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Challenge 10: Old London Town

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  • Challenge 10: Old London Town

    Based on a character from Season Five of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Only known as Watcher Two in Checkpoint, but later named as Lydia in Season Seven's Never Leave Me, she was the one that had written her dissertation on Spike, and I thought she deserved a bigger story.

    Old London Town

    There's something about London in the Summertime. It smells of old things, musty things. But it also smells of right now, fragrant spices and expectancy.

    The Watcher's Council offices weren't air conditioned, so Lydia had opened all the windows in the library. The air was close, the books filled the walls, dampening the sounds floating in from the road outside. The offices were located right in the thick of the city, Lydia wondered momentarily about the history the building held, whilst listening to her stomach rumble as she smelt the aromatic Chinese food. There was only an hour left before the weekly board meeting and she hadn't finished her presentation on the dangers that William The Bloody, now known as Spike, posed.

    She was deep in thought and typing furiously when Harry popped his head round the corner. "Pub? Eight?" Lydia looked up, slightly startled by the interruption "huh?" she replied. "Come on Lyddi look outside, it's glorious out there", he pointed towards the window. Lydia smiled, "so, that automatically means pub, does it?". "Obviously it does, but then it's Friday, just about anything means pub", Harry grinned at her. "Fair point, well presented...eight it is". Lydia clicked save and turned back, but Harry had already sprinted off down the hall, presumably to ask his pub question to as many people as possible.

    Lydia stretched her arms back over her head and pondered what to do for forty five minutes. She got up and adjusted her skirt, picked up the books she'd been working from and returned them to the correct shelves. She skimmed the spines of the books as she did so, allowing the titles to wander into her thought patterns. "From Axes to Zweihanders: A Watcher's Guide to Weapons Training", "London Undergrounds Monster Compendium". She was amongst the more modern texts, surprising that there were still new publications that the Council considered were relevant, she thought.

    Then one book caught her attention: "Real Ale? The Demon's Guide to London Pubs", she half laughed, this probably wasn't even remotely what it looked like. She took it out from the shelf and flipped through the first few pages but sure enough the book contained details of what pubs to visit, which ones a demon could slip into without being noticed, glamours to use to pass as human, even a chapter on the virtues of ale over lager.

    Lydia giggled to herself again, Harry hadn't said what pub. She should pick one from here, it seemed like perfect sport. Here they were, Watchers with nothing to watch, no slayer of their own to guide, in fact London seemed to only have an odd Demon that really caused any ripple of trouble at all these days. She wouldn't tell the rest, she'd wait to see how long it took for any of them to notice they were in a Demon haunt.

    Lydia sat back down at her computer and quickly bought up the group e-mail. The normal gang had probably had Harry's little visit, so she picked the names she most wanted to see. She typed in "Change as good as a rest?" then stopped, she hadn't chosen a pub, needed to be something nearby, something central. She flicked to the West End chapter and skimmed the list. "The Lazy Lawyer: Leicester Square", "The Intrepid Fox" ......nothing grabbed her until the third page:

    "Secretly concealed down a small alleyway, The Gin Pit is a real rare find, serving independently brewed real Ale, this small, but beautifully preserved old London pub is a must for all real connoisseurs"

    The pub was apparently only five minuets walk away, but Lydia could never remember seeing it! Not surprising though, there were many places that just slipped under the radar in this city. She typed up the e-mail, stating that The Gin Pit was causing a stir on the web, that should clinch it. She wrote the address on a piece of paper, turned off her laptop, grabbed everything that she needed for the presentation and still grinning to herself, walked quickly off in the direction of the boardroom.

    Meanwhile, five minutes away, a Vampire was sitting comfortably slumped in the darkened corner of a pub, staring closely into his pint of "Tipsy Toad" ale. Deep in thought he missed the group of young women, giggling and looking over at him whilst ordering at the bar.

    ", Sarah, just look at him" one whispered in awe at her friend. "He's gorgeous...NO, don't look round you idiot....Jesus!" Sarah's response went something along the lines of "Gina, you think everyone is....oh, actually....", but he missed this too.

    The Vampire was indeed gorgeous, not that he would have known it, but he felt powerful enough. He was deep in thought pondering the whereabouts of the Slayer. He had been in London for what felt like forever, he was tiring of the scene, but could not seem to actually move on to some place new. He was not a loner as such, but he had no one of consequence, no one that had held his interest for longer than a decade in years. He turned his pint through a 180, but his thoughts were disturbed.

    "Excuse me, would you mind if we joined you?" Sarah boldly questioned.

    Tom looked up, the stared briefly into the eyes of the girl in front of him, wondering if she saw him for what he was, most humans didn't. He thought for a moment what his response should be, did he want company? To talk to someone for a couple of hours and then destroy them? He wasn't hungry, well, not in that way.

