No Such Roses
by Voleuse

The room whirled with dancers, stepping carefully and wildly according to the latest fad. The redolent clash of sweat and perfume would mask the scent of blood. The clatter of feet and insincere laughter would disguise the screams.

If he ever had the chance to scream.

For now, he, a scrawny lad--a scion of some importance, if she remembered correctly--had her pressed up against the ornamental carvings near the fireplace, far from the bulk of the crowd. He seemed to think he was intimidating her into compliance. She indulged him in his belief.

He would discover the truth soon enough.


The hallway bustled with servants: maids scampering to fetch kerchiefs and posies, footmen sneaking into the kitchen to snatch bits of the roast, and the odd serving girl, lugging a tray of food that would, inevitably, be fed to the dogs in the morning.

He hated to let food go to waste, but he found it difficult to pick one morsel as so many ran across his path. When one wench separated from her gaggle, though, he detached himself from the stairway's shadow long enough to catch her wrist.

"Just a moment of your time, darlin'."


"Your name?" His hands toyed with the stitching of her bodice.

She willed herself to tremble as she answered. "Darla."

"A lovely name for a lovely woman," he mused, and she didn't bother to ask his title; he'd mentioned it often enough. "I'm surprised no suitor has snatched you up yet." He punctuated his sentence with a furtive grope.

She'd endured rougher treatment, but for better meals. When she smiled, she allowed a glint of her true smile to shine in the firelight. "Not until you came along." She pressed her nails into the thick cloth of his coat, almost playfully.

His grin faltered, but he only stepped closer.


The girl twittered at his lavish compliments; he assumed she was unused to benign attention from her betters. She was prettier than usual, and young--with a few more years in service, her bright hair would dull, and her eyes would redden with weariness.

It was best that he preserved her in full bloom, as it were.

He drew her under the staircase, out of plain sight. "I haven't seen a lass as sweet as you in a while. Are you sure you're a servant?"

"Sir!" She squirmed, but didn't resist when he swathed her with his arms. "I don't even know your name!"

He laughed into her shoulder, smelled the blood in her throat. "Call me whatever you like."


"Are you American?" His words were mumbled, muttered against her neck. "You sound American."

She rolled her eyes as he licked at her ear. "My family is from Virginia."

"Fascinating," he said, daring to run his hands over her breasts, and winking as if to impress her with his expertise. "Do you have a farm? Stables?"

He pushed his hips against the layers of her skirts. She stifled the urge to hurt him.

For the moment.


Fucking the maid would have been tedious without the racket of the passageway behind them, and the promise of blood afterwards.

She didn't make a sound, aside from a few breathless whimpers.

He didn't mind. She would scream eventually.


"What are you doing?" She feigned confusion, ignorance, fear; the scion ground against her, shoving their still-clothed bodies further into the darkened corner. "What are you doing to me? I've never..."

"Shhh." He buffeted his lips against hers. "I saw how you looked at me."

It was then that she decided to make him suffer.


"Sir?" The maid straightened her skirts, a quaver in her voice. "You won't tell my mistress, will you?"

He smirked. "It's a little late to worry about your job, darlin'."

"I just," she bit her lip, "I just don't want to lose my position."

"Is it money you're after, then?" He frowned at her with glee. "And here I thought you liked me."

"No!" She shook her head. "I'm not a..."

"A whore? No." He grabbed her wrists, threw her against the wall. "A whore would have given a little thought before tumbling a complete stranger."

She was crying now.

He liked it.


He didn't scream when she showed him her face. He couldn't after she had crushed his windpipe. (It was his final, incoherent moan that had broken her.)

His blood was strong, if a bit musty.

She left his body slumped by the fireplace. Nearby partygoers averted their eyes as she passed, out of respect for her now-sullied reputation.


He returned the maid to where he had found her.

He was gone in a moment's time, before the screams began.


The night air was heavy, warm with smoke, and the moon barely shone through the clouds. From opposite sides of the courtyard, they approached each other, and when they met, they embraced.

"Angelus." She kissed him, ignoring the smudge of blood on his lips.

"Darla." He carefully rearranged her skirts, still mussed from her encounter. "How was your nobleman?"

"Ineffective." She smoothed her hair, fixed his collar. "Did you find a servant to eat?"

"Of course. Shall we go?" He offered his arm to her, and she curtsied before taking it.

"Where are we going?"

He smiled at her. "Wherever you want to go."


"...if you don't want to tell me about what you used to get your ex for Christmas, that's fine, but if you told me where you want to go...Are you even listening to me? Hello? Angel?"

He stopped short, stumbling to a halt in front of Sunnydale Electronics. "Dawn?" The girl stood next to him, shopping bags in both hands, hands on both hips. "What did you say?"

"Where do you want to go?" Dawn rolled her eyes. "I'd be able to help you if you'd stop going all space cadet on me."

"Space cadet?"

"Did you want help finding Buffy a gift or not?" She handed the paper bags to him and started walking off at a brisk clip. "It's bad enough Mom's making me buy a present for that ho-bag Faith, and now I have to babysit my sister's undead boyfriend. God!"

He watched her stalk off, and tried to forget the face of the maid as she died.


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