Mercenary Hearts 1   1 comment

Part 1

Rumania, 1898.

The acrid stench of fear hung in the air like a pall. Angelus’ mouth watered copiously, impatient to push aside the pleasantries Darla loved so much.

“We decided today was our boys’ birthdays,” she purred softly into his ear, slim pale arms wrapped around his thick neck, her body plastered against him. He gave her a cursory glance then looked over her fair head impatiently, attempting to see what had assailed his senses so deliciously from the moment he’d entered the building, but Drusilla blocked his view as she literally danced on the spot; her glittering eyes widening with excitement when the door behind him opened and her loved one entered.

“My Spike is finally here and now the party can begin!” She clapped her hands with glee. “Can we let them open their presents now?” Her delicate face turned towards Darla, feral excitement twisting her pretty features. The blonde shook her head and twining arms tightened, thin fingers threading through Angelus’ hair to tug demandingly.

“All in good time, sweetling, but first I want my boy to greet me in a proper manner.” China blue eyes gazed into his expectantly, and with an inward growl of building impatience he brought his head down and devoured her scarlet mouth brutally.

Spike peered around the brunette and grinned in sheer delight. “Ahh, Dru, you’ve truly outdone yourself tonight. However shall I repay you for such a precious gift?” Striking dark brows wriggled deliberately and the answering girlish giggles were stifled abruptly as the sound of wet kisses and purring growls filled the room… but then the softest whimper intruded and avid curiosity had Angelus finally tearing his lips away from the woman in his arms and looked up.

Flames danced and spat in the impressive stone fireplace casting its golden glow across the marble floor. Candles flickered warm yellow light from every available surface bringing an almost dreamy ambience to the cavernous and sparsely furnished chamber.

But nothing compared to the gold fire that lit the dark vampire’s eyes as they finally sought out and rested on the ‘gifts’ his sire and childe had laid out artistically a few feet from the large hearth. Pulling away from the arms and body still clinging to him like poison ivy, Angelus stepped around the petite blonde, his tongue sliding out to moisten suddenly parched lips.

Walking over, he circled slowly, a lecherous smile lighting his strong pale face as glittering tigers eyes caught a glimpse of delicate ankles peeking temptingly from under the voluminous material of heavy, pale blue skirts. Wrists were tied together with red silken cords and pulled taut over their heads, the ends wrapped around the thick oak legs of a large damask-covered couch.

Dropping to his haunches, Angelus reached out a large hand and ran it from hip to knee, a deep dark chuckle rumbling through his chest when a bare foot lifted and kicked out.

With the accuracy of a deadly snake, he grabbed the fragile ankle and held it high, grinning in delight that the lower limbs were left unbound. He brought it to his mouth; dropping light teasing kisses along warm, olive silky flesh, which quivered in his firm grip.

Spike teased Drusilla’s smiling blood red mouth with biting kisses before releasing her to saunter over. Cool blue eyes ran over both the young girls huddled next to each other, liquid brown gazes frantic with fear above the confining gags. Their clothes although lacking the richness of wealth were still bright and flattering. Long dark hair hung loose around their shaking shoulders, and his eyes glinted with more than the reflection of the roaring fire. “Gypsies,” he breathed with a pleasured purr.

The female vampires held hands and swayed coquettishly. “Not just any gypsies,” Darla responded with a triumphant grin, causing Drusilla to giggle and swing their joined hands.

“Romany,” Angelus murmured softly, his free hand reaching down to slide the covering fabric along from the trembling leg he still held fast. “I have no idea how you both managed such a difficult endeavor,” he grinned back briefly, “but be sure I’ll show you just how impressed I am, later.” His promise of reward made, Angelus’ dark head turned back to the banquet laid out before him before opening his mouth and suckling on the soft skin now bared to his hungry eyes.

“And I look forward to it, my love,” Darla replied, licking her too-red lips as avid eyes followed the path of his roving hand and grinned with feral amusement when a muffled cry of pained distress echoed through the chamber following the sound of tearing fabric. His purr of delight as thick, blood-tinged fingers slid between his lips had her impatient for a taste, she tugged on Drusilla’s hand taking a step forward, but stilled when a low growl warned her they were close enough. Willing to let him have his fun alone for a little while longer, she settled down to watch.

“Twice the pleasure,” Drusilla giggled softly and pulled away from Darla and began to dance around the room. “Two pretty little girls who share the same face, isn’t that just wonderful?”

