He Who Runs Away Lives to Flee Another Day
Disclaimer: I still haven't managed to convince Joss to give me his boys or anything else he dreamed up either. Also, Strife and the Olympians still aren't mine either.
Warnings: We are still well withing the FR18 rating. I'm so, so sorry. Hopefully I will rectify the situation soon.
The nervous giggle bursts out of my mouth before I can stifle it. I hate, hate, hate bein’ trapped in the dark. Of all the things in all the world- on Olympus, Earth, or Hades- I hate bein’ in the dark by myself the most. I could write scrolls an’ scrolls of reasons why I hate the dark if I eveh took the time. I feel my body freeze up as memories force their way to the surface. I shake my head franticly from side to side my face turned down into a desperate frown. I don’t want to do this right now, but they are there and the harder I try not to think about them the harder they fight me. “You will stay in there, you little shit, until you learn some manners and fucking respect!” Discord’s grip bit into tiny, flailing arms as a 5 year old Strife twisted and fought, kicking and sobbing and wailing at the top of his lungs. Relentlessly she wrestled him toward the closet where she stores her favorite weapons. They were almost there now and he began screaming. He couldn’t help it. He turned and bit her arm with his tiny, pointed teeth drawing the coppery tang of blood into his mouth. She cried in surprise cursing. Last time she had left him there for three whole days. He couldn’t stand it again. He couldn’t.
“You little fucker,” she hissed. The pain was nothing to her, but the insult was everything. She grabbed his long, curling blue black hair and ripped his head away from her arm using it to haul him into the closet. “You will regret that. I should have cut you from my womb and stomped your skull myself before anyone knew about your cowardly little existence.” He grabbed at her hands and felt a chunk of hair give way. Now he was sobbing in pain as well as fear. Huge tears dropped down his pale, pointed face and soaked the black tunic he was wearing. She released his hair and kicked him square to the stomach. It wasn’t hard, by Discord’s standards, but it was enough to send a small child flying and panting for breath, even a godling. He held his middle and didn’t catch himself as he fell. The stone floor bit into his knees viciously. He could feel the blood starting to run. Discord’s weapons lined the walls of the small space and he tearfully looked up at them before directing his injured, petrified gaze to her. She pulled her red lips back into an evil smile and quickly closed the door. She knew he hated the dark. She knew. She hated him and he knew that too. Stumbling to his feet he ran to the door and pounded his small fists against it. He couldn’t get out because she was blocking him in somehow. He wanted to zap out of there, but he wasn’t very good yet anyway, even if she hadn’t been making sure he couldn’t. He sobbed and dejectedly pounded small fists on the heavy wooden door.
“Please, let me out Mommy, please! I’ll be good.”
“There’s nothing good about you. There’s nothing good in you, Mischief! But you will fucking learn! You’ll stay in there until I’m satisfied that you won’t do something so stupid ever again! And STOP CALLING ME THAT!” She roared at him through the door.
“Discord. Discord, please.” His voice was small, and pathetic wavering with tears. “I’m sorry.”
Her boots clicked purposefully as she walked away from him.
By concentrating on the small sounds the others are making I finally toss that horrible memory out of the front of my mind and let it ooze back into whateveh mucky pit it had been hiding in to begin with. I put one foot in front of the otha. The sewer stench is putrid, but tolerable. My eyes have adjusted and there is still no way I can see. As far as I know there is nothin’ here, but me, Xandah, Spike and my heart tryin’ ta rip its way up into my throat so I can spit it out. My boots clank down the metal ladder and I can hear similar clankin’ going on below. I feel my pants riding low, but can’t pull do anythin’ about them. Xandah and Spike are still there. I keep telling myself I am not alone in this miserable, dark place. It isn’t small either, in spite of the anxiety pulling at my limbs trying to convince me to climb back up into the small back room of the tavern. Assasins? What are assassins compared to this outlier of Hades?
“Pfffft, I can’t believe we’re runnin’ afraid of some assassins. They’re inta cloak n’daggah and don’t do good in a straight fight.”
Keep talking. As long as I keep talking then this won’t be so bad.
“There was this one time when I was in Thebes with Discord and she’d taken a shine to Auto, who weren’t my friend or nothin’, but I see him from time to time, and …”
“Shut it. There’s more than just us about down here,” Spike snips out. The hard voice sends shivers up my back and makes my heart pound harder than before. My chest is tight and breathin’ is becomin’ difficult. My stomach is feelin’ nasty again too. This just keeps gettin’ bettah. Least my head seems to be evenin’ out.
