Mercenary Hearts 6

Part 6

Crawford Street Mansion. Early hours.

Spike woke with a hoarse yell. Sweat dampened his pale brow and harsh breaths pushed out between clenched teeth. Throwing aside the faded cover, he climbed off the bed and stretched until his lower spine clicked. A shaking hand rose to swipe at the moisture that dripped into his eyes.  Coming face to face with that slayer had brought back memories long buried.

It had been a while since he’d had that particular dream- nightmare…memory, and the familiar ache that settled in his clenched gut both unsettled as well as pissed him off. Seeing her must have got his head all twisted.

Spike and Angel had stuck together after the decision to split with their sires. A choice made easier considering they’d already taken off and left them to it when things had gone tits up. So much for family loyalty. The reason for teaming up was simple. To quote that old adage: strength in numbers. A good idea when everyone- or thing, who would as sooner tear your throat out as look at you.

Misery loves company. Never a truer word said, in Spike’s opinion.

The Boxer Rebellion was always the second shitty thing at the forefront of his mind. It was at a time when both he and Angel became sick with each other’s company. They’d made the insane decision to seek out and re-join their sires.  As it happened, Darla and Drusilla were not really that far from their own location in Tibet.

They’d thought it had to be better than hiding away and living hand to mouth. That it could possibly work out.

But it had been far worse. The unholy reunion had ended in disaster, with them slipping away like thieves in the night.

Initially, Darla and Drusilla had welcomed them back -even as their eyes had remained heavy with distrust. In a bout of bravado, Spike had followed Dru’s urgings to face the then Slayer: an ebony-haired, sword-wielding dervish.

 *

China: 1900

Spike dodged another blow from the slayer’s sword. “Just like I pictured it. This good for you?” he taunted softly.

With a glare, the young slayer charged him, sword whickering through the air in a deadly blur. Spike dodged every swing and viciously backhanded the girl, breaking her grip on the sword.

She went hand-to-hand with him, landing several kicks and punches to his head, serving only to further enrage him. He beat her back but began to lose ground again until she backed him up against a support column and pinned him there, her foot to his throat.

Raising a stake and poised to strike the killing blow, an explosion outside suddenly blasted part of the temple wall inward, the concussion breaking her hold.

Spike instantly went on the offensive, knocking the stake from her hand. As she bent to retrieve it, he seized her arm and wrenched it up behind her back. Pulling the hapless girl to him he sank his fangs deep into her neck.

The slayer gasped in pain as her life drained away. Spike turned the dying girl towards him and she looked into his eyes. “Tell my mother I’m sorry.” She whispered hoarsely in Chinese. Spike shook his head slowly. “I’m sorry, love.” He responded, the shadows in his eyes strangely at odds with the cockiness of his tone. “I don’t understand a word you’re saying.” Then he watched as the light in her eyes flickered then died.

For a moment he stilled, then roughly threw her to the ground like so much refuse. Panting heavily, he looked up, eyes connecting with triumphant brown. Licking his lips of the slayer’s blood, he pasted a grin on his face and made his way over to Dru, who’d stood watching the whole while from the shadows.…

That night he’d slipped away, taking the chance when both Drusilla and Darla were too busy arguing with Angel to notice. Spike had overheard the sound of a baby’s cry as he’d snuck passed the main hall. They’d had an issue with Angel’s choice of kills: murderers and thieves.

Twenty minutes into his journey, he’d sensed that he was no longer alone in going AWOL…

*

Three demons still to find before they could move on. They’d have to kiss goodbye the other half of the substantial payment they’d demanded if they gave up now. Also the reputation the two vampires had developed as the best damn mercenaries money could buy, would be damaged beyond repair once known they’d welched on a deal.

Letting out an irritated breath, Spike walked over to the drawn curtains, twitching them back a bit with one hand while searching his back pocket with the other, before remembering his smokes were still in his coat pocket.

Still dark.

Sleep wasn’t an option. With a low curse he turned, shrugging on his duster and left the room to make his way out of the crappy old mansion they’d come across hours earlier.

A fire and obvious earthquake damage hadn’t made it entirely uninhabitable. He’d stayed in worse. A bonus that the previous occupants, in their haste to leave hadn’t even bothered to take most of their furniture. Although old and thick with dust, it was good enough quality to still be useful to them.

The bed he’d chosen was pretty comfortable, too. But that wasn’t the issue right now.

The walled-in garden at the back of the property was overgrown.  Part of one had partially collapsed, caused either the earthquake or the thick, dark Ivy that ate its way into the mortar.

