AN: Whaaa... it hasn't been almost eight years since I updated this story.
Can I at least get a cookie? And by cookie, I mean, I'd really like to know what you all think of the new chapter. It helps with the writing. It does.
2014 is my ten year anniversary with this site. Which means I should maybe, you know, write a lot.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Asher hadn’t expected much when he dropped by Dead Dave’s Bar. Everyone who tried to be anyone in the Blood District went to one of the more high profile establishments instead of sullying themselves with attending the neighborhood bar, even if the main patrons were vampires and weres. Anyone who didn’t want to be found certainly wouldn’t be hiding in the Blood District.
That being said, the so-called Buffy was proving to be an entertaining distraction, if anything because he truly scented no fear on her. He’d think she was merely unwise, but there was a sly wisdom in her eyes that told him she might, more than most, know just what kind of monster had come knocking at her door.
She simply didn’t care.
He stared at her, gaze flat, as she kept her gaze trained on his unblemished cheek. Smart. And distinctly unafraid, even as she remained silent in the face of his accusations. She wouldn’t be the first to carry such things in the District, and although Jean-Claude discouraged such behavior even the Master of the City did not directly dictate city law.
Generally individuals who resorted to such tactics belonged to a more fervent belief system. This Buffy didn’t move with the fanatic energy that Asher associated with zealots didn’t speak to why he could feel the ghost of Holy Water burning tributaries down his body, like wax melting from a candle made of undead flesh and bone.
The moment was pierced with a scream of terror from the main room in the bar, and a crash that sent reverberations through the floor even into the office. Asher and Dave were fast, death granted them both that, but Buffy was faster as dozens of people began to scream.
Before he could even blink the lithe blonde woman had darted forward with superhuman speed and grabbed her backpack before running out the door. Asher wasn’t far behind with Dave behind him but that didn’t stop Asher from skidding to a temporary halt as soon as he ran through the office door.
The main bar room was mostly intact in that all four walls were still standing. That being said, not much else was in one piece. Bar patrons, almost regardless of their status as vampire, lycanthrope, or human were huddled into the corners of the bar like cattle. The main area of the bar was littered with broken furniture and shards of glass but also broken bodies. Blood sprayed the walls in arcs, the architecture of stolen life as people from all three groups, all seven victims, lay twitching as their intestines gleamed on the concrete floor.
Buffy hadn’t taken a moment to pause and evaluate the situation. Almost faster than Asher could track the young human waitress had reached into her bag and pulled out a black blindfold which she tied quickly across her vision, a slash of darkness across her pale face. She had time to grab her stake and toss the bag towards him and Dave before spinning into a round kick to meet her first opponent.
It was one thing to know, to see the evidence of Angelus’s plots in the dead bodies Jean-Claude had thus far kept under wraps. It was another thing entirely to see the… creature
that Buffy moved to fight.
It was a vampire, but not like any vampire that should be allowed to exist. The creature was male, tall, well over six feet, broad shouldered and muscled. But his limbs looked elongated and muscles bulged as he tracked the small human woman who sped towards him, blood soaked hands clenched into fists.
It was the face that gave it away the most. The vampire didn’t register any kind of complex emotion, nothing but rage twisted once human features into something so unrecognizably horrifying that Asher, who had spent years at the feet of Belle Morte, felt a piercing flash of fear. The creature threw back his head and screamed, the primal sound ripping from his vocal chords.
Asher stilled as the motion revealed the side of the creature’s neck. Some vampires kept an affectation of bite marks on their neck, a subtle gesture to a well-loved master. Vampire healing made such a practice utterly ornamental in nature. It took quite a bit to leave a vampire scarred. He knew from heart wrenching first-hand experience.
This vampire’s neck was a monstrous thing of chewed and scarred flesh. It looked infected, a mass of black and angry red scabs. It looked as if… as if the creature had been made by a mob, an orgy of feed and hate.
