Heartbreakingly In Between
***Angel S5 Spoilers***
Notes: Just got the Twin Towers on DVD and feel a sudden LOTR kick settling in . . . . . .
For BTVS: Instead of escaping Sunnydale before it collapses, our heroes get sucked into the crater.
A/N: Hmm, seems there are some major Faramir/Eowyn lovers out there. Have no fear! Nothing is set in stone, so if I opt out of the Willow/Faramir pairing, there's hope for those two. On the suggestions front, I've gotten several Willow/Spike votes which would be very interesting considering on what I'm planning to do with Spike. NOTE: to Spuffy lovers, understand that I love both Buffy and Spike, but the thought of them together has almost always made me retch so I will not be writing any sort of Buffy/Spike pairing. But other than that, I'm still very interested in your suggestions for pairings.
A/N2: Thanks to Whitewolf for the Healing House fight suggestion.
Part Eight: Heartbreakingly In Between
He was starting to get very annoyed.
It was bad enough that everyone had died down in the Hellmouth, himself included, but the fact that he seemed bound to follow the Great Big Poof around for the rest of eternity really pushed his buttons. During those first few weeks after he had shown up in Angel's office, the idea of haunting his grandsire had been appealing. But after awhile, even tormenting Angel started to feel mundane.
And that whole bout with the Reaper and almost going to Hell didn't help matters much either.
Though, once the crazy doctor had been retaken corporeal form and stuck in the freezer until the end of time, the threatening presence of Hell had drifted away. He had mastered some skills, the best being his ability to pick up teacups which was so utterly pathetic that even Angel felt sorry for him. It was rotten, boring, and really pointless, and he had no where to go. His only consolation was that the pull of Hell had seemed to fade. He hadn't disappeared into thin air for two weeks now, and Fred certainly seemed to think that was a great improvement. He disagreed. The only improvement he would acknowledge would be the day that he was flesh once more.
Fred was working on that. And meanwhile, he got to hang around the office all day with absolutely nothing to do. Other than spook Gunn in the bathroom and startle Wesley while he was immersed in some of his books. It was a sad, sad existence, what it was better than Hell.
So when he felt a tug that morning, he immediately began to swear up a storm. Fred had tried to help, but there had been nothing for her to do other than to watch him slowly fade out of her vision. For Spike, the experience was no different from the other times he had vanished. The chilling feeling down in his centre, the complete and utter static that assailed all of his senses, and the feeling of weightlessness that was harsh enough to make him weep.
But when he materialized again, he wasn't anywhere in the office, he wasn't straddling that line between life and Hell. In fact, he ended up in a rather nice place, green and lush with a huge castle structure before him. He found himself in what seemed to be a courtyard, grass surrounding several marble pathways and a large white tree in the middle of it all.
"Oh bollocks! Now where am I?"
And even as he swore and stomped his feet at the utter unfairness of it all, he very slowly realized that he was not in Hell. This place seemed to be the exact opposite of everything he had associated with Hell. Spike paused in his swearing and took a good, cautious look around.
Was he in Heaven?
He spun around, eyes searching for the source of the cry. The voice had sounded familiar, too familiar. He knew who that voice belonged to, and if it turned out to be her, then maybe he really had ended up in Heaven after all.
She came rushing around the white tree and for a second he didn't recognize her with all the white hair flying about her head. But then he got a good look at her face and he saw that it was her.
She was grinning like crazy, picking up the long skirt of her white dress and scrambling over to him. Spike saw a tall man following her at a much slower pace. He was also dressed all in white with blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. For some reason Spike thought that his skin seemed to glow, though he forgot about that in the second he saw the man's ears. They were pointed. What the fuck?
"Spike!" Willow shouted again, though by this time she was much closer than before. He shook his head at her and smiled back, thinking that yes, he was indeed in Heaven and Willow had come to greet him. After all, she and the others had died in the Hellmouth, their bodies never recovered from the massive crater that Sunnydale had become. Kennedy and the few Slayers that had managed to escape the chaos confirmed that the others had still been down there when everything came down. Spike himself didn't remember much after he was burnt alive, but he had remembered enough to know that there wasn't any way for the others to have gotten out. Besides, Angel and Lorne had pulled strings and were able to confirm that those who had been in the Hellmouth when it collapsed where no longer walking the Earth. And there was only one place for dead heroes like them, and that was in Heaven. Spike was sure of it, he was ready to bet his soul on it.
But when Willow went to hug him and ended up going right through him, Spike realized that perhaps he was wrong about his whole Heaven thesis. He looked down in shock, seeing Willow imbedded in his shoulder. The white-haired witch turned her eyes up to met his, shock and confusion written all over her face as she took a hesitant step back. Almost fearfully, she reached out to poke him, her finger finding no solid body to connect with and therefore passed right into his jacket.
"There is a disturbance in the Healing Houses."
Aragorn sighed and followed the panicked guard all the way down to the Healing Houses. Legolas was at his side, as was his Steward. Both were silent as they marched behind the King, neither one saying what they were all thinking.
The strangers were doing something.
The sounds of fighting reached Legolas's ears before the others and he pulled out his bow out of habit. Aragorn noticed this and withdrew his own sword without breaking stride. Faramir also drew his weapon, the sounds of the brawl reaching him by this point. Aragorn broke out into a run at this point, racing down the corridors and around corners at top speed.
