: So, yeah, it took me awhile to get this posted. At first I kept trying to force this into a Rachel Morgan crossover (damn near a year), before I decided to accept that I wasn't going to be able to make that work. Then when I settled on True Blood
I was having trouble taking them directly to the True Blood
Verse - I can't explain it, but it just didn't feel right to go from the end of the BuffyVerse right into the TBVerse. So, I finally just decided pull out word and write what came naturally, and I managed to get a full draft of this chapter done, but a few things kept bugging me, so I went back and reread the first five chapters, and that lead to the third rewrite, because some of the stuff in that first full draft so did not work with what had come before. Anyway, almost two years and three rewrites later I am finally happy with this chapter. Finally.
So, with that out of the way...Disclaimer
: I do not own nor am I in any way associated with Resident Evil: Afterlife
(Yes, there's finally a blip of a crossover in this chapter, and while I disclaimed (cause that's the rules) I won't be listing it as a secondary crossover, because it's only one chapter and they don't interact with anything but zombies. So really except for a few tiny details it could be any reality where zombies have taken over, though Resident Evil: Afterlife
had the right set-up for me.
Mostly I think I ended up having
to briefly use a zombie verse because one of the original ideas for the end of the BuffyVerse was zombies, but in the end I just couldn't make zombies work since I wanted Buffy and Willow to die in the first rush, and I think they (Buffy and Willow) are simply to powerful to be taken out by zombies. Still I guess a part of me regretted not going with zombies in the first place.)
psst - There's also some stuff in this chapter that you might find disturbing, but most probably is the fact that a brain eating zombie in this chapter leads to another character death. BRAAAAAINS! Sorry, sorry, couldn't help myself.
(There was two potential characters on the chopping block, and basically deciding on True Blood
decided which of the two would die.)Uncharted Territory
In the end, it was Lorne who'd come up with the best suggestion. And that was to open the portal on the roof of the building. It was a good idea, because according to Wesley the minute they entered the portal all the protections would come down, or rather the minute Wesley or Tara entered the portal, and as these things often was one of the witches needed to be first and the other last. So, the demons would, if they was paying attention, be in the building before everyone entered the portal. Hopefully being on the roof would give them the much needed seconds to get everyone through, and would make it harder for the demons to figure out where they'd gone.
Of course, that wasn't the only problem. Again according to Wesley their portal would leave certain traces in the air, and if the demons knew anything about magic they could possibly track them to a new reality. That was enough to make Xander feel guilty, because if the demons did follow them it would mean another reality would suffer as theirs had, and that wasn't fair. However, there wasn't much they could do about that, because they really needed to leave this reality.
Xander glanced out the window, and realized the demons looked tensed and alert, almost as though they sensed something was about to happen. That meant they probably would be ready to storm the building once the shield went down.
It probably didn't help that Xander could tell that Wesley was hiding something. It seemed so obvious to Xander that he couldn't help but wonder why the others didn't seem to see it.
"It's time," Harmony squealed from somewhere behind Xander.
Xander turned away from the window, and was almost relieved. Even if they ended up in a bad reality there was hope that it wouldn't be as bad as the one they was leaving.
Once on the roof, it seemed this had been a hurry up and then wait situation. But finally there was a flash of light, and then a smoky vortex started to open.
Xander wasn't sure which happened first, Wesley entering the vortex or the building beneath his feet vibrating violently.
Then Xander was inside the vortex, and turned just in time to see Tara enter and then the feeling of being trapped as the light from the entry point vanished. They'd made it, and at the very least it would take the demons some time to follow them, if they even could. After all, no one was sure whether the demons could sense let alone work with magic. Lorne insisted that the demons following them wasn't possible, but others clearly doubted that.
The trapped feeling didn't last long, because it was suddenly hard for Xander to focus on anything. It almost seemed as though they was rushing though some lime green haze. It wasn't until Xander looked off in the distance that he could see stark green square outlines on solid black. Xander wasn't sure how he knew, but he knew those green square things were doors. However, he couldn't move toward them, all he could do was allow himself to be pulled along.
Xander started to panic. Would they be trapped in this weird almost black void forever?
