|Bloodletting: the Final Cut
Author: Valyssia PM
Buffy and Willow are newly ensouled vampires who are trying to figure out how to be human. *Femslash*Rated: Fiction M - English - Adventure/Drama - Buffy S. & Willow R. - Chapters: 18 - Words: 106,711 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 6 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 07-02-12 - Published: 06-12-12 - id: 8211258
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Summary: This is a rough sequel to my friend Mabus's story Blood Line. I was neck deep in the beta for his story when he gave me his blessing to write a follow up. It says something of my character that I took a short story that was written on a lark and turned it into a novel length drama.
In Blood Line Buffy becomes a vampire before she's chosen. She rules Sunnydale with an iron fist for seven years prior to the story opening. The crux of the piece is that Willow is coerced into performing the hat trick she does in canon at the series end, but instead of being the big hero moment, the spell is corrupted to turn the potentials into slayer-vampires.
For the follow up, I played loose and fast with the world Mabus constructed. A great many of the details change, but the final events of his story hold mostly true.
Buffy and Willow start off as broken as you're likely to see them. Be patient. This story is about how learning to love can lead to redemption.
Rating: Adult Content: Sexual Situations and/ or Explicit Violence.
Warnings: Language, major character deaths, graphic violence, sexual situations, bondage, torture, humiliation, snark, mayhem, assorted hijinx, blah, blah, blah… It's a mirror universe. Buffy and Willow are newly ensouled vampires who are trying to sort out how not to behave like monsters.
Word Count: Unfinished.
Comma Guy: Howard Russell.
Disclaimer: Another day, another…they don't pay me anything at all. I just do this to amuse myself and you. That's what allows me and mine to slip under the radar while playing with characters created by those more fortunate than us.
The vermin in the adjacent bus seat scurried closer, intent on getting cozy.
Great. I bathed today, so I'm a target. "Do it and lose an arm," Buffy snarled, meeting his challenge by holding his gaze. You smell like dinner. She allowed herself the slightest reaction. Her eyes flashed golden.
Really, his breath smells like ass. I'm not sure my standards have sunk that low. She blinked the tingles away and he was halfway down the aisle.
With his pasty, piss-yellow face out of hers, she quickly lost interest. Stupid cattle. You'd think they'd clue. Looks too good to be true—there might just be a catch.
A rumbling engine, squealing brakes and rattling doors signaled his departure. More rumbling and rattling and they were underway again.
Now that their dance was done, and the other lowlifes had finally taken the hint, Buffy afforded herself the luxury of peering out the window. The monotonous cityscape whisked past. This was a mistake. Like I couldn't cough the cash for a cab to save myself the hassle.
But what's one more? Mistakes, bad judgment, bad ideas, good ideas gone bad. I've seen it all. All in the past couple weeks. To think I had a handle on my life once.
And my hand around the throat of anyone who mattered.
Then came the realization: I was fucking a cellar dweller. Such a stud. Twentyish-years-old and still wearing his high school letterman's jacket.
That shouldn't've been a revelation. I should've seen that my life was headed for the shitter. But no, like an idiot, I went on.
No problem. I had it all under control.
Yeah, oodles of control here.
Spiraling can be a controlled thing, right?
In my defense, it wasn't just me. Will and Tara were totally snowed too. Like that makes it all better.
And look at me now. One week later, I'm sitting on a bus that smells like desiccating wino, saddled with soul so worthless that I can't even sell the damn thing. Seems there's no shortage of immature, superficial, drama-queen souls. Or that's what the demon said before I eviscerated him.
But the real feature is the company I keep. She's a bit—well, she's interesting, challenging, intriguing even.
Actually, she scares the fuck out of me.
Wish I could think of something else. Some other way. This is—
I don't think there's a fix short of this for her. Any time she's even a little bit lucid, she acts like I'm the special of the day. Scratch that—like chocolate, and not that Hershey's shit. That stuff's okay in a pinch, but—really.
I think I'll take a pass on damseling my way through another rape scene. That's so last week.
Giving the street sign a quick glance, she rose from her seat. Thank God!
