Can't Turn You Loose
In retrospect, perhaps he shouldn't have been all that surprised that the slayer managed to catch him off guard. Kenshin had been too focused on his target to really notice anything else. He'd been slowly inching closer and closer to the main stage, oblivious to the crowd surrounding him. He'd just finished formulated a plan, when she jumped him. It was a good plan too, and he was more than a bit annoyed that he didn't have the opportunity to put it into play.
The infrastructure of the main stage was simple and temporary. Wood scaffolding supported a wood lattice over the stage, on which all the lighting fixtures were mounted. The whole thing was covered by a canvas tarp. It would've been so easy for him to hop the security fence that separated the crowd from the stage, climb the scaffolding, ease his way across the lattice, and unhinge one of the light fixtures so it fell just so.
And he was just about to make his move when he felt a short, insistent tug on his arm. Scowling, he turned around, ready to tell whoever it was to back the fuck off.
The words died in his throat.
She was such a young thing, the girl that approached him. Absently, he noted that she was very much a product of her generation. Her red hair was loose and wild and accented with daisies that were held in place by an orange head band. Her bright blue eyes were large and a bit too far apart, her nose just a little too wide, and her lips a shade too pale. A small cluster of freckles accented her nose and the tops of her cheeks. She wore a blue halter top, leaving her midriff bare (he couldn't help but notice that her navel was covered in a dusting of light freckles as well), a pair of hip-hugging bell bottom jeans with fringes, a wide black leather belt with a peace sign as a buckle, and a pair of leather sandals. She was a hair taller than he was, voluptuous bordering on plump, and he was attracted to her instantly; despite all her imperfections.
Of course, that should have been his first clue that she was not what she seemed.
He actually smiled as she approached him, and thought about making time for a diversion (his target was going to be on stage for at least an hour), not noticing the stake in her hand. By the time he did, it took him a precious three seconds to make the mental connection. Three seconds too long – she was on him by then, turning him around and pinning his arms to his back. He could feel the brush of her stake against the back of his neck; a silent threat. Kenshin struggled to break her vice-like grip on him in vain.
"Easy, dead man," She whispered in his ear, her English slightly accented. He couldn't place it. "No sudden moves."
Kenshin turned his head slowly until he could see the slayer's face over his shoulder. He nodded briefly, trying to capture her blue eyes with his own. 'You want to let me go.'
The slayer shuddered, and for a brief moment, her pupils dilated. He almost had her charmed, but then she shook it off and smiled at him.
In the background, the crowd screamed as his target began singing her first song. If there's anythin' that you need, Hon, that you've never, ever, ever had. I know you've never had it.
"Not too shabby, dead man. I'm almost impressed," she said, tightening her grip on his arms and shaking him a little. "But that old trick ain't gonna fly with me." She surveyed the area with her sharp, blue eyes and frowned. "I'm not too keen on choosing-off with you with all these people around. So you and I are going to cut out. And you better hang loose, or I'll stake you right now. You dig me?" Oh, honey, don't you just sit there cryin'. Don't just sit there feelin' bad. No, no, no.
Kenshin spoke English very well by this point, but it still took him a full ten seconds to figure out what the hell the slayer was trying to say. He briefly looked to the stage and frowned as the slayer twisted his arms even more. He didn't have time
for this. Sure, he'd been searching for the slayer for years, but the mission came first. If she had just waited a little longer before jumping him, he'd be only too happy to accommodate her, in oh so many ways. You'd better get up,
Now do you understand,
And raise you hand!
I said raise your hand, hey.
When he didn't answer her right away, she shook him again.
he said with a growl.
Kenshin found himself being pushed forcefully through the crowd, ever aware of the brush of the stake against his neck. He couldn't understand why the slayer didn't just thrust the damned thing into his chest and be done with it. To satisfy his curiosity, he asked her. She spouted off some silly answer about 'peace' and 'upsetting the groovy vibe of the crowd', and he tuned her out.
The slayer took him further and further away from the stage. His target had already moved onto her second song, and he was starting to get really annoyed. Kenshin let his eyes dart through the crowd, looking for an opportunity to shake the slayer off of him. Peripherally, he noticed another small group of vampires; one of which was smoking pot out of an elaborate glass bong. Kenshin smiled to himself, and when they were close enough, he twisted his body and dove to the ground; taking both the slayer and the pot smoking vampire with him. The glass bong slipped from the vampire's grasp, hit the ground, and shattered.
Enraged, the other vampire shifted to game face.
"That was my favorite bong, man!"
The vampire launched himself at the slayer, all fangs and nails, giving her no choice but to retaliate. They caused some disruption in the crowd as they struggled, and a few people began to grumble in anger.
"Make love, not war," someone shouted in vain.
