Cold Blooded

By Inkstain



--------------------

Frigid: (adj.) Lacking all friendliness and warmth.

(adj.) Very cold.

-----------------

Southampton. 1996.

"Right, Miss, um..."

"Darla."

The young red haired man looks up at the purred name, nods quickly, and lowers his gaze to fumble with the batteries of the tape recorder before the outstandingly beautiful blond can see him blush.

Why does he know she can see him blush from all the way across an upstairs room of an unlit, only partially finished house on a cloudy night?

Somehow he just knows.

"So, erm, where do you want to start?"

"Where do you want to start?"

Well. There's a question. Who are you, why did you grab me as I came out of the Civic library and art gallery building, and how in hell did you manage to hold me up over the fountain with only one hand while you thumbed through the book I just withdrew?

All that comes out is "Er...".

A soft laugh reaches him, and he can just make out as Darla settles back slightly in her chair - the only chair - and crosses her legs. "Alright, I'll begin. You're wondering why I picked you out. Why I asked you to listen to something."

Sitting on a cardboard box he makes to reply, but it collapses under him and he is otherwise distracted for the moment as he attempts to free himself. Extracting himself inelegantly, he gets to his feet with a mutter and deliberately avoids looking at the woman for fear he will die of embarrassment.

Or maybe just die, his head offers.

He can't explain that one yet. He doesn't want to explain that one yet.

"A-and why I agreed," he confides at last, testing the surface of the table with one hand, finding it safe, and hopping onto it instead.

The laugh again. It is cold. "Because I know something you don't, you see that, and you want to discover it." Darla pauses, considering. "Well, actually I know many things that you don't; but there is one in particular that your soon to be compatriots don't seem to have grasped yet either. This is what I want to share."

And yes, he has no idea what she is talking about.

That in itself would usually be enough to make him leave - when you have an IQ of 152 not understanding someone is usually a sign you are in very deep shit, and way over your head - but he is a man, and she has the best legs he's seen all year below the hem of her dress.

Plus; she looks intelligent.

Alright; he can practically hear every female of the species laughing at him. He mentally protests; he really is interested in her mind. She does not seem studious or booky, he cannot picture her at lectures with her mouth wide open and her head giddy with delight, but she has a deep, learned wisdom in her gaze that seems far too ancient for someone with skin that flawless, and he would like to talk to her just as much as he wants to see if the skin is even paler underneath her clothes. He has lived here as long as he can remember, moving from New York when he was nearly two; he knows the changeable weather that is rarely hot enough to warrant showing the skin she has on display - even if it was he has spent most summers inside working on his theorems -, and her accent is American, yet his skin is darker than hers.

"I'm confused..."

"But I thought you were a genius, Icarus."

He assumes poker face for three reasons. One: she knows he is a genius. That's not so bad in itself, anyone searching for those with the highest listed IQs in the world could find him. No, its more number two: she knows his name. And three?

She knows his real name. Everyone in his life not blood-related is of the understanding that his mythology loving mother christened him Ian after his father, and only indulged herself with the his middle name.

He is shit scared, suddenly.

Ok. Show no fear.

Right?

"I am. But even genius' get confused, and you're being very cryptic."

"We have to be."

He wants to raise an eyebrow, but stops himself. Poker face, idiot.

Gahd, if his dear, weird mother could see him now she'd wonder at her logic behind requesting Mensa test him. Genius my arse, she'd say. He can't even wash his socks without shrinking them.

And she'd be right, he thinks, flexing his toes up against the too tight fabric.

"Actually some of us can get along fine without deception."

Darla raises her own eyebrow, and he's glad he didn't make that movement previously because hers carries so much meaning in it that his would have wilted away of its own accord.

"You're saying I'm lying. I never said anything about lying. And while we're on the subject; interesting that you say that when you are signed into that very library-" She waves a tiny hand towards the window in the direction of the University building nextdoor- "as Ian Boreas Thomas. I'm really not impressed, Icarus; even the earliest, most eccentric genius I met never criticised himself without noticing."

He is cold; she is sucking any warmth from the room. And she is not finished.

