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A Cold Rain

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She’d nearly destroyed the world. Her life had shattered, crumbled with the last dying breath of her lover. She’d been distraught with pain, grief, and loss. In that initial moment, she’d hoped, no, been certain that her friends would be there for her, would help her in her pain as she’d helped them so many times with their own.

But the bullet that had killed Tara had first passed through Buffy’s shoulder, leaving her injured and bleeding. Everyone had been so concerned over Buffy that Willow’s loss had been pushed to the side. Buffy was injured, oh dear, can we help in any way Buffy? Why would someone try to shoot Buffy… Buffy, Buffy, Buffy.

It had been infuriating. Her lover had been killed, had died IN HER ARMS and all anyone cared about was Buffy. Couldn’t she even get something, some sort of acknowledgment for her bereavement?

Apparently not.

So, her grief and despair and shattered feelings of loss and pain had grown. They’d expanded, choking out everything bright and caring and hopeful in her heart, leaving nothing but the gaping wound of her pain.

She’d killed Warren and Rack, blaming them both for playing a part in Tara’s death. Warren had shot the gun, and if not for Rack, they wouldn’t have broken up, and she wouldn’t have been standing right there after just making up… So they had both had to die.

The people that she’d called friends had tried to stop her. She’d destroyed Giles’ shop, drained his power from him like sucking up the last bits of lemonade with a straw. She’d gone even farther, halfway to madness from her grief. She’d tried to end the world.

Xander had stopped her from completing the ritual. Xander had saved the world from her. Then, they’d been all upset, and worried, and afraid. They’d sent her away to England, far from the shrine where she’d started the ritual, far away from them. They’d said it was to ‘get better’. She’d wanted so desperately to believe them, to believe that they really did care after all… even if they only cared enough to kill her and put her out of her misery.

But apparently that care and concern had been for the world, not for Willow. They hadn’t written when she’d been away, hadn’t called or returned the ones that she had made. It was as if they’d sent her away, thrown her out of their lives.

But she’d been the stubborn one, and had agreed to go back to Sunnydale, to try to make amends for what she’d done. She’d agreed to try to mend the shattered trust that she’d left in her wake, to convince them that she wasn’t a danger anymore.

It might have worked if there hadn’t been some flesh eating demon that had arrived in town at almost the same time she had. When they’d found the first skinned body, there had been hard looks and pointed questions about her recent magic use. She’d been with them when they’d found the second. It had been one of the most horrifying sights that she could recall, the image searing itself into her memory.

They’d thought that she was responsible. Buffy had accused her of being no more than a corrupt, power-hungry, homicidal maniac.

She’d looked for some support, some sign that somebody, anybody had enough faith in her to believe her when she’d protested, when she’d insisted that she hadn’t done that.

But nobody had.

She’d left Sunnydale, packing up her few things, quite easy since she’d never really unpacked them. She’d then just left, going anywhere that wasn’t Sunnydale.

She’d ended up in a place called Santa Carla. It was a beach town, and clearly encouraged tourism, with it’s extensive boardwalk lined with shops, and the small amusement park lit with an almost garish array of lights. There were hundreds of people passing through the place every day.

The part of her that remembered how it was to fight evil and track the activities of vampires and demons shuddered. It would be incredibly easy for people to vanish, never missed because they didn’t live here, they were just passing through. There would be nobody to miss them, nobody to worry about where they had gone, or what had happened. It looked like the perfect place for vampires.

She’d meandered among the crowd, nibbling at a salt giant pretzel here, some sticky cotton candy over there. She was trying very hard to loose herself in the crowd, to forget for even a few minutes how far she’d fallen. To forget that even the people that had been the closest to her had given up on her. That they had accused her of killing those poor people, had thought so little of her efforts and promises to reform, to turn her back on the darkness.

What was left for her? Her parents had never been there. Her once-friends had abandoned her. Her first lover had cheated on her and left the country, her second lover had died in her arms. She was alone.

And nobody seemed willing to change that. Nobody had even tried to stop her departure from Sunnydale.

