Note - Thanks to my beta, t_geyer, for her unending patience, perseverance and support. Thanks also to always_jbj who keeps arguing that she doesn't merit a co-writing credit, but without whom I would never have got the basic plotline worked out.
"So... Where now?" Buffy asked as she slipped back into the DeSoto's passenger seat, not that she wouldn't have liked to take a bit longer to prepare before she faced Spike's ex, but the sooner they found her the less chance she'd be in the middle of chowing down on someone. "She'll probably go somewhere familiar, right? The factory?" the slayer suggested.
"The mansion," Spike corrected, his tone even and deliberate.
"Wasn't the mansion all about her and Angel? She-."
"Do I have to spell it out for you?" Spike bit out. "That's why she'll be there."
Buffy's curiosity overcame her discretion so quickly that she didn't even notice the skirmish. "But if she came back for you ?"
"It's because her precious daddy won't have her."
Another of Spike's raucous punk tracks kicked into life along with the car's engine, but it seemed to Buffy as if she couldn't remember a more awkward silence and she wished that she could take back her thoughtless words. When the DeSoto slowed to a halt on the mansion's driveway, she was eager to escape the vehicle, to be doing something, but as she reached for the door handle, Spike leaned over, his hand covering hers.
"Stay... please," he asked. "I can't say I know how this is going to turn out, but I can guarantee that if we walk in there together then it's going to go a lot worse than if you let me talk to her on my own. Leastways give me a head start. Give me a chance to get her talkin' before you come in... And if things go pear-shaped, I'm leaving the keys in the ignition. Just get the hell out and leave her to me, alright?"
"I don't drive," Buffy began to protest.
"You took the class," the vampire demurred. "That should be enough to get you the hell out of here."
Buffy didn't bother to ask where in the massive house she should look for them. She didn't need directions to Angel's bedroom.
Buffy forced herself to count to six hundred, complete with intervening elephants, before she got out of the car, leaving its door wide rather than risk the thunk of the clunky mechanism giving her away. As quietly as she could she made her way into the house and through its darkened interior, until she stood in the corridor outside the bedroom that Angel had used when he had lived there and she could clearly hear the voices of both vampires over the beating of her own heart.
"So, uh, let me get this straight..." Spike said, in that deceptively amiable tone. "Darla got mojo-ed back from the beyond ... you vamped her ... and now she and you are working on turning Angel into his own bad self again."
"Sounds fun," the blond vamp answered in a bored tone.
"It is," Dru replied with childish enthusiasm. "Like lollipops at the circus. Although... didn't care for Angelus setting us on fire."
"Angel setting you on fire, you mean?" Spike corrected, putting enough emphasis on the name, Buffy hoped, to cover her own shocked intake of breath.
"I don't like the Angel Beast."
"Doubt anyone old enough to know better does," Spike drawled. "And this has got you, what, all nostalgic now, has it?"
Finally, Buffy thought, they were getting to the reason why Drusilla was here.
"I want us to be a family again, my William." There was the faintest rustle of fabric and then the darker sound of leather against leather.
Buffy caught only the whisper that followed rather than the words it contained, but Spike's reply made it plain what Drusilla had wanted.
"To Los Angeles? I've done the whole L.A. scene, Dru. Didn't agree with me." There was an ennui to Spike's tone and it was accompanied by his heavily booted footfalls and then the squeak of bedsprings. "Besides, I've got a sweet little setup here in Sunny-D... Decent digs... not to mention all the tasty townies I can eat."
"Naughty! Shh," Dru scolded him. "You needn't make up stories. I already know why you're not coming. Poor boy." High-heeled steps moved further into the room and Buffy somehow knew without being told that she was following in Spike's path toward the bed. "It's her. My Spike is drowning in her. Mustn't hunt! Mustn't hurt! Mustn't kill!" There were two distinct squeaks of the bedsprings and very cautiously Buffy peered through the narrow gap between door and doorframe, to see the dark-haired vamp straddling Spike as he sat on the edge of the satin draped bed.
"Guess you weren't so far off the mark all those moons ago, kitten," Spike half-sighed, his fingers stroking Dru's side in a gentling motion before he seemed to settle with a hand on either side of her waist.
