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The beginning of the end: A Buffy/Life on Mars crossover

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  • The beginning of the end: A Buffy/Life on Mars crossover

    "Come along, sunshine! You're coming with me!"

    The young man in the white t-shirt was struggling to get away from Gene. His hands were cuffed, but he seemed to believe that if he wriggled enough, he could get free.

    "No I'm bloody not," he snarled. "I'm getting out of this shit 'ole and back down South to civilisation!"

    Up until that point, Sam was wondering whether to intervene. Gene was being rougher than he needed to be, as ever.

    But, civilisation? The secret, Neanderthal part of Sam Tyler's brain snarled, and called the boy a Southern poof. Then felt guilty.

    Gene kept his Neanderthal on the outside, so his response to the insult was a swift punch in the guts for the young prisoner. "Shut yer fookin mouth! Southern poof!"

    The kid had been caught squatting in a warehouse with a bunch of mates, maybe doing drugs, though they'd not been found with any.

    "Probably gobbled the lot already," Gene had commented.

    The boy was still pretty wired on something when they picked him up. He was hallucinating, shouting something about demons. Gene had been gleeful at the arrest, due to the considerable number of naked young ladies at the scene.

    "Get in the back of the van!" Gene yelled, bundling the young man into the vehicle, while Sam Tyler smirked. Gene slammed the door. "What's so bloody funny?"
    Sam shrugged. "Nothing much, Guv. Old joke I just remembered."

    How do you explain that you're laughing at a reference to a film that hasn't been made yet?

    - - -

    "So?Ripper, is it? First name Jack by any chance?"

    Ripper glared up at Gene from his seat in the interrogation room. He was tied to the chair, since handcuffs hadn't been enough to get him to sit still. Punch to the mouth didn't do much use either.

    He was pumped up on something, giving him more strength and resilience than was natural. Maybe just the drugs, Sam thought. He was leaning on the wall behind Gene. They'd done this routine many times: Gene putting on the metaphorical thumbscrews, Sam doing his best to take them off.
    This one looked young. Maybe 20, with long hair, intense blue eyes and a torn white t-shirt, smeared with blood (mostly his own, courtesy of Mr Hunt). Other substances, too, that Sam couldn't identify. Paint? Ash?

    "What are you charging me with? Possession of naked women?" He sneered at Gene. "Probably just jealous, aren't you?"

    That got him a smack round the chops. Gene leaned over him, mouth very close to his ear. "Listen, sonny?it's time to start talking, or Mrs Palm and her five lovely daughters here?" He raised his fist, then opened it and waggled his fingers? "will be making friends with your goolies."

    "I'm not scared of you?.ooof!"

    "Gene!" Sam caught hold of Gene's arm and tried to pull him back before he could get another blow in. "He might be a pain in the arse?but we don't even know if he's done anything yet."

    "Done anything?" Gene was incredulous. "He's done more drugs than John Paul George and Ringo Starr!"

    Sam had to concede that it looked that way. But, whether the young tearaway and his friends had actually been causing any trouble was moot. When Sam and Gene'd arrived at the scene, the kids had just been sitting in a circle with some funny symbols painted on the ground, in various states of semi-undress?apparently meditating. One of them had scarpered ? skinny bloke with shortish hair ? while Sam and Gene had hauled in Ripper and the girls.

    "What were you doing in the warehouse?" said Gene, turning back to Ripper. The boy's face was starting to bruise and swell on one side. His eye was half-closed. "Some sort of sick sex games?"

    "You'd like that, wouldn't you, copper," said Ripper. "I know your kind. But him?" he looked at Sam, blue eyes searching his face. "What's your game?"

    "It's not a game," said Sam. He turned to Gene and whispered. "Could you give us a moment alone? I think he might talk to me."

    "Hopin for a blowjob from whoopsie the rent boy, are we?"

    "Rent boy!?" spat Ripper.

    Sam kept his eyes on Gene. "Please, Guv?"

    Gene shrugged. "Fine. Got a murder to solve, anyway. This one'll keep." He pointed at Ripper with a menacing glare. "But I'll be back."

    - - - -

    "It'll be better if you talk to me. Tell me what you were doing in that warehouse."

    "You wouldn't believe me if I told you the truth."

    Sam pulled up a chair and sat on the other side of the table from Ripper, elbows on the formica. "You'd be surprised what I'd believe."

