Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Broken Origin I

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Author: Dev Nine-Asher

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Précis: A/U Basically Buffy's origin in a blender. 1996 – Angelus is back, and Dru leaves Spike for him. Spike becomes unwilling master of  L.A. Buffy's parents are killed – and Spike ends up with an untrained Slayer. (S/B) WIP

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A/N: Hey there. It's been a while since I've written much of anything, so any feedback, reviews, opinions, objections, whatever, will be a huge help. I wanted to point out, that though I intended this to follow Buffy's original origins closely, I also left out some characters I didn't think were really necessary, like 'Pike' and 'Benny'. Agree or disagree, they're just not there. Also, Merrick isn't killed by Lothos, but he still dies, so that's pretty much the same. I've tried really hard not to repeat things I know everyone has heard a billion times already, but there are some things you'll definitely recognize, and you know they aren't mine. Speaking of…

Disclaimer: It's everyone's favorite vague disclaimer! I don't own anything you recognize, it's all Joss's baby – but then he probably owns everything you don't recognize, too, so let's just say I own nothing.

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Chapter One L.A. Spring, 1996

It was getting cold, not to mention – she checked her watch – late. Past late, actually.

It was nearly seven and her dad had said he'd pick her up at five-thirty.

Sighing, sixteen-year-old Buffy Summers stood up once again from her high perch on the cool concrete steps located in front of Hemery High School, and swept worried hazel eyes up and down the empty street. She sat down again with a huff after a minute, having seen no sign of her dad's green Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Hunching her shoulders against the building chill, she fished her cell out of her tiny black backpack, and used a carefully manicured pink nail to hit redial – but again, no answer. She tried her mom's cell, then her home number – again – and left another message about how she'd like to get home sometime this millennium, and then dropped the purple flip phone back into her bag with a sound of disgust.

Her dad had probably completely forgotten that he was supposed to pick her up, which wouldn't be the first time. Her mom was busy at the exclusive art gallery where she worked, her cell tucked away in her purse, which was likely slung over the chair in her office, where she never spent more than five seconds. Then there was the other, more troubling excuse that she didn't want to think on too long – that her parents were both together, but arguing so loudly and fiercely over money, the time her dad spent on business trips and at the office, and the state of Buffy's own grades, that they couldn't even hear the telephone.

Buffy shook off the troubling thoughts, and hunched her shoulders, trying not to shiver as she cast another look around.

The light from the sun was fading fast. She heard the buzzing of a street lamp as it clicked on a few hundred feet away, and mentally tried to hurry her dad along. The atmosphere was getting way too creepy, like some cheesy teen slasher movie…

Buffy swallowed, running her palms up and down her bare upper arms as goosebumps sprang up all over her skin. She tried to distract herself by looking down at her outfit. It was one of her favorites, a simple white, sleeveless v-neck top paired with a short brown suede skirt, and knee-high brown boots. It had been a really dumb choice, now, not to bring along the long coat that went over it all, but she hadn't wanted anything to detract from the look. She'd worn the outfit with the express intention of getting blond-haired, blue-eyed Jeffrey's attention – and she'd definitely gotten it.

A small satisfied smile curved her lips as she recalled just how well she'd succeeded in getting the boy's attention – she had a mall date with him on Friday – and at how furiously jealous her friend  Kimberly had been when the junior had barely glanced her way after catching sight of Buffy…

A harsh breeze seemed to pick up then, dragging her from her smug thoughts as the cold air stung her skin.

Buffy gave a small shudder as she noticed how dark it had gotten while she was thinking.

The tree-lined street in front of the school was completely quiet – she could barely hear the other usually deafening noise from the rest of the city around her, and she realized she hadn't seen so much as a car pass by in like, forever.

She checked her watch again. Seven thirteen.

"Ugh – they'll be sorry when I go missing and some crazy bag lady finds my mangled body in a dumpster behind some dirty, skanky bookstore in the Valley," she muttered out loud, feeling angry at having been so easily forgotten…the sudden shrill ring of her cell drew her out of her self-righteous self-pity, and she scrambled to answer it.

"Hullo?"

"Buffy?" It was her dad, sounding angry and distracted. "Where the hell are you?"

Buffy rolled her eyes, and then winced and pulled back at the static buzzing in her ear. Flipping her long hair back over her shoulder, she pulled the gold hoop-earring from her earlobe to avoid getting jabbed as she pushed the receiver closer in a vain attempt to hear him better. "Dad? Daddy, I'm still at school – you were supposed to pick me up, remember? At like, five-thirty!"

Hank Summers grunted. "I thought you had Cheerleader practice today."

"No, that's tomorrow. I had a study date with Cassandra, remember? Listen, are you coming soon?" Buffy looked at the long shadows, eyes darting up to warily scan the last dim streak of hot pink hovering above the skyline. "It's getting really late – "

"I can't pick you up, honey, I'm on a plane, headed to Spain as we speak – "

"You're what?!" Her voice rose in dismay. "Dad, how am I supposed to get home?"

