Manx Telecom has upgraded my Broadband to 8Mb/s. Yay! I’m celebrating with a silly ficlet. You can blame curiouswombat for this one; she came up with the pairing. It’s not as crazy as some of my ficlets, nor is it as overtly funny, but it’s not to be taken too seriously either. It will mean most to British readers, especially those old enough to remember a certain TV ‘cop show’ that ran between 1977 and 1983 on ITV. They’ve been repeating it recently on one of the more obscure satellite channels, ITV3 or something, but I rarely catch those broadcasts (and, when I do, the episode is always Where The Jungle Ends). Because of this, and because the POV character is Irish, I have left the spellchecker set to ‘English (UK)’. Somebody on my F-list is a big fan of the show, I know, but I’m afraid I can’t remember who that is!
It’s set in the near future of Tabula Avatar (chapter 62 went up yesterday, in case you missed it – being blacklisted by the Sunnydale Herald sucks) but it’s AU; the events depicted in this ficlet will not happen in the main story (or not like this, anyway). Bodhi is successful in her attempt to travel to ‘Spike’s World’ and ends up in Los Angeles. She encounters a character from ‘Angel’ and things develop from there. Rating PG (I would have said more, but if the BBFC can rate ‘The Dark Knight’ as 12A...), exactly 1,800 words. Starts near the end of AtS 1.09, Hero.
Doyle felt the heat searing his skin, penetrating his body, and entering his very bones. He pulled the cable free and everything went black. The fiery pain was gone. There was nothing but a void. He could not see, could not hear, and could not move. He sank into oblivion.
Suddenly there was light. Too bright, after the darkness, and he screwed his eyes shut. He could feel his body again. He seemed to be hanging in mid air. A female voice spoke. “Well, what have we here?”
Doyle forced his eyes open. He blinked in the sunlight. His vision cleared as his eyes adjusted to the light and he saw that he was indeed dangling in mid-air. A hand was holding him up, suspended by the collar of his old leather jacket, his feet clear of the ground. A dainty female hand. The girl who held him up was small, no more than five feet in height, and slim. “Allen Francis Doyle,” he introduced himself. “Who would you be, darlin’?” His throat was dry and rasped on the words. He coughed and felt his demon spines erupting from his face. “Oops.”
The girl, or rather woman as she seemed to be in her twenties, raised her eyebrows. “A demon,” she observed. “Interesting. Why were you trapped in a magical portal, Allen Francis Doyle?”
“You tell me,” Doyle said. “I thought the beacon was burning me up. I didn’t expect to be sucked into some other dimension.” He looked down and saw that his feet were only a couple of inches from the ground. “Thanks for pulling me out,” he said, “but d’you think you could put me down?”
The woman released her grip and dropped him. “I thought to find treasure when I sensed magic. Instead I find only a demon of a kind unknown to me. What skills have you, Allen Francis Doyle? Are you of use for anything other than as a source of blood?” She screwed up her nose. “Somehow I don’t see you as a prospective lover.”
“Ah,” said Doyle, “so it’s a vampire you are. I might have guessed, from the strength, but you standing out in the sunlight threw me off the track and had me thinking ‘Slayer’. I thought Angel destroyed the Gem of Amara?”
“Gem? A magical device, you mean, to enable a vampire to withstand the sunlight?” She grinned, displaying very white teeth behind very red lips, and shook her head. He noticed for the first time that her ears were longer and more pointed than those of any human. “I need no such talisman. I am from another world, lit by another sun, and this sun of yours does not burn me, just as the sun of my world does not burn a vampire from your world who found his way there.”
“That must be nice for you,” Doyle said. “No need to hide out in nasty damp crypts.” He considered turning and running for his life. No, his muscles didn’t seem to be working at full efficiency yet, and anyway he had a feeling that she’d be much faster than him at his best. He noticed something else unusual about her; she had a large sword slung across her back. “So, what are you doing in our world? And, specifically, what are you doing on the Los Angeles docks?”
“I am searching for a Thieves Guild,” she told him. “In my world the docks are always haunts of such organisations. Here, I have found none such.” She looked him up and down. “I need a native guide. You are the first likely prospect.”
“Sorry, darlin’, but I already have a job,” Doyle said. “The Powers That Be appointed me to be Angel’s guide.”
“Do not call me ‘darling’,” she snapped. “I am Bodhi.” She narrowed her eyes. “Who is this ‘Angel’?”
“The vampire with a soul,” Doyle replied.
“Oh?” Her eyes widened again. “I have a soul. Not my original one, of course, but it serves me well.”
Doyle’s eyes widened to match hers. “Is that right? That’s pretty unusual, dar- Bodhi.”
“Perhaps this is a sign,” Bodhi mused. “It may not have been chance that brought me here.”
“Maybe, maybe not,” Doyle said. He scanned his surroundings, looking for a way of escape, and his eyes fell upon a discarded newspaper a few feet away. The headline was unfamiliar, something about US troops in Afghanistan, and then the date caught his eye. He peered more intently and managed to decipher the newsprint. Wednesday May 15th 2002. “What the hell? I was in that other dimension, or whatever, for more than two years?”
“So, you were not aware of the passage of time? You were luckier than the victims of the Imprisonment spells of my world,” Bodhi said, “for they are conscious in their prisons and insanity oft results.”
