By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: Post Not Fade Away. This is the fourth story written using the prompts from 600 Seconds. It follows Cenodoxus. The prompts will be in bold. Some of the prompts are pictures and those will be described.
If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.
~ George Bernard Shaw
Irish Dramatist and socialist (1856 – 1950)
“I’ve wiped Mallory’s computer.” Willow sat back with a satisfied smile. “He wasn’t very computer savvy. He didn’t make more than one backup, and even Xander could have broken his encryption codes.”
“Of course I – hey!” Xander frowned. “No fair picking on the non-geek!”
“Sorry.” She looked contrite. “Gaming is your skill, hacking is mine.”
“That’s right.” He shook a finger at her. “Someday you’ll need me to figure out how to get into a labyrinth to confront the Big Baddie and save the world.”
“The virtual world or the real world?”
“The virtual world.” Xander smiled. “I’ll leave the real world saving to you and Buffy.”
“Buffy would prefer to shop and paint her nails.” Buffy looked up from examining said nails. “Slaying is hard on them.”
“Your nails are just fine.” Angel said as he walked into Mallory’s office. “We found these.” He dropped a box on the desk.
“Damn.” Xander fished in his pocket for his wallet. “How’d you know he’d keep a journal?”
“Mallory was middle-aged when computers were nothing more than room sized calculators and personal computers were strictly science-fiction.” Angel accepted the twenty dollar bill from Xander, then took one of the journals out of the box and sat down next to Buffy.
“If he’s going to keep track of what he’s doing, then he’s going to write it down.” Spike took another journal out of the box and thumbed through it. “Paper and pen are what he trusts.”
“We tossed his quarters pretty thoroughly. The journals were all we found.” Riley had taken time to put on a clean uniform, but it was clear he needed rest. “He has an apartment in New York that we’ll need to search. He could have a second set of journals or who knows what.”
“Giles is going to want to go through these.” Angel told him. “Mallory documented the changes he went through and how he maintained his state.”
“Bunch of boring crap, if you ask me.” Throwing the journal he’d been looking through back in the box, Spike walked over to the doorway and looked out into the hall.
“I can’t let you take those.” While he wasn’t sure who to trust with the journals, Riley was sure that they were government property. “I can’t let you.”
Both Buffy and Angel glanced up at the word ‘can’t’, and Spike stopped his restless prowling to look at him.
“They’re government property. They could contain classified information.” Riley explained.
“Which we don’t care about, unless he was pulling a Professor Walsh and building a better demon.” Buffy went back to checking her nails for damage. She needed a manicure in the worst way.
“We’ll share any relevant information with you, but you can’t take the journals.” Riley insisted.
“Riley. Let them have them.”
Turning at the soft voice, Riley found Sam behind him. She had showered and put on a clean uniform, but she looked tired and worn down. “I thought you were going to get some sleep?”
“Not until you do.”
Angel quickly vacated his chair and motioned for her to sit down. With an expert eye, he studied her body language and facial expressions as she crossed the room to sit. If he was any judge of rape victims – and he was – Sam would be fine in the long run. She was tired, but determined, with only a small hint of sadness blended into her scent.
“Let them have the journals.” She gave Angel a small smile as she sank into the chair.
“There might be classified information in them. General Mallory had a high level security clearance.”
“You said yourself there could be a second set, and if not – “ Sam turned to Angel for support. “I’m sure that Mr. Giles will make a copy for us?”
“Of course.” He assured her. Minus how Mallory turned himself into a pseudo-pet, of course.
“You can scan them and put them on a disk – “
“No! No scanning!” Willow shook her head vigorously. “Scanning bad!”
“She was frightened by a scanner as a young child.” Xander kidded. “But she’s on good terms with the copy machine.”
“Don’t send anything on what he did to himself.”
“Sam, that’s probably the bulk of what’s in them.” Riley protested.
“Do you really want that information in the hands of the military?” She was a loyal soldier, but she wasn’t stupid. “Someone will think this is a great idea. An army of near immortal soldiers – and without the worry of using real demons. Think about it, Riley. Can we risk it?”
Obviously, that hadn’t occurred to him. Riley looked at first surprised and then horrified. “You’re right – I hadn’t even thought – “
“I love him, but he’s still a naïve farm boy.” Sam softened the comment with a hand held out to her husband. He took it and squeezed lovingly.
“We’ll send copies of anything non-vampire-blood related. But I think you’re going to be pretty busy with this stuff.” Willow turned the screen around so Riley could see the list she’d brought up. “Apparently General Mallory has his own pet projects going, no pun.”
Riley scanned the list. “Subject 1A, Subject 2A, Subject 1B – dear God.” The list was extensive. “There’s dozens.”
“Forty seven.” She toggled the screens to show another spreadsheet. “Dates, treatments, results – deaths.”
“Where is this?” He tapped the screen. “I don’t recognize these room numbers.”
“So they’re numbers you don’t know, so what?” Spike was once again looking out into the hallway.
“So, I don’t know where this is.”
“So ask someone!” Spike snarled.