    Ripper shrugged. Sam had undone his bonds, leaving him in handcuffs, after he'd got a promise out of him that he'd stay calm for now. "Ok then?" He smiled and leaned closer, with a conspiratorial air. "We were doing magic. To summon a demon from hell." He co'cked his head to one side and appeared to reconsider. "Well, a hell dimension."

    Sam couldn't stop his eyebrows from shooting up in surprise.

    "See. You don't believe me," Ripper leaned forward. "S'ok, I wouldn't expect you to understand. You coppers?you think the world's so neat and simple. Bad people?good people?innocents and villains. But it's not. It's a bloody mess."

    "Why did you?summon this demon?" asked Sam. It was ridiculous. And yet?he couldn't exactly throw stones when it came to what was real and what wasn't. His own reality was the most fragile of glass houses.

    He watched the young man as he talked. Strange to think that this boy should, by rights, be in his 50s by now. He found it impossible to imagine that wild young face ever growing old. He looked like some kind of feral animal in human form. Cheekbones you could cut yourself on, a full mouth curled with anger like an incredibly pissed off Mick Jagger.

    Ripper explained that they'd summoned the demon to give them information about another "dark spell" they wanted to perform. Something about a demon called Eggy-something that they were chasing?the ultimate mystical high?he didn't take it all in really. He was trying to read the boy and work out if it was just the drugs talking, or brainwashing, or madness, or?He wasn't quite ready to contemplate the 'or' that encompassed demons being real. His life might be weird, but that was a whole other level.

    "Listen," said Sam, when the boy had finished. He had a job to do here, after all. "I think I can get you off the squatting charges, provided you don't go back?if you'll give up your supplier."

    "Supplier?" Ripper laughed, a surprisingly girlish giggle. "You mean drugs? Mate, I wasn't taking drugs! That was just the after-effects of the spell. Bloody powerful magicks we were using?" Ripper leaned forward. "We're bloody powerful. Not sure you should be messing with us."

    He sat up straight, seeming to sense something. A nasty smile spread over his face. "Nah. Don't think you should be messing with us at all."

    A blast of light and heat struck Sam square in the chest. He cannoned backwards, knocking over his chair, and fell, smack, on the floor. Out cold.


    "You let him escape? You nancy! He was tied up."

    Sam felt he probably shouldn't admit that he'd untied the prisoner. In any case, that wasn't how he'd escaped. "There was? some kind of explosion."

    Gene looked sceptically around the cell. "Doesn't exactly look like a bomb's gone off, does it?"

    "I swear?" Sam rubbed his head, full of confusion. The room looked completely untouched. In which case, how had Ripper escaped? It couldn't be?? Magic? Sam shook his head, trying to clear it.

    Gene gave him a disgusted look. "You and your funny turns. You're as bad as me mother in law!"


    On the other side of town, in a quiet pub, two young men were nursing pints. Ripper, and a skinny, feral-looking friend wearing eye-wateringly tight trousers and an artful dodgersque tailcoat.

    "Thanks for the rescue, Ezza." He smiled at Ethan and clapped him on the back. "You sure they can't come after us here?"

    Ethan gestured around at the other patrons. Ripper realized that they weren't quite as human as he'd first assumed. "Yup, I'm sure. It's a demon bar," Ethan replied. "In case you didn't notice our bumpy, lumpy friends. It's cloaked."

    "Cool?.So?" Ripper swilled his pint around the glass, thoughtfully. "That was a bloody impressive spell. How'd you work it?"

    "Wouldn't you like to know?"

    "Oh, don't play the coy vixen with me," said Ripper. He leaned forward, his elbows touching Ethan's where they rested on the bar, then put his hand on his friend's arm. Ethan's skin was ghost-pale. It surprised Ripper, finding it was very warm to the touch. "Tell me."

    Ethan looked down at the hand. "You think you can flirt my secrets out of me do you, Ripper old boy?"

    "Hardly old." Ripper winked. "I'm ever so young and innocent. Like a schoolgirl, really."
    Ethan smiled. "Innocent my arse!" He leaned back in his chair, grinning like the cat who'd got the entire dairy. "Won't tell you the spell ? that's a secret?but let's just say, that copper won't be hassling us again?or anyone else."

    Ripper sat bolt up, feeling suddenly very sober. "Ethan?what did you do?"


