Exaggeration and Blank Verse
Battlestar Galactica
Horatio Hornblower
Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel the Series

"You promised me a new baby. You promised me one with pixies in his head.” Dru was well past halfway to a royal snit, shredding the carpet between her fingernails and glaring at me from the other side of the corridor. “I'm sitting on the floor like a common trollop, there aren't any pixies anywhere, and I'm becoming very annoyed, Spike."

"He'll be here, precious," I said as coolly as I could, grinding another cigarette out into the carpet. Christ, I didn't want her going into a temper and taking off again, not when things were finally coming back together. More than a year since she wandered back into my life and said we had to go meet up with Darla, and I still couldn't be sure she'd be there when I woke up in the evening. Love's panicky little bitch indeed, Spike. "The girl at the hospital said he'd be out today. This is the address she gave us. He'll be here."

"She bled all over my new blouse," Dru pouted, plucking at the fabric. "All spotted. Terribly rude." She leaned her head against the door. "You say he's Irish, Spike? And he has visions like mine?"

"That's what I said, princess." My jaw ached from grinding my teeth for the last two hours. This Doyle fellow had better hurry the hell up or I'd gut him before Dru had a chance to turn him.

This had seemed like a good idea on the road. Dru wanted a real pack, a family; Darla had vanished into thin air. I could’ve told her that old grandmamma wouldn’t be at the rendezvous; Darla had never felt the overpowering need to surround herself with idiots the way Angel and Dru did. I remembered Angel's little Mick friend I'd met when I chased the Gem of Amarra to Los Angeles and thought I had it all figured out. Get Dru a friend- one with visions like hers- and twist a knife in Angel at the same time. Little payback for the Amarra mess. Christ, after that I’d had to spend a year and a half in Mexico just getting my pride back. Good plan. Smart.

I just should not plan. I saw that. I accepted it. Too late.

"You said they had a little den by the library," Dru began a singsong chant. "Not. So you found the hotel, said he'd be there, but no...so we follow the little girl to the hospital and you say he must be there but we don't see him, so we eat the desk girl and we come here but he isn't here and I'm getting terribly bored, Spike..."

"He'll be here, Dru!" I was out of smokes and I couldn't take much more of this. "Girl said the last name was Wyndham-Pryce, this apartment belongs to Wyndham-Pryce, Doyle Wyndham-Pryce will be coming home soon and when he does you can eat him, all right? Will you just have a little bloody faith in me-"

A small sound came from the far end of the hallway. We both turned to look.

A dark-haired man stood outside the elevator, clutching the box the skinny girl had carried to the hospital, staring at us with pain-dull eyes. A bandage was taped over his throat. His smell was rich and thick with Angel.

He was not the same man I'd met before. Oh, balls.

Maybe I should’ve checked both of the names.

Dru rose slowly to her feet. "Oh, Spike," she whispered. "He's lovely. He's perfect. So full of dark...so tangled up in hurt..." He didn't move as she waltzed closer and closer, not even when she reached out and touched his face. "Daddy's in there."

"Dru, he's not the one I thought." I shoved my hands into my pockets and glared at this pale man who was fouling up yet another one of my apparently lousy plans. "He doesn't have visions- do you, mate?"

He shook his head, arms tightening around the box. He didn't speak or move, not even in response to Dru's hand stroking over his face.

"I don't care," she said, staring at him in wonder. "He's perfect. I want him."

"Oh. Well, then." This could work out after all. "Go ahead and take him then, love."

"I want you to do it." She glanced back over her shoulder at me, smiling her bright crazy smile. "I want to watch you do it, Spike."

Another one of her whims. I shrugged. "As you wish, princess."

She took the box from him and set it on the floor, kneeling beside it and rummaging through the contents. She smiled and held up pieces of a tea set. “We shall have a party when you’re born,” she chirped. “But I shan’t let you take sugar unless you’re a good boy.” She unfolded a sheet of paper with the hospital’s name at the top. “Wesley, his name is. Lovely. Oh, he’s English! How wonderful!”

“Yeah, love,” I said, trying not to roll my eyes. “That’s great. We can all drink tea and celebrate the Queen’s birthday together.”

I heard a faint wheezing sound and looked over at my soon-to-be lunch. He was laughing soundlessly. “Would that be Elizabeth’s birthday, or Victoria’s?” he asked in a whisper of a voice.

“Victoria’s, of course,” I said, moving up next to him and shifting into my demon face. “Has there been anyone else worth the title?”

“Snakes in his pockets,” Dru remarked thoughtfully.

I jumped back. “What?” What kind of a madman had Angel come up with, carrying reptiles around with him?

Stakes. In his pockets.” Dru glared at me, walking over to him and deftly catching his wrists in a grip no mortal could break. “Watch his hands.”

