. . .

Paths of Hate

Chapter 5

Sunnydale, California

October 31st 1999

As Liam and Buffy walked around the corner and out of sight Darla jumped from the roof, landing lightly on her feet and quickly headed in the opposite direction. Her thoughts going a mile a minute. So caught up in her own mind that she ran headlong into a hard human chest and stumbled backwards, catching herself before she really made a fool of herself.

"Whoa, are you ok?" a voice asked in concern.

She regained her footing and looked up into the face of a tall young man with an honest face and a nice smile.

"I'm fine," she said, before she noticed who it was. "Riley?" she asked.

He looked at her closely. "Damn. Darla?"

She nodded.

"Are you ok?" he asked again.

"I'm fine," she said, again.

"Riley?" one of his mates muttered. Riley held up his hand and signaled him to remain quiet. Darla looked around and found she was surrounded by men in fatigues, all of them staring at her in shock. The man who had spoken was holding a transmitter of some kind in his hands and was eyeing her suspiciously. She ignored him and turned back to Riley.

"Really, I'm ok." She said with a smile, taking a step backwards before turning and walked away from them. Riley and his mates watched her as he headed back down the street.

"Riley?" Forrest said again.

"What?" the commando asked in an annoyed voice, he was thinking about Darla, and Buffy.

Forrest handed over the transmitter - which showed an infrared image - and pointed it in Darla's direction as she walked away. On the screen her outline was a mix of blue and green, indicating a low body temperature.

"She's a vampire." Forrest said in a low voice.

Riley's eyebrows narrowed and he stared at Darla as she walked around the corner. "Well that certainly changes things," he muttered under his breath.

"What do you want us to do, Riley?" Forrest asked.

"Nothing, not yet." Riley said indicating his men to start moving again. They shouldered their weapons and turned, heading in the opposite direction. "We have our orders for tonight, perhaps we can use this to our advantage."

"How do you figure that?" Graham asked curiously.

"She's friends with the Slayer," Riley revealed, causing his men to gasp in outrage. "She would have known what Darla was, right from the start."

"So, what? Buffy's working with the enemy now?"

"I didn't say that – but something is going on, and I want to know what it is. I'll brief Professor Walsh in the morning – she'll know what to do."


Unaware that Riley and the Commandoes now new what she really was Darla continued hurrying down the street. Within minutes she was on the other side of town, jumping down a flight of stairs before opening the door to her basement apartment and rushing inside.

She slammed the door behind her and stalked through the living room, heading for the kitchen. She opened the fridge, bypassed the containers of blood she had stored there and grabbed the bottle of wine. She opened it and pored herself a glass, putting the bottle down with shaking hands as she took a large gulp. She left the bottle on the counter as she walked back to the living room and flopped down onto the couch.

She took another drink and relaxed into the pillows, her thoughts going a mile a minute. It had been over two centuries since she had seen his face, but those eyes still burned into her soul. She had subjected him to so much pain and horror, killing his family, and taunting him as he sought revenge.

She took a deep breath and chocked back a sob.

He was here to kill her, she knew it without any question, without even having to understand how he was here.

She had always wondered why he had given up so easily, and yes, she considered nine years too easy.

She had fully expected him to catch up with her all those years ago, and has spent many a sleepless night tucked up in her bed, wide awake, waiting. Their feud was legendary and the vampires she had often traveled with had not wanted to risk the Scourge or Europe finding them. They had fled, leaving her alone.

Day's turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, and as the years ticked buy she stopped thinking about him, assuming he was dead.

A century passed and with the return of her soul his face formed in her mind once again. The eyes and face that had so captured her in the first place, that look of lust in his eyes, and the casualness of his glance as he had turned away.

She wondered what would have happened if she had taken him up on his offer, if she hadn't lost her temper and killed his family. She found herself horrified at what she had put him through. Imagining the shock of finding his own family dead because of something he had done.

She couldn't believe he was here, alive.

What had he done?

