Chapter 1: Chapter One
“Is there something that interests you?” Joyce asked the woman who had been looking at the display of reliquaries for the past half hour.
The woman turned in a flash of black hair, revealing dark, luminescent eyes and a pleasant smile.
“Must be ever so careful,” she told Joyce. “Pretty, fragile things. Touch them wrong and they break.”
“Yes, they are very delicate,” Joyce agreed.
The woman, who really couldn’t be more than a few years older than Buffy, seemed to study Joyce carefully. Tsking in a musical voice, “They never told me about you.”
There was something more than a little off about this woman, though Joyce couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Instinct made her back away.
“Oh, don’t be frightened,” the woman gripped Joyce’s wrist firmly, halting her retreat. “You are a lovely surprise. Mummy of the Slayer. Special treat, no wonder they kept it all hidden from me.”
While Joyce was certain she hadn’t met this woman before, there was something incredibly familiar about her. An impression more than anything definite. And the fact that the woman knew she was the mother of the Slayer. “Do I know you?”
“Not yet,” the woman smiled predatorily. “But soon we will be very close. Slayer was naughty and stole something very dear to me. Made my fierce Spike as harmless as a lamb. But it’s all even in the end.”
Spike. Last year Spike had come by the house. Whatever his original intent had been she would never know. Somehow she had wound up making hot chocolate and he had confided in her his troubles in love. These troubles centered around a stunning dark beauty, more than half mad, unfaithful without shame, but he was hopelessly in love with her. What was the name again?
“Drusilla?” she asked uncertainly.
“Right, bright mummy you are,” Drusilla squealed with delight. “All the more fun.”
Joyce wanted to kick herself for being such a fool, but there weren’t many mirrors in the gallery and these days pale was the thing, wasn’t it? And since Buffy had gone to college, Joyce’s encounters with the supernatural or whatever it was, were, well, nonexistent. Aside from the visit from Faith. But other than that . . .
“What do you want?” Joyce asked, forcing herself to sound strong. She could still find a way out of this, maybe lull the woman—vampire, crazy vampire . . . this wasn’t looking good.
“I wanted my William back, but the stars told me long ago I’d lose him one day. I don’t want William anymore,” she pulled Joyce close. “You don’t know it yet, but something’s growing inside your head. Creeping ever so carefully so you don’t notice. Not yet. Got months and months before you will. But then there will be pain and men in white coats who will try and fix you with their sharp shiny tools. But in the end it won’t matter. The damage will have already been done.”
Almost against her will, Joyce felt herself looking deep into Drusilla’s eyes. In them she saw herself, lying on the couch at home, gazing unblinkingly at the ceiling. And then there was Buffy, shaking her, yelling, but she wasn’t moving.
“No,” Joyce breathed, wanting to deny the vision. But something deep down told her it was true. Summoning all her courage. “I’d rather have that than what you offer.”
Drusilla shrugged as if it were nothing but a disagreement in the weather. “Of course you would. You are a good woman, Joyce Summers. But it’s always polite to ask first.” Cool fingers caressed her cheek. “Now close your eyes.”
Not wanting to, Joyce did. The seconds seemed to stretch out and then sharp, hot pain focused to two tiny points overwhelmed her senses. She felt very warm, burning up, and then slowly she grew numb as the creature at her throat drank deeply. Everything faded to grey. It would be over soon and her only regret was that she didn’t resist better. Not much longer now. And then thick, bitter liquid was on her lips, creeping across her tongue, tasting of pennies and something else . . .
“No,” she pleaded weakly.
“Shh,” Drusilla cooed. “It’ll be better soon. I promise.”
And Joyce Summers knew no more.
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
Silence. True silence. She didn’t think she had ever heard it before now. And it was good. But it didn’t last. Tiny sounds began to creep in. Distant whispers and faint drums.
She opened her eyes and saw darkness. Blinking didn’t make it go away. But there was something to the darkness. A texture almost. Reaching up she found that it did have a texture. Fine wood grain, smooth to the touch. She was surprised to find that it lifted away easily, and she was nearly blinded by moonlight.
The first thing she saw when her eyes adjusted was a dark woman twirling around and around and around. Suddenly the woman stopped, skirt continuing the journey to wrap around her legs, then swing back down.
“It didn’t take you long at all, did it?” the woman ran up to her, holding out a hand to lift her up. “I wanted to do it right, but something told me there wouldn’t be enough time. So eager.”
“How long?” she asked, surprised that her voice sounded normal.
“Hours. We still have much of the night before us,” the dark woman said excitedly.
Faint images flickered across her mind’s eye of a gallery and two women. But one wasn’t a woman and the other wouldn’t be for much longer. And there were other things, people, memories of another life. “I remember,” Joyce said.
“Very quick,” her companion praised her. “Now what would you like to do first?”
“I am hungry,” she said, hearing her stomach grumble. But then she realized it wasn’t her stomach, but herself that made the noise. “Can we get something to eat first?”
“Growing girls need to eat. I’m a bad mommy. But I’ll soon fix that. Come,” Drusilla grabbed Joyce’s hand and broke into a run. “Must be careful, though. Can’t let them know too soon what you are.”
There was a man not far up ahead, walking along the street, alone.
“Must pretend we’re frightened. I’ll show you the way,” the woman instructed her before she started screaming. “Oh god it’s right behind us!”
By the time the man turned, they had drawn up even with him. Joyce did her very best to look like she was being chased by something horrible, but all she felt was hunger, and the pounding drum was only making it worse.
“You have to help us, please,” Drusilla pleaded with him, voice trembling.
“What is it?” the man asked as he peered off into the dark, automatically stepping forward to put himself between them and whatever chased them.
“It’s horrible! You have to do something!”
And while the man was distracted by the darkness and what might lay hidden there, Joyce saw Drusilla’s face change. No longer smooth and flawless, her brow grew into ridged prominence. She flashed Joyce a sharp-toothed grin, eyes bright yellow and fierce. It was then that Joyce felt a strange movement on her own face and suddenly it all made sense.
Following Drusilla’s lead, she sought out the man’s neck and bit down. Hot, thick liquid poured into her mouth. It tasted of pennies and salt and something more delicious than she could describe. And the drums no longer sounded in her ears, but reverberated through her. Not drums, but a heart beating, wild and frantic as panic took hold of its owner. More, more. It called to something deep inside of her that craved more.
Too soon the sound died away. Reluctantly she pulled back, letting the limp form fall unceremoniously to the ground.
Drusilla was clapping ecstatically. “You’re so quick. Grandmummy didn’t know what she had, but she was more interested in playing with Daddy to realize it.”
She remembered a blond girl in a plaid skirt, who had told Joyce she’d come to help Buffy study. She’d turned her back, sharp pain, and then she’d woken up in the hospital.
“But that was before you knew that life wasn’t quite what it seemed.”
Seeing that her companion’s face was smooth once more, Joyce lifted a hand up and tentatively touched her own. Hard furrows, solid and ungiving and very, very smooth. She knew it was her face, but it didn’t feel like her face. “How do I make it go away?”
“Easy as can be.” Drusilla drew close, her hand coming up to run gently across Joyce’s forehead. “Hear that voice inside that’s yelling for more? Tell it to go back to sleep and behave itself for awhile. And if it’s very good, you’ll give it a treat real soon.”
It sounded ridiculous, but with a sigh, Joyce closed her eyes and did as Drusilla instructed, though not in such vivid terms. In a way, it was like trying to quiet down after being very angry. Finally, she felt her face shift again. This time her own familiar features met her fingertips.
“Eventually, you won’t have to think about it at all. It’ll be as easy as . . .” she considered for a moment, “as breathing was.”
“Now what?” Joyce asked. While the voice inside was still crying out for more of that wonderful, heady fluid, she wanted to do something else.
Drusilla’s eyes seemed to look her over from head to toe and back again. “How about we get you some new clothes?”
Joyce looked down at the drab beige pants and simple blouse she wore. She felt very boring. Then with a smile. “I think I know just the place.”
Considering the way things were in Sunnydale, one would expect shop owners to take better precautions in locking up their stores for the night. A single lock was easily broken. And it wasn’t even a deadbolt. She was amazed at how trusting people still were.
Joyce hadn’t been to this store since that night Ripper had broken the display window and grabbed the coat for her. Mm, Ripper.
“Ooh, someone’s got a secret!” Drusilla said eagerly. “Grinning like the cat that ate the canary, you are. Tell us who it is.”
Joyce tried to push away the satisfied grin she got every time she thought of that night. Ripper bending her back over the steel still warm from the cruiser’s engine, knowing hands creeping up, under a single layer of clothing, higher, until—
“He can be yours again, no niggling regrets, no worrying about being found out,” Drusilla crooned.
“He’ll know,” Joyce argued half-heartedly.
“He is a man, my dear,” her companion pointed out conspiratorially, “and all men have their weaknesses. Just have to know how to play them.”
And it occurred to Joyce, that Drusilla used her madness to her advantage. There was no denying that she would never see this side of sane again, but she had a cunning mind and knew what she was about.
“But you need to be oh so careful not to alert the ever wary.”
Joyce considered this as she flipped through the rack of leather skirts, the shortest of which appealed to her most. Hardly appropriate for a woman her age, not that it mattered any more. But she couldn’t do too much too fast. Subtle changes were easier to overlook. Grabbing a few likely skirts, she added these to the shirts she’d picked out, and then faced Drusilla.
“I don’t need an invitation into my own home, do I?” she asked.
Drusilla shook her head as she danced with a floor-length lace dress she’d picked out.
“Good. I don’t think I’m quite ready to sleep in the cemetery yet.”
Her companion giggled. “The world is yours for the taking, as long as the sunlight doesn’t catch you.”
She had never been happier that Buffy had chosen to live on campus this year. While she couldn’t stay at the house indefinitely, Joyce knew she had a while yet before she had to think about disappearing from town before her daughter caught on. And the gallery hardly had any business at all, so that definitely wasn’t a problem.
“What do you say to staying in the home of the Slayer, Drusilla?”
Chapter 3: Chapter Three
A week had passed since her turning. The only contact with Buffy was her weekly phone call to check in. Other than that, Joyce’s days were fairly routine. Drusilla would take her out hunting at night, careful to steer clear of the well-traveled routes of the Slayer and the “other eyes” that watched the night. Mornings were spent sleeping. And afternoons were filled with Drusilla’s instructions and stories, which grew more lucid the closer it was to sunset.
Drusilla had been very put out to find that Buffy hadn’t had any dolls growing up.
“Cruel mummy you were. Every little girl needs a dolly to call her own.”
Joyce figured it was pointless trying to explain to the woman that her daughter had found dolls boring. Drusilla was slightly mollified when she found Mr. Gordo in her explorations one day, though she complained he was too quiet for his own good.
During these times, Joyce kept herself busy planning for the future, when she would have to leave for her own well-being. But there was still time. Besides, there was someone she had to visit first.
When Rupert answered the door, his scowl of annoyance quickly became a shy smile of pleasant surprise.
“Joyce, this is a pleasure,” he said warmly.
“I hope you don’t mind my stopping by like this, but the house gets so lonely and—I’m not bothering you, am I?” she asked apologetically, reminding herself to be subtle, play the game.
“Of course not!” he said eagerly, then seemed embarrassed. “I mean that . . . won’t you come in?”
“I’d love to, thank you, Rupert,” she entered into his apartment with a mixed sense of relief and triumph. Such a little thing, and yet . . .
“Can I offering you anything to drink?”
While this wasn’t who she was after, Joyce still didn’t mind his company. She may be after Ripper, but Rupert Giles was still a very desirable man.
Oh right, the drink. “Maybe later,” she replied.
“So how is the gallery?” he asked, pouring himself a drink.
“Slow but steady.” No customers every day for a week was steady, wasn’t it? At the very least it was consistent. “How have you been keeping busy these days?”
“A lot of reading,” he said lightly, but it sounded forced.
“And biding time between apocalypses?” It was probably the only time he saw the children anymore.
“I’m that obvious, aren’t I?” he admitted with a self-depreciating smirk.
“Only to the trained eye,” she sat down on the couch, crossing her legs so the slit fell open just so. It was leather, but still conservative by anyone’s standards as it fell to just above her knees. The red blouse she wore was open tastefully low. Maybe she was pushing it a bit, but the thought of throwing on straight cotton and earth tones again made her ill.
Rupert now joined her on the couch, a respectful distance away, naturally.
“You look nice,” he said.
“Hm,” he considered, eyes traveling over her appreciatively. “Just right.”
Could she still blush? “You know, I think I’ll take you up on that drink now.”
While alcohol was the last thing Joyce wanted, it was something at least. Gave her time to think. Wasn’t the whole vampire thing supposed to come with a never failing confidence in your abilities? But too confident wasn’t a good thing, either. Uncertainty and nervousness would help make Rupert more comfortable. And the more comfortable he was with her, the easier things would go. And the more likely she wouldn’t wind up a pile of dust.
To round it all out was the voice inside telling her to take, to master, to make him hers. But that wouldn’t have the right outcome, either. She might come out alive in the end and with a full stomach as well, but . . . that wasn’t what she wanted. She wanted him to want her. To need her. She didn’t want to have to kill him, though she was enough of a realist to know turning him wasn’t an option. Yet.
“You’re awfully quiet, are you alright?” Rupert inquired as he handed her the drink.
“Well, you know how something seems like a great idea, and then when you actually decide to go through with it, it doesn’t anymore?” she replied honestly.
“You’ve decided not to seduce me, then?” his smile offset the slight note of disappointment in his voice.
“I’m not doing a very good job of it, am I?” she replied, feigning embarrassment.
He knelt before her and looked at her openly, “Joyce, you’re doing a better job than you realize.”
It was then that she picked up on his slightly quickened heart rate and the faintest scent of—she felt the creature inside threaten to rise. No, not yet. But oh, was it intoxicating. Want, take, have.
Rupert decided things for her. Leaning forward, he captured her lips in a gentle, teasing kiss. When he moved to pull away, she took over, fingers wrapping around the nape of his neck to hold him there as she delved inside. In moments, his heartbeat became deafening, driving her on, but she managed to keep herself somewhat in check. One thing at a time.
He had a wonderful mouth, pliant and demanding at the same time. While he let her drive the pace of the kiss, he also drew her out, demanding more. She felt his hand move from her cheek, down her neck to graze lightly over her breast before settling at the small of her back.
And then he was pulling her down to join him on the floor, never breaking the kiss for a moment. As he pressed her back toward the oriental rug, Joyce couldn’t help but smile. Things were going far better than she could have hoped.
“Tell me why we didn’t do this sooner?” Rupert murmured, nuzzling along her neck.
“Because my daughter is frightening?”
He chuckled before turning back to the task at hand, capturing her mouth briefly before moving on, tasting a trail along her jaw line to her neck.
When he found the bite marks first made by Darla and then remade by Drusilla, Joyce cried out, to which he responded by increasing the pressure. The sensation drove her crazy. Such a tiny spot really and yet so powerful. There was probably a metaphor in there somewhere, but she didn’t have the ability to focus that much at the moment.
“By many accounts, it is an extremely erotic experience,” he was lecturing between torturous licks. “Some people actually seek it out.”
She made a noncommittal noise as she worked his shirt up. Bared flesh seared her fingertips with the heat. How quickly she forgot that warmth. All that heat, generated by blood coursing quickly through tiny channels. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. And she hadn’t, had she? Her own living flesh had always gotten in the way. But now—
Rupert hissed a sharp intake of breath. “Your hands are like ice.”
Oh, shit. Her eye went wide. Stupid, stupid mistake. Something so simple. And—no, wait, he wasn’t stopping.
“You’ll just have to warm them up then,” she said coyly, relaxing once again.
“I fully intend to do that, and much, much more,” he promised, eyes dark and mischievous.
He was kissing her again, the fingers of his right hand coming up to caress gently across her breast before moving to slip open the buttons of her blouse one by one. He followed the opening, kissing the revealed flesh, moving lower. The man was talented. But she already knew that. Too bad she had to die before seeking it out again.
And just as suddenly as it began, it came to a grinding halt. She could feel his eyes on her.
“No,” he breathed, shaking his head.
Her fingers only confirmed what she could see from the look in his eyes. In the middle of it all, she had vamped out. Drusilla had said it might be too soon, and then she’d gone off about the pixies singing with the stars. It was exhausting listening to her sometimes.
“How?” Rupert was on his feet and backing away, eyes never leaving her for a second.
“The usual manner. I really don’t need to bore you with the details, do I?” she sat up, wary but at ease. He didn’t pose a threat yet.
“But you’re the mother of the Slayer.”
Joyce shrugged. “And just as vulnerable as the next person. It wasn’t on some dark street at least. Give me some credit. It happened in my gallery of all places, if you want to know.”
“Then they knew who you were. It wasn’t random. You were sought out.”
She caught on to what he was doing. “Knowing the identity of my—sire, is it?—won’t make it any easier for you.”
“I’ll at least know who to track down to—”
“Avenge me?” she laughed, rising finally. “That’s one of the many things I always admired about you, Rupert. Your never-failing sense of nobility. You really are a hero through and through.”
They stood there, facing off in silence until Joyce decided it was time to make her exit before he did try and do something. Without preamble, she turned to head out the door, buttoning up her shirt as she went.
“I have to tell Buffy,” he called out.
She looked back at him with a sad smile. “I know you do, Rupert. And I also know you’ll do everything you can to destroy me.”
“You aren’t Joyce,” he said adamantly.
“It’s easier to believe that, isn’t it?” she replied. “But we tell ourselves all kinds of lies to keep ourselves sane.”
Then she left him, not bothering to shut the door as she headed out into the night. She was feeling hungry, best not to linger.
Chapter 4: Chapter Four
Her first instinct was to get out of town. Run home, pack, and get as far away from Sunnydale as possible before Rupert even had a chance to track Buffy down and tell her. But Joyce wasn’t ready to leave yet. Plus, she had a good day or more before she needed to find another place to stay. Everything in her rebelled at hiding out in a crypt or a dingy warehouse. The motor lodge on the edge of town was a good option. Maybe Drusilla would have some ideas. No, on second thought, the motor lodge was probably her best bet. First thing, when she got home tonight, she’d finish packing up the things she wanted and head to the motel before dawn.
None of this would have been a problem had she silenced her witness. Dead men tell no tales, after all. But even the demon, or whatever had residence in her body now, didn’t care much for that. Rupert Giles and Ripper were far too valuable to be dead. A major threat while alive, but that might turn out to be an acceptable risk. Or maybe she’d picked up some of Drusilla’s craziness in the turning. Either way—
Something on the edge of her senses warned Joyce that she was no longer alone, and hadn’t been for some time. Someone was following her. She knew with absolute certainty it wasn’t Rupert or Buffy; it was too soon for the latter to know. As busy as Buffy had been? Definitely too soon.
She doubted it was any of the secret military unit that patrolled the area. Because if it was, she would have known by now. Or not known until she woke up in a cage somewhere the next day. Spike’s encounter aside, she had heard rumors of other things in the past week, courtesy of Drusilla’s stars and pixies.
It was strange, but her stalker felt familiar. But there wasn’t anything tangible that Joyce could pin down and say was the thing that made her think that. It was like the feeling she had gotten about being followed. Just something she picked up on.
Cutting through the park, Joyce spotted the perfect place to lay her trap, to double back and catch who was following her. She entered a small patch of woods, then stepped off the path part way in and waited. Soon her tracker approached.
Hair so blond it was white, almost luminescent in the dark. Oh no, this was one encounter she didn’t need to tonight. Maybe if she just stood there and—
“Why don’t you come out now and save us both some trouble?” Spike called out, standing in the middle of the path, arms crossed. “Or we can play hide and seek if you like.”
She didn’t stand a chance against Spike in a fight, but she also had a feeling running wouldn’t do her much good, either. Maybe the element of surprise would work in her favor.
Joyce stepped out onto the path behind him.
“Expected you to show up sooner or later,” he turned, cocky smirk firmly in place. Then he saw her and all his blustered quickly faded.
“Hello, Spike,” she greeted.
He blinked as if not believing what he saw.
“Yes, it’s me, and I haven’t had a heartbeat for over a week.”
“Joyce,” he said, a note of sad resignation in his voice. “Not you.”
“It’s not so bad. And I’ll never have to worry about getting old. What woman doesn’t want that?” she smiled, though even to her it felt forced. Should she really care whether or not she caused anyone pain?
“This isn’t right.”
She shrugged it off. Then curious, “Who were you expecting?”
“I . . . it felt like family. Thought maybe Peaches was lurking about. Possibly Dru come back to torm—” Spike stopped with a groan of realization. “But it’s you, isn’t it?”
That explained the feeling of familiarity she had felt when he was following her. The same thing she felt whenever she was around Drusilla. She’d just never really picked up on it until now.
“Dru is back, isn’t she?” he asked, but Joyce could tell he already knew the answer.
“What makes you say that?”
“Cuz Dru’s the only one loony enough to turn the mother of the Slayer,” he chuckled half-heartedly. “Crazy bint does have her moments of genius.”
“Could be worse, I could be dead, right?”
Spike winced. “Joyce, you have no idea what she’s done to you.”
“No pulse, no soul, no conscience,” she replied. “Not that complicated.”
He grabbed her then, fingers digging into her upper arms. “You have no idea how complicated it really is.”
“Care to enlighten me?”
“You’re right on the first two things,” he said. “But as for the conscience, that’s where things get a bit tricky. Especially in our bloodline.
“There are plenty of mindless drones out there, controlled by their demon. Has a lot to do with the type of person you were. But for the Aurelians, things are a bit different. Even our lackies are a bit stronger and quicker than the rest,” he paused. “The humanity doesn’t die with the body or go with the soul. It clings to you. And it’s like the demon, in that you have to master it.”
“So you’re saying I have to make myself a monster?” she asked incredulously.
“Mentally, yeah,” he confirmed. “The killing doesn’t come easy. Well, to some it does, but on the whole if you were a decent person, it takes time.”
Joyce didn’t want to admit how close to home his words hit. She did think twice when picking a victim. Drusilla never had any hesitation. But for Joyce, there was always that moment of hesitation before she bit down and ended a person’s life. She didn’t exactly feel guilty about it, but she didn’t enjoy it completely. Except for the man in the bar last week who had kept putting his hands where she did not want them. That she had enjoyed.
“Why do you think one of the first things a newly risen vamp does is go after its family?” Spike interrupted her thoughts. “To get rid of the reminders of who they used to be. It does something to you, seeing the sorrow of your loved ones. Something that isn’t conducive to long-term survival. Wait until you see Buffy for the first time, you’ll understand.”
