Chapter 2 – Life in the Cold
Thank you all for your many kind comments. I hope you enjoy Chapter 2.
Standard disclaimer: I own nothing except my shoelaces.Chapter 2 – Life in the ColdA Parallel Dimension
The Bear, as she had begun to refer to him in her mind, had left while she was asleep and had yet to make another appearance. After getting up, her body much better although not quite up to much heavy work or running, she had walked the cave until it widened into an opening to the frozen dimension she had been starting to call WinterHell. After braving the extreme cold for 30 seconds, she went back into the cave to take stock of what she had, which turned out to be exactly nothing. She had the clothes on her back, the stylish boots on her feet, and a cave that was bare of anything resembling useful items. Night, when it fell, was the total darkness of a place with no lights and no fire. Only her slayer-vision let her see at all.
The second day she had dared the cold for a short trip, and after only a short time on the snow had realized that not only was there absolutely nothing useful in any direction but that without discovering some form of food pretty quickly, she wasn’t going to survive. She had taken some snow into the cave and melted it in her mouth, drinking the mouth numbing melt until her stomach was both numb and full.
On the third day she dared the snow for even longer. After twenty five minutes, she realized that her fingers and toes were starting to go truly numb, and horror stories her mother told her of frostbite ran through her mind. Still panicking, she also realized that she had suddenly lost the one thing she had – the cave! The cave was in a small dip in the ground – when viewed from anywhere except directly in front, the snow that covered it just disappeared into the rest of the monotonous white landscape. Following her own footsteps back, she collapsed in relief inside the relatively warm cave. Later, after again drinking her fill of snow melt, she fell asleep to the pain of hunger.
The fourth day was bleak – it was snowing and she didn’t dare leave the cave in fear of losing it. She could see the difference in her body, when she looked at it. Her body, enhanced to survive temperatures that would have killed others within a day, was cannibalizing itself to produce heat and keep her mobile. Bouts of panic, depression, and anger chased each other through her mind the entire day. More water dulled the cramping in her stomach, but she recognized that unless something changed soon the work her body was doing to keep her from freezing to death would end up killing her.
The fifth day she felt...bad. Since she had become a Slayer she could count the number of times she was sick on one hand. Her body was struggling and now failing to keep her healthy, slayer or not, and that was terrifying. It was still snowing outside and all signs pointed to the idea that there really was nothing out there to help her survive. No food, no tools, no people.
As the sun started to make its way down towards the West, she started to feel worse. Uncontrollable shivers wracked her body, muscles spasms made her limbs jerk uncontrolled, and for the first time since she had fallen into this frozen hell she was feeling too hot. She knew that was a sign of hypothermia –you felt hot and became too delusional to realize that you were actually incredibly cold and dying from it. Well she knew it. Her muscles uncontrollably contracting had become truly painful, enough so that she felt tears running down her face. She found herself wondering if her stupid mystically enhanced constitution would keep her alive like this for days, or if she could just freeze to death quickly like a normal person once her body just gave out. It was kind of sad hoping for the latter.
When a strictly incredible wrenching spasm caused her back to twist and was accompanied by an audible crack, Buffy completely understood that fate sucked. It didn’t stop there – immense pain built until she blacked out.
She stood in the desert of her mind, comfortable. Before her, crouched and kind of...skittering to the side was the dirty form of the woman she knew to be the first slayer. Sineya looked tired, which was odd because she had only every looked one way - crazy. Buffy didn’t think tired was really an upgrade.
“So is this it? The great big slayer party in the sky? I’ll admit after WinterHell this is pretty comfy. Not very homey, though.”
The first slayer looked at her and for once Buffy could see piercing intelligence in the white painted woman’s eyes. “You are not dead.”
“I guess that’s a good thing.”
“You are dying.”
“I’m feeling like an emotional yo-yo here.”
“My strength is all that is keeping you alive, but I cannot both strengthen you against the world and fight the invader.”
To Sineya pointed to a spot right beside Buffy, and Buffy could suddenly perceive a presence that must have been there the entire time. A large polar bear sat beside her, watching Sineya.
“Were we in another place where I would not have to expend myself to keep your flesh alive I could have easily repulsed the bear. Now I am too weak. The bear wants to take a portion of you. I already hold a portion of you.”
“What do you mean you hold a portion of me?”