    Sam was feeling woozy. He staggered back to his desk, garnering raised eyebrows and chuckles from the lads. A couple of them made "he's had a few" gestures. He slumped over his papers, unable to focus on the words. The clicking of female heels made him raise his head a little, but he couldn't focus on the figure before him. She had two heads, it seemed, and a thousand eyes.

    "Sam, I've finished interviewing the girls, they live around the corner, and I don't think?Sam?what's the matter?" Annie's voice echoed around and around inside his head. It was like he was at the bottom of a well. No. It was like he was the well. Being hollowed out?his thoughts? evaporating? everything?



    "Drained his life force, didn't I?" Ethan puffed out his chest.

    Ripper felt cold, suddenly clammy, like his skin was too tight. "You mean?Ethan, mate, tell me you didn't?"

    Ethan shrugged. His expression was scared, but he was trying to cover it, like none of this mattered. A cat that doesn't want to admit it's lost a fight, so pretends there was no fight to begin with. "What? I had to save your hide, didn't I?"

    "You didn't have to kill him."

    "Don't exaggerate. He's not dead. He's just?"

    "Dying!?" Ripper stood, slamming his glass down on the bar, making a couple of the demon drinkers jump. "Oh, yeah, that's so much better!"

    Ethan turned away a little, inspecting the contents of his glass, his mouth a petulant little moue, like a slightly cross puppy. He glanced over his shoulder at Ripper, sneering a little. "Since when do you care what happens to the straights?"

    Ripper grabbed him by the wide lapels, dragging him to his feet, "Since when did you become a murderer?"

    He pushed his friend away with a snort of anger and disgust. Ethan stepped forwards, putting a hand on his arm. "Listen, I can fix it, no damage?"

    "It?" Ripper shrugged him off, violently.

    His eyes are like ice, Ethan thought. Cold as space. Merciless. "Him, I mean," he said. His voice was soothing, or at least he hoped so. "Easy. Well, not easy?but I can do it." He smiled at his friend, tipping his head to one side so his fringe flopped over his eyes like a little boy.

    Ripper stepped closer, so their chests were almost touching. Ethan half thought he was going to give him a Glasgow kiss. Didn't hold out much hope of getting the other kind in a hurry. Not that Ethan cared much for kissing? but it did lead to such splendid places. He found himself smiling a little, in spite of the tension.

    Ripper glared at him, grabbed his face with long, hard fingers. "Tell me how to fix it, you nasty little f'ucker. Now."
    - - -

    Sam woke up in hospital in the middle of the night. The ward was in semi darkness, the sound of sleeping patients and machines all around. For a joyful moment, Sam thought he was really and truly awake, back in his own time and his own clothes. But when his eyes de-blurred and he came to full consciousness of his surroundings, he saw that there were no shiny beeping machines, no modern trappings. But at least he was alive in some shape or form.

    "What happened?" he murmured.

    "Mystical coma," said a voice.

    "But I've already got one of those," Sam said, slurrily. Shaking his head, he looked towards the source of the voice - the left side of his bed ? and saw Ripper sitting there. "You!"

    He'd changed out of the smeared and ripped up clothes into a tightly-fitted flowery shirt, brown overcoat and cords. The lad was leaning back in his chair, casually, but his eyes were lively and watchful. He glanced over his shoulder.

    "You what, mate?" Ripper eyed him keenly, leaning forward on his thighs. "What's that about your mystical coma?"

    "Never mind. Delirious." Sam sat up. It hurt. "What?oww?what are you doing here?"

    "Saving your life," said Ripper. He grinned and held up a little bag full of a strong-smelling powder. "Little spell, just for you."

    Sam scowled. "Very nice of you?except?I've got a feeling you had something to do with my life being in danger in the first place."

    Ripper's smile faded. "Yeah. Sorry about that. It's my mate Ethan. He?goes too far sometimes." Ripper rubbed the side of his face, looking exhausted. "But?you're alright, are you? Feeling ok?"

    Sam thought about this for a moment. "Yeah. More or less. Just like I've been out on the piss for a week and slept in a bin." He was feeling more and more like himself, and as he grew more awake and alert, he realised that he was in a potentially dangerous situation. Although this "Ripper" seemed alright ? just lost and angry, like so many kids his age.