Asher’s lips parted, shocked despite himself. “ Animals...” It was forbidden for a reason, for more than one vampire to turn another. The creature that rose wasn’t a being of reason. It was a true monster. And it had friends.
From the sides of the bar, two more of the creatures slid from the shadows, their faces coiled in rage as they bellowed.
Angelus had loosed these monsters upon St. Louis. God help them all.
Buffy was pretty damn happy that she’d been hunting recently. She was even happy for all those afternoons Giles had pretended that blindfolding her and hitting her with sacks of flour was a training technique and not some sort of nifty party game. Because not being able to make eye contact in this universe would have gotten her dead pretty damn quick otherwise.
She grunted as she rolled under the swing she couldn’t see as her shoulder contacted glass on the bar floor. Great, another set of stitches. She should fund Charlene going to school as a nurse, it would probably be pretty cost effective in this crap of a world.
Buffy came up on the inside of the vampire’s legs from her knees, studiously ignoring that 1.) the floor under her knee squished and 2.) she had enough experience with organs to know that she was probably kneeling on some poor fool’s splattered liver.
She didn’t have the reach she needed to get to the heart with her stake so she slammed her fist into the crazed vampire’s groin with every ounce of her supernatural strength. It should have been enough to fell him, but she could taste in the air that this vampire was different.
Like the children and infirm Buffy had had to kill in alleyways in the last few weeks, all abominations in a world that had so many more rules than dear ol’ Sunnydale. Funny how often having rules seemed to consist of breaking them.
There was a curiously muffled grunt and she paused a moment too long, waiting for the reaction that wasn’t going to come before clawed hands grasped a huge hunk of her hair and yanked her into the air.
She cursed as the muscles in her neck strained and her feet left the ground. She had about two seconds before she was puppy chow and she trusted years of finely honed assed kicking and kicked instinct to rock her body back so that she could snap powerful legs forward and kick the fanged monstrosity in its ugly face.
She slammed into the floor with a helluva a lot more force than her body really thought was necessary and rolled just as a second vampire attacked. Buffy could feel the new woman’s nails rake over the air where her throat had been and Buffy launched herself at the vague impression of wrongness
that was currently also trying to kill her.
The two women, Slayer and vampire, wrestled for a moment and Buffy winced as she felt a tendon pop in the elbow of her right arm. Her stupid, now useless, right arm.
With a scream she pushed herself face to face with the crazed vampire that she was wrestling with, warm human cheek against the slick cold skin of vampire, and used the extra leverage to stab the woman through the back with her stake.
The science of the whole thing shouldn’t have worked. Even vampires have ribs. But aside from a bit of resistance and a curious cracking sound, the snarling screams in her ears let one hoarse shout of pain and then the vampire collapsed, leaving Buffy teetering under her own power as her arm dangled at her side.
The bar was curiously quiet aside from the sobbing in the corners from the bar patrons and after a moment to still the adrenalin roaring in her ears Buffy’s brain filtered in the last four to five seconds of the fight that hadn’t involved her.
She ripped her blindfold off and stared at the blonde vampire staring back at her in wide-eyed shock just ten feet away. She knew that the master vampire that had come to the bar tonight was named Asher, Jean-Claude’s second in command. She knew a bit of his reputation. She had never exactly planned on a meet n’ greet, especially one involving this much carnage.
He was probably usually painfully beautiful. He’d been working it to his advantage when Buffy had slipped into Dave’s office to stir things up, but now his golden hair had splashes of blood in it, and his face had a long slash down his cheek.
The head of the third vampire, the one Buffy probably would have been eaten by, lay at Asher’s feet. She was uncomfortably grateful that the Master’s second-in-command had seen fit to pop it off like a cork.
The first vampire, the one she had been fighting, lay impaled on the broken wooden rail of the bar where Buffy had kicked him. Her feet had great instincts apparently.