"What? - Breaking up…"

Buffy stood up, trying to get better reception. "I said, how am I supposed to get home? I've been waiting for like, two hours already!"

"Don't whine, Buffy – I should think you'd have sense enough to be able to call a cab! I swear, sometimes I wonder if you use that head of yours at all – why didn't you call that Tyler kid?"

Buffy felt her mouth drop open. "Because you practically forbade me to see him, that's why! I thought you didn't like Tyler!" Before she could truly register the hurt, a high-pitched feminine giggle sounded over the phone, followed by more static, and she narrowed her eyes. "Who's with you, Dad?"

"What? I can't – you – "

"Dad?" The static was getting worse.

"Just – your Mother – go, no choice – problems - big contract – couple days, back on Saturday – call when I get there, all right? Love you, kiddo – you later!"

"Wait! Dad? Daddy!" Buffy let out a sound of disbelief as the connection went dead, and she lowered the phone to stare at it. For a second she thought her dad had hung up on her, but then she realized the battery in her phone had just gone dead.

"Great." Dumping the phone in her bag, she plopped back onto the steps. "I can't believe this!" Her mother was working into the a.m. at the gallery, her father had obviously not been in contact with her, no one knew she was stuck here, and…ugh. Now she had no way of calling anyone for a ride home, unless she walked to the nearest available payphone, one that wasn't behind the now locked doors of the school, which was at a convenience store at least three blocks away!

On top of all that, it seemed her long-standing fears about her father having an affair with his secretary were completely true. She'd recognized that giggle – it had been that slut-tastic ho-bag Patrice, all right. That skeezy redhead with the fake boobs, too-green to-be-real-eyes, and the poorly done Baywatch babe lips so swollen with collagen that they looked ready to rupture at any moment!

Buffy clenched her jaw so hard it made her teeth hurt. How dare he cheat on her classy, upbeat mother with that unbelievable fashion-victim of a cow?!

It was no wonder her mom had been acting so tight-lipped and strained lately whenever her dad mentioned late hours at his office! She probably knew, too!

Buffy couldn't recall a time when she'd been so disappointed in her father. If she was right and her mom did know about her dad and Patrice, it meant their marriage wasn't going to hold for much longer. If there was one thing she knew about her mom, it was that she wasn't going to put up with her husband cheating on her.

Feeling helpless and teary-eyed at the thought of her small family's imminent destruction, Buffy covered her face with her cold hands and buried her head in her lap.

God – could her luck get any worse?

~*~

The two vampire's could not believe their good luck.

They'd spent the day hiding out in a dumpster in the back lot, behind the large school, and the sun had just set when they caught the human's scent. They wouldn't have caught it at all if they hadn't been too busy running for their hides for two nights to feed, and only just risen for the evening, their senses painfully sharp from denied hunger.

It seemed the first victim was to be a tender young girl, completely caught up in her tears – and she was utterly alone.

Smiling widely as their demon face's emerged, the two starving vampires moved to creep up behind her, already tasting her terror, her hot, adrenaline-laced blood on their tongues…

That was when the glare of headlights pulling into the parking lot below sent them scrambling back. They hid behind the pillars at the top of the stairs, wondering morosely if they were about to lose their much-needed meal after all…

~*~

Buffy had heard some weird things from strangers in her day, living in L.A., but this…

"Uh-huh. So…does Elvis talk to you? Tell you to do things? Do you see spots?"

The big old guy who'd pulled up in the battered green car, Merrick, he'd called himself, drew himself up huffily, his heavy mustache bristling. "I am not crazy, I am telling you the truth. You are the Chosen One. The Slayer – and you must come with me, now, to the cemetery. I can prove it to you."

Buffy backed away warily, crossing her arms over her chest. "Just stay away from me, okay? You think I'm just gonna' smile and hop in your grungy old car like a good little victim? I don't think so. Anyway, if any of this was really true, why wouldn't you have come to me in the daylight, like a normal person? I mean, you could be one of these 'vampires', am I right?"

Merrick's bushy brows drew downward over his icy grey eyes. He looked very annoyed.

Buffy took another step back. Great, annoy the killer/potential rapist, she thought to herself with a groan.

"I had meant to come to you sooner – earlier this afternoon, actually, but there were – complications. Anyway, you must come with me. Your destiny awaits."

"My destiny?" She snorted. "Sorry, I'm destiny-free, really." With that, Buffy turned away, determinedly walking down several steps before the man's voice rang out behind her again.

"Have you ever dreamt you were someone else?"

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The two eavesdropping vampire's couldn't believe what they'd just heard. They looked at each other, grinning, and silently agreed to follow the pair…

The Slayer and her Watcher.

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After surviving the rising and dusting of two actual, real vampires at the cemetery, Buffy was home, at last. She got out of Merrick's car woodenly, and walked up the sidewalk to her house. Merrick accompanied her

"You must try to act as normal as possible," he kept insisting. "Just…go about your day as usual."