There’s a splash and Spike has obviously landed at the end of our disgusting journey. I hate gettin’ watah in my boots. I hope it isn’t deep. A second splash and I can feel a breeze hitting my cheeks now. I push my breath out and attempt to relax. This isn’t stagnant. This isn’t like a closet or a box. There’s obviously room to move down here. I’m not trapped. I’m not trapped. There is no one waiting here to hurt me. I hope. I know I must be getting’ close to the end when a hand touches my left leg. I stop movin’ and my mind goes blank. I don’t know how long I was like that when I hear.
“Hey, it’s just me.” Oh, thank old goaty Zeus himself. Xandah. Who did I think it would be? I’m startin’ to get angry with myself. I hate having a freak out around people. Alone, whateveh, but no witnesses please. Course, they’ve already seen me a mess. I move down and his hand slides up my body as if to steady me and my heavy boots splash into a bit of water, but it isn’t deep. His hand stays on my back. Reaching out, I touch what I’m assuming is his chest and follow it along his arm. Before I know what’s goin’ on there are warm, dry fingers clasping mine and squeezing my hand. Keyed up and anxious I squeeze back. He’s a champ for not droppin’ my clammy hand. My body is showin’ the physical signs of my panic. I’m too upset to enjoy his closeness, but I stow the idea away to haul out on a shitty day. I have plenty of those and need all the happy things I can get.
“Listen lads, here’s the plan. I can see so I’ll be headin’ out first. Xander you’re gonna hold onto my duster and Strife, if you feel anything touch you that ain’t Xander, axe it.” Spike is calm and to the point. He seems to be directing some of that self-assured, cocky attitude my way. I wonder if my face is showin’ my horror at bein’ down here. I try to move it around to something close to my normal craziness.
My nerves kick up again. What might be down here? Stupidly I glance around and see nothin’ but the blackness. I squeeze Xandah’s hand harder than might be comfortable tryin’ ta keep my brain from kicking up stupid shit to scare me.
“We’re not in the best of shape Spike. How long do we have to stay in the sewers?” Xandah, coming to my rescue without even knowin’ it. I could kiss ‘im. He squeezes my hand back. Okay, maybe he does know it. Warmth fights off some of the crawling hysteria. I try to settle into that like Ace taught me. I try to find some calm feelings. Uncle Ares would be disgusted to see me clutchin’ at Xandah like this. I grip my axe solidly and let the energy of War roll through me. It doesn’t mattah that I don’t have my powahs. War is war and it is always accessible, at least in spirit anyway.
“Not long. I don’t think there’s much moving down here tonight. Just precautions.” I hear Spike start to splash off and Xandah tugs me and my feet start to move without my brain engaging. If we weren’t stuck in this awful pit it would be downright pleasant to go for a stroll holdin’ his hand. Lookin’ into those deep brown eyes. A calloused thumb rubs soothingly against my hand and I smile to myself. My headache and stomach settle, but my chest still hurts and my heart doesn’t go completely back to normal. If I ignore all the shit leadin’ up to this I can pretend we are godlings playing a game. Follow the Captain. We’re playin’ in some caves.
“Sure. Stinky caves,” I say out loud without meanin’ to. Xandah stumbles a bit and Spike picks up the pace.
“What are you going on about?” Spike tosses back from his position in the front. I giggle again, high pitched and hysterical.
“Hey, there. I don’t see no dangerous beasties. We’re good for now.” His voice rolls over me a soothing wave of lilting words while Xandah pulls me closeh and wraps his arm around me. We’re walking together now and I’ll be damn near useless for a first blow if there’s an attack, but this is betteh. The vice on my chest loosens a bit. I look for that feeling again. The one that zings through me before I start the machinations for a particularly doozy of a plot. Blood lust. This time the giggle I let out is a bit neareh to tipsy than hysterical.
We’ve been splashing along for a few minutes now and no one is saying anything. Xandah must trust Spike pretty well or if he doesn’t he’s doin’ a good job of not lettin’ on.
“Bugger it all,” Spike mutters and I tense. Suddenly there is a snick
and a flare of light and Spike is taking a deep drag off a cigarette. The smoke is acrid and somewhat reminds me of the tavern we just left.
“SPIKE! What the hell! You’ve had a lighter the whole, entire time! Why weren’t you letting us use it to see!” I feel Xandah move and hear a thump.
“Oi! Mind the injured arm! We didn’t all lose me hundreds of dollars to get healed. Didn’t want to waste the fluid, did I? I can see and you can damn well walk in a straight line, so why go to the trouble of refillin’ my lighter?” There was a snicker in his voice.