"Though you are right; some of you get on fine without deception. Itís sweet." Her sarcasm is icy. "But I am not one of you. I am a vampire, and every vampire has to play a little with the truth. Doesn't make me a liar."

Icarus stops unconsciously stretching his socks.

He also stops breathing.

That admission is something any normal person would laugh at, let alone one who is pretty sure he's proved the existence of parallel universes using cosmic and supernatural law, and he would be expected to be clever and grown up enough to say "tosh". But he does not.

Something in him knows she is not lying. Which, thinking about it, is in itself a paradox if what she said about playing with the truth is right; and then yet again that would be contradicted, wouldn't it? And hoo, that one could go on for ever and now that his brain is in gear he has remembered that he is sitting with his back to the only safe way out and she has a clear view of it, and doing a quick calculation the chances of him surviving the jump out of the window are not good and he has a headache and would really like to go to home to bed, please.

Itís a bugger being brilliant sometimes.

Chill silence fills the room for a few moments as he processes thoughts, and wonders not only how long it would take him to reach the door, but why he is even thinking of that when he knows she'd reach it before him. And then why he knows that at all.

"Your father was a Watcher."

"Whatsa Watcher?" he says quickly. 'Ha, that rhymes' follows it in his head - and yes, he needs to stop taxing his brain out on obscure Latin texts at 3.00 am.

His Father was the one who taught him Latin. Not in person; Icarus learnt it from a notes and a dictionary annotated all over by him - that was all that was left of his notes after the accident, and his mother only let Icarus have them at eight years old. Ian Andrew Thomas was very, very dead before Icarus could even read, and seeing as he learnt that skill at one and a half, it is therefore not surprising he doesn't know what a Watcher is.

"Someone who watches, oddly enough. Watches the Slayer, guides her. Is part of the Council; British men and women who keep an eye on the Vampire Slayer and the demon activity in the world. They've got the know-how, and sometimes they actually use it, but mainly they wax lyrical and drink lots of tea."

"I don't like tea," is all he can say for the moment. There's a lot of information here that makes no sense. He doesn't like it when things make no sense. They're supposed to make perfect sense, damn-it, at twenty now he joined the Royal Astronomical Society when he was fourteen and was the youngest ever since it was founded in 1820. He understands everything.

Apart from what a Slayer is.

"Annoying girl. Has strength and capabilities in her to fight vampires and demons and save the world and generally be a pain in the ass. Gets called when the last one dies, Watcher watches her and guides, she kills things for a year or two and then pegs it at something evil's hands, or fangs, or claws. Usually messily."

Right. Right, ok. Or should that be left; left seems more fitting, and hey, he's left-handed and so were Michelangelo and Einstein and Newton so that'll make him feel more secure.

He just said that out loud.

"Actually Newton was ambidextrous. He just didn't like choosing his right over the left in case it got jealous."

At Icarus' even more agog look, the flawless vision shrugs delicately. "Told you he was eccentric."

"You...you met Newton?"

"Briefly. Got bored. He was more interested in maths than me." She sighs airlessly, yet Icarus almost expects to see a puff of steam expelled. Not from the usual scientific rule of warm breath meeting cold air, but the other way around.

"Are you gonna try and eat me?" He blurts out suddenly. His survival instinct, it seems, has decided to take control of his mouth, bypassing his brain completely.

Darla gives him a straight, unflinching look. "No darling. I can tell you, honestly, that I am not going to try and eat you."

"Honestly?"

Its important to get these sort of formalities out of the way when you are talking to a vampire. That seems logical.

"Honestly. Believe me. I'm telling the truth - and, actually, that leads us wonderfully into why I asked you here." She gives little triumphant smile.

"Not trying to eat people ?" he ventures hopefully, attempting to warm the mood a little and melt some of the icicles he feels growing on the inside of his ribs from her presence.

"Keep up child," she snaps, smile disappearing, and the icicles smash and freeze his gut with icy fear. "The truth. In my long, long life I have noticed one thing; Watchers are not very good with the truth. You will soon be a Watcher, and I want to make sure you are the first and only Watcher ever to get it right. Tomorrow you will have a visitor at your door from the Council who will recruit you - your name has been down since birth, though it seems your mother has done her best to keep you away from them. After your father's...unfortunate encounter. But, she's dead now, isn't she."

