Faith groaned and pulled her aching head up, blinking blearily at her surroundings. She wasn't where she fell off was she? There was a copper taste in her mouth that made the curvy brunette cringe, one side of her jaw aching in a way that suggested a busted tooth. "What the h'll," she muttered, voice a little slurred.
An attempt to stand was made, but all that answered was a cold metal clink. She looked down, felt the corner of her mouth drag when she realized she was wrapped in several sets of heavy looking chains. That explained the feeling of sudden weight gain. Slowly the memories came flooding back, and she managed a glower, looking around for her would be captor. He'd better hope he was still good at running.
Eliot stepped into view, but made sure not to get to close. He had a knife in his hand, an ornate bowl in the other. The pain from his wrist just had to be ignored. He knelt down to one knee, met her eyes square on as he spoke in an ancient language, and crossed himself in an almost Catholic way with the knife. This was risky work and really, he was years behind on practice, but he needed this slayer out of his hair once and for all. He needed to be sure that chapter in his life was burned.
"What the... what kinda sicko are you?" Faith demanded, watching his motions as she struggled to fight free of her chains.
Eliot narrowed his eyes but didn't stop the prayer, just slashed an arc into the air. When it was done he rose, blew out one of the lit candles. "Ain't this what you were raisin' cane about? You want Belselek, right? To find him?"
He reached into the bowl, got close enough to splash liquid on her face from his fingertips. Faith coughed and gagged recognizing the reek of urine. "You slayers never were a smart set, never had the sense to do things rights. You don't find a demon like that, not in some book, certainly not runnin' around tryin' to find somethin' to slice up in threat for information. You ain't playin' the kiddy leagues anymore."
His face was grim as he lifted the knife up again. "And neither am I. See, I ain't gonna let you make me into some pawn you're gonna hunt down, revisit now and again whenever you're too stupid to figure out your next move. I don't want nothin' to do with your doomed crusade. Evil, the real stuff, it doesn't die, can't be destroyed. All you're doin' is holdin' up the curtain call. That's fine too, real fine, makes things easier in my life."
He stepped forward, straddled the bound slayer's lap and used the strength in his thighs and core muscles for support. He was going to need both hands for this part. The bowl was pressed flush to her bared shoulder, the skin dipping a little from the pressure. He used the tip of the blade in his other hand to pierce the flesh around the bullet wound. He dug it out, started chanting when blood flowed down into the bowl. When the twisted metal was pulled free, he dropped it in with the rest, slid off the girl. This time it was Latin he was speaking, looking around as the candles flickered inside the warehouse, summoning Belselek through a binding spell. It was basic at best, the summoning part, but that wasn't where his focus really was. Let the creature come or not, he didn't want to deal with it. It was the bind that interested him.
Faith yelled at the handling, cursed and swore, tried to get at the man on top of her. She was going to rip off his head and spit down his throat! "Get off of me, you fuc...Ah!" She could feel the blade inside her, digging, searching for something until it was pulled free, and left her shoulder aching like someone had driven a stake through her.
The chanting was done and the wind that'd taken up in the room died down. Eliot broke the jade handle of the blade, a priceless artifact of all things, and dropped the stone into the mix, watched as it bubbled away to nothing and orange mist rose into the air.
Another figure stepped out, cloak over its bowed head. Shadows hide the face. Nate didn't know if to be nervous or fascinated. So far fascination was winning out. He'd never seen anything like this, certainly never taken it seriously. Yet here was Eliot of all people, playing magic and was supposed to be summoning some kind of ancient misfit. The pants he had on under the robes were suddenly tighter. This shouldn't be attractive. The hitter shouldn't be. So why was there something incredibly erotic about the fact that Eliot could do this? It was bloody, probably deadly, and kind of cruel. It was also an incredible turn on.
He did as he had been told before, took the broken blade on a cloth and wrapped it reverently, laid it down at the feet of the bound woman. She kicked and struggled, but there was nowhere to go. The tops of her knees were bound to make sure she couldn't even get her feet under her to run.
His own knee was throbbing mercilessly and he couldn't help but think it served her right.
