TITLE: "Overkill" (1/1)
AUTHOR: Marie-Claude Danis
EMAIL: mc@verticalcrawl.com
SITE: (closed for redesign)
FEEDBACK: Would be delightful!
DISTRIB: My site, or just ask.
RATING: R (gruesome character deaths)
PAIRING: Angelus/Tara
SUMMARY: "He wasn't supposed to know about this, about the nightmares, about the inappropriate ache, the itch, the longing."
NOTE: Thanks to the Mad Poetess as usual for her beta-love, and to Alex for psyching me up generally.

* * *

Tara felt the sharp ache of her throat suddenly going dry, and heard, as if from an echoing distance, the books she held clatter to the ground. The feeling washed over her unchecked and she let numb eyes stare at the sight offering itself to her.

Buffy's body, bloodied beyond recognition, hung grotesquely on the wall over Tara's bed, hands and feet nailed to the crumbling plaster. An impossibly deep gash ran from the inside of one wrist to the other, and another from her ripped throat to her sex. The incisions were precise, gruesome, a spectacle. Blood trickled thickly from her arms and chest, slithered down the crease of her joined legs to finally drip from unmoving bare feet. The pale yellow of her toenail polish stood out against the crimson rivulets. The young woman's head hung limply forward, sinister, blonde hair stained and eyes open, staring blankly.

It was cliché in its horror, hideous, crass, vulgar. Almost pretentious. But then she hadn't expected any less from him.

"We were trying to stop you," she whispered, surprisingly calm, eyes glued to the grisly human crucifix.

A chuckle came from behind her, and she felt the fine hair on her neck rise at his presence. "I know. How... cute."

She refused to give him the satisfaction of her own terror and didn't look at him. She could feel the chill across the skin of her back, where he stood a mere inch or two from her, looming ominously.

Tara crossed her arms tightly around herself and felt the distant feel of grief finally settling in her gut. Grief for this supergirl nailed crudely to a wall, grief for those who died before her. Guilt, because she was supposed to be next, not Buffy. She didn't know how to be the last one alive, what she was supposed to do. Or why it was this way.

"We thought you wanted Buffy."

He laughed and strode past her casually, and Tara saw him in the flesh for the first time. This demon the Slayer had once loved, this beast, the stuff of legends and cold sweats, who had spilled the ink of some of the most horrifying tales to grace any Watcher's diaries. Angelus, whom she had only ever heard of and more recently studied. He who had gutted Giles, then Xander and Anya, then Willow and Dawn. It had taken until Willow's death for Buffy to figure out who it was, who was killing them off so systematically. It had come as a shock, but not a real surprise. Tara supposed it was a bit of smug Slayer pride that made Buffy believe that this monster was after her again, and no one else. The petite blonde now hung there, almost comical, as one last tribute to her poor judgement. A strange, hollow laugh burbled up listlessly from Tara's lips. The sound jolted her frayed nerves and everything snapped back into focus.

Angelus was standing there, watching her with an amused glint in his eyes, and Tara saw the undiluted, hideous violence they also contained.

"Why... why do all this?" Something made her unafraid to ask, something akin to the Slayer's cockiness, she guessed. The knowledge that he wanted to do something else than kill her.

She watched him - and he was beautiful, tall and dark like that - as he threw himself lazily across the bed, crossing his legs at the ankles and looking over at her. "*Why?*" There was an edge of laughter to his calm voice.

"Y-Yes. Why." She found she couldn't lower her eyes; his gaze held hers easily, and that little bit of control scared her more than anything had yet.

He snickered. "Why not!" His laughter sounded even creepier with the Slayer hanging there over him, dripping. Tara felt the first waves of nausea. She fought them, keeping a stoic face. "Why not," he continued, "Why not slaughter you all? Why not *inconvenience* you for your trouble?" He sat up and within a half-second he was next to her. "MY CHILDE IS DUST!" he screamed into her face and she flinched. She started to feel herself shake from the inside out.

She could hear his control slipping, if he ever had any. Idly she wondered how he would kill her, what they would find left of her, arranged in some horrible display. At least there was no one left to mourn her, to find her ravaged by a curse gone wrong. She knew that each day he had spent souled only fueled the cruelty of the demon inside. It had paced like a caged tiger, hate festering. She had dwelled on this detail longer than the others, terrified to her core.