“I am not the first girl. I am what was put into the girl. My essence consumed most of what the girl was. Only a small part of her remains and she is mostly ignorant. Still her presence makes me less aggressive. Being forced endlessly into other beings is a violation of me, but it is also a violation of the beings I am forced into. Since the first girl I have taken care never to truly attach myself to another. I make you strong, I give you instincts to succeed, but I am separate from you. I hold only a small portion of your being and I have not consumed it. When you die, from the cold, from starvation, perhaps from the invader, you will move free from this body and I will not go with you.”
“So you’re saying the bear wants to do the same thing? To attach itself to me?”
“I cannot see all that the bear is. I know it wants to consume a portion of you, not temporarily but permanently. It is an infectious disease. If it joins with you it will still have the ability to spread to others. You will be a carrier of this disease and any you bleed will also be infected.”
“Is it a demon? Can we slay it?”
“No. I am a demon, a true demon - though much changed. This being – it is an entity but not demonic.”
“So either I die from the cold while you kill the bear, or the bear eats me after it wears you down. Oh I love this game show. I assume you aren’t talking to me because there is nothing that can be done. What’s behind door number three?”
“I...like you. It is odd - normally I do not like those I am forced into – even if it is not their fault. You are an exception. You are strong. You would have been strong even if I was never attached to you. You parts in your spirit that I am missing in mine. This opens up a third option.”
“Uhhhh....ok. Tell us what we’ve won.”
“I will stop fighting the bear. At the same instant it goes to attach itself to you, I will do the same.”
“I thought you didn’t do that.”
“I have not, since the first girl. I like you. I will do it, and I will be careful not to consume you and I will stop the bear from taking anything it wants. There will be side effects but surely those are better than death?”
“Pretty much everything sounds better than death. What kind of side effects?”
“I will be a bigger part of you. You will find that you are stronger, faster and more resilient. You will be able to perceive things you couldn’t before. Your instincts will have changed to be more like mine, though it will be more a balance between us than one dominating the other. Aside from that there is also whatever changes the bear brings. That is impossible for me to say.”
“Ok so we become the United States of Buffy - one big melting pot for slayers and beasties. I’m still stuck in frozen Winterhell – doesn’t change the starvation or the cold.”
“Our joining will make you considerably more resilient. Your healing as it stands now gives you an advantage. When we are blended there will be little that can hurt you seriously for any length of time. I am a true Demon – we are the things your world has forgotten. In my time with you I have not seen a weapon that could kill us.”
“Including the rocket launcher?!”
“That weapon would have disabled me for a long period of time but provided time to reconstitute myself we would be returned to normal. When we are blended we will be a creature for vampires to fear.”
“Hey! Vampires fear me!”
Sineya snorted. “They fear fighting us but they do not fear us when we are not around. They do not think that we could be following them at any moment. They tell stories about the power of Slayer blood, not about the fear of us. They know that many vampires escape the Slayer. None would escape us. We would be a true power.”
“So survive the Winterhell, become super-slayer Buffy - all at the cost of part of my soul. Well two parts if you count the bear.”
“Yes. We will be more than tied – we will be blended – forever inseparable until the end of all existence.”
Buffy crouched down, scooping up sand in her cupped hand. Spreading her fingers she let it fall.
“Ok. I agree. You and me, we work well together. We can handle the bear.”
Sineya was watching the bear with unblinking eyes. “Good.”
“So what do you need me to do?”
The whispered answer slid across the sands like wind.
With twin roars both the bear and Sineya leapt at Buffy. Then there was nothing.
“Doesn’t this seem a little too easy?” Edward aimed his flamethrower slightly to his left and let it loose, the fuel and flame screaming out of the barrel. The burning mixture arced through the air and landed on a large group of small winged fey that were circling above. Most fell to the ground, shrieking and rolling in a futile attempt to stop the fire that soon left them charred husks on the ground. Anita, standing behind him with her Browning in the air, picked off the three that had somehow avoided the flames.
“What do you mean? I’m pretty sure the panicked calls that got us here were made by people who don`t have flamethrowers.” Anita kept her gun in position, scanning the area around them for more of the little flesh eating creatures.
“This feels like a diversion. These things were relatively harmless – RPIT could have handled these things. Instead you got the call because they had taken up residence in one of your boyfriend’s properties. The important question is who is diverting us, and what are they really planning?”
Anita frowned, wondering if this was just some of Edward’s paranoia. Still, he hadn’t become an assassin of his reputation without the mindset to pull it off. If he thought it was a diversion then it probably was one. She pulled out her cell phone.
“I’ll call Jean Claude and have him send out word to the shifter clans. If something is going on in this city we’ll find out about it.