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The old guard: a Buffy/Hellblazer crossover ficlet

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  • The old guard: a Buffy/Hellblazer crossover ficlet

    Author’s note: This story is set during season 8 of Buffy, before No Future for You. It’s a crossover with Hellblazer (the comic starring John Constantine), but you can read it without knowing Hellbazer – John Constantine fits pretty neatly into the Buffyverse, I feel. He’s pretty much Spike crossed with Ripper with a little bit of Ethan.

    Rating: PG for swearing and bad role models. Especially the smoking. God I really want a fag now, and I don’t even smoke.

    - - - -

    He loves it all. The flick of a lighter, the ahhh of the first exhalation of the morning. Even the coughing fit that follows. It’s all part of the rhythm. Life needs a rhythm, otherwise it stops dead. You stop, your demons catch you up, and that is never a pretty sight.

    Smoke, sweet smoke - gives the lungs a purpose, gives the body a reason to keep on pulling itself out of bed. Not that he’s out of bed yet. He’s fully clothed in last night’s rumpled suit, still lying where he fell asleep, stretched out and contemplating the day to come. Fcking nightmare day. He’d promised an old friend he’d help him out and, as usual, he was regretting it before it’d even kicked off. Ripper’s visits always meant trouble. And that’s even the ones where no one dies or gets possessed.

    John marks time with cigarettes, and it’s second pack o’clock in the morning when old Ripper rings the doorbell. He knows who it is. Not out of any fancy wizardry. Just because he knew he was coming some time today, and no one else would call round before noon. Officious fcking wanker. Even in his rebellious days, Ripper liked to boss you about and tell you how to live your life.

    But now he was back asking for help, and it was John’s turn. He had a boatload of advice for old Ripper, though he wasn’t sure any of it would get taken.

    First piece of advice would be stop ringing the bloody bell, I can hear you, not fcking deaf: “I’m ****ing coming, Ripper, keep your thinning ****ing hair on!”

    He staggered to the door and pulled it open. Ripper – Giles, whatever he was calling himself these days – was standing in the doorway, looking all tweedy. Not fooling anyone.

    “My hair is not thinning, thank you very much,” he said. Prim little fcker. But there was still a twinkle in those blue eyes. He smiled at John. “Hope I didn’t wake you.”

    John shook his head and held up his latest cigarette. “Been having breakfast in bed, haven’t I?”


    “I’d offer you one, but I’m down to my last six packs. Plus, looks like you can afford your own these days.” John gestured to his old friend’s smart appearance, then turned around and walked back down the hall. Ripper followed.

    “Thanks. But I’ve given up. My job’s required rather too much running around to keep pace with your impressive habits.”

    “Mug’s game, being a Watcher. Though, I heard your lot were all blown up? MIRA, was it?” They were in the living room now. John gestured to a well-worn sofa, and Ripper took a seat.

    “Sorry?” he said. “MIRA?”

    “Mystical IRA. Those bastards have had it in for the council for years.”

    “I see. But no. It wasn’t them. It was a preacher called Caleb.” Ripper took off his glasses. Made his face look very different. John remembered what a scary bastard he could be sometimes. The lines of his mouth could set so hard, you’d think there was no mercy in the world and definitely none in Ripper.

    Out came a hankerchief – a sodding hankerchief! – and the glasses got a good rub. John watched with amusement.

    “Preacher? Well, you know my feelings about religion. So, consider me not very fcking surprised.”

    Ripper cleared his throat disapprovingly. Perhaps he’d accepted Jesus as his personal whathaveyou in the intervening years? That’d be a turn up for the books. “He wasn’t exactly working for the church,” was all he said.

    “Who then?”

    “The First Evil.”

    “That muppet’s still fooling people he’s actually powerful?” John laughed. He stubbed out his fag and pulled out another.

    Ripper made a sniffy noise. “Well, really! The First Evil is a considerable threat to the world. He almost decimated the slayer’s forces.”

    “No offence, mate, but a strong wind could decimate the slayer’s forces. Bunch of little girls with slightly-more-than-average-human strength? Not exactly formidable. Well, not before the spell, anyway.” John spread out his arms across the back of the sofa, leaning back. “I’m guessing that’s what you’re here to chat about? Or if you’re not, you should be.”

