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Water flowing underground
same as it ever was
So I finally went to the bookshop 
16th-Jul-2005 02:06 pm
knitting sketch
and picked up my pre-ordered copy of the latest Potter Book. It'll have to wait until I've finished reading Bernard Cornwell's Heretic - I wasn't supposed to be here when it was released so it'll just have to fit in with my reading scheduled for this month. I'm very much an I've started so I'll finish kind of reader.

The same goes for the kind of writer I am, too. I've been tempted, by a number of blows to the confidence, to give up on Soul Searching but have pledged to finish whatever I start. So without further ado, and with my thanks to my betas on this one calove and bogwitch (hard task mistress that she is - but she's mostly, nearly always right.) -



Illyria watched the end of the blind cord swinging against window frame, caught in the slight flow of evening air blowing into the office behind the Hyperion's reception desk. Silence hung heavy in the room and, despite the small breeze, stillness pervaded the small space, as though time was holding its breath.

Click.

The early afternoon had witnessed a flurry of activity following Whistler's evaluation of the hotel as a location for the joint-headquarters. A series of phone calls to Giles instigated the swift evacuation of the injured to a 'safe' wing of the local hospital; they also brought disappointment for Buffy when Giles told her he couldn't leave Cleveland any time soon.

Spike's remark "Good thing too," had resulted in a shouting match that exhausted itself only when Angel steered the debate about Giles' merits as an ally around to possible alternative accommodation. Illyria knew that Spike wasn't ready to offer his basement flat, not yet at any rate. She judged he couldn't bear the thought of being cooped up in a small space with The Slayer until the turmoil in his mind had settled into something less traumatic.

Click.

Buffy glanced at Angel, opened her mouth to speak and closed it again swallowing hard. Only Illyria noticed the way she flexed her fingers, extending and curling them into her palms, regaining the control she'd lost in her argument with Spike.

Click

Buffy returned to the maps that she’d been studying, piecing together information Whistler had given her with Angel’s knowledge of the sewers and new intelligence from Giles. She was searching for a route that would take Angel, Spike and Illyria from the Hyperion to the ruins of Wolfram and Hart with minimal risk from whoever, or whatever, had followed Willow from the airport.

Click.

Illyria shifted her attention to Angel. He sat beside Buffy, motionless and expressionless since his diplomatic diversion of Spike's ill-timed outburst. He hadn't mentioned his own pressing desire to begin searching for Connor. Illyria was intrigued by his restraint.

Click.

A moth flew in through the open window, and battered itself ineffectually against the lampshade in an attempt to reach the light. Illyria inclined her head towards it and listened to the rustling of the wings. "I still hear the song of life," she mused, "in the movement of living things and in the passage of linear time" She turned her head towards Lorne. "But no longer the sound of the green. That has passed to another."

Rustle.

Click.

Lorne’s eyes flicked towards Illyria. He gave a small nod of acknowledgement before grimacing in recognition of his new role.

Click.

Rustle.

The moth veered away from the light and made its way back towards the open window. It faltered for a moment before negotiating its way across the window box full of dandelions and chickweed. Lorne watched the insect's progress. How swiftly the weeds had colonised and dominated the tiny space, once tended by his own hands, bent on bringing order and light to the darkest corners of the city that had adopted him. Fear and uncertainty pulsated from the former Karaoke Host as he wondered if he was really cut out for the task with which the Forces of light had entrusted him.

Click.

A sudden movement from Spike broke the stillness. He tapped his fingers rapidly on the desk in front of him, before jumping to his feet. He began to pace. Like a caged animal, his loping, feline stride measured the breadth of the office again and again, impatient for escape from its confines.

"Haven't they finished up there yet?" he asked jerking his head in the direction of the upper floor. "You'd think Glinda and Head Boy could have worked something out by now. How long've they been at it?" He grasped Angel's wrist and peered at his watch.

Angel snatched his arm away. "Quit complaining, Spike, they'll be finished when they're finished."

"Well, why can't we go do something while we wait?" Spike shot a glance at Angel. "What about that boy of yours. Doesn’t he need finding before Evil catches up with him? You finished that route, Slayer?"