She reached into her jacket and pulled out a cigarette as she moved down the aisle. When she stepped onto the sidewalk, it was lit. Talk about mistakes. Nasty habit. She took a drag. Really, this one's really kinda tiny. Inconsequential when you consider the rest.
Slowly releasing the smoke, she set off down the street. A wispy cloud trailed behind her. It helps a little.
And if I just keep telling myself that…
Ducking down an alley, Buffy made her way to the back of the building. Her attention fixed on its fire escape. She jumped to grab the ladder and climbed effortlessly onto the landing. Crouching down to look in the window, she hammered on the glass and called out, "Look, Mr. Kalderash, I know you're in there. I just need a minute of your time." Old bastard has to be part of the same clan. Stupid gypsies. Like 'Kalderash' is even a common name. Little magic shop below the apartment, it's the same crowd.
Thudding sounded from inside the shabby little apartment. "Go avay!" a man barked from inside.
"Not gonna," Buffy replied. She cleared her throat in a vain effort to keep her tone amiable. "Call the copsand—let's just say—not the smartest move you'll ever make. There are a few creative, flamey ways for me to get around the ban, but I'd rather just skip them. My drama quota's pretty much maxed for the week. Can we just talk?"
An old man finally came to the window with a cross in hand. Jeez, this guy makes Mr. Heckles look sexy. What trash pile did he dig that robe out of? I've seen homeless people with more fashion sense. Rolling her eyes, she said dismissively, "Look at me, Mr. Kalderash. I'm about as cursed as they come. All chock full of soul. 'Sides, if I wanted you dead, I sure wouldn't go about it this way. Now open up."
He stared at her through the glass for several moments. Finally, he slid the window sash up, asking in an irritated manner, "Vhat do you vant?"
Buffy cut right to the chase. "Gotta problem and I'm paying well if you can fix it. Simple. Easy money. But it has to be done tonight."
After a few moments of consideration, he reached for the window. Pushing down, he grumbled, "I do not feex ze eessues of ze dead." The window fell. He righted himself and turned, shouting, "Deis? Deis is no concern of mine! Now be gone!" as he tromped away.
She caught the falling window with the very tips of her fingers. Hastily, she called out, "Five hundred down, five hundred on completion, does that change your mind?" The old man froze in his tracks. She lifted the window back up. "Look, it's even in your best interest to help." Her tone wasn't quite pleading. Dammit! Just say 'yes' you old freak!
He slowly turned toward the open window. Folding his arms, he said, "I'm leesenink."
"It's pretty simple," she explained by ticking off dispassionately, "I've got this friend—recently vamped—majorly powerful witch. It's a really bad combo. She needs a soul stat."
His brow furrowed.
Sensing the question, she went on, "I've been keeping her too medicated to function, but I'm almost out of drugs. If you're stupid enough to turn me down, you'll know when I run out. My guess…she's gonna wanna turn this part of town into a beach park." Like I give a rat's ass, but he should. L.A.'d be a much nicer place at the bottom of the Pacific.
Well, okay so…it'd be a great loss to fashion and retail, not to mention film, but—
The furrows in the old guy's face deepened comically. He looks like a caricature. Buffy restrained a giggle. This is gonna end well.
"But ve are thirty miles from ze ocean," he said, like that was even news.
A giggle slipped out. She snarked through an impish grin, "Now you're firming up." Pulling a wad of cash from her pocket, she waved it. "If you're in, meet me out front in ten. If not…move." Without giving him a chance to answer, she sprung backwards over the rail, turned a graceful somersault and landed on her feet below the fire escape.
After shoving the cash back in her pocket, she took out a cigarette and started patting her person in search of a lighter. An exasperated gasp passed her lips as she made her way around the building.
Her lighter was in the last place she checked, which was of course, was the last place to check. Pausing mid-stride, she held it up, clicked the striker, dipped the tip of her smoke into the flame and inhaled.
Nasty things…but I think they help.
Clutching her stomach, Faith stumbled through the doorway of her motel room. Her head lolled forward. She stared down at her blood soaked shirt. A droplet fell from the heel of her hand. It splashed onto the floor as she kicked the door closed.
