Disclaimer: Characters and setting belongs to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy, the plot however belongs to me.

Dedication: To the girls and guys at the BtVS and Ats Fanfiction group on facebook.

A/N: I started writing this back in May of 2012. I wrote a little, then I got distracted and I put it to the back burner. I've recently started looking at this story again to try and finish it. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't post another multi-chaptered fic until it was finished, but I really need some inspiration, and it's been a while since I've posted a new story. So I thought I would post the first chapter and see what everyone thought about it. It will be a while before I post the next chapter as I'm gonna try and get most of the writing done before then. Please don't let that put you off, i'm just giving you all a heads up. LOL

This story is a MAJOR AU. You will see what I mean as the story goes along.

Thanks to Scribes1015 for betaing this story for me.

Enjoy!

Paths of Hate

Prologue

Sunnydale, California
November 7th 1999

Liam's hands were shaking uncontrollably as he held the sword tip against the vampire's pale throat. He wanted to slice the steel across her skin, and cleave her head from her body until she dissolved into dust.

She was kneeling, her bloody palms pressed against the cold floor. It would be so easy to kill her, to finally put an end to all the pain she had put him through.

Slowly, another hand came into his line of sight, curling around his wrist and pulling his arm away. The point of the sword slowly coming away from the vampire's neck.

The vampire took the opportunity to take a deep breath. She didn't need to breathe, but it was instinctive, and calmed her in much the same way as it would a human. She looked up, her vivid blue eyes showing her worry as Liam glared down at her angrily, his mouth set in a grim line.

"Liam, please." Buffy asked, her palm still over his as she guided the sword until the tip was pointing to the floor.

"I should kill you," Liam said to the vampire.

Darla swallowed nervously, holding herself perfectly still as Liam continued to glare at her. She knelt on the floor, her shirt torn at the shoulder, blood oozing from a cut on her upper arm, the left side of her face a mass of bruises, her lip was split. "I'm sorry," she said, "I know it can't make up for the things I did to you but…"

"You think you can apologize after everything you did? After everything you've put me through?" The sword in his hand twitched as he fought to keep himself from slicing through Darla's exposed throat.

Only Buffy's grip on his wrist stopped him from moving, her hand deceptively strong for such a small woman. "Liam, think about this, please," she urged him.

"What's there to think about? I should kill her now and rid the world of her evil."

"She has a soul, Liam. She's not like other vampires, you know that."

"I don't care!" he shouted, suddenly turning on Buffy. "Do you have any idea what she did to me?!"

Buffy didn't flinch. She stood her ground, tilting her head up to look him in the eye. "No, and I don't care," she said, turning his words back on him. "You don't know her. She's helped me, she's fought by my side and I'm not gonna let you kill her so that you can settle this little vendetta!"

Liam's eyes narrowed angrily, but Buffy didn't give him a chance to say anything as she continued. "I don't want to lose you, Liam. Darla has a soul now. If you kill her you won't ever be able to come back from that."

"Maybe I don't want to," he said quietly. Turning his head he looked back down at Darla and tightened his grip on the sword in his hands.

Darla tilted her chin up defiantly, baring her throat to him as she sneered. "Do it then, you big damn hero."