Spike shifted his avid gaze from the now bare writhing limbs of the girl chosen by his sire and tugged the other closer. He ran a long finger down the side of her frightened face, enjoying the silky texture, the gentle smile that graced his sculpted mouth at odds with the savage light in his eyes. “Wonderful, pet, truly wonderful.”

“It hurts, yes? Good. It will hurt more.” The old Romany woman smiled coldly, her wrinkled lips twisting with a hint of glee as she looked down on the two prone vampires.

“You don’t remember… everything you’ve both done. In a moment, you will. The face of everyone you killed… our daughters faces… they will haunt you, and you will know what true suffering is….”


“So… Could you tell me if we need to help you file for assistance?” The woman smiled in what Cordelia guessed was the “I’m-your-friend-trust-me’ look these people probably worked on constantly to get it just right.

”What do you mean by that?”

The smile faded pretty quickly. Obviously it wasn’t working this time.” Ah…assistance. Public assistance. Do you have a job?” Cordelia nodded instantly; an expression of pride on her face.

”Yup. Got a job. I work at the cafeteria at the University. You ever been there? I’m the beverage girl. See, I get there really early in the morning, 6:30 am, and I start these big huge urns of coffee. And I make the iced teas. And the lemonade, too. And I have my afternoons all to myself cause I get off around three. It’s great, to get off work and it’s still like practically the middle of the day!” She finished breathlessly and then sat back, folding her arms tight across her chest.

”So you don’t need to apply for public assistance.” The woman asked again causing a dark frown to crease Cordelia’s normally smooth brow as she glared at her.

” I just told you. I’ve got a job.” The woman stared back. After years in her job, she was pretty much used to antagonism. Then she blinked and finally broke contact, dropping her eyes to the open file on her lap.

”Let’s see… ‘Recently released from…Women’s penitentiary. Probation for a year…’ That’s what it says here, in your record.” The woman pointed out so calmly that Cordelia had to stifle the urge to yank the file from her and throw it across the room. “Now, could you tell me about this attempt to steal the Christ Child out of the rectory of the University Lutheran—”

“Didn’t steal nothing.”

The woman blinked rapidly at the vehement tone in the voice that interrupted her. “Sorry?”

Cordelia’s expression was tight with anger, defensiveness in every line of her body. “Who says I stole? I didn’t steal nothing … Anything.” She added reluctantly after a pause.


“Timeout. Thank you, Sarah, Cordelia. Very well done, now don’t forget, study, people!” Closing the book on his desk with a snap, Mister Barnes eyed the class with a stink eye before leaning down and grabbing the tattered old briefcase next to his chair. “I want this scene wrapped up by tomorrow afternoon. Get to it.” With a quick flick of his hand, he left the room without looking back.

Chairs scraped across the floor as students got to their feet and made a mass exodus to the open door.

“That was really good, I wish I could just…” she shrugged before continuing, “forget everyone else was watching when it’s me up there.” Tara took her time rising, sliding her books and notes carefully into the holdall she pulled off the back of her chair.

“Like I said before, just imagine everyone in their underwear. Works for me,” Cordelia’s grin turned into a grimace. “But then, maybe not such a good idea where Mister Barnes is concerned. Can I say ewwe?” Tara giggled, pushing in her chair before walking over to join the brunette at her desk.

Reaching out quickly to grab a book that tried to slide off the top in protest as things were stuffed into a large purse haphazardly, she held onto it until everything else disappeared, then handed it over. “What do you have planned tonight?” she asked as they made their way out of the now empty room at a more leisurely pace than the other students had.

Pulling a face, Cordelia shrugged with a sigh. “Dinner with mother and daddy,” her bottom lip pushed out a little. “They’re off to Sicily tonight. Business trip thrown in with a little sightseeing.” She shrugged again, outwardly unconcerned, but Tara picked up on the hidden pique.

“Didn’t they get back from Hawaii not long ago?” she asked, shifting her hold all more securely on her shoulder. Cordelia nodded glumly. “I’m sorry.” Tara added.

Cordelia shook off her mini funk, leaning over to nudge the blonde girl with a grin. “It’s not your fault my parents decided to ask me if I wanna go to Italy half way through a semester.” The grin faltered for a second. “Dammit, I’ve always wanted to go to Sicily too,” she whined. Tara patted her arm consolingly, and then dug into her jean jacket pocket.

“Twinkie?” she proffered a slightly squished candy bar, and then grinned at first the look of horror, quickly followed by guilty greed as Cordelia took it, then Tara pulled out another bar and unwrapped it.