It was a move that spoke of desperation. Did he sell his soul so he could kill her? She hoped not, nothing was worth that. But it was something she knew Liam would do. He was obsessed. His entire life had revolved around tracking and killing her.

It should have been flattering.

What did he have to show for his life? Nothing. She felt a little sorry for him.

But if he thought she was going to lie down and let him kill her he was very much mistaken. If he tried to kill her she would defend herself accordingly, no matter the consequences. She could handle another death on her conscious, or at least she thought she could.

It wouldn't be that difficult would it? She used to do it all the time. So what if she had a soul now. She was still a vampire.

With a sigh Darla took another sip of wine. Who was she kidding? She couldn't kill again, not ever, not even if it was a choice between her life and theirs.

She wasn't the vampire she used to be, not by a long shot. She never wanted to be that person again. Could she convince Liam of that? Would he believe she had a soul or would he take it as another of her ploys, the ones she used to be so good at?

Maybe Buffy could convince him otherwise? He certainly seemed taken with her in the alley when they had been fighting. She could tell he had been intrigued that a women half his size had taken on those vampires and lived to tell the tale, she had seen that look in his eyes before, thought last time it had been directed at her.

She drained the rest of her glass and got up to poor another. Maybe if she told Buffy she would be able to convince Liam that she was a good person now.

She snorted to herself. Maybe pigs could fly.

She knew Liam wouldn't be convinced of anything unless it was standing right in front of him. Meaning she would have to confront him and convince him of the truth. Probably spend it dodging sword swings if he still acted like she remembered.

Her mind made up, she drained the new glass of wine, and put it down on the sink. She turned and walked out the door. No time like the present, she thought as she headed back out into the night.


As they walked down the street Buffy studied Liam out of the corner of her eye, he walked with an easy grace, sure of himself, and yet watchful of the world around him. The way he watched the car's and eyed the streetlights above, made her think he wasn't used to seeing them.

"Where do you live?" she asked, "I haven't seen you around before."

He glanced down at her. "Nowhere," he said, "I'm…passing through."

"You're from Ireland aren't you?" she said. Surprised he nodded. Buffy smiled, "A friend of mine, Doyle, is from Dublin. You sound like him."

Liam grinned. "Ah, Dublin, good place. But on the other side of the country from my home."

"Where was that?"

"Galway. It's on the West Coast. My house is on the cliff overlooking the bay…" he trailed off, his eyes darkening with sadness.

"What's wrong?" she asked, hesitantly reaching out and touching him lightly on the arm.

"Just…memories," he muttered, "sorry."

"When did you find out about vampires?" she asked, changing the subject. As they turned a corner and started walking down Revello Drive towards her house.

"A few years ago now," he replied slowly.

"And you've been fighting them ever since?" she asked. It was an obvious question. You either fought, or you hid once you found out about the things that went bump in the night.

Her house was right in front of them as she headed up the path Liam answered her question. He nodded. "Yeah. A vampire killed my family."

Buffy turned around, staring up at him in horror. "Oh, god." She whispered as she slowly climbed the stairs to the porch. "I'm so sorry."

He shook his head. "Don't be, I've spent the last nine years hunting the vampire that did it, it's only a matter of time before I find her and kill her."

Buffy nodded her agreement as she reached into her pocket for the keys and unlocked the door. She walked inside, Liam following her and closing the door behind them. He followed her into the kitchen where she grabbed the first-aid kit from under the bench and placed it on the counter. "Ok," she said, "Lets take a look at those cuts."

Gingerly she reached up and put her hand on his cheek, turning his head towards the light so she could see the shape of the cut better. She winced. "I don't think it's too deep," she said, "it shouldn't scar." She dipped the cotton bud in betadine and dabbed it on the cut, ignoring Liam's hiss of pain.

"What were you doing fighting those vampires by yourself anyway?" she asked conversationally. "You could have gotten killed, you should leave it to the professionals."

He frowned at her. "I am," he said seriously.

