Disclaimer: All things Neverwhere belong to Neal Gaiman, not me.
This story continues directly from the last line of Neverwhere.
Somewhat uncertainly, Richard followed the Marquis through the dark passages of London below. He kept one hand on the hilt of the knife at his belt. He knew that keeping the knife close could mean the difference between life and death down here. He was, as usual, rather confused. He hoped the Marquis was leading him to Door, but he knew better than to ask any questions. De Carabas would probably just get annoyed, and he wasn't likely to answer them anyway. So instead, Richard just followed him blindly through the maze of tunnels and hoped he was heading for the one living person in London Below he'd be willing to call 'friend'.
The Marquis de Carabas sighed. He really wasn't sure why he'd come back for Richard. It wasn't as if he owed the man anything, and he was rather useless and annoying besides. Any way you looked at it, Richard Mayhew was a liability. But somehow, the Marquis hadn't been able to help missing the man after he'd gone back to London Above. He couldn't explain it; he had no reason to like the man, but he found the bumbling idiocy rather…refreshing, after the constant treachery and cynicism he dealt with every day. It was almost as though he'd lost a friend, or rather, it would have been if he had any friends. Aside from that, the Lady Door had taken quite a liking to him, and had been all but inconsolable when he left. She'd be quite happy to get him back. She might even be willing to repay the Marquis for bringing Richard back. In the end, though, the true reason was simpler than either his or Door's affection: Richard had the right to return to London Below. He wasn't just Richard Oliver Mayhew- he was Sir Richard the Warrior, who had free reign of all of London Below, and he could not be refused entry. So here de Carabas was, leading a hopelessly lost man to the one living person in London Below who'd be happy to see him.
Door was getting impatient. She was waiting for the Marquis to return to the House With No Doors. He'd left with no warning after telling her abruptly to open a door to London Above in the side of a particular alleyway. After she had, he'd set off, no explanation, no goodbye, no nothing, just walked off after telling her to stay put and wait. So, wait she did. It had been almost two hours now, and she hoped he'd hurry up and get back already. He wasn't the only one with things to do- she was itching to get on with her search for her sister Ingress, and now that she'd paid de Carabas his favor, she could start. She would have left already if it wasn't for the fact that de Carabas had offered to help her, free of charge. His offer was very worrying, and she didn't believe him when he said he simply wanted to restore the House of Arch, but he was a strong force in London Below, and she'd much rather have him with her than anywhere else. She looked up from her father's desk when she heard a knock on the far-away Front Door. "Yes?" she called out.
"It's de Carabas." The unmistakably pompous voice of the Marquis rang out faintly through the House. "Well, de Carabas plus one. May we come in, Lady?"
Door felt a sudden rush of excitement. Finally, she could begin looking for Ingress! Quickly, she twisted her hand through the air, opening the Front Door directly into the study. De Carabas stepped through, looking amused at her half-exasperated, half-relieved expression, and gestured with an elegant sweep of his arm at the person who stood behind him on the threshold. Door stared at him for a long moment, scarcely wiling to believe her eyes, before launching herself at him with a cry. "Richard!"
Richard had only an instant to look around the vast, sumptuous room before he was hit by what seemed to be a small explosion yelling his name. He staggered back, just managing to keep from tumbling backwards. He looked down at the small form clamped on to his middle and found himself confronted with a head of dark, reddish hair he recognized immediately. He broke into a huge grin. "Door!" He hugged her back, hard, and for a moment they just stood like that, two good friends who'd thought they were never going to see each other again. Then a long-suffering sigh came from behind them, and they broke apart to see the Marquis leaning languidly against the doorpost, watching them with bored eyes.
"Not that I'm not moved by your emotional reunion and all that," he said, "but don't you have a job to be doing, Lady?" Both Richard and Door glared at him, slightly annoyed as always wit the overbearing man, and then Richard noticed something odd.