“I can’t ask someone!” Riley shot back. “These room numbers – this corridor – they don’t exist!”
“Obviously, they exist somewhere!” He paced out into the hallway once again, running his hands over the walls as if expecting to find something hidden behind them. “Demons don’t hold the market on secret rooms, you know.”
Angel had been watching Spike’s restless prowling for several minutes, and he was beginning to wonder what was wrong. Considering Spike had once been an honored guest of the Initiative, Angel thought that he’d want to get out of here as quickly as possible. Instead, it seemed as if he wanted to stay and explore this missing corridor.
Exchanging a confused look with Buffy, Angel got up and followed Spike. He found the other vampire standing in the center of the corridor, his head tipped back and his arms outstretched.
“I think it’s a secret door, Spike, not a psychic door.”
“Don’t you feel it?”
“Clean the hair gel out of your ears and listen.” Spike took a step or two down the hallway. “Don’t you feel it?”
“Do you want me to feel or to listen?” The hair gel comments were getting a little old, especially since Spike’s hair wasn’t exactly natural. Pot – kettle? “In case you’ve finally bleached your last brain cells – feeling and hearing are two different things.”
“I feel her – “ He turned back to Angel. “ – how can you not feel her?”
“Feel who?” The other vampire’s ice blue eyes were tormented. “Her, who?”
“Dru – “ A jolt of fear ran down Angel’s spine. Had Mallory gotten his hands on Drusilla? After everything that he’d done to Drusilla – both before and after he’d turned her – she didn’t deserve having Mallory experiment on her. “Are you sure? Maybe it’s just a female?”
The look Spike gave him labeled him moron of the century. “It’s not just any female vibe – she’s my sire.”
Sighing, Angel closed his eyes and focused inward, giving Angelus a few extra lengths in his chain. The bond between Spike and Dru was far stronger than the one between himself and Dru. The chylde could sense the sire to a much greater degree than the sire could sense the chylde.
There was something, a pull within his gut. Spike’s hand on his arm guided him down the corridor until the pull became stronger.
“So who’s Marco and who’s Polo?”
Angel jerked back to full awareness, losing the feeling. “Damn it!”
“Sorry.” Buffy backed up a step as Angel whirled on her, his eyes a glittering gold. “I didn’t know you two were doing something important.”
“Easy, Peaches.” Spike put a hand on Angel’s arm. “You felt her, didn’t you?”
Angel tightened back down on Angelus. “We need to find this corridor that doesn’t exist.”
She took a step closer once again. “Xander says he thinks he knows where it is. He looked over some blueprints Willow found.”
“Good. Tell him to hurry up and find it.” Raking his fingers through his hair, Angel tried to catch his whirling thoughts. If it was Dru – and whoever it was, they were one of his line – should he be happy or sad? Save her or stake her? Beg her forgiveness or curse her?
“Angel?” Buffy reached out cautiously, laying her hand on his arm. Something had upset him, something more than just the idea that Mallory was experimenting on demons.
“Nothing, it’s nothing. I think. Maybe. It should be nothing. But it could be something.”
“Wow.” An Angel babble, that was new. “How about – “ She pulled him to one side as Xander and Willow came out of Mallory’s office. “How about we wait and see if it’s something or nothing?”
He nodded. It was something. The best he could hope for was that they’d take the decision out of his hands. Lowering his voice, he confided. “Spike thinks Dru is here.”
That explained their odd behavior. “You can sense each other, right?” She asked softly. “Like my spidey sense?”
“Something like that.”
It wouldn’t do any good to remind Angel that he wasn’t responsible for Dru – Angel had never forgiven himself for the torment that Angelus had put Drusilla through, and he probably never would. Buffy settled for giving Angel a soft kiss.
At the end of the corridor, instead of turning to the left or right, Xander felt along the wall. Spike hovered, jumping back when Xander nearly stepped on his foot.
“Right… here…” Xander tapped on the wall. “It doesn’t feel right. I think this is our door.”
“Let’s figure out how to open it.” Willow giggled suddenly. “Put ze candle back!”
“Oh man, we should watch that when we get back!” He lowered his voice. “Where wolf? There wolf. There castle.”
“Here, moron.” Spike shoved Xander aside. He doubled up his fist and drove it through the spot on the wall. The plaster crumbled, and his knuckles hit something solid. Grimacing, he curled his fingers around the damaged plaster and pulled. A section fell out to reveal solid metal behind it.
“I’d say that’s not your standard construction technique.” Spike sucked on his bruised knuckles.
“That really takes all the fun out of things, you know? Half the fun is looking for the candlestick.” Reaching into the hole, Xander pulled another large chunk of drywall free and let it drop to the floor.
“It’s never the candlestick anyway.” Angel told him.
“Don’t tell me that! I love that cliché!” Willow covered her ears.
After a few moments, Spike and Xander had torn a sizable hole in the plaster. Spike slapped at the dust covering his clothing. “Come on, Red, help us out with a spell.”