Eliot watched Nate as he handed over the bowl next and instructed him to encircle the room with the mist that didn't seem to stop appearing.
"Great Belselek, you are called, summoned in this blood bond to the one who chose you. She sought you out, asked for guidance, and it was given. Take her, lord of the nether winds, into your care, do as you wilt and seek her in return." He wanted to roll his eyes at the bland speech, but spells rarely came off as nicely as the media tried to make it seem. Most of them were translated from languages that didn't even have the same meaning in similar words.
The mist stopped, pitch black taking over the warehouse before an iridescent orange lit the candles again, casting the area in a glow. Eliot took the bowl from Nate, threw it down in disgust, and wrinkled his nose at his hands before he wiped them on his dark robs. "There, done, did what you wanted. Belselek will come to you soon and it can't be here."
Faith managed to look menacing, even bound to her chair. "What do you mean come to me? I wanted to know where he was and you pull..."
Eliot snapped. "Hey! I did what you asked! Told you I don't know where he is. He knows your blood now though, knows you through it. He won't be able to resist the curiosity that comes from summoning the likes of a slayer. Like most lords, he's too damn arrogant for his own good. If he kills you, good riddance. If you kill him, no skin off my back. I just know this place ain't gonna stand too much longer now, and he won't come to a place of summons directly, it's beneath him."
He threw Faith the key, watched as it landed within reach of her grasping hand. It would take time for her to get free, but she would, and that was the point. "You ever come back for me, or mine, that dagger, the rest of it, it's gonna be the end of you. I bound you to him in more than summons. You push me, I pull some strings."
Faith narrowed her eyes, sneered. "And if you're bluffing?"
"I don't bluff. Ask someone in your little circle. Hell, ask that euro-trash vampire. Goodbye, Faith, let's never do this again."
When they were free of the warehouse, Eliot let his head drop. He knew it wouldn't work, knew there was no way he wouldn't be seeing Faith again after that, but it was worth a shot. He was officially on her shit list and he just had to hope her demon hunt kept her too busy to worry about him. Of course, if nothing else, she was probably going to make sure the rumor he was dead was a finished one.
That meant nowhere else to go, to hide. Bargains with Wolfram & Hart were eternal. What was going to happen to him when they called him on his debt? He swallowed, tried not to shake. This Apocalypse thing wasn't finished. It was still in the beginning and he had a feeling the oblivious part of humanity was going to get a reality check real soon. Worse, Belselek was involved to the point of being hunted. The only good thing about demons like that, they rarely worked on human time, and to something eternal, twenty four hours didn't necessarily make a day. He might be old and gray by the time it finally happened, but unless the slayers pulled the impossible, this world was going to end, for good.
A hand grabbed his and Eliot looked at Nate in surprise. The other man looked like he was in awe, his eyes were bright with curiosity, brows up a little higher than normal, the wrinkles near the corner of his mouth pushed up in an almost smile. The mastermind was loving this.
Eliot tried to hide what was bothering him and offered a smile back, squeezing the hand in his before pulling his back. There was a lot to cover here and suddenly life seemed a lot shorter. Maybe it was time to stop surviving and have a life for once, just live.
He held the silence until they were driving. Instead of turning off towards McRory's though, Eliot took the car in a different direction. He drove to a small, sleepy little town some thirty minutes out, parked in the garage of a tiny little house. Nate looked a question at him and Eliot just shrugged, let the older man inside once the door was unlocked.
In the kitchen he grabbed two bottles of water and motioned Nate towards the couch. He flopped down beside the dark headed man and propped his feet on the small coffee table. He handed over an ice pack for Nate's knee, put another on his throbbing wrist. There was nothing to be done for his broken nose at this point. He had no real desire to push it back in place yet, knew it was going to put him in all kinds of extra pain. "Alright, ask, I know you're full of questions."