Xander turned his head, and realized that they were all still together. They was speeding along, but somehow they stayed in a tight group.
Then suddenly a door was just in front of them, and Xander closed his eyes. But nothing happened, until he started to open his eyes. He felt his backside connect with solid ground, or a solid black top road that seemed to stretch forever in both directions.
Xander frowned. They were clearly in the middle of nowhere with no idea of where they were.
Slowly everyone started to rise to their feet, though Xander noted that Lorne looked heartbroken. Xander collected himself and then managed to get to his feet. He meant to move toward Lorne to see what was wrong, but once he was on his feet something else caught his attention.
He could see signs of a city off in the distance, but something was wrong. It hit him like a ton of bricks. It was night time, which meant there should be lights all over the city, instead the city was only lit by moonlight. So, while they weren't quite in the middle of nowhere, they might as well have been.
Xander frowned. Maybe they could find signs of life in the city, it could simply be a power outage, but Xander couldn't make himself believe that, especially since there was no reflection from what should have been windows in the high rises. Instead it almost looked as though there was no windows in the high rises.
After a long silence, Harmony spoke.
"So, where are we?"
Which was a good question, because they clearly had not landed in this new reality in the same spot where they left the old one. The original town around the old hospital had been abandoned before the demons moved in. There was no sign of the original town, nor the old hospital, not even a sign that it had ever stood here.
Xander realized that even with the full moon, he should be having slightly more trouble seeing. After a moment, Xander decided it wasn't important, or at the very least was something that could be worried about later.
Finally, almost as one they started toward the dark city. Once again, Xander noted that Lorne was jumpy, but again before Xander could ask someone spoke.
"Somethings not right," Lawson observed, and if Xander hadn't been turning from Lorne to Lawson he'd have missed Wesley turning to Lorne. For a moment, the look on Wesley's face matched the feelings Xander felt which shocked him. Finally, Wesley turned to Tara, and Xander couldn't see his eyes anymore, but there seemed to be something about Lorne's fear that was sparking something inside Wesley's mind.
The vampires moved closer to each other, and Xander realized they was smelling or sensing something that the humans couldn't, but a look at Oz revealed that while he might not be smelling/sensing as clearly as the vampires he was aware that something wasn't right.
Xander moved toward Wesley. He wanted to know what was going on
"So, what's up?" Xander tried for casual, but it came out sharper then he'd intended. "Where are we?"
Wesley cleared his throat softly, and Tara moved closer to them.
"While the doorway sealed the moment Tara entered," Wesley began. "We have no real way of knowing whether or not the demons would be able to use the trace magicks left behind to track us."
Wesley held up his hand. "Despite Lorne's insistence we can't be absolutely sure the demons cannot open a door themselves."True
, Xander thought, but the other side of that was that if the demons could open a door between realities why had they not returned until someone else had opened the door?
"Ah, there is that," Wesley replied, and Xander realized that he'd spoken some of his thoughts aloud. "But we do not know how they arrived or how they left the first time. It would be foolish to assume anything based on the fact that they didn't invade our reality until someone opened the door for them."
Tara nodded. "And we couldn't risk leading them to a fresh reality to invade. It wouldn't be fair to that reality."
"And we'd be right back where we started."
Xander nodded. He could see their point, because with their luck, of course, the demons would be able to follow them. Still that didn't explain what was bothering Lorne.
"So, we needed to make a quick stop in a non-populated reality," Tara whispered. "Just in case."
And out of the corner of his eyes, Xander could see Wesley frowning in Lorne's direction. Then Wesley turned back to them. "However, I do not believe we ended up where we intended."
"Where are we supposed to be?"
"A reality where there are no humans," Tara answered. "Either a reality where they was wiped out, or a reality where they never existed. There wasn't supposed to be anything here."
"There also wasn't supposed to be a great amount of natural magic present," Wesley added. "The less natural magic around the quicker any remaining evidence of our spell vanishes."
"So, what makes you think this isn't that?" Xander asked.
"Because there's more magic in the air then there should be," Tara said, at the same time Wesley said.
