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darkhavens
01 December 2004 @ 05:15 am
From the Ashes 4/4


Xander spent an hour in tearful silence wishing for what might have been, before finally taking heed of the whispers in his head that told of burning fishes and molten iron and loudly snapping twigs.

The words made little sense, but when the twisted ring of shiny copper he had created with fire magic began to warm and then to glow upon his finger he had a thought. Each time he'd tried to exercise his power back there, with Spike, he'd worked upon a twig or knife or nail. The time had come to try and form an independent flame, a torch to chase away his prison's gloom.

It took him several tries and some frustration but, eventually, there grew a flickering spark upon his palm. With focus and determination, very soon it grew, resolving to a ball that he could hold in both cupped hands. The fire flared and danced and shifted, almost seemed alive, and never tried to disobey his will. The magic had indeed stayed with him once he'd left the flame, and Xander knew that somehow this was meant to be a sign.

A rattle of the door gave Xander time enough to douse the flame, confident in the knowledge that he could call it back at will. When Angel stumbled in, too drunk to stand without some help, Xander scrambled to his feet and helped the vampire to his bed. A hand locked round his wrist made it impossible to leave, so Xander took his place beside his snoring lord and master, mouthing prayers that he might sleep the whole day through.

~~~~~

Time moved on, slowly, and Angel began to grow fond of his Consort. Before the month was out he was sleeping curled around the warm body next to him, replete and purring.

Xander began to adjust to the stabbing pain that pierced his heart each time he caught sight of Spike, whether he was with Harmony or alone. The blankness on his face was hard to take, made even worse by occasional expressions of remembrance and love, though they faded fast.

And then came the day that Harmony took an interest in the ring he'd made so many months ago. She asked to know who'd made it, what he'd traded for it, where the ring was from, and he had brushed off every question, quite determined she would never learn the truth. But then she struck the fatal blow by uttering these words:

"My Spikey's got a prettier one than that, all copper and brass. The one you have is like a piece of junk compared to his."

Xander's heart stopped beating, and then resumed at a furious pace.

"You lie! I made this ring myself and one other band besides. I gave that as a token gift to Angel when he braved the Mouth of Hell to claim me as his Consort."

In answer, Harmony reached into her dress and withdrew a length of braided leather, hanging from which was a ring that Xander recognised immediately.

"But... When? How did he get this? Did Angel...?"

Harmony smiled, all teeth and viciousness as she shook her pretty head.

"My darling came back wearing it with you right by his side. He told me the funny secret in our bed. He said that Angel's soul had stopped him passing through the flame. Instead he spelled my Spikey so they looked just like real twins, and then he sent Spike in to get you out. Angel came home quietly so that Darla didn't see; he really is a coward underneath all that handsome brooding. Once Spike was home, he came to me and took your old ring off without a thought. Your Angel's not a hero, not even close, and you were tricked!"

He kept the ring. He tricked me. He kept the ring. He tricked me. He kept the ring. He tricked me...

The words looped round and round inside Xander's head, a constant screaming refrain. Spike had kept the ring; he must have known how that would look, especially after tricking the man he claimed to love by wearing the face of another just to make sure he was no longer free to cause trouble.

Logic had no place in Xander's thoughts now, he was convinced that Spike had planned everything after getting bored with him and taking Harmony as his mate. What better way to get rid of the ex than to trick him into blood-bond slavery with a fellow demon? He had to know that Xander would never willingly break his oath.

