Fic: Through the Wintergate (2/3)

Aug 15, 2010 16:32

Title: Through the Wintergate
Author: Brutti ma buoni
Characters: Xander, Vi, OC Slayer and OC ‘Watcher’
Rating: PG
Words: 5000 in total
Part one is here, with full author notes

Stranger girl blinked at him. “Me? I was the Slayer too.”


It was time for some explanations.

Stranger girl’s name was Jennifer. She had been a prisoner since 1969.

Vi considered her. “How can you be the Slayer? If the Council stuck you in here as an eternal prison they wouldn’t have had a Slayer and the next one wouldn’t have been called.”

Jennifer nodded. “Yeah. This place isn’t so much a prison as... um... death. Effectively.”

“Death?” Xander had tried not to let a word out, but it came anyway, high-squeaky and humiliating.

Vi scowled at him, and turned her back to focus on Jennifer. “Death? Like the Underworld?”

“Uhuh. Mystical magical death. When you eat the pomegranate seeds, this is where you end up. Winter keeps everything dead. In this place, nothing grows. Nothing changes. Days pass, but time doesn’t. I’m dead out there beyond the gate, but the Council didn’t actually have to kill me. They said I could get out when I’d served my sentence. I just wouldn’t be the Slayer anymore. But now I’m here, I think- I really don’t think they let people out. I mean, there are others here. Older others.” Jennifer looked anxiously at Vi and Xander, expecting more fear and alarm.

But Vi was pretty cool about dimensional prisons, it turned out. “Older?”

“Yeah. There are others. I see two sometimes. I don’t know their names. I think they’re getting a little... nuts. But they keep way away, up the slope. And the scary girl...”

“What’s scary?” Xander might have been too quick asking that one. Scary equalled bad.

Jennifer said simply, “She tries to kill you in your sleep.”

Blink. Xander tried very hard not to say the next thing, because saying might make it so. “Uh... dark girl? Big hair? Face paint?” Jennifer nodded. “Huh. That’s the First Slayer. She tried to kill me before. All of us. No friends, just the kill. Something like that?”

“Not exactly. Kind of. Must kill. MUST. She just says it over and over.”

Xander became aware of Vi looking very, very hard at him. “Dream-killing First Slayer, huh? Now there’s something that didn’t come up in five years of research.”

Shrug. Xander had long since faced the fact there had been too much Sunnydale weirdness to tell all of it. Things slipped in transmission. The First Slayer had felt dreamlike. No one had guessed she was still alive. It would keep, or so they tacitly assumed. Besides, Xander was fascinated by Jennifer’s story. “What did you do to get stuck here?”

Jennifer blushed. “I... there was this demon. He was nice. He was trying to be a better person.”

Xander groaned. “You slept with a demon?”

She looked shocked. “God! No, no way! But I wouldn’t kill him. So they cited me for dereliction of duty, and-“ Hand-wavy indication of her jail surroundings explained the rest. “Anyway, you two should know all this. What were you done for? I never heard of a Watcher getting punished with the Underworld before. Did you two sleep together? Cause that’s a really bad thing for a Watcher to do.”

No. And eeeeeuuw. Vi’s face made that perfectly clear - so much so that Jennifer giggled a little. Which, since Vi definitely did the nasty with Erik at times, Xander found a little hurtful. He might be older and responsible, but he wasn’t a gangly freckly redhead with acne and severe myopia. Dammit.

None of which was the point.

“You don’t deserve to be locked away like this, Jennifer. We’re going to get you out of here.”

So heroic. So simple.

Wait. Had Xander thought that or heard it?

Oh crap.


And there she was, in the corner of his eye.

There is no out.

Jump-leap-slash with stiffened fingers.

There is only here.

No weapons. That was on their side.

There is only now.

But she was quick as hell. And could they kill her? If not, what the hell could they do?

Death is our gift.

She leapt, but not for the Slayers.

