“What is this?” Spike snarled, casting his duster to the vacant chair as he stormed into his crypt. “Have I turned into a bloody Holiday Inn? Is there a vacancy sign advertising a room in large neon letters that I missed? What the hell makes you birds think you can waltz in and out of here as you please?”
Yelling at Dru typically yielded one of two results—rage or mopey pouting. Tonight it was the latter. When she jutted out her lower lip and looked at him with her large, beguiling eyes, Spike’s instincts kicked in, and he had to remind himself that he was angry. A century’s worth of habit was bloody hard to break. After all, she had been the love of his unlife.
She had also ripped his heart out, stomped on it twice for good measure, and sent him back to Sunnyhell where he’d lost said heart to his enemy.
That’s right. It was Dru’s fault he was in love with the Slayer.
And now she was in his crypt, standing where he’d left Darla, who he knew, thanks to his nose, had vacated the premises.
Funny. Just a few months ago, Spike would have killed to see Dru here.
Now all he wanted was for her to get the fuck out of town.
Drusilla fidgeted, but like everything with her, the movement was calculated. She played helpless and coy when she was anything but. He wouldn’t fall for it again. ”Are you not pleased to see me?”
Spike snickered and marched forward. This was turning into a bloody weird night.
“Don’t miss anything, do you, love? Did the pixies tell you that, or were you able to work it out on your own?”
“I thought grandmum had talked with you. She did not mention you being cross.” Drusilla grinned one of her dark, seductive grins and danced toward him. “Do you want to punish me, William? Have I been awfully bad?”
“I really can’t stand for more of this, you know. You wanna run amuck? Fine. Got your own bloody town, haven’t you?” He caressed his brow, feeling a headache coming on. “Just bugger off, Dru. Take Darla and get the hell back to Los Angeles. I’m sure there’s plenty of fun to be had there.”
She whimpered. “My boy does not want to come to the circus? There’s a great big elephant, you know. And the acrobats have begun their stretches.”
“Good for them. Get out.”
Her pout intensified. Again, he was struck with how much had changed over such a short period. But Spike was wiser now, and he knew what she was trying to do. All she was accomplishing was pissing him off.
He’d spent too much time being manipulated by her. Used. Abused. Her bloody stand-in when Angelus wasn’t available.
These were things he’d always known but managed to overlook. Not anymore.
Even if loving Buffy was unnatural and wrong, it had at least opened his eyes where Dru was concerned.
“You don’t mean that,” Dru cooed. “Didn’t grandmum tell you our delightful plan? What fun it will be? Round and round we go. We’ll stay on the carousel even when our mummies and daddies shake their fingers at us. We’re very bad children. Naughty. Shhhh.”
Spike rolled his eyes. “Yeah. The ole bag laid full load on me. Bloody Angel has gone the way of the Dark Side and now the lot of you want to get the band back together. I’m telling you the same thing I told her: not interested.”
Dru released a long, ear-splitting whine. “You really don’t want to come?”
Spike arched an eyebrow but didn’t respond.
And cue righteous fit. Dru dropped the seductress routine at once, pressing her hands to her ears as she began to moan in earnest. “Poor Spike. My poor, poor Spike. Left here in the cold when everyone else gets their cookies and milk. We’re going off and the little birdies will eat all the crumbs if we leave you any to follow.”
“Fine by me. I won’t be following.”
“I don’t want to,” she complained. “Not without my prince.”
“Learn to live with disappointment.” Spike snickered and moved toward the chair where he’d tossed his duster to fish out a half-smoked pack of cigarettes. “Know I did.”
“Are you still sore? Mummy could kiss it better.”
He shook his head and lit up. “Snooze you lose, love. You walked out on me, didn’t you? Mummy’s kisses have turned bloody sour.”
She blinked slowly as though confused.
Spike sighed, his anger tipping up a notch. “You walked out on me, you crazed bint! I did everything I could for you! Every single day for a sodding century!” He tossed his cigarette to the ground and stomped it out. “Bloody well worshiped the ground you walked on. Gave you everything you ever asked me for. Bent over backwards to make sure you were happy. And where the fuck did it get me? Here! In Sunnyhell with a blasted chip up my skull. The Slayer’s bloody punch-line is what I am now. Not only that, I’m forced to play nice with the other puppies ‘cause it’s the only way I can get a decent spot of violence. And now you want me back? To come with you? For what? I might not like what’s become of me, but I’ve bloody well adjusted. Making the bleeding most of it. You have some nerve to try and win me back after you bloody well did this to me.”
Drusilla whimpered again, wiping her eyes of fake tears. “I’m here to save you, my sweet. To make everything all right again. I’ve felt you calling. All alone, whispering and clawing at the dark. My prince…trapped in a prison of electricity where the nasty fence shocks you when you touch the wire.”
“So, yeah…news travels.”
“The big bad lawyers told me. They whispered all sorts of nasty lies.” She neared until she was all but pressed against him, flooding him with her familiar scent. She nuzzled the crook of his neck. “But the stars, my sweet. They tell the greatest lie of all. They said that you had gone away from me. So far that I cannot reach you. So far into the dark where my help cannot lead you back to where you belong.”