    And there was something in the young man that Sam couldn't help but like and trust. Beneath all the swagger and the air of violence it seemed like there was a germ of something good.

    Ripper stood. "So? since you're ok?you'll excuse me if I do a bunk Before you get a chance to call for backup." He gave a little mock-salute. "See you around, Guv," he said, then hoiked himself onto the window ledge, pushed open the window, and leaped out into the night.

    As Ripper walked along the street from the hospital back to their new squat, he brooded on the events of the past few hours. Should he really worry so much about what Ethan had done? Was he just being a pansy about the whole thing? The further he got from his barney with his friend, the less important it seemed, the more he felt he'd overreacted. Surely they'd agreed to push things to their limit? Surely anyone who got in their way was fair game?wasn't it?

    Was it?

    He'd felt so clear before today. Everything focused on the simple goal ? getting as juiced as possible, as often as possible?finding ways to get higher and higher, to feel the power surge through them?to share those highs with Ethan?to see his eyes roll back in his head with the thrill of it.

    And they still had higher to go. Eyghon was still on the horizon, almost within their grasp.

    But when Ethan had said, so casually, that the copper was dying?he'd felt like someone'd walked over his grave, or thrown a bucket of cold water over him. He'd always known Ethan was a bit of a bastard? wasn't that part of the attraction? But murder?murder was new.

    Feet padding almost silently on the moonlight pavements, hands shoved into his overcoat pockets, his mind wandered down memory lane. Sweet place, when you're young. When the world's still clean and everything's ahead. He remembered the first time he'd set eyes on Ethan, at a party in Camden. He'd just left Oxford ? good bloody riddance to that stifling dump ? and had met a bloke who knew a guy who knew where a good party might be.

    And what a party. Bodies sprawled and dancing, dim lights, thick smoke, bare-breasted girls. Out of all that smoke and music and chaos ? completely blotto on the strongest weed he'd ever smoked ? he'd seen Ethan's pale face, seeming to float in the air above him. Too stoned to say anything much, too mesmerized by Ethan's snakey eyes to do more than grin like an idiot?

    They'd danced. Or perhaps they'd fallen to the ground and lain there, one with the music. It had been so sweet, that first meeting. Sweet and new.

    Now, Ripper felt that things he'd done, things he'd let other people do, were beginning to drag at him. Cold hands out of the night, stroking and clutching like muscular cobwebs.

    He glanced around at the empty Manchester streets. So quiet compared with London. Don't want to stay here. Need the press of minds and bodies around me. Need the energy.

    No need to stay here now ? the spell they'd done with the local witches in the warehouse had given them the final information they needed to perform the Egyhon spell. They could go back, tell Philip and the others?

    Footsteps in the dark. Ripper looked up. It was Ethan. He stopped when he was close enough to be sure it was Ripper. He gave a shy little wave. Ripper walked closer, til they were face to face under a streetlamp's pool.

    "Is he ok?" Ethan sounded contrite. Whether that was heartfelt or not, no way of telling. But Ripper felt softened towards him.

    "Yeah. Think so," he said. He put an arm around Ethan's shoulder. "Just don't do anything like that again, will you?"

    Ethan smiled meekly. "I just didn't think, you know? I got so crazed with the power?you know how it is." Ethan put his head on Ripper's shoulder. "You know how I get. I just lose all control." His arm snaked around his friend's waist, underneath the overcoat, underneath the shirt, too.

    "Yes. I do." Ripper pulled away, or tried to, but Ethan kept hold, so Ripper gave in and put his arms around Ethan's neck. "You're f'ucking infuriating," he said. "And?oi, hands!"

    Ethan had slipped his hands around Ripper's arse, giving a cheeky squeeze. Ripper shoved him away.

    "I'm watching you, mate. Don't think I'll forget this," he said. But he was giggling. Anger was a waste of energy, when you're young and in?when you're young and the world is yours.

    - - -

    Sam opened his front door, glad to be home. It'd been a crazy day ? and that was measured against a fairly high background level of crazy. Magic?real, not real? And who was "Ripper", really? No previous police record?under that name, anyway. But who knows?if magic was really a possible explanation?could've expunged his records?

    He planned to ask around the next day. Tonight, he needed sleep. But, hopefully, not dreams. They were never just dreams, always nightmares.

    -- Robofrakkinawesome BANNER BY FRANCY --