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Chapter Thirteen

Something isn't right. I glance at Faith the second we clear the doorway with Xander. Her brow is furrowed ever so slightly and her body falls in to that exquisite loping animal grace as she takes the stairs down to the main sitting area of the Lady's House. I guess calling it the House makes it seem less like an old meat packing warehouse. I stretch my awareness out as far as I can trying to figure out what's bothering me. And then I realize. I can't feel Denna anywhere. The faint warmth of her heartbeat seems so far away. Too far for me to find. I don't think I like that. "Faith…"

She puts her hand out as a warning and I close my mouth. Xander's breath is heavy behind me and I give him a little glare to let him know that it's really annoying. He offers me a shrug but at least he makes an effort to zip it. "Empty. I don't like it." Neither do I. I brush past Faith's shoulder in to the room and take a look around. She's right. It's empty. I've never seen the sitting room empty. There's always someone waiting around for walk-ins. My eyes cut to Faith and I raise my brows. She's the one that's more familiar with this place, if she's weirded out that can't be good.

I can feel The Lady before she even pushes the curtain aside. My teeth are practically vibrating in my head with the amount of power I can feel wafting off her like perfume. It's…intoxicating and the demon inside of me wants to fling itself down on the ground at her feet and roll around like a cat, purring and begging for just the barest touch or glimmer of attention.

And that's really not me. At least. Not for anyone but Faith. Which is a whole different ball of worms to work through. And I just don't have time for that now. The upside of being the undead? I'll have an eternity to work through all my personality flaws. Yay. Only not. The Lady lets her gaze rest on me like a heavy hand and fear trebles through me like thunder. "Something wrong, Child?"

The way she says it makes the ridges on my brow rise. She took Denna. I know it. A curl of a growl comes out beside me and I'm just a hair startled to see it coming from Xander's mouth. Since when do weasels growl? Do I even really care? No. All I care about right now is that Denna is gone somewhere I can't reach and this bitch knows where that is. "Where is she?"

The vampire laughs making all of us cringe just a little. "She is mine. And where she may be is none of your concern." A hiss snakes its way out of me before I can control it. A painful vise squeezes my would be heart at the thought of this separation lasting longer than five whole seconds. "Did you really think that I wouldn't know you were bonding to her? Do you even know who I am?" Her voice is soft and seductive making my skin crawl with the creepies.

"Wow. You're good." But Faith is better. Where Faith makes me want to fuck her as much as I want to kill her, this bitch just makes me want to kill her. "Just not good enough." I step forward despite the blast of fear that makes me want to shake in my oh-so-stylish boots. Faith and Xander spread out, the three of us standing in a loose semi circle around her. "I want. MY. Girl." A deeper, more resonant growl sounds out and I know it's Faith this time. I can tell by the way my nipples get all tingly. It also has the added benefit of soothing my frazzled nerves, steeling my resolve and pushing the fear off me.

"You understand nothing. You could have killed her a thousand times and it would have been nothing to me. Nothing to you. Nothing to any of our kind. But you've bonded to her, you even…care for her." I snarl at it but it's pointless. I do care for Denna or I wouldn't be standing off against anything this old. Or evil. "That I cannot allow. Denna belongs to The Lady and I am she."

Faith steps forward almost in a lunge but is caught by her throat in a long fingered death grip. And I'm fucking frozen to my spot. "And you." She gives Faith a shake, sending her flying back with just a flick of her wrist. "I let you stay here, fed you, clothed you. Took you to places no mortal could dream of. And this is how you repay my kindness? Stealing from me?"

Something flashes behind my eyes in a hazy red. "Don't. Touch. Her." Faith flicks her gaze to me and nods once. I know what she wants. I touch Xander's arm lightly letting him know he can back off. He doesn't seem to like it but he does, taking a few steps back to put himself between The Lady and Faith. Chivalry will get him killed but I find myself liking him more for the effort. It wasn't anything I could appreciate before.

"This is between Faith and myself. If you value your lives you won't interfere." No she's wrong on that. It's not between her and Faith. There is no her and Faith. There will never be a her and Faith and now I'm getting why all of this is happening. She has a thing for my Slayer. Well now I'm just mad. First she won't let me have Denna and now she's trying to put her grubby dead hands all over MY girlfriend.

"And if you value any of the hair on your head you're going to back the fuck off right now." Because I am not afraid to girl out to win a fight. We're just standing here having a dead Mexican standoff. I'm watching her chest rather than her face. Not for pervy reasons really, but because I'll know if she's going to lunge that way. We circle each other, slowly, taking measure and testing the air between us. "Faith is mine."

