The dark lights barely lit the crowded room. An arrangement of colors blinked here and there as laser lights shot across the haze of smoke that filled the air. Slow, seductive music pumped from the band on stage and bodies moved together on the dance floor. Alcohol, cigarettes, sweat, all infested the air with their different smells, blending together to create one painfully familiar smell. It smelled like him.
Carefully, black boots clicked on the wooden floor, barely heard above the other sounds of the nightclub. There were no smiles, no traces of laughter in this place. Only darkness. A darkness that hummed through her veins and called to her, beckoning her to forget her purpose and surrender to the night. Regretfully, she couldn’t. Not tonight. Tonight, she had to work.
Long black coat swung lazily at her heels as she moved, cautious eyes taking in every creature she bumped against. Smoothly she made her way to the bar, taking a seat on the closest stool she found. Manicured black nails clicked on the marble top of the bar, one nail after another, until finally, the bar tender turned to regard her. He nearly dropped the glass he’d been cleaning.
Quickly he slapped the white towel on the counter, set the cup down, and turned to regard her. From where he stood, clothed in light, she must have looked like something from a nightmare. “What do you want?” he asked, leaning over the bar to catch her words. He knew her well enough to know that she wouldn’t raise her voice, and she wouldn’t repeat herself.
She regarded his brown hair, slicked back with some sort of jell and then set her gaze to glare into his green eyes. “I’m here on business.” Her words were short, cutting, emotionless. “My boss has a bounty for a man I’m sure you’ve seen in here more than once.”
The creature turned his green eyes to the crowd dancing on the floor, then to the tables of card games in the corner. Finally, he took a deep breath. “Not like dealing with you is bad for business anymore. You’re as bad as most of my business.” He laughed, a dark sound and nodded at her. “Who’s your mark?”
“Names Brutis. Demon. Male. Comes in here around nighttime.”
“You know,” the bartender mumbled, “You’d think your boss would give you more to go on than that.”
Growing frustrated she leaned closer, relishing in the way his body tensed unconsciously, showing the fear he refused to allow on his face. “Do you know him, or not? I’m running short on time and patience tonight. You know how I detest places like this.”
He nodded, quickly. “Vampire,” he stated, picking up the towel and soapy glass and starting at it again. “Currently playing poker at the far table. Cheating too. Black hair, white eyes. Can’t miss him.”
“Blind?” she half scoffed. He shook his head.
“Some sort of accident before he was turned. Uses it to his advantage though. Pretends to have that girl read his cards to him. Can see as well as you or I.”
She nodded. Good. Otherwise, this would have been a wasted effort. Without another word to the bartender she rose and made her way toward the tables.
Reactions were always different to her. Some demons recognized her, and with wide-eyes they dropped their glasses, not caring that they shattered on the table, and took off without a word to anyone around them. She ignored those. She ignored the catcalls, she ignored the eyes turned to watch her or scan her. She ignored it all. Tonight wasn’t a good situation. The environment, the mark, all bad. Tonight, she’d be out for more than blood.
Her eyes never left her mark who, like the bartender had said, was playing poker with a bunch of demons. One demon recognized her as she approached, dropped his cards and without even grabbing a kitty took off out the bar. She didn’t even glance his way. But now she had the attention of everyone at the table, even the blind man and the woman leaning over his shoulder. Bimbo whispered in his ear but it was fake. His eye’s had widened the moment he’d recognized who had just stepped up the table. Now let’s see how long the ruse lasted.
“Room for one more.” It wasn’t a question, more like a statement, and without being asked she plopped down in the now vacant seat, reaching forward to scratch the top of the nearest kitten. It shivered and she patted its head before picking up the discarded cards. Full House. Idiot should have stayed. She laid the cards back down, face down.
“Bets to you,” the demon on her left stated, apparently not recognizing her. Good. She preferred it when they didn’t.
“All in.” she stated without picking her cards back up. Everyone at the table made their bets, flipped their cards, and cursed. She’d won. Without another word she pulled the basket full of kittens to her and rose, closing the lid of the basket and ignoring the mews from inside.
“Been nice,” she stated and then turned to lay her eyes on Brutis. “Mind if we have a chat, Brutis?”
“How do you know me?” he asked, his knuckled turning white as he folded them on the table in an attempt to seem in control.
She walked around the table and stood next to Bimbo. “Through a friend,” she stated and lowered her hand to his shoulder. Without hesitation she made a fist in his shirt and yanked him to his feet. “Walk.”
He stumbled forward and Bimbo moved to help only to freeze at the look she got. “Don’t worry, sweetheart,” she hissed and Bimbo took a step back, “I’ll guide him.” And then she shoved again and waited for Brutis to stumble out the back door and into the alley. As soon as the door closed behind them he rounded on her.
“Now look, I know I’m not blind, but is that really any reason to kill me?”