The scene they stumbled upon was quite simply the most astonishing one they had ever seen. The small blonde woman, Buffy she called herself, was standing on the second level balcony of the Healing House, dangling the guard Aragorn had assigned to watch her over the edge. Buffy seemed almost bored as she swung the man around by his ankle, shouting to be heard over his cries for aid.
"All I want to is for you to bring back Willow! Is that really too much to ask for?"
"My word," Faramir gasped, looking at the display the small woman was making. "How can she-he is nearly twice her size!"
"I knew they were hiding something," Aragorn practically growled. "They aren't human at all. They're dangerous."
"Perhaps we should do as she demands," Legolas suggested.
"Send someone for Lord Celeborn and the white woman," Aragorn agreed, squaring his shoulders and marching towards the door of the Healing House. Buffy had long since seen his arrival and rather than dragging her guard back to safety, she managed to tied him to the balcony, still hanging upside over the side and shouting while she rather calmly wandered back inside.
Aragorn entered the building to find that all the Healers had long since taken off in fear. His companions followed behind, Faramir disappearing up the stairs to release Buffy's guard from his predicament. Aragorn and Legolas marched on to the courtyard where they could hear the fight still continuing.
Both Man and Elf entered to find the courtyard in utter chaos. The small brunette woman, Faith, was fighting off two of the guards with ease. One of the other girls, the redheaded one with a broken arm, was also fighting, rendering many of the guards unconscious with a few kicks here and there. Buffy was dragging the fallen guards together while the others, all three men and the youngest girl, were tying them up. Aragorn watched this in quiet awe for a minute before his temper flared.
"Enough!" he bellowed, bringing the shouts of his guards to an end. Very slowly, the few guards left standing backed away from the strangers, giving the King a wide berth. The strangers also stopped at his shout, though Buffy did not make any move to release the guards they had tied up. Faramir rejoined them seconds later, the guard he rescued right on his heels.
"What is the meaning of this?" Aragorn demanded. "Release my men at once and explain yourselves!"
"First of all, we want to know what you did with Willow," Buffy shouted back at him. "All we know is that one of your men abducted her and carried her off somewhere. That was not cool man."
"Your friend has come to no harm," Legolas assured them. "She is merely speaking with someone who could help all of you."
"Then why wasn't he brought here?" Faith snarled. "And if he's going to help all of us, why did you only grab Willow? You guys are pretty resolved on keeping us in here and that was fine with us because at least we were together. But separating us by force and trying to lock us down in here without letting us know what you're actually doing with our friend, that just doesn't fly with us."
"We've taken your imprisonment with as much good cheer as we could muster," Giles picked up for them. "You let us stay here and you healed us, for which we are grateful. But as much as you obviously distrust us, we also have no guarantee that you're word is true. You keep things from us purposefully and while we have stomached it before, we will not tolerate strong-arm tactics. We want our companion returned to us now."
"This is my domain," Aragorn reminded him. "I will give the orders here."
"Well I'd hate to break this to you, but we're out of your domain," Xander shot back. "In case you've forgotten, we're not a bunch of your loyal subjects. We don't belong here and you certainly don't have the right to snatch Willow away like you did. You guys are nice enough, I'll give you that. But we are not going to sit around while you kidnap our friends."
"She has not been kidnapped," Faramir insisted. "She was summoned to the presence of Lord Celeborn-"
"Who is he anyway?" Buffy demanded. "And why is he so damn important? You guys have been acting weird about Willow the entire time we've been here. How are we supposed to know that this Celeborn person isn't doing something to her?"
"We want Willow back!" Dawn shouted at them.
"And we're more than prepared to take her back," Faith warned them. Aragorn shook his head, moving his sword up into plain sight.
"I welcome you to try," he declared. Faith scowled and made to move to the King when Willow burst onto the scene, waving her arms and shouting for peace.
"Stop it! That's enough! Just stop!"
Willow shot the King an apologetic look before she was swarmed by her friends, hugs and questions coming from all directions. Aragorn sighed and lowered his sword when Lord Celeborn stepped up beside them.
"They need to learn some discretion," was all the Elf lord had to say.
"They have outlived their welcome in my city," Aragorn replied, sheathing his sword and motioning for his guards to release those still tied together. "I knew they were not to be trusted."
"It is not that they cannot be trusted," Celeborn corrected him. "It is merely that they have not yet learned to trust. Another thing that they must learn before the time comes. We have much work to do with them."
"What sort of work is that?" Aragorn asked the Elven lord, his calm returning to him bit by bit.
"Hard work, Elessar," Celeborn answered with a small smile. "Very hard work. But it will be worth every drop of sweat."
"I'd be more worried about the headaches than the sweat if I were you," interrupted a voice from behind. "These lot are hard on the nerves, if you know what I mean."
"Who are you?" Legolas demanded of the strange man sauntering out into the courtyard. The man flashed him a smug sort of smile before passing on by without answering. Celeborn raised a hand to stay any movements on the part of the King and his friends.
"He is important as well," Celeborn assured them. "But his time here will always be limited. He is needed in more than one place."
"But who is he?" Aragorn repeated Legolas's question. The answer came not from Celeborn, but from the group of strangers just beyond them.
"Spike! How . . . You're dead!"
Spike shook his head and sneered at Xander before taking a seat on a bench behind him, ignoring the shocked looks from the others.
"Really? Glad you told me Chubs, I never would have figured that out on my own. Now, can someone please tell me what the bloody hell is going on?"