Its not a question. She knows the answer.

Physically, yes. Nearly two months, a stroke. She'd always been anxious, did everything quickly and quietly, but she died so slowly...

Thing is, he still hears her. Still smells her in her overcrowded house; still senses her in the section of the library devoted to Ancient Greece; still sees her proud smile when he told her of his work, and the faint shadow behind it. Still feels her light touch on his arm whenever they'd go to the market together, as if checking he was still there. He can almost hear what she would have said to being addressed without her name. ("Who's she, the cat's mother?")

Icarus also misses her terribly and, worryingly, has not felt entirely safe since she died. He doesn't know why, but he might be starting to get an inkling.

"Well dear boy, Watchers keep diaries. You're going to be keeping a diary soon, writing in your neat little hand the things you learn about demons and witches and the Slayer and vampires. All very exciting for you." She claps her hands together in mock glee, then laces her fingers and drops them to her lap, frowning slightly at him in a teacher's stance. "And this will be your first lesson. Your first and best entry. You could be in line for your own Slayer one day - you are so very clever after all - but that's of no matter now. The most crucial thing you will learn, you will learn tonight. The tale of some very important vampires. The most important vampires. The Aurelias bloodline."

She didn't need to tell him the "important" part. The very name sends chills down his spine for reasons he can't fathom.

Darla smiles slightly. "Yes, that's my line. I won't go into it all, but here's a little background info so you don't get lost, because that wouldn't do for your very first lesson. Lets see; the Master turned me, I turned Angelus, and he turned Drusilla and Spike. Spike is also known as William, and when he was alive he wrote awful love poetry for a woman who turned him down." A pause. Intently; "Remember these names."

He will.

She mentally seems to recount what she has said, what she needs to say, then waves a hand generally, saying, "And then Angelus got his soul back in 1898 from some gypsies and fucked the whole thing up. That's all you really need to know."

Icarus nods. She watches him, but says or does nothing more. Time passes that feels as long as the wait from Winter to Spring, and he does not know what to do.

"Er..."

She sighs again. "There was a reason I gave you that tape recorder." He frowns, starts, resists the urge to slap his forehead.

"Right! S-sorry." He turns to press the record button, observing as he reaches out that his hands are trembling; and so of course he knocks it to the floor with a clatter. The back comes off and the batteries he just put in spill out, and he jumps to the floor to retrieve it and set it up again.

Itís going to be a long night.




With another little sigh, I look away as Icarus re-sets the recorder, and tell myself not to give up on this idea and rip his throat out.

I said I wouldn't try and kill him. I didn't lie. I wouldn't try, because I do not need to try. I simply would.

And I am finding it very difficult not to. Most of my perfectly honed instincts are telling me that what I am about to do is very, very stupid, and to kill him and leave. This is mainly because the things I am going to say are things that I have not said before. They are things that I do. not. say.

Only the thing is Itís about god-damn time I did.

Because, you see, I dislike assumptions almost as much as I dislike Watchers, and when you put them together...well. I've had just about enough of their misguided views as I can stand.

So can you guess what it is that I hate the most?

If you think you know because you've read of me, then you are wrong. Itís not Spike. Every damn Watcher's diary you could get your hands on says that I hated him. That he hated me. That we sniped at each other, that I hurt him, that I was jealous of him and Angelus. That he was jealous of Angelus and I.

Well, ok, that last one's true. Why else do you think he acted up so much? He wanted Angelus' attention, he wanted to be truly looked at and taught by that masterful vampire.

And who wouldn't? I may have been his Sire but I would happily have let him dominate me. Hell, I did.

That's one thing the Watcher's never wrote down. They knew I'd kill them for even etching it in ink, never mind uttering it aloud.

But, aside from the fact that I would never be jealous of William; itís. Not. True.

If mortals are going to write about me during their pathetic little lives they should at least get it right, or I'll be forced to make those lives shorter.

You see, I flow with the human world. I know what's going on. I keep up with fashions, I watch the news. I travel, I see sights. I follow religion to see what current infantile beliefs mortals are obsessed with and join religious wars (or help them). I like to remind everyone that I am still here, I am still watching and listening and that if they fuck with me I can, and will, come after them.