So she tried to content herself with people watching. Occasionally, someone would catch her interest for a few moments. A woman dressed in what appeared to be a collection of sewn together red bandanas. A person with a purple mohawk that she wasn’t certain was a man or a woman. The blond man in the leather coat that seemed to almost glow under all the lights, he was sort of cute, in a sort of like evil before the chip Spike sort of way.

Eventually, the park had lost its allure, and she’d left. She’d wandered around, unworried about the potential dangers of the night. Hadn’t she lived over the mouth of hell? Hadn’t she nearly destroyed the world? What would a mere human mugger be able to do?

Willow found herself on a cliff, looking out over the ocean. Jagged rocks rose defiantly from the ocean, and the waves crashed onto them, sending pale spray into the air. She could smell the salt, and the sea, and something else, like a faint hint of death.

She stood there, heedless of time, watching the waves. Here was peace, of a sort. There was no judgment, no call to achieve ridiculous standards required of nobody else, only the waves, the rocks, and the night air. While she was there, it began to rain, a cold drizzle that would soak and chill to the bone.

But it didn’t matter, she was already cold. A chill to the spirit instead of the flesh, far more pervasive and crippling.

“Isn’t it a bit cold out for watching the ocean?” The voice came from behind her, a man’s voice, a bit rough, but deep and strong.

She turned slightly, not entirely surprised to see the blond man from the park. His eyes seemed to almost glow in the darkness, and she could feel the unmistakable aura of a vampire from him. Not quite as old as Spike, but a master vampire instead of a minion.

“Did you follow me? I don’t even know your name.” Her voice was calm, but carried a faint trace of what almost managed to be amusement.

“I’m David. And why shouldn’t I have a little interest in a pretty woman?” He grinned at her, his teeth gleaming and hinting at their sharpness without being obvious fangs.

Willow gave a small smile. How could anyone be fooled by him? Didn’t the aura of predator flow so strongly that even the most non magical person could feel it? “I know what you are.”

“What I am? You know what I am… what do you think I am?” There was something in his voice, not quite mocking, not quite questioning.

She turned her attention back to the ocean, watching the waves. “You’re a vampire, of course.”

“For someone who thinks that I’m a vampire, you seem to be awfully calm.” He was sounding amused now.

Willow gave a small shrug. “I know about vampires. At least, I know enough. You’re probably out hunting, or maybe thinking of expanding your family… This has to be about the perfect city to hide vampires in. All the tourists.”

“Yeah… it’s great. So, why aren’t you afraid?”

“Being afraid would mean that I didn’t want you to do something. It would mean that I felt I had something to live for. Right now, I’m rather without reasons to care.” Her voice sounded almost tired, filled with the solitary betrayal of the people she’d once called her family.

David’s voice sounded incredulous. “Are you trying to tell me that nobody would miss you? Nobody’s waiting for such a sexy redhead to come home to them, no loving family and friends?”

“My lover was killed, my parents didn’t even know I’d moved out of the house, and my friends think I came back to town and left a couple skinned corpses. There’s nobody waiting to welcome me home with open arms.”

“Then let me take away that problem.” His voice held a bit of a purr.

Willow turned, seeing him standing there with yellow eyes and sharp fangs, the brows far less pronounced here away from the influence of a hellmouth. She knew that he was offering to kill her.

She smiled, and opened her arms as if in welcome. Finally, some tiny shred of compassion for her pain.

The sharp prickling of his teeth in her throat was almost welcome. The swirling darkness that followed was definitely welcome to her.

Chapter Text

Things hadn’t been the same since they’d gone along with Max’s plan to try to bring in Michael and his brother Sam, in an effort for Max to get their Mother for his mate. Really, they should have known better than to try some big, complicated plot. But they’d followed Max’s plan and for it, they had died. Marko and Paul and Dwayne… and Max, the head of their family, all perished. Michael had assumed that he was dead as well, but really, antelope horns to kill a vampire?

For a long while, he’d almost wished that he had died. The physical pain had been horrible, and once he’d added in the pain of losing his whole family, the bonds of blood and friendship shattered by the Final Death… It had nearly killed him.

