Part 6: After the excitement died down…

“I don’t think they’re coming back tonight,” Giles said walking in front of the big screen TV as Letterman strolled onto the set. “It’s late, we’ve had a difficult evening, I think we should all retire to bed.” There was muted grumbling but no serious opposition. “Cordelia, would you please show us where we’re to sleep?”

There were two guestrooms: Oz and Nancy got one and Larry and Giles took the other.

Joyce went upstairs with Cordelia. She changed into a frilly silk nightgown borrowed from Cordelia’s mother’s boudoir and slid into the bed feeling the awkwardness of sharing a bed with someone she barely knew. She’d known Cordelia for more than three years, but she doubted they’d ever exchanged ten words all that time and once she’d left town she’d never given the girl a second thought.

“This is kinda fun, huh? Like a slumber party with less giggling.”

“Thank God.” Joyce shuddered; she still had flashbacks from some of Buffy’s L.A. parties.

“I suppose you’ll want to go home tomorrow, get things ready for Buffy.” Cordelia said, changing subjects without signaling.

Joyce sighed. “I don’t really have a home. I don’t even have my purse, or ID or money. I am as you find me.”

“That Anya did. Well, you can stay here as long as you want. There’s plenty of room and I checked the calendar in my parents’ room and they’re not due back for another two weeks.”

“What about Luz?””

“She’s not in charge of me. She’s just here for the house and so my parents won’t look like bad people if anyone figures out they left me here on my own.” Joyce wondered how often the Chases did this, and how old Cordelia had been when they started. “And tomorrow I’ll take you shopping! It’ll be my good deed!” With a satisfied nod Cordelia turned off the light.


The sun rose. The Master felt it, even safe in his chambers in the Bronze’s basement. He threw his half-drained breakfast to the floor and glared at the attending minions.

“Why are my favorites not here?”

The minions glanced nervously at each other. No-one answered.

“I sent them on a simple mission. Surely killing one insignificant woman can’t have taken this long.” A few of the older, more seasoned minions began easing their way towards the exit. “You!” The Master said picking out an unfortunate fledgling. “Tell me!”

“They aren’t back, yet, Master.”

The Master’s high-pitched screech dragged Angel from the sleep that was his only refuge from the hell he’d been trapped in for nearly two years. Making sure to betray no sign that he was awake, he listened to the screams recognizing the distinctive sound of vampires being rendered back to dust. Something must have truly annoyed the old monster to provoke this level of slaughter. He thought it had been at least a month since the last outburst.

The noise died down eventually and an unusual quiet fell over the Bronze, broken only by the soft whimpers of captive humans and the moans of injured vampires. He waited until he was absolutely sure there was no one nearby in his vicinity before taking the risk of opening his eyes.

He was alone. Safe. Angel sat up slowly, wincing at the pull of half-healed burns and incisions. It had been maybe two days since Willow had come to ‘play’. She’d gotten a little bit carried away last time and nearly dusted him, but Xander, goddamn him, had pulled her off a moment too soon.

He let his senses expand letting the miasma of vampires, blood new and old, fear and lust wash over him. The Bronze was eerily quiet. For the first time since the Master rose there was no feeding or fucking or torture being perpetuated. Even better, the spoor of his chief tormentors was stale, hours old. It was well after sunrise and they weren’t here.

Relief mixed with dismay at the thought that if they’ve been dusted by someone else he’d never get his chance at revenge. But all things considered – he could live with it.

He tugged at the chain holding him to the wall pretending that there was slightly more give than the last time he’d tested it. He set his heels and tugged harder, welcoming the pain in his shoulders because it belonged to him, for once it wasn’t a humiliation. The pain but his own weakness finally forced him to stop. He hadn’t fed in more than a week. Not since he’d refused the bleeding and hysterical child they’d tried to force on him. He’d earned himself a beating, and of course the child died anyway, but it was worth it to see the rage on both their faces when Puppy proved he wasn’t entirely their pet, that they hadn’t managed to break him completely. Yet.

He lay down again on the filthy floor and closed his eyes again. He let the image that had helped sustain him all these months fill his mind: She was so pretty, and young, too-short skirt riding up on her thigh as she bounced down the stairs, her golden hair gleaming in the afternoon sun. Buffy, he thought, why don’t you come?


Well, well, well: The Slayer.

The Slayer was coming to Sunnydale.

Spike took another swig from the bottle savoring the burn as the last of the tequila drained down his throat. He threw the bottle at the crypt’s wrought iron gate where a heap of smashed glass glittered in the sunlight.

He’d heard about this Slayer. Buffy. Stupid name, but by all reports she was the strongest Slayer in years, maybe ever. She’d killed Lothos and that old fucker had been nearly as mean as the Master. She’d kept the Cleveland Hellmouth under control for more than two years. He’d wanted to track her down, see if he couldn’t bag his third, but Dru hadn’t wanted to leave Europe, and after Prague it wasn’t possible to leave her.

She’d been so frail at the end. What blood he managed to get inside her wouldn’t stay; it sieved through her paper-thin skin and stained the sheets pink. He’d locked himself in the room for three days after she’d gone, watching her dust spin and glitter in the air until the last of it vanished.

He grabbed another bottle out of the case he’d taken from Liquor Barn after eating the stock boy, opened it and poured another healing draft down his throat. God he missed her. There’d never been anything like his ripe wicked plum in the world, and there never would be again. That bat-faced freak will pay for her loss; then he’ll kill himself a third Slayer and make himself king of the Hellmouth.

Posted July 22, 2003

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