Disclaimer: I do not own any of these characters except for Mia, Bryan, Daniel, and Cassandra, and some of the mythology, like that of the Icari and the Silent Death.
Rating: PG 13. I promise. At least I'm not planning anything above it. There might be some harsh language, a bit of violence, and a few 'references', but nothing above kissing is going to be described without warning.(A/N: Hey, guys! I'm back again, with the sequel to Sheratan's call; Adhara's Fate. I hope that those of you who have read Sheratan's call enjoyed it. I certainly learnt a lot about writing, writing it : ). For those of you who haven't read it, I'd suggest reading it before reading this fic, because there's a lot in here that you won't understand otherwise. I know it's a hard read, especially at first, but it does get better :P. I think. I hope. prays Well, I'd better stop meandering off the topic and let you read. I'll be updating once, maybe twice a week normally this time, just to warn you. Reviews are also much appreciated, please! As readers of my last fic know, I have this awful habit of becoming blocked if I don't get much feedback, so reviewing would be good. Only takes half a minute or so. : ).
So, without further ado, onto the next installation of Starlight.)
8 8 8
Long, long before the orb known as Earth came into existence, and even longer before the plague of the Icari and the Silent death, the dimensions were not separate. They changed, falling into each other like rivers and waterfalls. Time created warps within warps and circles within circles. Chaos grew, and out of chaos came life.
Of the life that came, the Powers, they found that the existence, the universe would shatter were it to continue in the melding. The dimensions had been created as half-merged, and since then had only continued merging. On the day that they became one, the paradox would undo itself.
But the Powers were not the only ones yet alive. There were two far more ancient entities. A brother and a sister, birthed out of Chaos three million years after the dimensions had come to be. He was older by thirteen eons, the foundation of the planes. But she, she was the shaper.
The two appeared to the Powers and the elder revealed to them all that there had been, all that there was, and all of what could come. As the Powers were reeling, the two joined one last time, before he separated.
When the Powers woke, there was one. And she was crying. With their new knowledge, they knew what must be done to combat the Icari which would rise when the human race began.
And the Silent Death that had already begun to live…
8 8 8
"I can't believe you're doing this! Again!"
Daniel scowled. "Excuse me, Miss. Impulsive, I'm just trying to make sure we don't go off the deep end with this one."
Dawn glared back at him. "It's a book, Daniel. A book isn't going to get us…"
"A detention?" Miss. Maldrow asked inquiringly. "No, not as of yet. But it will, very soon if you two keep the level of attention you are at present."
The fight still hadn't been resolved at lunchtime. Dawn and Daniel refused to look at each other. Cassandra sat rather uncomfortably in the middle.
"So… uh… what do you lot have next period?"
"Geography," Daniel said gruffly.
"With sweet Melissa?" Dawn asked cloyingly.
"You two…" Cassandra shook her head.
"Well what do you have?" Daniel grinned, but it was still angry. "Literature with Kevin, eh?"
"These have got to be the lowest shots…"
Funnily enough, it was Kirsty who coalesced them together again. She brushed past, head high in the air and her newest expensive toy adorned on her body.
"Queen Bitch at four 'o clock!" Daniel muttered.
"Oh leave it be," Dawn returned disgustedly as she nestled happily into the bench, swinging her aching feet. "I don't want to know where she is every time she comes within fifty meters of us."
He growled, but the effect was lost as his voice climbed two octaves in a second before leaping back down again.
The girls collapsed into laughter. He glared and retreated to nurse his wounded pride. And all of this happened in three seconds.
The next second, it was all fine again.
"You know, Dan, you can stop doing that now," Cass said earnestly. "I'd have forgotten what she said by now if you didn't keep mentioning her."
He scowled. "Stop trying to make me feel better. I know you're lying."
She didn't redden like she would have six months ago. Ah… six months on the Hellmouth. Enough… more than enough to rid her of blushing when she was caught out by Daniel. Seeing Buffy return after patrols on movie nights, either covered in vampire dust or demon substances of indescribable nature. Watching Spike scull down blood on the rare occasion he'd fed in front of them, and that had only been because they'd come at an inopportune moment. The choking that resulted would have been amusing, if he hadn't coughed up red-colored specks.