He’d had to be a bit more discreet in his hunting. No more depending on killing people who pissed him off, he’d stuck to the tourists, and actually used some of that moderation that Max had spoke so highly of. He’d regained his strength, and the passing of the last decade had helped his emotions to heal. In fact, since he was now the only real vampire in Santa Carla, the place was his. He’d decided that it was time to make a new family, a carefully chosen family that would last.

David had been lurking in the boardwalk and the amusement park, partly hunting for a good meal, and partly on the lookout for someone that might make it as family, someone that could make the adjustment. He caught a glimpse of red hair by the ferris wheel, a partial view of a slender redhead with a partly eaten bag of cotton candy moving through the crowd. He saw her again later, during the fireworks. Instead of watching the sky, she was watching the people, a sad smile on her face. He found himself wondering why she was sad, and thinking that she was actually quite pretty.

He saw her leave, walking along one of the hiking paths, one that lead to a cliff. He remembered it well, once upon a time, he and his boys had raced their motorcycles along it, laughing at anyone unlucky enough to be in their way. He would be able to find her.

He gave her some time, wanting her to have a bit of a chance for those deep thoughts that her bearing hinted at. Then, he followed her, wondering who she was, and how she would feel about forever. She was standing near the edge, her eyes directed at the waves crashing on the rocks, but he wasn’t certain if she was actually seeing them.

“Isn’t it a bit cold out for watching the ocean?”

She turned slightly, her voice soft and sorrowful, reminding him of a lost pet. “Did you follow me? I don’t even know your name.”

“I’m David. And why shouldn’t I have a little interest in a pretty woman?” He grinned at her, feeling like playing just a bit.

She gave a small smile, her eyes filled with secrets and sorrows and loss, far more than a mortal should carry. “I know what you are.”

“What I am? You know what I am… what do you think I am?” He was intrigued now. If she knew, how? If she was just guessing, what did she think he was?

She turned her attention back to the ocean, watching the waves. “You’re a vampire, of course.”

“For someone who thinks that I’m a vampire, you seem to be awfully calm.” He felt somewhere between amused and confused. She had known, but… she didn’t look in the least bit afraid. It was baffling. And she looked beautiful, the almost mist like rain glistening on her hair like liquid diamonds.

She gave a small shrug. “I know about vampires. At least, I know enough. You’re probably out hunting, or maybe thinking of expanding your family… This has to be about the perfect city to hide vampires in. All the tourists.”

“Yeah… it’s great. So, why aren’t you afraid?”

“Being afraid would mean that I didn’t want you to do something. It would mean that I felt I had something to live for. Right now, I’m rather without reasons to care.” Her voice sounded almost tired, filled with the pain of betrayal and abandonment.

David was filled with shock. Why would she feel like she’d been abandoned? As if she had nobody to turn to? “Are you trying to tell me that nobody would miss you? Nobody’s waiting for such a sexy redhead to come home to them, no loving family and friends?”

“My lover was killed, my parents didn’t even know I’d moved out of the house, and my friends think I came back to town and left a couple skinned corpses. There’s nobody waiting to welcome me home with open arms.”

“Then let me take away that problem.” He could hear the faint predatory purr of anticipation in his voice. She was pretty, and she would be wonderful to have with him forever. As an added bonus, she smelled delicious.

When she turned, he was standing there with yellow eyes and sharp fangs. She smiled, opening her arms as if in welcome.

David wrapped his arms around her, sinking his fangs into her tender throat, tasting her blood, discovering that she held far more power within her than he’d ever imagined any single being could hold. She was like the nectar of the heavens. He knew in that moment that he couldn’t let her be gone forever.

He felt her go limp in his arms, her heartbeat slow, almost faltering. He bit into his wrist, wincing a bit at the sharp pain, and let his blood flow past her lips, seeing that she was in fact swallowing, even as her pulse grew less steady. She wasn’t aware, wasn’t even really awake anymore, but that didn’t matter.

Come sunset tomorrow, she would wake up. She would be his glorious Red, the first of his true Childer, and maybe, if he was a very lucky man, she might become his mate. But one thing was certain. Red would be with him, and he would make sure that she never felt so alone again.