"Your scarf's gone," he said. It was true- the Marquis' smooth brown throat showed no signs of ever having been slit. "And your throat's closed up. How'd you do that?" The Marquis coughed, looking faintly embarrassed, and muttered "I called in a favor." He didn't like calling in favors- it showed that he couldn't do everything by himself.
Door laughed at him. "What he means, Richard," she said, "is that he had to ask me to help him close up his throat." Seeing Richard's blank look, she added "It's part of my talent. I almost closed the door in his throat, and his body did the rest. Openers can usually just open doors, but for some reason it's different with people. We can mostly close cuts and things, as long as the other person's not already dead. After that, they heal the rest of the way on their own. We openers heal incredibly fast, as well. You saw that when you first met me. The Marquis just doesn't like to admit he's had to use a favor, and certainly not from someone younger than himself." She made a face, and Richard smiled. It was good to see her again.
"So what's this job you've got to do?" he asked curiously. Door's face brightened. "Oh, yeah! I'm about to start searching for my sister, Ingress. The angel Islington said he kept her alive, remember? Now I'm going to find out if he was telling the truth. It would be great not to be the last f the House of Arch." She looked thoughtful a moment, then added "You can come, if you like. It wouldn't be very safe, of course, but then you should know that…" she trailed off, suddenly looking as though she'd just seen him for the first time. "Richard! You're….you're here! What happened? You had your life back, and your girlfriend, and…and everything!" She looked so upset that Richard had to go over and put an arm around her shoulders.
"It's all right, Door," he told her. "It was my choice. I just...I got everything I wanted, and then it wasn't what I really wanted at all. I'm too much a part of London Below now, and it's too much a part of me, for me to ever really leave. I'd love to come with you, if you'll have me. I was actually planning on asking if I could live here anyway; I don't have anywhere to go down here." He wanted to say more, to explain to her how he hadn't felt complete anymore in London Above, how he'd been missing something, how he hadn't been able to go back to being just Dick Mayhew, not Sir Richard the Warrior of London Below. He wanted to tell her, but he couldn't put any of it into words, so instead he just asked "When do we start looking? And where?"
"As soon as the Marquis is ready to go," she said. "We got a tip from Old Bailey and his birds. Apparently they've heard news about a young girl smuggled recently into Charlotte Below, on the American continent. They didn't know who had her or why, but that's the best we've got, so we start out search there." Richard took a second to take all this in, then asked "Wait…Charlotte Below? You mean there's more cities Below?" Door nodded impatiently. "Of course. There are lots of cities Below. London's not the only city that's got outcasts and dropouts, you know. They tend to congregate in big cities. Charlotte's big enough. Well, come on. You can help me pack." With that, she strode off, leaving Richard standing alone, feeling almost as lost a he had when he'd first set foot in London Below.
Far away, in another part of London Below, a small, greasy man nervously approached the back of a tall, imposing chair placed in the middle of a cold, dripping stone cavern. He bowed low before the chair and waited, still bent over. After a time, a voice, colder than the icy water dripping down the little man's nose, spoke. "What news have you, Dog?" The man straightened up and said nervously "The angel Islington had failed, Lady. The girl is alive, and is about to begin the search for her-" He stopped, whimpering, as a fist slammed down on the arm of the chair. The voice rand out, harsh and commanding.
"I know Islington failed, idiot! I need to know if the girl has taken the bait. Will she go to Charlotte Below?" The voice was deceptively patient. Dog knew the Lady could explode into rage at any moment, and he always paid for her rages. He hurried to answer her, inwardly cursing his own shaking tones. "Y-yes, Lady. The-the girl is go-going to Charlotte Below. She le-leaves within the day." He bowed low again.
The Lady chuckled darkly. "Excellent. The House of Arch will soon be no more She will walk straight into my trap, and never know that her last days were spent traveling away from her precious sister." One pale, slender arm appeared from behind the chair and motioned upward, towards the iron door set into the ceiling. A child's frightened cries could be heard from behind it. The cavern echoed with the small noise, overlaid by the ringing laughter that came from the high-backed chair.
Well, that's Chapter 1 done. I hope you like it and keep reading. I'd really love reviews!!