“It didn’t bother me when Rupert found out,” she said.
“The Watcher knows? How does he—You paid him a visit, didn’t you?” This seemed to upset him more than anything else. “And you left him alive.”
“I didn’t want to kill him.”
“Why did you go there, Joyce?”
Realizing she had nothing to hide, she confessed, “I wanted to see him. Wanted to see Ripper.”
“Oh, bloody hell,” he finally let her go and took a step back. “You want to turn him, don’t you?”
“If I did, what’s wrong with that?”
“Your daughter is the Slayer, Joyce. There’s no surer way of guaranteeing your own dusting than going after her Watcher, besides going after her mother. She’s proven that she has no problem taking out those she loves.”
“I’m not stupid, Spike.”
“No, but you are young. It takes a few close calls to remind you that you aren’t invincible, to drive the point home.”
“I would think you’d be happy about this. A great blow to your mortal enemy and all that.”
“I’d be lying if I said a part of me wasn’t, that I wouldn’t love to be there to see the look on the Slayer’s face when she finds out,” he admitted. Then, his voice quiet and even, “But I’m not happy that it was you. You’re a good woman, Joyce. You don’t deserve to have something like this done to you.”
They stood there silently for a few moments, finally, Spike made a move to leave.
“Be careful, alright, Joyce?” he said before going on his way. But then he stopped. “Dru driving you batshit yet?”
Joyce couldn’t help but smile. “There are moments.”
“She have a doll? Helps take some of the attention.”
“Mr. Gordo, Buffy’s old stuffed pig from when she was little.”
“Just a word of advice: keep your distance if she puts the pig in a corner.”
And with that he disappeared into the night, slowly fading from her senses. But she could still feel him there, albeit faintly. And Dru as well, now that she knew what she was looking for. There was a third presence, extremely faint. Angel?
Making sure to keep a better watch around her, Joyce started home, trying very hard not to think about all that Spike had said to her.
Chapter 5: Chapter Five
Three weeks, five days, seven hours, and thirty seven minutes. That was how long Joyce and Drusilla had been living at the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. A single room with two double beds and a tiny bathroom were about as far from adequate living arrangements as one could get. Especially when one’s companion liked to carry on conversations all hours of the day with the stars, the pixies, or the ever stoic Mr. Gordo. And yet Joyce couldn’t bring herself to try things on her own. There was a lot she didn’t know, and trying as Drusilla could be, she had proved to be a valuable resource when lucid. Sometimes even when she wasn’t.
It was just a matter of time before she ran into Buffy. Joyce didn’t fear possible death from the encounter as much as she was afraid to find out what her daughter’s reaction might be. If she were really honest with herself, Joyce’s biggest fear was that Buffy would view her as just another vampire to be dusted. Caring about Buffy’s reaction bothered her even more. She shouldn’t care anymore. But Spike’s words kept coming back to her. So it wasn’t that she shouldn’t care so much as that she didn’t want to care. It made her feel vulnerable.
Then there was feeding. Joyce fed to survive. There was little joy yet to be found in the killing. She was beginning to find a certain satisfaction in the act, but enjoyment was a long way off.
“They won’t come to you,” Drusilla said, fixing Mr. Gordo with a stern glare. “You must seek them out.”
“Now why would I want to do that?” she asked impatiently.
“It’s making you restless and tying you all up in knots. You’ll be no fun until it’s done,” her companion concluded. Then she petted the plush pig. “Even he agrees. And you know how little he says.”
Joyce frowned. “I’d be walking into a trap.”
“Not if they don’t know you’re there. Can’t lay in wait for something you don’t know is coming.”
This would be one of Drusilla’s saner moments.
“And when all is said in done, you and I can go find a new place to play,” she grinned. “But there’s no need to rush, yet. Take all the time you need.”
This was ridiculous. What was she so afraid of? She wasn’t even within seeing viewing distance of Rupert’s apartment, and she was already getting jumpy.
Similar to the tie she had discovered with Drusilla and Spike, Joyce found that she could also sense Buffy’s presence as well. Though whether that was due to Buffy being her daughter or the Slayer was beyond her. Not that it mattered.
It had taken three days after the conversation with Drusilla to get herself to the point of taking any action at all. And she’d probably still not have taken any action had she not come within a hundred yards of her daughter the other night while she’d been out hunting. That was when she’d noticed she could feel Buffy’s presence. It was also the last time she was going to hunt around the UC Sunnydale campus. Seeing Buffy was enough to put her out of sorts, but that alone wasn’t enough to set her nerves on edge they way they were now.
“Time to get moving,” she ordered herself, and started to slowly walk toward Rupert’s apartment. Each step brought her closer to her daughter and possible death. But only if she wasn’t careful.
Five minutes later, Joyce was standing outside Rupert’s living room window.
Buffy was sitting on the couch, eyes closed. She could have been asleep, but Joyce knew better. Buffy’s eyes opened when Rupert came out from the kitchen to join her, setting two steaming mugs on the coffee table.
“She was there, Giles. Last night, I saw her. On campus,” her daughter said wearily.
“Are you certain?” Rupert pressed, an edge of concern in the question.
“It was only for a second, but yeah, I’m sure it was her,” Buffy sighed. “I still can’t believe it. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up and it’ll all be some horrible dream.”
“Unfortunately, it’s all too real.” Joyce had never seen Rupert look so tired.
They sat there in silence.
Finally, Buffy spoke. “I can’t kill her, Giles.”
“Yes, Buffy, you can, if it comes to that. You did with Angel.”
“And it almost killed me,” Buffy said angrily. “I still have nightmares about it.”
“I said if it comes to that,” Rupert clarified.
“There’s no ‘if’ about it, Giles. Just ‘when.’ There’s always going to be a when.”
“We have options,” Rupert stood, and walked over to his bookcase. “Willow managed before, and now she’s even more capable than—”
“And then have Mom have to live every single day with everything she’s done? The people she’s murdered?” she jumped from the couch. “That’d almost be worse than staking her.”
“It’s only been a month, Buffy. Not centuries.”
“Guilt is guilt, Giles. I don’t want her to suffer through that.”
“But you’d rather have her damned forever?”
It was interesting to hear them debate the continuance of her existence, but Joyce was surprised at how little anger the discussion provoked in her. Instead she felt relieved. Relieved that they cared enough to talk about it in the first place and not rush out and kill her.
“I don’t want to hurt her,” Buffy said, sounding very young suddenly.
“That creature is no longer your mother. You won’t be hurting your mother.”
“Then why didn’t you stake her that night she came by?” she accused him.
“Because it’s bullshit.”
“The whole thing about the demon taking over and destroying the person, it’s bullshit. The person is still there. That creature that looks like Mom and talks like Mom is still my mother. She has Mom’s memories. How can it not be Mom? Tell me, Giles?” she pleaded.
“The demon can be very cunning,” he replied, sounding more like he was saying it out of habit than any real belief.
“Jesus, Giles! Now is not the time to be feeding me the Council’s party line!”
“But if you consider the alternative, it’ll destroy you!”
There was a pause.
“We tell ourselves lies to hold onto our sanity,” Rupert spoke again. “She said as much when she left that night. And I think that was more painful than anything else. Because it’s true.”
So her words had an effect on him after all. Joyce smiled. That gave her hope. She knew he wasn’t inflexible in his beliefs, but he did hold to them strongly. But she had gotten to him. Could be useful in the future.
“I’ve known that since Angel became Angelus,” Buffy admitted quietly. “It’s not as simple as demon bad, demon must die. Everything’s grey. The Council believes in black and white because they don’t have to live in the real world or deal with the demons first hand every single day. We do. We see the exceptions. And we see that the rule isn’t even a rule.”
“But you still go out. Every night. And kill them. Every night.”
“It gets harder, the more I see. But I can’t not do it. There is bad out there and someone has to fight it.”
“We need to do something about her, Buffy.”
“I know we do. But right now, as long as the world isn’t ending, I don’t see any reason to rush,” she said in a tone that brooked no argument.
“You can’t overlook the innocent people that—”
“Are too stupid for their own good?”
She sighed. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.”
Yes, you did, Joyce thought. Her daughter was getting sick of saving those who didn’t have the common sense to keep themselves safe. Survival of the fittest, after all. She frowned, not liking the track her thoughts were taking.
Buffy’s voice caught her attention once more. “If I see her, then I’ll deal with her. But I’m not seeking her out, Giles. I won’t hunt down and kill my mother. And neither will you.”
“I couldn’t do that to her,” he agreed.
“No gypsy curses either,” she added adamantly. “Or anything else.”
“Buffy . . .”
“Giles, if she stays out of our way, we’ll stay out of hers. Agreed?”
Rupert nodded solemnly.
Seeing all there was to see, Joyce left her hiding spot and headed out into the night. It was time to think about getting out of town for good.
Chapter 6: Chapter Six
She had fed well and with little fuss. Joyce was looking forward to a nice, long sleep. However, it wasn’t meant to be.
Room seventeen was silent when she opened the door. Were she paying better attention, Joyce might have figured things out before she entered the room and locked the door behind her. As it was, she was halfway to the bathroom when she realized that the room wasn’t as empty as she had thought. Drusilla was home, and there was someone other than Mr. Gordo keeping her company.
Pale limbs were tangled together in the rough, bleached linens courtesy of the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. Drusilla lay peacefully, seeming asleep, cradling a familiar head of short platinum hair against her chest. Her companion, however, was watching Joyce intently, eyes open, alert, and unblinking.
Not knowing what else to do, Joyce backed slowly toward the door, and after a too-long battle with the deadbolt, managed to get outside into the night. Or what remained of it. Sunrise was maybe an hour off. Plenty of time to find another room, right?
She gave a start. Turning, she fixed Spike with an annoyed glare. But as he stared back, shirtless and with the comforter wrapped around his waist, he looked anything but apologetic.
“Be glad you didn’t walk in twenty minutes earlier,” he smirked. “We should talk, eh? Inside, though?”
He looked meaningfully at the lightening sky.
Good point, but, “What about Drusilla?”
“Dru? She’s out for the count. Apocalypse wouldn’t wake her now,” he said with a note of pride in his voice. “And I won’t take advantage of you.”
She laughed it off as ridiculous as she followed him back into the room. But a part of her was disappointed. Joyce didn’t think she’d mind if Spike were to take advantage of her.
Back inside the room once more, she made her way over to the corner of the room and sat down in one of the mismatched pair of upholstered chairs that might have been remotely in style during the seventies.
“You went and saw him again, didn’ you?” Spike said, searching through the pile of clothes by the bedside for something. Or somethings as it turned out. Taking a seat in the other chair, he set a metal flask, a lighter, and half pack of cigarettes on the table that had seen better days.
Joyce grabbed the flask and took a couple of long swallows. It tasted awful and burned all the way down. Exactly what she needed.
“Go that well, did it?”
“Buffy was there,” she replied, screwing the cap back on and setting the flask back on the table.
“Was she? No surprise there. Watcher and Slayer, after all.”
Joyce shrugged. “They aren’t going to kill me,” she said after a long pause.
“Never thought they would. You’re her mum, and I’m almost certain Rupes has a soft spot for you,” he grinned knowingly as he lit one of the cigarettes, flipping the lighter closed with a quick flick of his wrist. He took a deep drag, “My bet’s that they’d try and pull an Angel on you. Conjure up and stick you with your soul again.”
“Buffy said no to that.”
The cigarette nearly fell from Spike’s lips as surprise washed over his features.
“Seems to be a policy of live and let, um, unlive,” she said uncertainly. “Rupert was pushing for the curse, though.”
“But the Slayer wasn’t? Hm,” he considered. “Guess after seeing what the Poof went through . . . still, not like you’ve wrought any devastation or destruction around town. Mainly been picking off the strays, haven’t you?”
“I don’t think I’d fare too well taking down anyone who fought back.”
“No?” his eyebrow shot up. “You’re not a lady anymore, Joyce. There’s power inside that you have no idea about yet. Strength and instinct just waitin’ to be used.”
She laughed. “The former mother and art dealer is now a street fighter? I wouldn’t stand a chance in a fight, Spike.”
His eyes danced in challenge. “Wanna bet?”
The next thing she knew, Joyce was being pulled to her feet. Spike surveyed the room and pushed the table and chairs back as far as they would go.
“We’re going to fight? In here?” she asked skeptically.
“I’d offer to take it outside, but with the sun coming up, I know I don’t fancy burning to a crisp.” Then he looked down at the comforter he was wearing. “Give us just a sec.”
He turned away, dropping the wrap and pulling out a pair of jeans from the pile of clothes. She had to admit, she didn’t mind the view. Toned, muscular legs leading up to a firm and shapely—
“I can forget the pants altogether if you’d prefer,” he interrupted her musings.
How did he know? His back was to her still. Of course, this was Spike, why was she surprised?
“You like what you see, Joyce. There’s no shame in that,” he said confidently, facing her again as he finished buttoning his pants. “Ready?”
“For wh—” she barely moved out of the way in time for his left hook to breeze past her. “What are you doing?”
“Proving a point,” he smirked, swinging again.
She ducked and threw a punch of her own. But Spike caught it in mid-air. Alright, that didn’t work. She tried another punch only to have that too blocked. Kicking him proved a bit more successful as she finally made contact. And with that something finally clicked. Before she knew it, Joyce was trading blows with Spike in the middle of the cheap motel room.
She could tell he was holding back, but it didn’t feel like it was because she might not be able to handle it. Although she probably couldn’t. Still, there was no need to go all out. Spike was trying to give her a taste of things. And it was exhilarating. She felt alive and enjoyed every minute of it. Joyce had never physically fought a single day in her life, and yet here she was, trading blow for blow.
Then he started to push her, picking up the pace and switching things up more often. And all she wanted was more. And more she got, until her muscles started to burn and Spike came closer and closer to landing his blows.
She hesitated briefly and found herself wrapped up tight against Spike’s chest. Panting out of habit rather than any need for oxygen, Joyce looked at Spike, really looked at him for the first time. God, but he was gorgeous.
When they kissed, it seemed part of a natural progression. Joyce had no thoughts of Drusilla asleep in the bed not five feet away or the fact that Spike had been with her barely an hour ago. All Joyce cared about was that he didn’t stop, fingers digging bruisingly into her wrists as he held her in place, tongue probing with gentle persistence. But she didn’t let him control things completely. She met him halfway, allowing him entrance but seeking control at the same time.
Spike’s left hand released its hold and coasted over her arm and down her back, coming to rest lightly against her ass before pulling her firmly against him. And she felt every inch of contact.
“I thought you weren’t going to take advantage of me,” she breathed as he kissed along her jaw line and down her neck.
She felt his lips twitch. “You started it.”
“I did n—oh!” she gasped when he tongued over the marks Drusilla had given her.
“That is one of the most sensitive spots on your body now,” he informed her. “The end and beginning and indelible reminder of what you now are.”
Joyce’s free hand traced over the firm definition of Spike’s arm, chest, and back. “Why are you doing this?”
“Desire.” He freed her other wrist and set about unhooking the buttons of her shirt. “You look amazing in red. It suits you. Red like this,” he fingered the material. “Deep, rich, passionate and classic. Blood red.”
His words as much as his voice sent a shiver dancing across her skin.
“We should stop,” she protested half-heartedly as he walked her back to the empty bed.
“No,” he pushed the shirt from her shoulders to puddle on the floor, “we shouldn’t.”
“The rules have changed, love,” he whispered, hand teasing across her stomach as he moved behind her. Feather light kisses were placed along her shoulders as he unhooked her bra and slipped it away, her breasts hanging heavy and full, craving to be touched.
“Changed?” she leaned against him as his hands came up to cradle her breasts, thumbs caressing teasingly over the nipples.
“Things are a bit different on this side,” blunt teeth nipped at the sensitive flesh of her neck. “Sex is as instinctive as feeding and fighting are. But it isn’t purely for pleasure, it also reaffirms bonds that tie us together.”
Her hands came up to cover his and she craned her neck to look at him. “And what bonds tie us together?”
“Aside from you’re being one of the most striking women I have ever seen, regardless of whether you’re wielding a fire axe or a mug of hot chocolate?” his hands left her breasts to splay across her stomach, slowly inching downward. “Drusilla, blood. My sire is your sire. And while in certain circles that would place us in heavy competition, which it still might, it also places us on equal footing. But we don’t really pay attention to such hierarchy here, and those who did are either dust or wishing they were dust. What matters is blood. Common blood by which token we are now family. A tie which drives us to, at best, protect and, at worst, seek to destroy one another.”
“That’s why I can tell where you are. Not just you, but Drusilla and Angel as well, I assume.”
“It’s a powerful and useful connection, though it can get slightly annoying sometimes.”
By now his hands had reached the top of her skirt. One hand slipped behind to draw the zipper down while the other held her firmly in place. The next movement sent her skirt tumbling to the floor, leaving her in nothing more than a thin pair of black lacy underwear. The hand that had moved between them, now returned, holding her in place while the other slipped under the elastic boundary of her panties, traveling determinedly downward.
“Oh god, Spike,” she gasped as his finger grazed over her clit.
“How long’s it been, Joyce?” he purred in her ear, teasing with aggravating slowness. “How long since someone’s hands other than your own brought you pleasure?”
“Spike,” was all she managed, all coherent thought overridden by sensation.
“You know I’ve wanted you since the night you hit me over the head,” Spike whispered roughly, finger pressing through slick, delicate folds to sink deeply into soft, eager flesh. A tiny shudder of pleasure washed over her at the contact. But not once did his movements still, moving in and out with practiced ease.
The second finger made her scream.
“So wet and wanting. Your body craves this as much as blood.”
Her hips rocked against his hand, trying to get just a bit more pressure. She could feel the persistent press of his cock through the denim and thin lace covering her ass.
Only one thought occurred to her as he worked her body so. “Fuck me, Spike. Need to feel more of you.”
“Such language,” he chuckled. His fingers pushed a little deeper. “What do you say, love?”
Fuck me seemed pretty clear even to her addled brain.
“Can’t let you lose all your manners,” he prompted, tongue dancing along her ear.
“Please?” she said uncertainly. Then with more force. “Please, Spike, I need you to fuck me.”
“Dirty girl, all you had to do was ask nice,” he nipped at her ear as his fingers extricated themselves from her quim. A moment later and he was lifting her into his arms and carrying her to the unoccupied bed. Laying her down, he hooked his fingers in the sides of her panties, quickly drawing them off and tossing them over his shoulder. He licked his lips hungrily as his eyes raked over her now naked body, never looking away while he removed his jeans. Only then did he join her on the bed, hovering between her outspread legs.
“There’s no going back,” he said, the head of his cock resting at her opening.
Unable to speak anymore, Joyce responded the only way she could. Her right hand cupped the base of his skull and drew Spike down for a needy kiss, leaving no doubts of her desire.
And in one swift movement he was completely buried inside her. Her body arched up in response, trying to pull him deeper, needing him. When he began to move, her legs came up to wrap around his waist, holding on as he set a frenzied pace to drive them both over the edge.
It kept building and building until surely now she would come, but climax never came, only seemed more elusive. It wasn’t enough. She needed something else.
As if reading her thoughts, she felt sharp teeth scrap along her neck. Yes, this is what she needed.
“Please,” she begged.
A firm hand drew her against Spike’s neck.
“It’s much better when it’s both of us,” he instructed, teeth pressing just a little harder.
Joyce’s own features shifted and she sank her teeth in without further thought, barely registering the puncture of her own neck as her world exploded with the taste of rich blood flowing down her throat. And in that moment she understood the connection. Blood was the tie that bound them together. Like family but more than family. Spike was basically her brother. But one usually didn’t have sex with their siblings. Yet this felt natural to her. A reaffirmation of something. And it was quite different from any sex she’d had before, regardless of whether it was a random hook up or with someone she had loved for a time. Wilder, more intense, more connected.
She drank until her body finally calmed, though her mind still raced with the implications of all of this. Only then did she withdraw, falling back sated onto the bed. Spike had moved off of her so he now lay curled at her side, looking very content. He was still incredibly sexy in her eyes, but there was more to it now. There wasn’t just attraction, but commonality, something more than physical that drew her to him. Maybe it all came back to blood.
“What did I say?” he grinned at her, interrupting her musings.
She didn’t have the words.
But Drusilla didn’t seem to have any trouble speaking as she crawled up next to Joyce. “My Spike always knows just what a woman needs.”
Joyce turned to Drusilla and saw much of the same things she had found in Spike, but something else as well. Something—
“It’s because I’m your mummy, my sweet Joyce,” Drusilla said as if reading her mind, which was entirely possible. “There are special ties between sire and childe that are unlike anything else. You feel the call of common blood. But this is much stronger, cuts you much deeper. We may not always want it, but we always seek to go back to the beginning, to the one who made us. It can save you. And it can destroy you. Always remember that.”
Joyce reached up and touched the face of her sire, almost but not quite a caress.
“Good manners will always serve you well,” her sire replied with a pleased smile as she lay down next to Joyce.
Joyce opened her mouth to say something but Drusilla placed a delicate finger there to keep her quiet.
“Shh, talking is done for now. Rest while you can for there is much to show you in the coming hours.”
And she did, at peace for a time nestled in bed with her family.
Chapter 7: Chapter Seven
Joyce awoke slowly from a heavy sleep. It took several minutes to regain her bearings, but when she did, she began to struggle against the bonds that tied her to the four corners of the bed. The bonds were tight but not so tight that she couldn’t break them if she really wanted to, and that realization relaxed her. As relaxed as she could be, tied naked and vulnerable to a hotel bed. And she wasn’t really alone.
Twisting her head to the side, she found Spike seated in the far corner of the room, drawing upon his cigarette with lazy ease. He sat like he owned the chair, right leg draped over the arm leaving every line of his pale, naked form unashamedly exposed.
“At last, sleeping beauty awakes,” he chuckled, seeming to grow more comfortable with his current position.
“What’s going on?” she asked, trying to keep her voice casual and her eyes from roaming everywhere on his body. But it was really difficult to focus on his face when there was so much else begging to be looked at.
“Ah, that’s for Dru to know, and for you to find out,” his teeth flashed briefly before he took another drag on the cigarette. “And just to let you know, screaming only encourages her.”
She was about to ask what he meant when a burning fire like nothing she had ever felt exploded at her right wrist and slowly trickled down the length of her arm. The sensation was such a shock she was unable to cry out. Joyce craned her neck in that direction, seeking out the cause and found Drusilla smiling down at her pleasantly. She was still naked, dark hair unbound and cascading wildly around her, a small glass vial clutched loosely in her fingertips.
“Lesson the first,” Spike began calmly, “holy water is liquid fire. Its purpose is to burn away all impurities that it comes in contact with.”