The woman cocked her head to the side and smirked at him. “Do you know who I am?”
“Of course,” he spat. But she shook her head.
“Say my name.”
“Elizabeth the Bloody.” He answered.
“Know why they call me that?” she asked taking a slow deliberate step toward him.
“Something having to do with loving the blood of your victims.”
“Look who pays attention,” she licked her lips and stopped when his back his the brick wall behind him. He shifted into Game Face and she raised an eyebrow. “Vampire Blood,” she stated, “Is my favorite.”
“Look, I’ll give George his money back. I’ve got it, back in my apartment. Just let me go get it and…”
“You had all week to go get it, Brutis.” She set down the basket full of cats and closed the gab so she was right in his face. “Times up.”
He launched himself at her but she nearly ducked and let him fly right over her shoulder. He landed on the road, bounced back and leapt again. This time she caught his wrists and brought her knee up to connect with his jaw. He stumbled backwards, rubbed his jaw, and cursed at her. “Bitch,” he addressed and turned to spit blood out of his mouth. She closed her eyes, breathing in loudly and then opened them again, perfectly aware that they were yellow now.
“You should be begging,” she sing-songed and launched into him, bringing her fist to connect with his left cheek. She heard the crunch of the bone just as she spun to deliver a roundhouse kick to his other cheek, which other crunched. Her elbow connected with his nose and just as he recovered from that she yanked her weapon out from inside her trench coat and plunged it into his heart. She could feel her fangs on her pressing against her upper lip but ignored it. An instant latter she was showered in dust.
Huffing she slipped her stake back into its pocket and dusted herself off. Without glancing back at the pile of dust she walked toward the kittens and once again hefted them up over her shoulder. Then she headed back out into the street. Humans passed all around her, skirting around her unconsciously as she walked among them down the lit street. A kind of danger sense he had said. Humans wanted to avoid them…well…the intelligent ones.
Her feet lead her into the neighborhood and she stopped in front of the orphanage. For a moment, she simply stared at its decaying exterior in disgust. Then, she yanked open the gate and walked up to the front steps. Without pause she put the basket of kittens down and rang the doorbell. By the time the door opened, she was already back in the city.
“How’d it go?”
Elizabeth didn’t even look at George as she moved past him to the couch that was sitting in front of the television. Without answering she plopped down on the sofa, aware that she now had everyone’s attention, and seeing as this was a mansion, it was quite an audience.
Dressing in his usual black slacks and black button up shirt, George walked toward the couch, ignoring the murmurs and whispers that echoed around him. “I said,” he repeated himself, “How’d it go?”
Before he could speak she was up and in his face, Game Face on and hissing. “I told you I don’t work those kinds of marks. You got a human mark, fine. Any demon mark, whatever. I don’t work vampire marks. I especially don’t work vampire marks who happen to play kitten poker in a local demon club. You want those kinds of kills, ask one of your other lackies.”
“I wanted the best.” Not a single one of his three eyes so much as batted at her! God she hated that man some times!
“I don’t do those marks.” She hissed again, but she slipped out of Game Face and returned to glaring.
“Let’s talk in my office.”
The group that had gathered around her, the team, dissipated as George and Elizabeth walked through them. A moment later they were in his sound proof office with the door locked. He spun on her instantly. “Don’t you ever disrespect me that way in front of them again! Do you know how hard it was to get this big of an organization up and running. I don’t need anyone questioning my authority, especially you!”
“That’s my job,” she spat back, crossing her arms and leaning back against a wall. “To question your authority.”
“You’re only here because…”
“I’m the best,” she answered for him. “Because no matter what is it, human, demon, vampire, monster, god, I can and have killed it.”
“Both your human and your vampire counts are low. I can’t keep giving those marks off to the others just because you have a soft spot for them. Now, if some part of the Slayer Soul is still lingering, Buffy…”
He never finished. She was in Game Face and at his throat faster than he could even gasp for breath. “One more slip,” she hissed, “One more reference to my past, and I’ll rip your throat out before you can even think enough to scream. That is not my name. My name is Elizabeth! Elizabeth the Bloody. Don’t make me remind you why that’s my name.”
He nodded and she released him. “I’m going to bed.” She hissed.
“One more thing,” he called. “Your Watcher was in town today, snooping around. I don’t think you managed to convince him you’re dead. Might want to keep your eyes peeled.”
Elizabeth never stopped walking, never looked back at George, never even paused to register his words. Not until she was in the safety of her own room on the third floor. Then, every muscle in her body tensed, and with a feral scream she flung a lamp into the wall. Just what she needed. That ancient man clinging to some hope that Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still alive. Well, she was dead all right. Or Undead, rather. If only he knew the Slayers he’d awakened to close the hellmouth were now hunting his precious Buffy with every breath in them, would he still be looking for her with open arms? Or would there be a stake in one hand? The worst part of it all was that either way, she didn’t care.