The blurry day they'd first arrived, thrust directly against a rampaging demon while the people she'd watched on a television screen lived and breathed amongst her.
Cassandra luxuriated in memories. The good and the bad. The movie nights with Daniel and Dawn, the reality of Buffy, her idol. And Spike, of course. Her other idol. And Joyce, and Willow and Tara, Xander and Anya, Giles. Everyone and everything.
There were some thoughts, some memories she didn't like dwelling on, however.
Today, the worst rose in the back of her mind, even as the bell rang to summon them in again for an hour of History. And even the bell's insistent ringing could not help her push it down.
Imyas druandu elfath nachk,
Obnor fyar telltes glachk…
Extrin, instrin, telth undros,
Psychel, Setrel, tilth undlos!
Suddenly, Cassandra Evans couldn't stop screaming.
The sun beat down up ahead as somebody ran over the sign that said "Welcome to Sunnydale."
8 8 8
The Watcher started as two frenetic witches burst through the doors of the Magic Box, sending the bell ringing alarmingly loudly and Anya rolling her eyes as she served another customer.
"Good lord! Willow, Tara, what's wrong?"
"This!" Willow burst out. "I… I came across it accidentally but…"
Giles scanned the first few lines of the text and then his eyes widened. He turned to Anya.
"Get Xander and Buffy here. Now."
As she moved to dial, he wrinkled his nose slightly.
"And Spike," he added.
Ten minutes later, they were all assembled around the Magic Box. All of them, that is, except for the vampire. It would have taken longer, were it not for the fact that Buffy's now not-so-new mobile phone had taken her to the repair shop not too far away from the Magic Box and had conveniently decided to work upon Anya's call.
Which was fairly incredible, considering the amount of times it had ended half-crushed against tombstones and crypt walls.
"Where is he?" Buffy grumbled as she snatched a dazed fly out of the air and threw it out of the window before wiping her hands. "He doesn't usually take this long."
Giles wiped a bead of sweat from his forehead and pushed his glasses back up to rest on his nose again instead of dangling precariously into outer space. "The sun is rather intense today, he might be having some problems getting here."
"Why do we have to wait for Spike anyway?" Anya asked. "I mean, every second that this shop is closed means possible wasting of possible money."
"Yeah," Xander chipped in. "Why does the bleached wonder have to be here?"
Before Giles could reply, Spike strolled casually in from the basement, his leather duster swirling dramatically behind him.
Buffy couldn't help bite back a grin through her annoyance.
"Yeah," he echoed, in a perfect mimicry of Xander. "Why do I have to be here, Watcher? That bloody cell you gave me woke me up."
"That's what it's supposed to do, Captain Peroxide."
"Before you two keep wrangling," a touch of irritation coloured Giles' voice. "Willow and Tara have actually found some information that suggests the apocalypse is might be literally knocking on our door soon."
That shut them up.
"Literally?" Anya frowned after the second of silence. "Why would knocking on our door cause the apocalypse?"
"Well, I g-guess if you t-think of the Hellmouth as a door…" Tara left it hanging.
A chair scraped as Spike seated himself around the table and then looked inquiringly at all of them. The Whelp's hands were massaging his forehead. Giles leaned against the wall somehow supporting a thick, heavy tome with one hand. Nice wrist strength, Watcher. The two birds held hands under the table, but not in a couple-y way so much as support-y through finding out of another apocalypse-y way.
Dear gods, he was talking like them already.
Demon girl stood matter-of-factly behind the counter as she appraised Tara's words. And the Slayer…
The Slayer was standing up and striding out of the door.
"Hey! Buff, where you going?"
"To check out the Hellmouth," she replied. "I gotta go now and check it out because I need to pick up Dawn and the others soon."
"I don't think you should be so hasty, Buffy," Giles put a hand on her shoulder to stop her. "We haven't even told you what's happening yet."
"Well…" she pretended to muse thoughtfully. Then her eyes lit up. "I know there are knocking things. And knocking things can usually be knocked," she finished brightly.
Spike winced. "Overdoin' it a bit, pet."
"Overdoing? What's this overdoing you speak of?" she turned to him, eyes wide.
Xander rolled his eyes. It had started about a month ago, the gradual change from heated insults to just snarking. He'd had time to get used to it. Really he had.
