Author’s note: this story takes place Post-Neverwhere and during ‘Prophecy Girl’, the Buffy Season 1 finale. I do not own either of these things.
There was a sense of time and distance. Which times and what distances were impossible to say. It was entirely possible that, in that particular place, they were completely irrelevant.
Then, suddenly, a handful of seconds later and after the end of the time, Croup and Vandemar found themselves accelerating rapidly towards a ceiling.
Not being accustomed to being in situations beyond their control, the pair immediately decided to assert their own.
Somehow, they didn’t hit the ceiling, although someone watching would’ve been hard pressed to figure out what they had done.
“There appears to be some sort of tentacled monstrosity bursting through the ground, Mr Vandemar.” Croup said blandly, as the pair watched something doing just that. “Perhaps some kind of squid?”
Vandemar absently reached out and ripped off the end of a tentacle. He placed it in his mouth and began chewing, heedless of the fact that it was still wriggling. After several moments, he announced “Not squid.”
“Well, that is certainly fair enough.” Croup said cheerfully. “After all, as the saying goes, not everything with tentacles is a squid. Must be some species entirely distinct from squid, order teuthida
“Kill it?” Vandemar asked.
“Oh, certainly!” Croup gave a feral smile of the sort that small rodents generally see right before they suffer a long and playful
death. “But might I draw your attention, not only to the undead things trying to break down the doors and shatter the windows, but also to these humans here who seem dead set against not allowing these things to happen?”
Vandemar looked around, and saw that this was true. He amended his earlier statement to “Kill them?”
“Perhaps, perhaps. But they do say that patience is a virtue.” Croup paused for a second to annihilate a vampire. “Then again, we’ve never claimed to be particularly virtuous.”
The humans, who had hitherto been busy fighting off vampires and dealing with the tentacled monster, noticed the unlikely pair.
One of them, a middle aged man, said “Who’re you?”
Croup turned to Vandemar. “Who are we, Mr Vandemar?”
Vandemar ruminated on this point for several seconds. “We are ourselves, Mr Croup.”
“One might take that for profound, indeed, one might even say deep, if it wasn’t also something that was blindingly obvious.” Croup said. “So, I ask myself, why might a fine young man such as yourself be asking a question which is as blatantly self-evident as the nose on your face?”
The man, name of Giles, said eloquently “Huh?”
“Oh dear. I appear to have broken him.”
“Haven’t. Still got all his pieces attached.”
“Let me guess.” Said a young woman who went by the name of Cordelia. “You’re Mr Croup and Mr Vandemar.”
A tentacle came whistling through the air towards Vandemar, who stepped out of the way, absurdly quickly, and wrenched off the tentacle. It wriggled on the ground, but the tip of it remained in Vandemar’s hand, and he certainly wasn’t going to let go. After looking at it thoughtfully for a while, he took a bite out of it and chewed it slowly. The assorted people watching blanched.
“How did you do that?” Giles asked in an awed whisper.
A woman, known as Jenny, asked “What are you?”
“Well, now, that’s hardly a polite question.” Croup wagged a finger at him. “We don’t go around asking what you are, do we? No, indeed, although there wouldn’t be much point because we know
what you are.”
“Human.” Vandemar volunteered helpfully.
“Yes, as my colleague so astutely pointed out, you are human. But, if we might get to the matter at hand, I must ask if any of you fine fellows as seen such a thing as an angel hereabouts?”
Giles sighed. “It’s all about Angel, isn’t it?”
Suddenly, without any time seeming to elapse, Giles was being held about six inches above the ground with Croup’s hand wrapped around his throat. Despite being shorter than he was, Croup didn’t seem to have any problem achieving this. “Now then,” Croup said in a low voice “I suggest you think about answering this question to the fullest extent to which you are capable, or else my colleague and I will take the greatest of pleasures in doing unspeakable things to you.”
“Could speak of it. Could stab him with his own rib bone, for starters.” Vandemar said, around a mouthful of Tentacle Monster.
“I stand corrected.” Croup said. “We could speak of it, but I chose to believe that you’d rather we didn’t, if only because it will spoil the surprise when we actually start. Now, here’s the question, if you didn’t get it the first time. Where’s the angel?”
“Don’t know.” Giles croaked. “Not here.”
Croup’s fingernails dug into Giles’ throat. “If anyone else would like to volunteer the information, that would be most appreciated. If not, let me remind you that I have another hand, and my colleague has another set all his own, even if he’s holding a tentacle in one of them.”
Instead of saying anything, Cordelia instead decided to take a swing at Croup with a sword.
Rather than doing something reasonable, like stepping aside, or getting decapitated, Croup merely reached out behind him and grabbed the sword. One might have thought that it would shear through his hand, but it did no such thing. Indeed, judging by the lack of blood, it would appear that he wasn’t as much as cut.
“That was a very bad idea.” Croup said, without turning around. “However, for some reason inexplicable even to myself, I’m feeling magnanimous. So, I’m going to ask one more time, because the third time pays for all: where’s Islington?”
Giles looked at him blankly, then burst out laughing, a harsh, strangled noise due to Croup’s hand still being around his neck. “London. Islington… is in London.”
Croup looked at Giles coolly before throwing him. He flew through the air for a short time, and slid along the floor for longer time before colliding with a tentacle, which promptly wrapped itself around him and began dragging him towards where the bulk of it no doubt lay.
Croup, with no apparent effort, wrenched the sword from Cordelia’s hand and shifted his grip until he held it like a dart, taking aim at Giles. “It occurs to me, Mr Vandemar, that these people do not know a single thing. Which, needless to say, means that they are worthless.”
“Yes, Mr Vandemar, I believe so.”
However, before even they could manage this thing, a body came crashing through the skylight, only to be impaled on a piece of wood. By the time anyone had time to turn around to see what had happened, the body was a skeleton.
Croup looked at it thoughtfully, as he was aware of the Tentacle Monster dropping Giles and scurrying back under the floor, which was miraculously undamaged. “On the other hand, Mr Vandemar, it seems eminently possible that the angel remains in that other place, in which case there would be no reason for these people to know him. It seems they’ve shut the door on him, too.”
Vandemar thought this over for a bit, and then grinned.
“Precisely so.” Croup said happily. “Perhaps we might leave these people to their own devices. There are, after all, other people that we really must reacquaint ourselves with first. And if the angel does
show up, why, we know where you live.”
Croup casually hit Cordelia over the head with the hilt of her sword, before tossing it negligently onto her unconscious body. Then, the pair vanished.
A young woman called Willow spoke for everyone when she said “What was that?”