"Darla," Spike says in way of greeting. "You've gotten fat."

She isn't insulted, not really. They're vampires, this is how things work between them. She remembers that this is why she kept him around. Angelus and Drusilla were wonderful for a fight or a fuck, but Spike was the only one she could think to call her equal when it came to a sharp tongue.

"Making up for what you've lost, I suppose," she responds, looking him over. He really is getting skinny. Cheekbones, sharp as ever, now stand out against gaunt cheeks. She doubts he's eaten in days, and probably not well even then.

Spike is sitting on the steps of the back porch of a house she recalls belonged to a Slayer. The one Angel was after. He's smoking a cigarette, has another behind his ear, and there's a glass of scotch next to his hand, which rests on the uppermost stair. His hair has been bleached blonde— the last time she saw him it had been black. It looks wild and unkempt, with curls falling across his forehead, something he'd always tried so hard to prevent in the past through various means. He doesn't respond to her, doesn't even act surprised to see her, just inhales another lungful of smoke and looks through her, eyes glazed.

"I'm looking for Dru," she tells him. She crosses her arms over her chest and hopes he just keeps on thinking that she's fat. Her sweater is big enough to hide the five months of baby bump she's got going as far as she can tell, but Spike's a perceptive person. He's rarely fooled when he doesn't want to be.

For now, though, he just stares out across the yard and smokes his cigarette. "Haven't seen her," he says.

"Do you know where she is?"

"No."

This is new. Sixty years she'd spent with him, and he'd never really left Drusilla's company before. And after she'd left, there'd been letters, mostly from Spike, mostly about Dru. Those two had rarely separated intentionally, usually only when she or Angelus took them apart for a little diversity in their sex lives, something Spike had never really been too pleased about. And even in those times, they'd known where the other was.

Jesus, Darla needs to get off her feet. She clomps up the first two steps and sits down next to him. "I can't feel her," she says, stretching her legs out in front of her and glaring at her regrettable choice in heels. Not a good choice for wandering up and down the streets above the Hellmouth, trying to pinpoint that vague bloodline pull that Spike sends out to her. It's rather weak, if Angel were in LA right now, which he isn't, she can tell, his pull probably would have overpowered Spike's. The vampire beside her is just a little too far removed down the horribly tangled family tree, even if he is her brother now. "I need to find her." Maybe she can see what's happening to me goes unsaid.

Spike shrugs. "Haven't seen her four… five months."

"Oh," Darla says, because she can't think of a single other thing to say. Spike stays quiet and picks at some lint on his jeans. Or maybe it's dust. Darla tilts her head back and stares at the stars. They tell things to Dru, things yet to come and things happening far away, but they don't say anything to Darla.

"You could try Brazil," Spike suggests, breaking the silence. "She was happy there, I think. Reckon you're the only reason she came back."

Spike finishes his cigarette and uses the butt to light the next one before dropping it to the bottom step and grinding it out under his boot and Darla wonders when he started worrying about those types of things. Starting fires wasn't exactly his style, but she couldn't recall him ever intentionally averting it before.

"This was a Slayer's house, wasn't it?" Darla says, turning to look at him. She has some memories of the mother on the floor, Angel standing over them. He'd fallen in love with her, that little schoolgirl Slayer. God, it was disgusting.

Spike pauses with his glass halfway to his mouth, cigarette smouldering quietly between his fingers. "Yeah," he says after a moment. His blue eyes are dull and pained. "Yeah it was."

"What happened to her?" Darla asks. She shifts and puts her elbows back so they can bear her weight for a bit.

Spike snorts. He sounds miserable. "I killed her, didn't I?" He shakes his head and drains his half filled glass in one quick swallow then reaches for the bottle perched at the top of the railing. "Jesus." He pours himself another drink. She takes the bottle from him and he lets her, their fingers touching for just a moment too long, a little reminder that they aren't just old friends, if they could ever be called that. There'd been more, once upon a time.

Darla takes a long pull from the bottle. It burns her throat, but maybe it will burn whatever is growing deep down inside of her as well. And then she almost throws the drink away, saddened beyond reason at the idea of harming something her miserable body is trying so hard to create.

And this was the other reason she came to Spike. One reason buried deep down, that she'd tried hard not to admit to herself. Because he was so far from a monster at times, for all the bloodlust and brawling. He could be almost human, with his heart. Letting it lead him. For all they'd done to him, everything he'd been through and everything they'd put him through, he still remained so full of love.

He has loved Dru. Really, truly loved her. She knows this. He had loved her too, and Angel. And that mother of his, who he never wanted to talk about. He loved them.

He had loved them even though he knew there was no hope of them loving him back, not in any way nearing the capacity and intensity of his love. But maybe, maybe he can teach her, help her to love this child she's having.

But then it's gone again. This want, this affection, it leaves as quickly as it had come to her. This is all she needs, really. This is just one more thing to be fixed about her. Whatever's inside of her, pulling these feelings forth from nothing, she can't abide it. She drinks again from the bottle.

"So who are they?" Darla asks, nodding back towards the house and the three slow and steady heartbeats it contains. Three sleeping humans with a vampire drinking on their back porch.

"Girls," Spike says, he's holding the glass and the cigarette in one hand, running his fingers against the rough denim of his dark jeans with the other. He stares down at his hand while he does. The nail polish is chipped, like he hasn't bothered to paint them lately. It's like his hair. As if he's stopped trying to impress anyone. It's sad.

"Are they yours?"

"Yes," Spike says immediately. Then he shakes his head. "No." He gives her a miserable, melancholy grin. "I'm theirs though."

Darla nods comprehendingly and peers into the bottle. "We don't change, do we?" she asks, not really expecting an answer.

Spike doesn't say a thing.


The End.