And from me, a final Christmas gift.
Written for writerconuk's Winter Solstice challenge.
Prompt: The longest night.
Setting Post 'Not Fade Away
Dedicated to jamalov29 and all the Spuffyists on my Flist. Couldn't have written this without you all.
Special thanks to fredsmith518 for her beta work, and elemmire for help with all things Italian.
Prologue: Dancing Alone
The sound of music drifted on the chilly night air, the melody of ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ rising and falling as the musicians wove their way through the crowded market place. The small band of Zampognari, wearing traditional criss-crossed leather leggings, short bulky trousers buckled below the knee, velvet jackets and peaked caps, disappeared into the mist as the last notes of their pipes died away. From the distance, a new tune called the two travellers onward towards the heart of the square.
The piazza was alive with movement and noise, the carousel at its centre a blur of colour, brass poles glowing beneath a myriad of festive lights. Sixty-eight horses whirled in unison, four rows of ‘gallopers’ rising and falling to the rhythm of ‘Applesauce’ belting out from the Wurlitzer. Around the perimeter, gaudily decorated stalls creaked beneath jars of preserves, pots of poinsettias, bunches of holly, trinkets and sparkling baubles. From the food booths came cries of "Il miglior torrone di Roma!" and the aromas of spun sugar, roasting nuts, and porcetta.
On the edge of the toy-stall canopy a life-sized puppet of La Befana dangled her legs over the side, resting her bare feet on the head of an enormous stuffed bear. Children tugged at their parents’ sleeves, pleading for another addition to their growing piles of purchases. A market trader came out from behind the mountain of chocolate-covered nougat, pressing small pieces of confectionery into the children’s hands. He motioned to his assistant to guard the takings, studied the two strangers for a second from under heavily hooded lids, and approached them cautiously.
The leather-clad male picked a wooden Angel from a stall peddling Nativity scenes and examined the gilded halo and hand-painted robes, tracing its ornately carved wings with his fingers. “Reckon a pair of these would have come in handy with that dragon,” he told the statue, placing it back with the other crib figurines. “Not sure ‘bout the dress.”
“Still don’t get why you brought me here to look for him, Blue.” Spike called to his companion, shaking his head and waving the approaching street vendor away with a glare. “Or, how you pulled off the teleportation trick if it comes to that,” he muttered, scanning the upper windows of the apartment block.
“Someone has interfered in that which belongs to the gods.” Illyria turned and strode away from the stall, following the route the musicians had taken out of the square.
“And that matters because?” Spike hurried after her, his gaze still fixed on the lights emanating from the third floor. “Hang on a minute, does this have something to do with…..umph!” he grunted as he collided with a pedestrian laden with parcels. “Buffy!”
“Spike? Is that really you?” Buffy dropped her shopping and reached out a gloved hand to his face. “Andrew told me. But I didn’t dare believe...” She gazed into his eyes, her own filling with tears. “And then Giles told me what happened in LA.” She gulped, forcing back a sob. “And I couldn’t bear the thought I’d lost both of you. And then Ambrogio told me... And now he’s gone and...”
“Hey. Slow down, Slayer, you’re making me dizzy with all the telling.” Spike caught her arms and steadied her, narrowing his eyes, searching over her shoulder for a glimpse of Illyria, then snapping them wide. “Who’s Ambrogio?”
Follow the fake cuts to the rest of the story.
Chapter 1:Dancing in the Moonlight
Chapter 2: Dancing in My Dreams
Chapter 3: Dancing in the Dark
Chapter 4: Dance of Death
Chapter 5: Dance into the Light
Epilogue: Dancing to the Rhythm