"The spell we cast when we arrived shows there are living humans here. Not many, but a few."
"Not as much as our reality, but more then we hoped," Tara finished her statement.
"Okay, that explains you guys, but not Lorne, or what's got the fang gangs panties in a bunch?" Xander said waving toward the still confabbing vampires.
Before anyone could answer with words, something jumped out of the bushes, and Lorne yelped. And now Wesley looked as though he'd figured everything out, but there was no time for him to share with the rest of class.
Xander was moving before the helpless puppy sound that only made Xander move faster. Still it was Wesley that reached Lorne first.
When Xander saw the creature that had taken Lorne down he froze. The creature looked human. Of course, a moment later when Wesley stabbed the thing and it didn't even slow down, Xander had to downgrade his human impression. Xander moved to help, but realized that Wesley didn't need any help. He was fighting like a man possessed.
However, there was suddenly more then one of the things, and Wesley moved back. Xander turned to call for the vampires, and realized the reason they hadn't come to help sooner was because they was busy with more of these things.
Wesley crab-walked backwards toward the vampires, and Xander moved to help Lorne. When he looked down, he realized that Lorne wasn't going to be moving again, half of his head was missing.
Spinning on his heal, he moved toward the vampires. He wanted to promise that he'd come back for Lorne, but suspected that would be a lie. That made him very unhappy, but he couldn't do anything about it now.
As he reached the vampires, he realized they was dealing with zombies, or at least something that really resembled zombies.
Suddenly a wolf burst out of the shadows and started attacking the zombies, and Xander wanted to smack himself. Of course, full moon plus werewolf equaled a wolfed out Oz. The thing was Xander was certain Oz hadn't instantly changed upon arrival, but once again that was a mystery that would have to wait for another time.
Finally, a path was cleared, and they started moving as well as fighting, which was a good thing. They could hold their own, but not forever, at some point out in the open like this the zombies would overwhelm them.
Thankfully, they saw a small house. It would be big enough for all of them to be comfortable, but small enough to be easily defended. However, once inside, Xander knew the structure wasn't up to the challenge of protecting them. Dust was everywhere, and if you looked closely at the furniture it was clear that some of the wood was rotten. It was the same with the walls and floors. This structure wouldn't hold the zombies back long.
"Great," Spike was muttering to himself as they took positions around the house. "You wankers just had to land us in a reality overrun with bloody fucking zombies!"
"It gets worse," Tara said casually, as though she wasn't dealing with a pissed off vampire. Or vampires, since they all turned to look very intently at Tara now.
"Worse?" Lawson asked, and Xander didn't miss the dangerous undertone in his voice.
"We can only make one more jump, and..."
"So?" Spike asked.
Tara sighed. "We still need to land in a reality where there are no humans and very little natural magic."
"No," Spike said, his voice now low and dangerous. "No, we bloody well do not! Sure there's a few humans here, but there's also the walking dead. But not just zombies, powerful things that use tentacles to suck faces off. The demons land here they ain't gonna be following us anymore."
Clem looked at Spike as though Spike was somehow going to save him from the zombies, and Xander almost laughed. Badass demons had invaded their reality, and yet several of their group was acting as though zombies was scarier then those demons.
Xander frowned, because he could see both points. Spike was probably right, that if the demons landed here, especially if they landed in the same spot, then it would at least delay them a little to deal with the zombies. However, as noted the demons were fairly badass, which meant the zombies might not slow them down much.
Still Tara was looking thoughtful, and Xander saw Wesley nod at her. So, their next stop would probably be their last one. That was when Xander realized he agreed with Spike. Sure there was some humans around, but there wasn't really anything they could do about it. It wasn't like they could go back and not arrive in this reality, which meant the moment they arrived the remaining people of this reality would be doomed if Lorne was wrong.
"We should still try and gather more ingredients," Tara said, though she sounded like she didn't want to bring the subject up again. "Considering that we didn't land where we meant to this time around..."
"That's a good point," Harmony said. "But there's zombies out there..."
This time Xander didn't hide his amusement, because Harmony like Clem sounded more scared of the zombies then she'd ever been of the demons. Personally, Xander would take fighting zombies over fighting those demons anytime, though he really wasn't eager to tangle with zombies.
