but then decided that most of the folks gathered here probably didn't like him any better than she did.
Elizabeth didn't get very far in explaining her plan, before the shouting started. After a while, Buffy decided that these people simply liked the sound of their own voices, because they weren't making any sense. Of course, they had to fight, the other option was to set back and die, but some were claiming they could escape. The only escape they would have would be to stop pirating, and even that probably wouldn't save them since it had been explained that the Company knew who each of the Pirate Lords were, with the possible exception of Buffy herself. There would be no escape for any of them.
After letting them yell for awhile, Elizabeth called their attention back to the matter at hand.
Buffy snorted as a vote was ordered. They were voting on whether to stand their ground or run like chickens, Buffy wasn't impressed at all with those who wanted to run. However, those who wanted to fight out-voted those who didn't five to four, the vote might have failed but for reasons known only to Ammand himself, he had chosen to vote with Elizabeth, Barbossa, Jack, and Buffy.
Once that was settled, Elizabeth went back to outlining her plan, and this time everyone listened.~ * ~ * ~
Anita looked around, and almost smiled in spite of herself. She wasn't thrilled about being here where she wasn't considered important at all. Of course, she had gotten looks from some of the men, but mostly she'd been dismissed by everyone. On the other hand, Anita felt as though she'd just stepped onto the set of a movie where she'd been offered a small role, which almost made up for the other slights.
Another bonus had been watching as Spike and the human Xander tried to control their jealously over Buffy and Jack. The strange thing was that Spike had seemed slightly more upset than the human Xander. For a moment, she considered asking why, but she wasn't exactly sure she wanted to open that can of worms.
Anita didn't know exactly what had happened between them, but she was certain that Buffy and Jack had been lovers at some point. It was clear that the anger between them was the kind you only got when you first loved someone. She was almost sure Jean-Claude had feed his incubus from a distance while Buffy had been busy knocking Jack around, which meant there was still plenty of passion between them.
She'd almost be willing to bet money that Elizabeth and Jack had been lovers at some point as well. Almost. There was clearly some attraction there, but the passion lingering between them was much less than between Buffy and Jack. Perhaps that simply meant their affair was older than Buffy and Jacks.
Anita tried to focus on the main group standing around the map, which included both Buffy and Elizabeth, but while she could understand the words, she actually had little idea if they were making sense of not.
After a moment, she realized they had to be, because no one else looked to be as confused at their discussion as Anita.
Anita turned to move away just as something caused the ground to shake. She looked around and realized that some of the others looked pale, while others appeared determined.
"The time for planning is over," Elizabeth announced, and when she looked up her expression was grim. "The attack has come to us, and we will meet it!"
Anita was amazed at the cheers that rose up, considering the situation, and the way some had acted about going to war, Anita wouldn't have been surprised if she'd caught people trying to sneak out. Instead she had to admit that everyone around her appeared frightened but resolved.
"To your ships! Hoist the colors!" Elizabeth yelled, then turned to Buffy. "Your people are with me."
Buffy nodded, and moved to follow Elizabeth along with Spike, Asher, and the two Xander's.
Anita started forward, and then heard a horrible crack behind her, when she turned her heart almost stopped. Part of the ceiling had collapsed exactly where she'd been standing seconds before.
"Are you all right, ma petite
Anita nodded, but realized that her situation was not good. Shock was all ready starting and the battle had barely begun.
Jean-Claude stepped over and grabbed her arm, for which she was grateful.
Another shock awaited her as they stepped out of the building. Off in the distance there were literally thousands of ships out in the water. Their only escape would be by land, and it didn't look like anyone was planning on escaping. What puzzled Anita as they boarded Elizabeth's ship was the fact that the other ships were trying to destroy the building not the ships just outside.
Anita almost shrugged. Perhaps they simply wanted a fight, and while Anita was out of her depth at the moment, she figured it wouldn't be long before the battle became more hand to hand, or in her case gun to sword. Anita almost laughed. She'd done the equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight. She knew there was probably someone out there somewhere that wouldn't approve of her coming to the past covered in modern weapons, but to her surprise not even Richard had objected.
He hadn't exactly been thrilled, but it hadn't been until she'd strapped the flame-thrower to herself that he'd even thought about objecting, and even then he'd finally shrugged and moved away without comment. Anita might even be willing to concede that the flame-thrower was overkill, but fire was the tried and true method of dealing with zombies, though they had mentioned fire hadn't worked, Anita wouldn't believe it until she could see it for herself. Of course, she'd have to save the flame-thrower for last because she'd only be able to use the thing once or twice before rendering it useless until they returned home.~ * ~ * ~
: The quote about men and demons comes from a short story by Tanya Huff (The Cards Also Say