Kenshin waited until the slayer was fully distracted before quietly slipping away. Unfortunately, he didn't get far before he heard screaming, followed by several hacking coughs, and he looked back to see a large cloud of dust hanging over the slayer.
She met his eyes and smiled malevolently. 'Shit,'
he thought to himself, quickly grabbing the person next to him and throwing the kid directly in the slayer's path. He wrapped himself in a glamour and slowly edged through the crowd, making his way towards the parking lot. He didn't think for one minute that he had lost the slayer for good. And, sure enough, she was right behind him when he finally reached the parking lot and turned to face her. 'Well, at least this time I have room to move,'
he thought to himself, grimacing at the memory of his last fight with a slayer.
She was breathing hard, and he realized that gave him an advantage, however slight. Still, he wished he had his sword with him. He was not that enthusiastic about engaging a slayer in a fight without it. She was easily stronger than he was, but she was also mortal and already showing signs of fatigue. Perhaps he could wear her out just a bit more.
He led her on a merry chase; hopping from car to car and taunting her as he did so. His words didn't seem to affect her at all, much to his dismay. She merely grinned and complimented him on his creativity. So he tried to wear her down in other ways, using the tools he had available to him. When he was several car-lengths ahead of her, he stopped and tore a side-view mirror off of a VW bug and lobbed it at her head. She dodged it, and he used that moment of distraction to put more space between them.
For a good twenty minutes, she chased him around the parking lot, before she stopped, breathing heavily and grasping her side. He threw another mirror at her, and this time she went down. Gleefully, he approached her. He nudged her with his foot, ensuring to himself that she was really out cold, and then fell on top of her. His fangs were an inch from her neck when he felt her knee connecting with his groin.
There was a searing flash of pain as he rolled off of her; his hands instinctively moving into position to prevent further damage. And then she was on top of him, pinning him to the ground, her stake held firmly in her right hand. She smiled at him slowly, her arm descended -- 'I'm going to die this time,'
he thought --
And then a black boot connected with the slayer's face.
"You're way out of your league, Ruby," Spike growled, pulling the slayer off of him and throwing her into the side of a truck.
As the slayer went flying, she blinked in shock, her hand still tightly gripping her stake. Kenshin saw Spike size her up briefly, before shrugging and pulling him off of the ground and tossing him over his shoulder like a bag of wheat. It was degrading as hell, and he had to force himself not to struggle as Spike ran towards a VW van with windows painted black, the slayer already on her feet and following them. He heard a door open and then he was haphazardly thrown into the back of the vehicle. Spike jumped in after him and slammed the door shut.
"Haul ass, pet. We need to jam."
And as Drusilla drove away from the site, sixty miles an hour down highway 17B, Kenshin was caught up in a whirlwind of defeat, embarrassment, and disgust. It had been the first time ever that he'd botched an assignment.
Not that it mattered, in the end. She overdosed fourteen months later all on her own.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"What the fuck were you thinking, Ruby? Engaging a slayer like that...."
Kenshin wouldn't meet his eyes. It was beyond embarrassing that Spike
had to interfere in order to save him.
"I've killed one before," he said petulantly.
"Well bloody fucking goody for you. Let me guess – it was sheer, dumb luck. Right?"
Kenshin glared at Spike before looking away again.
The blonde vampire sighed, running his hand through his hair. It was lighter and longer than when Kenshin had known him before, and held away from his face with a leather head band.
Kenshin snorted silently to himself. In his opinion, Spike had always been far too concerned with being fashionable. It wasn't common for a vampire, and he supposed it originated from a lack of self esteem.
"Let me tell you somethin' 'bout slayers, Ruby. Might just save your worthless life at some point."
"Fuck you," Kenshin replied, his voice dripping with venom.
The blonde vampire leered at him.
"Sorry, Ruby. You're pretty 'n all, but you're just not my type."
Kenshin heard Drusilla's musical laugh from the front of the van, and he laid his head in his hands. The whole situation was so... humiliating
Spike lit a cigarette and took a deep drag before continuing.
"Thing about slayers, Ruby, is that you got to know when to fight, and when to cut. You want to know why you beat that other slayer?"
Kenshin met his eyes again, curious despite himself.
"You beat her because she wanted you to."
Spike laughed, took another drag off his cigarette, and leaned forward.
"Every slayer has a death wish. When you look into a slayer's eyes and you see that she wants it -- well then... then you have yourself a real good day.
But until then, you get the hell outta dodge."
Kenshin turned his head again, and ignored the two other vampires for the rest of the trip.
But in the end, he had to acknowledge that Spike had a point.
After all, a couple months later, the slayer he fought gave up her calling and went to live in a commune...
...and was killed before the start of the new year, when another vampire had a real good day.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A/N: Bleh. I didn't mean to write so much 'past' stuff... it just sorta happened. But we are all but caught up, I think. Satsu and Sunnydale are coming up next. ;). Reviews, as always, are love.