Spike snickered and moved aside. “You lost interest in trying to reach me years ago. The only reason you’re here is to make your precious Daddy happy. Sorry, sweets. I’ve had my fair share of that scene, and I’m not looking for a repeat.”
“Not even for your princess?”
That was bloody rich.
“Face it, Dru. You stopped bein’ my princess a long time ago.”
Someone unaccustomed to her random mood swings would have been taken for a loop. As it was, he had more than his fair share of experience. When she fell to her knees and began moaning again, shaking violently, he just watched, impassive.
“You…you stink of her!” she cried, scrubbing her hands down her arms, chest, and face as though trying to rid her skin of an unwanted residue. “She’s all over you. Filthy, rotten girl. Stealing my William. But she leaves you in shadows so that she can dance. You’re in the shadows now. With me.”
“You came to me, love. So, yeah. I got myself a little problem concerning a girl that will, for the sake of this conversation, remain nameless. It’s your fault, anyway. You should’ve known a catch like me wouldn’t stay on the market long after we parted ways.” He managed a semi-cocky smile. “Did you think I’d wait around for you to come to your senses?”
“She’s…” Her face crumpled with disgust. He knew that feeling well—he’d had it every moment of his own realization of where his heart lay. He’d continue to have it until Buffy finally snuffed it or he met his dust.
“She’s a slayer, my lovely,” Dru mewled. “A nasty, wicked girl. Oh…my skin is crawling all over. Crawling, crawling…” She started scratching at her flesh madly, a crazed gleam stealing over her face. “Make it stop! Make it stop!”
Spike had the decency to look sheepish. “Oi. No one’s bragging here.”
“I cannot see you. You’re lost in the woods and I cannot take you home.” She paused, then cried out the next minute, clutching at her stomach.
This time when the habit kicked in, Spike didn’t fight it. He was too exhausted to put in the effort. He knelt beside her and hauled her against him, doing what he’d always done—offer stability where she lacked it.
The familiar trembling lasted only a moment, but she kept her grip on him. “The big bad wolf is coming for you, my Spike. All alone, lost in the woods. Galloping, galloping, and here he comes.”
A flawless eyebrow perched. “Something’s coming to get me?” he asked. “Think your timing’s a little off, sweetheart.”
“But no…it’s coming for the both of you.” Then her mood changed again, only this time it made his stomach drop. The smile that stretched across her face was familiar, and it couldn’t mean anything good. Not where he and Buffy were concerned, at least. “Ooh, isn’t that pretty? You should really see it, my darling. The stars are painting such lovely colors. And now…the sky is about to open. No one can stop the lark from singing. Sweet nightingale. Born to the night, just as we are. Singing sweetly until the nasty lark comes to chase you off. Bad lark. The sun will do nasty things to you when she wakes.” With another demented cackle, she opened her shining eyes and beamed at him. “You have been a very bad doggie,” she scolded, performing the international sign for ‘shame on you’ before bringing her finger to her lips. “No treats for the bad doggies, you hear? No, no…no treats at all.
Spike sighed. This was getting really old really fast. “You’ve heard my answer, love,” he said with every last strain of patience that he could muster. “And I’ve had my fair share of nightly visitors. Go tell Darla no deal. I want no part of this.”
“But I have a secret,” she cooed. “Miss Edith told me not to share. She’ll be so disappointed if I break my word. But I’m cross with her. She whispers lies against the night wind and makes it impossible for the children to have their cake and milk.”
Another sigh. Experience cautioned that it was better during such spells to simply humor her. “All right, love. All right. What did Miss Edith tell you?”
In the next instant, Drusilla fell to her knees again and straddled her wrists, raven hair flying back as her eyes narrowed with glee. “The beast is coming for you,” she informed him, rocking back and forth. “Scampering down hallways, looking over the corridors. You aren’t as sneaky as you think. No, no. Not nearly enough time. No. We don’t want to make the King of Cups unhappy. That won’t do at all. Oooohh!” She threw her head back as if in the throes of orgasm. “My Daddy likes to play. He and grandmum want to taste her blood. They will pour it down every hallway and dance naked under the moonlight. He is a vulture, circling around the dead. And you…” She centered her gaze on him. “You are the lark, and he is going to make you bleed all over.”
There was one thing Spike knew for certain—a jealous Drusilla jealous was a dangerous Drusilla. His feelings for Buffy were bad enough—implicating Angelus would likely push her over the proverbial edge.
But Angelus wouldn’t turn Buffy. He had more brains than that. If he wanted her in Los Angeles, it was for one reason and one reason alone.
It was rather unnerving, knowing that he would stake Drusilla here and now if it’d put an end to whatever scheme she and Darla were hatching. Unnerving to know that he was so lost that he was willing to sacrifice more than a hundred years of history to save something that would never be his. Buffy was untouchable and he accepted that. He’d accepted that the morning he awoke from that godawful—bloody fantastic—dream. The morning he first realized his true feelings. Even if he played by every one of her sodding rules, she’d never be his.