Angel stiffened and looked across at Buffy. She rose wearily to her feet and moved towards the door. “I need to check something with Giles before . . .”

A loud crash from the upper floor was followed by the sound of splintering glass. All eyes swung in the direction of Fred's room directly above their heads, bringing to an abrupt end to what Buffy was about to say.

"Sounded like the window," observed Spike.

"Uh - do you think someone should go . . .?" Lorne asked rising from his chair.

"Wesley said they'd call if they needed help," Angel replied. He cocked his head, straining to hear for any signs of distress through the ceiling.


&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

"Sorry!" Willow grimaced at Wesley. "The opening spell kinda rebounded on the window."

Wesley sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Not to worry," he said kindly, "I have every confidence . . ."

"This is not the kind of stuff I'm used to dealing with," Willow said solemnly. "There's more here than just concealing magic. There's some kind of manipulation of time going on. This is big, cosmic stuff. I don't think I'm going to be able to break through by myself. I'm not even sure I should try." She cast a sympathetic glance at the former watcher as he sank forlornly onto the bed. He clasped his hands together on his knees.

Willow sat down beside him and touched his shoulder gently. "I know what it's like," she said softly.

Wesley raised his eyes and looked at her for an instant before staring at the floor once more.

"To lose someone, just when you’ve found them again," Willow went on. "It's the most terrible thing in the world. And you'd do anything, even go against the forces of nature, anything to get them back. But you can't . . ."

"Fred wasn't taken by natural forces." Wesley cut Willow off and looked at her steadily this time. "She died horribly, and slowly, and . . . bravely, by the design of a merciless mystical being."

Willow examined the walls again. "I can sense something there," she conceded, "but the way through is blocked. I need more to go on." She paused, unwilling to broach a subject that had once been so painful between her and Buffy. "Do you know where you went," she asked finally, "when you were dead?"

Wesley reached for the book that lay beside him on the coverlet. "I was only gone a little while," he answered. "It was dark. There wasn't a sense of being in any particular place," he gazed at the walls, "more a sense of not being finished, of having something that needed doing, if only I could remember what. A voice called me into the light, naming me 'Heimedall', telling me my work was not yet done." He gave his head a small shake and sighed again. "And then I was here, in this room, clutching this manuscript."

Willow twisted her head trying to read the cover. "May I?" she asked holding out her hand.

Wesley handed her the leather-bound tome. "Watcher's Diary," Willow read aloud. "Observations of the Soul named Heimdall - crossed through - Wesley Wyndam-Price - substituted." Willow blinked slowly. "Interesting. Do you remember writing any of it?"

"I haven't had time to go through it all yet," Wesley replied holding his hand out for the book's return. "The final sections are in my handwriting; the research I undertook at Hamilton's suggestion, just before Angel decided to take out the Circle of the Black Thorn." Wesley opened the volume at the first page. "But there are many more contributions by many different hands, beginning with Heimdall's own; the one I read aloud on the staircase."

Willow squinted at the archaic print Wesley held before her. "It's not in English!" she cried. "Why is it never in English?"

Wesley gave her a lop-sided grin. "A cynic would say it's the Powers' way of leaving us open to being misled, but I rather think it's because the writer wasn't an Englishman."

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

"Wyndam-Price is so easily deceived." In an upper room in City Hall, Rutherford Sirk looked down at the Eleanor Chambers fountain in the square below. "There really was no need to remove him from Wolfram and Hart to mislead Angel about the Shanshu. Price would have misinterpreted the text we provided himself if his previous track record is anything to go by." Sirk turned round and addressed the figure seated at the table behind him. "What do the cards reveal about the other vampire with a soul, now that the Senior Partners have shown a renewed interest in gaining his services?"

A thin, lace-clad hand turned the first card in the centre of the Celtic cross pattern. "The King of Cups. My naughty boy, what have you been doing since I lost you?" Drusilla smiled vacantly up at Sirk. "I lost three Daddies. Did you know?" She swayed in her seat, moving to an unheard song. "Three Daddies," she intoned. "The second one killed my first Daddy. And then I lost the 'Our Father' to the darkness." Drusilla picked up the next card. "Hm - mm," she giggled, "then I lost my boy." She turned the card. "Queen of Swords. Naughty girl, she stole both my boys away. The Father, the son . . ." she paused. "I forget what comes next."