“I wonder how Angel is doing without me,” Doyle mused.
“He will have found another guide, no doubt,” Bodhi said, “or learned his own way around this city, vast as it is.”
“Ah, that’s not quite the sort of guide I was, dar- Bodhi,” Doyle said. “I was more a moral guide, not that I’m exactly a shining innocent, what with the gambling and the drinking and the, well, there weren’t really any girls, but I kept him on the straight and narrow anyway. And there were the prophetic visions, of course, but I passed them on to Cordy when I thought I was dying.”
“I need no moral guide,” Bodhi declared. “I am a goddess, or as close to one as makes no difference, and the morals of mortals are beneath me. You shall guide me nonetheless.”
“Bodhi, huh?” Doyle frowned. “Bodhi and Doyle. Why does that sound familiar?” He shook his head. “Not that it matters. Let me see how Angel’s doing. If he doesn’t need me any longer then, okay, I’ll be your guide.”
The office was full of strangers. The only one who had even heard of Angel said that he’d moved out two years ago. “Looks like he’s long gone,” Doyle said. “Okay, Bodhi, I guess I’m at your disposal. The only thing is, and this might be a bit of a stumbling block, I can’t let you go around snacking on the populace.”
“You couldn’t stop me,” Bodhi pointed out. “No-one could. I have met Joan, the Vampire Slayer of your world, and she is but a shadow of her counterpart in mine.” She illustrated her point by punching a hole through a concrete wall. She pulled back her arm and revealed knuckles not even bruised by the impact.
“Yeah, well, if you kill me, that would tend to rule out me being your guide,” Doyle riposted. “Maybe we could come to some sort of compromise. Suppose you just ate the bad guys?”
“As does Spike in my world?” Bodhi’s brow furrowed. “I suppose I could unlive with that. Thieves were my prey in Athkatla, after all, and I could do the same here.”
“Okay, we have a deal,” Doyle said. “It’s a team we are, then. A vampire with a soul and a half-demon Irishman with a powerful thirst and a sad inability to win on the horses. Together, we fight crime. Doyle and Bodhi.”
“Bodhi and Doyle,” the vampire girl insisted.
“Bodhi and Doyle it is,” Doyle agreed. “Let’s be professional about this. I want to be paid.”
“Of course,” Bodhi agreed. “Will this suffice for a start?” She tossed him a small pouch.
Doyle opened it and looked inside. He whistled. “If these are real gold, sure, it’ll do very nicely,” he said. “Have you more of those?”
“A thousand or two,” she said airily. “I keep most of my treasure in the form of diamonds.”
“For the first time in my life I’m tempted to say ‘Begorrah’, or at least I would be if I knew what it meant,” Doyle exclaimed. “Maybe I’ve fallen on my feet here after all. You’re not a leprechaun, are you?”
“I am an elf, or was before I was exiled,” Bodhi said.
“Close enough. You’re much better looking than any leprechaun I ever heard of, of course.”
“Of course,” Bodhi agreed. “So, native guide Doyle, what shall I buy with my gold and gems?”
“A car, first off,” Doyle recommended. “Something fast.”
“The wheeled carriages without horses? I approve,” Bodhi said. “I shall ride, and you shall be my driver.”
“Well, of course, as you’re hardly likely to have a license,” Doyle said. “Hmm. I wonder why I have a sudden urge to get a Ford Capri? Not that there’ll be any of those in this country. I guess the closest thing would be a Mustang.”
“The name appeals,” Bodhi agreed. “A wild horse. We shall exchange my diamonds for the coin of this realm and then purchase such a conveyance.”
“Did you say ‘diamonds’?” The speaker was a lanky man with a bandana covering his hair. The bare arms exposed by his wife-beater bore spit-and-pencil prison tattoos. “I’ll take those, bitch.” He produced a short-barrelled revolver and aimed it at Bodhi as he approached.
Doyle looked around and realised that they had wandered into a bad part of town. Two other thugs came out of an alley and joined the first. An automatic pistol and a knife were brandished.
Bodhi grinned widely. Her canines elongated. “Oh, goody,” she said. “Thieves. Just what I was looking for. I think it’s dinner time.” Steel flashed as she drew the sword.
A few shots and screams later the heads of two of the muggers lay on the sidewalk and Bodhi was drinking from the neck of the third. After a few seconds she drew back her head and turned to Doyle. “I would guess that you will not want this one to rise as a vampire,” she said.
“That’s right,” Doyle confirmed. “It would be pointless getting rid of a mugger and replacing him with a blood-sucking monster. Present company excepted.”
“Very well.” The sword flashed again. “He will not rise. Now, what shall we do next?” She slowly ran her tongue over her bloody fingers. “Killing always makes me feel sexy. Well, almost everything makes me feel sexy, in fact, but especially killing.” She tilted her head to one side and scrutinised Doyle. “You’re not really all that bad-looking, in a scruffy sort of way, and I can’t be bothered searching for another partner. There are inns in this world, I presume? Shall we find a bedroom and spend the next few hours engaging in vigorous and satisfying sexual intercourse?”
“I can think of worse plans,” Doyle agreed. “It’s something that was never an option when I was working for Angel.” He grinned. “You know, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.”