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Fan Fiction: From the Shadows
Chapter Thirteen: The Enemy Of My Enemy
Only entropy comes easy.
Lilah took one look at the psychic and spun around, facing Jonathan's direction. "I knew something was up," she said, narrowing her eyes. "You're in here somewhere." Then she reached into her jacket and pulled out a small, flat package. In one quick movement she had it open, then cast its contents into the air in Jonathan's direction. He had already started backing away, but it was too late; the cloud of powdery green dust caught him before he was out of range.
Jonathan wasn't sure what the dust was actually supposed to do, but it sure made a great tracking system for the bad guys. His light-bending field ate the powder pretty quickly and made it invisible right along with him, but that also made a rather obvious hole in the green cloud. A few curses and commands from Lilah, and he had a whole group of lawyers and minons wrestling him to the ground. All that bodyweight within the spell's radius was enough to finally overload it, and it burst silently with a great flash of light.
Lilah gave him the once-over, and frowned. "Well, well. Junior Chaos. You're the last person I expected to see, but I guess blood does count for something." She threw a glance at one of the men gripping his arms. "Put him in with the other one, Darryl; it's always good to have an extra sacrifice. I think I'll stay here after all and get the meeting over with before any more unwanted guests show up."
The one called Darryl snapped out a quick "Yes, Ma'am" and got a good grip on Jonathan's arm. Jonathan meant to fight back, but the green powder must have been some kind of drug, because he couldn't seem to move much, and his tongue felt like a lead bar in his mouth. Darryl had to literally drag him to get him to walk; his feet weren't cooperating at all.
Down a hall, through a side corridor, and down a secured stairwell; the second door down was fitted with a lock a lot like the one on the basement door. Jonathan was willing to bet it carried at least as many enchantments as the other one, too. His brain wasn't exactly working at top speed at the moment, but he could parse enough out of Lilah's words to realize that Wolfram and Hart was probably holding his father, and that therefore this had to be some kind of magical jail.
Darryl carefully unlocked the door, then pushed it open to enter a short hallway, with six closely-spaced doors. The walls were painted gunmetal gray, with traceries of words in pearlescent white around each door. The doors themselves were heavy and thick, probably steel, with little covered openings two-thirds of the way up so prisoners could be watched or fed without endangering the observers. Darryl went straight to the second door on the left, peered in, then grunted in satisfaction.
"Here you go, kid. Enjoy your last day on Earth." Darryl cracked the door open, then hurled Jonathan bodily in.
He collapsed rather limply on the floor, jarring his bruised face against rought concrete. The effects of the drug combined with his suddenly-renewed headache to send his mind spinning dizzily, enough that he barely noticed when another hand flipped him over and began touching the injured area with careful fingers.
"Hello again, Jonathan," he heard someone say; then blackness came, and he welcomed it with open arms.
The first thought that passed through Jonathan's mind when he drifted back to awareness was something along the lines of "Bleargh."
"Jonathan?" he heard his cellmate ask, cautiously. "Are you able to move?"
He tried experimentally to move his arms and legs, and found the paralysis gone. He was still stuck at molasses-speed, but at least he wasn't frozen anymore. "A little," he answered carefully. "What was that?"
"It's a sophisticated numbing agent," the other man answered, and Jonathan sighed. It really was Ethan Rayne. "It only affects magic users. I don't know the name of it, but I'm very familiar with it, as the Initiative used it extensively. The paralysis wears off rather quickly, within an hour, but it leaves one unable to cast any spells for almost a day."
"Oh," Jonathan said, then took a deep breath and pulled himself into a sitting position against one of the walls of the small, bare room. "Why are you here, anyway? Thought you were leaving."
Ethan frowned and turned away, pacing slowly across the opposite end of the room. "I was leaving. I got all the way to the airport and was captured just before I could board the plane. Karmic payback, I suppose; I've dealt enough chaos, now I can't seem to turn around without suffering the whims of Janus."
"You sound pretty fatalistic about it."
"Contrary to popular belief," Ethan said, with the weariness of having said it many times before, "this is not a game for me. I enjoy chaos, I never denied that, but I'm well aware of the potential consequences."
A sudden rush of anger and adrenaline flooded through Jonathan's system, and he sat up straighter. "Are you?" he asked. "Are you really? Do you have any idea what happened after that illusion spell you did on Wesley?"
"What do you mean?" Ethan stopped walking and blinked at him, startled at his sudden vehemence.
"Angel was outside when we left," Jonathan said, clenching his fists. "He threw Wesley into the wall. Angel killed him, Ethan, because he thought he was Holtz. So don't try to sell me some platitude about potential consequences."
Silence descended in the room, for several long moments. Ethan studied the door with a slightly dismayed expression, and perhaps a little sadness in the shadows of his eyes; but it didn't take long for the sardonic smile to return. "As I said, Jonathan, this isn't a game for me. It wasn't my intention to cause his death, but I don't regret my actions. I don't expect you to understand."
"If I hadn't been there," Jonathan said quietly, "he would have stayed dead. This isn't a game for me either. You can just cancel that visit you were planning for my next birthday, 'cause I'm not going to change my mind."
"Stayed...? You little bastard." Ethan started laughing, but his amusement had a bitter edge to it.
Jonathan felt a twinge of guilt for his trick, but he shoved it back down immediately. He hadn't lied, after all, and unless you counted the whole father thing as a trump card, he had more reasons to be loyal to Wesley than to Ethan.