She gave him a startled look. He chose to hunt vampires, no ancient prophecy, or chosen destiny dictated his life.

He chose this life.

Buffy didn't know what to think about that, to have a choice to live in the shadows, to spend her life in darkness. If she wasn't the Slayer she didn't think she would be able to do it.

"What about you?" he asked as she started cleaning the larger cut across his shoulder. "How do you know about vampires? And how did you manage to throw that one into the wall without any effort at all?"

There it was, the question everyone asked when they saw her fight. Could she trust him? He was a hunter, he knew what went bump in the night, and it was unlikely he was going to spill her secrets to the government, but she had made the same mistake before. With Riley. Not everyone who fought demons was doing it for the same reasons she was. This was her life.

She took a deep breath, something told her she could trust him. That he wasn't the one to give out information that wasn't his to give.

"I'm a Slayer," she said.

He looked at her closely, his eyes narrowing in confusion. "What's a Slayer?" he asked.

Buffy blinked quickly, she couldn't believe it. Sure, most demon hunters weren't aware of what a Slayer was but for some reason she thought he might be different. Maybe it had something to do with his bearing. She had the impression that he had been doing this for a while and knew a lot about the creatures that liked to go bump in the night.

"Oh," she muttered, slightly embarrassed. "A Slayer, is me. I fight demons. It's kind of a…." she paused to gauge his reaction, "…calling." she finished.

He frowned. "A calling? Meaning you have no choice in this?"

She frowned, defensive. "I wouldn't say that, I didn't have to do it if I didn't want to, but a Slayer is Chosen. There's only one. Oh well - two now – but that's a different issue. – if I didn't fight they would have no one else to protect the Hellmouth."

"The Hellmouth?" he asked curiously.

"Oh crap," she muttered, "I probably shouldn't have told you that. Yeah, Sunnydale is on a Hellmouth, it's kind of a convergent for mystical energy, and tends to attract vampires and demons and stuff…" she finished with a blush as he continued to stare at her.

"So there are more vampires here?" he said thoughtfully.

Buffy nodded "Hundreds," she confirmed, "That's why Giles hardly ever gives me a day off," she said jokingly.


"My Watcher. "


She sighed. This was going to take a while.

"He trains me," she confirmed. Liam nodded his head at that. While they had been talking Buffy had finished cleaning his cuts and put a bandage over the wound on his shoulder. "We should go now, he'll be starting to get worried."

Liam nodded and pulled his shirt back over his head. Buffy couldn't help but notice that it was made of a very coarse cotton. He put his brown coat on over it and stood up.

Buffy lead the way out of her house, glad that her mother was out having a few drinks with friends tonight, she didn't want to have to explain Liam to her. Her mother already worried about her enough with Slaying without her knowing about boy stuff.

She glanced at Liam out of the corner of her eye. Ok, man stuff.

The walk through town was mostly done in silence as Buffy thought about what to tell the others, and Liam thought about the girl at his side. She was tiny. It was hard to imagine she fought demons on a daily basis. It was hard to wrap his head around. He found himself glancing over at her every now and then. Already he felt drawn to her, she was such an interesting person, he found himself wanting to know more about her, something he hadn't wanted to do for a very long time.

Soon Buffy pointed to an apartment complex in front of her and they headed down the stairs to a small courtyard with a fountain in the middle. Buffy headed to the right apartment and knocked on the door, waiting patiently as she heard voices inside. It didn't take long for the door to open, revealing Doyle.

The Irish man smiled at her. "Buffy, back so soon?" he paused as he caught sight of Liam standing behind her. "Who are you?" he asked.

Buffy walked past Doyle into the apartment and gestured for Liam to follow her. He met Doyle's eyes and the shorter man stepped aside to allow the bigger man through. Liam nodded his thanks and walked into the apartment behind Buffy, looking around curiously, noticing a lot of things he didn't recognise. There were a few people on the couch in the living room and he keep his eyes on them as he took a few steps forward to stand beside Buffy,

"This is Liam." Buffy introduced him to everyone. "He hunts demons."