Summoning her last ounce of strength, she staggered toward the bed. When she fell forward onto it, the mattress bounced and she bit back a cry. This could start to heal any time now and that'd be—
An eternity passed as she lay there drifting in and out of consciousness. Eventually, a knock at the door stirred her back to life. It was all she could do to push herself up and cross the room. She threw the door open without a word, hoping the act wouldn't be her last.
When she saw Amy, her legs turned to Jell-O. Faith slumped forward into her friend's arms and everything went even blurrier. She closed her eyes, only vaguely aware that she was being dragged. It was impossible to stifle a whimper when she dropped onto the bed this time. Floundering onto her side, she curled into a ball, clutching her shins.
Amy's soft voice broke through the haze. "What the hell did you get yourself into?" Her tone was chiding, but at the same time terrified.
Gently, Amy coaxed Faith onto her back as she struggled to answer, choking instead. Faith sprawled out, wincing when, moments later, something was pressed to her wound. She hadn't even noticed Amy's absence, but she had to have left the room because there was a towel in her hand.
After peeling Faith's shirt up, Amy mumbled, "This is way beyond anything I've—" Distress won out. She couldn't go on.
The pressure on Faith's stomach lifted just a little, just enough to intensify the pain. She'd been pretty sure that the pressure was making it worse, but she was wrong. She didn't even try to identify the source of the clattering sound. All she cared was that it brought on another shift in pressure. As she gulped for breath, trying to get past the agony in her gut, Amy's crisp, anxious voice rang out, "Yes, there's been an accident."
"You can't seriously expect me to get in that thing?" Buffy asked, hoping the old man was kidding. Thick, oily smoke billowed from the exhaust pipe of the ancient Buick.
Mr. Kalderash leaned over and threw the passenger door open. "You vould prefer ve valk?"
Raising an eyebrow, she climbed inside and slumped into the grubby, threadbare seat, mumbling to herself, "We may anyway, but whatever." Guess it beats the damn bus. But it's not like that's hard. Crawling back to the hotel through the sewers may beat the damn bus. When she slammed her door, she could have sworn she heard something fall off the car, but that just seemed too cliché, so she shrugged it off. "You have everything?" she asked.
"I have vat ve need, yies," he replied.
As the old car chugged onto the street, she remarked dully, "Place is just off the two-ten in Pasadena." Propping her elbow against the glass, she took her head in her hand and stared sullenly at the world outside.
Her eyes drifted shut and she saw the same thing she'd been seeing any time she had a moment's peace. Eyes open or shut, it barely mattered. She had a constant reminder back at the hotel room that things were very fucked up. Willow, but not—not like she was used to.
She's like she was the day we met, like I'd stumbled back in time. Red hair fell down over her face. Her eyes were bright greenish-hazel. They'd both been black for so long I'd forgotten. The usual snarky mischief wasn't even a thing. She pled with me with those eyes. A tear trickled down her cheek. It was the weirdest thing ever.
Alright, well…it's not like I haven't been over this a hundred times this week. May as well make it a hundred and one. I'll still be just as clueless what went wrong because, the hell of it is, everything went right. I said my lines. I did everything I should've. But when the blood met in the middle of the scythe…wow! There was this blinding light and searing pain. I thought I was gonna burst into flames on the spot.
It's not like I expected it to feel good, but—
Okay, well, maybe I did. This was s'posed to be my big moment after all.
Big moment, yeah…I think that's when it happened—when I grew a conscience. But I have no idea why. I mean, so not a part of the expected program.
Faith was on her feet before me. Somehow, the tricky bitch managed to get—
The sharp turn onto the two-ten shifted Buffy in her seat. Her eyes snapped open. She glanced around to make sure everything was okay. Nothing had really changed. The old man and his car were still on their last legs. This next part promises to be dicey. Building speed to merge with traffic wasn't something the old Buick had in it. It chugged and sputtered and groaned.
When no bone shattering, teeth rattling crashes came, Buffy went back to examining what she wished could just be figments. It was all about Faith owning me for the first few ticks. Hope she cherishes those memories 'cause that's so much of the past. The spell worked. I got stronger. I got what I deserved. What was stolen.
Of course, there was an annoying little gift with purchase, but I'll—
Fuck, I dunno…I guess I'll live. Surviving's sorta what I do.