Joyce’s eyes followed Drusilla’s movements as she carefully knelt next to Joyce on the bed. The bottle now hovered precariously over her chest. Drusilla tipped it just enough so one, solitary drop fell with incredible slowness to land just off center of the peak of one nipple. Joyce hissed at the contact, body arching up off the bed. When the pain dissipated, she looked down to see a faint red welt forming. An instant later her second breast was attacked in the same manner. But before that pain could fade, a dozen tiny drops fell in a trail down her chest with just enough time between each for the sensations caused to be separate and distinct.
From the corner, Spike continued in an almost scholarly tone, “Lesson number two: pain becomes pleasure with the proper application.”
Drusilla’s head descended, tongue dancing lightly over first one nipple then the other. With excruciating slowness she moved down between the valley of Joyce’s breasts, tongue roving over each individual welt trailing along the pale skin of her chest and abdomen. The tongue ran cool and flat, slight roughness just catching on the inflamed areas of skin, worrying them until the sensation became meaningless before moving on to the next and starting the process all over again. It hurt and it didn’t. There was a slight edge of pain but the sensation had gone beyond that. She shivered slightly as Drusilla progressed.
With Drusilla’s head still bent and tongue very well occupied, Joyce was too focused on the ministrations to notice the knife until it was too late and Drusilla was cutting a fine red line in the delicate flesh of her inner thigh.
This time she did cry out, a low primitive sound that just bordered on a moan.
“Thirdly,” Spike instructed, his voice taking on a pleased note, “cut us and we still bleed.”
Drusilla’s head came up as she moved the knife to trace a matching line on Joyce’s unmarked leg. When Joyce looked back at her first leg, she saw that the mark was already fading away. She glanced over at Spike to see a smug smile on his lips.
“And that brings us to number four: Flesh will return to its prior state unless greatly traumatized. Healing is quick and scarring almost non-existent.”
Joyce wasn’t sure how to respond to any of this. It was completely out of her realm of experience. It was sexual, she was almost certain of that, the way her body was responding to each new stimulation. But aside from one drunken night in college, her sexual encounters were rather bland, especially since nearly all of them involved one man. Hank Summers had not been the most creative of lovers.
Her thoughts came crashing back to the present as Drusilla’s head descended between her splayed thighs, sharp tongue pushing into her sensitive channel without warning.
“Oh Christ,” she screamed in response to Drusilla’s knowledgeable probing.
While she had been gone down on before, it had been nothing like this. Where five o’clock shadow had scraped harshly against her tender skin, now there was only smoothness, a supple silkiness a man couldn’t hope to achieve. The use of teeth and tongue and lips nipping, sucking, lapping was done with a familiarity that possibly only came with intimately knowing what response each action elicited. And the pliant flesh of Drusilla’s breast brushing against Joyce’s skin as the other woman moved was a very new experience indeed, but not unpleasant in the feel of their weight against her.
Spike chuckled richly when Joyce cried out again. “That brings us to number five: always keep your wits about you. Or this moment could be your last. And not all defeat is so . . . enjoyable.”
Drusilla’s nails dug into Joyce’s hips as she began to work in earnest. The tiny crescents of sharp pain were nothing compared the pleasure she was drawing out of Joyce. Drusilla began to tease over her clit, parting sensitive folds, circling again and again and again, driving all coherent thought away with repetition. Each time was just a little harder, a little faster. But it could never be enough. More, she needed more. Joyce was lost to sensation, orgasm overwhelming her. Her scream left her throat raw and aching as she gripped her bonds as if her life depending on it.
Needlessly she gasped for breath as she rode out her climax, Drusilla never letting up until she finally stilled.
Drusilla sat back on her haunches, looking very satisfied herself. Gracefully she rose from the bed and walked over to Spike. She circled him, lightly running her hands up his arms and across his back then chest. Unhooking his leg from the chair arm in one fluid movement as she knelt astride him in the chair, she guided his cock to her entrance and lowered herself onto him. It was all done with such deliberate slowness that Joyce knew the show was very much for her benefit, and torture. Frustrating as it was to be incapacitated like she was, she really couldn’t say she minded all that much. It was quite a sight to behold.
It was as painful to watch them as it was beautiful. They had something together that she couldn’t touch. She was still very much an outsider in this family and in this world. However, at the present there wasn’t anything she could do about it.
Fixing Spike with an unwavering stare, Drusilla crooned, “My girl tastes of sunshine and warm days by the ocean.”
“Does she, love?” his hand rose and drew her to him, his mouth meeting hers with a consuming passion as Drusilla began to ride him. There was a low, hungry groan and Spike intensified his effort, seeming to want to taste every last bit of Joyce that Drusilla had captured.
Joyce watched in fascination, surprised by the tenderness that passed between the two. They moved together as only those who know each other inside and out have the ability to. Of course, they’d had countless years together with which to explore. It was something she had never had and highly doubted she ever would. Maybe that was why she kept finding herself drawn back to Rupert. The thought that he might possibly be the one who could connect with her on such a level. How wonderful he had felt, would feel again. The strength and hint of darkness he hid beneath duty and propriety. It was there, just waiting and she could set it free, make him more than he ever dreamed. There was something in him that called to her and always would. In that moment Joyce knew without a doubt that she would turn Rupert regardless of the consequences. And when she turned him, he would want it like nothing before. She would consume him completely.
She’d had enough of being alone for any lifetime. And as enjoyable as this night had turned out, she didn’t fancy being on the outside like this for the many years that lay ahead of her.
Drusilla’s head tipped back and her wide eyes never left Joyce’s for a moment as Spike buried himself hungrily against her neck. Joyce could just make out his near inarticulate mumblings.
“Gods . . . too long . . . perfect . . . love . . . so much . . .”
And Drusilla was in pure ecstasy, if the look on her face was any indication.
It was such a private moment, but they were sharing it with Joyce, taunting her almost, showing her what was possible, what she didn’t yet have.
Joyce saw the bodies tighten, clinging to each other as orgasm overtook them.
Drusilla collapsed forward, draping herself over Spike, spent and whispering about sunshine and sea spray.
Spike’s hands ran soothingly over Drusilla’s back as his gaze finally honed in on Joyce once again. “Sixth and final,” his voice was hoarse, “follow your heart. While it can lead you astray, it knows what you need.”
Chapter 8: Chapter Eight
It was a simple plan really. Joyce was going to make Rupert hers. Completely. First, she would take his soul. Then his life. His heart she already had.
Joyce had been watching Rupert’s apartment for a few weeks when she finally decided it was time to see him face to face again.
The children hardly came by his apartment anymore. More often than not, Joyce found him alone, drink or book in hand, while classic rock played in the background. Rupert looked tired, forgotten, and very, very alone.
He was no longer needed as he once was. Readily sought out for advice and guidance. His circle had moved on to lives of their own, with new problems, new people. They barely had enough time for each other, let alone him. Rupert was not only out of a job, he was removed from life now as well. It made him vulnerable, and it made Joyce’s plan seem less crazy than she’d initially thought. Not to mention possible at all.
Rupert opened the door to her knock. There was no surprise on his face. If anything, he looked relieved.
“I was wondering when you’d finally have the nerve to come by again,” he greeted her, leaning against the doorframe. He was still clean-shaven, but the rest of his appearance said he no longer cared much. An old grey sweater and well-worn jeans—he dressed for comfort now, not to impress.
“I’ve been busy,” she replied casually.
“Hunting and honing your skills, I’m certain. How is life with Drusilla and Spike going?”
That caught her by surprise. He smiled slightly in response. “I may be out of work, but I’m not completely out of touch, Joyce. Contrary to how things may appear,” Rupert smirked.
Feeling she really had nothing to hide, “It’s nice having someone else around to keep Drusilla occupied.”
He turned away from her, heading back to his couch and sitting town. Picking up the glass of gold liquid from the coffee table, he took a careful sip. Glancing at her briefly, “You’ve been out there every night for the last month. What were you waiting for?”
This she was less surprised by. There had been a few times when she’d been almost certain he’d seen her. But he had always returned to what he was doing, seeming to shrug it off.
Joyce idly traced the wood grains of the doorjamb as she responded. “Any number of things, I suppose. Courage maybe.”
“It’s a pathetic life I lead, isn’t it?” he spoke to the TV now, turning away from her. “I feel like an old man, Joyce. A man who’s lived beyond his usefulness. But I’m not old, not yet.”
“You’re still useful, Rupert. You just haven’t found your place yet. Just because the children no longer need you, doesn’t mean no one does,” she said soothingly, still in the doorway. Tentatively she reached forward, to test the barrier that kept her out. But there was no barrier. He had never recalled his invitation. One less obstacle to overcome. Still, it seemed too easy.
As if reading her thoughts, “I never got around to it, Joyce. I’ve grown quite lax these days. Time was revoking your invitation would have been the first thing I did, before hunting you down.”
She took a few cautious steps inside, far enough to close the door gently behind her. “Time was, I imagine, that you would have staked me the instant you found out.”
“Perhaps,” he said quietly, still facing away, keeping his back to her. “Perhaps not.”
Silence descended and Joyce surveyed the room, taking in the furniture, the knickknacks, the books, all the little things that made this place Rupert’s. Elements of his personality on display. She really knew so little about him. Had always wanted to find out more but something always held her back. Their respective roles in Buffy’s life, mostly. And fear maybe? Fear that there really could be something between them worthwhile and—
She looked up from the woodcarving she’d been studying to see Rupert eyeing her with concern.
“You’re very quiet,” he said.
“I know. Just thinking,” she sighed. “Shows what an evil mastermind I would make, huh?”
He rose from the couch and approached her, never breaking their gaze. “Why me?”
Rupert knew. She didn’t know how he had figured it out, but he knew why she was there. And he didn’t seem upset about it. Nor did he look like he was going to do anything about it besides talk to her.
“Because I’ve wanted you for a very long time,” she confessed simply. “And since this all happened to me, you’re the only thing I’ve been able to think about. Which really isn’t in the best interests of my continued survival.”
“I’ve been lonely for years, Rupert. It’s something I’ve grown used to. But this is different. It’s . . . I can’t really explain it,” she paused. And here he thought he was pathetic? Immortality and strength she’d never dreamed of, and all she cared about was the stretch of endless years ahead of her and no one to share it with. Spike and Drusilla were her family. She had them, but not in the way they had each other, and that was what she craved. “I’m sorry.”
There was only compassion on his face as Rupert reached for her, drawing her to him. “Don’t be sorry,” he murmured softly.
“I feel so lost and overwhelmed,” Joyce whispered, enjoying the warm press of his body. “Everything is so intense now. I don’t think I ever really felt things until after I was turned. I mean, I felt things, but . . . they were only shadows. Sights and sounds and flavors are so much more than I ever imagined.
“And my emotions. Rupert, I’m supposed to be a soulless monster, and yet instead of feeling nothing, I think I feel things to a greater extent than I ever have,” she finished with a sense of relief she hadn’t expected. While she and Spike had had many conversations in the last few weeks, she’d never quite been able to bring this up with him, even though he’d alluded to this sort of thing on several occasions. She knew he would understand, but she hadn’t felt comfortable discussing it with him. But with Rupert she did. A former Watcher who had been taught to believe and taught others to believe that vampires were evil, unfeeling creatures to be destroyed without hesitation.
She wondered what he thought of all of this. Possibly lies told by the demon to ensnare its intended prey?
“You might as well stake me and be done with it, Rupert. Maybe it’s for the best,” she said, realizing he hadn’t yet uttered a single word since she’d launched into her little rant.
“I couldn’t do that to you,” he said at last, his right hand coming up to caress her cheek, left still holding her close. “I should. But I can’t. And I know it will be my undoing.”
“No, Joyce. I think I’ve always known how it would end for me, but I never imagined this,” he admitted, looking very tired. “There’s nothing left for me.”
Joyce looked at him in complete disbelief. Was he actually giving her permission to turn him?
“But there’s one last thing I want to do,” he said, and then he was kissing her. Slow and gentle, flavored with a hint of sorrow. He took his time, tongue gently probing, exploring, savoring every inch of her mouth.
This was why she couldn’t get him off her mind. This was what she needed. He touched a part of her that had slept too long.
But Joyce had never been a passive creature, and she most certainly wasn’t now. She returned the kiss with the same savoring intensity, arms going up around his neck to pull him closer.
A moment later, she was in his arms has he carefully navigated through the living room and up his stairs, never once breaking contact with her mouth. He set her on her feet next to his bed, breaking the kiss.
“Do you know how often I have dreamt of you here?” he inquired huskily. “How many times I picked up the phone to call you and decided against it at the last moment?”
She couldn’t reply. His words settled deep inside, further kindling the fire that had been growing there since long before her last visit here.
“Why did this have to happen to you?” he sounded so heartbroken.
“What’s done is done, Rupert,” she found her voice as she traced the lines furrowed in his brow. Then she carefully lifted away his glasses and set them on the nightstand. “At least we have now.”
And she kissed him with as much care as he had kissed her downstairs, trying to express through action what she had no words for.
His fingers found their way to her shirt, undoing the buttons one at a time and then easing her shirt past her shoulders to cascade down her arms onto the floor. Her bra went next, leaving her skin bare to rub against the soft knitting of his sweater, a delicious friction only intensified by his body heat radiating through it.
“More,” she sighed, fingers working under the hem of the sweater, working the material up. She moved away long enough to lift it up over his head before pressing back against the now uncovered expanse of his chest. So warm. And his heart beat steady but quick. But for once it wasn’t hunger the sound stirred, or longing. Instead, it gave her a sense of peace she hadn’t felt for quite some time.
She set about unfastening his jeans and hooking her fingers in the waistband of his underwear, then slid both garments down to the ground, leaving him completely naked. Vulnerable. Reaching behind her, Joyce undid the catch on her skirt and let it puddle to the floor. At that moment they stood as equals, exposed to each other with nothing to hide behind.
“Come,” she said, grasping his hand and pulling him onto the bed.
He hovered over her, watching her closely, seeming to drink her in. Memorizing her.
“I’m not going anywhere, Rupert,” she whispered as she cupped the side of his face. “Make love to me. Please.”
There was the ghost of a smile on his lips as he bent to kiss her, cock resting heavily against her thigh.
Her legs parted as he moved between them, guiding himself to her entrance, nudging against the sensitive flesh.
And he complied, pushing into resistant yet giving flesh, filling her as he pressed in by agonizingly slow degrees. Again, he seemed to be savoring each moment, each sensation. Fully sheathed, she brought her legs up and wrapped them around his waist.
“Christ, Joyce,” he said, finding his voice at last. “It’s been too long.”
“We were fools, Rupert,” she smiled, seeking out his lips as he began to move inside her in steady, measured strokes.
He broke from their kiss as his pace increased, nuzzling against her neck, teasing the mark that was there. Sensations radiated from the two points of connection to this man, nearly overwhelming her. She could get lost so easily in his body, in what he could do to hers. They had indeed been fools.
She could tell his climax approached, Rupert’s body tensing periodically as he tried to hold back. Her own was building but still a ways off.
He rolled them and Joyce suddenly found herself on top, watching the play of emotions across his face as she rose above him.
“Do it now, Joyce,” he said, just a note of pleading in the request.
Again she was caught completely off guard. She had never expected him to ask. He seemed resigned to how events would play out, but . . . And he wasn’t really asking either. He was telling her to do it, giving her the push.
“Are you certain?” she had to ask.
He nodded just once.
Leaning forward and resuming the pace he had set, she placed a quick peck on his lips.
She settled against his neck, listening for the first time that evening to the call of his blood, letting it awaken the unsatisfied voice inside of her. His heart thrummed against her chest, giving her the illusion, ever so briefly, of having a heartbeat herself.
As her face shifted, Joyce had one last moment of doubt. He really couldn’t be letting her do this to him. It just didn’t—
“Yes,” he replied, hand cupping the back of her neck and holding her there.
When she bit down, his hips arched up, driving him deep inside her as he came, hot blood coursing richly down her throat. There was power in this blood, forgotten power, but power still the same.
His heartbeat began to fade. She could only hear it now, growing quieter as each second passed.
Joyce felt a sharp sting along the juncture between her neck and right shoulder. The contact of Rupert’s lips against the cut he had made sent Joyce over the edge, the orgasm like much of the whole evening taking her by surprise. It was brief and short-lived, but powerful in the complete connection she had with Rupert in that moment. The cool metal of the knife he had used settled heavily against her back as he began to suckle weakly.
The moment lasted forever, it seemed, but when it ended, all was still. And Joyce heard nothing but the silence of a life that was no more.
Chapter 9: Chapter Nine
He was so still. Joyce couldn’t get over how still Rupert was. Dead. He looked so completely and utterly dead.
What had she done?
Stupid, stupid, stupid. She paced back and forth along the length of Spike’s crypt, eyes frequently darting to Rupert who was laid out on the stone sarcophagus. According to Drusilla, it had only taken Joyce a few hours to rise. But the sun had risen and set and Rupert was still cold, silent, and very, very still.
She’d done it wrong. There was no other explanation. He was just dead. And god, but she was so new to this. She had been a vampire all of maybe two months and—What had she been thinking?
Hands wrapped firmly around her upper arms, stopping her in place before she could run into the solid body in front of her.
Joyce looked up to see Spike’s blue eyes studying her with concern.
She sighed helplessly.
“I know you’re anxious, pet. It’s understandable,” he said sympathetically. “But you’re startin’ to make me nervous with all your pacing.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, leaning forward as Spike’s arms came around and held her lightly. “It’s just so—Why didn’t he try and stop me?”
“It’ll be fine,” he soothed.
“You weren’t there,” she retorted, fussing with his shirt, needing to keep busy somehow. “He was so resigned to everything. I’ve never seen him like that. It was off, and I half expected him to stake me right up to the end.”
“Ol’ Rupes had outlived his use. Council booted him. The Slayer and friends don’t need him. No longer in the thick of it . . . It’s not all that surprising.” Spike could be quite sensible when he had half a mind, she’d discovered. And more than just a little insightful.
“I should have waited,” she glanced up at him.
“No, Joyce, you couldn’t have picked a better time,” he stated firmly. “It might ease your mind a bit to know that Dru’s been in giddy high spirits since you took off yesterday. Mr. Gordo and her are having a nice long chat about how everything’s coming together.”
“It doesn’t feel like it,” Joyce mumbled, peeking over at Rupert once again. Nothing.
“You should get something to eat. Haven’t eaten since yesterday, have you?”
“I can’t leave him. Not until I know.”
Spike just held her. It had been nice having him around. A bit of sanity to keep her grounded during some of Drusilla’s less lucid moments.
Joyce and Drusilla had moved into Spike’s crypt the night following Joyce’s day of many lessons. Not that the lessons had ended with the change in scenery. Spike had continued helping her with her fighting skills. And both he and Drusilla had continued Joyce’s education in the bedroom. Though Joyce wasn’t always the one bound to the bed. They all took turns on that, though Drusilla most frequently.
“We missed you last night,” Spike said quietly.
“You used the candles without me, didn’t you?” she pouted slightly.
He smirked. “Tried to tell Dru you’d be put out. But she wouldn’t hear a word of it. Said it was all fair in the end.”
“But they’re my favorite,” Joyce whined playfully.
“It appears that you enjoy playing with fire in more ways than one,” a low voice idly observed behind Joyce.
Spike’s arms remained around her as she turned to see Rupert sitting up, watching them narrowly. He was wearing the sweater and jeans he’d had on the other night. She’d redressed him, not an easy task, before she tracked down Spike and Drusilla to help her get him back to the crypt. The citizens of Sunnydale could be oblivious, but carrying a dead, naked man through the back streets and parks was pushing the limits.
“Rupert,” she breathed, finding her voice at last.
He hopped down off the sarcophagus, giving his surroundings a once over. “While not completely without its merits, isn’t a crypt a bit cliché for your tastes, Spike?”
“’S got all the modern conveniences, I can’t complain,” Spike replied casually. “Not so terrible, is it, Joyce?”
“It’s much nicer than the Motor Lodge,” she added for lack of anything better to say.
She couldn’t take her eyes off of Rupert. He appeared at ease but tightly coiled at the same time. A predator lying in wait and trying to pass it off as disinterest. He was feeling things out. Taking stock of the situation, where he stood. And Joyce had a feeling that Spike’s continued embrace was less about comfort and more about one male putting another in his place. But something told her that Rupert wouldn’t settle for anything but the alpha role. Wasn’t that what drew her to him to begin with, a tiny glimpse of that piece of himself he kept carefully in check?
“My first thoughts should be of food, shouldn’t they?” Rupert asked, eyes boring into Joyce, letting her know before he spoke or acted what his first thoughts truly were.
“Food is essential,” Spike concurred, speaking the words against Joyce’s ear. He nipped lightly at the lobe.
Joyce’s eyes widened. Rupert smiled coldly.
On principle, she should object to being used as the central piece to their power play, and yet her body waited in eager anticipation.
And then she was being pushed out of the way as Rupert lunged, knocking Spike back, sprawling to the floor. Spike threw him off with little effort.
“You forget, Watcher, chip only keeps me muzzled against humans,” he swung, hitting Rupert square in the jaw. “And since that ain’t you anymore, I suggest you think twice.”
Spike swung again, but Rupert caught the punch in mid-air and countered with his own, catching Spike in the gut. He landed two more blows in quick succession, falling back to the defensive shortly after, a triumphant smirk playing about his lips. “I may not be a master vampire, Spike, but with twenty years as a Watcher and five years spent in the darker parts of London, I think you are the one who should think twice.”
It was Rupert who fell to the floor this time as Spike knocked him over. And they were both down, a rolling scuffle of fists and flashes of fangs. Neither seemed to be quite able to get the upper hand on the other, until she heard a dull thud and saw Spike lying still beneath Rupert.
“Don’t envy him the headache,” Rupert stood, brushing himself off. “But it shuts him up as good as anything else.”
He stalked towards her with deliberate slowness. He was in no rush. Every line spoke confidence and certainty. Joyce tried to back up but found herself thwarted by the stone wall. She was trapped there when Rupert closed the distance, one arm coming up beside her head as he leaned forward, scenting the length of her neck.
“You reek of him,” he said, voice edged with a deadly quiet.
“So what of it?” she returned bravely, though everything about him made her feel weak. The almost press of his body, low voice whispering against her throat. She wanted nothing more than to lose herself in him, let him erase all traces of anyone else from her. Make her forget that there was anyone but him.
Her head was yanked sharply back, Rupert’s free hand tangled unforgivingly in the curls. “Because,” he tightened his hold, “you are mine.” The last word came out as a feral, possessive growl reverberating along every nerve ending in her body.