“Nope. This is something you’re capable of doing.” Personal gain was what had led her onto the wrong path with magic the first time.
“I liked you better when you were looser with the magic.” He busted one of the wooden two-by-fours supporting the false wall.
“If you’d like that shoved through your heart…” Xander said softly.
“It was a joke.” Spike tossed the piece of wood down the corridor. “Lighten up.”
It took several minutes to expose the doorway and the keypad set into it. Willow examined it for a moment, frowning as she saw the fingerprint and retina scanners. “Have they burned Mallory’s body yet?”
“Yeah, burned it, sprinkled the ashes with holy water, and scattered them into running water.” Riley told her.
“Very thorough.” Spike snickered. “Another old myth that’s nothing but crap, by the way.”
Riley ignored him. Right now his concern was for the men getting ready to go in and face whatever was hiding behind the door they’d uncovered, and for his wife, who looked ready to drop. Slayer strength or not, Sam had obviously been through much more of an ordeal than he had. His mind shied away from what that might mean.
“Great.” Willow glared at the keypad. “I might be able to hack in, but that’ll take some time. I’ll need a computer and a few other things to do it.”
”Smash the damn thing.” Spike raised his fist.
“No!” Riley caught his arm. “He could have fail-safes set up to kill whoever’s in there!”
“Well, that’s just paranoid.”
“Duh. That’s a given.” Willow dug through the spell components she’d brought with her. They had no way of knowing exactly what the conditions were in Mallory’s secret playrooms. Whoever was locked up in there could be in pain and possibly dying, and that wasn’t right, even if they were demons. The issue of time allowed her to use a spell. “Ah, this should do it. Give me some room.”
The others backed several feet back down the hall. Only Xander stayed close, out of habit more than any real need to protect her back.
Taking a small vial from the pouch, Willow held it against the door and let the liquid inside pour out. She moved it in an arc so that the liquid would cover as large an area as possible.
When the vial was empty, she wrapped it in a scrap of lace.
“Before my eyes, a veil of lace.”
The surface of the metal began to wobble and shift.
“Clear my sight as the veil breaks.”
Willow crushed the vial and flung it at the center of the wispy pattern that had formed. It shattered, shards falling to the floor, leaving a gaping hole in the door.
“All right, who’s – “ Willow watched Spike and Angel rush through the new opening. “First? I guess that was a stupid question, huh?”
“Right up there with ‘Do you want fries with that?’” Buffy watched the Initiative’s soldiers file through the opening, machine guns at the ready. “I better get in there.”
Riley had ordered his soldiers not to fire unless they were in danger, and not to open any cells without authorization from him or Sam. He wasn’t sure what they were going to find, demons or people Mallory was turning into demons.
Angel was a step behind Spike as they jogged down the narrow corridor. Dim, yellowish lighting washed along the walls, cutting slices in the ugly tan. At regular intervals, doorways broke up the grimness.
One doorway stood open, the room empty, and they bypassed it, following the feeling that pulled at the two of them. With each stride, the feeling grew until Angel was absolutely certain the chylde he was sensing was Drusilla. Angelus hadn’t sired a great deal of chylder during his time, but there were still a few roaming the world, enough for him to need to be within a certain range to distinguish which was which.
“Here!” Spike stopped at one of the doors. “She’s in here!”
“Wait!” Angel shouted as Spike reached for the doorknob.
The other vampire ignored him, grabbing the silver knob and twisting it. He immediately howled in pain.
Taking hold of Spike’s shoulders, Angel tried to pull him away. “Let go!”
“Can’t!” Smoke curled between his fingers and swallowed his hand. He fell to his knees as the pain increased, the knob burning deeper into his skin.
“He’s stuck or something!” Buffy grabbed a hold of Spike’s arm and added her strength to Angel’s in an effort to pull Spike loose.
They pulled, the two of them straining back, until a tearing crunch ran through Spike’s wrist and up his arm to his shoulder. He shrieked and slumped to one side, and only his unwilling grip on the doorknob kept him from collapsing to the floor.
“Stop – get away from him!” Willow ordered. A spell came to her from the wellspring of ancient power that had been granted to her. As always, she offered a silent, reverent thank you to the Goddess.
“Back up – get away from him.” She repeated. “This isn’t going to be pretty.”
Buffy tugged on Angel’s arm, and for a moment, he resisted, until he caught a glimpse of Willow. His eyes widened in shock.
Willow’s hair had turned silvery white, and tiny lights danced around her as a look of total rapture covered her face. Words came from her lips that Angel couldn’t recognize. It seemed like a little bit of Latin and a whole lot of something else – possibly backwards at 33 1/3 speed.
“Um… should we… is this…” Angel let Buffy lead him away from where Spike was twitching and crying out in pain, black smoke still rising from his skin. Whatever Willow was about to do, it was probably best watched from a distance.
Xander was staring, just as wide eyed as Angel, clutching his ball bat to his chest. “And that was the moment when I realized we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.”
Willow’s spell casting grew louder and louder still, until it was an unintelligible roaring. Just as Buffy thought her eardrums would burst, the lights moved from Willow to Spike, engulfing his struggling form.
