Title: LA 2040

Author: Angel Sacrifice
Contact: locutus@starbase49.com
Rating: PG I'd say. Thereabouts. Nothing too bad in it.
Legal mumbo: Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy and that horrible Noxon woman own these characters. I don't. Don't sue me!

LA 2040

By Angel Sacrifice

I wake up and thank whatever gods are looking out for me that Iíve survived another day. Itís not easy in this place. I slept in an insulation space in the wall of a house, it was slightly damaged Ė enough for me to slip inside and pass the daytime there. I dread to think what Iíll do if itís fixed, although that could easily be tomorrow. What do I do the next day and the day after? I expect Iíll survive. I always do sometimes, even here. But Iíve been running dangerously low on the red stuff lately.

This town is sterile. Clean, tidy, unmarked (except for a few areas which are due for repair), and mind-numbingly boring of course. Everythingís so bloody safe, thatís the problem. People are living in a plastic world. Iíd kill them all in the blink of an eyelid, if it werenít for that one small problemÖ No, Iím not talking about the chip. I lost the chip 30 years back. It sort of stopped functioning when a demon I was fighting beat 9 shades of hell out of me, and bashed my head in pretty badly. I took time to recover, but when I did, it was brilliant. I could kill. I did kill. Within a week Iíd got tired of the Slayer and killed her too. I make it sound easy, donít I? Well, it wasnít. She was the toughest one yet, and we had a massive fight, loads of violence, I came this close to being killed, but I caught her out in the end. Ah, the good old days. But, I digress. The problem for me these days is those bloody androids. Artificial Intelligence or some bollocks, although, if you ask me, theyíre about as intelligent as two short planks. Theyíre mindless drones, like zombies Ė worse than zombies, at least those used to be free thinking flesh and blood at one point. These things are just machines, no matter how sophisticated theyíre made. And Iím not ashamed to admit that they scare me.

You have no idea what itís like trying to find a kill round here. I creep out of wherever Iíve been hiding as soon as I wake up, and keep to the shadows until the sun sets. Iíll walk desperately through the unnaturally clean and orderly streets, trying to find something Ė anything Ė to feed off of. No luck, most nights. There arenít even any rats in the streets, never mind the occasional homeless bloke you would have found in the old times. The sunlight these days feels less strong (slightly more time to duck for cover if youíre ever caught short) but thatís the only single improvement. Youíre starved, vamped out and crawling through the street, just looking for a single mouthful of blood. Then you suddenly notice a young man or woman, out on their own, walking down the street without a care in the world. Theyíre not protected, they donít look like theyíre doing anything theyíll be immediately missed from, no demon vibesÖ itís your lucky night. You pounce, and you realise whatís wrong. Itís a fucking machine. Iíve had more decent attempts on my life from those things than from all the Slayers put together. Theyíve shot me, stabbed me, laser-beamed me, nearly cut my head offÖ if they ever put faith in the Ďstakes and crossesí idea we wouldnít have a hope. Fortunately, there are still some real humans around here, but nowhere to dispose of the bodies properly. I just donít think I can go on like this. But I have to.

I got lucky tonight. There was a man in his thirties, drunk out of his skull, whoíd just been kicked out by his wife. Thank fucking hell for dysfunctional relationships. But naturally, after Iíd fed, it tended to bring back my own less than pleasant memories. I was that man, once. I told her I wouldnít stand for how she treated meÖ but really, she just treated me like that because I wasnít giving her the right attention she deserved. Then after years I got bitter, and when she came back, I decided to reject her. I didnít bloody want to, but I wanted to hurt herÖ to make her feel something like the pain Iíd gone through for her. I bet it worked, too. Plus, at the time, I had this obsession with the SlayerÖ which was incredibly unpleasant and demeaningÖ not worth repeating. Ever. Iím through with Slayers, completely finished with the lot of them. Iím not going to go out of my way to search them out anymore, theyíre more trouble than theyíre worth. So tonight, I killed the man, and spent the night sitting on a rooftop under the stars, drinking from some random bottle Iíve had shoved in my coat for these last few days. Iím not sure what it is, exactly, but itís strong enough to do the trick. I hate that I need to blank out my memories like a human beingÖ like Iíve got a soulÖ but this isnít regret for being evil. This is regret for letting someone leave.