A flash of rainbow-coloured light from the square below caught Drusilla's attention and she wandered away from the table to look out of the necro-tinted window at the fountain. It formed a dandelion-clock pattern in the centre of the marble circle, throwing rainbows into the sunlit spray. Drusilla clapped her hands excitedly. "Oooh, such pretty flowers! I used to play with the dandelions when I was little," she said. "Me Mum told me not to bring 'em indoors; they'd make me pee the bed, she said." Drusilla laughed and began to sing "Piss on Lee, piss on Lee. Dunno why she called me Lee though, my name was . . ." she stopped again, staring into Sirk's eyes until he was forced to drop his own and turn from her. "I forget, " Drusilla continued brightly. "Daddy made me forget so many things. Grandmother says it's 'cos he was jealous. Jealous of what I could see. But that's not why." She began to sway again to the soundtrack in her head. " I used to play ever so many games with flowers, with my Sweet William." She began to sing again. "Mummy had a baby and its head popped off." She raised her thumb quickly and snapped the flower head off an invisible dandelion with her nail. "And now all the family is lost, and Princess is all alone.”

Sirk frowned and appealed to his colleague. "Remind me again why we need this lunatic's help," he murmured.

"The body that has commissioned the rebuilding of Wolfram and Hart's operation here in LA is in receipt of intelligence that suggests William the Bloody is in a vulnerable state at present and she," the speaker gestured at Drusilla, " is best placed to take advantage of that vulnerability."

"In other words, you're not telling me," Sirk said haughtily.

"Mr Sirk, you are here as caretaker until a suitable replacement can be found to the former CEO. Your job is to oversee operations, temporarily, without asking questions. You will be suitably rewarded, and, believe me, you are much better off not knowing certain things."

"Oh, I believe you, Councillor," replied Sirk. "I just don't know if I should trust you."

"Better not," was the enigmatic reply.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

"It's not that I don't trust you.” Buffy glared at Spike. “Giles can cope without me. He's got Andrew."

Spike snorted. "Just because the little squirt found the balls to double cross us once, doesn't mean he kept them. Giles is right, if there's trouble in Cleveland, you should be there."

"Oh so all of a sudden Giles is right? What happened to ‘That Wanker’? Or ‘Mr Needs-Someone-Else-to-Do-His-Dirty-Work’?"

Angel stepped between the combative couple. "We can't stay here," he said evenly. "The team needs organising somewhere else. Giles suggests Cleveland."

Buffy turned her scorn on Angel. "When did you get so reasonable about agreeing with Giles?"

"When you got so blinkered about the difference between what you should do and what you want to do!" Angel shot back at her.

Before he realised what he was doing, Spike sprang to Buffy's defence. "That'd be round about the time you sold everyone out for Connor," he said, spinning his Grandsire round to face him. "Yeah," he sneered at Angel's look of surprise, "Lorne filled me in on a lot of things."

Angel's shoulders slumped in defeat. He glanced at Buffy from under downcast eyes. "I'm sorry."

Buffy reached out and touched his arm. "It's OK. I understand. If it had been Dawn . . ." she trailed off and cleared her throat of the emotion that had built inside her. "That's why I understand that you have to stay and look for Connor."

Illyria plucked a dandelion flower from among the majority that had run to seed. She examined the petals. "Dents de Lion," she announced. "The flower is well named." She turned towards the three figures standing before the open window. "My Wesley will not leave the room until the riddle of the walls is solved. The Red Witch has pledged to help him. I will remain alongside my guide to this world."

Lorne levered himself from his chair and approached the former God King. "And I should stay 'til the last curtain call," he said, his voice trembling a little, "and as long as the hooch lasts in the bar, I'll mix up the best bunch of cocktails to see me through the run." He threw an arm over Angel's shoulder. " Why don't we send Whistler and the slayers over to Giles? Whaddya think, Big Guy? "

"Once he's told us where we can find this 'mysterious one who will make a difference'." Buffy picked up Lorne's lead eagerly.