"That's easy for you to say – "

Merrick's voice was stern. "You must keep your identity a secret, Buffy, for as long as possible. Once the vampires in this town find out that you are the newest Slayer – let's just say you won't be the one doing the hunting anymore."

Buffy waved tiredly. "Fine. I get it. Can I go to bed now?"

Merrick handed her a small white card. Buffy barely glanced at it as she clumsily shoved it into her backpack – it missed the pocket and fluttered to the sidewalk, unseen by any eyes save the two unearthly gold pairs watching from behind the trees near the street.

"You will meet me at that address after school tomorrow to begin your training."

"I have cheerleading practice," Buffy told him flatly, already resenting the responsibility he was thrusting on her.

"I understand, but Buffy – you'll just have to skip it. There are more important things, now."

She nodded. She wasn't 'skipping' anything – but she wasn't going to tell him that just now.

The Watcher sighed, and turned away, starting down the walk. Buffy watched him, smiled a little at the sight of his bald pate shining in the light of the moon, and then shivered as a chill breeze picked up, rustling the new green leaves in the trees around her.

A frightening, grim thought struck her, and she called out as the older man opened his car door.

"Merrick? Is it…is it true, what they say about the not being able to come inside unless they're invited?"

He didn't bother turning around to answer. "Yes. Now, get some rest. I have the feeling that you'll need it, come tomorrow." He got into the car, started it up, and then pulled away from the curb.

Buffy felt the weight of eyes on her.

She swallowed, and struggled to turn her key in the lock. She entered her dark, lonely house with a shudder, and snapped every lock behind her, checking every door and window before setting the alarm, and dashing into her father's windowless study to barricade the door and turn on every light.

She sat under her father's oak desk, the wooden stake Merrick had given her at the cemetery clutched tightly in her hand. Somehow she knew there were vampires out there, watching, waiting…she couldn't go to sleep, like Merrick had suggested. She had to stay up, wait for her mom, make sure she got in okay.

A glance at the clock on the wall told her it was eleven p.m. Her mom wasn't due home until nearly two.

It was only three hours, but to Buffy, that night, it seemed like an eternity…

~*~

Two nights later…

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All was quiet. The air was still as death, and no light penetrated the black place where he lay resting…

As the sun went down, the sounds of something stirring came from below. A few minutes after full dark fell, a discharge of static rent the air, and the screaming strains of an electric guitar blasted into sensitive ears. Flashing, multicolored lights shone through the tiniest of cracks under the door, and a few brave, faint streams of blue and gold briefly outlined the two figures occupying a large bed in the center of the room.

One of the figures stirred, turning, groaning – the rumpled sheets and tattered coverlet moved infinitesimally as a hand slid out from under them, and dropped down to the floor, knuckles rapping hard against the glass of a quarter-full bottle of Johnny Walker Black nestled in a heap of discarded clothing.

After several long minutes, the hand moved again, almost as an afterthought, and long white fingers tipped in chipped black nails curled around the neck of the bottle, drawing it slowly upwards until it disappeared beneath the rusty red coverlet. The sound of a cap being unscrewed coincided with the end of the song down below.

Silence reined again until another song began, the volume markedly increased.

An impatient, inhuman growl came from the bed, and one of it's occupants abruptly sat up, blankets falling away to reveal a fiercely scowling male with bleached, disheveled short hair, and intense, narrowed blue eyes that promised painful death for the first thing unfortunate – or unwise – enough to cross his path.

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 Spike woke up with the mother of all hangovers, and the throb of loud music in his ears did nothing to lessen his discomfort. He carefully turned over onto his stomach in his bed, a groan escaping his dry throat, and tried breifly to remember the night before, but the pounding brain inside his skull was drawing a stubborn blank. Then he remembered the reason he had started drinking in the first place, and clenched his jaw, feeling angry and disgusted with himself. The night before had been the one year anniversary of the night Dru had left him.

Feeling himself going rigid with fury and hurt, his stomach beginning an uneasy churn, Spike forced himself to relax, and as he did, one hand laying loosely on the edge of the sheets slid off the bed, the back of his hand knocking against something hard and cool. A bottle…

It was all Angelus's fault, that rotten bastard.

If only he'd convinced Dru to go left instead of right, into that sodding alley. All it had taken was one glimpse of their broken, rat-sucking, soul-cursed sire, and she'd as well as left him right there, back in New York. He'd just been too stupid to notice.

It'd been just him and her, together for so long, so many years, decades – she'd talked him into helping her find a way to break Angelus's curse, and because she meant so much to him, he had. He'd hunted all over the city, searched for any kind of lead, spent months and wads of cash only to end up dragging the unwilling Angel and the very  sickly Drusilla all the way across the country to Los Angeles…

There was an old monastery buried beneath an abandoned warehouse there, he'd learnt, and it held a great, massive library. The old monks had assembled it over hundreds of years, and somewhere, in one of those thousands of dusty old tomes, lay the answer to permanently unlocking his grandsire's curse – and the key to poor Dru's unhappiness.