Funny how even now so little has really changed. Nobody believes in vampires, except for the obvious few who have become really involved, and then they usually wish theyíd never found out. Around the time that the Ďsafe areasí were created, people noticed the deaths like they never had done before. So who did they blame? Not humans, of course, and not vampires. Demons were found out, one after another, but the ones that looked harmful were the ones that suffered. People didnít want to shove blame on to something with a human face, after all. So groups formed, that went out at night and hunted things down, even if theyíd done nothing wrong. I was still able to kill without any trouble, and most vampires took to being secretive and blaming other demons as the humans did. I found the whole thing amusing. Part of the trouble with people finding out that vampires were real was the number of vampires in positions of power and influence in human society throughout the world. They didnít want people knowing, did they? They had the ability to pull strings and cover up facts, and they did this to protect themselves and their kind. Demons became hunted creatures, and although quite a few of them still exist to this day, it was hard for them. Not many creatures can stand up to an angry mob and live to tell the taleÖ and, now Iím bloody thinking of her again. She lived through Prague, she was stronger than anyone gave her credit forÖ Iím certain sheís still alive to this day, and Iíd give anything to see her. Sadly, thatís unlikely to ever happen, because Iím stuck in the Ďsafe areaí of what used to be LA. You try to leave safety and youíll be hurt.

I wonder what the rest of the world is like. Outside of these safe cities and their interconnecting tunnels, things must have changed. But it wont all be like this, thatís for certain. Food still has to be grown somewhere, and itís not like the world is wealthy enough to provide safe, clean, comfortable living for everyone. Images of plantations, city slums, peasantry, council estates flicker through my mind Ė but I donít know which of my memories will best correspond to todayís reality. Iíve seen all of these things, but every time I see poverty and degradation itís different. British council houses looked like dull-grey rubbish-surrounded identical blocks of depressing blandness. Slums in the Victorian cities were half-bricked half-planked ugly constructions, falling apart, cold, rained upon (and through), riddled with disease and filth. American plantations looked like large cheerful houses flanked by wide fields of crops and poorly-constructed ramshackle huts where the slaves lived. Extremely different, but similar only in the sense that this was a place for the poor, the losers, the unlucky ones. The ones who would find only a page mentioning their struggle in the history books, while the rich and powerful elite have page after page devoted to their simple trials and tribulations. I'm evil, so I donít really care, but itís funny how lifeís like that.

I leap down from the rooftop, slightly tipsy and feeling in the mood for a bit of action. Iím bored of this place, and I need some entertainment. I hear footsteps a street away, and walk over to see who else is out this late. Well, what do you know? Demon hunters. There arenít as many of these gangs as there were 20 years ago, but they never completely disappeared. Thereís only three of them. This ought to be fun.
"Shh!" exclaims the tall, dark haired man, who looks like their leader. "You hear that? I heard something."
"Show yourself!" a girl with red hair and full ninja style get-up calls out confidently.
"You think itís a creature?" the shorter, sandy-haired man asks. Demons got all sorts of nicknames over the years from humans Ė Ďcreaturesí, Ďhostilesí, Ďsharksí, and funnily enough, Ďvampiresí. The first man shrugs.
"Hi." I step forward, and they see my face. They relax, because I look like them. Idiots.
"Youíre out late." The girl tells me, frowning. "Itís not safe, you know. A demon got my little sister the other week. My advice is that you should go home."
"Well, my advice is that you donít tell strangers how to live their lives." I tell her, with a smirk. "Iím willing enough to fight with your guys here."
"Really?" The tall man asks. "We could use another pair of hands."
"But weíre serious." The other man tells me. "Weíre looking for demons, and weíre not afraid to fight them."
"Iíve had previous experience with Ďem." I say, looking the picture of courage and righteous conviction. They fall for it, and soon Iím walking around the streets with the gang. Itís interesting to hear their stories, just to pass the time. It would be too suspicious to kill any of them off immediately, so I end up walking with them for almost an hour, before my stomach is clenching at the fact that there are three human beings, right here, and Iím not killing them immediately. First up, I expect, is the youngest. The sandy haired short-ish boy called Frank, who seems to be pouring out his life story to me. Why would I want to hear it? I just want him to pour his life out to me, full stop. I stop him, and wait until the others have tramped a fair few metres ahead.