“Don’t think I won’t remember this when I’m as big as a hippo and have to buy two seats on the next plane I ever get to travel on,” she warned between bites. Both giggled as they sauntered down the rapidly emptying corridor of Sunnydale University.


“God, I don’t think I have room for ice cream after that,” Buffy groaned, rubbing her middle soothingly as she walked out of the Pizza Parlor.

“If that’s your way of saying you want me to pay for the cold creamy goodness, forget it.” Xander gave her a warning look as he shrugged into his jacket. “I got the pizza,” he reminded. Buffy rolled her eyes before poking him in the ribs lightly with her elbow, eyes rolling once again at his exaggerated ‘ooph’.

“And here was I thinking that the man was supposed to buy,”

“Who said I was a man?” he quipped, “Anyway, the man only buys when it’s a date.” The grin slipped a little as awkwardness worked its way to the surface. “And it isn’t a date – is it?” Mentally kicking himself for making it a question, Xander gave a quick sideways look and flushed a little when wide eyes collided with his.

What was she supposed to say? No, don’t be stupid, we’re FRIENDS-? Or… well, I was actually kinda thinking…. Giving herself a shake Buffy instead decided to change the subject. “So what flavor ice cream are you gonna have?” She plastered a big smile on her face and deliberately ignored the stifled sigh that left him.

Xander kicked a bottle lid absently while he attempted to shove down the urge to confront the abrupt shift in atmosphere between them. He knew they’d have to talk about whatever it was that was that was going on soon, but not now. Lifting his head, he turned to respond when something caught his eye. “Uh oh, trouble.”

Buffy instantly followed his gaze and stiffened as her eyes locked onto the shadowy figures several meters away down the dark alleyway they’d been about to pass. Reaching round the back of her jeans, she pulled out a stake and changed direction. Xander followed closely with a frown and whispered,; “How did you sit down with that in your pants?” Then shrugged and concentrated on the scene ahead.

“What’s up, scaly? Didn’t she like the idea of a date with ya?” Buffy quipped, eying the unconscious girl one of the demons held close to its large, blue-skinned body whilst she worked out the best way to rescue her safely. Xander widened the space between them and sidled along the wall, his eyes never leaving the demons as he edged forward.

As soon as they’d heard her voice, both demons had turned to face her; the one holding the girl stepped back until his cohort was almost in front of him. He sniffed the air and grimaced. “A slayer” he hissed gutturally.

The one who’d taken up a protective stance half turned his large head to flick a quick glance behind him. “We can’t risk a confrontation right now. Leave the sacrifice; we can get another one,” he ordered harshly.

Sacrifice? Buffy and Xander exchanged glances then moved as one.

Xander looked around the dark alley for something to use as a weapon while his companion charged the empty handed demon. Just as he spotted and grabbed a length of rusty pipe, the other demon had started to make good his escape with the girl. Checking quickly behind him and finding that Buffy was still busy with the other demon, Xander weighed up his choices and then decided a slightly injured victim was better than a dead one and ran forward, swinging the heavy pipe.

The demon grunted loudly as the metal caught the side of his head and staggered, but still doggedly held onto the girl. Groaning in frustration, Xander jogged ahead and turned, blocking his quarry and hoping he could stave until Buffy had dealt with the other one.

Shaking its big head, the demon righted itself and then eyed the youth for a moment through lidless eyes before its thin lips spread into what was obviously a sneer but looked more like a grimace, revealing small yellow – and very sharp looking teeth. It lifted the girl and threw her over a large bony shoulder and then advanced.

Xander gulped, but refused to budge. Pipe at the ready as the demon got closer, one of its large hands curled into an impressive fist.
His anxious eyes sought out Buffy’s’ whereabouts and he swallowed thickly when realizing she was too busy fighting herself to come to his aid. His split second distraction cost him. The demon was now only a foot away and he raised the pipe to shoulder level, wondering how the hell he’d be able to use it to its full potential with the girl in the way.

And then a small pair of hands appeared either side of the demon’s head, which abruptly twisted it in the opposite direction with a sickening crunch. Relief filled Xander even as he rushed forward when the large figure began to crumple to the ground, managing to grab the girl round the waist before it hit the floor.

Surprised brown eyes met wry green when he lifted his head.

Keeping hold of the arms she’d grabbed at the same time Xander had moved, Buffy steadied the girl, who was now slowly coming round, while Xander settled her feet on the ground. “So much for an ice cream pig out,” she grumbled.

Part 2

[The small scene in the class came from NOVEMBER WOMEN, a one-act play by Kate McGrath]

Posted August 11, 2017 by califi in TBC

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