The only problem had been that the current Master of L.A., a centuries old vampire by the name of Lothos, lived in that old monastery. The only way he'd get the books they needed would be to challenge the Master - so he had - and he'd won

Flashback

January, 1995

In the beginning, they fought with fists and fangs, and it went on for hours until they could fight no more. Then they fought with swords…

Finally the ancient one called Lothos was on the ground, and Spike kicked him over onto his back, grinning maniacally, his tongue flickering out from between his fangs to swipe at the blood trickling from his broken nose.

They were underground, deep within the monastery, and it seemed as if the entire vampire populace of L.A. was squeezed into the place, watching, waiting for the outcome.

Just when it seemed Lothos had given up, he growled and swung his leg out, swiping Spike's legs out from under him as he lifted his blade to deliver the killing blow.

Spike went down, his weapon sliding from his grasp. Lothos was up in an instant. He placed his booted foot on his neck, ignoring the younger vampires struggle, and drew back his sword to hack off his head…

Drusilla, who'd been watching wide-eyed from the sidelines gave a sharp scream and launched herself at the vampire. She landed, clawing and shrieking on his back, even in her weakened state trying her best to break Lothos's thick neck.

Spike yanked himself out from under the boot crushing his head and used the distraction to dive for his sword -

That was when the floor collapsed.

~*~

Spike groaned when he stood up, staggering, feeling and hearing pieces of debris sliding from his back. He blinked through a haze of powdery gray dust that had risen up, and then reached down and pulled a very quiet Drusilla up to stand beside him.

He kept a supportive hand at her lower back, fingers spread wide to balance her weight if her fragile strength faltered. "All of you there, pet?"

"I do not want a boat like this, Daddy," Dru coughed in a little girl's voice, shaking dust from her skirts.

Spike arched a scarred brow. Less there than even he'd thought. Well, he'd walked straight on into that one…

He squinted through the dark, took a few steps forward, favoring his left leg that Lothos had damn near broken, and smiled when he saw that the elder vampire hadn't been so fortunate in his landing.

The large, long-haired vampire was laying on the remains of an old chair, a jagged piece of wood at least as thick and large around as a man's fist shoved through his ribcage – fortunately for him, it had just missed the heart. Unfortunately – he was stuck.

Help, I've fallen, and I can't get up! The words from the well-known commercial ran through Spike's head, and what with the exhaustion and the blood loss, it seemed just absolutely hysterical to him. He splayed a bloodied hand over broken ribs and laughed until he was in danger of crying from the pain.

"Will you still be laughing when I've run you through, fledgling?!" Lothos finally roared, his long fangs fairly spitting venom.

Spike attempted to calm himself, though the vampire's claim almost set him off again. Really, the old man was stuck, right an' proper – he was a fool to think he was going to be able to go anywhere. He limped over to him, stood right over him and smiled.

"I'll suck your heart out through your neck!" Lothos snarled, his eyes red-hot. Blood was gushing out around the massive wound in his chest.

"Right – sounds unpleasant, that." Spike licked his lips, and looked over his shoulder at Drusilla, who was examining her surroundings with glee. "Dru, be a love, and fetch us a stake, will you?"

After a moment she complied, excitement flashing in her dark eyes. "Spike, we've found it – the books are here! We shall have to throw a party!"

Spike curled his battered hand around the sturdy, splintered length of floorboard she'd handed him, and took a good look around, now the dust had settled.

She was right – they were in the old monks' library.

Lothos had unwittingly brought them right to it.

Spike leaned over and kissed her hard, hard enough to draw blood. "Go and have a look about, pet, while I say goodnight to nancy, here."

Drusilla nodded enthusiastically. "Miss Edith will want a new dress!" she exclaimed cheerily before drifting away.

Spike shook his head, and back-handed more blood from his upper lip. He looked down at his adversary and tilted his head. "Don't feel too bad – put up a hell of a fight. Who knows, if it weren't for Dru, there, you may have won."

"My children will destroy you! They are legion, and they are loyal only to me!"

Spike rolled his eyes. "Like I haven't heard that one before."

"You will never last as Master of L.A. – you are too weak! You are ruled by your human emotions!"

"Weak?" Spike stared down at him, offended beyond words for a moment. "Human? I'm all demon, you poncey bugger!"

Lothos made as if to speak again, but Spike raised the stake in his hand, and cut him off.

"You know, I really don't like you," he drawled. "Remind me too much of Dracula – he was such a poofter, prancing about in his silk and lace…that's the thing about vampires. If you can't keep to the times, you fall prey to 'em, see. I reckon I'm doin' you a favor, mate." With that, he rammed the stake down – and became the new Master of Los Angeles.

