Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland
ffutures

Counter-Coup II

Here's the second part of my BtVS / Modesty Blaise crossover, which I think answers some of the questions raised in the previous part. I've now put the final version of part 1 on line here. I realise now that it'll break down into four chapters, not three - hopefully all four will be on line by the end of the week.





This is a BtVS / Modesty Blaise crossover, based primarily on the Modesty Blaise novels and short stories, not the comic strip. For BtVS this is post season 7 and immediately post Angel Season 5; for Modesty Blaise it's after the novels but before some events in the collection Cobra Trap, and goes a little AU. The film never happened, it was a horrid figment of your imagination... This story is for Speaker To Customers. All characters are the intellectual property of their respective creators, production companies, etc. and there is no intention to infringe copyright; this story may not be sold or distributed on a profit-making basis.

Counter-Coup

by Marcus L. Rowland

II



Previously:

"I know it's kinda hard to take in, but it's true. Everyone thinks he's nuts, but they're wrong. Well, wrong-ish. He really is Lucifer, the Lightbringer, the Morningstar, rightful ruler of Hell," said Willow. She paused for breath, then said "I said it was difficult to explain."

"Try," Modesty said flatly.

"Okay. What Faith said earlier is right, basically. The world used to be ruled by demons, only as it got older their powers didn't really work too well, or they got to the point where they felt too restricted. They gradually moved into dimensions where things are more to their liking, leaving this one for humans and the small-time demons that couldn't cut it with the big boys. One of the last groups to leave were the classic demons, the ones everyone has heard of; Lucifer, Asmodeus, that crowd. Some of them didn't make it out, because by then humans were starting to develop their own powers."

"Magic?"

"Yeah. Case in point, Moloch got himself trapped in a spell book. Around that time some of the magicians created the first Vampire Slayer, a woman with the strength and speed to take on the monsters and win even without magic. Faith's one of the current Slayers."

"I'll prove that if you like," said Faith, "but bending steel bars and lifting cars gets old, so we'll skip it unless you really want to see it."

"Later, maybe," said Modesty. "About Lucifer..."

"We don't know much about what happened," said Willow, "but Lucifer used to be in charge of one of the more important hell dimensions. We think he got too close to humans, started to feel a little sorry for us. So they decided to have a coup, throw him out of that hell, and allied themselves to the bunch of demons we call the Senior Partners. Demonic politics are complicated, but we think it's one of their major power bases these days."

"They threw Lucifer into our world?" asked Modesty.

"Some time in the nineteen-fifties, I think. They stripped him of his powers, or as much as they could, made him into a human, as much as they could, took away a lot of his memory, gave him a fake background, and added a few delusions to tie everything together and make it look like he was nuts. Well, he is nuts, I guess. He thinks that he's still ruler of Hell, so he isn't trying to get back to power."

"Why didn't they kill him?"

"My guess is they can't, not directly. It'd break the spell, let the real Lucifer free again. But if he died naturally on Earth, or from human causes, it'd be different. I read the folder on Lucifer, the extortion racket his guardian, that guy Seff, had him involved in. I'd guess it was supposed to end in his death."

"You could be right," said Modesty. "Seff was planning to clean house at the end, kill all the witnesses including Lucifer. We were all nearly killed. But how do you know what the demons planned?"

"I'm guessing, mostly, but the Powers have dropped a few clues. Anyway," said Willow, "once I realised what Lucifer is, I began to wonder if there was any way we could get him back where he belongs."

"Why would you want to? Wouldn't he make your enemies more powerful?"

"Right now that particular dimension is firmly allied with the Senior Partners. With Lucifer running things we think they'd be more neutral, and that'd help us immensely. Amongst other things, we think some friends of ours are being held there, as of a week or so ago."

"In Hell?"

"Yeah." For a moment Willow looked grim. "But they've been there before and survived, if we can get them back fast they ought to be okay."

"Assuming that you're right, why involve me?"

"When I started to look into this, before it got urgent, I hacked into the clinic's records, and one of the things I found was that Lucifer's fees were being paid by a CIA shell company. That got me curious, so I hacked them and found the link to Tarrant's department. They don't have any computers with sensitive data on line, so I left it. When it got urgent the Watchers swung us an introduction. He told us the story, said that you were the only person that Lucifer listens to."

"It isn't that simple. You have to tailor your story to his beliefs. For some reason he decided to trust me, but it's still on that basis."

"He does more than trust you, I think," said Willow. "How old are you?"

"Thirty-four," said Modesty, surprise in her voice.

"Are you sure of that?" asked Willow.

"As close as I can judge it. I was a refugee in the Middle East, I've never known exactly when I was born."

"When were you a refugee?"

"After the war."

"Which war?"

"The second world...." Modesty hesitated, then said "That can't be right."

"I'm sorry. I wasn't sure if you realised. Near as I can work it out, you're about seventy."

"Holy crap," said Faith. "I would have said about thirty tops."

"How can that be possible?" asked Modesty.

"There's a honking big spell helping to keep you young, I think," said Willow. "Probably a few other people too. If it works the way I think it does, the side-effects stop anyone from noticing, including you. I doubt Lucifer even realises he's doing it."

"No, you're wrong..." said Modesty, tapering off as she realised that Willow's theory might explain a lot. It was years since she'd last been ill, other than injuries. How many years? She thought back, tried to remember.

"Near as I can figure it out," said Willow, "they made Lucifer human, but they couldn't make him completely mortal. He was unchanging, so the things around him, and the things that were important to him, had to be unchanging too, to keep him from noticing. I guess you were important to him."

"I think he loved me, as much as he was capable of love."