“Rupert, I—” she gasped sharply as he pulled again.
And she was lost in eyes never blue, nearly green with just a fleck of brown to distract. She was his. Completely.
He grinned ferally as he dove in, devouring her mouth unapologetically. Tongue and teeth staking claim, possessing, making their intent undeniably known.
Power, dominance, control. He sought these things. A man kept in check by duty and obligation for far too long, often forced to subjugate his desires for those of a young woman and her friends. Held back, never fully himself. She had freed him to take these things, fulfill the potential she could see simmering beneath the surface. But if she gave in to him now, completely, he would be without restraint. All would have to bow before him. And while Joyce wanted to see Ripper in all of his glory, she needed to assert her right because she was not a submissive creature. She desired the power, dominance and control for herself.
With considerable effort, Joyce broke away from the kiss and shoved Rupert, sending him stumbling backward. He looked stunned, and she smiled.
“There are no free rides, Rupert,” she pushed off from the wall and slowly pursued him. She could see his uncertainty as he watched her warily. He hadn’t expected a challenge. “You can want. You can take. You can have. But you have to earn that right.”
He tripped over an armchair and fell back into it.
Joyce trapped him there, kneeling over him. She bent her head and sniffed along his neck, stopping at his ear and teasing it with her tongue. Whispering, low and husky, “You smell completely of me. I am all over you and inside of you, everywhere. Others will come and go, but in the end you are mine. First. Now. Always.”
Then she took his mouth with the same possessive intent he’d taken hers with, leading and leaving him to follow. And follow he did, pulling her to him, holding her there as he challenged her in return.
One of Joyce’s hands slipped between them, seeking out and freeing Rupert’s cock from his ungiving jeans. He rested hard and full and heavy in her hand.
“Tell me you want me,” she commanded, stroking him demandingly.
“Want you,” he growled as he pushed up her skirt.
“Tell me you need me.”
He deftly ripped her underwear away. “Need you.”
She guided him to her entrance and held him there. “Tell me what you are.”
“Yours,” he said, gripping her hips as she took him completely inside.
They moved against each other in a fierce, frantic dance to bring themselves off as quickly as possible. It was fucking, inelegant, primal, and determined.
This was what she had been after since the idea first occurred to her. This was who she wanted. She had been craving this savage and raw meeting. Last night Rupert had made love to her. Tonight Ripper would fuck her senseless. One side made her remember who she was. The other made her forget and live solely in the moment, a creature of sensation. Teeth and nails digging in as his cock stretched and reshaped her to fit him perfectly.
She arched back, changing the angle so he sank even deeper.
“Ripper,” she tasted the name, rolling it across her tongue as she rose and fell on him. Leaning forward until her lips were a hairsbreadth from his, “Don’t ever keep me waiting again.”
“There’s much to be said for anticipation,” he said, gripping her hips and guiding her movements.
“You,” she nipped at his lower lip, “will never,” nip, “keep me waiting,” suckle and release, “ever again. Understood?”
Rupert grinned mischievously. “And what would you do, were I to disobey?”
She rose up, overcoming his efforts to hold her down, until just the head of his cock was still buried in her. Joyce smirked triumphantly. “Deny you that which you desire above food itself.”
Shrugging nonchalantly, “There are other means of satisfaction.”
“Oh? At present, I doubt Spike would be willing to oblige. There’s always yourself. But really, Rupert, is that how you want to spend eternity?” she said archly, teasing him mercilessly by keeping the contact between them as minimal as possible.
Again he tried to pull her back down, but she denied him. She might not have had such luck were he not newly risen. One of Drusilla’s many lessons: shape them when they’re weak and they will be yours even when they have the power to overcome you. Set the ground rules early and make them clear. There would be less trouble later on.
Joyce dropped her voice, keeping it seductive but underlain by a hint of steel, “You only have power over me when I say you have power over me.”
His eyes flashed dangerously.
“Save yourself a world of hurt, mate, and agree with the lady,” Spike called out groggily from the floor.
She had forgotten that they weren’t alone, having assumed Spike was out for the count.
“Now, now, Spike, it’s not your place to interfere,” Drusilla’s voice came from the entrance to the lower chamber. Joyce looked around to see her sire surveying the scene before her with a pleased smile about her lips. “Lovers’ quarrels are for the lovers’ alone to solve.”
“Just givin’ a bit of friendly advice. Rupes doesn’t mind, do you?”
Rupert’s only reply was to take advantage of Joyce’s surprise, overcoming her hold, and fully sheathing himself in her eager, wet channel once more. One hand came up and turned her head, holding her chin so she could look at him and only him.
“I always did like an audience,” he growled, claiming her mouth once more.
And she forgot about Drusilla and Spike looking on. All that mattered was sensation and Rupert inside and around her.
A sharp tooth cut against her lip and Rupert suckled hungrily at the scratch. Joyce pulled back to see golden eyes peering at her beneath a ridged brow. He was even more handsome in this form than his human face. Her own demon came forward in response.
“Take what you want, Ripper,” she commanded.
He obeyed immediately. Bending forward and lapping once at the side of her neck before biting down near where the cut he had made the night before had already healed over.
Her climax overtook her almost at once. There was something about the double points of connection and penetration that sent her over the edge every single time.
Rupert came soon after, his eager drinking slacking off as his orgasm faded away.
Joyce collapsed limp and content against him.
“My bright girl has found her shadow at last,” Drusilla cooed happily in the distance.
Soon Joyce would appreciate the full meaning of her sire’s words. But right now she felt very much not alone for the first time in a long while. And at the moment that was all she cared about.
Chapter 10: Chapter Ten
“They never learn,” Rupert mumbled against her neck.
Joyce felt his head lift away and looked up to see him looking searchingly in every direction, almost as if trying to see beyond the stone walls of the crypt.
“Unwary children trying to prove to the night that they aren’t afraid,” Drusilla giggled, rising from where she sat cradling Spike’s head. “Easy pickings for one so very hungry. And you are hungry, aren’t you, dear Rupert?”
“Hungry,” he agreed.
Sighing, Joyce reluctantly detangled herself from Rupert’s lap. It was the last thing she wanted to do at the moment, but she had the feeling she might get pushed off if she didn’t get up soon. Plus she was more than a little hungry herself.
Rupert did up his pants and stood. “Shall we, ladies?” he held out a hand to her and a hand to Drusilla.
“One big happy family,” Drusilla took his hand with a note of delight in her voice. “Always much more fun to hunt together.”
“And what am I? Bloody nobody here?” Spike grumbled as he brushed himself off. “Don’t think you can just waltz in here, Watcher, and take charge. Not your bloody band of Scoobies to be bossed around here. Not that they listened to you much, ever.”
Anger flared briefly in Rupert’s eyes, then settled. He flashed Spike a cold smile. “Just had your best interest in mind, Spike. Because from what I’ve seen, those shocks that chip sends shooting through your brain look a trifle agonizing.”
“Don’t worry, Spike, we’ll bring you back a treat,” Drusilla placated.
Spike’s eyes narrowed briefly then he focused on Joyce, a look of faint pleading on his face. It wasn’t being excluded from the hunt that he was upset about. It was Drusilla and her love of power that worried him. There was no chip holding Rupert in check. And the fact that Rupert, newly risen, had easily subdued Spike in their scuffle didn’t help matters either.
Joyce glanced at Drusilla’s hand cradled carefully in Rupert’s. Her eyes traveled up the seemingly delicate arm and to the face of its owner staring appraisingly at Rupert. Drusilla, it seemed, was very proud of the new addition to their family, if the pleased uptilt of her lips was any indication. Joyce felt a brief twinge of jealousy when she saw the gentle smile now toying about Rupert’s lips. But then it was gone, mostly. She felt confident after their encounter that Rupert was completely hers regardless of what may take place between he and other people. But she didn’t have to like the attention her sire paid him.
“We won’t be gone long,” she told Spike apologetically as she took Rupert’s waiting hand.
“Bloody fine! You lot go off and have your fun,” he threw up his hands in disgust, storming off to disappear down the ladder to the room below.
“He’ll get over it,” Drusilla said confidently. “And the leash will slip away one day.”
And then Rupert was pulling them after him and out the crypt door. Dropping their hands, he scented the air, then took off to the north.
Drusilla held Joyce back as she made to follow. “Best give him his distance right now. He needs to find his way, but we’ll keep a close eye.”
She started walking at a casual pace when Rupert was out of sight, keeping a firm grip on Joyce’s arm to make sure she didn’t run off.
Joyce could feel him up ahead, seeking his prey with eager excitement, craving the kill. Why wasn’t it like that for her? There was no joy in the hunt for her, just survival.
“He’s carried that darkness with him for many years, my Joyce. You’ve only begun to taste the pleasures of this world, while he was acquainted with them when your only concern was a date for the prom,” her sire answered her unspoken thought.
“He was made for this,” Joyce realized.
“No, dear girl, he chose this, long ago.”
She wanted to ask what Drusilla meant when a shriek tore apart the quiet night around them.
“Stop. Please! What are you doing?” the shrill plea reached their ears as they neared a clearing.
Before them was a tragic tableau, for the victims at least. A young girl looked on helplessly as Rupert drained her weakly struggling boyfriend before her very eyes. The girl, it seemed, didn’t have the common sense to run away, maybe try to find help, but at the very least to save herself. Instead she remained, pleading with their attacker.
“I have money. You can have all of it, just let him go!”
The boyfriend fell to the ground with a dull thud.
“It’s not money I’m after, child,” Ripper smiled, the drops of blood next to his lips shining blackly in the dim light from the nearby street lamps.
God, but he was striking. Casually at ease while he watched his next victim try to bargain her way out of her fate. If the girl was too stupid to make a run for it, she deserved what she got.
“Please. I-I promise not to tell what you did,” she said, taking a hesitant step backward.
Rupert kept the distance even, advancing a step. The girl backed up again, and he matched her. Then he advanced further, casually, closing the distance by small degrees.
He was a natural at this. Cool and collected even though his prey’s heart must be driving him wild, pounding in his ears, calling to him, to the hunger that was never quite satisfied.
“Ah ah ah,” Drusilla chastised her in a soft whisper, reestablishing the firm grip she had on Joyce’s arm. “You don’t want to spoil his moment.”
Reluctantly, Joyce remained where she was. But the girl’s fear was making her crazy, stirring the hunger she hadn’t realized was there, and something else. Anticipation, maybe?
The girl became aware of their presence, eyes settled on Drusilla and Joyce, a look of relief washing across her face.
Drusilla shattered her hopes. “We only came for the show, little girl.”
Taking advantage of her distraction, Rupert pulled the girl to him, facing her away from him so they could both see Drusilla and Joyce.
“We’ve got us an audience, darling,” he brushed aside her hair and spoke seductively against her ear. “They came for a show, and we can’t disappoint them, can we?”
The girl visibly trembled as one of Rupert’s hands slid down from her shoulder and skated lightly over her breast.
“Oh, god,” Joyce gasped as the hand continued lower and Rupert ran his tongue up the side of the girl’s neck, her eyes now wide with fear. She felt no pity for the girl. Actually, Joyce despised the simpering creature. No, all she felt was hunger and desire. Desire to have the girl for herself. But mostly desire to be that girl.
“Will you scream for me?” he asked, tracing the bare skin of her stomach, golden eyes watching Joyce with knowing amusement.
“P-please stop,” the girl whimpered.
“If that is what you really want,” he removed his hand.
The girl almost had time to sigh in relief before Rupert sank his teeth in the pale, tender flesh of her neck.
She did scream then. But it was a strangled cry for help that quickly fell silent. A few short minutes later she joined her boyfriend in a cold, motionless heap on the grass.
“I really hope it isn’t always that easy. The boy didn’t even hardly struggle,” Rupert complained as his human features reemerged. “Very unsatisfying.”
“This one likes to fight,” Drusilla observed happily to no one in particular. “It’s ever so much better when you have to earn your supper. The best are the ones who keep struggling until the very last.”
Again Joyce felt the jealousy from earlier flare, only heightened by the arousal she now felt after the scene she had witnessed. Somehow she found herself on the outside of things once again. The less her victims struggled, the better. She liked to feed quickly and move on. Because again she found no joy in it, except for tonight in watching Rupert’s hunt. Drusilla did. And Rupert did as well.
“You’re upset, Joyce. What’s the matter?” Rupert approached her, seemingly genuine concern in his voice.
“Nothing, I—” she faltered and realized she had no reason to lie. “There’s something wrong with me.”
The worry was now in Rupert’s eyes as well. “Joyce . . .”
“How can you do that? Kill them and enjoy it?” her voice was strained. “I don’t regret my victims. I don’t feel sorry for them. But killing them doesn’t make me happy. Why doesn’t it make me happy?”
Rupert took up her hands, holding them with gentle firmness. “Because you never tasted the dark when you were alive.”
“For Christ’s sake, I wasn’t a fucking saint!”
“I’m not saying you were, Joyce. But you were a genuinely good person in life. A loving mother and caring friend. You had your transgressions like anyone else, but, besides your ex-husband, is there anyone you ever wished harm upon or intentionally hurt?” he looked at her fixedly.
“Joyce,” he cut her off. “There are things that I did in my youth that you have no idea of. You’ve seen hints of who I used to be, but you don’t know.”
“I want to know! I don’t like being an outsider here, Rupert. I want to understand,” she said in frustration. “I need to understand.”
Drusilla was behind her, cradling her close. “Sweet Joyce, I’ve been a terrible mummy to you, haven’t I?”
“It’s not you, Drusilla,” she protested.
“I’m your sire, aren’t I? Supposed to teach you the ways of this world. But I get so distracted,” her sire sighed regretfully. “My Spike has tried to help, but his way was difficult as well. And the wires keep tripping him up.”
Joyce relaxed into the embrace as Drusilla began to sway softly.
“But things will soon be right,” she continued. “You didn’t simply choose this man to be your mate.”
Reaching up, Joyce gently caught the blood at the corner of Rupert’s mouth with her fingertip.
“What did I choose him for?” she inquired, studying the blood with fascination.
“He’s to be your guide, my Joyce,” Drusilla replied. “And you his. Together you will find your way, find your place in this world.”
Joyce licked the blood from her finger, taking pleasure in Rupert’s smile.
“You’ll be legendary,” her sire whispered.
Right now, Joyce was just content to feel like she was a part of this again, pressed close between her sire and her chosen mate.
Chapter 11: Chapter Eleven
She could feel them watching her. It was very nerve-wracking.
Joyce had been hunting alone since her fourth time out. She felt more comfortable on her own, without Drusilla and her frequent lapses into fancy to distract from the task at hand. And she’d always feared reproof from her sire on the matter, knowing deep down her hunting skills were lacking.
But now here she was, with not only Drusilla but Rupert as well, keeping a close eye on what she was doing. Actually, nerve-wracking was an understatement.
Her prey of choice was the strays. The lonely fools who struck out into the night by themselves because they had no other choice, or because they just didn’t care. They were easy to track, easy to pick off, and so often they were easy to subdue. It came down to the fact that Joyce lacked the confidence in her skills as a hunter. She knew there was more to it, but she had grown comfortable with her system. Quick, efficient, and, although not entirely satisfying, she walked away full and unscathed.
But tonight, watching Rupert, she’d finally glimpsed what she had been missing and was able to pinpoint why her hunts weren’t satisfying. She wanted to change things, had asked for their help. However, this current venture wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind.
Once a Watcher, always a Watcher, it seemed.
“Why don’t you show us how you hunt?” Rupert had proposed.
“Show you how I hunt?” she questioned, not liking where it was leading.
“Drusilla and I will keep a respectable distance while you go about things as you normally would,” he stated casually. “It will give us the opportunity to help you develop anything that may require improvement.”
Criticism. Something Joyce wasn’t fond of in the best of situations. That she would be criticized by sire and mate only made matters worse.
Adding to her frustration and making matters worse, her favorite hunting spot was not panning out tonight. Not one straggler came out the doors of Sunnydale’s singles hotspot. Tonight, it appeared, was the night that no one was going home alone. Or maybe it was the two pairs of watchful eyes distracting her.
“Just pretend they’re not there,” she mumbled to herself. Easier said than done when she was always aware of them, as well as the others she shared blood ties with. She had never found it so irritating before.
She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she almost missed the opportunity that finally presented itself.
A young woman, late-twenties, broke off from a small group gathered at the door. From the quick pace and tilt of the woman’s head, Joyce could tell the girl was upset over something. The easiest prey of all. With any luck, this would be over quickly. She could feed, get her lecture, and go home.
Joyce followed her soon-to-be victim for a couple blocks before striking. This consisted of jogging ahead and doubling back to collide full on with her prey.
“Oh god, I’m so sorry,” the woman apologized sincerely, sniffling back her tears.
“No, it’s my fault,” Joyce laid a steadying hand on her arm. “Is everything alright?”
The woman gave a beleaguered sigh before launching into her tale of woe.
This is where her years of customer service came in handy, managing to appear interested and sympathetic while not really listening. Instead she watched for her moment.
“I feel like such a fool,” the woman wiped her eyes. “Especially, pouring all of this out on you when I nearly ran you down.”
Joyce shrugged. “Sometimes you just need a friendly ear. And trust me, it’ll all work out.”
“You think?” there was hope in the girl’s eyes.
“I know,” Joyce smiled.
When the woman gave her a grateful hug, Joyce seized her moment. She let the demon come forward as the woman embraced her, clamping a tight hand over her victim’s mouth as she bit down. Aside from a muffled protest, it was over with little fuss. Fed, Joyce deposited the lifeless body in a dark doorway and headed off.
Her companions rejoined her shortly after. She had little hope that this portion of the evening would go as quickly as the last.
“Very cunning, listening so sympathetically to that poor girl,” Drusilla complimented. “Such a natural.”
“Nineteen years of being a mother, it would be sad if I couldn’t do that,” Joyce shrugged.
“And here you say you don’t know what you’re doing,” her sire’s arm came up around her shoulders.
Sighing, “Oh, I know what I’m doing. I just don’t . . . It doesn’t make me happy.”
“But it doesn’t make you sad either,” Drusilla pointed out.
Rupert, who had been quiet so far, finally spoke. “You can honestly tell me you did not enjoy any of that?”
He had stopped walking and jerked her back and around so she was facing him. Drusilla’s arm fell away.
“What is it that you’re looking for, Joyce?” he looked at her penetratingly, his voice taking on a seductive edge. “A quicker, easier kill? You seem to have that mastered. You’re efficient and your technique poses little threat to your well-being.”
“Efficient,” Joyce laughed bitterly, gazing past him. “I suppose I should take comfort in the fact that my technique is so good.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“It’s boring, Rupert,” she admitted finally, disgusted with herself. It wasn’t that she didn’t enjoy her hunts or feeding. She found it all incredibly boring. Maybe because she did it so well.
“Change your habits. Look for more engaging prey,” he replied as if it were the most obvious solution. Which it was. And not one she hadn’t considered; she wasn’t an idiot after all.
“But I’m not a fighter,” she protested.
“I didn’t say you needed to go out looking for a brawl.”
“She’s quite the fighter when she lets go,” Drusilla interjected. “Even Spike is challenged.”
“Spike is challenged alright,” Rupert commented wryly.
“Bite your tongue,” Drusilla grinned. “You boys are family now, you should play nice.”
“Somehow I doubt he and Angelus ever got along,” he countered.
“They played nice, occasionally. Such lovely nights those were,” she said wistfully. Then she looked at Joyce, “But we’re getting distracted here. Joyce has a problem that we must fix. Other matters can wait.”
Joyce hadn’t minded the distraction at all. More than anything she was wishing she had kept her mouth shut. Everyone was different, including vampires. It wasn’t like she needed to enjoy killing to be happy. There were other things to this life.
“You’re afraid to fight, but you long for it as well,” Drusilla interrupted her thoughts. “Blood only goes so far to quieting that voice inside you now. It likes to play as well. And it likes to play rough. And until you give it what it wants, you’ll be restless and unsatisfied.”
There had been had been a constant edginess hanging about her the last few weeks that wasn’t altogether caused by her plans to turn Rupert, though she had tried to convince herself that it was. Truth be told, the success of turning Rupert had been less satisfying that she thought it would be. She wasn’t disappointed but she had expected to feel more than she did with it. A sense of completion, that everything would now be okay. That she wouldn’t still have the feeling of not quite belonging. Turning him was supposed to make her feel more a part of this life. Instead, she was feeling more and more distant.
“I’m not a fighter,” she repeated.
“But you want to be,” Drusilla said knowingly. “And we’re going to help you, aren’t we, Rupert?”
“Certainly,” Rupert agreed, lost in consideration. Then his eyes brightened. “And I know of just the place.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Joyce asked as they approached the quad of the UC Sunnydale campus.
“You’ve been playing things too safe, Joyce,” Rupert replied while idly scanning the presently deserted courtyard.
“No, I just know better than to hunt around here.”
“Because you’re afraid you’ll run into Buffy again?” he said knowingly.
“The Initiative,” she ignored him. “It’s rumored they have close ties to the campus.”
“Not rumored, fact. Your daughter’s most charming psychology professor heads up the organization,” he informed her, his tone heavy with sarcasm. “Might have to pay her another visit one of these days.”
“Don’t like it here,” Drusilla whined, drawing close. “Too many eyes watching, contemplating and carrying out the most unnatural thoughts.”
Joyce gave Rupert smug look. She wasn’t the only one made uneasy by the place.
“The Initiative takes pride in its covertness. The quad is far too public for them,” he sighed in exasperation. Turning to Drusilla, “Really, my dear, I’m quite disappointed in you.”
“Machines with their clicking interlocking bits. All smooth surfaces and cutting angles, sparking wires and sterile bits,” she shivered, looking every bit the lost little girl confronted with horrors beyond her imaginings. “So cold and dead. No mind of their own.”
Rupert’s voice softened. “Never cared much for technology myself. But we won’t be here long enough for them to notice.”
Drusilla seemed somewhat mollified, but had moved, much to Joyce’s annoyance, so she now clung close to Rupert’s side. “But long enough for our girl to find what she needs?” she queried.
“Without a doubt,” he said gazing fixedly across the courtyard.
Joyce followed his gaze and saw that the area had a new occupant. A young man strolled purposefully over the lawn. His pace wasn’t hurried, but he wasn’t taking his time either. Tall and broadly built, it looked like he could handle himself if he were to encounter trouble.
“And opportunity presents itself,” Rupert stated, sounding very pleased with himself. With a wicked, but satisfied glint in his eye, he looked at her, “Joyce, I believe it’s time you went and made the acquaintance of your daughter’s boyfriend.”