Nate nursed his hurting knee and looked over at Eliot, kind of in shocked when he realized where he was. This was the retrieval specialist's home, wasn't it? This place was sacred, guarded. Somehow he doubted anyone had ever stepped foot in the place since Eliot took over. When his name was said again, he eased back against the couch and thought, eyes tracking over the room they were in like it might tell him something. He remembered what they had been talking about before, about how a lot had been implied, but not said. If he had filled in the lines right, they were in some deep waters. "So the world's going to end?"
Eliot looked at Nate, snorted that it was that fact he'd picked up out of all of this. He shrugged one shoulder, took a long pull from his water. "Eventually, maybe soon. Hard to say. It just depends on how long it takes their show runners to get a leg up."
Nate was puzzled and it showed. "Their?"
"They, them, the big dogs of Doom and Gloom," Eliot provided, studying the naked wall.
Nate licked his lips, grabbed for his own drink. "So four horses, end of days, the whole shebang?"
"Yes, no, kind of." He found himself shrugging again, wasn't sure how to explain all of this to the other man. "The Biblical Apocalypse already happened. Pompeii ring a bell?"
Nate swallowed, tried to keep his head clear to make sure he was getting all of this. If it wasn't so fascinating it might actually be scary as hell. The next sentence came out as a fact. "So the world gets destroyed."
Eliot shook his head, set the bottle down between his thighs. "The world gets reset, wipe out everything that's not an ally and start anew. Sort of like conquering a new country, just on a much larger scale, one where entire species can be wiped out. " The smile was hard, cynical. "Humanity's Inquisition."
Pressing the melting ice pack harder to his knee, Nate took in a deep breath. He could barely believe he was talking about this, let alone to Eliot Spencer of all people. "And evil's going to win?"
It was Eliot's turn to be a little uncomfortable. He cocked his head to the side, narrowed his eyes as he tried to think. "No, not necessarily. It's a little more complicated than that. Nothin's straight good or evil like humans are taught to believe. There's always gonna be worlds of gray, the unclear creeping and taking over. It's like us, I guess, we're technically the bad guys, but we're the good guys too. All of us except you were bad guys when this all started."
A heavy silence fell between them for a while, the only sounds were of water being drunk from thin, crinkling bottles as fingers pushed, and of the clock counting time. During that span Nate slid closer and closer to the younger man, only stopped when their legs finally bumped. He looked up, imploring with big eyes that shined with unadulterated curiosity. "Eliot, are you human?"
The answer didn't come at first, the silent stillness settling over the room. A bitter laugh sliced through the air after the pregnant pause. "Yeah, through and through. It's all me." He patted his chest then paused. "Well, 98%." He wiggled the fingers on his right hand. "This didn't come with the original manufacturing. It's human though, nothin' special or extraordinary. My real one got cut off."
Nate's eyes widened and he grabbed the hand, studied it with bright eyes, looking for tell-tale marks or anything that might make it a prosthetic. Just because he saw Eliot get his ass handed to him by a girl and some orange smoke didn't make him a full believer just yet. He fingered the thin red scar all the way around it, wondered why he had never noticed it before. "But you can do magic? Well, summon demons."
Eliot let his hand be messed with, tolerated the touching and poking. Barely. It made him twitchy when anyone touched it. "Anyone, hell anything, can summon a demon, just takes a combination of the right materials and knowledge."
"And being multilingual. That was Latin before." Nate asserted, skin prickling with the idea that this might all be somehow true. He wanted to believe it, wanted to see and understand, wanted to explore.
"Yep, that too. Same with magic. Some take to it better than others. Doesn't hurt to know the basic tricks of the trade."
Eyes glowing like a kid on Christmas morning, Nate scooted even closer, was practically in the long haired man's lap. "And you can do magic, real magic?"
Eliot's smirk was slow, and somehow he wasn't too surprised at himself when he failed to mind sharing his personal-space with the mastermind. One thing he had decided with this whole doomed with the end of days thing, it was time to do more living. He wasn't too much of a fool to know where his interests lie. He'd just been denying it, made a point of playing it safe and never shitting where he ate. Looked like the rules were about to change. "Not uh, I mean I can, got a kinda knack for it, but nuh-uh, I ain't answerin' anymore of your questions. I got a few of my own."