There were these awful, skull splitting visions. Girls getting turned. Some of them—well, the ones in the wrong time zone—they didn't make it. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. One thing at a time. I immolated a ton of little girls.
Pre-soul, when we cooked this up, that was just a 'cost of doing business.' Now, I feel like shit.
Not that that makes a huge diff. Once a mass murderer, always a mass murderer. This was just about the frosting.
Faith was getting torn up by the visions. She doubled over each time. No clue why she wasn't turned. But I'm not so much sweating the small shit. I was getting faster, stronger, more powerful, exactly what I wanted, but I was terrified. I can't remember being that afraid since—
Second time in my whole life I panicked.
Pain always pissed me off. Hurting me in hopes of making me weaker never ended well for the other guy. I always processed it backwards, even as a little girl. But what I saw in that room—something told me that getting outta there would make it stop.
I'm not even sure what really stopped it. I guess it was Faith. Or maybe it stopped on its own.
When I poked my head through the trapdoor, I froze again. Me! I just stood there like an idiot. I heard the gunshot, but I didn't get it. It wasn't till I saw…
Actually, it happened right as our blood met in the middle of the scythe. Sort of ironic. I get hit with a soul and Will gets hit with a—
I stared into her eyes for a few seconds that felt like minutes before I got over it. I climbed out of the hole, snatched her from the Superfriends and bolted. I think those morons were actually trying to help her. She was way too far gone for any of Amy's pathetic tricks.
As I ran, I took a bath in Willow. Her blood was all over both of us. I remember thinking, 'Did I just rescue her?'
Me rescue someone? Now there's a laugh. But I hadn't just taken her for road munchies, so…
I told myself I took her because she was familiar. Because I needed something stable in the chaos. Thing is, I think now I took her because I felt compassion. Crazy. I didn't know how to deal. That's a totally alien emotion for me.
It was the weirdest thing. I laid her down in the woods and again just stared, trying to figure it out. She was so close to death, but something in her eyes gave her away. There was some part of her—something I hadn't managed to kill—a piece of her actually loved me. That's why she stuck around. It was never about being a good minion, or anything she might gain. She actually loved me.
Total mind fuck for a vamp. Hard to even get your head around. It was my soul. At least I think that was it. I doubt I would've seen that without it.
Blood bubbled from the wound in her chest. She wasn't gonna last much longer. I'd made her so much worse. She had a few minutes max. So I did the only thing I could: I made her a real monster—really mine in every way. I held her as she died. I combed my fingers through her hair, felt her go limp and carried her with me as I ran.
I have no idea whether it was the right choice, but it was the choice I—
"You vill 'ave to tiell me vich exit."
Buffy flinched. She blinked and watched the sign for the first Pasadena exit rush by.
"Vich exeit, Miess?" he stressed.
Still trying to get her bearings, Buffy gasped, "Oh." Her attention fixed on the next sign. She squinted to read it before remarking, "It's the next one up."
Despite the interruption, the effects of her daydream lingered. Regret, now? What's next, humility? Maybe I can try on a little temperance and see how that fits?
Yeah, this doesn't totally fucking suck.
A breeze rustled the pages of the magazine Amy was idly flipping through in a feeble attempt to calm her nerves. She looked up just in time to see Jonathan run through the door with Giles on his tail. They came to a stop in front of her, one right after the other.
Giles was seriously huffing and puffing. And so mussed and damp, he looked like he'd run a marathon. It's probably just that heavy tweed and Southern California don't mix. You'd think he'd learn. When he stooped to brace his upper body against his thighs with his arms, Amy almost cracked a grin.
Despite the possibility of pending heart attacks, they both gave her an expectant glare. But it was Jonathan who found the breath to ask, "How is she?"
Casting the magazine aside, she commented dryly, "They took her up to surgery a little while ago. No clue. They've been doing their best to brush me off."
It took Giles another moment to recover. Righting himself, he offered in his usual genial tone, "Perhaps I might be able to get some answers." A would-be reassuring smile, that wouldn't have been had she not known Giles, passed over his dewy, flushed face. She still had her doubts. Yeah, and that might've just been one final, beautiful delusion before he passes out. It wasn't until he withdrew a handkerchief from his pocket that she figured he was alright. He blotted his cheeks and brow as he strolled to the intake desk.
