Almost Heaven

The Slip

Buffy strolled into Willy's, intent on pulling information out of the rodent bartender. "Willy!"

Several demons scuttled out of Buffy's way as she moved to the end of the bar, where Willy was pretending to be invisible.

"Willy, it isn't nice to ignore people. You might make me mad, and that would be very, very bad for business."

Willy looked at her, his mouth agape and his eyes wide. "N-no! You can't kill all my regulars every time you want something."

Buffy shrugged. "I could kill them just for the hell of it if that would make you feel better."

He sighed dejectedly. "What do you want?"

"I knew you'd be happy to help. There were a couple of Hell's spawn in Sunnydale about a couple of months ago, a dad and son."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, Spike killed 'em."

"How'd you know that?"

"Some warlock kid came in. He was babbling about a blonde vampire who ripped a couple of badass demons apart. He said they were actually from hell, like they lived there or somethin'. Figured Spike was the only vampire who'd have the balls to take on somethin' that bad."

"You know where I can find this guy?"

"Maybe, but it'll cost ya."

Buffy stepped over to a nearby table and grabbed a slouched over vampire. She dragged the squirming, snapping blood sucker back to the bartender.

"Tell me and I won't do this to the rest of your patrons." In one fluid motion she snatched up the stake from her jeans and drove it into the vampire's heart. She clappedthe dust from her hands, and blow it away from her face.

"Should I go find another?" Buffy asked, the picture of innocence.

"No! Stop killing my customers, I'll tell ya. Tell ya anything you want."

Buffy smiled cheekily. "Of course you will."

"He's in the back, playing poker. Just…don't make a scene when you get him. You're scaring everyone away."

"Like I'd make a scene. I can be discreet, you know."

Buffy flung the backdoor open and latched onto the collar of the only human at the table. She dragged the shaggy haired brunette out of the kitten poker room and pushed him against the wall.

"Yeah, discreet like a bull," Willy muttered and busied himself cleaning the dingy counters.

"Hey! Watch the shirt, its designer," the guy barked with more authority than his position warranted.

"The two butt ugly demons killed by a vampire, you saw it?"

"Yeah, so what?"

"What do you know about these demons?"

He moved a hand to sweep hair from his eyes. "Not telling you anything," he sneered.

Buffy slapped him. "Oops, clumsy me. I have issues. You never know what I might accidentally hit next. Now, what was it you were going to tell me about the demon?"

He growled. "Do you know who I am, you pathetic human?"

"I'm guessing a Billy or Mark? Richard maybe?"

"You couldn't pronounce my name unless I cut out your tongue."

"Hershel? Bet they call you Hershy at home."

"You…" he sputtered with indignation. "How dare you say such things when you know I will kill you for it!?"

"What? Are you a boy named Sue?" Buffy goaded.

"I will give you my earth name, but only because I want to hear you scream it as you beg for a merciful death. It is Rufus."

Buffy's lips quivered as she tried to suppress laughter. "Rufus? I'm being threatened by a Rufus?"

Rufus pushed Buffy back and stomped out of the demon bar and grill, Buffy hot on his heels, chortling.

"Listen Rufus, you help me, and I won't hurt you, okay?"

If looks could kill, Buffy would have been a pile of dead slayer. "Screw you."

Buffy growled, tired of playing. She clutched his shirt and threw him against the brick wall.

He groaned in pain, but held onto his venomous attitude. "I'm not telling you anything, bitch!"

Buffy grabbed his ear and used it to help him to his feet. She ignored his gasp of pain.

"Listen, I have a friend being held captive by those guys, why don't you tell me what you know?"

"I know that he's not getting away unless they let him go. Your friends up shit creak, no paddle in sight."

"No. I don't accept that. There's got to be a way to save him."

Rufus slapped her hand away. "No, there really isn't. They're probably torturing him right now." He delighted in the horrified reaction he got from Buffy. "They do love new toys. I give it a couple of decades before they get bored with him."

Buffy shook her head. "No."

