Dangerous, and You Know It
"Death is your art. You make it with your hands, day after day…"
They closed in around the gypsy camp, four killers that carried centuries of death and chaos with them. Darla took the northern-most corner and waited for the chilling screams that would signal her favorite childe's hunt had begun. Drusilla trailed her grandmummy until the older vampiress ordered her to remain on the west, just outside the light of the campfires. Angelus stalked off arrogantly to the east, his belly already full with the blood of the virgin girl Darla had brought to him, but this taste only seemed to make him more eager for bloodshed.
The glutton, Spike thought snidely, taking his post at the south edge of the clearing. These people couldn't fight off one vampire, let alone four well-versed in killing. They're peddlers and musicians, dabbling in magic tricks. It would be a bloodbath, the perverted form of art that Angelus and Darla and Dru would revel in until dawn forced them back into the shadows. Gimme a good fight any day…
And then his head split apart, white-hot agony cleaving his skull in two. Spike fell to his knees and roared at the sky, demon and man united in pain. Other screams touched his ears, and he fought for clarity, for anything to focus on besides his tormented head.
Dru… Drusilla… they're hurtin' her… oh dear God, not… oh… oh God…
It was all coming back. Every fight, every kill, every bleeding victim he'd cast aside in alleyways and dark corners, every vacant eye of every corpse he'd left in his wake…
Spike's body caved, and he retched into the grass, but he couldn't empty his stomach of enough blood to wipe his soul clean…
"I'm tryin' to help you!" Spike bellowed at the sword-swinging Slayer, a girl who couldn't be more than fourteen years old. In buildings all around the one where he fended off the young Slayer's attacks, flames rose to lick the sky. Darla always loved a nice dose of chaos.
The blonde vampiress was the only one of the Whirlwind whose new soul hadn't stuck, and while her three heirs were weeping over their remembered sins, she'd torn apart the gypsy camp and ripped the head off the elder when he'd refused to undo the curse. For the last two years, Spike had spent his waking hours taking turns with Angel, either subtly cleaning up the wake of Darla's destruction, or holding his poor Drusilla as she sobbed and repented and clawed her own flesh. Until the night he hadn't returned in time, and his mad sire had evaded Angel while he slept and offered herself to the sun. And it seemed to Spike as though his heart had burned up with her.
Continuing on their own, the two males took to the streets after the Irishman's bloodthirsty lover, finally reaching this burning village on the edge of the revolution. They'd split up over an hour ago to search among the refugees, shortly before this girl had leapt out of nowhere and confronted Spike one-on-one.
He knew instantly that this girl was a Slayer. It was written in every pose she struck and every glare she shot his way – that she could sense the demon in him as clearly as he recognized the supernatural power within her.
"Quit fightin' me, girl! I'm not the one you're after!"
The Chinese Slayer couldn't understand his language, only his pissed-off tone, so she kept up her dance, her sword swishing in the air like a fluid extension of her arm. Spike reeled back as the tip of the blade sliced open his eyebrow, and his vampire face surged to the surface at the smell of his own blood.
"Ow! Dammit, girl, I'm here to HELP!"
An explosion shook the entire building, and a spurt of fire and debris tore through the window directly behind the girl. She screamed, trying to shield herself from the flames, glass, and rubble, and Spike dove behind a column until the searing heat had abated slightly.
The Chinese Slayer lay on the floor, her body made almost unrecognizable by blood and burns.
"Hey…" Spike crawled toward her on his knees, wary of her sword. "H-hey… Girl?… Slayer?"
She barely had the strength to lift her face to him, and with her last breath her lips mumbled words he could not translate.
"I'm sorry, luv," he whispered in genuine remorse as the light faded from her eyes. "I don't speak Chinese."
1977, New York City
Rain poured down on the abandoned park, a single street lamp the only light source as the two destined enemies faced each other.
"I've spent a long time trying to track you down," Nikki Wood called to the vampire clad all in tight leather and silver chains. "Don't take kindly to a vigilante in my city."
Spike shrugged. "Since when do Slayers defend the odd rapist or murderer? I've got twice the soul any of those wankers had, luv. Ought to be thankin' me."
"I ain't your love."
She withdrew a stake from the deep pockets of her long leather duster and flung it straight at his heart. Spike trapped the wood between his palms only an inch from his chest.
"Got the moves, don't you?" he grinned, shaking water from his bleached hair. "Been watchin' you, too, pet. You're cunning, resourceful. But fightin' with me's just stupid, Slayer. We're on the same side."
"You're not killing humans on my turf, vampire. Get outta New York."