Dru leaned forward, pressing her forehead against the blond's. "If you stay with her you'll end in ashes, my brave knight, all used up and scattered to the wind. The slayer will take my pretty boy and she'll make him her kicked dog and when all that beautiful light is gone, she'll feed him into the mouth of hell..." She reached up and cradled the left side of Spike's face in one hand. "But my wayward boy isn't meant to be anyone's tame puppy. He's a killer. Born to slash ... and bash ... and..." The vampiress cocked her hips forward with a gasp of pleasure. "Oh, bleed like beautiful poetry." Dru began to grind against Spike, her breath quickening. "Her mummy tells you you're not a bad dog, but you are." Dru ran her hand around behind his head and then across his face, taking his chin and lifting it to look at her.
Spike growled as they stared into each other's eyes.
"And there you are, my darling, deadly boy." The ebony haired vampiress put her hand on the back of his neck and leaned in for a kiss... and suddenly found herself sitting a yard from Spike's feet on the hardwood floor.
"Wrong, kitten." Spike leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees so that he could lean forward and look at his sire as she sat in disarray, her eyes tearing up slightly like a toddler that had taken a fall. "Not your boy, not for a long time. Can't have it all ways, pet. Either you were shaggin' every other demon in Brazil because I belonged with her... Or, if I was always your boy, then, well... doesn't really say much for you, pet."
"Spike?" Dru sounded near to tears.
"Yeah," Spike sighed. "I'm a bad rude man, and maybe there's part of me that wants to pick you up, dust you down and apologise for the next hour but I'm not going to... And you want to know why? Not because I'm hers. That's never gonna happen, I know that, but because, for the first damn time in a century and a half, I'm bloody well mine." Without any of the usual patting down or fumbling, the vampire pulled out his packet of cigarettes and his lighter and took his time over lighting one. "No family duty. No insane girlfriend to play nursemaid for. No bitch of a great-grandsire ordering me around as if she were the queen of Sheba rather than a syphilitic prostitute... And above all, no Angelus, spending his every waking hour trying to convince himself that he's the better vamp. So, tell me again, kitten, why I'd want to come back to L.A. with you..."
"But, Spike..." Tears finally began to flow down the elder vamp's face and her accent became even more pronounced, the 'i' in Spike, sounding more like the 'oi' in toil. Then, in the instant that her eyes locked with her childe's her entire demeanour changed, from bewildered little girl to predator. "You're lying, my Spike." She swung her legs under her and rose to her knees, swaying slightly almost like a cobra preparing to strike. "William has a new family, sugar and spice and green fairy lights..."
"Is that right?" Spike drawled and drew deeply on his cigarette, rising to his feet and beginning to pace the room.
"They're all around you and in you, but mummy will cut them out like a cancer. Just like Daddy did for me..." In one move she twisted around to face the doorway and rose to her feet. "...Starting with her ." She raised her right hand, looked straight into Buffy's eyes as if she had known she was there all along, and crooked a finger. "Come in, little girl, time to play..."
Buffy's feet seemed to lead her into the room without her making any conscious decision to acquiesce to Drusilla's request. Her normal quips wouldn't come. Her hands simply hung at her side even though she knew they should be finding a stake around now.
Dru raised a finger in front of her face, swinging it back and forward like the pendulum of a metronome ticking out the beat of a funeral dirge, and Buffy's eyes followed the movement, drawing closer and closer until she felt herself falling into the demon's icy-grey animé eyes. "Be in me... Be in me..." The words came through to Buffy like someone whispering in an auditorium in those few seconds as the curtain goes up and all your attention is focused on that stage, waiting to see what the world behind it will be, but this was a world of monochrome nightmares, of pale skin and dark hair and silver grey eyes that would swallow your soul if you let them.
Suddenly the world crumbled in a moan of agony and all that was left was Spike and dust.
Her body was hers again. Her mind, overloaded, filled with unbearable writhing thoughts, but her own again. Another feral howl rent the air, and Spike sank to his knees and grabbed at the ashes that had settled to the hardwood floor, scooping them up and lifting them to his face, as if he thought he might catch a last hint of her perfume. His eyes lifted to hers, begging her for a compassion she no longer knew, asking for the girl behind the slayer's mask.
Buffy turned on her heel and ran.
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