Xander's feet carried him swiftly to Angel's side as he sat talking with Darla, Spike and Drusilla in the great hall, and he wasted no time in getting his revenge.

"My lord, I can be silent about this no longer. Harmony has told me the truth about the night I was rescued from the Mouth of Hell, and now I feel I must return the favour. All this time I have wondered why you waited so long to take me when you knew that I was willing and eager for more after that night, and now I understand the reason why. That night we rode home beneath the stars it was not you who stopped the horses and bade me to dismount. It was not you who laid me down and touched me until I begged for mercy, and for more. It was not you who stole my innocence and replaced it with despair." He swallowed hard, and looked across the table at his open-mouthed audience. "It was Spike."

Before Darla's fury had time to focus, before Angel had begun to move from his seat towards the Grandchilde he wished to rend limb from limb in jealous rage, Drusilla turned in her seat and with a piercing shriek threw Spike onto the floor.

"You wicked Childe! You broke my Daddy's heart and you must pay!" A litany of ancient dialects and something else, spewed from snarling lips as she cast her curse. When she'd done, Spike's body was as stiff as stone; his wide blue eyes the last remaining outlet for his screams.

"Drusilla, what have you done?"

The insane vampire turned a ripe-plum smile upon her Sire. "Why Daddy, I turned my baby boy to stone, all for you. He'll stay like this until we burn him up, and burn we will. We'll build a giant bonfire just for him, and we'll dance and sing. And there'll be games and gifts and burning baby fishes for everyone!" Drusilla whirled like a dervish around the prostrate body of her only childe, singing gleefully of watching him turn to ash.

Angel looked angry but confused, and Darla's smile stretched from ear to ear as she realised she was finally free of the hateful brat who had never missed a chance to needle her.

Xander felt sick. He couldn't understand how everything had gone so very wrong so very fast. The demon he loved was going to burn alive and it was all his fault. No matter how badly he'd been treated it was no excuse. A hand pulled on his arm, and a sweet voice singsonged in his ear.

"Dance with me, my Kitten, dance with crazy Dru. I have a secret, but I'll share with you."

Xander glanced to his left where Angel and Darla stood head to head, discussing something, Spike? in sibilantly subsonic hisses. No help would come from that quarter, he surmised, so he allowed himself to be led around the table to stand beside Spike. Dru pulled him into her arms and began to sway to the music in her head.

"Oh, Kitten, you are so brave and gleaming; there's such pretty fire in your soul. You make me proud. But you have to stay true, Kitten, don't let Daddy crumble or it's all for naught. My Spike is in his headspace now, breaking down locked doors. Pretty soon he'll find the key to open Grandmama's work, and then he'll scream so loud that all will surely see. There has to be a fire, a glorious fire as tall as trees. And you must throw yourself into the flames." Xander tried to pull away in horror, but Drusilla held him fast, determined to share the secret she had kept so very long.

"You are the fire, Kitten, you are the flame. You are the heart of it all. Grandmama hid behind blue eyes and gave my baby to my greedy little doll. Left me all alone again, they did. Wasn't fair. I couldn't see the knots she'd made, I couldn't pick them free, but now you've burned them all to crumbling ashes. Soon my boy will know his heart again and you'll be free. And one day it will just be Daddy and me."

Drusilla spun away from him and twirled across the floor towards the rest of her family, singing as she went.

"So build it high, and build it fast, and set my boy to burn. Everyone shall see what they shall see."