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April, 1995

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L.A. wasn't agreeing with Spike – the blood was plentiful to overflowing, yeah, but all he could taste after a solid four months of it was the smog in the air that seemed to permeate everything it touched.

The thing about Los Angeles, too, was that the hunting was so easy it quickly became boring. Nobody cared if a handful of gang members disappeared over night, or even if an entire mission of homeless people and volunteers suddenly vanished. Truth to tell, it'd been funny at first, getting away with bloody murder right under the authority's noses, but Spike was fast missing all the attention he and Dru had been getting in Prague.

Come to that, he was missing all the attention he'd been getting from Dru, period.

Right now she was dancing dizzily around before him, waiting for her 'Daddy' to return from his first hunt since his curse had been broken. Her joy at having Angelus back was already making him jealous unto insanity.

"So…you've been out. You've fed…with him. I can smell him all over you." Spike commented tightly. His voice turned stern as he eyed his lover. "That's where you took yourself off to, you wicked girl. You're weak, Dru. You've been gone for hours. I was worried. You shouldn't have gone out."

"But I was with Daddy. He takes care of me, he does."

"I take care of you, Dru," he snapped. "You forget who the bloody Master is around here? I'm the big noise in these parts, not bleedin' Angelus!"

Drusilla only laughed, infuriating him further, and glided away towards a small, ornate round table covered with a black cloth. She didn't sit there, but reached out almost dreamlike to turn one of the many ancient cards laid out across the fabric. "Mummy let me in. I tricked her with my tears. She was soft and warm, and she hugged me like an infant before she saw my face."

Spike took a deep breath, just out of habit, and relaxed his jaw. Least she was talking about her night, now, and not him. "Did she now?"

"Mm. She tasted of chocolate. Bitter," she murmured in a purr, her eyes flickering over the card. "But bad Puppy, he was disobedient, and he smelt of another. I didn't like him - he stuck in my teeth, and bled all over the lovely carpet." Laying the card down, face-up, she pursed her lips and picked up another. Whatever was on the card made the vampiress smile, and she went on. Then suddenly – "NO!"

Spike glanced over in concern at the infuriated shriek, and saw her cast a card violently to the floor and tear at her hair. "What is it, pet?" His eyes caught the fluttering movement of the card and he saw what it was as it settled on the cracked concrete floor near his boot. The old, worn card pictured a blond vampire standing behind a swooning blond woman, and he was holding her possessively, drinking from a wound in her neck - The Lovers.

"Cruel stars…" Drusilla spat at the floor, and then, hand shaking, reached out to turn the last of  the cards before she swept them away, her delicate features still twisted in fury. "The Six of Wands whispered in my ear - it gives me hope, but the King of Swords will still dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

"Yeah, whatever you say, love."

"Kindred souls," his black goddess was gnashing between her teeth, "A dirty, foul soul - it's all false, it lies! Asking for Daddy's curse!"

His head was starting to pain him. "Dru – "

"I don't like her, Spike," she told him softly, her lips and voice trembling. "I Saw you first! Even now she Sees, and the air gets all pink when you look at her! She's a bad little dolly, she is."

Spike settled himself more comfortably in his chair, still too angry to bother listening closely to her prattle. "Come again?"

"Her tongue is destined to be cruel. It lashes cold hearts, makes them bleed, makes them hurt. Can't let her bloom and hurt my special boy, now, could I? No, no, have to clip her, cut her, nip her at the bud – oooh, the things I've seen! The stars whisper such naughty things about you both. They scream at me during the day, from behind the bad sun, telling me of a horrible quest, and – " Drusilla's eyes, bright with malice, slid toward an empty corner, " – of her."

Ordinarily Spike would have surreptitiously rolled his eyes and sniffed, and made some sort of soothing remark before hauling her off for a long, distracting hunt and a bit of torture, but it was different this time – he could sense it. It was another one of her premonitions, only this time it all seemed to be centered around him.

He forced a smile, and made an effort to lighten his tone. "Having another vision, poodle?" he asked coaxingly.

"Nightmares from the future – oh, but they're awful, Spike. It's all her fault."

"Her?" Smirking slightly, Spike looked back over his shoulder at the offending empty corner. "Be a dear and come over a bit more specific, Dru – just who is 'she'?"

"She's a season, Spike…one of them – but special. Strong. Stronger than you."

Spike groaned. He truly loved the mad old bird, but sometimes…

Drusilla made a sad, quiet keening noise. "The walrus. She'll be shiny new, and he'll watch over her. The walrus shall teach her to swim…"

"Sweet Jesus, Dru, will you stop? You're giving me a headache…"

Drusilla's fierce features melted away, and she gave a wounded sob as she doubled over into her full skirts. "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…" her slightly hysterical voice was muffled, and she sounded frightened, of all things. "You'll never find it if you're gone looking for it, Spike."