    "No thanks love". His reply was short and to the point. The girl turned away and walked back to her group, shaking her head and pouting her lip. They moved outside into the garden, leaving him alone again.

    Tom went back to staring into his pint, now thinking about what it was that was missing from his un-life. He wondering when he had become so jaded.
    Lydia was turning the corner into the alley, she was sure she had it right, and sure enough the sign for The Gin Pit was hanging on the side of a really old overhanging building. They still existed, she knew that, but they weren't everywhere and they still immediately took her back to medieval England. She half expected so have to dodge slops (at best) falling from above.

    "Lyd, TELL me where we're going"....Harry appeared behind her. "Ahh....." he grinned, "Spooky!"

    The rest of the group, about six in all, rounded the corner, locked in conversation, all jovial, in the TFIF mood. Lydia looked back at them, grinning within at her own brilliance. She wondered how long it would take them to twig. She wondered what sort of demons would be there, if she would spot them too. They were a nice bunch, all still young, all still hungry for success, whatever that meant in their line of business. Gaining ones own slayer she presumed!

    They headed towards the pub, Becka linked arms with her, gave her arms a squeeze, "Take me to where the men are!" she told Lydia and pulled her through the door.

    The pub was so much darker than the summer evening sun outside, they half stopped just inside the door to readjust. "Oooooooh Liddy, this is BRILLIANT" cooed Becka and she headed towards the bar. Harry draped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her closer to him "Great call petal, I can totally see this being a contender for our local".

    Lydia looked around the bar area. It was a small pub, but the epitome of quaint. You could almost still see the sawdust on the floor if you looked hard enough. She gave Harry a squeeze, "Pit Stop" she said, "and mine's a pint of Tipsy Toad", she flashed a smile at him and looked around for the toilets.

    Tom had noticed the entrance of this new group of people, he was now standing at the wall-mounted junk-box, which was the one thing that looked slightly out of place in the old pub. His senses had told him to take care as soon as they had entered. He smelt something, he wasn't sure what but it seemed something akin to magic. He carefully looked over, the young group of people looked normal enough. They weren't demon, but his senses still tingled for some reason. At this point, Lydia brushed past him on her way, he shivered and knew exactly who they were. Watchers. He continued to stare at the juke-box pages moving slowly in front of him. Should he leave? No, he was here first, this was a demon haunt for crying out loud. The flicker of fear had left him as soon as he had realised, Watcher's did not scare him the slightest, in fact, this could be good fortune. If anyone knew where the Slayer was, this lovely group of meatbags would! The sounds of "I Predict a Riot" began to flood the room.

    Lydia looked at herself in the mirror, she undid her blonde hair, letting it fall around her shoulders. She'd loosened up a lot since her trip to Sunnydale with Quinton and the rest. Travelling to the Hellmouth had been the highlight of her career and meeting the Slayer had not disappointed her but her opinion of the Council had been slightly rocked. She had been cloistered here in England, wound tight by her destiny, but seeing Buffy live her life made Lydia feel that she too could enjoy what was left of her youth, recapture her carefree spirit.

    She heard the music's base pump through the walls and smiled at herself. A riot indeed? Well, probably not, but she wouldn't rule it out. She turned around and walked towards the door, and one thought flashed through her head, she thought how awful it would be to have no reflection at all.

    As Lydia walked towards the bar Tom was struck by the difference made by her free-flowing hair, it was as though the release was not just physical, but mental as well. She looked younger, relaxed. He almost envied her. Her group had wandered out the beer garden, but Lydia's pint was still on the bar, she headed towards it and Tom, who had now positioned himself next to it.

    As she neared him he could smell her, perfume, excitement, an almost searching curiosity about her. He knew that she knew there could be danger, but he could sense that she might be excited by that fact. Interesting, he thought.

    "Hey" he said nonchalantly as she reached for her pint. "Hi" she smiled back at him. Did she know? Could she tell? Nah, she wasn't that good, not yet.

    Lydia looked over Tom quickly, she felt her stomach flutter for a moment. "Handsome", she thought..."Demon?" she questioned. Only one way to find out.

    "Not seen you in here before" Tom ventured.
    "No....didn't even know it was here until earlier! Surprising really, isn't it?"
    "Not on the main drag...a bit more for the discerning drinker" Tom raised his pint to her.

    Lydia took a swig of her pint and grimaced. "Blurgg" her body shuddered. Tom half smiled, "So young and so sure of herself" he thought. Tom knew he would have to gain her trust to be able to pull this off with no come back. She was here with friends, they were Watchers, he could be rumbled at any point, and that was, well, more fun that he'd had in a while. What the hell, he could always make a run for it. They weren't that good an aim.