"Weíre behind." Frank tells me. "Why have we stopped? Weíll lose the others."
"Donít worry," I said, "youíll see them again soon enough."
"Ok," said Frank, "so lets go now and catch up." He made a motion to do as he said and catch up with the others, but I held him by his shoulders.
"Oh no." I said, turning to game-face. "Not yet. I think you ought to have a quick lesson on what exactly makes a demon." He screams out loud as I lower my head to his throat, but is quickly quietened as I bite in and suck at his neck. He only whimpers as I drain his blood, and as soon as he dies, I hurry to catch up with the others.
"Quick!" I exclaim, "Somethingís got Frank!" Without a secondís hesitation, they run back, only to find Frankís body lying dead on the concrete ground. The two of them look shocked and determined.
"Right, lets split up and look for this thing Ė if anyone sees it, donít try and tackle it yourself." The girl, Marie, says. "Did you get a good look at it?"
"It was bigÖ" I say. "It had antlers, and green skin, and clawsÖ"
"Ok." She says, pulling out a gun from her waistband. "Weíll miss you Frank. You fought bravely."
"Damn monsters." James says, taking out a crossbow. They walk off in opposite directions. I think of what theyíre carrying and decide to follow the girl Ė better to be on the safe side.

After Iíve followed the girl for quite a long way through various alleyways, I kill her. She didnít even have a chance to fire at me. Then I look around, and realise to my dismay that I am completely and utterly lost. Perfect. Itís an area of the city Iíve never been in before, and the fight left me a little disorientated, so I donít even know what direction I ought to be facing in. Well, sitting around didnít get anyone anywhere. I look up and down the narrow street and start walking. Hopefully Iíll find somewhere to shelter before sunrise. After walking for about a mile and a half, I begin to wonder. Exactly how long is this bloody street? The buildings to the side of me are all a lot taller now than they were at the beginning of the road, they make me feel about an inch tall. I walk on, for another half a mile, until I come to a high, grey, brick wall. At least two metres above my head. To my left and right are massive buildings with no doors or windows on this side.

"Great." I mutter to myself, wondering if I should start walking back now. Then I notice the metal slab in the road. Ah! A sewer! Sue me for not being discriminating about these things, but I honestly canít be bothered going all the way back now. Besides, I want to see what it is thatís being so effectively blocked off. I let my eyes wander around the deserted alley until I spot a large brick slightly dislodged from a building. With all my strength, I kick it out, and lift the heavy lump of stone in my hands. I slam it down hard on the corner of the slab, on one of the four large bolts holding it in place, until itís bashed out of shape enough for me to pull out quite easily. I set to work on the other three.

Finally, after almost half an hour of battering the drain cover in, itís looking very much the worse for wear and battered enough for me to remove it. Throwing the heavy drain cover aside, I stretch out my arms. Iím a little worn out, and very glad that Iíve fed on two humans tonight to give me strength to carry on. I leap down into the dark hole in the ground, and Ė fortunately Ė land on a dry stone platform. It really, really stinks down here. I walk on, my eyes adjusting easily to the pitch-blackness of my surroundings, and see Iím in a long tunnel, with a stone walkway on one side. Thereís nothing better I can do, so I walk for a few miles into the sewer. I can feel the sunrise not far off, so I decide to lay down here and get to sleep. Hopefully any daylight authorities that see the state of their drain wont bother to come in this far. Unless they send in a droid, and if that happens, I can quite easily get rid of it into the sewage. Infra red is still a long way from matching up to a vampireís night-vision, and Iíve got myself a handy little gun now, so Iíve got the advantage. Now, if I can just try and ignore the stench and get comfortable on the hard stone, Iíll be fine.