Behind the terror, the guilt and the grief, behind the odd feeling of peace that came before immanent death, there was a sense of relief, that she finally knew why he had done this. Spike. It was that simple. Somewhere along the way they had stopped thinking of the two vampires as family, and she was pretty sure Spike himself had, too.

The sequence of events all made sense now. Spike had found a way around the constraints of the implant and had started killing again, indiscriminate, vicious like everybody knew he had been all this time. Buffy had only done what was needed of her, and had staked him with just a moment of hesitation. There had been a strange silence as the dust had settled, when all of their eyes were trained to the spot where the vampire had been. A vampire they had believed was reformed somehow, one of the good guys. He had been around for a while now, and for him to be gone felt odd in a way. But there had been no regrets, no real remorse, only hurt. Especially from Xander, who had begun considering the vampire a friend, during those last months, before the chip had been made irrelevant. But they had quickly moved on to other things, and soon other worries had occupied their minds - until a force had blown into Sunnydale, painting the town red red red. Of course it was Angelus. Of course he would avenge his wayward childe's dusting. So simple the explanation had eluded them.

"Why am I still alive?" she breathed, her face so close to his that she could smell the coppery scent of blood from his lips. She wanted to know. There was no reason for her to be last. It only made the Slayer's murder trivial.

He studied her quietly for a moment, leaned into her closely. Then he sat on the edge of the bed in front of her, and drew her forward to stand between his knees. The feel of his hands on her hips made her shiver and she swallowed dryly.

One of his broad hands rested on her thigh, and the other on her belly, palm flat against her stomach. She dropped her arms to her sides, terrified by her own movements. He looked up at her, brown eyes rimmed with gold.

"You killed him. You killed my boy. That was wrong. He was mine, mine to kill, if he was meant to die. Now I need a new toy. I need another William."

She found herself nodding, and something else twisted at her gut, something she was afraid of acknowledging.

"But you know this," he added, his voice deeper, a low growl soothing her nerves, her fright, like a balm. She found her breathing slowing, deepening. "You knew I was coming for you."

"Yes," she said absently, and she felt like crying. He wasn't supposed to know about this, about the nightmares, about the inappropriate ache, the itch, the longing.

"You know why I kept you for last. Don't lie to yourself."

She nodded softly, and tears spilled.

Angelus slipped his hand under the hem of her shirt and brushed the back of his hand against her navel, soft and loving. "It's the perfect recipe, you know. Young, pure, shy and bookish. Good. You're a good girl, aren't you, Theresa?"

"Tara," she corrected without conviction, her voice cracking on a stifled sob. No one knew her real name, the same as her mother, no one knew but her family, and even they didn't call her that. She was never worth her mother's name, they said. How could he know? He wasn't supposed to know.

"Don't lie to me, Theresa. You don't have to." He leaned in and kissed the gentle swell of her stomach, where it dipped into her pants. Tara gasped, tears slithering down her face and neck. His large hands encircled her waist tightly; she felt his fingers dig into her flesh, bruising. His lips and teeth brushed across her belly, then he sank sharp teeth into her hip. She cried out, her knees buckling. He caught her and lowered her to the floor until she knelt between his legs. He slipped both hands on her face, making her look at him. "Listen to me. You're mine now. I'm going to love you, and I'm going to call you by your real name because you ARE worth it. I'm going to make you into something strong, something vicious, something that won't feel all these feelings you don't like. Something beautiful. It's going to be better. Everything's going to be better, Theresa. You'll love being mine. If you stay loyal to me, you're going to be powerful and loved and mighty. You're going to rule the world. It will be yours for the taking. You're such a good little girl, just like my William; you will be a thing of beauty."

"Please..." she whimpered, sobbing, all strength leaving her bones. She had dreamt of this moment, over and over again, and she knew what was supposed to happen. She fought it as best she could, but watched with horror as her own hand reached out and gripped his shirt, clinging.

Angelus dropped to the floor with her, around and over her. He slipped an arm around her and pulled her to him, cradling her preciously. She felt the teeth sink into her throat and she held on tightly, looking at the girl on the wall, at her empty gaze, with a detached hunger. Soon a thick veil of black obscured everything and she bit savagely into his shoulder, closing the circle. They sank to the ground and he howled, coming against her. She fell into what felt like a deep sleep, a soft, stained smile on her lips.