I know technology - I have a computer. My favourite television show was cancelled last year but I'd seen most episodes. 'Two Guys and a Girl.' That Sharon was spunky. Until she got all 'conscientious' and changed her job. Just because she felt bad about herself by working for an oil company. For a while there she didn't care - she had money, a Mercedes, perfect clothes and hair.

I could almost identify with her.

And again, that's not something I would ever have wanted to see in print. Or I'd have been killing someone. Seems strange to think this now, because I am about to make sure a Watcher writes them down.

Now, I won't deny it - I like killing. That's one assumption people can make without worry. I enjoy ending lives. Especially Watchers', after the first thing I read about Spike and myself in 1890.

Because itís not true.

I didn't like him at all - I don't like him at all, but I didn't hate him.

I understood him. Better than anyone, I believe.

I know why he killed the people from his mortal life so savagely. Angelus showed me a tattered page of bloody awful poetry once, smirking at it, pointing out the silly words.

I didn't laugh.

From what I was able to deduce they'd mocked him for it. Looked down on him.

I know what that's like.

[ "I'm a whore." ]

You think I didn't get spat at in the street? You think I didn't have to endure catcalls and name calling, and jeers and laughter, and rich, sweaty, coiffured men thinking they owned me, that they were better than me, that they had me pegged the moment they saw me?

I did what I had to; he did what his heart drove him to, and we both got shot down for it. Two centuries apart, but I saw something in William's face the moment he had his first real victim, a middle aged man in an expensive waistcoat hanging by his fingers from an exposed beam on the back wall of a dim pub, and he spotted a rusty railroad spike thrown up by the passing of a train on a nearby line. I recognised it.

He growled something about ironic, idea giving comments, and I knew his expression. Knew it from a rainy night when I had gathered all the men who'd ever fucked me with no care, and rendered them unable to ever join a woman that way again, before I killed them.

I remember looking in a dirty puddle on the dusty floor and though I had no reflection, I could see in my mind's eye what I looked like. Triumphant and tired and happy and sick, caught like a poor man with his hand in the church donation box because everyone could see my problems. Everyone could see how life affected me. And as I kicked up the water of the puddle to destroy the image, so I kicked dust over their bodies to hide them from everyone's view forever.

I buried them.

Can you believe it? It took me barely an hour to kill them, most died from pain and blood loss anyway, but I spent the whole night hiding them from view.

He buried his too.

Did a better job than me, too - I am still impressed, and annoyed that I did not think of it. Just as Christians used to bury suicides (sinners) at crossroads so that if they ever awoke they wouldn't be able to find their way, he buried his first victims at a crossroad too, spikes still in their foreheads. He knew no-one would dig there; no-one would want to disturb the possible grave of past sinners.

Angelus was so proud. He's very clever, the little one. I think I'm the only one who ever really gave him credit for it. I told my boy that his fights and games were just smart tricks to get him to pay attention. Angelus told me I was being silly, and went to him anyway.

I suspect he knew, but he liked the way William could fire him up.

So did I.

I respect someone who says what they think. I always have. I told religion to stick it when I was dying of syphilis the first time - the second time it didn't really come up, but even in that moment of...weakness, if I had let myself die, I wouldn't exactly have been going to church and asking to be buried in a graveyard. It would have been cremation, because I always expected to turn to ashes when I died and after four hundred years of that you can't remember how it was to want anything else, and being thrown on the sea.

Lots of the diaries mention I hate religion. Occasionally they get it right.

What they don't get right is that I identified with him. We both hide a mortal life, experiences we don't care to go through again.

I'm better at it though. Cold faÁade, the brisk Bitch, Ice Queen. I've been described as frigid many a time, which always makes me laugh because itís just so ironic given my human career. Given how I am now.

Itís interesting that Icarus brought up deception, and I was able to point out my difference between deception and lying. I deceive people into believing I have always been a Goddess; it is thought that Spike has always been a bad-ass, and this is not true - yet we are truthful creatures. We say what we feel, what we want, what we think. Did as humans, do now. Deliberate deception, leading someone to a conclusion that is easier for them, does not a liar make. You can lead a horse to water, and not inform it there's another river round the corner.