“Oh. Right.” I moved up close again, trying to find the proper frame of mind for this. Wasn’t easy, with that little smirk on his lips and a dash of amusement mixed with the despair in his eyes. Yes, yes, it must be terribly embarrassing to be killed by two incompetents like us.

He still didn't move as I walked up to him, didn't flinch when I ripped the bandage away. Somebody had cut the lad's throat, and it was only half-healed yet, the flesh forming over the wound still more jelly than skin. He trembled as I leaned in close to his neck and licked the pulpy stuff away, but didn't cry out or move even when the blood started to flow and I punched my fangs through the exposed thin surface of the vein.
Dru wanted a proper funeral and a burial, which of course was completely impossible. We dragged the body into the apartment and I wrapped him up in blankets so he'd have something to crawl up out of, but she still sulked for hours. Infuriating woman.

Nightfall, rising, first hunt. His throat was healed on rebirth, of course, but he still didn't talk much. When he did, I was surprised to hear the posh accent that came out of his mouth. Dru was thrilled.

Oh, Dru loved her new toy. He might not have visions, but there was no doubt that he was batshit fucking mad. I suppose humans would say that all vampires are sociopaths, but most of us are ruled by our passions, looking for a quick rush and a splash of blood. He was the first I'd met who seemed to feel nothing.

Dru was ecstatic to have another man to play me off of. I'd forgotten, over all those years after Angelus left, how much she loved doing that. And how good she was at it, her favorite hobby. Crazy bird.

She was sitting next to him on the couch, clasping his hands in her own, glancing over every few minutes to make sure I was still sulking over my whiskey. I indulged her- why not? Maybe I was a little jealous. Mostly I was annoyed. I'd turned the little bastard, I was trying to teach him proper behavior, and he just kept sneering at me and trotting off after her. Poncey little git. Thought he knew all about being a vampire because he was trained a Watcher...

"The girl at the hotel," I said suddenly, swirling the liquid in my glass, "the one who visited you at the hospital- she died, you know."

He glanced over at me, face as blank and masklike as ever. "Pity," he said at last. "I looked forward to tearing her heart out."

“Some kind of slug demon, they say.” I drained the glass. “Sucked all the water right out of her. Sounds like a miserable way to die.”

“Yes, so much worse than having the blood sucked out of you,” Wesley purred. I clenched my fingers tighter around the glass.

"You loved her," Dru said with her widest smile, the one that meant the wheels were turning in her lovely mad mind. What are you planning now, pretty girl?

He shrugged. "I did, before. Doesn't matter now."

"Oh, it does." She leaned in closer to him, eyes intent on his face, but stretched one hand out toward me and beckoned. I tossed my glass aside and moved over to the couch. This could end in fun. "You mustn't hold the ghosts silent, little Wesley...you must let them speak..."

He stared at her, face impassive but eyes confused.

"She's not the only one you loved," Dru murmured, grabbing my hand and pulling me closer to both of them. "We'll let the ghosts out, tonight we'll be whoever you want us to be..." Her other hand came up to flutter in front of his eyes, casting the hypnotic spell that I wouldn't understand if I followed her for a thousand years. "Be in me," she whispered, and I watched his eyes go wide.

I had a feeling, as I followed Dru's lead and began to undress him, that I knew who he saw when he looked at me. He saw Dru as that skinny girl with big eyes and a boy's name- not so far off, perhaps- and I had a funny crawly feeling that when he whimpered at the brush of my hands across his chest, he was seeing Angel. Of all the bloody people in this damned old world.

Well, all right then. I could handle it, if it meant that I got some play and Dru got some fun, as long as he didn't say it. If it all stayed in his head, if I didn't hear the name, I could play the game too.

Dru slid her mouth down his body, humming softly against his skin, and he moaned. I nipped along the line of his shoulder up his throat to his jawline, tasting the cool saltiness of his skin. Like he'd been swimming in the ocean.

It was a long dark lovely night, and true to his habit, he never said the word.
Another evening, slumped on the couch, trying to decide which hunting grounds to poach on tonight. I was getting itchy to leave LA, but Wesley seemed to have an endless amount of unfinished business here and Dru was still inclined to indulge him. I think she even liked his boring little apartment. Typical of her to be fond of the new boy, the one who still stunk of grave dirt...well, or he would, if we'd bothered to bury him...