He snorted. "I give him a day, maybe two before he goes completely insane. These demons have a real neat sense of humor, too. I bet they've ripped off his face already, and made him eat it. They've probably skinned him a few times, too. This is what he gets for the rest of eternity."

Buffy heard the crack of her fist against Rufus' jaw, but she couldn't remember throwing the punch.

"Shit!" he cried, cradling his sore and bleeding face.

Buffy turned and ran. She had to get away from him. His words filled her with an unreasonable, and gut-wrenching fear, not to mention anger. She needed to get home. Giles would know how to fix everything.

"Sleep," Rufus whispered, wincing at the pain talking caused. A wisp of blue sand followed Buffy, evaporating into her back.

"Take that, bitch," he growled. He needed the damn slayer out of the way anyway.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

The Master stalked around his chamber room. He had felt the severing of one from his line the night before. It had been William, he knew it. The boy was rowdy, had no respect for the vampire laws, but he was a good, brave vampire. It was a shame to lose such a valiant fighter.

Something else was off, though. There was a feeling of death and magic in the air.

"Childe, come here."

Darcy knelt in front of her sire. "Yes, my Master?"

"Go out, watch the slayer. I feel something is wrong."

"Yes, my Master."

Darcy rose gracefully and left.

"I swear, I will killed anyone who robs me of my revenge."

"Are you speaking to me, my Master?" The vampire who stood guard looked at the Master with fear and trepidation.

The Master sighed in frustration. "I need new children."

"Um, are you still talking to yourself, or…?"

"Oh for god sakes, go away."

The vampire quickly took his leave, breathing a sigh of relief.

XxXxXxXxXxXxXxXxXx

Flashback

Spike cursed Buffy and everything pertaining to her as he weaved his way through his cemetery. He picked up a grave marker and threw it against a crypt wall, finding a slight satisfaction in the way it crumbled into pieces.

"Bitch tells me to move on. Apparently that doesn't mean I can actually move on!"

He dropped his head back and bellowed his rage at the stars. He felt helpless, useless, unwanted. Why did he shag Anya? Why did Buffy see it? Why the bloody buggering hell did God hate him?

"What am I, a big cosmic joke to you? Everyone up there having a good laugh at my expense?"

Spike's shoulders slumped in defeat. He knew he was always going to love a woman who wouldn't spit on him if he were in flames.

"Love's sodding bitch, ain't I?" he mumbled to himself as he started back up on his trip home. He wanted to drink until he couldn't remember her name. Or until he pass out. The latter was the more likely scenario. He had never been able to consume enough to forget her. She was etched into his unbeating heart, and his nonexistent soul. She was his light in the dark. He needed her.

"I hate you, Summers."

Consumed by his thoughts, Spike didn't see the body until he tripped on it and landed flat on his face.

"Bloody hell!"

He picked himself up off the grass and turned to deliver a vicious kick into the side of the dead demon. He straightened his jacket and resumed walking, once again tripping over a demon's body. He growled furiously and twisted around to rip apart the demon. He paused at the size of the demon. It was no bigger than a toddler, and judging by the crude, wooden toy clutched in his hand, he wasn't a short adult.

Spike moved over to examine the body, curious about who had killed the child. He twisted his face at the sickeningly sweet smell of death that came of the kid in waves. Spike noted that the child's head had been twisted nearly completely off.

He grimaced and moved to the bigger body. He was obviously the same type of demon as the littler one. His life was ended in similar fashion as the kid, though there were a couple of holes in him.

"What the hell got to you?" Spike murmured as he looked around the cemetery for any sign of a struggle. There wasn't one.

Upon further inspection Spike found that something had been attached to the demon's waist and was ripped off, a small leather bag left behind.

He crawled back to the child, finding the small leather sack that hung from his waist. Spike's deft fingers flew across the belt, untying the strap. He wanted to know what they died for. He tugged the sack off and stood, stuffing it into his pocket, to be forgotten after the stupefying effects of a few bottles of JD took hold. He strode towards his crypt. He needed a stiff drink.

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