Asher took a step towards her and before Buffy stopped herself, her eyes flew to his. She had a second impression of dilated pupils and a pale blue so cold it seared before he rolled her.
One of Asher’s strongest abilities was to roll people. He even had the power to roll Anita, though Jean-Claude’s human servant bucked it like he was stealing a piece of her soul. This… Buffy rolled in a heartbeat, eyes blank, lips parted as she swayed slightly but stood still as Asher stalked towards her.
His previously unmarred left cheek ached from the cut he had taken in a moment of slowness, and he could already feel the muscle and bone re-knitting. Asher paused in front of the slight blonde woman and simply stared.
When she wasn’t cowed by some supernatural force she was all movement- talking, fidgeting, killing vampires… movement. So alive. And when she fought… she moved like a well-trained vampire would, all liquid speed and unparalleled force. But he could see the soul, the humanity, in the meadow of her eyes. He knew the warm, wet beat of her heart as blood pumped through her veins.
Asher reached up with one hand to touch her skin, to feel the warmth for himself, when she gasped and wheeled away from him, spell broken. Buffy stumbled backward in her haste to get away from him, her left hand firmly digging into a wound that Asher could smell rather than see. He took an immediate step forward to keep pace with her, even as he tried to catch her wild eyes again, but she surprised him.
She had the fortitude to face three of a monster that might have easily killed him, but she clearly had no compunctions at fleeing when she became concerned about how easily Asher had caught her gaze. All it took was an instant of delayed reaction from him, and she turned and ran.
Buffy tried to keep her breathing even as she raced down the alleyways of the Blood District. Her body was trying its damndest to go into shock but as long as she kept moving her basic systems weren’t likely to completely shut down. Slayer healing goodness didn’t do shit for wounds caused by supernatural forces, but it generally kept her breathing and her organs from failing even in this shit show of a universe.
Besides, she was suddenly much more frightened of the enigmatic Asher than she was of a few crazed, monstrous vampires.
She refused to look back, and somewhat less practically, refused to acknowledge that, as wounded as she was, she was unlikely to outrun a determined Master Vampire. That lack of practicality asserted itself as she caught a glimpse of a dark shadow overhead before she was slammed into a brick wall with pale, undead hands conversationally around her throat.
“Who are you, really?” he demanded even as she closed her eyes and cursed the Powers for a few moments.
Buffy tried rather unsuccessfully to wiggle free from the choke hold on her throat to breathe. She’d usually be flip and poised during a situation like this, but these were some pretty extreme circumstances.
Death and mayhem.
Besides, she was pretty sure she was injured a lot worse than even she had originally thought. Even without Asher’s steel grip, she might have been in trouble.
He’d smell the lie on her, vamps in this dimension were special like that, so she went with the truth. “Just a girl.” One girl in all the world.
But that had been a different world, a different lifetime. And while she used to be full of self-righteous destiny and prophesy and just enough demon blood to make her wrong, here she was nothing more than what she appeared to be: a waitress with some interesting physical attributes and a penchant for hunting insane vampires at night.
The Master Vampire’s nostrils flared at her words, but they were the truth.
“And how did one mere girl manage to do what I have witnessed tonight?”
She smiled sadly at his collarbone and tried rather unsuccessfully to take a deeper breath as her vision swam. Stupid choke hold. Stupid blood loss. “Practice.”
He wasn’t very good at passing in the first place. Most vampires in this dimension weren’t, especially ones as old as he had to be. But at her simple reply ALL movement left his body. “You are not, I imagine, a licensed Vampire Hunter.”
Buffy would have shrugged, but her position did not permit it. So instead she rolled her eyes before snapping back, “Something tells me that turning children and elderly isn’t exactly an approved activity. Or,” she paused and let her eyes trail to the pressed lips of the vampire who held her, “is sheltering those monstrosities in your city.”
Those sculptured lips twisted with grim amusement. “Touché mademoiselle.”
“I have my moments.”
And then she blacked out.