“You didn’t think of the small torch, did you?” I ask glibly.
“Not as much, no,” He laughed. There was another thump and a grunt from Spike. I see the red cherry on the tip of the cigarette jerk forward.
“Give it!” Xandah is outraged and I laugh, my face close to his body I feel his hair tickle my cheek. He shivers against me and I feel myself reacting to his heat. I lean closeh and take a deep breath. His hair smells sharply of herbs and something musky. My nose bumps into him and I think he realizes what I am up to because he turns slightly toward me and squeezes my hand. Spike chuckles, a deep, sexy sound and I jump. Sticking my tongue out in his general direction I remind myself that he is not as blind as we are.
“I agree with Xandah, can we use it?” There’s a bit of a whine to my voice. The one that usually gets me what I want just to shut me up. I pout in his direction knowing he can see me. I add some tremble to the lip for good measure. A little theatrics neveh hurt.
“No, you gits. You’ll just fuck up my night vision with the light and not be able to see far enough with it to do any good. Plus, it’ll go out soon. It’s nearing empty,” he sighed sounding like a put upon teacher. We all feel it at the same time. A small vibration under our feet. It begins to grow and my panic is back full blown. I know what this is. We have these in Greece.
“We’re gonna die down here!” I’m screeching dropping my axe and pull Xandah to me looking around like I might be able to see our impending doom. The ground is rocking under our feet now doing its best to throw us off balance. I half expect Uncle Hades to bear down on us on his black stallion and drag us off to the underworld. I can’t breathe. Not that a god can die that way, but it is horrible and uncomfortable and I’m gasping and the world is ending. I’m sure.
“An earthquake? Seriously? What the hell is up with tonight, tonight?” Xandah is yelling out to no one in particular.
“For a true immortal you sure are worried about it,” Spike grounds out of clenched teeth as he hauls the both of us toward the side of the tunnel. He hurls us against the brick and we brace ourselves against the wall waiting for the world to right itself. I feel the walls shrinking and closing in on me and I can’t help the panting. I can’t pull enough air into my lungs. Xandah is talkin’ to me and I can’t say nothin’ to him. I start to see sparkles in front of my eyes and I know I might be hyperventilating into a faint. It has happened before. Not that I’m proud a that, but I’m a realistic asshole most a the time.
Whateveh he is saying, I can’t make it out. Then Spike’s voice. I can’t do anything, but double over with my arms wrapped around my stomach lost in the fear. The earth settles, but I can’t.
I’m bein’ manhandled and before I know it there are hands on mine and the vampire’s cold hands are wrapping mine around metal. He’s so much smaller than me, but he manages just find. He’s sayin’ something and it might be climb, but I’m not sure. He’s behind me on the ladder, smaller, but holdin’ me sure on just the same. That whip strong, cool body keepin’ mine from collapsing. His feet are outside of mind on the ladder as we ascend one slow step at a time. I’m shaking and glad that he’s there. He’s talkin’ low.
“Just keep going. That’s it. That’s it. Move along. You’re almost there. Nice stars and air and all that rot just a few more steps away. You should have said something you nit. I would have gotten us outta here sooner,” his hypnotic voice rolls through my mind soothing the wild imaginings of collapsing rock burying us foreveh and eveh.
“Stop.” I do and he climbs another rung up, his body pressed against mine. I haven’t been this close to anyone, let alone two different people, in…I’m not sure anyone has held such casual contact with me. My very presence off putting to most sane people. He seems to be fiddling with a large covering on a hole leading out of the tunnel.
“What sort of crappy things have you been up to Spike? Bad karma is the only thing that can account for all of this, and since I’m one of the good guys it must be yours,” Xandah is muttering good naturedly below us and I feel him reach up to squeeze my ankle. I’m glad I’m almost to my right mind ‘cause if he’d a done it five minutes ago I might have kicked him in the face.
“I’m Mischief. I got bad Karma comin’ outta my ears and every othah thing too.” I answer Xandah and he squeezes my ankle again. Not sure if he’s agreein’ or just happy that I’m not bein’ nonsensical anymore.
Spike snorted behind me and presses in tight ta me to whisper in my ear, “Now that’s somethin’ I’d like to see.” I’m too stunned to be a smart ass as he climbs up and around me, and out of the hole. I look up as he clears it and see stars. Blessed, beautiful stars and some trees.
“You comin’ or not?” Spike leans down and his lecherous grin is illuminated by some soft glow. There must be lights nearby. The Fates must not completely hate me after all.