"Actually," Lawson spoke up. "We could release Oz, he's pretty good at clearing a path."
"Yeah, but he...," Andrew started, then gulped when he realized he had everyone's attention. "He could be... I mean, if he..."
That's when Xander realized that it was odd that Oz had not just followed them inside, but wasn't trying to attack and eat them. In fact, he was sitting at a window looking for all the world as if he knew what was going on. While he'd been calmer after having fed from Lawson this was a whole new and unexpected level.
Lawson frowned at Andrew.
"We don't know what would happen if he ate one," Andrew said. "And it looked like he really wanted to."
"A werewolf with a taste for zombie," Clem said doubtfully. "I think they like live meat."
Xander's laugh was cut short by Andrew and Harmony screaming as the big window near them shattered.
"I don't think we have time to look for more stuff," Xander yelled, but only to be heard over the sounds of fighting, or at least that's what he'd keep telling himself.
"Whelp's right, we need to get the fuck out of here now!"
Suddenly there was a noise, and the zombies outside exploded, and Xander realized that at some point Angel had snuck away from the group. The few zombies that escaped the explosion were dealt with quickly.
"This reality isn't so bad," Angel said, and Xander was half scared and half turned on by the expression on Angel's face. Sometimes Xander was okay with his weird attraction to Angel, and other times it bothered him. He still couldn't understand why sometimes he was okay with it.
"But I know where we can open another door."
Xander stepped outside, and realized that they weren't that far from the ocean.
Wesley was smiling. "Yes, that's perfect. If they land where we did, and then we do this over water..."
"I think we're near Los Angeles," Harmony said mournfully. Andrew looked around, and his eyes widened, and Xander realized that Harmony was correct. They was literally on the outskirts of what used to be Los Angeles county.
"Yeah, yeah, lets move," Spike said cutting, or trying to cut Wesley off.
"Water has some purifying and destructive properties," Wesley continued, though his voice soon went to low for Xander to hear.
Surprisingly, they made their way to the beach with very little problem, and there was a nice little raft big enough to hold them all.
"Does this seem to easy to anyone else?" Andrew asked, though Xander had the feeling he was mostly talking to himself. However, Xander was about to back him up anyway, but Angel was suddenly speaking.
"It makes sense," Angel pulled a device out of his jacket. "I found this," and he held up the device. It was flat and shinny, it might've been a radio, but didn't look like any kind of radio Xander had ever seen. Angel pressed a button and a message started was saying "no infection, safety," which sounded good to Xander.
"You may not be able to see it," Angel said, "but Arcadia is a boat just up and off shore."
"Clever," Wesley said. "Zombies aren't generally known for their motor skills."
"But we aren't going to the boat, right?" Tara asked.
Wesley shook his head. "We simply need to get in the raft, get some distance off shore, and then we open another door."
As they loaded themselves on the raft, Xander thought of something. It wasn't a happy thought, but it was something they needed to seriously consider. It might be better if they headed to the big boat after all.
"Um, should we leave?"
Everyone turned to look at Xander, and he knew they thought he was nuts. And since he was feeling a bit nuts, he didn't call them on it.
"I can't be the only one who heard the word infection, right? We could be infected by whatever's here," and at least now Tara and Angel looked sympathetic.
"Should we really risk infecting another reality with whatever went wrong here?"
"I think we'll be all right," Tara finally said. "Lorne was the only one attacked, and since we just--we just--left--him."
Spike laid a hand on her shoulder, and Xander almost felt bad that he was glad he wasn't the only one unhappy about leaving Lorne behind.
Then Xander frowned. Unhappy a thought as it was, Xander had to admit now that it might be good that they'd left his body behind, especially if Lorne ended up rising as a zombie, though maybe because Lorne was a demon he wouldn't rise, but there was really no way to know for sure. Unless Lorne suddenly jumped out and attacked them.
"Um," Harmony said, and she sounded like she'd rather not be speaking at all, which was rare for Harmony. "But do we know for sure Oz didn't eat any zombie meat?"