She blinked at him in shock.
“Yes, I believe Master Finn will provide you with the excitement you’ve been craving. Enterprising grad student by day, covert government soldier by night,” he grinned broadly. “Riley’s a noble lad, that should work to your advantage.”
He pushed her forward with such force, that she didn’t regain her balance until she was well out into the courtyard. She righted herself, furious at Rupert’s sudden presumptuousness at taking control of this situation. She would have to deal with that later, however, since the young man seemed to have heard the noise she made and turned in her direction.
He jogged quickly to her side. “Ma’am, this is no place to wander around alone at night.”
Thinking quickly, she affected a sheepish tone, “I know it’s foolish of me, but this is the quickest way to my car. I never intended to be here this late. I lost track of time while visiting with my daughter.”
He smiled sympathetically. “Completely understandable. But you should still be careful.”
“It really is a lot darker out than I thought,” she hugged herself close. “I knew I should have parked closer.”
“I can walk you to your car if you like,” he offered. It was amusing seeing him trying to affect the least threatening position possible.
“It wouldn’t be too much trouble? I hate to interrupt your evening.”
“No problem at all, ma’am. I wasn’t too eager to getting back to studying right yet.”
“So, I’m just an excuse then?” she teased.
“Not just an excuse,” he bowed his head with a faint blush. Well-mannered and bashful? Joyce didn’t think boys like this still existed.
“Regardless, I appreciate the gesture, Mr. . . .”
“Riley,” she smiled at him. “And please call me, Joyce. Ma’am makes me feel old.”
“You’re hardly old, ma—Joyce,” he replied. Then an odd look crossed his face, one of half-recognition. “Do I know you?”
The game was up so soon? Oh well, no great loss. “No, we’ve actually never met. But I do believe you know my daughter, Buffy Summers?”
The shocked look was almost comical, complete with dropped jaw. He took a step back. “M-Mrs. Summers? But you’re—”
“Dead? Technically, I suppose.”
“But you’re n-not dead. You’re—she never mentioned you had been turned,” Riley said, looking completely betrayed.
“She probably wasn’t certain how you would react,” Joyce said flatly, slowly beginning to circle around her prey.
He fumbled over his pockets, but couldn’t seem to find what he was looking for.
“It looks like I caught you unawares. I don’t think that speaks to well of the military training these days, do you?” she inquired.
“Ma’am,” he held out a hand. “Mrs. Summers, I don’t want to have to hurt you. Buffy must have a good reason for letting you still run free. And I want to respect her choice.”
She dropped her voice, “But, Riley, I want you to hurt me.”
He froze in place, eyes wide. Joyce took advantage of his surprise and placed a well-aimed kick to his mid-section, doubling him over but not incapacitating him as she might have were she to have hit him slightly lower.
Riley looked up at her with wounded eyes. The poor boy never thought he’d have to fight and try to kill the mother of his girlfriend. But the boy was quickly replaced by the soldier as he lunged.
Fortunately, she had anticipated this move and eluded his grasp, watching him trip gracelessly over the ground. He was quick to recover, and threw a punch that landed squarely against her jaw.
The contact was a complete shock to Joyce, a violation almost. But a part of her welcomed it, was awakened by it. She laughed, wiping at where she had bit her lip. “You don’t care for hitting women, do you?”
“It’s not right,” he said squaring his shoulders, and getting ready to strike again. “But you’re not a woman now, you’re a monster.”
She let the demon come forward. “Does this help?”
“Yes!” he lashed out again, but she deflected the blow and caught him off-guard with one of her own.
Joyce was pleased with how well she managed against the boy, though she wasn’t happy about the number of hits he managed to land. She wasn’t used to getting hit that much. Spike had been holding back too much; they would need to talk about that.
Riley caught her foot in mid-air and flung her to the ground. Stunned, she lay staring up at the night sky until he came into her line of sight, holding a sizeable stick in his right fist.
“I hope Buffy will forgive me for this,” he said cocking his arm back.
In that moment, Joyce realized finally how tenuous this existence was. The boy was really going to stake her. And he almost succeeded before she managed to snap out of her daze and grab his wrist mere inches from her chest.
“I don’t think I’m ready for that, thank you,” she said, twisting his wrist until she heard the bones snap as he gave a strangled scream.
Taking advantage of the overwhelming pain he must be feeling, she shoved him off of her and then rolled over him to pin him to the ground.
His face was pale and his heart thudded in helpless anxiety. And in his eyes she saw that he knew.
“Rest assured, Riley Finn, you’re a good man. And I believe my daughter was lucky to know you,” she kissed his cheek lightly. “I think I would have liked you if things were a little different.”
“Please,” he said weakly. “Don’t turn me.”
“Oh, I never intended to do that,” she said matter-of-factly as she bent to his neck. Scenting the sweat and fear, “But I can make you happy one last time.” She felt his body tense as her hand crept down and grazed over the slightly hard bulge in his jeans. “But only if you ask nicely.”
His hips arched up into her touch.
“N-no,” he pleaded, seeming to struggle to control his erratic breathing. But there was nothing he could do to keep his heartbeat in check or disguise the shift in scent that came with growing arousal.
“I’m not sure who to believe here, Riley,” she pouted, pressing her palm more firmly against his growing erection. “You or your body?”
“Mrs. Summers, please, if you have any decency left in you . . .” he said resolutely.
“You really are the noble boy, right up to the end,” she sighed with reluctance. She could press the issue, but he really didn’t interest much in that respect. With nothing left, she bit into his neck full force.
Hot blood rushed over her tongue, flooding her mouth and coursing down her throat. God, but it was good. There was the sharp, almost bitter tang of fear she had come to recognize and the sweet flavor of youth and arousal. Rich and coppery, it was among the best she had tasted. But there was something else in it, something that woke up her senses even more, made her more aware, made her suck more greedily at the wound she’d created.
It wasn’t until strong arms pulled her off of the cooling body beneath her that Joyce realized Riley’s heart had long since stopped. But there was more to be had, a few more drops clinging stubbornly inside, begging to be taken.
“There’s no more, Joyce,” Rupert’s voice was rough in her ear. “You’ve drained the boy dry.”
“No,” she whimpered, turning and trying to struggle free from his hold, “that can’t be all!”
“Joyce!” he shouted, shaking her. “There is no more!”
Joyce felt her control return and pushed the demon down.
Finally, he stopped. “Joyce?” he asked uncertainly.
“I’m okay, Rupert,” she said calmly, and felt his grip loosen. Taking a step back, she slapped him as hard as she could. Her frustration from earlier had become a cold anger. “Don’t you ever do that to me again!”
He looked hurt, but she didn’t care at the moment.
“You have no right to do that, do you understand?” she narrowed her eyes at him. “I will stop when I choose to stop.”
“He had been dead for nearly five minutes,” Rupert said quietly, not looking away.
“You will not interrupt me like that again, Rupert,” she said firmly, ignoring the slight bit of unease his words provoked.
He dropped his head, but said nothing.
“Good,” she stretched, feeling the blood flooding her system, tingling and awaking sleeping flesh. Never before had she felt like this after a kill. It was positively exhilarating. And she wanted more.
She noticed Drusilla for the first time, standing off to the side, watching her intently.
Joyce walked purposefully toward her sire. Pausing long enough to wrap her hand firmly around the base of Drusilla’s skull, Joyce pulled the other woman to her for a brutal, dominating kiss. Drusilla’s mouth yielded at once to Joyce’s intruding tongue, sweeping in, claiming, taking every bit she could.
Her fingers tangled in Drusilla’s hair, tightening her grip so she could deepen the kiss, opening Drusilla up to her explorations further. Joyce felt her sire whimper with pleasure as she pressed close, rubbing just so, the layers of clothing creating a delicious friction over her tightening nipples.
Joyce broke away from the kiss, nibbling along her sire’s jaw line until she reached the woman’s delicate ear.
“Is this how I am supposed to feel?” Joyce whispered, her lips dancing over the sensitive shell.
“How do you feel?” Drusilla asked back, fingers digging in to Joyce’s waist, holding her there.
“Pretty boy carried an extra special treat with him,” her sire informed her, with a low throaty chuckle. “Heady cocktail meant to make a growing boy stronger. And it gives the growing girl just what she’s been craving.”
Drugs. Of course, that was the little extra she’d tasted. The right chemicals mixed together to make a good soldier even better. Joyce closed her eyes and savored the sensations running through her. So this is what it felt like to want to kill, to enjoy the kill. Yes, she had to say she liked it very much.
She pulled back to look into Drusilla’s every watchful dark eyes. “I think I’m ready to go home.”
“Games for all?” Drusilla looked hopeful.
Joyce glanced over her shoulder to see Rupert studying them with hunger naked on his face. “Only if everyone behaves.”
Chapter 12: Chapter Tweleve
The journey back to the crypt was not quick enough for Joyce’s tastes. But at the moment, anything that wasn’t instantaneous wasn’t quick enough. While she would have been very happy to continue her domination of Drusilla in the middle of the quad, reason briefly prevailed. It was best not to linger on the campus too long with the Initiative and Buffy, for that matter, close at hand. Neither would take the loss of Riley Finn too well.
“See what you’ve been missing,” Drusilla purred as Joyce pressed her back against the crypt door.
“I don’t know how I’ll ever begin to thank you,” Joyce nipped playfully at Drusilla’s ear, then spared a glance back at Rupert, who was remaining quite calm despite the fact that she was trying to provoke him. He was the one she should be thanking, the one she wanted to be thanking, but she was still upset at his earlier interference. She didn’t need Rupert to keep her in check, especially when he was the one so new to this life. And there was also the matter of how readily he took to Drusilla. There was a compassion there Joyce hadn’t expected. So for the moment, she was ignoring him out of punishment. Though it seemed to be having little effect.
Joyce’s thoughts were interrupted as the door opened inward, causing both her and Drusilla to stumble against Spike’s solid, waiting form.
He caught them effectively and considered them. “Seems you ladies have been out having a bit of fun this evening. Was wondering if you were going to decide to come in before sunrise or not.”
Spike did not like being left behind. If Joyce weren’t already aware of that, the heavy edge of annoyance in his voice made it quite apparent.
Drusilla pouted, gazing up at him. “There’s no reason to be cross. Especially when Mummy’s brought you the treat she promised.”
His eyes flicked briefly to Rupert seemingly waiting patiently outside. “I really hope you don’t mean the Watcher because he’s never been much of a treat to begin with.”
“Silly boy, can’t you see what’s in front of you,” she chastised, caressing Joyce’s face. “Our darling girl is positively glowing and you only have eyes for Rupert.”
“I do not have bloody eyes for—”
“Shush, Spike, or I won’t give you your treat after all,” she silenced him. Grabbing Joyce’s wrist in a firm grip, she ran a sharp nail across the pale skin, leaving a dark crimson line in its wake. “Now be a good boy and have a taste.”
Spike looked to Joyce as if asking for permission. She shrugged. Anything to get things moving along again. She was getting more than just a little bit restless standing there.
He bent his head, tongue darting out to catch the blood that had collected there. He considered it for a moment then cool lips pressed firmly against the slit and began to suckle. There was something reverent in the act, with his head bent over her wrist like it was. Worshipful almost. It wasn’t a feeling she was used to being on the receiving end of. She didn’t mind it.
When his motions became too eager, Joyce shoved him away. “That’s enough,” she said, harshly, holding her wrist close to her body, the cut already closing. “She said a taste.”
Spike’s eyes flashed golden. “Seems I’m not the only one to have a taste of something tonight love,” he licked his lips. “You seemed to have found yourself a meal with a bit of a kick tonight. Who was tonight’s lucky snack?”
“Just an unwary UC Sunnydale student, out too late for his own good,” she said idly.
“Seems the bloke was doing more than that,” he grinned. “This nummy treat of yours have a name, or don’t you trouble yourself with finding out?”
“Oh, this one had a name. Actually, I believe the two of you were acquainted. Now let me think,” she considered. “His name reminded me of a fish. Um . . . Was it Finn maybe?”
“Cornbread?” he snorted. “Nice little game you lot are playing here. Somehow I doubt that you subdued the mighty Agent Finn.”
Joyce forced herself to relax her defensive position. She hadn’t expected this level of doubt from Spike. It hurt. Keeping her voice even, “If you want proof, I would think his body is still lying in the middle of the quad where I left it.”
His eyes widened in shock, then he looked to Rupert for confirmation. “She telling the truth here?”
“Had to drag her off the body myself,” Rupert confirmed, finally coming inside. “Noble right to the very end, even denied her offer of making the end a bit more pleasurable.”
Spike laughed. “Oh, Christ, this is a good one. Almost believed you for a second there. Think you went a bit too far saying Joyce here was going to give him a good lay on top of it all.”
Drusilla held out her left hand, unveiling silver dog tags. “Trust me, my Spike, I didn’t just find these lying carelessly about. He was a good solider after all.”
Finally, it seemed to sink in, and he looked Joyce straight on. “You’re meaning to tell me that’s Soldier Boy’s blood you got there?”
Joyce smiled slowly.
“The suitor of your daughter and pride and joy of the crazed military group that inhabits our fair town?”
Spike reached out and pulled her to him. Baring his teeth, he grinned ferally. “You cheeky woman, I never thought you had it in you!” And with that he crushed her in a bruising kiss.
Joyce responded the only way she could. She kissed him back full-force, finally getting the contact she had been denied since this conversation began. At the moment, she didn’t care who she was with, she just needed to feel another body pressed against hers. Moving, grinding, then yielding as she took control.
“Take it easy, love,” Spike pulled back with a chuckle.
“Not in the mood for easy,” she growled, tearing his shirt open, reveling in the feel of smooth, cool flesh under her fingertips. Her fingers curled, digging the nails in. “It’s driving me crazy, this feeling, this need to do something. Anything. Maybe I’m drunk on it. And I know I can’t control it. I need an outlet, Spike,” she gripped the top of his jeans, sliding her fingers over the waistband to tease against his skin as she held him to her.
“Never let it be said I denied a lady what she desired.” He hoisted her up onto the nearby sarcophagus and stepped between her outspread legs.
Things weren’t happening fast enough, Joyce thought, as she fumbled with the fastening on Spike’s jeans.
“Focus, Joyce,” Drusilla’s soothing voice came from behind, her graceful frame wrapping around Joyce and her hands coming to rest upon Joyce’s, stilling their frantic motions. “It wants to control you, but you mustn’t let it. You are the master here, Joyce. Take your time and it will obey you.”
Closing her eyes, Joyce took a deep breath, trying to center herself and not listen to the voice screaming, “Now! Now! Now!”
When she opened them again, she focused in on Rupert, who was reclined against the wall and watching the tableau play out before him. She couldn’t believe he was just standing there, biding his time, it seemed. Aside from the slight clenching of his jaw, he gave no reaction or indication of his feelings. That more than anything helped Joyce reign herself in. She was in control again, and she was going to use that control to break Rupert.
She cocked her head to the side and gave Spike a slow, teasing smile. “What are you waiting for?”
“I was hoping for something along the lines of ‘Please, Spike, fuck me now,’” he smirked.
“I’m not asking,” she stated flatly, finally freeing his cock.
Drusilla’s hands skimmed up her arms as Joyce guided Spike to her entrance. Skirts really were quite practical, when you thought about it. As was not wearing underwear, courtesy of Rupert’s earlier exuberance.
Spike slid inside with accustomed ease.
“Go hard and fast,” she commanded, leaning back against Drusilla as Spike pulled back and thrust back in, creating delicious friction as the head of his cock brushed along the inner wall of her channel. And behind her, Drusilla’s soft planes held Joyce in place to meet Spike’s thrust. There was something about a third body providing support that was unlike anything a pillow or a wall or a bed could give.
“Your wish,” he replied, nipping playfully at her lips as he set a feverish pace.
He felt good. Spike always felt good. But it wasn’t enough, Joyce needed more. Something to focus the sensations she was feeling. There were too many coming from too many directions.
It wasn’t until one of Drusilla’s idle hands wandered down between Joyce and Spike, stroking methodically at Joyce’s clit, that Joyce felt her body begin to respond in any degree.
“Harder,” Joyce whispered to Drusilla.
“Only if I get something in return,” her sire licked lightly along Joyce’s neck. Shivers of pleasure raced across her skin down toward where she and Spike and Drusilla were joined. “Will only take a little bit.”
“Take,” she breathed. And Drusilla did take, sharp fangs piercing the scarred flesh she had marked as her redoubled ministrations nearly pushed Joyce over the edge.
Spike came then, his completion bringing Joyce none of her own. Only when she lifted her eyes to seek out Rupert’s once more did she find her own release. He was planning something, but she had little opportunity to contemplate as orgasm rushed over her.
“Lovely boy,” Drusilla purred, lapping at the wound. “Such a shame there was only one of him to go around.”
The edge had somewhat abated for the time being, and Joyce rested comfortably between Drusilla and Spike. Comfortable until Drusilla was wrenched away from her back and into Rupert’s arms.
“No more waiting for you,” Drusilla squealed delightedly as Rupert spun and pressed her back against the wall.
“Why should they have all the fun?” Rupert inquired, tongue darting out to catch the tiny trail of blood that had escaped the corner of Drusilla’s mouth.
Drusilla’s fingers combed gently through his hair. “She’s only trying to teach you a lesson.”
There was something about the two of them together that Joyce did not like.
“They always did have an odd bit of chemistry,” Spike commented as he joined Joyce on the sarcophagus. He eased her onto his lap and wrapped his arms loosely around her.
Joyce ignored all but Spike’s words, watching narrowly as Drusilla lifted Rupert’s sweater off and away.
“We really must find you better clothes. These don’t suit you at all,” she tsked.
“At least it isn’t tweed.”
Further words were lost in a tangle of lips and limbs. Drusilla’s nails dragged down Rupert’s back, red wheals in sharp relief against the pale skin. And he devoured her mouth as if it were some wonderful thing he had never tasted before and now couldn’t get enough of.
“What do you mean ‘odd bit of chemistry’?” Joyce asked Spike in an attempt at conversation and to keep herself from rushing over and tearing them away from one another.
“Just back when Angelus was all hot to figure out Acathla. We decided to use Dru to tap into the Watcher’s knowledge base. Pretended she was that teacher he was dating back then,” he nuzzled against Joyce’s neck, hands exploring her body with no particular intent. Spike really was quite affectionate when one got down to it. “Did a good job of convincing us all. Always thought she enjoyed it a bit too much.”
“Rupert is a remarkable kisser,” she pointed out, hoping to get a rise out of him. The fact that he was able to sit here and watch his lover get ravished by another man was beyond her. But then, he’d had a century or so to get used to it. His smooth voice had taken on an edge, but nothing more. No indication that he was going to get up and pull them apart.
“Having not had the pleasure,” his face twisted in disgust, but his was tone light, “I don’t think I’m qualified to judge.”
Joyce became entranced by the upward movement of Drusilla’s dress. Inch by careful inch, Rupert lifted the material to expose shapely pale legs. It was a slow, seductive movement compared with the frenzy of mouths meeting above, a contradiction of intents.
“How far you gonna let that go before you stop it?” Spike broke the spell.
“Why don’t you?”
“’s not my game, Joyce. You started this, it’s up to you as to how it plays out.”
Yes, it was her game wasn’t it? Joyce jumped down from the sarcophagus and strode over; grabbing Rupert by his upper arms she wrenched him away from Drusilla.
He had the audacity to laugh. “Wondered how long it would take you.”
“Rupert was just being a gentleman,” Drusilla interjected.
“Was he?” Joyce eyed him critically. She gave him a moment and then landed a kick to his midsection that sent him tumbling backwards to land heavily on the ground. “You will remain there until I say otherwise.”
“Or what?” he tested, starting to rise.
Joyce went over and pushed him down, then stood astride him. She cut a gash along her wrist similar to the one Drusilla had given her earlier and pressed it to Rupert’s mouth. He drank with an initial reluctance which soon grew into greedy hunger as he finally got a real taste of the blood she carried within her that night. Then she pulled back. “If you want more, if you want me, you will remain where you are.”
With that, she turned away from him and went to Drusilla.
“Going to punish me too, Joyce?” Drusilla asked with a hopeful glint in her eye.
“What good is punishment if you enjoy it?” Joyce caressed her cheek with one hand as the other began to tug up the dress once more. “No, no punishment for you, sire.” Joyce dropped to her knees before her sire, hiking the hem of Drusilla’s dress up to rest around her waist. “Besides, you haven’t done anything wrong,” she said, breathing lightly over the patch of dark hairs that covered Drusilla’s sex. This was one of the few things she hadn’t yet done in her many nights and days of experimentation, but now was as good a time as any.
Pushing Drusilla’s legs apart just a bit more, Joyce ducked her head and dipped her tongue into unknown but completely familiar territory. Wet, soft, satiny slick flesh met her tongue as she ventured between the labia. Salty with a hint of sweetness. Joyce pressed on, seeking more, feeling Drusilla writhe above her with the probing. It was an inviting place to be, and she knew it so well. Her explorations became more eager as Drusilla’s mewls of pleasure reached her ears, growing louder and more broken until finally Joyce pushed her over the edge, rich flavors flooding her tastebuds.
She sat back on her haunches, letting Drusilla’s dress fall discretely down. Joyce smirked in pleasure to see the satisfied look on her sire’s face.
But she only enjoyed it for a split second before she was hauled unceremoniously to her feet. Rupert held her upper arms in a bruising, vise-like grip.
“Enough games, Joyce,” Rupert growled, his face mere inches from her own.
“You’re not in charge here, Rupert,” she replied calmly.
“As of this moment,” he sneered, “I am.”
And he tossed her against the wall. Turning her so her face was pressed against the stone, he twisted her right arm up behind her to hold her effectively in place. When she tried to twist free, Joyce found herself pressed further into the wall, the angle of her bent arm becoming more uncomfortable. She stilled, waiting to see how this would play out. Because at the present she really didn’t mind her current position. Rupert taking control by force, this was what she had been waiting for all night.
“New rules,” Ripper declared, rucking her skirt up over her ass. Kicking her feet apart, she barely registered his zipper being pulled down before she felt his cock probing her waiting pussy for entry. “I have my limits.”
He was inside, stretching, filling her fuller than Spike ever had hopes of doing.
She groaned in pleasure and then gave a sharp cry as her arm was wrenched higher.
“You do not get to push me around, Joyce,” he said, pounding into her with every other word. “You will respect me. And will obey me when the situation calls for it.”
In and out, every thrust driving the point home. He only took what he wanted to take and kept himself in check when it served his purposes. This was the man she had turned, the man she had been dreaming about for weeks.
“Ripper,” she sighed contentedly, reveling in his brutal fucking.