There was a spine-tingling snap of magics colliding and fighting for dominance, followed by an explosion.
Buffy found herself on the floor, Angel sprawled half on top of her, and debris raining down around them. She just hoped it wasn’t Spike debris.
“There was some serious magic on that doorknob.”
Angel looked up at Willow. She was normal once again, except that she was the only one not covered in plaster dust and splinters.
“Off!” Angel was heavy, especially since he was just lying on her and not doing anything exciting. Buffy pushed at his chest. “Off!”
“Sorry.” He rolled off of her and made his way to Spike, who was unconscious, curled up with his hand cradled to his chest. “Spike?”
Spike’s hand was badly burned. Angel could see that the flesh was raw and split, the bone exposed in places. But it was empty.
Looking around, Angel spotted a glimmer of silver under what was left of the door.
“Is he okay?” Buffy crouched down next to him. “It looks bad.”
“He’ll heal. It’s what he gets for not listening to me.” Getting up, Angel moved pieces of debris aside until he’d uncovered the doorknob.
“Don’t touch it.” Willow warned.
“I wasn’t going to.” He’d considered poking it with a stick, but he liked his fingers the way they were.
“There’s still a lot of power left in it.” Pulling a white cloth from her pouch, she used it to pick the doorknob up.
“Be careful, Will.” A little white hanky didn’t look like it would be enough protection, in Buffy’s opinion.
“It’s okay, it’s good magic.” She examined the runes engraved in the silver. “Whatever this is, it’s old.”
“Nobody touch anything until Willow’s had a chance to check it out.” Riley ordered. It was unnecessary; his men were eyeing the other doors as if they might jump out and bite them.
“What about her?” Sam pointed at the newly opened doorway.
“I’m ready to go, I’ve packed my things.”
Angel turned at the soft, childlike voice. Drusilla stood just on the other side of the doorway. She smiled at him. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
Buffy blew her bangs out of her eyes. “Great, now we don’t have to go souvenir shopping.”
“You knew we were coming?”
“I saw it, but I didn’t tell the constable.” Dru winked at Angel. “Some things he didn’t need to know.”
“What things did you think he needed to know?” While the others searched the cells in the corridor they’d uncovered, freeing some demons and putting others out of their misery, Angel had stayed to talk with Dru. He hoped to uncover the reason that Mallory had her secluded with the others. She wasn’t being experimented on, as far as he could tell, so why had Mallory kept her presence here a secret?
“A lady has to have her secrets.” She giggled a naughty giggle. Wandering to the bed, she leaned over Spike and nipped at his ear.
Spike didn’t move, and once again Angel pondered that as well. They’d brought Spike into Dru’s room to recover, but after feeding, he’d fallen unconscious. Something was not quite right in this room. One of many things. Angel focused again on the question of Mallory. “What did you tell him, Dru? It’s important.”
“I told him about the Blue Fairy. How mean she was to pull the wings off the dragonfly.”
Angel searched for the real meaning. Part of the problem with Dru’s visions was that she saw them on her own terms.
“I told him about the evil snarlies that were trying to eat you up.” She rubbed her hands across his shoulders and leaned down to whisper in his ear. “But I didn’t tell him you would be coming to rescue me. Shh…”
Her cool breath made him shiver. Dru’s hands were moving down his chest and Angel caught them before they could move farther south. “You told Mallory about your visions? Why?”
“He gave me this nice flat and pretty clothes, and he was the constable.”
Great, now she develops respect for the law. “How did you get here?”
“I don’t know.” She wandered away, a troubled look on her face. “I was looking for Miss Edith. You know how she likes to hide. Everything was there, but she was gone. And then… I woke up in a glass room.”
“Did he hurt you?” The thought that Mallory might have tortured Dru made him want to kill the man all over again.
“I thought I was a fish.” Dru puffed her cheeks in and out. “Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles.”
“So he brings you in, sticks you in a regular cell – how did you end up here?”
The room was richly decorated; when he’d stepped inside, Angel had felt like he’d stepped back a hundred and fifty years. The flickering lamps were electric, but they gave the illusion of gas lighting. Even the furniture was similar to what he’d seen in Dru’s father’s house. Angel ran a fingertip along the arm of the chair he was sitting in. This was no replica; it was an antique.
How did she go from a cell to this? “Dru, how did Mallory find out about your visions?”
“Bubbles, bubbles, watch out for the kitty!”
“Dru.” Angel watched her prance around the room, slashing at the air with her fingernails. “Dru, how did he find out?”
“Kitty loves to eat little fishes, snap! Snap!”
“Dru, come here.” When she ignored him, lost in her own little world, Angel lost what little patience he had left. “Drusilla!”
“I’m sorry!” She whirled around, hands held up in self-defense, her eyes wide. “I’m sorry!”
His anger drained away in a moment, replaced by regret and guilt, two emotions he was intimate with. Angelus had instilled fear and obedience in Drusilla as he had in none of his other chylder. “Dru – “ Angel softened his tone. “Come here.”