He was scraping viscera off his boots- the remains of some sow-faced red-haired woman who almost fainted at the sight of him waiting at her door. That was rather funny, actually; the look on her face when he said “Hello, Justine.” He’d lifted it from a dozen bad movies, like all of his little shticks, but that one worked well. Unlike, say, the sudden penchant for black turtlenecks and the experiments with hair gel. Those were just annoying. Oh, and the little sneer when I told him that proper vampire behavior shouldn't be modeled on B-movie villains. “Terribly sorry I can’t manage the Byronic hero bit as well as you, Spike.” If Dru weren’t so damn enamored of him, I’d have pulled his guts out and wrapped them around his head a dozen times by now…

"I want to burn down the Hyperion." He was irritatingly casual about it. A final critical stare at the boots and he tossed them aside. "I'll need you to help me get some accelerant, Spike- something that'll work quickly. I want them to have to run outside without a chance to grab the weapons."

I stared at him, lounging on his couch in his black clothes that set off the pale dead skin oh-so-well, eyes blank and cool. Dru was wearing the glasses he didn't need anymore, tucked up in her hair. “Not exactly subtle, mate.”

He shrugged. “Well, I did consider elaborate games of psychological torture, but that was Angelus’ whole bit, you know. It would take me at least ten or fifteen years to be ready to match him, and I really don’t feel like waiting a decade to see him dust. So I thought I’d borrow a page from the Slayer’s book and drop a building on my enemies.” He smirked. “I understand the preferred structure is a church, but Angel isn’t much for praying.”

Dru clapped her hands. “Oh, yes! Do you remember, Spike? The church all tumbling down?”

Of course I bloody remembered, and what came after, too. Being dragged out of the rubble and carried off like a child, then months in that damned wheeled chair…and how did he know about that, anyway? Was there some kind of secret society dedicated to publishing The Most Humiliating Tales of Spike?

Oh, right- Watcher’s Council. I realized I was still sitting there with my mouth open and tried to rally my wits. "Uh, in case you've forgotten, Wesley-

“I’ve been thinking about that,” he said, frowning slightly. “Seems like it’s the thing to do, picking a new name when you rise. Do you think I should stick with Wesley? How long did it take you to come up with ‘Spike’?”

I didn’t give a rat’s ass what his name was, and my history was none of his business. “As I was saying…in your current state fire's not exactly a friend."

His gaze didn't waver. "I am perfectly aware of that, Spike. I'm also not stupid. I know what I'm doing."

I regretted turning him more by the day. "Why all of a sudden the jones for mass destruction, then? Can't we just break in and kill them? Why mess with the burning stuff?"

"Call it closure, if you like." I decided that I really hated people who could remain expressionless like that. Left you nothing to work with. "I'd like to wrap up these few last ends in LA. I know you've been impatient to be on the move again, Spike."

So apparently he could read me. Damn. "Well, considering that we have forever, seems rather pointless to spend it all in LA."

He smiled, faintly, a quirk of the lips that didn't touch anything else on his face. "Excellent point. Tomorrow night, then?"

I shrugged and reached for the whiskey. Dru pulled the glasses down properly on her face and crossed her eyes. "Why not?"
I threw my arms around Dru and pulled her back protectively against me as another beam tumbled down in a shower of sparks. "Damn it all to Hell, Wesley!" I screamed at him across the courtyard. "Vampires don't do well in a bloody rain of fire!"

He ignored me, staring at the figures running across the lobby toward the door. He was smiling. This time it did touch his eyes, and what I saw there chilled me. Takes a lot to do that, you know- chill a man with a hundred-twenty-year killing streak behind him.

A tall black man stumbled through the door first, coughing and choking from the smoke, skidding to a halt when he saw Wesley waiting for him in the courtyard. "You," he said, his face twisting up into a snarl. Wes bowed mockingly, shifting into his demon face. The other man spit on the ground and wiped his mouth with his sleeve. "I should've known."

"Yes, perhaps you should have." Wesley's voice was calm, mocking, superior. "Come now, Charles, isn't there anything else you'd like to say?"

"I don't talk to vampires," Charles sneered, pulling a stake out of his pocket. "I kill them."

"Yes, like your sister," Wesley smirked, taking a step closer. Dru squirmed out of my arms and scurried off, dodging among the burning timbers littering the courtyard. I hissed at her, but she didn't stop. I glanced into the lobby again. A demon of some sort I'd never seen before was slumped across the couch, quietly dying. Angel knelt beside him. How touching.

"That wasn't her, just some thing wearin' her face." Charles' voice was steady, his own face made of stone. I gave his self-control a mental round of applause as I leaned back against the low jasmine-covered wall and watched the play unfold. Safe enough from the rain of sparks here. Dru could watch herself for a few minutes as well as I could. "And you're not Wesley."

"Oh, but you hated Wesley, remember? Or at least, you wrote him off like he was garbage. Dead to you. So it shouldn't be a problem to kill me, if you can." The voice was definitely mocking now. More feeling in it than I'd heard from him since he rose. Somehow, I liked the silent, grim version better.

