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Re-posted fic: The Dark Road
head-desk - me
whiskyinmind wrote in fandomsbitca
liz_marcs asked people to link to their Hallowe'en fics and I remembered this one I wrote in 2003. Because Geoshitties closed down last year, I couldn't simply point her to the archive for it so I'm reposting it here!

It's seven years old and is one of the first Buffyverse fics I wrote. (Including my original posting template-y thing)

You have been warned.

Title: The Dark Road
Author: Shona (aka Mara)
Rating: PG
Setting: Season three - Hallowe'en
A/N: In response to the challenge Matt and I set on the BBBFic list, never again are we doing a challenge with comedy words!!!!! (I remember one of the comedy words was 'gusset' but I'm blanking on what the other was eta Praxis. On re-reading it, I remembered what it was. Not that it sticks out like a sore thumb or anything!)
A/N 2: Thank you thank you thank you Matt, both for redoing the final part and trying to convince me that my dialogue doesn't suck! Matt is monkey_matt



“Why is it, every single year so far you’ve told me it’s going to be a quiet night but it never is?” Somehow Buffy managed to ask the question whilst ducking another wildly thrown punch, which would probably have caused her some serious couch time at the chiropractors in later life. She still didn’t know what it was they were facing, it couldn’t be what it seemed to be – that would just be ridiculous. Bored with the fight she decided it was time to end it. Dropping into a crouch she swung her leg round in an arc, tangling her opponent’s feet and making him fall heavily onto his back. Springing up, she drew back her foot and aimed a kick at his head. She squirmed as her brand new boot connected with the overly soft flesh and continued until it was out of sight.



Gagging, she pulled her foot out and glared at the pulpy flesh clinging to the suede. One of these days she’d remember that tan suede was not a good material for patrol! Still, at least this particular fight was over… or so she thought until the thing again rose to it’s feet and moved quicker than she would have thought possible – straight for Giles!



It got past her Watcher’s defences and barrelled him to the ground. He was helpless as it pinned him there, an evil grin on what remained of its face. For the space of a heartbeat Buffy couldn’t breathe as panic swept across her. And then she was moving, purely on instinct, running low she knocked into it and kept going in a move that would have had her roped in as the star player in the opening line up of the Razorbacks for the coming state championship game.



Wearing what seemed to be some kind of medieval armour, it made a solid impact on the ground and a painful impression on her shoulder.

“Go for the gusset!” Giles choked out. She risked a glance over her shoulder and saw him struggling to his feet.

“What?!”

“The gap in the armour at the shoulder!” He pointed out the space between two sheets of armour. Using her stake she stabbed through; her efforts rewarded as it slumped motionless to the ground. Victorious, she wrenched her weapon from the thing and was instantly covered in slime as a violent spurt of orange mucus followed the stake. ‘Great,’ she thought, ‘this stuff is never going to come out in the wash’.



Giles approached from behind and laid a hand gently on her shoulder. She turned and asked, “Okay, so what was that?”

“I fear it was the vanguard for a legend. Jack.” He was using Watcher-speak again.

“Huh?” He glanced down, and quickly removed his hand from her arm on seeing the mess she was in.

“Sorry, Jack O’Lantern. It was paving the way for him.” He absent-mindedly pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and began wiping his hands.

“Jack O’Lantern?! You’re kidding right? That’s a real … thing?!”

“Have you never wondered where the myth comes from? Jack was a real man turned away from heaven and barred from hell after playing a trick on the devil. With only a burning ember from hell carried inside a hollow pumpkin to light his way, he’s wandered through limbo ever since. Every year he emerges in this realm to try to bargain with the devil.” He paused, “Or at least, that’s the story. Personally I never paid it much heed until now.”

Buffy glared at him. “So, this ‘night off for the undead’ thing was a lie then?” He made to answer but she stopped him. “Never mind. So why’s he in Sunnydale then?”

“As I’ve told you, we’re standing on the mouth of hell. If he wants in, where else would he go?” There was definite sarcasm in his tone this time.

Glaring at him she readied a catty come back but stopped as she spotted a faint glow coming from behind him. Seeing her expression, he turned and gasped.



From the murky fog which had inexplicably sprung up – yet another drawback of living in Sunnydale, one could never count on the weather – a flickering light was moving towards them. This must be Jack.



The air grew dank and the fetid stench of rotted vegetables wafted over them causing them to gag. Slowly, inexorably, something emerged from the gloom. Definitely a man, bent with age and yet somehow with an ageless quality, he carried a twisted birch pole with a light fixed to the end. On closer inspection they could see it was a single glowing coal trapped within what could only be described as a hollowed-out pumpkin. No jolly face carved on it, however, just holes cut randomly letting light escape.



Taking no notice of them, he continued on his usteady way. Buffy made to follow him, but Giles restrained her with a hand on her shoulder.

“There’s nothing you can do, let him go.”

“But… he’s dead right? This is what I do!”

He shook his head, “He doesn’t belong to this realm, he can’t stay here. Soon it’ll be November and he’ll be returned to his own realm. All we can do is stop the vanguard doing any damage while he’s here.” He looked down at the prone figure before them, “And it looks as though you succeeded there.”



They continued to watch as Jack wove his way through the cemetery. The town clock struck midnight and the glow from the pumpkin lamp faded into the retreating fog. As they watched, the figure at their feet also slowly disappeared, although to Buffy’s disgust the ichor remained.



Giles walked away, talking, she picked up her weapon and followed.

“Anyway, as I was saying: Praxis, practical application of knowledge, if you don’t know what you’re facing, be prepared for anything.”
“Look at me!”

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m covered in goop! And … and you’re not!”

Bloody teenagers!

“D’you think the shop’ll exchange these boots?”
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What's the pairing or characters? (Yes, I am one of those people who has to know before I read...sorry!)


Gabrielle

Heh! Like I said, this is my original posting template - the proper one, with characters etc is over at my journal.

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