“I’m sorry.” Rushing to him, Dru threw herself at his feet. “Don’t be angry, Daddy.”
“I’m not angry, Dru.” The ebony hair was covering her face, and Angel brushed it back so he could see her. “I’m not angry.”
She risked a look at his face, an odd smile on her lips as if she were both dreading and anticipating punishment.
“I promise.” Angel smiled. No matter that Angelus would lie with a smile, Dru had always fallen for it, and now was no exception. She brightened immediately. “I just need to know how he found out about your visions.”
“They were poking me with sharp things, poke – poke – poke! Then I dreamed of the Slayer’s kingdom.“ She crawled up onto his lap. “The constable came and made me tell him everything I dreamed. It hurt, and it wasn’t fun at all.”
“I’m sorry he hurt you. He’s dead, we killed him for you.”
“Did it hurt?” Her dark eyes sparkled. “Did you make him hurt?”
“We did.” Angel caught her hand as she reached to touch his face. “Then we cut his head off and burned him and flushed his ashes down the toilet.”
“So much fun!” She wiggled on his lap. “And just to rescue me!”
“Of course.” What did it hurt to let Dru think they were there to rescue her? Depending on how things went, she could be nothing but ashes herself soon. “How did you get this pretty dress?”
“Do you like it?” Dru stroked her hands down the velvet and satin of her dress. “I have lace knickers – just tiny wisps over my naughties.”
The threatening tone made Angel’s head jerk around. Buffy stood in the doorway, her arms crossed over her chest and a dangerous glint in her gray eyes. “Uh… Dru was just telling me about her visions.”
“Really?” A blonde eyebrow arched up. “Visions of panties?”
“Get down, Dru.” Angel gave her a gentle push. Dru slithered off his lap and rested at his feet in a pile of skirts and petticoats. “How’s it going out there?”
“Fine, considering the things Mallory was doing. And don’t change the subject.” Stalking over to him, Buffy sat down on his lap. This was her place, not Whorezilla’s. “What visions?”
“I saw the Slayer’s kingdom come crashing down. The horses fell off the merry-go-round, and the white knight sacrificed himself.” Dru frowned. “He came back.”
Getting to her feet, Dru went to the large bed and crawled up beside Spike.
“The Slayer’s kingdom?” Buffy turned to Angel, a confused look on her face.
“Her visions used to be pretty straightforward, but as – as Angelus – “
“As time went by.” Buffy said firmly.
“As time went by – “ He smiled, grateful for the out she gave him. “She got deeper and deeper into her own little world, and they became more and more childlike.”
“So her fairy tale has a meaning?”
“The Slayer’s kingdom is obviously Sunnydale – the merry-go-round with the horses is probably in the park – Dru loves merry-go-rounds – and I’m the white knight because I brought you the amulet.”
“I think Spike’s the white knight; she said he sacrificed himself.” She smoothed away his frown with her fingertips. “But you’re my black knight, isn’t that better?”
Anything with Buffy was better. He rubbed his cheek against the palm of her hand.
“So Mallory was able to figure that out?”
“He wasn’t stupid, just deluded. When the Hellmouth swallowed Sunnydale, he had to have put two and two together.”
“’The Slayer's kingdom came crashing down’ – I gotcha, that makes sense.” She pinched his earlobe. “That doesn’t explain Dru telling you about her underwear.”
“Ow! She was telling me about all of her clothes – not just her panties.”
“The constable bought me so many pretty dresses.” Dru stroked Spike’s cheek. “Wake up and look at them, Spike. Wake up, wake up!”
“Dru, tell Buffy about your dream – the one where Spike and I were in danger.”
“It was so very exciting!” Dru scrambled to the end of the big bed. “There were evil snarlies everywhere! They yapped and snapped at Daddy’s feet – the old, old meanies thought they could kill Daddy and Spike. But then the blue fairy grabbed the dragonfly and tore off her wings. I told the constable that the blue fairy was bad.” Dru made a disapproving face. “He didn’t listen to me. I tried to tell him that the blue fairy would let the evil demons in the house.”
“The blue fairy – Illyria?” Buffy could see the connection. “Letting the demons inside – the portals?”
Angel nodded. “Mallory gave you this flat and all these nice things? And what did you do for him in return?”
“He wanted to hear my dreams, I have pretty diaries to write them in. And sometimes…” Dru licked her lips. “Sometimes he wanted to touch my naughties.”
Of course he did. He was a man, and a partly vamped one at that. Buffy’s stomach clenched in disgust.
“I didn’t tell him that you and Spike were coming to rescue me.” She held a finger to her lips. “We kept quiet about it. Shh!”
At Buffy’s startled look, Angel said softly. “Her dolls.”
“Oh.” There were two large bundles by the door. A doll head peeped out of one of them. Dru had obviously known they were coming, there was no denying that. “Angel, I’m not sure we can take her with us.”
“Oh, but you must! I’m all packed!” Dru grabbed two handfuls of her own hair and pulled.