An older gentleman cleared his throat and stood up from the couch, walking around and standing in front of them.

"This is…"

"Yes," Buffy confirmed with a glance at Doyle. Not wanting Giles to reveal to Liam that they had seen him in a vision.

The others got up and Buffy introduced everyone. Liam inclined his head. "Nice ta meet ya." He said.

"You're Irish?" Doyle said, shocked.

"Ay" Liam confirmed, "Galway, tis me home."

Doyle nodded, "Ah, lovely place. Dublin's where's I was born."

Liam smiled, "The lass has already told me," he said, indicating Buffy with a tilt of his head.

Buffy blushed. "I recognised the accent, not many people around here sound like that."

"So, Liam what are you doing in Sunnydale if you don't mind me asking," Giles asked.

"I'm looking for someone actually, well a vampire specifically."

"Oh?" said Giles in surprise.

"Why are you looking for a vampire?" Willow asked.

"Yeah, normally we try and get away from them," Xander joked.

"To kill her," Liam said simply.

The news shocked the others.

"I've been searching for this one for a long time, she murdered my family."

"You actually go looking for vampires?" Xander muttered in disbelief, glancing at Buffy. Not many civilians did that.

"Yes, they're evil."

"Not all demons are evil, you know," Anya said, crossing her arms over her chest. "Some of them are useful members of society, and pay taxes just like everyone else.

Liam raised his eyebrows. "They are soulless, death is the only thing they are good for."

The Scooby's stood, shocked. Sure, most vampires (ok, all but one) were evil, but there were many species of demons. Ranging from 'oh god, oh god, I'm going to die' to someone like Doyle, who you could have a drink with at the pub and be none the wiser.

"Demons are as versatile as humans as their capacity to do good," Giles said wisely, "We try not to kill indiscriminately here."

Liam frowned in confusion, before glancing at Buffy "But you're the Slayer," he said, ignoring the others shocked gasps "Isn't this what you do?"

"Slayer doesn't mean killer," she pointed out.

"Doesn't it?" he frowned, annoyed. "Seems you're just making excuses, they are evil, if you can't handle that than maybe you need to do something else."

They couldn't believe their ears, who did this stranger think he was!

Buffy's eyes narrowed. "Hey, I helped you. Don't you dare tell me I can't do my job. Things might be different from where you're from but here we do things my way, and if a demon hasn't killed then I see no reason not to let them live their life the way they want."

Liam narrowed his eyes and frowned.

"Wow, said Xander as he tried to defuse the tension "That vampire must have messed you up real bad."


When she left her apartment Darla made a beeline for Giles apartment, she knew Buffy would have gone there after the fight.

If she had thought things through she would have waited, but she didn't think Buffy would have brought Liam back with her, he was a stranger, and Buffy had more common sense than most, but she had forgotten what it was like to be young and human, and the thing that had made her seek Liam's company in the first place. He was a good looking man, he had fought at her side, Buffy wouldn't have turned him away if she thought he would get hurt.

As she opened the door to Giles living room and Liam turned around Darla cursed her stupidity. She froze on the threshold as Liam eyes widened.

"Ah, Darla…" a distant part of her heard Giles say before her vision was obscured as Liam stepped in front of her.

"You," he hissed between his teeth as he drew his sword.

Before she or Buffy could react he had leaped forward, his sword flashing through the air. Darla jerked back, just in time, the sword just nicking her arm, ripping her shirt and drawing blood when it would have ripped her apart if she hadn't moved.

"Liam!" yelled Buffy in shock

The rest of the Scooby's yelled desperately as he slashed at Darla again, forcing her to scramble backwards until she stumbled and fell to the floor. Her hands and knees pressing against the pavement.

He pressed his sword to her throat and forced her chin up so she was looking in her eyes. "I should kill you," he hissed.

. . .