~~~~~

Drusilla's words scattered and regrouped in Xander's mind, each time forming a different shape. He knew she was trying to tell him something important. Spike had told him his Sire was a Seer, though she had been driven insane by Angelus' attentions well before he'd gifted her with a demon.

A heavy hand landing on his shoulder broke his concentration, and he glanced up to see that Angel was crouched before him, looking upset.

"I'm sorry that my actions, or my lack of action, hurt you. I trusted Spike with much more than I should have. Darla and Drusilla have resolved to see this through, but..."

Xander heard him waver and stepped in, as Dru had said.

"Let him burn. Set the fire and watch him turn to dust. You know he only brought this on himself. There's nothing you can do to call a halt, it's much too late. Darla's looking forward to the time when he is gone, she's never made a secret of her hate."

~~~~~

From the setting of the sun to the partying hour of midnight, every minion was out collecting wood. The bonfire grew and grew until it was taller than every man, and then finally Drusilla said enough. Then, with pompous ceremony, Spike was carried out and laid in frozen repose at the very top.

Harmony wailed and screamed her grief so loudly Xander finally tried to tell the truth. Drusilla pulled him back, touched a finger to his lips and shook her head.

"Don't do it Kitten, don't give up the game until it's through. You have to let the flames climb to the roof before you turn. Then you tell my Angel, tell my darling Daddy what is true. You love your blue-eyed demon still, you do, and he loves you."

She moved to let him go, and then leaned in for one last note.

"I've one more secret left and then I'm done, so listen close. The bite my Daddy gave you and the words you shared are false. A Consort can't be claimed without a demon. And Angel has my Angelus, my Black Prince, locked up tight. He'd never speak a word of any claim. The truth, my darling Kitten, is that you're just another boy. A boy whose kiss can steal a love from stone."

Drusilla pushed him away towards Angel and skipped off to find a better place to watch the coming show. Xander slowly walked towards the vampire who apparently had no real claim on him, if he were to believe what he'd just been told. And if he believed that, he would have to accept that Spike did love him and that meant...

Everything crashed in on him at once, and the meaning of every rambling word Drusilla had tossed his way suddenly became painfully clear.

Spike did love him. Grandmama, Darla, must have learned of that and cast a memory spell so she could pair him off with Harmony, keeping Xander free for Angel. Everything he'd seen and heard since his arrival, from the rapid escalation of numbers in the bloodstock pens to the overheard calculation of how many 'non-renewables' they could claim each month, suddenly gelled and he realised he had been nothing but a pawn in Darla's game. He wondered how many people had died to keep him alive, and how his family could justify the cost, but he understood, finally, that people will do unimaginable things for the one they love. Including scaling a burning pyre for one last kiss.

"Angel, I'm sorry. I've loved Spike longer than you know, and he loves... loved me. I know you've come to care for me, but you've never touched my heart. That belongs to he who is set to burn. My family will make sure Darla pays for what she's done."

Whatever Angel was about to say was lost when a gleeful yell went up.

"Burn him! Burn him! Burn him! Burn him!" And then a second cry ran through the crowd as the pile was lit all around its base.

"I don't want to live without him!" Xander screamed, and took off running, scrambling over the flames that were eagerly licking up the sides of the rough construction until he reached the platform at the top.

Once there he took the rigid form of his true love in his arms and gently placed a kiss on cold hard lips. And then he waited. And watched, as the fire took hold around him and began to creep ever closer to their perch.

The very first movement Spike made was to tangle once of his hands in Xander's shirt and tug him closer.

"Love you."

The words, whispered in a cracked and creaky voice, were a benediction and Xander's smile was filled to the brim with joy.

"Love you too, and I'll prove it just as soon as we get out of this mess."

"What exactly do you...?"

"Shhh, I've got a plan. I really like your Sire, by the way, I think she's mad but sweet. She told me I'm the fire and the flame. I hope she's right. Now close your eyes and hold on tight, please don't let me go. If I'm right, the only way out is in."

The centre of the wooden structure that was supporting the weight of both bodies slowly began to sink as the heat below intensified and burned through with a fury. Soon the two were in the very heart of the inferno, flickering walls of flame at every side, yet neither one was touched by a single spark.

They stayed curled up together as the conflagration raged, and then slowly died out, leaving them to lie on a bed of superheated ash within a skeleton of partially burnt up logs. The party had broken up as dawn drew near, and now, as the sun began to creep above the horizon, the pair crept out and brushed each other down.

"Pet, we're a mess."

"Well, yes, but that can hardly come as any great surprise. We've spent the night being toasted after all." Xander looked around and began to panic. "Oh gods, we have to find somewhere to hide until it's dark. The sun's near up and I won't have you dust now that we're free."

"Xander, love, you'll have to wait for any explanations, but it's enough to know I'm not going to combust. It's magic, pet, so trust it, yeah? You've got a heavy touch of it yourself. Now let's pick out our rides and we'll be off."

As they moved towards the stables, Xander nibbled nervously on his lip.

"About that 'off'. Do you have any particular place in mind, because I know my family would love a visit, and I'm sure they'd like you once they got to know you. Even though you're a vampire, you're..."

"I'm evil, Xander. Never doubt it."

"Couldn't you be evil while you helped them get rid of Darla?"

Spike sighed. "You're gonna be nothing but trouble, aren't you, Pet?"