Lighting up a cigarette, Spike wandered over to an old bench and dropped onto it, lean legs sprawling out as his sightless eyes stared up at the clear, starlit sky.

It wasn’t all bad here, he grudgingly admitted. Angel had his eye on a little something.. He hadn’t missed the earlier gleam of interest in his sire’s gaze. Worth staying just to see him get his arse served on a plate. He grinned at the thought. Feisty little bit, that one.

His eyes remained focused upwards even as Angel sat himself down on the wall of an old Koi pond; the water practically hidden by lotus plants and algae. Only to snap them down when his smoke was snatched from loose fingers.

“Bout time you started buying your own ruddy fags,” fresh irritation flaring at the slight smirk as the dark haired vampire took a long drag; the bad habit he never bothered to kick since Spike was around.

“When have you ever parted with money for anything?” One last drag then the cigarette flicked in a small arc towards the pond’s surface.

“Not the point”, Spike muttered, absently taking note of the slightest glimmer of light touching the sky. “You got anything?” he asked, changing the subject. Not that he was interested in listening right now, but he knew he had to ask. Partnership an’ all that. “I see you ain’t got your sword back.” Not that one was needed. Fangs and fists worked well enough for him.

He personally reckoned his Sire just liked to show off. Bloody poof.

Angel scowled a bit, rising lithely to his feet before responding. “No. The Slayer must have taken it.” He shrugged it off.  He’d get it back. Eventually. It was the only item the vampire had taken with him the night they’d left the others -for good.

The Blacksmith had been a bit of a collector of medieval weapons. Although the man at first refused to part with the sword, it hadn’t taken much to change his mind. After engraving his initial as instructed and handing it over, Angel had tested the wickedly sharp blade on the Blacksmith’s neck.

“Found a demon bar in town.  A human runs the place.”  Spike wasn’t surprised. Plenty of scrotes out there even worse than the demons they hunted.

“Was he helpful?” A slight grin when Angel flexed his hands before continuing.

“Not so much on the ones we’re after, but insight into a wider picture.”

“We’re not here for the ‘wider picture’, mate.” Air-quoting with his fingers before reaching for another cigarette, the blond vampire rose to his feet and lit it. “Not bein’ paid for that.”

“Narrow vision gets you nowhere.”

Spike shrugged. “Hasn’t stopped me getting things done.”

Ignoring the roll of his partner’s eyes, he turned on his heel.  “It’s getting light and I need a drink,” he abruptly stated, not waiting for Angel to follow.

*

Spike was already holding a bottle of whisky and drinking from it when Angel walked in. “Can’t that wait till later?” He asked irritation thick in his voice. They had, after all, plans to make before the following night.

At his disapproving look, Spike took a longer swig of the booze. “I know you need to get it all off your chest, Peaches, but right now I’m in the mood to get pissed. Not like we’re goin’ sightseeing or summat.”

With one last irritated glance, Angel decided to leave the younger vampire to it. He was tired, and it was true; they had plenty of time…. And he hadn’t missed the shadows lurking in the blue eyes that had avoided his. Personal experience of similar moods soon bled away his annoyance.

After what he’d found out earlier, it looked like their visit to Sunnydale was not going to be as cut and dried as first assumed.

So much for the 1: get in, 2: Avoid the resident Slayer, 3: Kill the Demons. 4: Get out. So far, the scenario they’d planned on the way to Sunnydale had gone awry.

The very first God-Damned night, and they’d just had to bump into the slayer. The threats she’d made hadn’t bothered him so much as the failure to put all the demons into the ground.

He was getting too old for this shit…. Or even more possible was the fact that maybe he was just becoming bored with the whole thing.  Could he really see himself doing this for the rest of his unlife? He smirked: at being stuck with Spike?  The younger vampire certainly kept him on his toes. Personality clashes weren’t always unbearable.

Considering his past brutal treatment of the younger vampire, he often marvelled at Spike’s agreement to work with him. Strangely enough, the combination worked well- most of the time. They’d long had an unwritten agreement to give each other space when needed.

His venture out after the fight had brought a little more intel. Not all of the good. Willy, the Demon Bar owner had enlightened him – after a little persuasion, that there were in fact a lot more of the demons than the six they’d followed into the Town. His lips thinned in frustration. On top of that bad news, he was told that there were rumblings that something ‘big’ was going to go down. Of what, he wasn’t currently sure.

The only highlight of the night had been in the form of a gorgeous- and feisty brunette, who had been alongside the Slayer with the small group of humans. A smile softened his pale face as headed upstairs. Damn, she’s sweet! Maybe this trip wouldn’t turn out so bad after all.

Part 7

Posted in TBC

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