Spike bit his inner cheek hard, fighting for patience, and then heaved a great sigh. He strode over to Drusilla, kneeling down and taking her icy hands in his. He pressed kisses all along the knuckles until she raised her head enough to look at him. "I'm sorry, sweetheart."

"Oh, my Spike," she whispered pleadingly, lifting a hand to run her fingertips through the short curls on his head, "don't you see? If she doesn't disappear…when you go down at last, you'll go down in flames. But you'll be happy, so happy – and I don't understand!"

Chilled by her words, but adept at hiding his emotions from her, Spike smirked his big bad smirk, and soundly kissed her frosty lips. "Well, I'm immortal, Dru, but I imagine one day, a good long time from now, mind, someone or something will happily hand me my arse, and it'll all be over. Don't bother me, though. I mean, after all we done, all we're gonna do, what are we gonna have left? As for goin' down in flames, well

– I wouldn't have it any other way, baby."

"My brave Spike – I'll miss you and your burning baby fishes when I don't see you anymore."

Spike frowned at her fatalistic choice of words, but flipped back the tails of his duster and stood back up. He offered her a hand, and she straightened slowly, her skin looking very thin and pale. "Stop talking nonsense, you know I'd move Hell and Earth to see you again, you mad old thing."

"I'm still hungry, Spike," Drusilla pouted. "I should have stayed out longer with Daddy. The blood he draws makes such pretty colors."

Spike nearly gnashed his teeth and bit his tongue in two. Enough was enough!

"Speaking of Angelus," he began quietly, his eyes on her with a sly watchfulness, "I

thought I saw him take that new bird Miranda back out with him tonight. Thought I heard him tell you he was going alone." He made sure his voice held nothing more than a fiendish curiosity. His girl had a tendency to read nasty things into whatever he said when she'd a mind to. He didn't want to e accused of being jealous, even if he was.

The dark-haired woman stopped mid-twirl beside him, and bent at the waist, her hands doubling into tight fists that she pressed against her lips, her dark, mad eyes looking troubled and wide. The sight sent a shiver of apprehension skittering down Spike's spine. He'd seen Dru completely unhinged before, and it usually preceded some dark and dreary period in their existence together…

"Trying to get me in trouble, Spikey?"

Every muscle in his body went taut at the sound of his sire's hated voice. Slowly turning, Spike forced a smile to his lips and inclined his head. "No more than usual, mate. How went the hunting?"

The tall, dark man standing in his doorway sauntered in, his dark eyes already landing possessively on Drusilla. "Very well. In fact, it went so well with Dru, earlier, that I came back for her. She has a real gift for the weak ones, doesn't she?"

Spike bit back a snarl and said nothing.

Angelus came farther into Spike's room, and mocked him by laying his hands on Drusilla's exposed shoulders. She fell against him, smiling secretively.

"So…have you broken the news to him yet, my love?"

"Oh yes. I'm leaving you, my Spike." Drusilla said the words to Angelus's hands, not even bothering to face him. Her voice was a low monotone, as if she were in a kind of thrall.

Spike growled in pained disbelief,  blinking back the moisture that rose in his eyes. "Dru," he began brokenly. "Tell me you're not…tell me this isn't happening."

"Guess you just don't do it for her anymore, my boy," Angelus commented in a tone of false commiseration. "I had her first – suppose I just ruined her for you, after all."

"I want to leave, now, Daddy!" Dru suddenly cried in a panic, hands fluttering. "I – cannot bear to be here any longer! All I can see is her! He's all covered with her!"

Spike took a step forward, his movements leaden. He made as if to take her in his arms, but she started screaming, shouting - God, she was in such a state. She acted almost sane one moment, then completely off her bird the next, which really wasn't so terribly unusual for Dru – but the things she said! And the way she said them! She actually went on to tell him that he didn't love her anymore, accused him of loving another woman – and he gaped at her.

"When would I have been with another woman, Dru?" He finally yelled in a fury, ignoring the snickering Angelus looking on. "I've been practically fucking nailed to your side every day and night for the past century!"

Drusilla wasn't listening. She took his face into her cold, tiny little hands, and looked up into his eyes with a faraway stare. "She is the other half of your heart," she told him frostily, her sharp nails digging cruelly into his sharp cheekbones. "She will make a mark upon your existence, a deep mark."

He begged her then, actually got on his knees, weeping, uncaring who saw him. They'd been through so much together, seen and done so much – "I can't go on without you!" he said, but Drusilla was adamant. She tugged her white skirts away from his clutching hands, staggered a little, still weak from all that bad business on that cursed bridge in Prague, and shook her head. She looked down on him, grasping a smirking Angelus, and smiled almost sadly. "It's better this way, my Spike. If we'd taken the wrong right, things would have gone very badly for you in the end. The flames were pretty, but they burnt your lovely flesh all away. I'm angry with you, but, yes, this way is better. You mustn't let her die, Spike. With her comes the escape you desire – but only if you choose…"

End Flashback

She'd gone away, deserted him, left him. In the blink of an eye the world he'd known was gone.

