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ardent for some desperate glory

Chapter Text

New York City
August 1914

William Pratt, alias William the Bloody, alias Spike, erstwhile poet, vampire, and proud killer of a bona fide Slayer, had been hunched over in an alleyway vomiting on and off for the past hour, and was beginning to get frustrated.
“I thought we were supposed to be all strong and superhuman and what-have-you,” he whined. “And yet here I am with a bloody hangover!”
Drusilla patted him on the head. “There, there, my boy. You were silly last night. Had a bit too much. You’ll be good as new in a bit, and then--” she nipped him on the ear--”we can play. You’ll like that, won’t you?”
Spike spat and wiped his mouth with his sleeve, standing up in order to put his arms around Drusilla. “Of course I will, love, it’s just--”
“Well, I’m a bit bored of New York, that’s all. Think it’s about time you and I were moving on.”
“Where shall we go, my William?” Drusilla asked, her voice sing-song. “Shall we find a little farm, with cows and pigs and a lovely big chicken, and a fat little farmer and his fat little wife and all their fat little children? They’d make such a lovely snack, all those fat little children. Can we go? Can we go to the farm?”
“We can, Dru, of course we can, but after that...I’ve got a hankering for something a bit more exciting.”
“What do you mean?”
“Where’s all the fun in killing a bunch of helpless kiddies? Chomp, suck, fast and easy. I’m spoiling for something big here. Something strong.”
“It’s lovely fun,” Drusilla said plaintively. “We can tie them up and eat them bit by bit. I’ve got such a lot of toys, Spike, and they don’t hurt you and they don’t hurt me and so we can use them, but they won’t be pleasant at all for all the fat little humans. Just think of how we could make them look.”
“Yes, torturing the innocent, barrel of laughs, all right, but love, there’s all sorts of things brewing right now. This war, I’ve heard all Europe’s going to have a hand in it. Can you imagine? All that chaos and fighting, and we’d be kings of the battlefield. Well, king and queen.”
“But that’s so boring,” Drusilla whined. “Killing and eating without any style at all. No better than humans. I want to make it last. It’s an art. A beautiful, twisted art. You never understand that.”
“I understand perfectly well! And I’m all for art, but, well, sometimes I want a victim who fights back a little, don’t you?”
“You don’t understand. Angelus understood, he did. All those pretty little crosses. All that lovely torture.”
“Well, bloody Angelus isn’t here right now, is he? He went off and left you, because he didn’t love you like I do. You know I love you, Dru, you cracked bitch, and we can go kill all the chickens in New York if it’ll make you happy.”
“Angelus left,” Drusilla said absentmindedly.
“He went far away.”
“Yes, we established that.”
“Went to maim some pretty girls, did he?”
“I’m going to go find him. Him and Darla. And we can have a lovely time just like we used to. We can be a family again.”
“Well, all right, love, if that’s what you want, we’ll go find them.”
“No, you’re not coming,” Drusilla said, and, kissing him on the forehead, slunk off.
“I’m not--what the hell do you mean, I’m not coming?”
But she didn’t look back.
Spike shook his head. “Well, fuck.”