“That’s right,” he murmured against her neck. “Say it again.”
“Ripper,” she grinned as sharp teeth scraped her tender flesh.
“Ask me to do it.”
“Please, drink from me,” she responded. Then repeated, a more needy edge in her voice, “Drink from me, Ripper.”
He did. And when her orgasm ripped through her, Joyce knew no more.
Chapter 13: Chapter Thirteen
“Oh no, my dear,” Rupert’s thick, gravelly voice pulled Joyce back from the black oblivion of unconsciousness. “Sleep is a long way off for you.”
He was still inside, still hard. The tiny tremors of her abating orgasm only brought further attention to his continued presence. And the fact that he was waiting on her.
“Jo-yce, it’s time to wake up,” he crooned. She felt him withdraw almost completely before thrusting back in.
“Oh god!” she cried out, her voice cracking as her sensitized flesh relayed every feeling tenfold.
Rupert chuckled, “Just wanted to make sure you were still with the program. Now then, would you care to know what I have planned for you this evening?”
“Yes!” she gasped as his hips rocked shallowly against her.
“Good,” she could feel him smile against her bare neck, hovering just above the bite that was already starting to heal. The hand that had pinned her arm back earlier had released its grip and slipped around to her front, leisurely unhooking the buttons of her shirt as he spoke. “While I am certain Drusilla and, to some extent, Spike have broadened your sexual experience in these last few months, I believe your education has been lacking.”
Joyce highly doubted there had been a lack of anything in her education, as he called it. But she was always open to further instruction.
“How has it been lacking?” she inquired.
“You have yet to willingly submit to those who will dominate you.”
“Then I’d like to know what all those times I was bound to the bed were,” she said lightly.
“Did you ever once question that you couldn’t escape if you so chose?”
She considered this, almost losing herself in the distraction of his attention to her breasts. “No, I always knew I could break the bonds if I wanted to. I never did, though.”
“Exactly. And you always retained a modicum of control because of that,” he concluded.
“And you want me to give that up?”
“No. I am going to take it from you.”
With that, he withdrew from her completely, stepping away and leaving her alone against the cold stone wall. She leaned against the solid edifice, trying to process what he was saying. He wanted to dominate her. A prospect that was quite appealing on one level, and on another, made her desire to do anything but submit.
She started to turn, but his voice stopped her cold.
“You are to remain there until I tell you otherwise.”
It was only curiosity that made her obey. The drugs from Riley’s blood were still coursing through her system and didn’t put her much in the mood for obedience in any form, nor did her newly strengthened sense of self. But curiosity for the moment was stronger and overruled all other desires. She would play along for the moment.
She heard footsteps retreating away, then mumbled conversation. Peeking over her shoulder, Joyce saw Rupert huddled with Drusilla and Spike in the far corner.
Drusilla whined. “But why can’t I watch? It’s going to be such a lovely show.”
“The bloke wants some quality time alone with his lady, can’t deny him that, can you?” Spike consoled, holding her close. “And it’s been too long since I had you to myself.”
“He’s such a violent boy, Spike, and will make the most pretty colors when he works. Can’t we watch for just a little while?” she pleaded with Rupert.
Rupert reached out and stroked her cheek with tenderness that made Joyce’s gut tighten with the now all too familiar jealousy. “Joyce and I are still getting acquainted, Drusilla. You will have many opportunities to see me in action.”
“Promise you’ll do it to me.”
“You have but to ask,” he bowed and kissed the top of her hand. “Sun’s rising soon, you better get moving.”
“Can’t believe I’m letting you kick me out of my own place, Watcher. That money had better be where you say it is,” Spike warned, catching up Drusilla’s hand and heading for the door. He threw a quick glance toward Joyce. “You still might want to take it easy with her, mate.”
“She’s a lot stronger than even she thinks,” Rupert replied. “And remember, you’re to stay away until sundown.”
“Right, right. C’mon, Dru, let’s give the love birds a bit of space.”
The crypt door shut with a dull thud. It was only her and Ripper now.
“You may turn around now, Joyce,” he said after an indeterminable silence.
She complied, facing him and nothing more.
“You are to go downstairs, strip, and wait for me next to the bed.”
Joyce was tempted to obey, but something in her rebelled at making this too easy for him. It was time to see what he’d do if she didn’t comply immediately, to see where this game would go. “Why should I?” she asked, her voice naked of all inflection.
“Why?” he flashed a small cold smile as he stalked toward her. Then, lightning quick, he backhanded her. “Because I told you to.”
Her first reaction was complete and utter shock. He had struck her for no good reason. And it hurt. Joyce worked her jaw as the shock wore off and was replaced something else entirely. She should have been outraged, but instead she felt a tiny hint of pleasure.
He repeated the command.
“Why should I?” she asked again, tone provoking.
He struck her from the other side this time. “Because I told you to.”
She could taste blood. And it was good.
Running her tongue over her cut lip, she grinned, thinking she might enjoy this after all. “I told you once this evening that you only have power over me when I let you have that power. Remember that.”
Point made, she obeyed his order, taking her time to walk over to the ladder and descend into the lower crypt. She wasn’t surprised to find the bed made. Spike, she had discovered, was quite a neat-freak when it came to the lower chamber. Everything had its place. It was endearing, especially since to the public he always tried to pass himself off as a badass.
Joyce slipped out of her shirt and tossed it onto a nearby chair, followed by her bra and skirt. Then she went and stood by the bed, arms crossed, and watched the ladder for signs of Rupert joining her.
Anticipation had been replaced by near-boredom by the time he began to make his way down. She threw him an annoyed glare when he landed on the floor, bare feet smacking lightly on the stone floor.
“And yet there you are waiting,” he chuckled in response to her annoyance. He scrutinized her from his position by the ladder, perfectly at ease in his faded jeans and nothing else. The brown leather belt that hung undone around his waist captured Joyce’s attention, and he noticed. Again the cold, calculating smile flashed. But it didn’t inspire fear or trepidation. Instead, she felt a giddy excitement take hold, anticipating what uses he might put the leather strap to.
“While there’s no denying that I like to look at you, I really hope you have something other than a staring contest in store for me tonight.” She added a stifled yawn for good measure.
“I didn’t say you could speak, did I?” his eyebrow raised as he toyed with the loose ends of the belt. His left hand seemed to come to a decision and grabbed a hold of the buckle, sliding the belt free from his waist to dangle harmlessly in the air. Then he wrapped it around both hands, testing its strength. “Lay on the bed, face down.”
Without hesitation, she lay down, knowing full well what he intended. Still she felt no fear. A part of her was craving the contact, the hard hide cutting into the tender flesh of her back, tearing into her, forcing her to be aware of every blow.
“Shouldn’t you tie me down?” she asked, waiting, every cell hyperaware and reaching out.
The whistling crack of the leather connecting with her back was his reply. Sharp, quick and direct. She was unable to process the first before the second blow landed, then a third. And then she felt it. A bright lightning flash of sharp pain echoed by a dull ache. As the dull ache began to set in from the previous blow, the next landed, biting sharp once more. The natural response was to cower away from these strikes, but contrary to instinct, she found her body arching up into the contact. It hurt unlike anything she had ever experienced, but there was a certain ecstasy in the pain. Things became more focused, seemed clearer, more accessible somehow. And the blows kept landing, in quicker succession until—
“Enough!” she rolled and caught the belt in mid-journey, wrapping the slack around her arm. Ripper’s eyes widened but his grip remained firm. A tug of war ensued until she managed to pull him off balance and tumble next to her on the bed. The belt was hers, and she was kneeling over his chest, pinning him in place before he could recover. “Was that fun?” she asked, stretching the sore skin and savoring the new waves of pain.
“The fun hasn’t started yet,” he replied, eyeing her speculatively.
Joyce doubled the belt and snapped the two strips together. “There’s something thrilling about the sound of leather on leather, don’t you think? But leather on flesh? Mm,” she stretched again, rolling her head to the side. “Resistant at first and slowly yielding, digging deeper, making itself known. The sensations should be overwhelming, but I found such a clarity of mind, laying there, taking blow after blow. But the words hardly do it justice. It’s something you need to experience first hand.”
“Not today,” he levered himself up into a sitting position, knocking her back between his legs. His arms hooked behind her knees and pressed her down until she lay open beneath him.
Being the only one completely naked put Joyce at a distinct disadvantage, especially when a slight bow of Rupert’s head would put him in direct contact with her aching pussy. Fortunately her arms were still free and allowed her a modicum of control. She looped the belt around his neck and forced him to remain in his precarious position. He could not rise; her grip reined him in too strongly. She only left him one option.
“Isn’t it interesting how quickly the power changes hands?”
“While I might be at your mercy presently, you have also exposed a great weakness,” he pointed out triumphantly, his head bowing as if in supplication, but it was anything but an act of concession. His tongue darted out, running a firm determined trail over her clit.
“A weakness you say?” she inquired, slightly breathless as he tasted her again. She tightened the slack, limiting how far he could rise. “I’d like to test that theory, wouldn’t you?”
“A weakness,” he repeated, smirking rakishly before his head dropped again, tongue delving once more into her center, swirling against the soft expectant walls of her channel. Out in an agonizingly slow stroke, then in quick and deep, twisting to explore the full scope. But her grip never once slackened, even as her body moved to accommodate him, allow greater access. Out and in and out and in and out and up, circling her clit before firm lips replaced his tongue, suckling determinedly until she came with a shrill cry, pulling him tightly to her.
She lay there, gazing up at the ceiling as coherency returned. Easing her hold on the belt, but not relinquishing it completely, she allowed him to sit up, pulling her with him.
“Do you still believe it’s a weakness?” she inquired, not bothering to hide the triumph in her voice.
“Yes,” he replied, tongue darting out to gather her juices that still clung to his lips. “However,” he amended, “The physics of the situation worked in your favor, this time.”
Joyce snorted. “Now that is impressive.”
“That in a situation like this, the Watcher still comes to the fore, ready to instruct. Sex, Rupert, you’re discussing physics in the middle of sex.”
“Technically, this isn’t the middle,” he pointed out, the stuffy voice contradicted by the teasing light in his eyes.
She drew the strap away from his neck, tossing it behind her as she rose to her knees. “Oh yes,” hand in the middle of his chest, she pushed him down onto his back and sitting on his chest once more, “it is.”
“I think we’ve already done this, my dear.”
“Have we?” she leaned close, as she reached searchingly over the side of the bed. Cold metal finally met her fingertips. Seizing the handcuffs, she brought them up, twirling them around her index finger. “Now then, it’s my turn.”
His eyes narrowed, regarding the cuffs. “You just had your turn.”
“New rules, then. From now on, it’s always my turn.” Expertly, she maneuvered his hands from where they rested on her thighs and snapped the cuffs around them. “Hands above your head, please.”
“Will it be worth my while?”
“If you listen to me now, it will be. Eventually,” she said, guiding the hands up over his head and fastening them to the chain dangling just above the headboard. “Comfortable?”
“If I said no, would that change anything?”
“Of course not,” she grinned before she lowered her mouth to his, initiating a slow, sensual kiss. It was interesting tasting herself on him. It created a unique flavor all its own when mixed his.
When she broke off the kiss, he spoke. “I think you have a thing or two to learn about domination, Joyce.”
“You may like direct and forceful, but I have my own way,” she informed him, nosing along his jaw line and down his neck. Kissing down his chest, “A softer approach can be just as effective.”
She navigated toward one nipple, licking it into sharp prominence before biting down.
“I wouldn’t call that softer,” he teased, his voice not completely controlled.
She bit again, feeling him arch slightly. “So you don’t care for this, then?”
Not waiting for a reply, she moved to his other side, lavishing the same attention on that nipple before proceeding lower. Every so often she would pause in her descent to worry over an old scar from his old life. “You must tell me about these,” she said studying an intricate scarred scrollwork just to the right of his navel.
And then she was left with no more skin. Her fingers made quick work of opening the denim and freeing his straining cock. “Someone really should do something about that,” she told him, ignoring it for the moment as she drew his jeans down his legs, pulling them inside out as she drew them off and flung them into the nearby chair. At last she was able to see him completely naked for the first time since his turning. There wasn’t much difference from when she had seen him alive, though his mid-section was starting to lose its softness. His body was toning up, seeking optimum form. It would take a few days, but in the end he would be in better shape than months in the gym would ever have given him.
His head lifted. “Lost in thought?”
“You could say that,” she laughed, crawling up until she was even with the apex of his legs. Her right hand reached out and gently ran up his shaft, eliciting a small groan from him. “This is good?” she asked, continuing to stroke lightly, curling her fingers to cover more area. But she was careful not to apply any real pressure.
“Bloody torture is what it is,” he swallowed hard as her thumb circled around the head of his cock, just slipping through the tiny drop of precum to ease the motion.
“What do you want, Rupert?” Joyce ran her tongue flat over the head, capturing a hint of the salty, muskiness that was completely him.
“For you to stop torturing me.”
“But I’ve hardly begun.” This time her tongue mapped out his complete length, retracing over interesting ridges and veins, trying to memorize him.
“Joyce,” his voice broke with the plea.
For right now, that was enough. Reaching the tip, she drew him completely into her mouth, the thick, firm but giving flesh sliding easily between her lips. When she rose, she finally applied pressure for the first time, tongue firm and cheeks drawing in tight. His hips followed her retreat, desperate to maintain the contact. But she didn’t abandon him completely, taking him in once again as she neared the tip. She worked on him until his body began to tense with approaching climax. And then she did draw away.
His eyes opened, dark with desperation and just a hit of anger stirring. “You wouldn’t dare!”
“Leave you like this?” she asked innocently, fingers ghosting lightly over his shaft in pale imitation of the contact he needed. “It’s very tempting.”
“But you won’t,” he tried to sound forceful.
“I really should just leave you like that. I don’t think there is a more fitting punishment.”
“Pulling me off of Riley tonight.”
“He was beyond dead, Joyce.”
“I don’t care. It was my choice when to stop.”
“So just for that, you’re going to leave me here?” he was incredulous.
“And your impertinence for assuming power without my permission.”
“You’re not my master.”
“No, but I am your sire, Rupert. And you’d better remember that,” she crawled up until she was face to face with him. “And if you ever put Drusilla above me, you will regret it.”
“You’re jealous,” he grinned wickedly, his mood shifting considerably now that he had found a weakness.
She ignored him, not about to give him the satisfaction that admission would cause him. Reaching down, she grasped his cock and guided it to her opening. “There will be one ground rule between us.”
“And that is?” She could see him struggle to remain focused.
“I have the power here. That is all you have to remember,” she said simply. “And I will not invoke that unless absolutely necessary.”
“Yes,” she affirmed. “Dominate and control everyone your heart desires, but always know that in the end you have to answer to me. I give you complete and absolute power, until I see that you don’t deserve to have it. Agreed?”
“Under one condition.”
She considered for a moment. “And that is?”
His hips angled off the bed, driving his cock deep inside. She gasped at the unexpected intrusion. “You will never leave me.”
Joyce sank onto him fully, giving his words careful thought. She had wanted him as mate almost since the moment she had risen; she had no intention of ever leaving him. But did she want to give him the power of that admission?
Then she realized how much the request cost him. He wasn’t so sure of himself or his position after all. “I wouldn’t have turned you if I had any other intention.”
He nodded. “Agreed.”
Joyce reached up and clicked the hidden catch on the cuffs, freeing Rupert’s arms to wrap around her, heavy and strong, holding her close as she began to move slowly along his length. She nuzzled contentedly against his neck. “Why do I have the feeling we’re going to have many nights like these?”
“With me putting you in your place?” he inquired lightly.
Raising her head, she glared at him. “I believe it was the other way around.”
“If you say so,” his tone was patronizing.
“See what I mean?” she sat up. However, the shifting angle of his cock inside her cut off the tirade she was about to launch into, the pleasurable movement making her incapable of all but an inarticulate groan.
“Yes, I do,” he grinned, hands coming to rest comfortably on her, coaxing her to move again. “Now this is a position of power I don’t mind seeing you in.”
“Of course you don’t. You get to lay back while I do all the work,” she bent close, her breasts grazing lightly against his chest.
“That can easily be remedied,” he said, rolling them without warning so he was on top. “Better?”
“I wouldn’t say that,” she teased, pulling him down for a heated and demanding kiss, urging him to pick up the pace as she claimed him with her mouth.
Their coupling grew more frenzied, hands grasping, nails digging in and marking flesh without regard. Joyce arched up as Rupert drove into her. He pulled away from the kiss, nibbling intentfully along her neck, drawing her demon forward with anticipation.
“I pulled you away from him because you were losing control,” he murmured against her neck.
His words were like cold water, and she pushed the demon back down. “Excuse me?” she said, thighs gripping his hips tightly, holding him still.
When he looked up at her, his all too human eyes stared. Eyes that still knew pain and regret. “You can’t let the demon control you like that.”
“Earlier you said I had too much control,” she pointed out, irritation unmistakable in her tone. “Now you’re saying I don’t have enough?”
“Different situations, Joyce. You did too much too soon,” his said, attempting to ease his words by teasing his fingers along one of her breasts.
She sighed in exasperation, shifting away from the touch but not relaxing her hold on him. “I really don’t think you should be lecturing me on this. I’ve been doing this a little longer than you have.”
“You’ve been holding back when you hunt. Tonight you didn’t. It’s something you’ve been denying yourself. And like anything else, when you stop denying yourself something, it’s easy to go overboard.”
She really wasn’t in the mood for another lecture tonight. Fed up, she relaxed her hold on his hips and started pushing him away.
But he fought back, keeping her beneath them. “I did it for your own good, Joyce.”
“You can stop anytime, Rupert,” her voice was thick with ice. “Get off of me now.”
“No,” he said firmly. “If I go now, I might as well keep going.”
“Then go,” she said angrily.
His hard slap echoed through the room. She just stared at him, the red sting of her cheek shocking her into silence.
He looked as hurt by the act as she felt. “I’m sorry, but you need to see reason. You may have a few months on me at this life, but you’re very young. There’s a lot you don’t know.”
“And you, the great Watcher, do?”
Taking an unneeded deep breath, he plowed on. “I’ve seen a great deal and studied more. The best way to fight an enemy is to understand them. Completely. How they think, how they’ll react. Their weaknesses as much as their strengths.”
She laughed. “You’re just as vulnerable now, Rupert. Don’t forget that.”
“Oh, I know all too well.” Suddenly she was aware of the tension running through his body. “Don’t you think I’d rather be fucking you senseless right now?”
“I’d rather you were, too.”
“Not until you admit I’m right about tonight with Riley. That you wouldn’t have stopped until you had taken every last drop of blood from his body.”
“He was already dead, it’s not like it would have hurt him any more,” she replied petulantly.
“It makes you an animal, Joyce. Unable to stop until you are forced to stop. That’s not what you want. It’s not what we are.”
She couldn’t quite meet his eyes. “Maybe it is.”
He gripped her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. “No, it’s not. And you know that. You’re just too bloody stubborn to want to admit it.”
“Get used to it,” she hissed.
Firm, bruising lips crushed down upon hers, shutting her up. And he didn’t let up, evading all her attempts to take control of the kiss. He kept her so occupied with the kiss, that she was unable to stop him as he began to fuck her once more. It was brutal and rough, as if he were trying to drive his point home with his body in a way that his words couldn’t.
And she welcomed it. It drove away all thoughts. All worries that yes, he was right. That she was quite happy not thinking about how killing Riley had really made her feel, because that feeling frightened her. She had wanted to enjoy the hunt and kill, but that had been something else entirely. It had been pure, animalistic pleasure that had drove her to keep drinking from him until she had taken every last bit of him.
“Harder,” she screamed at him, wanting to lose herself completely in this act. No more thoughts. No more power plays. She just wanted a mind-numbing orgasm to bring her a moment of peace.
Harder he went, fingers digging into her flesh as he lifted her hips to plunge more deeply into her. Maybe he wanted to forget as well.
Her climax shattered over her, leaving her mind blissfully blank. Rupert’s body collapsing heavily on top of her as after he spent himself was the only thing that kept her anchored in consciousness.
As she drifted in her contentment, there was one thought that would not be ignored. She still had so much to learn.
Chapter 14: Chapter Fourteen
God, but she was hungry. Not hungry, famished. It was unlike the usual craving she normally had when it was time to feed. Which she shouldn’t be feeling yet, or to this extent. After all, she’d made not one but two kills last night. The girl alone would have satisfied her for a few days. And Riley, she shouldn’t even be feeling the stirrings of hunger for at least a week. But now it felt like she hadn’t feed in weeks.
Disturbed, Joyce reluctantly detangled herself from Rupert’s embrace, careful not to wake him as she rose. She felt on edge, too, more restless now that she was moving about. What in the hell was wrong with her? It would have frightened her if she weren’t so hungry or so damn keyed up.
Sunset was fast approaching. If she were careful, she could head out now, keep to the long shadows. Something told her it might be smart to wake up Rupert to join her, or at least wait for Drusilla and Spike to return. But that would take too long. She needed to get out now. The walls were quickly closing in on her.
Not wanting to waste time picking out her outfit for the evening, Joyce settled on the first thing she came across. A simple red cocktail dress. She’d been meaning to save it for a special occasion, but that didn’t matter at the moment. There was a certain small satisfaction in the way the silky material glided over her skin. Though she’d wear burlap at the moment if it got her out of the crypt and into the night any sooner.
The sky was still dusky when she emerged into the fresh night air.
And it had never felt more welcome. A feeling of lightness settled upon her. Maybe she just needed some time by herself. A lot had happened in the last few days; she deserved a brief respite.
The urgent hunger had also abated. Somewhat. It was still there, but not as demanding and consuming as it had been when she had awoken. She still needed to feed. But she realized she needed more than that. She needed a little excitement. A bit of a thrill to add flavor to the meal.
Riley Finn would be a tough act to follow. But Joyce soon thought of a suitable encore.
The stairs never made a sound as she carefully descended. It was as if she could sense out the weak spots in the wood and carefully avoid them. Joyce was a predator now; stealth was essential.
He lay on the couch, the picture of youthful ease, drowsing in front of a mindless infomercial.
She stood at the foot of the basement stairs a full ten minutes before Xander realized he wasn’t alone. When he did see her, there was momentary blank shock and then he was in motion, scrambling backward with lightning-quick reflexes and tumbling over the arm of the couch.
“M-Mrs. Summers! How—What—” His eyes darted wildly around the confined space, searching for a weapon or escape. He swallowed. “H-how did you get in?”
Joyce smiled pleasantly as she took in the abysmal surroundings. She would be doing the boy a favor tonight. Finally, she said, “Your father was kind enough invite me in. Even offered me a snack.”