"I don't like seeing people I knew go down that way," Charles said quietly, raising the stake and gathering his body to strike. He gasped as Dru's hand landed heavily on his shoulder, spinning him around to face her. From the way her eyes bored into his, and the way his face spasmed as he collapsed to his knees, she'd worked her mad mojo again. She never said, but I'm fairly sure it was that sister of his he saw as Dru peeled off his face and tore his throat out. Some things come full circle, I suppose.

Wesley sighed and kicked at some smoldering debris. The fire broke through another wall above our heads with a roar. I wondered, staring up at the hail of sparks, just how he managed to start the fire on the top floors so the building would literally burn down?

"Wesley." Angel stepped through the doorway, the searing heat drying the tears on his face as he walked. "You should not have come back here, Wesley."

"Oh, but I had to, Angel. Had to pay my respects." Wes smirked at him, standing there against the backdrop of his burning home. "We're leaving in the morning, you see, heading out of town. It would've been rude to leave without saying goodbye and...thanking you for all you've done."

"The real Wesley would never have done this. He was a good man." Typical Angel to take the time to grab his coat while fleeing a burning building. Let him look more intimidating when he stood there, arms crossed, glaring.

"Which is why he stole your son and sent him to a Hell dimension." Wesley snorted and stepped around the corpse with a distasteful glance. "Tell me another one, Angel."

"Connor's back," Angel said coolly, not moving an inch as Wes made his lazy way across the courtyard to face him. "He's...he's run off, to think things over, but he'll be back. And when he does, we'll hunt you down and kill you." His eyes didn't leave Wesley's face, but his voice rose just a little. "All three of you."

Wes smiled. "Not if we find him and kill him first, he won't. After we take care of some unfinished business in Sunnydale." That got a flicker of reaction. How did Wesley get so good at playing Angel after just a few years? I couldn't get that look after twenty. Ponce. "Oh, yes. I'm going to enjoy ripping Miss Buffy Summers' friends to pieces and feeding them to her before I break her neck."

Graphic, but a tempting visual just the same.

"You don't stand a chance against a Slayer," Angel said. "Faith proved that."

"Don't worry," Wesley murmured. "We'll take care of her too." He reached out to touch Angel’s face, but the old man turned away. "Buffy, Faith, Connor...Gunn and Lorne and Fred already gone...and did I mention that we stopped by Cordelia's on the way over here?" He smiled again as Angel's eyes went wide before he could control himself. I never got that stricken look out of him. Damn Wesley anyway. "For a mythic hero, the Groosalugg doesn't much know what to do about vampires." He took a step closer, practically pressed against Angel now. "And Dru doesn't like other people claiming the name princess."

"I'll kill you," Angel whispered, staring into Wesley's eyes as if hypnotized. Wes laughed out loud and stepped back.

"You can try. I won't kill you, though." He threw his arms wide and spun slowly through the courtyard, admiring the destruction. There was a rumbling sound- another floor was about to go. "I'm going to leave you here...with your memories and bones and dust...with the corpses of everything you had...and I am going to laugh, Angel, laugh all the way to Sunnydale to destroy the rest of it and back here to find your son...and when I find him, Angel, oh, when I find Connor, you have no idea-"

"Wesley!" I shouted sharply, cutting him off midsentence. I enjoy a megalomaniacal rant as much as anyone- at least in the Bond films- but we were all about to be buried under several stories of burning hotel. "We've got to get out of here. Dru! Come on!"

He glared at me, but then glanced up at the trembling Hyperion and nodded. He took Dru's arm as she wandered out of the lobby, dark blood smeared across her face. She'd been playing with the dying demon. "He tastes like peppermint," she giggled, leaning against Wesley.

They hurried off across the courtyard, not even looking back at me. I stood there for a moment, looking from the two of them to Angel and back again. How the bloody hell did this happen? I sired him. I came up with this plan. How did I end up at the bottom of the family ladder again? It wasn't bloody fair...

Angel didn’t even seem to realize I was standing there. He hurried back into the lobby, grabbing the demon’s body off of the couch and dragging it toward the door. Oh, how touching. And how typically Angel to want to drag his friends’ bodies out of the building, even though it probably meant they’d all go up in flames. What a noble, self-sacrificing, heroic evil fiend my grandsire was.

Forgotten I might have been, but I wasn't suicidal. No point staying here with Angel to burn. I bounced up over the wall and hurried down the sidewalk after Dru and her pet.

The roaring fire lit them like they were Hell's favored children, her long hair streaming in the heat as he leaped over some fallen debris, jacket swirling around him like wings. It reminded me of something, vague and nagging, just out of reach...

I shook my head and broke into a run, chasing them down the sidewalk. I'd have plenty of time to figure this out on the road to Sunnydale and beyond, after all. Plenty of time to suss out the allusions and puzzles and hints of memory. Plenty of time to come up with a plan to make things go my way.

Hell, I'd have eternity.


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