Jonathan sat in the chair next to hers. His expression drew with concern as he asked, "So what happened? Last I checked, we were doing okay. I mean, we did stop Buffy, right?"
"Yeah, I guess," Amy replied. "We still have no idea how far it went. I kind of hoped that when Faith grabbed the scythe, she stopped the whole thing. Y'know, reset it." That's probably wishful thinking. If even one of Buffy's new little minions survived, that'd explain all of this. "Buffy did get away. And she took Willow with her. No telling what those two are up to." Pausing, she injected a hefty dose of dull sarcasm into her tone. "But yeah…we stopped them. We're heroes." What's the point? We've discussed this to death. Everything except for the hows and whys of his handgun possession. He's been more than a little evasive on that subject.
"So, it might've been them?" Jonathan asked, casting nervous glances around the room.
Though, I suppose, if it's possible for a gun to be a good thing, it was. I'm just not sure it's possible.
Amy shook her head. "No idea," she said. "The crazy bitch was trying to turn every potential slayer on the planet into doubly demon-stuffed dead things. I'm not even sure how that works. Demons aren't typically known for being cuddly. Seems like trying to cram two of them into the same tiny body—" she mimed an overt clenched-jawed cringe "—let's just say I'm glad it wasn't me. But if it worked even once, our problems just got a whole lot worse. And Faith said Queen B. was trying to control them too. We're beyond screwed if that happened."
Jonathan replied, "Yeah, I heard that. I thought the spell flopped too. I mean, Faith's still human and you'd think—" His attention turned to his laced fingers. He peered thoughtfully down at them for a moment before he remarked, "You don't suppose if Buffy was the starting point for the magic…" He paused to rub his chin.
Amy picked the thought up and declared, "That makes sense." Her eyes lit with understanding. "If Buffy was the source, Faith might've been the conclusion. She might not've been effected because the magic never reached her. Which means—"
Intentionally taking the wind from the witch's sails, he interrupted, "It means nothing. It suggests stuff, but that's nothing new." After looking her over for a moment, he asked, "Amy, why don't you go home for a bit? Giles and I can take it—"
Fury rose, like the bile in her throat. She spat, "What makes you think I'd even consider—?"
As she glared, Jonathan sheepishly motioned for her to look down. She did and shrugged. All she saw was cleavage.
He put his hands up signaling a truce, then, using a single finger, he hooked the stretchy lace at the hem of her shirt and pulled. It was an extremely deft and gutsy move for him, so she tolerated it. He almost managed to do it without touching her tummy.
"Oh shit!" Amy gasped, slouching to stare at her blood spattered shirt and jeans. Something inside her snapped and she began to sob.
Getting up to offer her a hug, Jonathan gently coaxed, "We've got it. Go grab a shower and come back. If she's in surgery, there isn't anything we can do right now anyway. It'll be hours before she's out of recovery."
Amy stood and craned into the embrace, conscious she might pass her current affliction on. It took her several moments to calm enough to speak, and when she did, her voice was so thick and uncooperative she practically gagged on her words. "I don't know if I can do this, Jonathan."
"You can," he replied confidently. After gently coaxing her to meet his eyes, he added, "Go home and get cleaned up. We'll be here when you get back. It won't take that long. Okay?"
She turned out of his grasp and nodded.
Buffy slid the keycard into the lock, opening the door. "It's been a pain keeping the maids out of here," she remarked offhandedly as she ushered the old man inside.
Mr. Kalderash wandered into the room, glancing at Willow. She was still strapped to a hospital backboard with ratcheting tie-downs. "And she vill be unconscious for 'ow long?" he inquired.
"Umm…we may have another hour," Buffy said. Quickly counting back in her head, she amended, "Maybe two."
He nodded before painfully kneeling. As he began to unpack his bag, he asked, "If you could steip outzide, Meiss?"
"Not a chance," Buffy replied, settling down into one of two chairs on the edge of the room. She located her cigarettes and placed them on the table next to her. Taking one from the pack, she clutched it between her lips and began the search for her ever-elusive lighter. "Sorry, clueless why, but staking her just isn't an option. If it was, I'd be over this already and you wouldn't be here."