Your average mortal could not get their head around Will and I's complicated existences. This is why I chose Icarus and his enormous brain to talk to. Well, that and some family connections that, once he hears my tale, he will see have been planned in a way that is deliciously devious of me.

Devious. I have looked up every word pertaining to that one; deceit, fraud, deception. Not once does the phrase 'to lie' come up. I have not, and I will not, utter one lie to him tonight. I am not a liar.

Here's another thing that's true: I worry about Spike, sometimes.

If he's not careful he's going to start with the poetry again. I've seen it before; the coldness in his gaze gets melted by his human fire within - and yes, sometimes I worry his humanity has got to me too because I come up with these ridiculous metaphors quite frequently now.

We're not only the same in our truthful voices. We have the same colour eyes, too; but somehow mine are always described as "ice-blue", while he gets "sky-blue", or "the radiant blue at the base of a candle flame". That one came from a young Watcher in New York, 1976, not long after Spike bleached his hair the first time. He rambled on and on about how the whitish colour made his eyes that more obvious, that you were "drawn into them as a moth to a flame" - bla bla bla...

Had a little of the vampire love, did Ian Andrew Thomas, an exceedingly boringly named Watcher to New Yorker Niki someone; a Slayer killed in suspicious circumstances in a subway car, 1977. I never did get her surname from that diary, not that I really care - but honestly, the man mentioned Spike's name more often than he did his Slayer's.

Thing is, he was the only one who ever got it right. He looked into Spike's past, and he managed to make the link between William the Bloody and a missing poet mentioned in an ages old consensus of London's occupiers in 1880. I didn't come up at all, aside from echoing a little of what past Watcher's had said about my appearance. At least, I don't think I did; most of the diary I had was burned away.

Spike had found him first, see. Spent hours delicately torturing Ian, getting him to reveal his Slayer's whereabouts.

(I would wager Ian died happy in such close range to his idol.)

And then Spike set fire to the floor level apartment the Watcher and his family were staying in. The wife and baby son were out at a museum at the time, lucky for me - and the Council, who were set to have a genius coming their way. The books were almost all lost.

Destroy the evidence, lead people to the conclusion that Ian died in the fire, not that he was tortured.

Not outright lying.

I messed up Spike's destroying evidence plans, however; I got my hands on the diary. The one thing he was really after. I do not fear fire; I wanted to know what had the Not-So-Little-Anymore One so riled up. Snuck in and got it before the room went up completely, and was out of there before he even realised.

But yes, there's another mortal assumption - that I cut myself off from and ignore what my bloodline is up to.

Crap.

I don't. I follow my undying companions just as I follow all those that fill this earth, all those I will outlive. Not as closely, because a girl has to have priorities, but I dip a toe into that ocean every now and then. Mainly so none of them can turn up and surprise me.

I don't like surprises.

Learning about Spike's poetry - now that was a surprise, and it put a dampener on my grand plans to reveal what a waste of time Angelus turning the mortal had been, regardless of his incredible cheekbones, and get things back into the familiar way they had been. Frankly I couldn't gave a rat's ass about his mortal life; but now I know about Cecilia or whatever her name was, and the poetry; now I've seen his obstinate humanity show through on many an occasion and realised he wears his burning heart on his sleeve.

Itís sickening, but I respect it.

His mortal life drives him to be who and what he is now. So does mine; though whereas he had worked so long to get away from it, I still use my experiences.

I still go after religion. I do believe in God, you see. I believe that he really doesn't give a fuck if you stray from his tightly regimented path. I know he decided not to care about me because I was a prostitute. I was wicked. And so I like to mess with his life plans for everyone else because I am a demon. The archetypal sinner now, and I love it. I don't have to answer to him. I enjoy the chaos people cause in his name. That all comes from my human life. It was my passion, it still is.

Oh, but that...that was it back then. That was all.

I had no friends, no family, no hobbies. Nothing sparked my interest besides that. The only thing I truly owned was a tiny house - and I say 'house' with a sarcastic sneer. More like plot of land with an accident fashioned on it.

["Do you even know what I am?"]

