A/N - I loved the original concept of 'Buffy', but I had rather lost interest by the time they blew up the High School - after two seasons, every U.S show seems to get hit with the Idiot Stick. (The less said about the comics, the better.) And frankly, I never liked Angel. At all. All that broody, whiny manpain would be bad enough, without being a walking corpse with a history of rape, murder and torture. And then he started hanging round a fifteen year old girl. You'll excuse me if I don't find that romantic. Me, I'm all about snarky, smart guys with an actual pulse. Magic and/or weaponry, always a plus.
A wasted figure of a man in a prison cell, forsaken, half out of his mind with torture and privation. The bullet waiting for him will almost be a blessing. He presses shaking hands together, gashed palms bleeding sluggishly, cracked lips moving without sound. A last, desperate prayer, as a wavering thumb marks each eyelid.
There are many Trickster Gods and Lords of Chaos. None of them happen to be listening.
Time is fluid, to one who is everything and nothing. The entity considers.
A world overrun with demons, starved of magic, drab and miserable. People maimed irreparably, mentally, physically, spiritually. Others dead, discarded, forgotten. Everything is grim, gritty, grey and depressing. And the cause of all of this is so very pitiful. Ruin and horror to everyone around them, their self-absorbed stupidity making them prey to the manipulations of Light and Dark - and that which lurks between.
No. This will not stand.
Sometimes, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.
Opportunity. A night of transition, of magic, where the line blurs between the living and the dead, between worlds and seasons and cycles. That one impudent, imprudent, oddly faithful soul, as yet unbroken, in this time, in this place.
A spark of consciousness. Eyes open, lungs draw breath. A mouth smiles.
A red-head in a miniskirt peers round the curtain, followed by a tall, tweedy man in glasses.
"Janus. A Roman mythical god."
"What does this mean?"
"Primarily, the division of self. Male and female, light and dark..."
"Chunky and creamy...oh, no, sorry, that's peanut butter." Ethan saunters out of the corner. Giles' face hardens.
"Willow, get out of here, now."
"Now." Giles barks, without taking his eyes off the man in front of him. She flees. "Hello, Ethan."
Even with his memories of what a vicious bastard Ripper could be, Ethan is still slightly surprised when Giles actually hits him. Though not as surprised as both of them are, when a cheerful female voice says,
"If you two boys are going to fight, you could at least take your shirts off."
Ethan, still wheezing on the floor, finds himself looking at a pair of dainty little sandals, peeking out from under dark drapery. Giles recognises a genuine Greek chiton when he sees one, but the accent is pure BBC.
"I'd have been here sooner, but I manifested over in the bowling alley, had to take a taxi." Looks down at the startled man at her feet. "You don't have to grovel, darling, I'm already suitably impressed by your devotions."
"Um..." Ethan cautiously pulls himself over onto his elbows, wipes his bleeding lip.
The interruption has thrown Giles off on his rampage. Has Ethan managed to drag someone else into his sick games? She looks the type, an English Rose grown wild, Ethan had always had a knack for corruption – except the mage looks just as bewildered as he feels. Not an accomplice, then, another innocent temporarily possessed – gods above, hadn't the pillock learnt anything?
"Madam, I don't know who you are..." He begins, slightly wary.
"Well, Ethan, in his desire to have some Halloween fun, summoned up a little chaos." She holds up her hands, strikes a pose. "Ta-da."
"Janus?" Ethan practically squeaks.
The woman folds her arms, looking insulted, and prods him with one small foot.
"If you weren't quite so phallocentric in your thinking, you might remember your cosmogony."
She swings the bag on her shoulder around, displays the stylized Tao embroidered on it, the dots replaced by a pentagon, and an apple...
"Oh, bloody hell." Giles blurts, fractionally ahead of Ethan's stifled whimper.
"By Jove, I think he's got it." Squints down her nose. "I do like this accent. Must be because I hijacked Ethan's spell." A naughty little grin. "It seems that he has a thing for prim bookish types with a wild streak, who knew?"
"Er...what are you planning to do?" The Goddess of Chaos, loose on the Hellmouth. He's sweating sick at the thought.
"Basically, stop you beating this twit to a pulp, and dispense some advice." She unslings the bag from her shoulder, rummages in it, and both men tense, but all she does is pull out a tissue and kneel down. Ethan blinks at the pleasant, impishly pretty face, as she gently dabs at his lip. "Honestly, baiting Ripper? Not too smart. You know that he doesn't mess around."
"And he claimed that side of him was long gone..."
"Yes, well, you always brought out the worst in each other, didn't you?" She looks back up at Giles. "I'll keep this quick and simple. You should stake that brooding tosser – your Slayer is an impressionable teenage idiot, and he's a complete creep. Research that soul curse, and damn fast. Willow has a talent for magic, but the same level of self-control as you two had at that age, so keep an eye on that. Xander needs someone to treat him like a young man and not a burden, teach him to use a sword. And you..." Ethan's smirk freezes when she pokes him with a forefinger. "Rupert is right about this harming the innocent. Granted, there are some horrible little brats out there who absolutely love the whole claws and slime thing, but it's time to end it..."
"Do we have to?" Wilts under the Look she gives him. "Break the bust." He says, with resignation.
Giles turns, shatters the statue.
Xander finds himself clutching a plastic pistol, Spike gets a faceful of Slayer. Willow gasps back to life on a distant porch.
(Drusilla clutches the sides of her head and shrieks, as the world warps.)
This is Ethan's chance to slip away, to disappear into the night. Save his own skin, as he always does. Except that the woman has given a little squeak and crumpled down on top of him. He's not quite such a bastard as to drop her in a heap, not when she has saved him from a beating, and her presence in his arms does make it less likely that Ripper will take a swing at him again. He stares warily at the tall figure of his erstwhile friend.
"You'd best go round up your lost lambs, Rupert."
Giles glares back.
"And leave you to slink away without consequence?"
"I do have some principles. I shall be seeing this charming lady to safety."
Giles dithers, but his duty to his Slayer and her little friends over-rides his concern for a random stranger.
"If I catch up with you again..."
"Yes, yes, you'll thrash me for the wretched miscreant that I am. Go."
With a last hard stare (and how has nobody seen through the tweed and glasses to the scary bastard beneath?) Giles does.
Ethan breathes a sigh of relief, and looks down at the woman wilting in his arms. As it is, she's rather lovely, and if he'd met her in a bar, he would have turned on the charm. He can certainly do the Good Samaritan act...
One eye opens, peers up at him.
"Well, that was a head rush."
Still British, definitely amused. Ethan begins to get a bad feeling.
"You seem remarkably composed about events." He says, gingerly. She gets to her feet, smoothing her dress and peering down over her shoulder.
"Darling, I'm delighted. I dressed as an ordinary human being for Halloween, in the hope that it would take. And here I am."
It takes a moment or two for the significance of that to sink in.
"Er..." Ethan swallows hard. Oh, bloody, bloody hell.
She grins cheerfully at him.
"Be careful what you wish for, indeed, follower of chaos. Sometimes, chaos might choose to come and follow you, instead." Links an arm through his. "Now, you were going to see me to safety. Maybe we could get a hotdog on the way? I'm starving."