"In the meantime, what say we go sift through the wreckage of the offices formerly known as Wolfram and Hart, as planned, and see if we can pick up a lead on your boy?" Spike offered Angel the only sort of apology of which he was capable. "'Sides, I need to replace the coat," he indicated a heap of leather in the corner waste bin. "Seem to remember a promise of ten from our Italian friend with the double helping of bountiful assets."

"I marked the route on this." Buffy handed Spike a sheet of paper. "I’ll make a start on Whistler while you guys are across town,” she said opening the door. “Bountiful assets?" she whispered to Angel as he headed for the rear exit.

Angel shrugged "Search me."

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Back in Civic Hall, Drusilla turned the next two cards in the cross. "The Ace of Cups - Love! My sweet William told Daddy ours was a forever love." She gazed wistfully out of the window. "It was 'til she came and stole him away." She pressed her hand to her heart as she looked at the second card. "Seven of swords." She sighed and ran her hand along her cheekbone and across her brow. "My poor boy. Someone's stolen away his love, tisk, tisk. How will he live?" She turned the next card and gasped with pleasure. She clapped her hands with delight. "The Devil! Oh joy, my Spike will come home, back to the dark, to Princess.”

Link to previous chapters
Comments 
16th-Jul-2005 10:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you're carrying on with this. It was an intriguing premise and you are putting it over very skillfully.

The Drusilla/Wolfram and Hart alliance is a great development. I like your portrayal of Dru very much.
16th-Jul-2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It's taking far more out of me than I ever anticipated.

I'm pleased you think Dru is working, I've never written her before and was doubtful I could capture her voice.
16th-Jul-2005 11:09 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad you are continuing on as well. I know it is hard slogging for authors who don't 'ship. I think it follows the statistics of the publishing world, which last I heard had 75% of its sales going to the Romance genre (at least in America). I don't know what the statistics are for feedback but you know that not many people comment, even when they love your work. So non-shippers are left with the small percentage who give feedback out of the 25% percent that read something besides romance.

I think the total number of fanfic readers is high enough that this translates to a reasonably high number of readers - but even these have to find you first.

You know I appreciate the authors willing to write what their muse calls for rather than what is most popular. I've said it before and I will say it again - thank you. Your story is intriguing and well-written and I get a sense of satisfaction from it that I get from few others.

I am always struck by your use of atmosphere. In this chapter you move us between the eye and the ear - the click which you have tied to the sight of the swinging blind cord, a rustle, a moth battering, voices speaking, fingers flexing -- back and forth.

Yet you are stressing the quiet and your opening paragraph has us mentally in a place where we remember hot, *still* days where we too drained to move. This is extremely effective. The scene is deceptively still and yet constantly moving. What a great way to build the tension through the contrast.

When Spike finally bursts out, unable to contain himself (as Spike is wont to do), the reader is right there with him.

Meanwhile, you've slipped in several bits of exposition that could have been potentially boring and made them do double duty as atmosphere.

I do read some 'ships as well and I know I would be reading yours if that is what you wrote. You are an excellent author and would be to good to miss out on. I am so glad you have the inclination to write something else.

17th-Jul-2005 08:00 am (UTC)
Thank you so much.

Sometimes I feel a little like Terry Wogan, performing for my one listener reader - LOL.

I'm pleased you like the new writing style - it's that, as much as the other things that have conspired against this fic, that is causing serious problems with my confidence.

psst - Boggy told me to cut the opening section because nothing was happening and I needed to get on with the action (the advice I'm constantly giving her about her WIP. It's good to see at least one reader disagreeing with her assessment.

Huge hugs - and a reminder of my gratitude for the nomination (I think you were away cruising with the starswhen I posted about it)
18th-Jul-2005 04:41 am (UTC)
Oops! Well, don't disregard Boggy's advice too often. She's usually right on the mark. I don't think I would have started the beginning of a story with this scene because if readers don't know you, they might not wait it out.

But as you get further into the story you are also fighting against the problem with having a complex plot in a serial story. People will always forget a little bit and have to read a bit before things start to click (pun intended).

That is another thing I liked about this opening. You were able to bring the reader up to speed before the action started without being too obvious.