    "My friends", she gestured, "they're outside, want to join us?"

    Looking back Lydia wondered at exactly what point she could have walked away as her back was pushed up against the wall of the small alleyway. Behind her scrunched up eyes, she could see the evening play out. She's realised that Tom was not what he seemed, but never thought it would come to this. As the pain in the neck increased her nails scratched down the brick surface of the building behind her and she could taste her own blood in her throat. Lydia wondered if Harry had noticed anything, her little rouse seemed to have failed. None of the Watchers were apparently watching.

    She should have realised the danger she had placed herself and her friends in, but at the time her arrogance had blinded her. Her time in Sunnydale had taught her nothing and her research now just seemed pointless, dust, all dust. Her heart pounded in her chest, she couldn't hear her own voice for the rushing of blood in her own ears. Tom, however could hear everything she uttered in her fear and struggling. "Stupid, stupid, stupid" she muttered over and over.

    The pain lessened a little, Lydia thought to herself how strange that her body could not seem to escape. She'd had training, but the attack had been so quick she didn't have time to respond. She could see Becca's body to one side. He'd not even bothered to drain her, just snapped her neck, her blank eye's just stared at Lydia, nothing to watch any more. It dawned slowly on Lydia that she had stopped struggling from fear, she was still moving, but as the pain had lessened and the light headedness overtaken her, her own body was enjoying the sensation of being taken over.

    She pushed against the Vampire, her body undulating under Tom's grasp. She was letting herself go under, after the years of study and investigation in the acts of murder that these demons had committed she was only now understanding the process. It was like she she was split in two, one part of herself watching the other letting go. Tom noticed the change in Lydia's movement, it happened quite often, part of the process. "Yes" he whispered to her and felt her body tense up.

    Somewhere in the back of Lydia's mind she must have realised that Tom had release his grip slightly. An automatic response kicked in and she pushed the Vampire away from her, he stumbled backwards and she launched herself at him, elbowing him in the face. The momentum took her forward, but in her weakened state she could not stop and fell to the ground in a crumpled heap. Tom wiped the blood from his lip and stood over her. He laughed, "nice shot, love". There it was again, she recognised the similarity. He stooped down and grabbed her arm, lifting her roughly, her legs tried to balance her, but they kept giving out and she found herself back up against the wall with Tom's vampiric face close to her own.

    "I know you want it, I can tell" he hissed at her. Lydia's eye's widened and her mind raced. Did she? She just couldn't tell, her mind was almost gone. Tom's face returned to human, she looked at him, he really was gorgeous. They looked at each other, both in the moment, both ready for the end. "I want...I want" but she didn't get to finish that sentence, Tom kissed her roughly. Lydia felt her body respond and then she felt....she felt something else. Metalic and warm, Tom's blood mixed with her saliva and Lydia's senses changed. The pain and fear left her body but the excitement remained, along with something else. A new sense of perspective, London no longer smelt the same, the roughness of Tom's kiss no longer felt wrong.

    Tom pulled back, and wiped her lips with his thumb, "see...." he whispered gently. Lydia looked through new eyes at Tom and she was gripped with another novel sense, disappointment. No longer filled with awe, she saw something inferior. "Yes" she replied, "I do now see". She pulled the stake from her now torn jacket and flew at Tom, she was faster and stronger and she hit her mark far quicker than she had ever managed before.

    As the stake pushed into Tom's torso his lips parted to speak, his eyes full of surprise. "I.....", but those lips disintegrated before her and Lydia was left staring into the darkness.

    "Not nice being interrupted, is it" she replied to the surrounding nothing. She took off the jacket and straightened her skirt, dusting herself down. It was at that point that Lydia's body gave out. Overcome by weakness and essentially dying she slumped against the wall. Confusing, she felt no fear, but the desire to rest, she sat on the floor, the light from the pub highlighting her face, the door opened.

    A man walked out into the alleyway, the music temporarily filling the alley. His was wearing a black shirt, and what looked like a dog collar. Lydia blinked slowly up at him as he looked over at her. His accent was American "Praise the lord" he drawled "maybe I can save another soul tonight" he grinned at her and held out his hand . He wasn't a vampire, she knew that, but he wasn't totally human either, well not now anyway. She took his hand and he pulled her to her feet.

    "Don't worry sweet girl, everything will be better in the morning, you'll see the light" he held her as she finally succumbed to the darkness in her mind. Caleb hauled her over his shoulder, "Yeah" he said to no one in particular, "tell you what little darlin', why don't I find you a nice dark cellar away from the sun and when you're done resting you can return the favour". Caleb looks towards the end of the alleyway , "don't worry none, nothing too difficult for the likes of fact, it'll be a blast....a REAL blast".

    A Bear! You made a Bear! Undo IT!!!