After all he'd done for her, all he'd gone through, the ungrateful bitch…

He'd crawled off into some pub, gotten utterly pissed, and finally decided he was going to drive. He hadn't known for how long, or just where to, but that's what he'd done.

He'd gone looking for redder pastures, eventually – but he'd reckoned a place didn't get any redder than L.A., what with it bein' close to an actual Hellmouth, an' all that rot. So he'd come back, and weren't Angelus and Dru lucky they'd gone, because he'd been ready to have them slaughtered if he set eyes on them again. He didn't know where they went, or when, and he didn't bloody care.

Now here he still was, a year later, bored out of his skull – and the ache of betrayal was still raw in his chest.

Spike kept his eyes closed, pushed his face against his pillow, breathing in the scent of menthol cigarettes and stale alcohol. He tried desperately to go back to sleep, knowing even as he did that it was pointless. There was going to be no more sweet escape from his now tangled existence – and besides, he had to go down and kill whoever it was playing that bloody music…

Oh, well…hair of the dog, an' all that, he thought darkly, and felt around the piles of clothes and junk on the floor bedside until his fingers wrapped around the bottle neck. Not bothering to sit up, or turn over, he dragged it up under the covers and lay for a moment with the cool glass pressed against his thumping temple…when he felt he could stand the agony of moving again, he twisted the cap off the bottle and rose up just enough to down a few hasty gulps.

When he dropped the empty bottle beside his pillow, he noticed with satisfaction that the music had finally stopped, and he was feeling a bit better, so he reckoned – rather generously on his part, he thought -  that maybe there needn't be any minion slaughter tonight. Then the sodding noise started up again, the volume so bleedin' loud he could feel the bass reverberating in his chest. Normally of a night he wouldn't have minded, but with the hangover, his head feeling thick as shit, and the mess with Dru, this was just too much.

He'd just take a moment, wait for it to pass, then get up and make with the blood bath -

Dru.

Bitch.

Spike growled low in his throat, his entire body tensing. Suddenly his anger had nothing to do with the berk below stairs. That's it, he thought with an inward snarl, somebody has to die. Ignoring any lingering discomfort from the hangover, he sat up and impatiently yanked the shroud of sheets from his head.

That was when he saw that he wasn't alone.

Dark eyebrows shot up as he turned his head and looked at the lump occupying the other half of his bed. He shook his head and dropped it back on his shoulders to glare at the ceiling.

Does it never end?

The other occupant of his bed shifted, and Spike looked back, albeit reluctantly.

It was a girl, and though a pillow covered her face, and the sheets her lower half, he could tell who she was just by looking at the truly spectacular front bits staring him in the face. Lori, or Lauren, or something. Blue-eyed, blonde-haired, a spoilt Valley girl who was just a sprog by vampire standards. She'd been eyeing him up for a few weeks now, but truth told, he just hadn't been interested…his eyes widened as he realized he'd probably been taken advantage of in his drunken state.

Stupid cow. Annoyed by the knowledge he'd been used, he slid his foot over, and none-too-gently kicked the bint out of his bed. The girl hit the floor with an unpleasant thump and he heard her stir, and moan angrily, but she didn't wake up. Spike smiled tightly and leant forward, plucking his discarded jeans off the floor. Thank God for small favors.

He finished locating and pulling on his clothes, stomped his bare feet into his boots, and took a  minute to straighten out his hair before grabbing up his long black duster and sliding his arms into the comforting, familiar silky lining – he sighed, relaxing slightly. Every time he put his leather on, it felt like coming home.

For a moment Spike stood in front of the door, hands shoved in his pockets, head tilted down and slightly to the left, regarding the female on the floor through his lashes. If the girl had been awake just then, demon or no, the predatory, unholy gleam in his blue eyes would have sent her running, screaming for her unlife…

Spike fished through the contents of his pockets before coming up with a battered Zippo lighter, a book of matches, and a crumpled pack of mentholated smokes.

It really was just as well she hadn't woken up, he supposed. He was going to be busy for a while, anyway, and if she had woken, he'd probably have killed her right off, like as not slitting her bloody throat clear through for being such a mercenary little bitch - but then, that would've kept him from punishing her proper – and where was the fun in that? He'd leave her be for now, but they were sure as hell gonna' have words later.

Thoughtful eyes still on the girl, Spike dropped the lighter back into his pocket and ripped a stick from the matchbook instead. He struck it with the tip of his thumbnail, watched the flame burst, and finally touched it to the end of his cigarette. Taking a deep, satisfying drag, he watched the match continue to burn, sharp features highlighted by the golden glow - and then his expression hardened.

Girl thought she was clever, no doubt, thought she'd moved herself up on the vampire social scale by bonking the big bad – well, the bird was gonna learn fast that he was nobody's bitch.

Not anymore.