He settled back, put his arms over the back of the couch. Really he should be tending better to his injuries, needed to set his nose at the very least, but it could wait. This couldn't. "You and Sophie, man, I don't get it, ain't gonna lie." Nate opened his mouth and Eliot shushed him with a look. "No, listen. She nags you senseless, berates you, tries to change you accordin' to whatever needs she has for the week, and manipulates you. She's sexy, smart, and selfish; a woman too lost in her own lies to give a damn about anyone else. You gotta know there's no way you and her are gonna be more than an eventual fuck."
There was surprised guilt in blue eyes, color rising to Nate's face. Eliot's eyes widened and he shook his head. "See? And now where's it got you? First time you try and tell her no, I can pretty much guarantee there'll be a threat from those pretty lips. So why put up with it?"
Nate shrugged, tried to look more embarrassed than indignant. He was holding his own weight now as he sat up, looked anywhere but at Eliot. "I don't know. We always flirted back before...back then, it was a thing, and it worked because we knew it'd never happen. When Maggie and I separated, it was easy to fall back into routine. Sophie is the only thing I've got from those days, as close to normal as me and her can ever be. We had our lives together back then."
Eliot nodded, listening to what he was told, even if he wanted to call his boss an idiot. "Nate, we don't do normal, none of us. We're never gonna be the same as the rest of the world, never gonna be happy that way."
He turned a little, leaned against the arm of the couch and got comfortable. His voice was low when he started to speak again, hard to hear so Nate had to inch in closer by the end of the sentence as his voice lost more and more octave. "What you need is someone who can call you the dumbass you are for hidin' in a bottle, but know when not to push. Someone who will overlook the fact you're a drunk, got more baggage than a strapped down mule on an heiress's long promised honeymoon, and who can see that just maybe they're as fucked up as you are."
His arms came up, wrapped around the mastermind so he could pull Nate up his body. He saw the indignant anger spark in those eyes, smirked at it despite the pain he felt inside himself for it. He was only getting one more shot at this life thing, and he knew who he wanted it to be with. "What you need is a man strong enough to handle you when you fight, who'll burn with that flame and keep you on the ground when the times comes. More importantly, you need someone who's not gonna run away. I know what I am, who. I'm just fine with him."
Nate was breathing through his mouth, very unsure and twice as much intrigued. Here he was draped over Eliot, eyes on swollen lips that spoke those odd little words just centimeters from his. Hot breath brushed over his mouth, and heat was pooling in his belly. "Who are you, really?"
There was silence, blue eyes studying, watching, calculating. How had Nate overlooked this part of the hitter before? He had known he was something fierce, dangerous and clever. This though, this was something totally unexpected. "Who?" Nate demanded again.
Eyes fully open, the younger man smirked, ran his hand up and down a taunt back. "My real name's Lindsey McDonald. Kinda take better to Eliot though. What about you, Nate? Who are you, really?"
Nate searched Eliot's… Lindsey's… no, definitely Eliot… Eliot's eyes as he licked his lips, breath coming hard and fast. This… this was unexpected, unexpected, but not unwelcomed. This was a chance, to learn, maybe more. It was undeniable that there was something there that was missing between him and Sophie. Still, could he go there? This was Eliot Fucking Spencer, reknowned for being a playboy as much as his skill set. "I don't know, Eliot. Honest man, thief, black king, white knight, it's all…" He licked his lips again. "Maybe you can help me find out."
Eliot smirked, more confidence starting to build when he saw the warm, excited fire blazing in his mastermind's eyes. "So, what was that you started to say about magic?"
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First, thanks to everybody who reviewed chapter 1! You guys are totally awesome and this chapter is dedicated to you.
Second, this is less slashy than I originally intended it to be, but the characters are doing their own thing *snort* because that NEVER goes badly.
Third, this is the end of this little story, all two chapters. But hey, if you liked the premise, want to see more in this vein, I am thinking about turning it into a series and building a whole verse around it! All you have to do is let me know you're interested with those reviews. I already have baby plot bunnies all over the place, they just need some nourishing reviews to grow.
Oh, and of course, HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!