["A woman of some property. No husband, no inheritance. Yes, I know what you are."]

I ended up dying in a missionary being looked after by nuns, for hell's sake, and if I'd had the strength I would have hurled myself out of the window rather than lie in that blessed bed being pitied and cleansed.

Some things have changed, some things have not. I still use sex, but I usually enjoy it now. I enjoy the control I have over men - they're easy to manipulate. Occasionally I enjoyed it as a mortal; there were two or three escaped my wrath because they actually looked at me while they were doing it. They actually saw me. And there was one man...the blackest hair and gentlest hands you've ever seen. He was older than me by one year but still such a child; painfully shy, and desperate to lose his virginity.

I took it, and he cried. He said he would always remember me.

I should have killed him when I was turned. People like that are the ones that get you in trouble. The ones that remember what you have glazed over.

But I couldn't. Aside from the fact he'd got married the year after, moved away before the strange mass killings of 1609; and the Master wanted to get as far away from Virginia as possible after my excursions so I had no time, I didn't want to.

I was pathetic...

...But - I was beautiful.

I am beautiful. Snow White skin, fabulous cleavage, eyes and smiles and white teeth. I know this. I use this.

Spike uses what he knows too; it drives him. It gave him a reason to be obsessed with Slayers; I know why he felt the desperate need to destroy them. But all in all it doesn't matter. He killed a Slayer. Two!

That night in 1900...he was magnificent.

And Angelus was rotting.

Spike was this whirling, dancing flame that got right on my wick, and he was cocky and arrogant from the moment he was turned, and he put us in danger and I disliked him intently; but I know why he did it.

He changed the way he dressed. So did I. He changed the way he spoke, the way he looked, the way he moved. According to Drusilla's ramblings he doesn't even smile the way she saw in her head when he bumped into us.

Like me.

I know why. I did that. I do that.

Mind my words. Elegance and grace. The most expensive dresses, the most immaculate hair. I deserve them for the crap I put up with. Present a flawless picture, lake of emotions and experiences covered up by a perfect, beautiful, solid layer of ice. People, vampires - they look at me and they back off for fear of me cracking and drawing them in, freezing them.

But I could crack. Dig around a little at the edges, uncover the graves of fourty nine crudely castrated men in an ages old village in Virginia and the whole thing will splinter.

I couldn't afford to eat when I was alive, unless I sold myself. I had no real clothes, no jewellery. My words were curses or faked moans of pleasure. Dresses weren't really a consideration; no, I hadn't the money to buy more than one, but mainly because it spent most of the time on the floor. The dead of winter was when I got most work. Men liked to use me to warm up, which I always found ridiculous because I am cold. It came from having to lay in a freezing bed, or on the icy floor of an alley, or against a stone wall, being used. They took all my warmth; then the Master finished it off by killing me, and now I'm dead, see, so I'm not even expected to feel warm to the touch.

That makes it easier; I get to concentrate on the show.

I make up for my losses now. Sex is fun; I wear Versace, Gucci; my scent is Chanel. I drink expensive wine in crystal glasses, and expensive people. Rich music, rich surroundings, rich acquaintances - which feed me. I got my money from the Master, then from teasing or bedding wealthy mortals, and then eating and robbing them. Or robbing them and eating them - I've even done all three simultaneously a couple of times, but no matter. I take from them. And now I have enough stored to not worry.

I keep my past frozen.

Spike can't do that. He's too damn warm...

Oh, I'm capable of hate, the kind of hate that helps to destroys countries, beliefs, and convictions. But it is not directed at him. We had a certain...understanding. He looked at me when he ripped the spike out of that first man's forehead to use on the next one, and I gave him a half nod to show that I would not mention the unshed tears in his eyes, before moving my gaze away and helping to distract Angelus. He never brought up that time he caught me ripping the head of a would-be attacker of a street prostitute in Puerto Rico clean off, and merely sending the girl home.

I killed her later. Like I said, you can't leave people like that alive, and I was stronger than my first vampire days when I let the black haired boy to live, two hundred and seventy four years previously.

Spike could have mentioned it; he uses things like that with a deft touch. Yet he didn't.

I don't hate him. But I hate assumptions.