Her lips curl in a mocking smirk. "Faith belongs to no one little girl. I am fifteen hundred years old and if she would not submit to me she will not submit to anyone." Crap. She's over a thousand years old. I can feel Faith stand behind me, I can even smell her shampoo when her hair swings back from her neck to show off her bite.

"Told you weren't that good." Because if she was, Faith would be hers and not mine. But she's not. First confusion blurs her eyes, then anger and finally jealousy. But I never let it sit long enough to register. I leap straight at the vampire, not at all surprised when she's fast enough to meet me nearly halfway. We collide with the force of giants, muscles and bones jarring at the impact. We're in enough of a tangle that I'm not aware of much more than our combined hissing and clawing. Each of us trying to get the upper hand. Cold red leaks from a slash near my eye and I rear back, trying to shake the droplets out of my vision.

The blood drops to the pale pink of my shirt and I have exactly one second to think. "Son. Of. A. BITCH!" I liked this shirt! Faith said it made…never mind! Now it's ruined. RUINED! I'm on The Lady like white on rice on a white paper plate in a white room in the middle of a snowstorm. Her moves are fast. Faster than even Faith can move and I'm hard pressed to keep up with her. For awhile. But something inside of me clicks in to place with the scent of blood around us and the fury boiling under my skin.

I take a hard hit to the solar plexus that doubles me over and sends me crashing back in to the fancy plush couch. Another click of recognition hits me when my hand curls around a leg of the broken sofa. I yank it around and fling it right at her, catching her squarely in the chest. "You insolent little…" Yeah yeah whatever.

I break off the leg from the coffee table and blink at it. "You've got to be kidding me. 18 century French décor my ass. This is particle board!" How the hell am I supposed to stake her with particle board?? I grunt out my frustration by throwing the crumbling piece of wood at her head. And I'm only a little surprised when it connects with a deep thunk. Hey. At least it was heavy. I follow up with a head-butt to her face, dragging us both to the ground in a wild lunge. I probably wouldn't have had to lunge if I had been taller but there you have it. I lunge hard, and in a desperately vicious move I sink my fangs in to the front of her throat and bite.

It's different than anything I've ever done before. Sure I've bitten people but I've never bitten another vampire. Not especially one this powerful. So it's somewhat of a shock when it's not blood that spills from her body but pure unadulterated power. Okay and maybe a little blood. The Lady thrashes under me, trying to weakly pull me off of her but she'd have to tear out her own throat to get me off of her now. She gurgles out a half scream and I bite down harder, tearing and gnawing until there's nothing between my teeth but shreds of skin and flesh.

The sound of people crowding in around me, makes me look up with a snarl but there's no threat. Just scared, pitiful little human servants. Scared because the future of their livelihood rests in my blood soaked hands. The Lady gives me a weak snarl that only serves to make me laugh. I lap at my bloody hand while I debate what to do here. "I…will…kill…you…"

She's not lying. If I let her live she'll follow me to the end of time to pay me back for this. Well. That's argument enough. I shake my head with a soft tsk. "Wrong answer." A stake clatters to the floor at my knee and I look around me. Silver dollar sized eyes stare down at us in fear and a little bit of desperation. They want her dead. All around us bodies are shifting back in to the shadows, fading away from what's about to happen. I look to the vampire trapped under my body and blink. "You know what comes next don't you?"

The torn flesh of her neck is trying so hard to reform and knit itself back together. Being old has it's advantages, but she's never going to heal enough to save her heart. "They're…m..mine." Wrong again. The wood feels warm against the palm of my hand. Familiar and right. I plunge the stake down wincing a little when it goes an inch shy of the mark.

"Sorry!" Okay it's been a few weeks. So sue me. I pull the stake free and plunge it back down without error this time. As the dust settles around me I notice a little shiver chase itself down my spine. It's not guilt really. She was a vampire, and she was taking what was mine. But I do feel something. Maybe regret. I probably won't be able to take that nice cushy robe with me when we leave. If we get let out of this place alive. Then again. Who's going to stop us.