Alexander Harris liked things to stay as they were. Good things, that was. Like Willow and Buffy and him, with Giles hovering over them. Saving the world, kicking demon butt, and somehow, miraculously pulling through all of the apocalypses with not one D&D game shaken from the cupboard. Changes like the Magic Box had given them a good base. Changes like coming out of High School had been survived. But the change that had hit him hardest of all was the change of his world after the enjoinment spell.
When everything was black and white, things were simple. But discovering things about himself, his friends… the vampire. That had changed everything, and for around two weeks he hadn't been sure he'd liked it. He'd even been brooding. A horrible sign.
Anya, however, had finally broken through all of it with her blunt honesty.
"What's your point, honey?"
"What do you mean what's my point?" he'd waved his arms around. "Should I go around seeing every vampire I stake as a nice guy when he was a human? What if he had parents? Or kids? Or siblings? Or really good friends? Or…"
"So?" Anya had returned.
"So am I supposed to go through this moral dilemma every time I want to help Buffy stop the apocalypse?"
She'd pursed her lips and snuggled closer, wishing sometimes that she didn't feel so confused in this human world. The answer seemed glaringly obvious to her. Why had he been so worked up he'd been distracted even in sex for the past two weeks?
"No of course you're not," she'd said patiently. "You're just supposed to figure you can't just divide things into all-good and all-evil. I haven't been a vengeance demon for over 1,000 years to not know that."
"But it's not that simple!" he'd cried out.
"Yes it is," she'd shrugged. "And generally, if they're trying to bring about the apocalypse, you can kill them. I kinda want to stay in this world and live as long as I can now that I am mortal."
So the rule of demons-bad-humans-good had turned into demons-trying-to-cause-apocalypse-or-attack-friends-or-innocents-or-doing-bad-things-bad and everyone-else-innocent-until-proven-guilty.
Unfortunately, since Spike wasn't trying to cause the apocalypse at the moment or attack friends or innocents or even doing bad things, that put him in the non-evil zone. It was one of the things that Xander had taken another month or so to adjust to. He sometimes wasn't sure if he still had. Naturally hating the bleach-blonde was a problem.
He drifted back to the present when the scent of musty pages overwhelmed his nasal passages.
"This," Giles panted with the exertion of dragging it from the shelves. "Is it."
8 8 8
I wish you knew how I felt. How I feel. I used to be normal, like you. Oh, nobody's normal?
Well, as normal as one can be, going to Junior High in Sunnydale. From tapping into her thought-streams and watching what happens before my eyes, I know now that Sunnydale is the Hellmouth.
The Hellmouth that is waking again. Has been waking since…
That day, when the paroxysms seized me, and my world shook along with body.
The only difference was, my body didn't break.
My world shattered.
Everything I remember going wrong in my life can be traced to then. Back to when they started appearing and talking to me, talking to me as if I knew them. With their horrible faces and their cold skin and… and…
No more… no more…
I can't take it any more!
C-can't watch her do t-those t-t-things with m-m-my…
They no longer talk to me, now. No longer come, because I'm keeping them away. I don't want to hear what they say. Even here, here is better. Here gives me the strength to block them out, to concentrate on regaining control.
I float in a world that is quiet, harmless. I'm warm, safe. Or at least, that's how I'm supposed to feel. I've been here for so long I'm getting past those illusions now. It could be because she does not have total control yet. That would make sense. Somewhere in the remnants of my mind, I know it makes sense. Entrapped within myself, I beat at the gentle wisps of shadow that form the wall meant to soothe and comfort me. The cage that I cannot break as I see in another part of my consciousness what's happening through my eyes. Eyes that she stole. Body that she stole. Life and future that she stole.
She thinks that I no longer exist.
The times when I manage to break through the web and drown in my control she does not remember. It is good that she doesn't. I am afraid of what she would do if she remembered. If she knew I was still alive. If she knew that I was looking for the person who is supposed to deal with this.
She also does not know that sometimes, if I bruise my non-corporeal hands enough beating against the wall, the nonexistent blood running from my non-existent body will somehow link into her thought-streams. And I know what she is arrogantly unafraid of.
So that is why, when I take control…
I search for the Slayer.
8 8 8