I wake up, and look around me. Itís hard to sense the sun on the surface through the stink of the sewers, but I can tell itís diminishing. Itíll be sunset soon. Itís very quiet here, no pipes leading down to anywhere nearby, which means Iím probably near to the end of a line. Suddenly, I hear a noise, and jump to my feet. Peering through the darkness, I see growing ever closer, a human form. But I can tell by listening closely that it hasnít got a heartbeat. Knowing itís hopeless to try and run away from the thing, I walk closer to it, slowly. It stops and waits for a while, apparently looking around for any signs of life. Then it carries on another few metres towards me. Eventually weíre a metre apart, and I expect it to do itís worst. It doesnít. Instead, after looking around, it starts forward again, and I back up quickly so it wonít bump into me. It looks to be armed with some serious killing equipment Ė one of those huge electric laser guns amongst other things. For a second Iím confused, then I realise why it doesnít see me. It sees with infra red, that means it uses heat sensors! And conveniently enough, vampires are as cold as any dead thing when theyíve not fed for a few hours. With a loud, echoing laugh, I smash the android as hard as I can against the wall a few times, then drop it into the raw sewage, watching it sink slowly. Then I continue on my merry way.

Eventually I come to a place with a big grill, where the sewage is pouring out into a concrete canal. I am not about to jump in and swim, but the stone walkway extends a few feet past the grill, so I could have a chance to climb up the side. I kick in the grill, and walk out, very thankful to be in the fresh air that smells gorgeous, compared to the insides of the city sewers. Fortunately, the top of the sewer pipe is within my reach if I jump, and I do so, pulling myself up. As an afterthought, I throw the gun down into the canal Ė itís not like I need it, and Iíve never been a very good shot with those things anyway. Then I walk towards what looks like a town in the distance. The ground Iím walking over is dry and dusty, and amazingly enough, itís the first time in 14 years that Iíve walked on any ground that wasnít concrete. The houses I see look small and roughly built, like small towns I knew in my youth, in the UK and abroad. I realise with a jolt that I am definitely not in the safe area anymore. Somehow, I managed to break out of LA. With a sudden surge of happiness, I walk to the town, feeling huge relief, now that I am finally free.

The houses are old-style, built out of brick and wood Ė not the new extremely strong concrete/iron blocks that the houses in the safe cities are made of. The road is cracked everywhere, as if it hasnít been repaired in a very long time. Fortunately though, around here there seem to be very few cars. None have driven past me on the road so far. In the distance I can see over the top of a hill, the tops of the tall city buildings. I smile, thinking how glad I am to be out of that miserable place. After surveying the place and the old fashioned style of the town, I step into a bar. Immediately Iím out of place here, but I couldnít give a toss, quite frankly. I just want to sit down, have a drinkÖ then go out, and have a drink. The liquor here is good, very good, unlike the "wine" brought into the cities which is some alcoholic drink, purified and sanitised and very low in actual alcoholic content. Here we have wine, lager, vodka, and by god, thereís even whisky. I know itís not top quality, something in my body reminds me that Iíve tasted better, but itís fucking whisky, and itís been so long that I just donít care. I was getting looks from the locals Ė not surprising, when you see me compared to them. Theyíre workers, clad mostly in dull cheap clothes with stringy hair hanging around their faces. For that, Iíd probably blame fascism. Or whatever the hell they call the government now, I never really paid attention to it much, but it definitely degenerated from its noble Demon-fighting right-wing ideals, into a militaristic organisation, gaining power through fear. And then they just stopped telling anyone anything, and weíre all in the dark. Personally, it doesnít bother me, but Iíll join a riot if thereís one going. Hurrah for violence.