So there he was, two hours later, attempting to give his hangover and heartbreak the hair-of-the-dog treatment by dousing himself in whiskey in some unremarkable tavern.
The clientele was equally unremarkable--lonely unemployed day-drinkers who shared the vampire’s aversion to sunlight. Mostly, they sat, like Spike, alone, staring into their cups, but a notable exception kept battering his ears--two young women. One, clearly a whore, and not an expensive one, either, was crying desperately on the shoulder of the other, dressed in clothing far too sumptuous for the setting. It was that which caught Spike’s eye--that, and the glint in the well-dressed woman’s eyes that reminded him of some of the worst people he’d ever known.
So, naturally, he came closer.
“I thought he loved me for more than my cunt,” the whore was sobbing. “He gave me the prettiest rings, he said that he’d take me away from this sordid life and marry me.”
“And then what happened?”
“He left. He said he’d met someone else. A girl who was--who was respectable. I may not be respectable, but I love him!”
“That’s horrible. Horrible! Don’t you hate him for what he did to you!”
“I hate him, yes, so much, but I also love him! You know how that feels?”
“I do, yes. Don’t you wish something horrible would happen to him?”
“I--I don’t know.”
“I think you do.”
“Well, I--”
“Wouldn’t it just be poetically satisfying to see his entrails ripped from his stomach? Or his eyes gouged out and fed to him in a stew? Or his testicles infected with some disease that will cause every woman he loves to recoil from him? Or…”
“It might,” the whore admitted.
“Don’t you wish he’d be submerged in a vat of boiling oil, screaming in pain and unremitting anguish for eternity?”
“Well, I don’t know about that.”
“Oh, come now.”
“I do wish--”
“I wish I hadn’t been such a fool!”
“Oh, you’re hopeless! What am I supposed to do with that?” snorted the well-dressed woman, and, shaking the crying whore’s head off her shoulder, stood to leave.
Spike moved quickly to the doorway to block her.
“Excuse me?” she said, frowning. “Do you mind letting me by?”
“A bit, yes. If I’ve got any perception at all, I know what you are.”
“And that is?”
“A vengeance demon.”
“You’re not wrong,” the woman admitted grudgingly. “I admit I’m not the most subtle of workers, but I get the job done. Why’re you in the market for vengeance?”
“As it so happens, I’ve loved and lost.”
“A woman?”
“Of a sort.”
She shook her head. “I don’t do gentleman-on-lady vengeance. Not in my modus operandi. My services are strictly for wronged women.”
“That’s a pity,” Spike said. “Because I could make a hell of a wish.”
“Say, how do you know about vengeance demons, anyway? Did some ex-lover curse you? It would explain that haircut.”
“What? No. I’m…” Spike shook his head, snapping his face briefly into its true vampiric form.
The woman took a step back. “I see. I’d think you’d be more than capable of exacting your own vengeance.”
“I have no interest in harming the lady who left me. The individual I want to destroy is an old acquaintance of mine. And while I’m certain I could defeat him in a fight, I don’t happen to know where he is at the moment. But, as I understand it, vengeance demons are hampered by no such concerns of location.”
“You understand correctly. I’m Anyanka, by the way.” She offered him her hand, and he debated whether to kiss or shake it.
“Spike.” He went with shaking. The last thing he wanted was for this Anyanka to misinterpret his intentions.
“Oh! William the Bloody? That Spike?”
“Right on.”
“It’s an honor. You’ve achieved some very impressive things in the way of mayhem. My boss has had us demons study your work.”
“That is a compliment. I’m flattered. And if you’ve heard of me, you’ve doubtless heard of the fellow I want to kill. One Angelus.”
Anyanka, to Spike’s great surprise, burst out laughing. “You want to destroy Angel? Have you really not heard?”
“Heard what?” Spike asked, bemused.
“Your old pal’s firmly one of the noble fighters now. It’s sad, really. Such a waste of all that wonderful demonic creativity.”
“Angelus has gone good? You don’t mean that!”
“It’s true. Some upstart witch cursed him with a soul. Now he’s tortured instead of torturing.”
“Well.” Spike smiled. “Some might think that defeating a toothless enemy wouldn’t be all that rewarding, but I’d have to disagree. In fact, I’m rather looking forward to it.”
“You’re in luck, too. He’s at the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. California, you know. Go west, young man!”
“Sunnydale, eh? I was there myself, not that far back. Come to think of it, that was the last time I saw Angelus. What a laugh if he’s been there all this time!”
“We’ll need train passage, of course.”
“Oh, I’m coming with you, of course. Spike against Angel? It’ll be the fight of the century! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
“Very well.” Spike smiled. “We’re Hellmouth bound.”