"My Lady…" I blink twice at the pale hand hovering in front of my face. Oh…kay. My eyes travel from the hand, up the well toned arm, and in to the face of the usual guard at the door. I take his hand and let him help me up solicitously. "Are you hurt? Do you require someone to eat?" What the fuck…



This is gonna be one hell of a nasty fight. I'm kinda sad I'm not gonna get to see it. Xander's legs bend slightly at the knees as he watches Buffy stand off against The Lady. I know the pose. He's about a second and a half from launchin' himself right in to the thick of things. An' that's not where I need him right now. I reach out a hand and yank on the back of his pants. Xander blinks down at me before stooping to help me up. Son of a bitch that hurt. I stretch and fling my hair over my shoulder in a casual gesture. And suddenly the talkin' stops. A pair of cold gold eyes stare at the marks on my neck. She's gonna kill me if Buffy can't stop her. I know that just as sure as I'm lookin' at her.

I never gave in to her for a reason. She's just not Buffy. The second The Lady an' B are in a tangle I grab Xander's hand and haul ass out the same way our hostess came in. I don't really know where I'm headed but I know I don't wanna be in that room right now. Besides, Buffy can't get her head in the game if she's worried about Denna. An' since I'm feelin' all kinds of honest I'll just own up right now an' admit that if I don't find Denna, that feelin' in the pit of my stomach is never gonna go away. She might be bonded ta B, but me an' B are one. That makes Denna just as bonded ta me.

 Xander and I slow at the cross section. "You guys really live here?" Yeah we really do. Or did. Dunno that we're gonna be all that welcome from now on. "And you made me sleep in that nasty tanker? Boy was I ever born the wrong gender." He has a point. Probably if I were attracted to him I might have at least given him a blanket. I tip my head up a little and sniff the air hopin' ta get a clue. A shock of cold sends a shiver down my spine. If I were an old ass evil vamp where would I stick my toys?

"This way." I'm not positive but somethin' is tuggin' me down the left hall. It's the same way to get to our room an' that worries me. See if I were a vampire an' I was makin' a point, I sure as fuck wouldn't hide anything away. Nah. If I were makin' a point I'd want everyone ta know about it. And the first to know about it would be the fuckers that wronged me. The closer we get to the room the more sure I am that this is the right way. Even Xander knows it's right.

"I smell blood, Faith." I give him a soft grunt. Yeah. I smell it too. It's not all that alarming considering what happens in this place but it shouldn't be this strong. We both skid to a halt at the half strangled scream that comes from the next blind corner. I don't even need him ta tell me we need to hurry. The block of concrete in my gut is enough of a warning. I barrel around the corner and don't bother ta stop for the small mountain of a guard at the door. Nope I just plow right in ta him, takin' us both down an' out of the way.

We go down hard, an' I give him a shot to the groin that shoves his nuts halfway up his throat. Stupid fuck shouldn't have tried ta get in my way. I'm up and on my feet, just two steps behind Xander when I see her. My heart just about fuckin' stops in my chest too. My vision narrows down to just her, hangin' from the manacles above the bed, butt fuckin' naked, and drippin' blood in long sluggish lines all down her back and thighs. Motherfucker. Someone is gonna die now.

Two vampires raise their heads from Denna's body and I know only one thing. Rage. I will make them all pay for this if it's the last goddamn thing I do. Xander and I move together with one intent. It's not the same as fightin' with Buffy. It's not as smooth, an' I actually have to think about where my fists an' feet are gonna land so I don't accidentally hurt him, but it ain't bad. I'm impressed with the way he attacks his opponent. No time wastin', no posturing. Just straight for the weak spots on anybody. Gut, groin, head. An' every joint in between.

With Xander an' me a whirlwind of moves no one has a chance. Not the dumbfuck at the door. Not the piles of dust floatin' in a layer over the bed and in our noses. I growl out a deep warning when Xander leaves my side to try and get Denna down. "Whoa…easy Faith. I'm just trying to help her." I take a step in his direction, making him backpedal away from her. A faint whimper of pain makes me look up at her cloudy gray eyes.

"Mine." Xander starts ta reach out to offer help again but the blank-eyed look I give him makes him back off. What they did to her…that's not okay with me. An' the idea of anyone puttin' their mitts on her makes me want to hurt somethin' bad. My hands shake slightly as I work the locking bolt on the wrist cuffs. Denna's dead weight drops to my arms and I sink to the bed with her curled up against me. "Shhhh shhhh. We're good now yeah?" Her eyes are too wide, an' too scared to take in what I'm saying. Her skin is clammy and cold and I think she's going in to shock from the blood loss.

"M's-s-sorry, Faith. Tried…stop…" Nah, not her fuckin' fault. I hope to fuckin' god that Buffy killed the bitch that made this happen. Some part of me wills my head down to lick lightly at her bloodied lip. It turns in to soft kisses and licks that travels down her chin and neck, gently cleanin' away the worst of the blood an' soothin' bites as I go.