You might consider writing a brief rehash and putting it behind a cut as well (or in its own memory). That would help people know whether you are working up to something or they have just forgotten something.

One of the things that might have made the opening more palatable for Boggy and some? (Bogwitch has heard this from me before:>) Western culture is trained to expect a buildup in threes - like the three bears, one bowl was too hot, one was too cold and one was JUST right. In the type of progression you have above most readers would expect action after 3 clicks. 4 seems a little too much and 5 would probably have done just as well to annoy as the 8 you had. Those last 3 clicks were worthwhile for the information you included in between but required some faith from the reader. Someone who didn't know your writing would wonder if you were going to shift into action. Those who do savor the extra buildup.
18th-Jul-2005 05:41 pm (UTC)
don't disregard Boggy's advice too often. She's usually right on the mark

Hence my statement of that fact in the acknowledgement to my betas.

Thanks for those pointers, I'd never thought about the power of 3 in fiction before even though I've just finished reading a novel with that title. I was trying for 7 clicks (mystical numbers are a planned feature) but couldn't get all the exposition done.
19th-Jul-2005 01:18 am (UTC)
Ooh. I like the idea of the 7 clicks. That is one thing I need to look for more often in your stories. I usually look for symbolism when I read, but I find myself so deeply caught up in the plot that I haven't been. I know I'm missing something that way.

Have you ever read 'The Writer's Journey' by Christopher Vogler? He was a script screener for Disney and is probably responsible for the repetitious nature of so many of those movies, but he has adapted Joseph Campbell's 'Hero's Journey' and talks quite a bit about the power of 3. Other cultures have other numbers and it is one way that you can flavor a story specifically to get a certain feel.

Just writing this has made me realize something I need to do for The Vorpal Blade. Campbell talks about cultural archtypes - the trickster, the mentor, etc. I have a pretty good idea of what Wonderland Characters are going to match the Buffy/Angel characters but wasn't sure what they were all going to do. I have to decide what archtype they are and then I'll have an idea of what they *need* to do. Part of Spike and Tara's journey will require them to figure out which characters they can trust -- that will tie in with the archtype and I'll need to leave clues for the readers so they can try to guess along with my heroes.

I love figuring out this stuff!
19th-Jul-2005 09:28 am (UTC)
Just writing this has made me realize something I need to do for The Vorpal Blade.

Don't you just love it when interacting with another writer triggers something?

Must go and check whether I'm up to date with Vorpal Blade and look for those archetypes.
19th-Jul-2005 11:51 pm (UTC)
I haven't updated for a while because of Soul Survivor and it is probably just as well. My unconscious had the idea but I'll be able to figure out how to go on much more clearly now.

The archtypes are going to be all those Buffy/Wonderland crossover people but I need to figure out things such as whether Drusilla is a trickster or a threshold guardian. I've realized that Spike and Tara are heroes, but with what I have planned they are also shapeshifters.

I have a question since you mentioned 7 as a magical number. Do you think 7 challenges would be too many for a fic? The challenges would build on each other but it would be difficult to meet the 1st crisis, 2nd crisis, final crisis that most stories feature these days. I've been debating about this for a while and haven't been able to make up my mind whether the story would seem to drag.

20th-Jul-2005 12:06 pm (UTC)
I don't see Dru as a Trickster. Isn't she traditionally a Seer?

Sseven is a bit much for the number of challenges to be met in one fic - it would either result in a very long fic, or one that couldn't explore things in any depth. What about 4 (3 + 1 = infinite perfection)?
20th-Jul-2005 11:52 pm (UTC)
Dru is often treated as a seer but I don't think that is one of the archtypes. A trickster could be a seer and in some ways Dru will be, but in her Wonderland incarnation, she has fused with the White Queen, who travels backwards in time. I thought that suited Dru to a tee. She isn't seeing the future, she's lived it.

That would make her like Merlin, who is both Mentor and trickster and can even be a threshold guardian.

I was afraid the 7 adventures would be too much. I'm like a little kid asking other people in the hope they will tell me something different from I all ready know :>

I'll have to figure out a way to collapse them - maybe a little bad adventure leading up to a big bad adventure for 3-6 chapters, where some of the little bads are very little, and then the big bang for the next to last chapter.

