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Ficlet: Gamesmanship

Title: Gamesmanship
Author: Rebcake
Word Count: 676
Rating: PG
Characters: Darla & The Master
Summary: After pursuing her own interests for some time, Darla decides that Family Is Important, Too.
Disclaimer: As always, these characters are not mine, and won't even return my calls.
A/N: Written for the She Did It Her Way Ficathon. Prologue to Home Sweet Hellmouth, a multi-chapter Spike/Dru in 1958 Sunnydale story, coming soon. Okay, coming eventually. Jeez.

Darla, wearing a smart suit, picked her way across the uneven ground. She was by no means dainty or fragile, but her easy grace was the only thing that kept her from twisting an ankle in her spectator pumps. Her entire ensemble was completely inappropriate for spelunking, and she was getting annoyed at the whole endeavor. Once she reached the middle of the cavern, she turned around in a circle, surveying the wreckage of the destroyed church, trying to understand why she had been summoned to this place. She knew the Master preferred to live below ground, but this did not appear to have even the minimal amenities he usually kept about him. He, likewise, was nowhere to be seen. What was the game here?

Finally, she noticed an anomaly: a pool of red spread before the base of a tilted cross on a raised area at one end of the room. She stepped closer, peering at the odd liquid. She bent down to touch it and froze, realizing that her sire was suspended vertically just below the surface. She couldn’t see him, but she knew he was there, and that he was aware of her. She stepped back, quickly. This was not what she had expected, and she didn’t think that the situation could possibly end well. For her.

Where was the rest of the court? They had left for America to revel in the Great Depression and to investigate the rumored hellmouth, but she had lingered behind in Europe to enjoy the build up to the war. She couldn’t tear herself away from the misery as it swelled around her. It wasn’t a religious war, which had always been her favorite, but the zealotry surpassed any she had yet seen, and the scale was dazzling. Now that it was over, she felt a little let down, and finally remembered her place at the side of the Master of her Order. She had thought it would cheer her up to once again be petted and challenged in ways that made her feel that she was at the peak of her depravity. This did not look like the opportunity for either activity.

She took another step back, and considered her options. As she wavered between staying and going, the pool began to bubble, and the Master slowly emerged, eyes closed, fingers twitching. Darla fell to her knees, silk stockings be damned, and bent her head before him. There could be no question of flight now.

“Why, Darla! As I live and breathe,” he said in his customary jovial tone. She shivered. “I’m so glad you could drop by. How’ve you been?”

“I’ve ... I’ve been seeking you, Master.”

“Liar. Still, I love it when the kids come to visit. I want to hear about everything you’ve been up to, you scamp. You’ll stay for supper?” he asked.

“Of course. I’ll stay as long you wish me to, Master.”

“Such a darling. One thing, though: I can’t leave this place.” She looked up to see him leaning casually against the invisible barrier in front of him, inspecting the inch-long talons of one hand. “Be a dear and bring me a little something, won’t you?”

Darla hastened to obey.

After a delicious meal, he requested a chessboard. It was odd, and she tried to remember their games of long ago. She was rusty, but he had been stuck in that gruesome pit for a more than a decade. Rustiness was the least of her worries.

“Oh, my sweetest child,” the Master said. “It will be just like old times. White or black?”

“You choose, Master,” she demurred.

“First move to you, my dear.”

She turned the board on the flattish rock they were using as a table, and moved a white pawn.

He sighed happily. “You have no idea how bored I’ve been. My mind just couldn’t seem to focus on anything. Except for how my family had abandoned me, of course.” He smiled at her, and moved one of his own pawns.

The game was truly on.

FIN

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Comments

rebcake
Jun. 13th, 2016 06:14 pm (UTC)
There's a huge difference between the Darla we first meet — all saddle shoes and fawning on the Master — and the calm, cool, collected HBIC we see in the flashbacks. How did she become that, less interesting, person? I've got a longer story involving Spike and Dru, but it's very much on the back burner.
slaymesoftly
Jun. 13th, 2016 09:55 pm (UTC)
I think you should move it to the front burner!