    Ripper nodded. “It’s about one of the slayers who…benefitted from the spell. An aristocratic young woman who I understand may prove a threat to…well…everything. But I wanted to be sure before I took action.”

    “Oh,” said John. He felt a bit sick. “You mean Gigi?”

    “There’s been talk about her?”

    “Only every bloody sorcerer in town and out of it…everyone’s yapping about that girl.”

    “None of it good, I take it?”

    John blew out a puff of smoke. Just an untidy cloud of smoke. Never one for smoke rings. Reminded him too much of the wrong kind of wizard; the kind with a beard who likes to hang around with young boys, “teaching” them. He shook his head. “The runes I read yesterday had her pegged to end the world…” He looked at his watch, which had a little date display on it. “A week next Tuesday.”

    “Bloody hell!”

    “Yeah. Pretty much,” said John. “Hell on Earth, here be dragons, rain of toads and fire. The whole ****ing shebang. And, it’s not just the runes. All the signs are pointing towards it.”

    “So, why aren’t you out there doing something about it, John?” Ripper leaned forward.

    John shrugged. “I thought you’d be all over it. Slayer stuff, that’s more your arena. But don’t worry. If you screw it up, I’ll get it done.”

    Ripper smiled. “Don’t worry. That won’t be necessary. But you really are a lazy sod, you know that?” He got up, clearly having enough confirmation, and not seeming to want to stay and chat.

    “Maybe better for the world that I am,” said John. He got up too. He wanted to say something but he wasn’t sure what. Being lost for words, not often his problem. But this was an old mate, and he wanted to stop him from doing something stupid that he couldn’t take back. “But maybe it’d be better for the world if you didn’t meddle so much yourself, either. That slayer spell…” He whistled. “That’s sending ripples everywhere. The kind of ripples that turn into ****ing great tsunamis, if you know what I mean.”

    “The spell wasn’t my…” Ripper began. But then he stopped himself. His face did that cold, shutting-down thing. The shutters went down, and he wasn’t going to be taking any advice. He started to walk towards the door. “I should really go. But thanks for the information. I owe you a debt.”

    “Fine.” They started down the corridor. John was now just wanting Ripper out of there. If he wasn’t going to listen, there was nothing he could do. And that itchy feeling was growing in him. The feeling that said…there’s a train coming, and we’re all lying on the tracks, and we’re feeling the first vibrations in this room, right now. Maybe there was nothing to be done in any case. Damage done, train on its way. Next stop hell on earth.

    They were at the door, and Ripper had it open, standing in the doorway.

    “So, you going to kill the little lady, then?” John asked. Curiosity getting the better of him after all. “You’ll have trouble. Her estate’s got some serious protection.”

    “Good to know,” said Giles. “I think I may farm this one out.”

    “Get your slayer to do it, maybe? Buffy, isn’t it? Are you two…you know?”

    Ripper gave him a foul, angry look. Like a schoolmarm on the blob crossed with the god of thunder.

    “I’ll take that as a no.”

    “Appreciated,” said Ripper. “But, no, I shan’t use Buffy. There are other slayers, after all.”

    “Yes,” said John. “World’s sodding dripping with slayers right about now.” A drag of a cigarette. John looked more closely at his friend. “You sure it was such a bloody brilliant idea?”

    Ripper seemed to bristle at that. Then there was a slight softening. His smile was sad. Made him look younger.

    John found himself missing the old days for a moment. Not that life was simpler then, but you could get away with getting pissed more often without such fcking awul blinding pain the next day. And being pissed made things feel simpler.

    “No,” said Ripper. “I’m not sure at all. But we have to move forward with things as they are.”

    “Yeah,” said John. “I suppose we do.” His hand was on the door, ready to close it. He was tired. Tired old man. Though Ripper was older still. What kept him going? Fighting like that? Didn’t he know the world just kept on getting worse and worse, and there’s nothing you could do about it? “Good luck with yer brave new world, mate.”

    “It’s not my world,” said Ripper. “Goodbye John,” he added, and walked away down the corridor, with a nod.

    John watched him for a moment, then he shut the door and tried to fight the feeling that the end of the world – his world at least – was marching forward really, really fcking fast.
    Last edited by Wolfie Gilmore; 18-07-08, 05:42 PM.

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