And tonight, I am going to clarify a few things.

A little cough brings my attention back from the slightly steamed up window next to me; Icarus is back on the table, waiting, and now that I am concentrating on him I can hear the straining hiss of the tape on pause.

I nod once, and he turns to release the spool. Over twenty years I have been waiting for this. For him. I know I am patient; I can therefore wait an hour or so until I have said all I want to, and then I will no longer be hankering for him this night. The teenager I got the tape recorder from is still warm in my belly; I will wait.

When the hiss of the tape reaches me I unconsciously straightens a little in my chair; time has taught me presentation is key when talking to people, and though the machine has no face, ears or brain, even, I can feel it watching me.

Icarus turns back with a nervous smile, fidgets a little, and then places his hands in his lap, ready to listen.

Good, obedient boy.

"Ok, Icarus, are we sitting comfortably?"

He makes to reply but I cut him off.

"Then I shall begin..."




An hour and a half later, Darla finishes, closes her eyes and sits back again in her chair with a tired, but nevertheless dignified, grunt.

Icarus, who has not moved since she began, finds he is still frozen in place. Whether it is from pity, disgust, confusion, or pure, unadulterated terror, he is not sure. But he'd wager the last one.

Opening her eyes again, the vampiress gives him a slow smile, flexes her arms, and gets up. She picks up her jacket from the back of her chair, slips it on, and glides towards the soon to be Watcher. Pausing in front of him she withdraws something wrapped in paper from the inside of the coat, and lays it on the dusty table next to him; he does not even look at it because he cannot take his eyes from her beautiful, deadly face. She watches him for a moment more, gives another knowing smile, then bends slightly and kisses him once on the cheek.

Her lips are cool, and when she moves them to whisper in Icarus' ear, her breath tingles.

"A gift. I expect you to use it well."

And then the door to the room is swinging slightly on its hinges, and the only sign of winter left in the room is recorded on the tape next to him.

The hisses magnify for a moment, then there is a click followed by a horrible burr as the spool runs out. Icarus is looking at the far wall, or, at least, he is staring into the space where she was and pretending he only sees blank cream paint - like when you wake from a nightmare and decide that that is not a shadow opposite you, yet you stare at it for hours anyway.

His right hand moves to awkwardly press the stop button without any order from his numb brain - and only when complete silence re-enters the room does he undig his other fingernails from the table surface. Slowly, he turns to the 'gift', and once more a hands moves of its own accord to pick it up; this time its his leading left one and wasn't there something amusing and vaguely comforting about that one before?

But almost four hundred years had passed since then, and he is much, much older now.

The paper is very dry and thin, yellowed with age, and because he knows that it has covered the something for so long he almost feels respect for it. Ripping it aside it feels like tearing tradition and rules, or beliefs, somehow.

His present is uncovered and the smell of the leather hits him almost straightaway; it is still soft and new looking as the day, possibly over a century ago, it was bought.

A diary.




Ten minutes after this, the next movement his hand makes is to get a pen from his bag. Then he realises he does not want to write it here, but at home by lamplight at an oak desk with a mug of something very strong, and very hot, which quite possibly might have to be tea. It seems fitting.

Hurrying home as fast as his cramped legs will allow him, Icarus debates telling someone about this. Debates scribbling it all down in a bus shelter and then photocopying it, handing it to people in the shopping centre, the train station, outside the cinema. Those especially; movie-goers should love such a story. They enjoy being scared, feeling strong emotions like pity or hate or love; they'd spread it and if lots of other people know it then maybe he'd be less worried he was having a nightmare.

But instead he gets in, bolts the door, uses two of the teabags left from his mother's final visit, and sits at his desk to write with the tape player bequeathed, unknown, to him by a lanky teen on the corner of East Street whirring by his side.

Because she might have terrified him so much he'll have to stop writing halfway to throw up, leaving him with cold belly aches that'll clinch every time he moves to rewind or pause the tape, but she chose him. It is a legacy from his father.

He was destined for this.