~~~~~Fade to Black~~~~~
 
 
feeling: annoyedready to scream
 
Belle Draco, Mutant Dragon Extrordinair: Hisxandervampsgirl on December 1st, 2004 06:35 am (UTC)
Darling, pet. Just wonderful.
sooooo....... where's the rest?
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 1st, 2004 06:54 am (UTC)
sooooo....... where's the rest?

::gibbers::

It's... in a land far, far away. With the faeries. Yup. Honest. *g*

Glad you enjoyed it, and if my primary reader literati has her way, there will be another visit to this AR, if only so I can kill off Darla. LOL!
who said what now? - xandervampsgirl on December 1st, 2004 03:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
who said what now? - darkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 01:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
who said what now? - werewindle on December 1st, 2004 07:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
who said what now? - darkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
VF: Angel cute (damnskippytoo)vampirefever on December 1st, 2004 10:28 am (UTC)
I've printed all the parts out to read and savour on the weekend. Can't wait ::smoochies::
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:25 am (UTC)
I've been printed out! ::squees madly::

I hope it was worth the ink. (That stuff costs more than gold per ounce! o.o)
beetle: Effulgent_beetle_ on December 1st, 2004 12:16 pm (UTC)
This is AWESOME! I'm addicted to Norse myth and super-addicted to the Whedonverse - and you've combined the two - Groupmum you are da man! Masterfully done! Do more like this - can you tackle Odin, Loki, Jormungand and Ragnarok next? I have quite the hankerin' for Fimbulwintr fic, no lie. Pweese?
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:29 am (UTC)
I've copied this comment and pasted it into my 'To Do List' txt file. I can't promise anything definite, but it's there in black and white on my hard drive so... ;o)

I'm so glad you enjoyed it as a fan of both the Whedonverse and Norse mythology. I was worried that I'd twisted it too much out of shape.

Fimbulwintr. Hmmm...
Cloudiecatcloudiecat on December 1st, 2004 01:02 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed this and you combined the Jossverse and Norse myth brilliantly - excellent job. And I'd love to see Darla get what's coming to her too, so, more please?

cloudie
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:32 am (UTC)
you combined the Jossverse and Norse myth brilliantly - excellent job

Thank you! I was so worried about having made the myth unrecognisable.

I've added a note to my fic To Do list, so there may indeed be more in the future. :o)
Ame: Spander OTP1 by Saifaiamejisuto on December 1st, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC)
Whoa! This was great luv! And you've really worked the myth and Spander together really well. I can see where you might want to tear your hair out! Great job!
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:36 am (UTC)
Thank you, darlin'!

I can see where you might want to tear your hair out! Great job!

Well, to be honest, the hair-tearing less a case of 'how do I do this' and more 'how do I make it stop?!' It was supposed to be 3/4000 words long, and just kept getting longer. A real Norse saga. LOL!
(Deleted comment)
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:38 am (UTC)
Thank you! That was one of my favourite lines. I could actually see it!

And Dru was so much fun because, yes, she's crazy, but there's no Prague incident to push her completely over the edge, so she had strength and life and joy. And she was a wee bit more understandable. :P
ex_kyrieane267 on December 1st, 2004 05:09 pm (UTC)
and once again my verbal skills are ground to dust. just....bloody fantastic! so haunting and wrenching and good. *snuggles you*

beautiful.

gorgeous.

so perfect.
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 12:54 am (UTC)
*snuggles you back*

Thank you! Spikess wanted angst and romance, and by golly she got angst and romance.

beautiful.

gorgeous.

so perfect.