I glance across the bar after my third shot, and see a head full of rich red hair. Gorgeous. In fact, if it hadnít been so long ago, Iíd swear it wasÖ she turns around and I see her profile. It is her! Willow Rosenburg, Scoobie Witch! Just like I remember her. Well, what are the chances, eh? I walk up next to her.
"Evening, Red." I say, causing her to freeze. She whirls around, astonished to see me.
"Spike!" she exclaims. "This is such a shock! I didnít expect to run into you here. How is everything? You look great." I smirk.
"Iím doing ok," I say, and look her in the eye. "Youíre not looking bad yourself Ė not aged a day, so it seems. Tell me, whatís your secret? Been using that Oil of Olay stuff? I hear it works wondersÖ" She giggles, and takes another sip of her wine.
"Well, after you got Buffy, there wasnít a new Slayer." Willow explains. "Just Faith, who they had to let out of prison in England. So the vamps kinda had a field day after you walked out, and most of us got killed outright. I got turned."
"Right." I say. "And she lasted how long?" Willowís eyes twinkle mischievously.
"All night." She replied. "I killed her in the morning though." I grin widely, and decide that this Willow is a huge improvement on the girl I used to know. Even her clothes are better Ė sheís wearing leather trousers, a scarlet long sleeved t-shirt and combat boots. It suits her no end.
"So, you completely sworn off blokes now?" I ask. "Cos if youíre not, you knowÖ"
"Stop right there." Willow says, hopping nimbly off the barstool. "Firstly Ė Iím not completely against the male species, but I donít often find them sexually attractive. Iím more comfortable with a woman. And secondÖ thereís someone I think youíre a lot more interested in than me." Then sheís gone. Leaving me with my failed chat-up, and a mystery on top of that. Damn the girl. I wonder what she meant? She probably just wanted to get me off her case, get me to go and look for another girl. Well, never mind. I down another few shots of whisky, and begin to feel the effects. Itís a good feeling, all I need now to round off the night is some nice, hot, human blood. I slip out of the pub without paying, and walk through the streets. Itís late, but hopefully not too late for people to be walking aboutÖ ah, yes. Thereís a young man walking the other direction to me, down an alleyway Ė too easy, really. I catch him up, quickly snap his neck, and drink. Delicious. I drop the body, and almost fall over, tripping over another body in the alleyway. Itís a recent kill, puncture wounds on the throat, Iíd write it off as perhaps being Willowís if it wasnít for one thing. A handkerchief, bloodstained, carelessly dropped at the victims side. White and edged with lace. I hold it up to my nose, and inhale the fragranceÖ Drusilla.

I half walk, half run through the streets, looking. She canít be far from here, she canít have left town yetÖ But she could be anywhere, anywhere around here. Iíll find her, I have to, I know I will. After a few streets though, my pace has slowed to a walk, and I still canít see any sign of her. I donít even know what I should be looking out for. "Dru!" I call out. "Drusilla! Drusilla, can you hear me?" No answer. I find myself standing outside the pub again, and walk in, feeling defeated. I look the barman in the eye and ask, "Have you seen a woman called Drusilla? Look, itís real important that I see her, I have to find herÖ" he shakes his head, and I fall into a barstool. This is not working.
"Drusilla, you say?" a man next to me raises an eyebrow. I look around at him.
"Yes, you know where she is?" He smirks, and shrugs.
"Lets discuss this outside." He suggests, and we walk out of the door.
"So, whereís Dru?" I ask impatiently. He rolls his eyes.
"Youíre not from around here." He points out. "Iíd say you came from another town, but then look at your hair, your clothesÖ Iím willing to bet that youíre one of the city escapees. We hear about them a lot, but Iíve never seen one myself."
"Thatís nice. Tell me what I want to know!"
"Ah ah ah, not so fast." He holds up his hand. "If you come from the city, youíll be pretty well off. A rich man desperate to find a womanÖ and Iím the one who can help. For a price." I take some notes from my pocket and shove them into his hand. He tries to contain his excitement.
"Thatíll do." He says. "Wilson street, house number 23, but my advice to you is to stay well away from her. Thereís something dangerous about that woman. My best friend, a strong man, went to visit her one day Ė and he never came back. The story is that he left town, but he wouldnít have Ė not without saying goodbye to me, anyway. Iím telling you the address, and Iím telling you to stay away from it." He turns to go back into the pub. I put my hand firmly on his shoulder.
"Sheís dangerous, Iíll admit, but you know what? So am I." I tell him, and snap his neck, before rooting through his pockets to reclaim my money and steal his. Then I walk off Ė 23 Wilson Street it is.