And then an hour and twenty minutes later, he is debating whether to sign the entry or not. It is a masterpiece; twelve pages of words etched in proper black ink, from the familiar fountain pen he has always used when writing because it felt like something his father would have done. His watch beeps to inform him that it is sunrise (he may be a genius but he still can't work out how to stop it doing that) just as he has decided he should sign it, and with a flourish he pens 'Ian Boreas Thomas', in a flowing hand.

Not lying, just deceiving. Teacher has taught well. If someone looked it up they'd be able to find out; if someone asks him directly he'll say. But they won't.

He stumbles into bed with the diary under his pillow, and for once he feels sure his father would have been proud of him.




When a knock sounds on the door at precisely half past eight he gets up and opens it - and actually greets the smartly dressed man with the briefcase who also knows his real name, nodding in hello instead of slamming the door, because Icarus doesn't know if the Council have realised yet but from what he's seen they dress like Jehovahs Witnesses.

In fact, even it had been a Jehovahs Witness, from now on he might just leave the door open and listen to them.

The portly man does indeed wax lyrical, drink the tea Icarus has in his cupboard from the last time his mother visited, and tell him all about how his father was a Watcher, and demons and slayers and vampires, oh my. He will be a vital recruit, perhaps even getting his own Slayer one day, but for now he should take these books to read - surely he'll get through them in a day or so - and they will do some entry tests later that week, which he shouldn't worry about because with a brain like that, he'll positively wizz through.

Before he goes, just before the sun dips back down below the river Itchen, the very clean shaven Watcher shakes his hand and tells him he ought to invest in a good, proper diary.

"I've already got one," Icarus says, and almost smiles.




It is just getting dark when the old Watcher finally leaves, and the new one follows his car down the street with his tired blue eyes before ducking back inside the flat block.

I change to game face, and shoot across the road to catch the door before it shuts, following him up the stairs with a step when he steps. I reach his door just as he turns to push it shut, and he curses spectacularly.

"Did you write it?" I ask.

He glances at my fangs as mortals always do, seems to think about it, then nods. "Yes."

"Let me see."

Invite me in.

He doesn't, however; instead he brings it to me and passes it through the door. That god-damn Watcher told him that rule, I suppose, so I am forced to read it in the hallway.

It is wonderful. I can feel his terror and his awe coming through the correct words.

I look up, and let my true face slide again, so that I can give him the smile I know makes mortal men and women's knees go weak.

"Truly beautiful." I tell him.

I do not lie.

He lets out the breath he hadn't known he was holding, and ducks his head; then looks up again. "Do you really...I mean, am I really the first to ever get it right?"

The smile again. "Not just the first, but you have done it justice. Work like this is deserving of screaming praise."

I heavily insinuate the word "screaming"; quirk one eyebrow just - a - little.

His pupils dilate, and he licks his lower lip unconsciously. Men never change. Icarus steps back once. "You could come in, for a minute..."

He may be a genius but that was incomparably stupid.

I step inside, and he is actually surprised when I kick the door shut, grab him, and rip half of his throat out.

"But...but you said you wanted a Watcher to get it right..." he gargles in dismay, dropping to his knees and looking up at me with hurt and confusion in his eyes.

I crouch next to him elegantly, and cup his slack face in one hand.

"I wasn't lying, Icarus; you know that I don't. And you have got it right, and I'll tell William about you one day because of it. But, I told you, didn't I? I can't let people like you live. You're a liability now."

He splutters, cries, and chokes on his own oesophagus. I catch him easily as he pitches forwards, and hold him in my arms almost tenderly as he gasps pointlessly and clutches at me.

"Don't fret though, darling. You'll always be the only Watcher to write an accurate entry on us."

I kiss him once because of that, and he breathes his last into the ice cavern of my mouth. Then I lower my head to drink from him properly.

He tastes like tea, and I laugh into his jugular.

This victim actually gets his eyelids pushed down over vacant eyes as a sign of respect I have not shown any one of my possibly thousands of victims. The tape is stamped underfoot, the diary found and tucked back into my coat like a holy object that not only I can touch but that I want to. I leave his body outside near the drive of a house whose guard dog snapped at me. It'll probably be shot tomorrow.

He should be pleased; I will always love him a little. He's given me back the faith I lost when I realised that God did not care I had to lose my virginity at twelve, and I was marked a sinner.

The diary will be my new Bible.