Her lighter finally turned up in her jeans pocket, wedged against the seam. She fished it out. Sitting up, she lit the cigarette and commented through the smoke. "I can't let you do that. I'd have to kill you. And—well, I've been trying to turn over this new leaf. You wouldn't wanna go and ruin that for me, would ya?" Yeah…so much for my nerves. They're as shot as Mr. Heckles' hat.
Eyeing the old man, she took a sharp drag off her cigarette. He's wigged. And not just the usual 'I'm in a room with two vamps kinda wig.' There's something else. Exhaling slowly, she drew the smoke back into her lungs via an extended French inhale before asking, "Have you ever done this?"
"Deis eis not ze sort of ting a man eis normally called upon to do amongst my people," the old man admitted. Glancing up at the vampire, he offered, "I vill do eit…or I vill call on one who kien."
Buffy nodded, holding eye contact to establish an understanding. "You will get it done, or we will have a problem." Her eyes flashed briefly golden. When their natural color restored, she winked. "No pressure. Do your thing. I'll be right here." She stifled a giggle as she spoke.
"Eif you vould not do deese." He motioned to the cigarette.
"Christ! Now I can't smoke?" Buffy snarled, violently stamping the cigarette out in the ashtray beside her.
The old man was shaking hard enough to rattle the various items he was pulling from his bag. "Ee-eit eis just dat dere aire speecifeec tings vee burn for deis ritual. I am uncerteen vhat effect ze tobacco vill 'ave," he offered sheepishly.
"Oh! Okay…I can totally see that," Buffy replied. Sighing deeply, she added a muted, "Sorry." Her eyes fixed on a blank patch of wall.
Wow! What's my damage? Now I'm apologizing to some stupid human?
I can see it now. Next I'll end up in a confessional. 'Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…a lot. It's been never since my last confession and boy, have I got a story for you.' She grinned. 'How's that? Oh, yeah, I do look like I'm twelve. Trust me, you don't want to know. Oh, and could you keep that holy water to yourself. Exfoliating's good and all, but not so much.'
She listened to the old man when he started chanting, trying to make sense of the gibberish. And that's not pointless. She leaned back in the chair, tossing her leg over the arm. I'm not even sure why I'm bothering with this. After all the shit I've put her through, what's a soul really gonna mean? Will sorta rewrote the definition of 'loose morality.'
I think she was worse than me in some respects and, up till last week, I was soulless. But I always did stuff for a reason. I had a plan. She never seemed to need one or, if she did, it was totally lost in the Willow-logic.
Total mystery to me why she did some of the crazy shit she did. But she always did what I asked—well, almost always. Now, I don't want to do some of the stuff she'll probably take for granted. Finding a middle—if there is one—could be fun.
Bottom line: I can dust a vamp in a tenth of a second—give, take—if they're in reach. No weapon, just me. Gotta love the new tricks.
I'd better. They were pricey enough.
Will can immolate a vamp with an absent thought. It won't come to that. But, realistically, if it did, flip a coin. Before it's back in hand, one of us is ash.
Thing is, I think she'll be as puzzled as I am about the big rescue. She'll wanna know what the hell's wrong with me. And if I knew…I might even consider sharing. My ass has always been way more important to me than just about—no, scratch that—than anything else. That's how I survive. No one else gives a shit about me. Okay—fair again—'cept maybe Will.
And, hey, look at that…the logic train just made a full lap. No wrecks or anything.
The orb in front of Mr. Kalderash began to shimmer with a soft, golden light. Buffy watched the show with mixed interest. Looks promising. Go, go, Mr. Heckles. It'd be a shame to have to hurt such a nice old man.
Goddammit, I need help!
While she was wigging over her newfound benevolence, Willow's eyes glowed with a brief purple radiance. Buffy caught the lightshow and stood up. Digging into her pocket, she counted out another five hundred dollars and asked, "We done?"
When he nodded, she held the money within reach. "Yies, yies…I believe so," he replied weakly. Gratefully taking the cash, he rushed dizzily to pack his things.
Buffy flopped into her chair and grabbed a cigarette. Lighting up, she watched as the old man staggered out the door.
And now things get interesting.