“We’re taking you with us, Dru.” Angel soothed her. “Go lie down and keep Spike warm.”
Obediently, Dru moved back up to lie next to Spike, curling her body around his. A soft lullaby floated across the room.
Buffy eyed Spike's unconscious form. “Shouldn’t he be awake?”
“Normally, yes. But considering, no.”
“Okay, yeah, that’s not vague at all.” Buffy frowned at him.
“He should be awake. But – “ This subject wasn’t one Angel was comfortable discussing with anyone, let alone Buffy. “I think Mallory’s been drugging Dru.”
“Don’t change the subject.”
Angel did his best to answer casually. Innocently. “I’m not. Spike needed blood to heal.”
“We gave him blood. If he needs more – “ A weird thought surfaced. “Did Dru give him some of her blood?”
“Getting blood from your sire or your sire’s sire can speed the healing.” Angel could practically see the wheels turning in her head. “Vampires bite to feed and during sex – and sometimes for strength.”
“I thought vampires couldn’t feed off of each other.” What little vampire lore she’d studied – that wasn’t erotic or directly related to Angel – had said that a vampire couldn’t feed off another vampire.
“Technically, we can’t. The blood isn’t rich enough. Our system starts breaking it down almost immediately. I’d have to feed off of several vampires to equal maybe half of what I could get from a human – a small human.”
How he knew that ratio wasn’t something Buffy wanted to even think about. Her mind shied away from the implications. “I don’t understand. We can get more blood, the Initiative has plenty stockpiled – which is scary now that I think about it.”
“Blood from your sire – I mean, not your sire – you know what I mean – “ Angelus had reared up at the suggestion, complete with an image of Buffy sinking her fangs into his throat – a graphic and arousing image.
Angel looked away and shifted nervously, and it didn’t take a genius to figure out what he was thinking. Not when her own mind had jumped off into that same pool of thought with both feet.
“There’s something about feeding from your – a vampire feeding from his sire – that speeds up healing and makes us stronger.”
“So Spike fed from Dru and that’s supposed to help him?” She looked to where Spike lay sleeping. “I don’t think it worked.”
“It did. The wounds healed considerably, but then he passed out, which is why I think Mallory’s been drugging Dru.”
“The drug would go from Dru to Spike – that makes sense. Kind of like mother’s milk – in a perverted kind of way.” Wait a second… “You said sire or sire’s sire? That’d be grandsire – like you?”
Angelus was cackling in his box, and Angel wished he could give the demon a swift kick. He hadn’t intended to let that information slip, and he’d hoped Buffy hadn’t caught it. She was way too sharp when she wanted to be.
“You let Spike bite you?” Jealousy, anger, and disgust were rolling around, fighting to be on top of the emotional pile.
“No.” Angel pulled his sleeve back so she could see the still healing cut on his wrist. “He’s not my type.”
“Good. Um… I mean – so Dru’s being drugged?”
“I’m sure it helped Mallory keep her biddable and content.” It had also occurred to Angel that Dru was being more submissive than usual. While Dru was always obedient to Angelus – and himself by default – she wasn’t usually this submissive until after she’d been disciplined.
“I dunno about that.” When Buffy had been locked up at the asylum, she’d been drugged up and she’d been anything but biddable and content. “Dru wants to be here or she wouldn’t be here, or at least she wouldn’t be so calm about it.”
“I knew you would come for me.” Dru looked down the length of Spike’s body to make eye contact with Buffy. “I dreamed a dream within a dream within a dream about the Slayer and her maids in waiting.”
“What does that mean?”
“Not yet. Shh!” Dru closed her eyes. “Too soon and the cake will fall.”
That made no sense to her, and Buffy looked at Angel for an explanation. He shrugged.
“We have to take her out of here, no matter what happens.” In the end they would probably stake Dru, but he couldn’t let them do it here. No matter what anyone thought, she deserved better.
“Angel, I don’t think – “
“I can’t do it, Buffy. I just – can’t – “ His feelings for Dru were a tangled mass of guilt and remorse and other emotions he couldn’t easily label. Even though he knew that it would be a kindness to put a stake through her heart and end her existence, every time he looked at her he saw the quiet, innocent girl she’d once been.
“Spike won’t be able to either.” Which meant the job would probably fall to her.
“It’s rare for a chylde to kill their sire. Nearly impossible.”
Angel had killed Darla. Buffy ran her fingers through the thick, dark hair. For her. “If we take Dru back – what are we supposed to do with her?”
“Under the hotel, there’s some rooms they used during Prohibition. We could set it up like Mallory did here.” As a last resort, he could dangle the bait of shopping. “We’d probably need to buy some things.”
“Like I’d shop in this time period?” Buffy frowned, her nose crinkling up at the thought. “Let’s just take all this stuff with us.”
That would take time. Angel began plotting and planning what they would do with Dru in the meantime. Buffy beat him to it.
“I suppose we could put her in that cell in the basement? If it held Angelus, it should hold her.”