::swoons:: *g*
Dea Brynhild Ensomhet: Beautifulword (mine)brynspikess on December 1st, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC)
*squee* OMG! That was so so so so totally awesome *glomps* You are the most awesome spiffiest friend ever. I love it! Thank you so much! *squee* Love them getting to know each other slowly but surely, love the knife getting all mended, love the rings, love Xander getting the fire magic, love ditzy Harmony spilling the beans, love Drusilla helping Xander out, love them curled together as the fire rages around them *basks in the flames* loveitloveitloveit ^_^
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 01:09 am (UTC)
::collapses in a relieved faint::

I was sure I'd taken too many liberties with the original storyline. And you should have seen me figuring out the cast! I ended up with a copy of the version I linked to in the headers, doing 'Find and Replace' with Whedonverse names until I got them right. *g* Spike and Xander were easy, but Angel was originally Angelus and then I suddenly thought it would be funnier to have Angel completely pussysire-whipped by Darla, who never let him run off and get all heroic.

And I gave Xander fire magic because a) he deserved something for being so noble and self-sacrificing (snerk) and b) I wanted to keep the whole funeral pyre scene, with Xander throwing himself into the flames to be with lifeless Spike, but I couldn't let my boys burn! *g*

I'm ecstatically happy that you love it. *glomps* you back.
I am Derek's vocal eyebrows: ak; sex [me]literati on December 1st, 2004 10:33 pm (UTC)
Oh sweetie ::huggles::

I'm glad lj stopped being an arsehole and allowed you to finally post.

and yes, just so we're all clear; There will be a sequel or sequels. This is such a stunning story and you've created such an amazing realm which *must* be expanded upon.

::smooch::
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 01:12 am (UTC)
and yes, just so we're all clear; There will be a sequel or sequels

I'm so glad you're here to clear these little problems up for me. :P
You just want to see some G/W action while they're scheming to knock off Darla.

*smooch*

Thanks darlin'!
who said what now? - literati on December 2nd, 2004 02:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
who said what now? - darkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 03:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
Nebula: xanderauthoressnebula on December 2nd, 2004 02:41 am (UTC)
Kill Darla! Kill Darla!

*clears throat*

Err, sorry about that. Got carried away and all. Such a pretty fairytale! I loved all the twists and turns and how you brought it all together. And go Dru! ^_^ Really, really enjoyed this. Thanks so much for sharing, sweetie!!

~Nebula
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 2nd, 2004 03:19 am (UTC)
Kill Darla! Kill Darla!

Hee! That seems to be a popular opinion.

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it. I had great fun writing it (when I wasn't banging my head on the desk. *g*)
yourlibrarian: Chair: fanbotyourlibrarian on December 6th, 2004 02:46 am (UTC)
This was fun, and I'd never heard of the myth before so it was an extra treat.
darkhavensdarkhavens on December 6th, 2004 02:54 am (UTC)
I'd never heard of it either, so I had to read it several times to fix it in my head, then do find > replace with Jossverse names until I got everyone cast in the right roles. *g*
and then we lit it on fire: x-wingselectricalgwen on April 13th, 2006 09:34 pm (UTC)
Wow! I love this!
Now I have this weird Wagnerian operatic version running in my head...
I really like your Dru, and the whole fire magic thing. (Maybe Xander can actually make her some burning baby fish pets!) The pyre scene is super. Bet Spike was actually warm enough for once. :)
darkhavensdarkhavens on April 17th, 2006 02:26 am (UTC)
Thank you!

It was kinda like a Wagnerian opera inside my head while I was writing this. It was only supposed to be a couple of thousand words, but it grew... and grew... and grew, and I wrote the whole thing in about 60 hours (between naps *g*) so I could post it by the deadline.

It ate my brain! :D
Smokeysmokey_duck on September 20th, 2006 07:03 am (UTC)
awesome story
any plans to continue in this 'verse?
darkhavensdarkhavens on September 28th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
Re: awesome story
Thank you!

There are no concrete plans, but I'm always willing to cnsider any bunnies that come nibbling at my toes.

It was fun to write, but also exhausting, because it was supposed to be 2-3000 words and ended up at 10,000+, written in 36 hours of frantic typing (and napping) because OMG!Deadline!

Still, if the bunny comes a-nibbling, I will pet it and feed it and see if it bounces. *g*
(Anonymous) on January 16th, 2007 02:15 am (UTC)
Part Two?
Is there a part two? I would like to read about the distruction of the Bitch Darla...