Mercenary Hearts 5

Crawford Street Mansion

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 and pissed him off.

The curse of a soul hadn’t changed him completely. Or Angel, come to that, and instead of hiding away from the world, both had managed, after several long, anguish-filled years, to handle the guilt that accompanied the bloody things.  But in dreams, their conscious acceptance hadn’t eased the torment.

They soon found out that being a demon with a human soul was an anomaly, and as such there’d been no handy user manual to help them along the way.  The vampires were shoved between two worlds: Humans aware of vampires were still fearful; distrust in their eyes- and demons full of hate.

Darla hadn’t hesitated in throwing Angel out without so much as a by-your leave.  Dru… she’d attempted the path of denial, but even with a broken mind, dealing with her lover’s curse had been too much to bear.  His new refusal to wreak violence and carnage against humans mocked her every time she attempted to draw him back in.

Pariahs to their own kind, Spike and Angel levitated towards each other purely because there was strength in numbers. A good idea when everyone-or thing, hated you.

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

The Boxer rebellion was always at the forefront of his mind – with good reason. It was the time both he and Angel, sick of each other’s company, decided to try for the route of denial themselves. It had to be better than hiding away and living on rats in stinking alleys.

But it had been far worse.

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


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. Spike shook his head slowly.

 “I’m sorry, love.” He responded, the regret in his eyes strangely at odds with the cockiness of his tone. “I don’t speak Chinese.” 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 and forcing down the nausea, 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 fled with Angel, too distraught to question why the other vampire carefully cradled a human baby against his chest…

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. Bonus that the previous occupants hadn’t even bothered to take most of their furniture. Old, dusty, but good enough quality to still be useful. The bed he’d chosen had been pretty comfortable, too. But physical comfort wasn’t the issue right now.

The walled-in garden at the back of the property was overgrown; part of one wall half-collapsed. Either the earthquake or the thick, dark Ivy that almost covered every inch.

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 that interested him. Couldn’t miss the gleam in the otherwise hard mug of his Sire. 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 older vampire took a long drag. “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 that were just as bad as the demon scum 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 the 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 role of his partner’s eyes, he turned on his heel.  “It’s getting light and I need a drink,” he muttered, leaving Angel behind.


He was already holding a bottle of whisky and drinking from it when Angel walked in. “Can’t that wait until later?”

At the 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 left the younger vampire to it. He was tired, and it was true they had all day…. And he hadn’t missed the haunted look that still darkened the blue eyes that avoided his. Personal experience of similar moods 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. Not all bad, thinking back on their confrontation with the Slayer and her friends.

Especially the gorgeous brunette. He grinned, dark eyes lit with amusement and avid interest.

No, not bad at all….

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