"Aw, don't want the dance to end so soon, do you, luv? The music's just startin', innit?"
Still smirking, he tossed the stake back across the wet pavement, and it clattered to a halt at her feet.
"I'm serious, Nikki. Don't make an enemy of me. Go home to your Watcher's and keep close to your kid." If you knew the depth of the evil in this place, the extent of the livin' an' unlivin' nightmares you an' your Watcher can't begin to imagine…
"Get lost, demon!" shouted Nikki.
Spike backed away, knowing he'd scared the Slayer by mentioning her son. A'least now she might listen to me.
"By the way," he said, leaning on the lamp post and throwing her one last smirk, "love the coat."
… Three days later, he stepped solemnly into Bernard Crowley's apartment, unimpeded by any barrier… and cleaned up the three pools of blood that the rampaging Hellions had left behind. He buried what was left of the bodies in Central Park, slipped the dead Slayer's duster over his own shoulders for remembrance, and drove out of New York alone.
Buffy Summers woke up hoping that the first day of college would be significantly better than the day before the first day of college. She'd gotten lost on the way to her dorm, dropped books on the head of one of her TAs, and had a painfully awkward meeting with her roommate, who snored like a train all night long. But today… today would be different.
"I think you charmed him," she smirked to Willow, pointing after the tall psychology teaching assistant after they crossed paths with him outside their first class. "Should I warn Oz to watch out?"
Willow blushed and elbowed her best friend. "Don't be a meanie. Besides, I think Riley was looking at you."
"Me?" Buffy snorted. "Let's see… Brainless Buffy who drops books on his head, or Witty Willow who knows all there is to know about treatises and operant conditioner…"
"Conditioning," Willow corrected her, sniggering as Oz joined them and hugged the redhead.
"See my point?" said Buffy. She unzipped her backpack and fumbled for her class schedule amid textbooks and spiral notebooks. "But Psych isn't until later. World History's first…"
"Hey, Buffy, hold up a second. Look this way."
Confused, Buffy turned to fully face Willow, who looked at both sides of her face and pointed at one of the Slayer's earlobes.
"Buff, you've lost an earring."
"Really?" Buffy touched her own ear, only to confirm Willow's discovery. "Darn. Did you see it fall?"
"No… Look, our class is right here. You've got five minutes. We'll save you a seat, and you can check the hallway. If you don't find it, we'll help you after."
Buffy sighed. "It's probably a lost cause. An earring in a haystack, or… something. But I'll look."
As Willow and Oz entered the classroom, Buffy spun around and weaved her way between rushed students, glancing at the hallway baseboards in search of the elusive silver stud.
"Come on… where are you… stupid little piercing…"
Three minutes later and she hadn't found so much as an oversized dust mite. Grumpily, Buffy gave up the search and turned back, taking a left when she reached a T in the hallway.
Or… did I come from the left… so I should go right? I didn't go through double-doors, did I?
Cursing under her breath, Buffy wheeled around and yanked her schedule out of her bag again. Her finger skimmed the page until she found the correct classroom number for her due-to-start-any-moment history course. She set off at a more brisk pace, glancing at the plaques beside the doors until she was at the right one. She peered through the little window to see that nearly every seat was taken, and the attention of every student was riveted to the front of the room.
Swallowing nervously, Buffy turned the door handle, thanking her lucky stars when nothing squeaked or creaked.
"Do you know where the greatest supercomputer in the world resides?" the professor was saying in a lightly accented voice, his back to the classroom as he scribbled three words on the chalkboard – Professor William Milton. "It's right in your head. It's the human brain. Yet we only use ten percent of it…"
She was going to make it. Just two more seats to shimmy past, and she would be next to Willow, and Professor William Milton would be none the wiser that she'd missed the first minute or two of lecture…
"Good morning, Miss Summers. Did we start too early for you?"
Buffy jumped and froze in place, literally an inch from the empty seat, and guiltily raised her eyes to the man standing in front of the chalkboard. He was facing her now, leaning casually against his desk, the nub of chalk held between his index and middle fingers like a cigarette.
The professor was an absolute god. He was unbelievably young for a teacher – late-twenties at the most – with impeccably clean-shaven skin, soft-looking lips, and angular cheekbones. His dark gelled hair had the faintest curl to it, especially at the nape of his neck. He wore indigo jeans and a white button-up under his sports jacket, with enough buttons undone to expose all of his throat and just a tease of his chest. A small Y-shaped white scar touched the edge of his left eyebrow, above a pair of icy blue eyes that held her in place like a butterfly pinned to a corkboard.
Oh god, he was hot…
Wait… what had he asked her?
To be continued…