Xander’s eyebrows shot up in horror.
“Xander, it would have been rude to turn him down,” she explained with an easy air. Vile man. And he’d tasted absolutely disgusting. His wife on the other hand had cleansed Joyce’s palate nicely. The woman had welcomed her fate almost joyfully.
“I knew that burrito would come back to haunt me,” he mumbled shaking his head.
“You are awake, Xander. You know you are.” Still, she didn’t move. The boy had nowhere to run, and there would be no interruptions. Joyce could afford to give him a little space to come to grips with the situation at hand.
“But Buffy said we didn’t have to worry,” he protested. “She said that—”
“Buffy has no idea,” she cut him off. “And you of all people should know better, Xander. You were there when Angel lost his soul. You know her weakness for believing there’s still good in people. Until she’s forced to see otherwise.”
“You’re her mother!”
“I’m not trying to hurt her,” Joyce soothed, taking a casual step toward Xander. “Circumstances just arise that make it seem like that.”
“What have you done?” There was a challenge in his words, the friend rising up to defend, but the effect was ruined by the clumsy way he rose to his feet and leaned heavily against the basement wall for support. He was a good boy and meant well; things just never really worked out for him.
“Aren’t you afraid that if I tell you, I’ll have to kill you?” she teased as she took another step.
“You’ll kill me anyway,” he said flatly. “What have you done, Mrs. Summers?”
“Joyce. You’re an adult now, Xander. I’m no longer Mrs. Summers to you.” Two more steps. There was maybe only five feet separating them now, but the boy just stood there. Then, conspiratorially, she whispered, “I’ve seen you watching me over the years.”
“What?” His face colored bright red immediately, his heart skipping a beat before tripping along even quicker than before. “I-I never. No, Joy-Mrs. Summers, I di—”
She closed the distance between them, reaching out to gently touch his face. He may have flinched at the contact, but disgust wasn’t the only thing he was feeling. Joyce’s eyes dropped pointedly below his waist, then rose, a slight smile spreading across her lips. “You’ve never been a very good liar, Xander.”
His blush deepened. “If I didn’t know for sure you were going to kill me, I’d never be able to live this down.”
Joyce lowered her voice. “I can make every fantasy you’ve ever had about me come true. Can you think of a better way to die?”
“Oh god,” he groaned. “Just kill me now.”
“Tell me, Xander,” she pressed close, letting him feel every soft curve, “what have you always wanted to do to me?”
“I, uh . . .” He blinked as if startling out of a daze, then stood up straighter. He tried to back away from her but the wall wouldn’t let him. “Hey, that’s not fair. No thralls!”
She quirked an eyebrow in amusement. She didn’t have the first idea how to go about putting a person under a thrall, let alone if it were even possible. It could be just another myth like garlic. Spike had recently introduced her to spicy garlic hot wings and they were far from repellant. To Xander, she said, “No tricks, I promise. Just old fashioned seduction.”
“Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson,” he joked weakly.
“Cute,” she laughed lightly, then sobered. “Tell me what your favorite fantasy is. The fantasy that never failed to get you off on those long, cold and very lonely teenage nights.”
“Maybe they didn’t involve you,” Xander protested half-heartedly.
She fixed him with a stern glare. “Come on, Xander,” she encouraged, rocking her hips gently against his growing erection. “Tell me.”
“Well, it never happened in my parents basement,” he said, his voice cracking.
“Then where, Xander?”
“Always your house, after patrol,” he sighed in resignation, and with the barest hint of relief. “The gang would be downstairs, munching on snacks, and I’d go upstairs to use the bathroom.”
“Mm.” She idly trailed her fingertips along his arm. “Go on.”
“When I came out, you’d be there. Standing. In your doorway. Dressed in, um,” he smiled faintly, “red.”
“Like I am now?” she inquired, huskily.
“Ye-yeah. Heh. Isn’t that funny?”
“Yes, it is,” she agreed. “Then what?”
“Well, you’d say that you had something to show me, a-and then you would take my hand and pull me into your room.”
“Like this?” She backed away and grasped his left hand in hers, gently leading him to the couch.
“Yeah. And when we got to the bed you would ki—uh, you’d . . .”
“Kiss you?” Joyce captured Xander’s mouth easily with her own. She kept the kiss light and undemanding, hinting at more but not pushing.
When she drew back, he let out the breath he must have been holding. “Wow.”
“I have so much I can show you, if you’ll let me, Xander. Will you let me show you?” she asked with the barest hint of pleading in her voice. It was a surefire way to guarantee success.
“That’s exactly what you say, every time,” he said in amazement. “How did you know?”
She shrugged. “A lucky guess.”
After a brief pause, he asked, “Are you going to kill me, Mrs. Su—Joyce?”
“Yes, I am.”
“And you’ll have, um . . . with me before you do?”
“This is crazy! I can’t have sex with you!” he exclaimed. “It’s just wrong on so many levels.”
“Right and wrong really doesn’t have a place here tonight.” She was starting to get a bit impatient. Deciding to move things along a bit, her hand slid from his arm, down his back to graze intentionally over his ass, then slipping around to his front, stoking lightly over his denim covered erection. She was pleased to feel his body arch into the touch, trying to increase the contact. “You’ll die a very happy man, Xander Harris. Not many people are that lucky. Don’t you want to be lucky?”
“This could all still be a crazy dream,” he said, his voice strained.
“And if it is, no harm in seeing where it goes then, is there?” she said as she continued to stroke him, increasing the pressure slightly, grinning when his eyes glazed slightly.
“And if it isn’t a dream, I’ll be dead. So no lifelong humiliation over sleeping with my best friend’s mother,” he babbled on.
“See, nothing to worry about after all,” she whispered against his ear. “Now be a good boy and sit down.
“This isn’t happening.” His mind was still in denial, but his body was willingly obeying.
Joyce knelt before him, leaning forward to reward his obedience with another lingering but easy kiss. This time he responded, albeit hesitantly. After another moment, she broke away. “Would you like me to go down on you, Xander?” she asked, her voice low and sultry.
The inarticulate groan was all the agreement she needed. First, she removed his shoes, never rushing as she unlaced one and then the other. His pants came next. Popping the button free and dragging the zipper down casually, she drew his pants down and away. And then there was nothing but his faded, blue-checkered boxers in the way.
“Do you want me to do this?” she asked again, finger teasing at the elastic waistband.
“God, yes,” he replied quickly and eagerly.
The boxers were gone a moment later, revealing him completely to her eyes. Young, fevered flesh aching to be touched. So inexperienced and hungry at the same time.
“Does Anya ever do this for you?” Joyce queried conversationally, her hand just barely grazing along his cock.
He gave a start and became very flustered, unable to form a coherent reply. It was very endearing.
She grinned up at him. “We’ll have to see how I compare, then, won’t we?”
There was no opportunity for reply as she ran her tongue from base to tip before taking him fully into her mouth. More inarticulate mumblings followed as she used every technique she had learned to give the boy the best blowjob of his life. She was gentle but insistent, keeping steady and firm pressure as she worked him with her tongue, the barest hint of teeth eliciting the only negative response of the encounter.
She could feel his climax approaching, muscles straining to keep control, to hold out just a little longer, until—
“Giles!” Xander squeaked, body tensing immediately.
Joyce pulled back and looked up to see Rupert standing behind Xander and the couch, staring down at her, face unreadable. His eyes danced golden, but she couldn’t tell if it was all anger.
“I should be insulted,” Rupert spoke, his tone even. “Was I that unsatisfying?”
“I was restless, Rupert. You were still asleep,” she said simply. “I don’t need to justify what I do to you.”
“Wait, you and Giles . . .” Xander looked at her and then backward at Rupert. “That means that he’s—”
Rupert’s face shifted briefly then returned to its human form. “Yes, I am.”
Sheer terror washed over Xander’s face as he replied with a quiet, “No.”
Joyce only felt annoyance. “You’re interrupting, Rupert.”
“Am I? So sorry,” he sneered, his hand coming to rest on top of Xander’s head. His wrist twisted sharply to the left then snapped back to the right. Xander immediately went limp, his heart giving a few more beats before going silent forever.
“What in the hell did you do?” Joyce screamed at Rupert in outrage, jumping to her feet and lunging at him over Xander’s lifeless body.
Rupert caught her in mid-lunge, holding her in check. “I didn’t want there to be any chance of your turning him,” he stated flatly.
“Don’t tell me you were jealous,” she said derisively.
“You were being a fool, Joyce. I put an end to your foolishness.”
“Something which you had no right to do! A fact which I thought was made very clear last night.”
Rupert’s grip tightened and he pulled her roughly over the couch. “I will not have you running off and seducing others so soon after sharing my bed.”
“You are jealous!” she laughed. “And of Xander. Really, Rupert, do you think so little of me?”
“What am I supposed to think?” he growled, the gold flashing in his eyes again.
“That I’m enjoying the kill. You didn’t seem to mind what I did to Riley last night.”
“I also didn’t find you sucking him off!”
“This is different,” he replied, tight-lipped.
“Why because you didn’t pick him out for me? Or maybe . . .” Joyce eyed Rupert critically. “Maybe you wanted Xander all to yourself?”
His eyes narrowed a fraction but he didn’t say anything to the contrary.
“I can picture it now. Xander bent over the back of the couch as you pound into him, making him beg for you to stop, to go harder, to do anything but let him return to the pathetic life ahead of him.” She reveled in the response of Rupert’s body, his cock growing hard between them. Then with a dejected sigh, “And now, thanks to your temper, neither of us get to have any fun with him.”
Rupert looked at Xander’s body with a frown. “I’m not sorry I did it.”
“Of course not. But never to taste his blood, coursing eagerly so hot and rich with hormones, lust and fear mingling together . . .” She considered Xander. He was dead, but the blood was still there, waiting. “It’s such a shame for it to go to waste.”
“The blood is never the same when they’re dead. Or so I’ve been told.” She could see that he was giving serious thought to putting the theory to the test. “But it would be a waste.”
Joyce smiled. “If I let you have Xander, then I get the next one.”
“You didn’t think I was going to stop with him, did you?” she said lightly. “And what’s more, I’ll even let you play along with the next one. But the kill will be mine.”
“I didn’t think you were out to target Buffy.”
“I wasn’t, but circumstances have dictated otherwise. Deciding to turn you, then you choosing Riley, and my coming here tonight. And I’ve realized, it’s a necessary part of this life, something I need to do. Something I want to do. Maybe it’s that look they get on their faces the moment the realize what I’m going to do to them. It’s more satisfying than even the kill itself.” She stepped away from him. “Now, go, feed. We’re going to have a long night ahead of us and you don’t want to be hungry for it.”
Chapter 15: Chapter Fifteen
“I thought you said this was supposed to be Willow’s new friend?” Joyce asked as she watched the scene inside the dorm room.
Rupert came up behind her. “Why? What’s—oh, I see what you mean.”
Joyce smirked as she watched the girls entangled on the bed exchange gentle, tentative kisses. “That’s not something I ever did with my friends.”
“Really? I did all the time.”
She looked back at Rupert. Not even a hint of a smile. “You’re not joking.”
He just smiled enigmatically.
This was definitely something they were going to discuss later. She wondered what the probability was of Rupert and Spike putting aside their differences long enough for more enjoyable pursuits. The thought of the two of them together certainly had its appeal. Might be worth trying to arrange one of these days.
Pushing aside the idea for now, Joyce returned her full attention to the observation of the girls inside. “Willow is all mine, but I would be willing to share the blonde with you,” she offered.
Strong arms wrapped around her, pulling her to rest against the solid body behind her. “What brought on this sudden surge of generosity?” He sounded amused.
“I have no problem taking both of them myself. So if you’re complaining . . .”
Rupert nuzzled against her neck, blunt teeth nipping playfully at the tender skin. “No complaints, just curious.”
Now to figure out how to get the girls outside. Joyce had expected to find Willow alone in her own room, and her original plan had hinged on that very fact. But Willow hadn’t been in her room. It was a bit of an annoyance having something so simple upset her plans, though Joyce would be lying if she said she wasn’t intrigued by the turn of events. The addition of Willow’s new friend would make things much more interesting.
She needn’t have worried, as things soon resolved themselves. Willow pulled away, reluctantly it seemed, and rose to gather her things. The girls exchanged a few more brief kisses before finally leaving the room. If Willow were heading back to her dorm across the quad, as Joyce suspected, a more perfect opportunity couldn’t have presented itself.
“Go around the other side,” she instructed Rupert. “When you see the opportunity, grab the blonde. I’ll handle Willow.”
“As you wish, sire,” he purred into her ear. And then he was gone.
A part of her was suspicious at his easy obedience; she couldn’t help thinking that he was up to something. But now wasn’t the time to worry about it.
The girls emerged from the dormitory, walking along the well-lit path, almost but not quite holding hands. Joyce followed alongside, carefully keeping to the dark shadows off the sidewalk.
“D-do you want to meet for lunch tomorrow?” Willow’s companion asked in a soft voice.
“You’re darn tootin’ I do,” Willow replied happily. “Though I don’t know how much lunch I’ll be partaking of. I doubt I’ll have much of an appetite after Dr. McLeery’s mid-term.”.
Joyce caught a glimpse of the blonde’s face in the lamplight, full of open admiration. “You r-really have nothing to worry about. You probably know more than the professor.”
Willow sighed. “Don’t I wish! If only the man weren’t such an ogre.”
“I thought you’ve dealt with much worse. Didn’t you say your mayor turned into a giant snake at graduation?”
“Well, yeah, when you put it like that, it seems like I’m worrying over nothing,” Willow laughed, bumping against the girl playfully. “But Mayor Wilkins couldn’t ruin my GPA.”
It really was a sweet scene, the thrills of early romance, easy flirtation and happiness in just being around each other . . . a part of Joyce hated to ruin it. But another part of her was giddy with the power she had to destroy that happiness.
Joyce encountered the perfect distraction about ten yards off the path. She knocked the metal trashcan over with an audible thunk, kicking it a few times for good measure. Willow and her friend were immediately on guard, sticking close together with eyes searching blindly into the darkness.
“So what do you think our chances are that it’s just a raccoon?” Willow joked nervously. “For once, I’d like to run into a plain old raiding raccoon instead of a big slimy demon.”
“Or vampire?” Joyce suggested, stepping into the orange light in front of them.
Immediately, Willow was on the defensive, putting herself between Joyce and her friend. Too bad Willow didn’t realize that Joyce wasn’t who she needed to protect her friend from at the moment.
Joyce was impressed by Rupert’s stealth as he stole up behind the blonde, clamping a hand over her mouth and immobilizing her tight against his chest before she had the opportunity to even think of screaming.
“It’s rude not to say ‘hello’, Willow,” Joyce said, focusing all her attention on the girl.
“You’re not supposed to be here. Buffy said you wouldn’t come after us.”
“I just happened to be in the same part of campus you were. Just chance, nothing malicious,” she explained lightly.
Willow’s eyes narrowed suspiciously. Instead of replying to Joyce, Willow warned her friend, “You might want to run, Tara. Now.”
Getting no response, Willow whirled around and finally saw why her girlfriend hadn’t answered.
“Giles, no.” The words were full of such sorrow. “N-not you.”
He shrugged off her concern, never loosening his grip on Tara, as he let his demon come to the fore. “It was bound to happen eventually. You really shouldn’t be so surprised.”
Willow retreated so she no longer had her back to Joyce while facing Rupert. Her eyes were wide. “You turned him, didn’t you?”
“Better someone he knows than a random vampire, don’t you think?” Joyce gave the girl a pleasant smile.
“Make him let Tara go, Mrs. Summers. She’s got nothing to do with us.”
“You really care for her, don’t you?” Joyce realized. She gave Willow a satisfied smile. “Then she has everything to do with us.”
Willow looked helplessly at Tara, then back at Joyce. “Make him let her go,” she repeated, her voice weak.
“I’d like to, Willow, I really would,” Joyce said, trying to sound regretful, “but I made Rupert a promise. And I don’t like to go back on my word. Though after what he did with Xander, I should reconsider.”
“Xander?” It came out as a high-pitched squeak.
“Poor Xander, he and I were getting along quite well before Rupert let his jealousy control him.” She shook her head. “Snapped Xander’s neck without a second thought. Such a senseless way to die.”
Willow gave a quiet sob. “Why are you doing this? We left you alone, just like Buffy wanted us to. She said there wasn’t anything to worry about. Why, Mrs. Summers?”
After all that these children had been through, it was touching to see how much innocence they still retained.
“You had nothing to worry about, until last night. If Rupert hadn’t suggested I go after Riley last night, well, we might not be here now.”
“Y-you killed Riley?”
“Nice boy. I would have approved of him, if circumstances were different.” Joyce soaked up the pain washing across Willow’s features. She never thought such a sight would be anything but heartbreaking. Maybe it all came back to power, the fact that she was able to cause that much devastation for one person. It was addicting.
“I was bored,” Joyce replied easily. “He was a more exciting prospect than a random victim stumbling out of a bar. And to answer your next question, why you? Well, Willow, it just makes sense after Xander’s death. It would have only been a matter of time before you found out about it, and I know Buffy wouldn’t stop you from coming after me.”
“You want Buffy to stake you, don’t you?” Willow’s face lit up with what she thought was insight.
“Actually, I’m quite happy in my new life, and I’d like to continue in it as long as possible. Making it so Buffy has to come after me is just an unfortunate consequence I’ll deal with when I need to.” She looked levelly at Willow. “Now then, my patience is beginning to wear. And since Rupert’s are thinner than mine . . . I think it’s time we brought things do a close, don’t you?”
Willow hung her head in defeat. “What do you want?”
Joyce closed the distance between them and rested her hands on Willow’s shoulders. “I’d like you to watch.”
Turning Willow, Joyce kept her hands firmly atop the girl’s shoulders as she made her face Rupert and Tara. “I’d like you to watch Tara die and know there isn’t a single thing you can do to stop it.”
“What? No!” She struggled, but Joyce held tight.
Rupert’s face shifted, sharp teeth scrapping along Tara’s pale neck, eliciting a muffled scream from the girl. Joyce felt a shiver of pleasure wash over her. She loved it when he was in control. The man had been made for this life, and his enjoyment was plain to see.
When he bit down, Willow screamed for her girlfriend.
“Too bad there’s nothing you can do except watch,” Joyce whispered in her ear.
Tara’s struggles lessened as the moments passed. It was a fascinating thing to observe, subtle death by degrees.
And then Joyce was flying backward as if electrocuted, hitting the ground hard. Dazed, she sat up in time to see Willow rushing at Rupert.
“Let her go,” she demanded, her voice cold and unwavering.
Rupert did just that, letting the lifeless body crumple to his feet. “Since you asked so nicely.” He flashed her a blood red, sharp-toothed grin.
“Incendere,” she screamed. Nothing happened.
He shook his head. “It’s your lack of discipline,” he chastised. “And your emotional outburst with Joyce just now drained any stores you had. As serious as you seem to be about your pursuit of magic, you should be able to do so much more by now. Who knows, if you had, you might have been able to save Tara.”
Joyce finally managed to find her feet again. That was one experience she was not eager to repeat. She really hoped Rupert was right about Willow being unable to do any more at the moment.
“Buffy won’t let you get away with this,” Willow stated flatly. “She would have left you both alone if you’d done the same.”
And then she was sprinting across the quad as if her life depended on it. And it did.
“She’s all yours,” Rupert said with a laugh, as Joyce took off after her.
She couldn’t even remember the last time she’d run anywhere for any reason. For the first time she fully appreciated the fact that breathing wasn’t necessary. If it had been, she doubted she would have been able to breath for long at the pace she was running. Not that she could have possibly run this fast in life. Another benefit to the vampire lifestyle.
Joyce caught up with Willow just as the girl set foot on the steps of her dormitory, yanking her backward and pulling her off into the shadows next to the building.
Trapping the girl against the brickwork, she said, “It’s over, Willow.”
“She will stake you, Mrs. Summers. She has to now,” Willow said with certainty.
“She’ll try,” Joyce acknowledged. Then, in a conspiratorial tone, she whispered, “Since it’s just us girls, how much did you care for Tara?”
“I could have loved her,” Willow replied with quiet, honest intensity.
“Too bad she’ll never know that, huh?”
She silenced Willow’s cry of anguish, letting her demon come forward as she descended upon the girl’s neck. Hot, sweet blood flooded her mouth. So vibrant in flavor and accented by sorrow and remnants of fear. And underneath it all, similar to Riley’s blood but entirely different at the same time, was something beyond description. Untapped power and potential never to be realized. It was heavenly.
And this time, no one stopped her from drinking every last drop.
Chapter 16: Chapter Sixteen
“I feel like I could take on the world right now,” Joyce said as she spun, the stars swirling together overhead.
Rupert brought her to a halt, his grip firm, stabilizing. “The world will have to wait.” He nodded to the lightening eastern sky. “It will still be there tomorrow.”
She pouted, enjoying the bemused expression on his face. “I suppose it will,” she sighed, twisting out of his arms and resuming the journey back to Spike’s crypt, leaving him to follow after.
“We should think about leaving,” he said casually as he walked beside her.
Joyce frowned; she wasn’t in the mood to think about the consequences of tonight just yet.
“You’ve left Buffy little choice,” he pressed on.
“You’re as much to blame in this as I am,” she threw back.
His easy shrug irritated her. “I doubt she’s learned of my new circumstances yet. But yes, I suppose I am.”
“You suppose?” she asked in disgust. “You’re the one who sent me after Riley.”
“After you asked for assistance,” he replied calmly.
She had forgotten who she was dealing with here. “And I’m guessing Xander’s death is on my head as well because I made you jealous.”
“You were going to kill him in the end.”
“I thought you were going to be a lot more fun,” she muttered.
“Bloody hell,” he growled. “I’m just looking out for our long-term survival here.”
Forcing herself to keep her tone even, Joyce replied, “I never asked for you to take care of me, Rupert.”
“I’m beginning to wonder why you turned me in the first place.” His voice was frighteningly quiet.
“So am I.” She picked up her pace as they neared the crypt, pushing inside without a backward glance.
Spike was in his easy chair, watching the television, beer loosely balanced on the edge of the sofa. His eyebrows shot up when he caught sight of them.
“You lot are going to be worse than Darla and bloody Angelus, aren’t you? Marching in at the bloody last second, not speaking to each other,” Spike observed.
“Don’t start, Spike, I’m not in the mood,” she spat, throwing a glare back at Rupert for good measure.
“You shouldn’t have gone after Willow in the same night,” Rupert insisted.