She's so fuckin' cold. Too cold. I pull her closer to me and nuzzle against the soft skin, usin' my body to warm her up. From behind me, strong arms loop around us, urging me back against Xander's chest. I lean back in to him instinctively, lettin' him rest his chin on the top of my head. Our combined heat works against the cold stealin' out of Denna's bones, givin' her some color. It gives me some hope an' I keep on licking her clean everywhere I can reach. Maybe it's kinda gross but it looks like it's helpin' and I don't really wanna stop anyway.

So that's how B finds us. Me an' Xander, curled around Denna in the middle of our bed. Her face is a mask of mischief and interest at the scene but it's not like that and she knows it. "What'cha doing Lover?" She's not askin' because she wants an answer. If she did she wouldn't already be climbing in to the bed with us.

Yellow tinges her eyes when Denna's immediate reaction is to curl up further in to me. But I get it ya know? She's scared of all vampires right now, an' I don't fuckin' blame her. Buffy looks to me in anger but I shake my head lettin' her know not to push it. Emotion wars behind her eyes, but B nods back to me and stays a few inches back from us. "Our girl was in a bad place B." I glance up at the chains above us and back to Buffy.

"Who put their hands on her?" Not that it matters now. I just shrug and press my face in to Denna's chest, letting my hot breath warm the skin under my lips.

"Dead men." Xander shifts behind me tryin' to get away but I clamp a hand down on his leg keepin' him in place. I'm not ready for him to move somewhere else. Right now I want all my people in one spot. With me. Buffy shifts a little closer, encouraged when Denna doesn't freak out an' try to scramble away. "C'mere B." I reach out with my free hand, beckoning Buffy closer to our tangled bodies. Her fingers lace with mine and I guide her to us, watchin' her take up a spot behind Denna's shoulders.

Denna stiffens again but relaxes when the only touch she feels is the light soft strokin' of Buffy's tongue on her sliced back. She hisses at the contact but arches back in to Buffy. I dunno how long we're sittin' like this, or when Xander started grooming too but it's awhile before Gus pops his head in to the room. He's The Lady's right hand man, an' the hair on the back of my neck stands on end. I've never had beef with him before but if he had any part of this I want him ta pay.

"I beg your pardon, Lady, Mistress, but there's a problem." Lady? Who? Buffy? Mistress? Oh shit.

"First day on the job and already I'm putting out fires." No fuckin' way. I blink at Buffy with a frown. "Oh. Um. So you know how I killed The Lady…yeah now I'm the boss of everyone. Which you know. Neat title, but what's with you and the whole Mistress thingy?"

Gus clears his throat apologetically but I growl at him anyway. "Ya just made me your bitch."

I'd almost hate it if the look on Buffy's face weren't so fuckin' surprised. "Oh man this is the best day ever." Hrm. If I didn't already drink, I'd consider startin'. "So what's the problem Big Guy?" I'm hopin' it's nothin' major. Like. A dead customer.

"Slayers are at the door demanding to speak with The Lady of the House." Buffy and I look at each other over Denna's head.

"Well I don't know about you guys but I could sure go for some ice cream right about now. In another town even. I'll drive…" Xander has a point. We're so not prepared to deal with Slayers right now. But Buffy doesn't seem too bothered by it.

"How many of them are here?" Gus shifts from foot to foot slightly.

"Barely four My Lady." Barely? My brows come up and his big shoulders hunch in embarrassment. "One is very small." Heh. Bet it's Satsu. That's not a good thing even if it is kinda funny. "Shall I turn them away?"

"What do you say Lover?" I give her a mild glare.

"Why ya askin' me? You're the boss of me remember?" Well hey if it's gotta be that way then I wanna take advantage as much as I can.

"Thanks. Ass." She doesn't mean it. Or if she does, it doesn't bother her much. "Tell them The Lady will only speak to The Watcher." Huh. I dunno how smart a move that is but it buys us a little time. The Slayers will go back to Giles and make arrangements ta meet with us. He's gonna shit himself when he realizes who he's gotta deal with.

"Not to be all killjoy boy here but aren't we trying to keep hidden from Giles?" And isn't this a lil bassackwards? Yeah I get his concern but I think Buffy made the right choice. This will force Giles to show his hand early if we surprise him enough. I just hope he doesn't take that as a personal challenge. It could be the death of us. Literally even.




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