“I don’t think that would work.” The last time Dru had been in a cage she’d nearly beaten herself to death –figuratively speaking – against the bars. “She could stay in Spike’s room until we get everything ready.”
“Oh, I don’t think so!” There was no way she was giving Dru free run of the hotel. “Only vampires with souls get to live in the hotel. There’s too many people to snack on.”
“We can keep her in Spike’s room. Wards will keep her in.” They couldn’t cast the no-demon-violence spell over the entire hotel as that put both Spike and him out of any battle that might take place in the hotel – it even kept them from effectively defending themselves. However, it was possible to limit the spell to Spike’s suite. “If we ward his rooms, she can stay there until we – “
“We could have Willow put her soul back. That’d – “
Buffy was startled by the vehemence in Angel’s voice. She leaned back, the hair on the back of her neck standing up and her skin rippling with goose bumps. From the bed, she heard Dru whimper in fear.
“We will not put her soul back – “ He snarled. The idea of putting the innocent soul back into her body with the demon who now lived there horrified Angel. If they thought Dru was crazy now – “I won’t have her suffer like that!”
“Okay, okay!” Obviously, that wasn’t the simple and easy plan she’d thought it would be. “We won’t do that.”
“Don’t be angry, Daddy.” Dru crawled from the bed to sit at Angel’s feet. “We’ll all be good, won’t we? Won’t we, Buffy?”
Dru was grabbing at her hand and Buffy let her take it, more out of surprise than any real desire to comfort Dru.
“We must let him do the planning – “ She squeezed Buffy’s hand hard. “He’ll take care of us. All we have to do is be good and we’ll all be happy.”
Great, do I even want to know? Just when she thought her life couldn’t get weirder, here she was sitting on the lap of one pissed off vampire while another one was hanging on her and asking her to be good.
“We will not put her soul back.” Angel said firmly.
“Then we won’t do it. I hadn’t thought it through, I’m sorry.” Pulling her hand free from Dru’s grasp, Buffy stroked her fingers through Angel’s hair. “We’ll figure something else out.”
“It’s probably not going to matter in the long run.” Angel rested his head on Buffy’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “Whatever decision is made, I’ll abide by it – except for that one.”
More than likely, the decision would be made to stake Dru. It wasn’t as if they were running a halfway house for vampires. Buffy rested her cheek against Angel’s forehead and closed her eyes. Someone else could make the decision.
Willow wasn’t sure if she should intrude or not; it was like walking into someone’s house in the middle of a family moment. Buffy sat on Angel’s lap, her arms wrapped around him, holding on to him while Dru sat at Angel’s feet, her head resting on his knee. One of Angel’s hands was tangled in Dru’s long hair. Okay, maybe the Addams family.
While Willow was debating whether to knock on the doorframe or just walk in, Dru’s eyes opened.
“Hello.” Dru sat up, careful not to pull Angel’s hand from her hair. “You’ve painted your face again.”
“What?” Willow’s hand went to her face. She hadn’t put makeup on this morning. “It’s probably dust or something.”
“Or something.” Dru agreed. A smile curved her lips.
The calm, knowing gaze was unnerving, and Willow wished she’d thought to arm herself. Her mind reached out and wrapped around a piece of wood from the shattered doorframe.
“You painted yourself all black. From your toes to your nose and all the parts in the middle. Even your tears were black.” Dru trailed her fingers down her cheeks. “Drip, drip, drip.”
“How could – ” There was no way that Drusilla could know about what had happened after Tara’s death.
“Black heart, black tears, black soul. Just a tiny, tiny speck of white.”
“Dru, leave Willow alone.” Angel said softly.
“But I saw it. Black tears washed her face white.” Dru scrubbed her own cheeks. “I saw the black witch in the Slayer's kingdom.”
“I know you did, but she doesn’t like to talk about it.” He felt groggy, no doubt a combination of daytime and the blood he’d given to Spike. It didn’t help that Buffy was snoring softly in his ear.
“We’re ready to go.” Willow let go of the piece of wood and it settled softly back onto the floor. “What do you want to do with uh… her.”
“She’s coming with us.” Willow looked surprised, but he didn’t feel like explaining. “We’ll take what she has packed and they can ship the rest to us.”
“But – “ She chewed her lip. “I don’t think this is going to go over very well. Giles is going to blow a gasket.”
“Do you have any idea what you’re suggesting?” Giles shouted.
“I know it sounds crazy – “
“Sounds crazy? Sounds crazy?” Giles cut Angel off. “It is crazy – no, it’s beyond crazy – it’s insane! Murdoch, you’ve dealt with vampires in captivity – tell him!”
“Actually, Giles, it’s a rare opportunity to observe a family.” The idea of watching three generations of vampires – all of the same line – practically had him drooling. “The Order of Aurelius – “
“Are you mad?” Giles gaped, unable to believe that Murdoch hadn’t backed him up.
“Observe? No, no – “ Xander held his hands up. “The only observing we need to do is her turning into a dust pile.”
