Summary: Jilted, confused, and heart-sick, Spike never returns to Dru in South America, instead deciding to resurrect his original intentions to kill his third Slayer... and preferably Angel too. But when he arrives in Sunnydale once more and finds Buffy in the midst of her Cruciamentum, he can't bring himself to take advantage of her weakened state.

A/N: This chapter is more of a prologue, really; heavily quotes the South-American flashback in "Fool for Love" and a bit from "Lovers Walk". The title of this fic comes from the RED song "Take It All Away", and might be incorporated in the story later.

Chapter 1: Plaything

... South America, four months previously...

"She brought blackness upon us," Drusilla moans, a hand languishing across her brow like a wilting flower.

Spike turns away and lights another cigarette. Bollocks, goin' through that pack faster than I meant to. Haven't got much of the stuff left.

Drusilla eyes him petulantly. "You couldn't ever do it."

That's it. That's bloody it.

Shoving out of his rickety chair, Spike paces in front of the outdoor café, glaring up at the sky as he speaks, too disgusted to look at Drusilla.

"So, Sunnyhell was not our finest hour. And yes, I made a deal with the Slayer. But you were shaggin' Angelus and bringin' about an apocalypse to end all life as we know it. So? Every couple's got... their ups and downs... Point bein', we got through all that. It's behind us now... isn't it?"

He's trying. God knows, he's trying harder than any reasonable man should be expected to try... after seeing his black beauty with that... thing.

"I hate it here," Dru pouts. "Furry little animals peering at us from out of the trees, and the people taste all funny..."

"Right," he sighs deeply, dropping his rapidly-consumed cigarette to the ground and stamping the butt into powder. "We'll pick up and move again, and we'll keep movin' 'till we've found the perfect spot... and then you can be my queen again, and I'll be your little prince... your William."

Neck tensing with effort, he reaches for her hand, but her fingers slip away from him.

"Princess... just tell me what you want," Spike pleads, at his wits' end.

Drusilla stares into his gemstone eyes, her face more lucid than he's seen it in years, perhaps ever.

"I want the Slayer dead, Spike," is all she says.

Losing control altogether, Spike flips over the chair he'd formerly occupied and sends it spinning in multiple pieces down the dirt lane.

"You're the one who keeps bringin' her up! I haven't said a word about the bloody Slayer since we left California! She's on the other side of the planet, Dru!"

"But you're lying!" Drusilla snarls, also rising from her chair, eyes cold, unforgiving. "I can still see her, floating all around you, laughing! Why don't you push her away?"

"But I did, pet," he whispers, lifting his hands helplessly. "I did it for you. You keep punishin' me, carryin' on with creatures like this."

On the other side of the table, a very frightened Chaos demon – all slime and antlers – gestures its cloven hand between the arguing lovers.

"Okay..." the creature petitions, "you guys obviously have a thing going on here..."

Drusilla can't even meet Spike's gaze now. "I have to find my pleasures, Spike. You taste like ashes."

"So this is my fault now?" Spike scoffs, glancing from his sire to the seven-foot monstrosity, the myriad points on its antlers dripping and oozing some foul-smelling molasses-like substance. When he'd seen his beloved snogging the thing, he'd almost welcomed a stake, would have guided it straight to his heart had any being in this God-forsaken jungle tried to attack him. Every movement since then had felt stiff, painful, like his muscles and bones were already turning to dust. Despair fills him, the axis of his world spinning around with no true North anymore, no center of gravity.

The Chaos demon, off Spike's fearsome glower, backs up a step.

"I didn't know she was seeing somebody... I should take off."

"Yeah, why don't you do that?" Spike growls. Get the hell out of here before I act on the urge to snap your pathetic, gooey neck.

Unbelievable. The brute still has the gumption to blow a kiss towards Drusilla – the motion obscured somewhat by its hoofed hand – before it turns its back on them and walks briskly away.

"You can't blame the girl, Spike," Dru chides. "You're all covered with her. I look at you... all I see is the Slayer."

"Wasn't blamin' no one, 'cept maybe you, mackin' on that... that digustin' thing."

All the fight leaking out of him, Spike sits roughly on the edge of the café's patio and rests his head on his knees.