You did this.

Xander buckled under the nothing-weight of her. She was barely perceptible and carried the weight of ages.

Watchers do not SEE ANYTHING.

Blackout. For a moment, eternal, Xander believed she had taken his eye. Didn’t even pretend not to be pathetically grateful when his terrified groping hands met the eyepatch, maliciously swapped over to his sighted side.

He wanted to weep.

And she left.

“Xander? Xander!” Vi’s voice, close and reassuring as he blinked into thin air. “It’s okay. She’s gone. Not a human Slayer this time - I think she’s just a spirit with a few funky show tricks.” Her hand was on his arm, anchoring.

A few deliberate breaths later, he was back in the now. Scariest thing ever. But not actually helpful to say that aloud.

“She’s not the First Slayer?”

Vi shrugged. “Can’t say. But she’s not human.”

“She’s a guardian of this place.” Jennifer sounded subdued, but not scared. “She’s mainly noise and scariness. Except when you’re asleep...”

“She has power then?” Vi didn’t have a notebook with her on this mission, but Xander could see the metaphorical equivalent hovering around her. She was Research Girl, after all.

Jennifer nodded. “Yeah. If you dream about escape... she kills you.”

Obvious flaw there, but Vi said it before Xander could. “Except - you’re not dead.”

“Not now. I woke up. She took out my entrails last time. But you always wake up in the end. She’s a jailer, not a killer.” Jennifer paused, almost embarrassed. “But... it hurts.”

There was a pause.

Xander’s voice sounded very small. “It’s getting dark, isn’t it?”


The mystical prison of the Council of Watchers was a bad, bad place. Xander wasn’t going to pretend otherwise. Indefinite detention? Psychological torture/actual torture, depending how you define being gutted in your dreams. And now he was starting to understand why it mattered that it was winter. There was nowhere to warm up. Daylight lasted a bare few hours, and you didn’t go out after dark. There was rarely a moon.

Jennifer slept on a pile of leaves in a shelter of bare branches. She regarded Vi and Xander’s mission kits, including sleeping bags and bedrolls, much as Xander regarded the latest love of his life (till she turned out to be demonic, inevitably). Overnight warmth was precious. There were always frosts.

Two sleeping bags, three bodies. Xander was about to be gentlemanly (no, really) and offer to sleep without one, when Vi suggested sleeping in shifts. “So that if the Slayer comes... or whoever else... one of us is ready.” Thanks Vi. Way to encourage snuggly relaxation. Even before she added, “And we don’t know what safeguards the Council put on this place. It’s not like we were sent in here by their orders.”

Gulp. “I’ll take first watch.” Not like I’ll be sleeping anytime soon. But he tried to bluff his way out of the fear, “It’s not every day I get to be the big guy guarding two Slayers.” Rawrrrrr. Feel the manliness.

Jennifer looked startled, peeping out of her sleeping bag. “Oh, I’m not the Slayer. Not anymore. Not since I came through the gate.”

She cuddled back down into the warmth of her bag. Leaving Vi sitting up, halfway exposed, and with horror on her face. “You mean - I’m not -?”

Xander reached out, touched Vi’s arm very lightly. “Not tonight. If it’s true, we’ll work it out tomorrow. But we can’t fix anything in the dark.”

He let them sleep till his watch showed 3am. Guarding his womenfolk against the chill and the dark. It wouldn’t happen often in future, even if these two weren’t Slayers any more.

Both of them dreamed, nonetheless. There is no out. And Xander dreamed it in his turn. There is only here.


Xander had always thought of Vi as pretty calm. Phlegmatic even, though that was a lumpy word for a light-footed girl. He’d also never thought she was in love with Slayer destiny.

But she woke him at first light, sharp jab in the ribs and a whispered demand. “C’m on. I have to know.”


On to the final part...

a: brutti_ma_buoni, f: buffyverse, c: xander, c: vi

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