Spike turned on his heel, flung open the door, and flicked the still burning match casually over his shoulder. He smirked as his demon face emerged into the dim light, contentedly exhaled a cloud of smoke out his nose and through his fangs, and then kicked the door closed on the furious, pained screech from Lori/Lauren as she woke, the bit of searing hot charcoal dousing itself on her bare skin.

~*~

"Oi, clear off you lot! Gettin' so I can't friggin' blink without stepping on some – oh,  Sweet Christ! Artie? Artie, what are you still doin' here? Don't you have places to go, things to steal? People to kill? Yeah? Then bloody naff off, mate, and let a bloke by, will ya?" Soddin' Fyarl's, do you a favor one time, and think they own the place…

Hell, for a half-pence, he'd let 'em have it, and the whole leadership bit into the bargain! It was really too bad he didn't have anything better to do…

Spike stalked through his block-long warehouse lair, not bothering to stop as he groaned at the wave of halfwit questions being directed at him by a host of nervous minions. There was word out on the street that a new Slayer had been called – and that new Slayer's hometown just happened to be L.A. – Spike's latest hunting grounds.

Sidestepping a two-headed demon that was arguing with itself, Spike scowled. The place was so crowded tonight; it was obvious the creatures that usually roamed the streets were too scared to go out. There were demons wedged in wall-to-wall, most of them, he'd learnt all of about five minutes past, had shown up in a sort of mass exodus, offering their loyalty to the Master just so they could have a decent place to hideout, a temporary safe-haven of sorts. Usually the eerie old joint was cold, dark, and fairly quiet, aside from the occasional party when he got bored.

Right about now his home looked like Disney World in July on crack.

"What should we do, Master?"

Spike ground his teeth – he didn't care for being called 'Master', especially when he didn't really want to be the Master in the first place. But if he was gonna' hang around these parts, he was gonna' be stuck with one of the things he'd come to loathe most of all in the time since Drusilla had left him.

Responsibility.

The thought left a bad, ashy taste in his mouth, and put him in an even fouler mood. The creatures still hanging about the darkened lair, crying on about the ruddy Slayer didn't help matters along any, either. Their voices grated in his ear, setting his teeth on edge.

Any second…any second now I'm gonna' snap, his demon thought gleefully, and then…then there'll finally be some blood -

"Where do you think this Slayer lives?"

"What if even now she seeks us?"

"The Slayer? Dude, I am so outta' here!"

"Uh – what's a Slayer?"

"Dude, you are sadly outta' the loop – and you reek! Smell like embalming fluid! Damn, what were you, like, born yesterday or something?"

"Uh…yeah?"

"Master? Master, do you suppose she knows of our lair?"

"Jesus fucking Chr - how the bloody hell would I know?!" Tired of the prattle, Spike stopped in his tracks, and whirled around, demon face emerging as he caught a sniveling minion by the throat and pinned him against a crumbling cinderblock wall. He snarled viciously, yellow eyes flashing in the artificial light of a bare bulb swinging nearby.

"Master."

A hand settled on his shoulder, a big hand.

"Thought I told you to stop callin' me that," Spike said, closing his eyes breifly, a quiet warning in his voice. He knew who it was, without having to look. It was Lucius, his second-in-command. No one else would have had the stones to touch him.

"I must call you by the title your lineage decrees. You are Master of Los Angeles, grandchilde of Angelus, an heir of the most unholy Order of Aurelius – "

Spike rolled his eyes, ignoring the pang the mention of his sire's name sent through him. "Spare me, Luc, just…what is it?" he growled, shoving the vampire in his grasp higher against the wall. His head was beginning to throb again, he was still pissed about being as-well-as date raped the night prior, he hadn't been able to find out who'd been playing the bloody music earlier, and now he had a local Vampire Slayer to deal with – he really needed to kill something!

"Killoran and Tobias have returned," Lucius intoned.

Spike's jaw thrust forward at that, and he closed his lips over his fangs, thinning them into a straight line as he glared up at the panicked vampire whose throat he was slowly crushing. He would have glared at Lucius, too, if the bloke wasn't the size of a bull elephant, and didn't take kindly to dirty looks - even ones given him by his displeased master.

"I thought I told those two wankers not to come back," Spike bit out impatiently, still staring unblinkingly at his terrified prey, his nostrils flaring dangerously. His hand tightened, gave the vampire a little shake, and the creature winced as his head bounced off the wall. "Didn't I leave orders for them to be staked if they so much as showed their faces 'round here again?"

Lucius was unperturbed by the raw violence in his master's voice. "Yes, Master, but – I thought you might first wish to see what tribute they have brought in your honor."

"Are you daft, or just bloody deaf? I told you not to call me – " Spike frowned, anger melting away to be replaced by a sense of innate curiosity. He turned his head to look at the giant over his shoulder, his now blue eyes lighting up with greedy self-interest.

"Tribute?"

~*~ To be Continued in Chapter Two

~*~