16th-Jul-2005 11:09 pm (UTC)
I read earlier quickly but was out for dinner, now 2 and half glasses of wine later, so if the review doesn't make sense please bear that in mind?
Lovely opening.
I really liked the repeating, Click, it was "irritating" in a good way because it put you right there in the room hearing it.
I am still not clear plotwise, I don't think the wine is helping there! I'm sure you are building things up however with lots of different strands.
I liked the interplay between Angel, Spike and Buffy very much. not settled movement between who was defending whom against the other.
17th-Jul-2005 08:05 am (UTC)
Thanks J.

The click was designed not only to irritate but to mark the slow passage of time (among other things)

I am still not clear plotwise
You're not meant to be. I'm trying for the very slow reveal. A bit like Carnivale. I bought the DVD of the first Season in the hope that I'd understand what was going on - I came to it late in the Season. Having watched it from the beginning a couple of times, I'm still no clearer - it's like Twin Peaks meets Xfiles. It's wonderful.



17th-Jul-2005 08:28 am (UTC)
I am still not clear plotwise
You're not meant to be. I'm trying for the very slow reveal.

Thanks for that, I like slow reveal and twists and I love when the fic surprises me, am anticipating that here definitely.
I watched Twin Peaks but not Carnivale.

I love Bernard Cornwell, Heretic is a cracking book. I have the rest of the series lined up fro this summer, plus the newish Sharpe
18th-Jul-2005 08:53 am (UTC)
Wonderful chapter – please don't stop writing it, everything is so intriguing, you've opened up so many doors that I want to know what happens! In this chapter, loved all the enigmatic segues into each part – very nice! Really enjoyed the clicking of the blind cord, such a simple yet effective way to increase the tension.
Wesley gave her a lop-sided grin. "A cynic would say it's the Powers' way of leaving us open to being misled, but I rather think it's because the writer wasn't an Englishman."
Oh how lovely, you've really caught Wesley there. Ah, makes me miss him all over again.
And Drusilla was really a treat in this!
18th-Jul-2005 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm glad you're still enjoying this.

Oh how lovely, you've really caught Wesley there. Ah, makes me miss him all over again.

I'm a big Wesley fan - in all his incarnations. Drusilla, on the other hand, leaves me cold, and I'm having great difficulty avoiding a one-dimensional presentation of her to be honest.

31st-Jan-2006 12:36 am (UTC)
Well written Dru; nice to see! She really does have her own underlying logic.
31st-Jan-2006 01:03 am (UTC)
Thanks. I was very nervous about writing Dru.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

If you want to keep up with this fic and its prequel, they're archived at When The Muse
31st-Jan-2006 01:16 am (UTC)
Thanks! I saw the story on spike-fics, and found the link in your memories (I think it was). The story really hooked me though-- i should be going to the gym before work instead of reading this!

You really do write a great Drusilla; and she's a challenge. She has her own underlying logic, and people seem to miss that a lot of the time and just have her babble. Very nicely done!
31st-Jan-2006 10:21 pm (UTC)
Dru's 'babblings' have a logic all of their own. She's like an autistic savant. Her 'sight' was twisted by Angel's torture but she can still tap into it and use it for her own manipulative purposes, particularly where Spike's concerned. I'm watching the early seasons of AtS and am amazed at how little 'modern Dru.' we were shown. There's nothing of her after the Spike threatened to kill her to get a sign from Buffy.
12th-Mar-2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you lost track of this fic when I went AWAL, but it's now finished and all chapters are up on gen_storyteller
12th-Mar-2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
I did indeed loose track of this story, but I'm delighted to see it's finished and up! I'll have to check it out!
12th-Mar-2007 06:14 pm (UTC)
Ah Pete!

See you when you've had your coffee!
11th-Mar-2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
Intriguing. Sirk, and Dru and some mysterious third party...

*runs to read the next chapter*
12th-Mar-2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
Sirk was too good to pass up. He played a pivotal part in 'Destiny' and has a role in this that's not a million miles away from the Shanshu prophecy.
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