"You can't play any of our games anymore, Spike," mumbles Drusilla, descending back into the nether regions of her labyrinthine mind. "You've forgotten all the rules. All the puppets' strings are cut, and they lay on the floor and don't dance for the little happy children."

"I don't understand," Spike moans into his hands. "I did it for you, luv. For us. All those months I had to sit there in that bleedin' chair and... and listen."

His voice breaks, head pounding with memories so sickening that his hands start to tremble. The repetitive creaking of the bed... Angelus's loud oaths as he bedded her, rough as he always was... Drusilla moaning cheerfully and responsively for her 'Daddy'...

"Don't you love me, Dru?" begs Spike, standing up suddenly. He rushes in front of Drusilla, kneels, and clutches for her hands. Her gaze remains on the treetops surrounding them. "I've forgiven you, baby. I know you couldn't help it, you didn't mean to hurt me. He's your sire. You're bound to him, like I to you... but you love me, right, pet? Princess?"

Her lids flutter, but still she does not condescend to look upon him.

"My pretty plaything has run away, off to another dolly-house... and let another little girl pick him up..."

Is that really all he's ever been to her? A plaything? A game? A puppet?

"No, baby, no... I'm yours. I love you. Drusilla! Dammit, why won't you look at me?"

He can't hold back his tears. They stem not from his eyes but from his heart, seemingly gashed open, hacked to bits. Her hands glide out of his once again, and he watches the hem of her yellow dressing gown move further and further away.

"Dru... Dru, please..."

"No more, pretty Willy... run along now and play with your new little girl." A brief chorus of giggles consumes her. "Little Willy can never have his own girl, can he? All his girls belong to another. Second fiddle said to the violin, let me watch you play, please? If I do all my lessons, will you help me do better next time. Not so many blots in my copybook..."

Her voice is fading, her tiny footfalls on the dirt path growing fainter with each step, but Spike remains on the ground beside the table. His legs have shed all their strength. He's half-inclined to just stay here in this prostrate pose until dawn and let the sun put him out of his misery.

Drusilla is truly gone. Her scent in the air is all that lingers, decorating the chair and table and the bits of dirt her feet trod on, the perfume that – until now – had fueled his existence.

"Please..." he murmurs to the ground of the empty clearing. "Please come back to me..."

... Highway somewhere in Mexico, present...


Headlights careen toward him, and Spike jerks the wheel of the DeSoto until he's safely out of the flow of oncoming traffic.

"Great... live a hundred years... only to die burnin' in a bleedin' car crash," he mutters, pulling over onto the right shoulder, shifting to park, and rubbing his aching forehead.

The memory of his last words with Dru becomes more vivid every time he closes his eyes now, probably because he's well and truly sober for the first time in months. Out of liquor, out of smokes... nothing but a pounding headache to get him all the way back to Where-in-the-Hell, Brazil, find Dru, tire her up, and torture her until she likes him again. Simple-enough plan... so why doesn't he feel like it will do a bloody bit of good? Who knows how many repulsive pick-your-flavor demons she'll have shacked up with by now? All because of the Slayer... because of stupid, prissy Buffy Summers...

Spike shifts around in the driver's seat, trying to find an angle that mollifies his headache in any way, but the throbbing only increases. Was that really all it took to eradicate a hundred-year-long bond, the closest thing to sacred a vampire could experience – the tie between sire and childe? One brief allegiance with the Slayer, and suddenly Dru considered him too tainted to look upon, too fouled to caress...

And seeing her again last week... with him, both alive, pretending not only that all his gruesome atrocities against her kith and kin hadn't happened, but also that they weren't making googly eyes at one another every bleedin' second. Spike had seen what Angelus had done to the Watcher – hell, he had stopped more harm from coming to the faithful bloke – but he supposes Buffy's rose-colored glasses wipe all Angelus's stains clean. Poor little girl... she has no idea the heat of the fire she's playing with.

His headache only growing worse, Spike thumps his forehead against the steering wheel.

Not 'poor girl', you nit, he derides himself. Stupid bint of a girl! Walkin' straight into his bloody hands... and he'll use you... and laugh as he tears your pretty flesh... and I won't be able to stop him...

"Oh God... no..."

Spike bolts up, clapping both hands to his head, not to appease the pain in his sinuses, but to try to gouge out the sudden horror.

"Please no..."

He's lost. He's falling for the Slayer.