Ethan stopped laughing abruptly, and his face took on a strange, distant look. "Did you feel that?"
"Feel what?" Jonathan frowned.
Ethan stared into the distance for a few more seconds, then focused on Jonathan again and rubbed his forehead. "I thought... it felt like someone was trying to make contact. But it's gone now."
"You know they have pet psychics here, right?" Jonathan said, sourly. "That's how they got me. I was totally invisible, and they found me anyway."
"They've never checked up on the prisoners before," Ethan said with a shrug, "but in light of my recent escape attempt, I suppose it's likely."
Jonathan sighed and started picking at a snagged thread on one sleeve of his black shirt. "I wonder when they'll realize I got captured?" he asked, thinking aloud. "I didn't exactly tell them what I was doing when I went after Lilah."
"Went after...?" Ethan asked, sounding puzzled. "So they didn't capture you intentionally? Then what are you doing here?"
"That reminds me," Jonathan blurted. "Lilah recognized me. Did you tell them about me, or something? I was just here to help Wesley and Faith. The rest of Angel's team came here this morning because of a vision and never came back, so we were checking it out."
"No, but they may know anyway," Ethan said, "They're one of the largest consumers of occult information in the western United States, after all. I'm sure they have profiles on any child raised on the Hellmouth who shows promise."
"Great," Jonathan said. "That's just great. I bet they were the Mayor's lawyers, too."
Ethan smirked. "Probably, considering that Mr. Trick used Wolfram and Hart's contact network to hire me for the band candy incident."
"So what are you in here for, anyway, if they usually hire you? I mean, did you piss them off or something?" Jonathan tested his muscles again, and decided it was time to try standing up. He was still a little wobbly, but his reaction speeds were almost back to normal.
From a standing viewpoint, Ethan looked a little less imposing and a lot more ordinary. He was rail-thin, easier to see now that he wasn't wearing a jacket, and fairly pale, with worry lines around his eyes and fresh bruises from rough handling. Abruptly, Jonathan wondered how much of Ethan's attitude was sheer bravado and pride. He didn't look like a rampaging evil sorcerer; he looked like a guy fresh out of prison who's just found out his parole has been revoked.
"It seems they are on a fairly strict timetable," Ethan said, looking away. "They've been planning to move the Hellmouth for quite some time, but they only became aware of the location of a key ingredient quite recently. It so happens that there is only one window of opportunity every fifty years to use the ritual, and as it closes tomorrow night, they're being forced to improvise on a lot of the lesser pieces."
Well, so much for being evasive about what they'd been doing there; Ethan already knew about the whole Hellmouth thing. At least that was one thing he could be sure Ethan wasn't lying about. "And you fill one of those slots?" Jonathan asked.
"Yes," Ethan replied, with a sour smile. "If they do it properly, that is. I did take precautions, years ago, when I first began following Janus; if they get it wrong, they could either end up with just a dead body, or set off the San Andreas Fault. Either way, I don't suppose I'll be in a position to care."
Dead Ethan. Messily dead. The concept hung in Jonathan's mind for a second, nauseating and painful in more ways than he had expected. What right did this guy have to any filial emotions from him, when they'd only just met, and he was an evil bastard? Well, not that Jonathan had done much better, this last year or so. But seriously.
Jonathan concentrated on the other reasons for being disturbed about Chaos-generating sacrifices, and put the other stuff away to examine later. Mega earthquake? Not of the good. Hellmouth in L.A.? Definitely not on his list of things to see. "So that's tomorrow, right?" he said. "How many hours before that happens will this numbing stuff wear off?"
"About twelve," Ethan said. "But they'll just dose us again. Why? Did you have any brilliant ideas about breaking out of here?"
"Well..." Jonathan dug around in his pockets, and crouched on the floor, spreading what little magic supplies he carried across the concrete surface. "I was carrying these when we left the hotel, and that Darryl guy didn't search me."
Ethan crouched next to him, examining the meager cache with an interested expression. "You actually carry a magic bone?" he said, breaking into a grin as he picked up said object. "Remind me to send the Levinsons a thank-you check when we get out of here."
"For teaching you to be prepared," Ethan said, eyes sparkling with the seeds of wild mischief. He collected several of the other items as well, then carried them over to a corner, where he drew a circle on the concrete with a piece of chalk.
"Wait a minute," Jonathan said, feeling a deep sense of confusion settle over him again. "I thought you said you got dosed with that no-magic powder, too."
"I did," Ethan said, still grinning. "I also said the Initiative used it extensively. After two years, I've developed a bit of an immunity."
And of course, he hadn't thought to mention that earlier. "Um. So. What exactly are you going to do?" Silently, Jonathan added another question: and will it benefit me, too, or are you just going to rescue yourself?
"Not to worry," Ethan answered. "I'm going to infect that door with an increased rate of entropy-- and while I'm at it, I might as well do the other cells as well. I think I can manage them all with what's here."
"Entropy? You mean time? You're going to what, age the doors to death?" Jonathan had played little games with time before, but never anything like the amount that it would take for inches-thick steel to fall to pieces.
"Entropy isn't time; it's what happens over time," Ethan said in a distracted tone. "Entropy itself is disorder, another name for chaos. Now, have a little faith in me, just this once." He closed his eyes and began.
© 2004 Jedi Buttercup.