While that much hurt, it did rot to change things. Drusilla had been his savior; Buffy was redemption in itself. And to protect her, he would do anything, even stake his sire. He would defy the natural order. He would do anything to protect the Slayer.
Hell, he was a rebel, after all.
“Pet,” Spike said slowly, edging forward. He knew her well enough to know that the slightest thing could trigger a violent fit. “Y’don’t know what you’re getting into here. There’s…stuff in motion that you can’t stop. You and Darla and Angelus can be as bloody chaotic as you please in dear ole LA. I—”
She held up a hand up, quivering and no longer smiling. “I see you,” she whimpered. “Nasty little jibes. Dancing all on your lonesome. You’d kill for her…” Drusilla caressed her own lips as if to wipe away the words that left them. “You’d kill your princess?”
“You’d…” And then she was disgusted, scratching at her skin once more. The face of a leper without his disease. That was his girl, all right. “You’d die for her. Nasty, nasty William. Reeking of the Slayer. She stinks you up, she does. Perfuming her good intentions all over.”
“You and Darla…” He sighed. At this rate, it’d be sunrise before he got her out of here, then he’d be stuck with her all bloody day. “You just need to go back. I’ve told you my part. The answer’s no. Bloody carnage, sod all. Got me plenty of that here.” Except for the chip, of course. The nagging voice in the back of his head warned him that he was close to talking himself out of his own excuse. Except he knew he wasn’t. As much as he hated the chip, getting it out didn’t seem nearly as important as it once had. He hadn’t given it much thought at all since the night that everything changed for him. And that was the way it was. “Just doesn’t hold the same thrill for me anymore.”
“I’ve wrecked you,” Dru whimpered. “I’ve turned you inside out and all the birdies tear at your ribbons until there is nothing left but spoiled milk.”
“Yeah well, your bad, pet.” Spike spread his arms. “I’m a taken bloke. I might be bloody ruined, but I’m taken.”
Drusilla sniffled. “Grandmum will be most displeased.”
“Piffle. Grandmum doesn’t give two bloody pisses about me. Never has. She made herself quite clear when she was…” Spike trailed off, something horrible occurring to him. “Dru,” he said sharply, parading over to his dark maker and grasping her by the shoulders and giving her one good shake. “Where’s Darla?”
She blinked. A long, annoyingly tame blink.
He shook her again, harder this time. “Where. Is. Darla?”
Another blink. Then slowly, she smiled.
“Grandmum went for a stroll,” Drusilla singsonged, pulling free of his grip. “She wanted to dance under the moonlight and taste the delights off the candy-coated tree. They are quite nummy, as I recall. Loads and loads of sweets to eat. Apples, plums, and—”
“Did you do something?”
“My prince asks—”
“Bugger your sodding prince!” Spike’s demon scratched the surface, aching to be freed. “You’re understanding me, Dru. I know that look. Stop skittering around the question an’ answer me. Darla mentioned something about some drug. One that’s popular among date rapists and the like.” He edged closer, his inner demon roaring louder still. “You were at the Bronze tonight, weren’t you? The place was crawling with—”
“I remember the Bronze,” she replied with a cryptic smile. “We used to go dancing. All of us. Remember that, William?”
“Actually, you and Angelus would go dancing. I’d watch from the bloody sidelines. On. With. It.” He paused. “The lackeys…Harris mentioned there were a few—”
“Ooohh! My boy’s getting it! Closer, closer, please! You’re almost there.” The grin on her face grew wider, and she was practically bursting with glee. “You mustn’t be cross with us, Spike. Grandmum assured me it was all for you. And I do so want to do right by you, my sweet. To make everything the way it should be.” She brought her hands behind her head and thrust her pelvis against him. “Grandmum always knows best.”
Then he knew.
“She’s gone!” Drusilla cried, clapping her hands together. “Ring around the rosey, pockets full of posey, the nasty Slayer is gone! Oh, we’re going to have such fun with her!”
“This was all Darla’s fixing. She knew I’d…” In all his years, he didn’t reckon he’d ever felt any thicker than he did at that minute. “She knew that I’d race across town the moment she mentioned that you were after her.”
It was useless attempting to make conversation with Drusilla. She’d checked out, now twirling in circles and cackling like mad. “It’s just as I thought it would be!” She stopped just as suddenly as she began without so much as a wobble and fixed her eyes on him. “I’m sorry you do not wish to come with us, my darling. But if you like, I will give the Slayer your regards.”
In days to come, Spike would wonder what had prompted him to let her go that night. He’d remember wishing her dead. He’d remember the charge that seized him, the urge to pop her head off good and proper. To do what he’d wanted to do to her time and time again for ruining him. For sending him here. For making him see the thing he’d been too blind to see. He’d imagined it a thousand ways. A thousand times. Every corner of Drusilla’s demise was etched out and played, stopped, and played again.
But he couldn’t do it. Not that night. Not with his mind spiraling. Dru didn’t stay around to gloat long, anyway. She bid him farewell and danced her way back outside, leaving him to the numbing realization that the decision had been made for him.
He knew. He knew what he had to do.
Spike was drowning and she was his only way out.
And his deranged family had stolen her from him.
He had no choice but to steal her back.
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