The house is older than most of the others, itís near the edge of town and the gardens arenít exactly well kept. Itís constructed from wood, itís fairly large, and around the door is a decoration of birds, flowers and butterflies in bright red and purple paint. I smile at the contrast between rotting wood and pretty little designs. This is where my princess resides, no doubt about that. I walk up, and knock on the door. A young blonde girl answers.
"Iím here to see the lady of the house." I tell her, and she steps back to let me in. I pause a second, unable to pass through the doorway. "Am I invited in?"
"I know better than to invite anyone into the house without permission, first." She says, narrowing her eyes. "Either you walk in, or you leave."
"Listen girl, Drusilla knows me. If you donít let me in, either Iíll kill you or she will. Got it?"
"Sorry." She says, sounding anything but. The door closes.
"Drusilla!" I call out, my voice sounding hoarse in my ears. I hear footsteps behind me, and turn around. Sheís standing at the gate, dressed in a long, dark purple skirt and a black lacy top. Her hair is in loose dark waves hanging over her shoulders. Her eyes are dark as ever, smudged with kohl over the lids, and her lips are bloodstained. Iím suddenly aware that Iím staring like an idiot, and I look down at my feet.
"My SpikeÖ you came home to me." She says, looking me in the eyes, her expression both sad and loving. "You were very cruel to me before. She twisted your mind and made you see things all wrong."
"Oh, love, forgive me." I plead, stepping forward to take her hand. I drop to one knee and kiss the back of her cold white hand tenderly. Iíve done her so bloody wrong itís not true. I need to make things right. "I was horrible to you. I was cruel and unfair and nasty. Sheís nothing to me now."
"She gave you kisses," Drusilla says, swaying gently, "and her arms, and she took you into her bed. And you gave her shadows andÖ death." She takes my hands and makes me stand before her. "You killed her?"
"I did." I say. "I killed her and left her bones in the woods. Sheís gone, Dru." Drusilla looks at me in wonder, then kisses me softly, and a smile comes to her face.
"Why, my William, you donít taste like ashes any more." She tells me in a whisper. "You taste like fire."
"Yes." I say in a breath, and I know sheís forgiven me, because she can sense the aching in my heart that was always there for her. "Iíve missed you, princess." I say, tracing my fingertips across her face, and neck. "I thought youíd gone forever."
"I told you youíd kill her, Spike." She says conspiratorially. "And I knew youíd come back when you had. Fairies whispered it to me. They all knew you were wicked as ever."
"Iíll never leave you, never again." I promise her, and we kiss deeply, passionately, holding each other close and I drink in the scent of her hair, of her skin, of her. We separate, and she leans upon my chest, listening to my heart not-beat like she always loved to. "Now how about we go celebrate?" I suggest. "Thereís a lovely little place all filled with people just down the road, and youíve not fed yet." She licks my neck softly, pricking the skin ever so slightly with a tooth, and tasting the drop of blood that gathers there.
"Weíll have a party." She says, echoing what sheíd said once in the past. "Weíll have wine and all the people, and weíll dance around them all." I take her hand, and we walk together back to the pub. She smiles as she gazes up at the stars glittering in the night sky.