"I thought that might be it. So the spell started to affect you too, and the people that were important to you. Tarrant for sure - he's nearly a hundred, looks about sixty, and nobody seems to have noticed he should be retired. Anyone else still in your life that was around when you first met Lucifer?"

"Willie Garvin. Weng, of course. And a few friends."

"How old was Weng when you met Lucifer?"

"Twenty."

"Still looks that way to me. And you met Lucifer in nineteen sixty-seven. Lucifer still looks about twenty-five, by the way."

"I can't understand why nobody noticed. Why I never noticed..."

"You wouldn't," said Willow. "For about a hundred years the town that I come from was under a spell cast by an evil magician. Nobody noticed it had a higher death rate than than most war zones, though the figures were in all the government statistics. The spell that affects you is like that, all of the evidence is there, all of the details are on paper if you look for them, but nobody seems to put it together."

"I suppose I ought to feel lucky," said Modesty. "Why don't I?"

"Because people aren't meant to live that way," Willow said gently. "There's a natural cycle. People get older. They retire. Eventually they die. And they do it with their friends. I'm willing to bet that you've lost contact with people over the years, and wouldn't even recognise them if you met them in the street today. You're remembering people wrong, because the spell doesn't want you to realise what's happening."

"That can't be right."

"When I told Tarrant about this he mentioned a guy called Fraser, said he'd died young. Remember him?"

"Of course. Tarrant's old deputy, had a heart attack at his desk. It was a tragedy."

"I looked it up," said Willow, "Got Tarrant to let me see his personnel file. He was nearly sixty."

"It's unbelievable," said Modesty. "How could I be so stupid?"

"It isn't your fault. But the trouble is, while you're marking time the world is moving on. Do you understand politics these days?"

"Not really."

"That doesn't prove much," said Faith, "They're all jerks, who needs to know more?"

"Even so," said Willow, "I think you can see my point."

"Yes.... Yes, I think I can. Poor Weng..."

"Why Weng?" asked Faith.

"His idea was to work for me for a few years then start a family. It's been forty-five years."

"I bet all of the people affected are missing out on things like that. Including you."

"What happens if the spell's broken?" asked Modesty.

"That's a good question," said Willow. "I'd have to run more tests to be absolutely sure, but it feels like you'd simply start aging normally again. Don't worry, you won't put on forty years overnight."

"Would releasing Lucifer break the spell?"

"I think so."

"What did Tarrant say when you told him?"

"He was... I guess I'd have to say he was relieved. He's been sitting behind that desk for nearly fifty years, I think he wants to call it a day."

"Then why didn't he tell me that when I called him?" asked Modesty, then realised the obvious answer. "Of course, he wanted me to make my own decision."

"You've got it," said Willow.

"Then I think we have to do it."

"I was hoping you'd say that. When would you be free to visit Lucifer?"

"Now, I suppose," said Modesty, "but there's someone else I have to talk to first. I can't make this decision on my own." Modesty picked up the phone and pressed one of the speed-dial buttons, to call the pub Willie Garvin owned near Maidenhead, on the Thames West of London.

"The Treadmill," said Willie, adding "'Ullo Princess." His phone had caller ID.

"Willie, something rather odd has come up, would it be convenient if I came round with a couple of Sir Gerald's friends."

"Jacqueline and her pal?" asked Willie. It was their danger word, used as a warning if either of them was under duress.

"No, nothing like that. Just odd."

"Anything I ought to know?"

"I think I'd like to save that until we're there. Like I said, it's odd."

"See you soon, then."

She hung off, then said "Do you have a car?"

"No," said Faith, "We're supposed to phone for a ride when we're done."

"Would it be a problem if it was outside London?"

"Nope."

"Very well. If you don't mind, I'd like you to meet Willie Garvin. Tarrant may have mentioned him. He was with me when we rescued Lucifer, and I think that he's under the same spell. He deserves to know about this too."

"Okay," said Willow, "it's a nice day for driving."

"Just give me five minutes to get dressed." She went into the bedroom, took off her house coat and leotard, and quickly slipped on underclothes and a dress, straightened her makeup, and checked her hair.

Faith smiled and said "Five minutes forty seconds."

"Faith!" said Willow. "Sorry, she has no manners sometimes."

"Says the girl who was betting on ten minutes," said Faith. "Pay up."

Modesty laughed as Willow apologetically reached into her shoulder bag, pulled out a purse, and gave Faith a two-pound coin. Faith spun it between her fingers, so fast it was almost a blur, tossed it into the air, caught it, and pocketed it.

"Have you ever tried card tricks?" asked Modesty, as she led the way to the basement garage.

"Too delicate," said Faith, "I'm fine with coins and throwing knives, I'm a whizz if you want someone to juggle chainsaws, but I'd shred cards if I tried to handle them that fast."

Modesty led them to her car, a titanium silver BMW S6 convertible. "Nice car," Faith said appreciatively as they climbed in. She sat next to Modesty, Willow took a rear seat.

"I think I preferred my old Jensen Interceptor," Modesty said as she took the car out of the garage, around part of the Park Lane one-way system, and back towards the Bayswater Road, "but it didn't have enough power for modern roads.... God, that was twenty-odd years ago."

"'Fraid so," said Willow.

"I like German bikes," said Faith, "but Harleys are better. Never driven the cars, 'cept one time I stole a Mercedes. But this looks like a sweet machine."

"What about you, Willow?" asked Modesty, expertly slipping the car between two streams of traffic at Shepherd's Bush, and pushing Willow's revelations to the back of her mind.

"Actually," said a faint voice from the back seat, "I get kinda car sick."

TBC

In case thecynic1 was wondering, your comments made me realise that Tarrant and other secondary characters would be affected by the spell, which is one reason why the story is a little longer than I originally thought. Many thanks!

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