Author's Note: The greatest thanks to Isis, who beta read this and pointed out all of my foibles. Also to Jai and John, who both read it over and pointed out all the problems I was running into. And to everyone who sent me e-mail telling me how much the liked the story, especially Amy, Julie Gellar, Hunter the Kimono Dragon, Wish, and Stargrass.
The two vampires cowered before their master. Even though his face showed no emotion, they could feel the intensity of his anger slowly coming to a familiar boiling rage. When this mood came upon him, he destroyed everything and anyone in his path. Sadly, they were now in his path. Such was their terror that they dared not move a muscle as he rose from the metal folding chair that he had been sitting in. As he walked over to them, he casually removed a torch from the wall. The two watched in terror as he sauntered over to them, but their fear of the death that the torch offered paled next to the fear of what their master would do to them if they so much as flinched away. Death was a kind fate in comparison to that.
This was the price of failure.
Spike stepped back from the ashes that now covered his floor. He had ordered the rest of his minions from his presence, and they were probably even now hunting rats in the sewers. In a sudden spat of anger, he slammed his fist down onto a table, exerting such force that the table, though well-constructed of stout English oak, collapsed. Turning in disgust, he flopped down into a chair. He was so close to getting her back, only a few small tasks remained. The words of the ritual still needed to be translated, but the unwitting fools he had should be done with that in a matter of weeks, maybe even days. Getting and keeping the firstborn brats of the Slayer and her friends would be more difficult, but shouldn't prove much of a problem. But that was before two of the stupider of his minions went after one of them before scedule, hoping to curry favor. And now Angel was back on the scene. But even if they did find out about his plan, Spike was confident that there wasn't much they could do about it. The Slayer's friends were older now, not as fit to stop the forces of darkness. And there was no way that they would willingly work with Angel, or even let him within spitting distance of their precious offspring.
Soon, everything would be ready, and then she would be at his side again. And he would make her killers watch their children die, and then he would torture them until they begged for mercy. But he would give no mercy to those who had destroyed her....
....Spike struggled desperately to get to Dru, to warn her. But Angelus pinned him down, keeping both of them hidden from the eyes of the Slayer and her litle band. By now, the Slayer and her friends had completely surrounded the vampiress. Drusilla didn't even look up, too caught up in her own spell to see the danger. The spell was almost complete, and though Spike had been doing everything he could to make sure it succeded, apparently Angelus had been doing everything he could to make certain it didn't.
Dru was draining power from the Hellmouth itself, and just a little more would make her the most powerful vampire in Sunnydale, and that didn't sit well with Angelus. He'd thought that he could control Dru, and have her use the power to further his own plans, but she had made it quite clear a few weeks ago that she would do whatever Spike told her to, and also that she couldn't care less about Angelus' little game with the Slayer. Angelus had never taken rejection or mockery very well, and he must've killed some of their own sentries, otherwise the Slayer and her little band would never have gotten this far undetected. Angelus had done many low things in the six years since he had returned, but nothing had ever come close to this. He was prepared and willing to just crouch there while his former girlfriend and her little do-gooder friends killed Dru.
They had formed a loose triangle around her, with two people on each point. All held candles while the red-haired woman who was married to the werewolf chanted. His eyes desperately noted the people participating, and their actions, praying to the God he no longer believed in that they would fail. But even if He existed, there was no way that he would answer a prayer from a minion of His enemy.
Maybe He did look down that night from his lofty perch, but if He did then He only furthered the vampire's suffering. At the last moment, Spike realized just what they were doing. They were forming a tripod, rebounding the power that Dru was using back inside of her, while at the same time putting their own force behind it. That way, they could stop the spell without causing it to backfire at the death of its castor, taking Sunnydale with it.
And at the moment he saw it, it was too late. Drusilla began to scream, and exploded in a huge cloud of black dust. Spike struggled desperately to lunge forward, but Angelus kept him pinned. He snarled in hatred at his sire, his dark heart welcoming the anger and desire for utter vengence that was planted there.
Later, after the killers had left and Angelus had gone out, Spike gathered the ashes of his dark love. And he swore by every oath that he had ever heard, by the Devil whom he knew existed, by the God that he didn't believe did, by the mother who had wept for joy when her son returned home, and then screamed when he murdered his whole family, by the hatred he held for his sire Angelus, by the joy he took in a kill, and by the love he had held for Drusilla, Spike swore that he would do whatever it took to restore her to her reign of darkness.
Whatever it took....
Spike shook himself out of his memories, angrily brushing away the tear of blood that had slipped unnoticed down his cheek. He was no good to Dru just sitting here and brooding. Crossing to the other side of the room, he knelt in front of the golden urn that contained her ashes.
"Just a little while longer, ducks," he promised, his dark eyes glowing with firm resolve, "Just a little while and I'll have everything I need for the spell. And then you'll be back, and we'll be together forever. I swear it."