Xander frowned, and saw several others frowning, as well.
To Xander's surprise, Wesley moved to the big wolf, and proceeded to give him a mini exam. Lawson watched them both very closely.
"There's no evidence that he consumed anything," Wesley finally said. "And if he did, he seems unaffected. Though I suppose I can't say for sure since I know very little about this infection
For a moment, Xander thought they was about to stop their plan and head for the boat. Then Wesley decided that because there was humans still alive in this reality, though they had yet to see any, that the infection was spread by contact not air or other non-contact methods, and as long as Oz hadn't consumed any he should be fine.
"But we don't know!" Harmony insisted.
And she had a point, but it looked like Oz was in no danger of becoming a zombie. And if it became necessary, they could deal with Oz before he spread the infection to another person. And as long as he didn't bite anyone it should be fine anyway.
Xander frowned. The thought of killing Oz should bother him, but it just didn't. Xander wanted to think the idea didn't bother him because he was just numb, but he knew that wasn't it. After Cordelia, Xander knew he'd be able to do what was necessary. While killing Cordelia had been the right thing to do it broke something in Xander that still hadn't recovered.
Xander looked up to see if anyone else was feeling what he was, and he realized that everyone was looking at Wesley who'd started to speak softly.
"I think," he said to Tara, and Xander realized they was some distance off-shore now, which was a good thing since the shore was now lined with zombies. Thankfully, no Lorne looking zombie was among them.
"That you should probably take the lead this time."
Tara nodded, and Xander realized that Wesley was almost completely overcome with guilt now, and even Tara seemed sad.
"Just remember, we need a reality where there are no versions of us."
"Wait, why?" Andrew asked.
"Because," Tara said slowly, and with more patience then Xander would've been able to manage. "There are three possible outcomes. Both versions (us and our other) could wipe each other out simply by being in the same reality."
Tara's voice had cracked a bit, but Xander understood, if they had to avoid realities like their own that meant they weren't likely to encounter any of the people they'd known and lost.
"Less scary is that maybe the two versions would merge in to one being," Tara sounded so hopeful that Xander almost suggested risking it. After all, he wouldn't mind seeing a version of Willow, Buffy, Anya, and others again.
"The least scary option is probably the less likely."
"Which is?" Lawson asked when it appeared as though Tara wasn't going to continue.
"It's possible that the two versions could exist in the same reality, but it's best to assume that the worst possible case is the most likely outcome," Wesley said.
Andrew backed down.
"Sorry," Wesley said sheepishly. "I realize you know all this as well as I do, but after I messed up..."
Tara smiled. "No problem."
"I guess now we know why Lorne didn't want to make a side-stop," Harmony said, which caused both Wesley and Tara to flinch.
"What?" Lawson asked.
Harmony turned to Wesley and Tara. "You remember, right? He kept insisting that there was no danger of the demons following us..."
"We get it," Angel said sharply, and Xander realized that the vampire was trying to spare Wesley's feelings. Wesley who was looking even worse now then when he'd first figured everything out.
Harmony frowned at Angel, then looked around.
"Oh," she said when she actually looked at Wesley. "Hey, it's not your fault, you didn't know
, and Lorne should've told you."
Wesley smiled weakly, and Harmony clearly thought she'd cheered him up, but Xander could tell that it was going to take more then that to make Wesley feel better.
"I mean, really, if I knew, I'd make sure to tell everyone so they wouldn't do something like that."~ * ~ * ~
Author Note (Friday, June 29, 2012): I'm so sorry about the delay(s) on updating. The truth is that I had been moved to full time work and after that I simply didn't have the time/energy to work on fanfic. I'd love to promise that all these fics will eventually be updated/finished, but my current mood won't allow me to promise that. So I'll just say that I haven't actively given up on ANY of them, but in some cases it will be necessary for me to reread what's all ready been posted before moving on to writing more of the story, because in one case I had gotten close to finishing a story chapter (and I won't say which story) when I realized that while the chapter itself was good it did not actually fit with what had come before. So, I am sorry, but it's probably gonna be awhile before any of my stuff sees any updates.