Joyce whirled on him, forcing him to draw up short so he didn’t run her down. “You didn’t seem to have a problem when I proposed the idea. Or during the execution, for that matter. As a matter of fact, you seemed more than willing to see it done.”
“Hold up!” Spike jumped up. “Care to bring us late-comers up to speed?” he asked with controlled curiosity.
She ignored him, still focused on Rupert. “If you hadn’t taken Xander, it wouldn’t have even been an issue!”
“You didn’t take out the Slayer’s two best friends tonight, did you?” There was a steely edge in Spike’s voice as he forced Joyce to face him. “Did you?”
“It was just going to be Xander,” she said lightly, not liking the sudden flash of gold in his eyes.
“You bloody idiots! How could you be so stupid!” he seethed, his voice remaining even but his fury evident. “The Watcher’s been dead all of what, three days? And you just took out the solider last night. What in the hell are you thinking? Are you even thinking?”
“It’s not like that, Spike, it—”
He backhanded her. “You stupid child! You have no idea what you’ve done!”
Joyce was taken aback by his rage. It was completely without precedent.
“You’ve ruined everything, you know that, don’t you,” he raged on.
She was about to reply when out of the corner of her eye she registered a small but very pleased smile on Rupert’s lips. She did a double-take. Then it all made sense, Rupert’s sudden shift in mood on the way back, how he had baited her into the conversation. “You did this on purpose!”
Spike had no patience for any of it. He gripped her arm painfully as he pulled her close against himself. “This shit you two have going on can be dealt with later. We have bigger problems at the moment, Joyce. Big problems in a very tiny, blonde package that will be pounding down that door, staking first and asking questions later.”
“We have time, Spike.” She struggled to break his hold, but he wasn’t letting her go anywhere. “Willow and her girlfriend weren’t left laying out in plain sight. And Xander and his parents are pretty well hidden at their house.”
His eyes closed and he looked as if he were in intense pain. “I don’t think you could have bollocksed this up any more if you’d tried.” He took a deep breath and looked at her when he spoke, the words seeming to come with great effort. “What you don’t seem to understand, Joyce, is that when the Slayer learns about soldier boy, she’s going to want to gather her faithful research team together. And what’s she going to find when she goes looking? Each and every last one of them are dead or missing. While she may be a bit slow on the uptake at times, she’ll put it all together when she figures out how they all died. She’s gonna come looking for you, Joyce. Some random vamp may have taken out any one of them, but not all of them.”
Joyce was starting to feel a bit ill at the picture Spike was painting.
Spike’s smile was cold. “I think you might be starting to grasp just how well and royally fucked you are. And the rest of us by association.”
He released her abruptly and Joyce stumbled backward on unsteady legs. Not ten minutes ago, things had been going so well. If she’d given a moment’s thought, she would have seen this. But she hadn’t been thinking, she had gone out purely on instinct. And it had felt wonderful. It still felt wonderful, now that the momentary fear of the consequences had passed. Looking back, the only thing she would have changed was the timing.
Squaring her shoulders, Joyce faced off against Spike. “I’m not sorry. And I’d do it over again if given another chance.”
“You always struck me as an intelligent woman, Joyce.” He shook his head.
“You’re just jealous that she did what you never could do,” Rupert’s voice chimed in. He was standing by Joyce’s right side now.
“Didn’t ask for your opinion, did I, Watcher?” Spike sneered.
“You’ve never had to ask for it, Spike.” He said it in such a way as to provoke the other man.
“Don’t push me tonight,” Spike growled, body practically vibrating with tension.
“I’ve already beaten you once, Spike, do I really need to do it again?” Rupert said lightly.
“I wouldn’t use the other night as a good example, Rupes. Just so happens I let you win so you wouldn’t lose stock in the lady’s eyes.”
Rupert’s responding snort told exactly what he thought of that.
“Now, now, boys, what’s all the fuss?” Drusilla asked from the crypt entrance.
It showed a sad state of affairs when Joyce felt her sire’s arrival would be able to restore some sanity to the situation. At any other time the thought would be laughable.
Drusilla glided gracefully over to their small group. She looked at Joyce inquiringly. “Will you tell me what has the boys all up in arms?”
Joyce frowned. “I’ve pretty much wiped out our biggest threat in this town single-handedly and instead of being happy, Spike’s pissed off. To hear him talk, you’d think I brought on the apocalypse.”
Her sire laughed, reaching out to toy with the ends of Joyce’s hair. “My Spike does love to exaggerate. Actually, my dear, you’ve done us a huge favor. And do you know why?” Drusilla’s tone became inquiring as a finger wound itself in one of Joyce’s loose curls.
“I, um . . .” Drusilla’s seeming pleasure in the information took Joyce aback as much as Spike’s rage had.
“No more hiding.” She smiled brightly, letting the curl spring free, her hand coming to rest on Joyce’s shoulder. “We’ve been playing it safe for too long. The shadows are our world, but there’s no need to keep only to them. After two long years, we finally have the Slayer where we want her. All by herself.”
“You know what you have to do, Joyce,” Drusilla said, her voice consoling as the hand stroked lightly over Joyce’s arm. “It’s for you to take the life that you gave.”
“I can’t kill my daughter,” Joyce said automatically. She was surprised, however, to realize how little conviction she felt. Maybe it was Drusilla’s soothing touch. Contact with her sire always made Joyce feel a bit more grounded.
“She won’t hesitate to kill you,” her sire replied simply. She lifted Joyce’s hand and studied it closely, seeming to find confirmation in what she saw. “The outcome rests with you, Joyce.”
“Killing a slayer is no easy feat,” Spike cut-in. “Especially this slayer.”
“You never tried very hard, Spike. If I didn’t know better all these years,” Drusilla’s glance was pitying when she looked at Spike, “I would think you never wanted her dead.”
“Just what is that supposed to mean?” His eyes narrowed.
“Drusilla’s trying to be kind, Spike,” Rupert replied. “She won’t tell you that you’ve gone soft. Even before your present handicap.”
Joyce shoved Drusilla out of the way as Spike lunged at Rupert. Caught off guard, Rupert toppled backward, taking Spike down with him, and the two rolled, trying to gain dominance over each other. Their demons came forward as they struggled, striking hard and quick.
“I do enjoy a good fight,” Drusilla said happily as they stood off to the side.
“You knew about all of this, didn’t you? How it would come down in the end?” Joyce asked, already knowing the answer.
“I’ve heard whispers for years now. They have so loved teasing me with it.” Drusilla carefully side-stepped one of the kicking legs, then continued. “Glimpses and hints, but never enough to know. They do love their secrets,” she explained matter-of-factly. “’Twasn’t until the gallery when we met that it started to make sense. But pieces were still missing until we happened upon the Slayer’s beau. I can even tell you how it will end.” Her dark eyes were wide and full of promises.
“Please don’t,” Joyce said quietly, focusing on Rupert and Spike rolling around on the ground. They seemed made for this kind of fighting. Brutal, simple, and very male. And in it all there was a sense that the two men were genuinely enjoying themselves.
“I suppose you’re right. It’s almost worse knowing too much than not knowing enough.” Drusilla rested a comforting arm around Joyce’s shoulders, leaning close to whisper against Joyce’s ear, “But it’ll all work out, dear. You’ll see.”
Angling her neck to allow Drusilla greater access as her sire began to nibble playfully, Joyce asked, “Shouldn’t we stop them?” She motioned to the men still scuffling, blows landing with echoed curses.
She felt her sire smile briefly before resuming her attentions. “They’re having too much fun. They’d be cross if we did.”
“Maybe it will do them some good,” Joyce agreed, relaxing against her sire.
“Rupert is very jealous of the attention you pay Spike. Doesn’t like it one bit.” Her point was emphasized as Rupert landed a hearty blow to the side of Spike’s face. “I do love it when my boys play rough,” she said, her voice taking on an edge of huskiness. “Such a lovely sight.”
Seeing no need to lie, Joyce admitted, “I don’t care for the attention Rupert pays you.”
“As it should be.” Drusilla drew Joyce around to face her, hand coming up to cradle Joyce’s cheek, then sliding down to graze playfully over her breast. “We don’t like to share, but we do because that’s what family does. Keeps things from growing stale.”
Joyce leaned into the touch, savoring the promise it held for the night ahead. Swallowing, she whispered, “Do you think they’ll ever, um, do more than beat up on each other?”
“Of course,” Drusilla replied with certainty as her hand left Joyce’s breast to settle at her waist. “They just need time to get past their pride and away from our prying eyes. For the first time. Come.” She used her hold to lead Joyce away from the fray and towards the ladder to the lower level. “We’ll leave them alone for awhile. And you and I have much to discuss.”
Joyce followed with a quick backward glance. Maybe after this Rupert and Spike would be able to work together, for a short time. Family bickering would be the last thing they needed in the days ahead. Plus, some time alone with Drusilla wouldn’t be bad either. Time alone with Drusilla was never bad, so far. And if nothing else, Joyce could find blissful oblivion for a few hours under the careful manipulations of her sire.
As for the days that followed, Joyce would do what she had to do if it came to that, but she wasn’t going to go looking for trouble. It would find her soon enough, she had a feeling.
Chapter 17: Chapter Seventeen
“We should go to LA,” Rupert said decidedly as they strolled through the graveyard.
“Shouldn’t we go farther away? At least for the short term?” Joyce inquired, looking at him sidelong.
“This from the woman who saw no need for us to run,” he laughed.
“I’m serious, Rupert. It’s not safe for us here. And in LA, there’s Angel to worry about. Especially when he learns about what we we’ve done here.”
“Angel won’t be a problem,” he reassured her.
Joyce stopped walking. “What do you know, Rupert?”
His steps slowed before he turned around and walked back to her. There was a gleeful light in his eyes.
“What do you know?” she repeated anxiously.
Rupert smiled. “There are old debts to be repaid and destinies to be made.”
“I think you’ve been spending too much time around Drusilla,” Joyce said pointedly.
He shrugged it off. “But there’s something you have to do before you leave.”
She knew what he was alluding to. “I can’t do that. I won’t.”
He opened his mouth to speak and then he disappeared, a fine silvery dust raining to the ground in his place.
“You’ll do what you have to, Mother,” Buffy said coldly as she lunged, stake raised to strike again.
Joyce sat up with a strangled cry. It took a moment to regain her bearings and realize where she was. The familiar walls of the lower crypt chamber greeted her as they danced in the faint candlelight.
Drusilla shifted restlessly beside her, letting out a quiet whimper before settling back into sleep. She looked so innocent despite her unashamedly naked state, dark hair framing a face that would forever remain unlined and frozen in the prime of just realized womanhood. The madness only enhanced it. And underneath the madness was a brilliant mind that it was foolish to underestimate. Joyce envied her. It was no wonder people so readily obeyed Drusilla.
Tossing back the covers, Joyce rose from the bed and tried to locate her dress, most jealous at the moment of Drusilla’s continued slumber. Joyce couldn’t remember having dreamt once since she was turned. Sleep was oblivion, a break from the sometimes overwhelming sensations of her daily life now. As for the dream itself . . . she couldn’t bring herself to think about it at the moment. Finding her dress, she slipped it on and headed to the upper chamber.
She found Spike sprawled naked in the armchair, the picture of relaxation as he took a long pull of his cigarette. He looked away from the television and gave her a satisfied smirk.
“Seems you ladies had a fine evening of it.”
Joyce was suddenly very aware of every scratch, bruise and bite that Drusilla had given her over the course of the evening. But it wasn’t self-consciousness she felt so much as pride in having been marked, however briefly, by her sire.
“It was a very productive discussion.” She smiled as her eyes wandered over Spike’s pale form. A semi-circle of bruises on his right hip was of particular interest. “I’m guessing that you and Rupert worked things out.”
“We reached a mutual agreement of sorts.” His smirk became a frown then as he spoke with a touch of annoyance, “Though I don’t fancy being called by another bloke’s name in the course of it all. Don’t suppose you have any idea who Ethan is, do you?”
She shook her head. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but at the moment she had other concerns. “Where is Rupert?” she asked, scanning the crypt, already knowing he wasn’t there.
“Headed out just after sunset. Seemed very eager to get out there this evening,” he said casually. Then he gave her a curious look. “What’s worrying you, Joyce?”
“Nothing,” she said easily, trying to mask her unease. It was just a stupid dream. “It’s nothing.”
“Nothing doesn’t make you agitated.” Spike watched her closely, eyebrow quirked quizzically.
“I just couldn’t sleep is all,” she replied, fidgeting. Something just wasn’t right. “Spike, do you ever dream?”
“S’pose I do. Why?”
“Nothing.” She shrugged. “Just curious.”
“Sounds like more than curiosity to me. What’s going on?” He sat up and fixed her with a discerning look.
Apparently ignoring the dream wasn’t going to work. Spike might have some insight. It couldn’t hurt to tell him. “I think it's just that I haven’t dreamt since I was turned. So it was kind of weird. Suddenly having a dream again.”
“’bout Rupert, wasn’t it?” he said knowingly. “And not a good one, I bet. That's why you're so edgy not knowing where he is.”
Sometimes she really hated how well he knew her. “I know I have nothing to worry about. Rupert's a big boy and can take care of himself.”
“Against Buffy? After killing everyone close to her in less than a week’s time?”
Joyce couldn’t argue with him there.
“Go find him, Joyce. You’ll be no good until you do,” Spike said as if it were the most obvious solution. Which it was.
But that didn’t mean she was going to give in so easily. She couldn’t go running off after Rupert every time she had some foolish dream. “He’s fine,” she said resolutely, not moving.
“Joyce, you’re starting to make me nervous. I don’t care much for it.” His tone became more commanding. “Now go, before I make you.”
Finally surrendering, she headed for the door.
Spike’s warning followed her out into the night. “Don’t try and take Buffy on. You have no idea what she can do when her back’s against the wall.”
The night was no different that any other night. Clear, a bit damp and lit by the pale light of the half moon, it was a good hunting night. Joyce stood still for a moment, taking it all in, eyes closed, and focusing in on the constant resonance of her family. Spike and Drusilla were the most noticeable being a short distance away in the crypt. The faintest of all was Angel, though he was a bit more noticeable than usual. And somewhere in between was Rupert, not too strong, but not faint either. She concentrated harder, trying to figure out where he might be. At last, she opened her eyes and set out to the south.
It wasn't necessary to rely on the blood tie for long. As she drew to his location, she could just make out the sounds of a scuffle, interspersed with conversation. It wasn’t until she actually reached them, in the clearing between the Johnstone and Favreau crypts that their words became comprehendible.
“There’s no one left, Giles!” Buffy shouted, the dull thud of fist connecting with flesh emphasized her words.
Joyce was careful to keep herself in the shadows, watching them unnoticed, but at one point she saw a quick flicker of Rupert's eyes that led her to believe that he knew she was watching.
“This is why the Slayer is always alone,” he instructed, the Watcher in him coming to the fore, tracking Buffy’s movements with ease as she circled him. “You eventually make victims of all those you care about.”
Buffy struck out at him again, the blows half-hearted and seeming to have little effect on Rupert who easily countered them.
Rupert’s dark laugh echoed in the still night. “It really is pathetic how little you’ve managed to retain over the years. Still relying on instinct over any real technique.”
“I’m not supposed to be fighting you!” she screamed, rage choked off by tears. A part of Joyce was still pained by the sight of her daughter so utterly devastated. She doubted time could ever really erase her instincts as a mother. But alongside that pain was a sense of pride at having caused such hurt. It was an interesting conflict of feelings to say the least.
“You weren’t supposed to fight your lover either, but you managed just fine in the end. Though I will say it took you far too long to come to your senses. Good people always have to die first before you’ll step up and do your duty,” he said pityingly as he caught her left hook in mid-air, hitting back with a forceful right, sending her stumbling with the force of the blow. “Perhaps you never were cut out for being the Slayer. Only when times are most desperate do you show any strength at all.”
“Why are you doing this to me?” she accused, wiping at the blood from her cut lip. “Would it have been so difficult to leave us alone?”
He shrugged, then looked directly at Joyce, drawing Buffy’s attention to where she stood. “You’d have to ask your mother about her motivations for killing your friends. I was just following her lead.”
Buffy’s eyes were wide and accusing as Joyce entered the clearing. There was no way this would end well.
“They weren’t a threat,” Buffy stated, sounding so lost.
“Not now, but they would have been, eventually,” Joyce replied calmly.
“That was Rupert’s doing. I doubt I would have known who he was otherwise.” Joyce surprised herself with how detached she felt from all of this suddenly. Willow and Xander had come to be like her own children over the last few years. And she had cared for them, deeply. But it was different now. Everything was different. Rules had changed. What had been true in life wasn’t quite the same on this side. She hadn’t killed them out of any real malice, but it had felt good. “I don’t think I could explain it in any way that you’d understand, Buffy. I just did what I had to do.”
Shell-shocked didn’t even come close to describing the look on Buffy's face at that moment. And Joyce realized that she had taken everything from her daughter that made her life anything resembling normal. Again she felt pain at her daughter’s devastation, but she wasn’t sorry. She wasn’t sorry in the least. It was a liberating feeling.
What happened next seemed to occur in slow motion, but it really couldn’t have been more than a few short seconds. One minute Buffy was completely still, then she was turning, graceful as a dancer to spin behind Rupert, linking a strong arm around his neck she held him in place as her free arm came from behind her, raising her stake into striking position.
“Buffy, no!” It didn’t come out hysterical like she felt, but instead forceful, stern, and motherly. Much the same tone she had used to keep Buffy in line when she was growing up.
The stake stopped, poised just above the fatal spot on Rupert’s chest. In spite of his precarious position, Rupert showed only annoyance.
“This is between you and me,” Joyce continued in the same tone. “Leave Rupert alone.”
“You made him a part of this.” She could see Buffy struggling to keep her emotions in some semblance of control.
“No more or less than you did,” Joyce countered matter-of-factly. “Now, let Rupert go, so we can settle this.”
Buffy was incredulous. “I’m just supposed to let him go because you tell me to, Mom? It doesn’t work like that anymore.” Contrary to her words, though, Buffy lowered the stake. Grabbing Rupert with her free hand, she threw him forcefully against the solid stone wall of a nearby crypt, stunning him to fall bonelessly to the ground. She faced Joyce then, determination firmly set on her face. “We end this tonight.”
Joyce wasn’t ready for this, but that didn’t matter anymore. This was no quarrel between mother and daughter, either. They were vampire and Slayer meeting for battle. And realistically, Joyce didn’t have high hopes for herself. She knew she was capable of more than she gave herself credit for with regards to her fighting skills, but that still wasn’t much. However, she was hardly eager to become dust. Maybe that counted for something.
Debate over her skills or lack there of became moot when Buffy attacked, her fist connecting solidly with Joyce’s right cheek. She was too stunned to react as a second blow connected with her jaw. Pain flared and she tasted the sharp tang of her own blood. The demon woke up with that and the instinct to survive kicked in.
She caught Buffy’s hand in mid-strike and countered with her own, rocking the girl’s head back with the force of the blow. After that, the battle became a blur of fists and kicks, ducking, circling, backing off and then striking. Joyce let go, the momentum of battle taking over. But it wasn’t just the demon fighting. Something primal and long buried came to the fore. The desire to keep existing was too strong to let inexperience get in her way.
To her credit, Buffy didn’t hold back. Joyce could tell. When blows did land, they were hard with pinpoint accuracy, making Joyce painfully aware of each and every one. But she fought back just as hard, fought even harder as exhaustion began to make itself felt.
She landed roughly on the ground, the dirt lending little cushion to the fall or the impact of Buffy on top of her. But before Buffy could pin her there, Joyce rolled them, continuing the battle until she was finally able to gain the upper hand, trapping Buffy against the ungiving earth. The girl struggled as her heart raced, her breath in harsh, gulping gasps. Joyce held firm, not willing give up the superior position she now held.
Realization dawned on Buffy as her struggles lessened until she was finally still. There was realization and a hint of relief in her eyes. “Just make it quick,” Buffy said simply. There was no pleading, just acceptance. “As my mother, you owe me that much.”
Joyce did owe her that. Snapping her neck, however, would be too impersonal, too detached. And her blood was calling to Joyce, whispering the secrets of power born of many ages. By rights that blood belonged to Joyce, as she had given Buffy life in the first place. It was only right to take back what was hers.
She knew what she had to do, yet she hesitated. The mother in her needed to ease the blow somehow, soothe her daughter one last time. Joyce then began to sing, gentle and low, a favorite lullaby of Buffy's from childhood that had never failed to put the girl to sleep.
Buffy smiled faintly, as her eyes drifted closed . “I’m glad it’s you,” she breathed.
Joyce repeated the chorus one final time as she leaned in close, brushing Buffy’s hair out of her way. “I love you,” she whispered as she bent toward Buffy’s exposed neck, her face shifting in the descent. She bit without hesitation, the blood flooding her mouth and her senses instantaneously, overwhelming her with a rush of memories.
Wide, clear, pale green eyes meeting hers for the first time, new to the world and so alert, as if already trying to take everything in. The first time Buffy had said “mama,” her face alight with the achievement. Her knees scraped and bloody, dripping onto Joyce’s new carpet, forever staining it with the blood of her first fall. Heading off to school for the first time, bravely and very excited. And much later, being thrown out of school, cut and bruised so severely that when they faded so quickly after Joyce had wondered if she hadn't imagined them worse than they were. Discovering at last what her daughter really did when she snuck out so late at night, the truth of the true terrors hidden in the dark night. And then the last dinner they had shared when Buffy had spent the weekend home from college, joking and so much at ease.
Joyce pulled away just as Buffy’s heart began to struggle with its last few beats. Company was fast approaching, a faint, familiar presence growing increasingly stronger on the periphery of her consciousness. There might yet be enough time to finish Buffy off, but not enough to do that and get Rupert and herself to safety as well.
“Good-bye, Buffy,” she said, placing a gentle kiss on her daughter’s cheek before jumping up and rushing over to a very dazed Rupert. “We need to leave now,” she said urgently, managing to lift Rupert with little effort and propelling him out of the clearing. Progress was slow, but they still managed to get a good distance away by the time Angel’s anguished shouts reached her ears.
It was time to leave Sunnydale behind. She had learned all she could in this little town, more than she ever imagined. And she had done things she never dreamed of. But she had only just begun, Joyce knew that now. They would make it out of town, unscathed, she was certain. Angel would be too concerned about Buffy for long enough to ensure Joyce and the others’ safe flight from Sunnydale. After, well, if her dream still held any credence, then he wouldn’t be a concern then either. Only time would tell.
Right now, Joyce was eager to see the wonders of what the world held. With Slayer blood singing in her veins, everything seemed possible.