“Angel can’t do it – so somebody else will have to.” On the way back to the Hyperion, Buffy had watched Angel with Dru, and she’d realized that Angel wasn’t kidding when he had told her he wouldn’t be able to stake Dru. He’d been kind to her, spoken softly, and treated her with respect.
Whether it was because of the blood bond between them, or the guilt he carried from Angelus’ treatment of Dru, she couldn’t be sure. In the long run, it didn’t matter. Someone else would have to do it.
Faith caught Buffy’s eye. She nodded slightly, letting Buffy know that she’d take care of dusting Drusilla if it came down to that.
“While I appreciate Angel’s issues, we simply cannot take in a vampire with no soul or conscience – “ Giles was frustrated that they were even having this discussion. “She isn’t like Angel or Spike – Drusilla is pure demon. Therefore, she’s evil.”
“Giles, not all demons are evil.” Buffy reminded him.
“A few, perhaps, are not.” He conceded. “Most, however, are – and should be exterminated as quickly as possible.”
“Wow, I sure hope I’m included on that short list of friendlies.” Lorne stood up, straightening his plum colored jacket. “Being as I’m a demon without a soul – at least the way some people define it.”
Embarrassment flushed Giles’ face. “I didn’t mean it in that way, Lorne. You’re obviously not to be included in the same classification as Drusilla.”
“I understand. Apples and oranges. Human and not. If you’ll excuse me, I believe the air is fresher outside.” Lorne left the room in a regal Bette Davis style.
Outside Angel’s office, he found a fair sized gaggle of Slayers. “What is this? A re-enactment of the Israelites leaving Egypt? Has Mr. DeMille put out a casting call? Shoo!”
The girls scattered and Lorne made his way up the stairs. He’d only gotten a glimpse of the lady vampire when they’d brought her in, but there was something about her that made him want to get a closer look. His snit was really an excuse to sneak into her room. “Oy, mama, I met a girl, she’s a shikse.”
When he reached Spike’s suite, Lorne hesitated. Willow had placed wards around the rooms as well as the no-demon-violence spell. The spell he was familiar with, the warding not so much. If he went inside, would he turn into the best dressed corpse in LA?
“Fortune favors the bold.” Knocking quickly, before he could change his mind, Lorne hoped it also favored the very stupid.
The door opened slowly and he found himself facing a raven-haired beauty straight out of a Bronte novel. “Well, hello.”
“I’m Drusilla.” She smiled. “Have you come for tea, Sir Knight?”
“Why, yes, I have.” Cautiously, he stepped over the threshold. There was a tingle of magic as he passed through, but nothing painful. Hopefully he’d be able to pass out. Figuratively speaking.
“I brought the tea set the constable gave me. I did earn it, after all.” She held a finger to her lips. “Mustn’t tell Mum, she says only women of coarse breeding work for their keep.”
“My mother would agree.” Of course, his mother was of coarse breeding. He followed her to the sofa and sat down next to her.
“To be civilized, a person really must have their tea in the proper china.” Dru removed a china teapot from its cozy and poured blood into a cup.
As she moved to pour a second cup, Lorne held up a hand. “Would you mind if I had something, ah… something… different?”
“Of course not. A gentleman is allowed to have spirits.” She rose gracefully and moved to the cabinet, which emitted the delicate scent of liquor.
Lorne watched her, admiring the way she seemed to float across the room and the graceful manner in which she poured a teacup of whiskey for him. She was definitely not from around here – or from around now. “Thank you.”
“What shall we talk about?” Sipping from her cup, Dru delicately licked her lips.
“What shall we talk about, indeed?” Let’s see, I’m having a tea party with a vampire who makes the Mad Hatter look like Al Gore, with an aura that has a flashing neon sign that screams “read me”, nothing to talk about there. “Ladies are taught to do genteel things like, ah… I don’t know… sing?”
“I was never a very good singer. My sister Anne had a lovely voice. Her screams were so pretty when Angel played with her.”
More info than I needed. Lorne squashed the horror film that tried to play in his mind. “You didn’t sing at all?”
“My skill was needlework. I made the loveliest kerchiefs. Posies and butterflies.” Her dark eyes took on a faraway look. “I had a trunk filled with linens all ready for when I’d marry.”
Having a seamstress around could be handy. He gave himself a mental slap; this was no time to be thinking of his own needs. “I come from a place where there’s no music – none at all, can you imagine?”
“No music?” Dru blinked away the past. “No mothers singing lullabies to their little lambs?”
“Not a peep.” Setting his cup down, Lorne took her cool hands in his. “Would you do me a favor?”
Lorne pushed the door to Angel’s office open. The situation was the same as when he’d left. “Good, you’re all still arguing.”
“We weren’t arguing, we were discussing the situation.” Giles snapped. “And we’ve finished. Robin and Faith will take care of Drusilla.”
“Unless they’re taking her slippers and a robe, I don’t think so.” Closing the door, he leaned against it. “She’s going to be helping us for a while.”
Angel turned to look at him. Lorne looked like he needed a stiff drink. “You read her?”
“Helping us? How?” Giles interrupted.
“There’s some things coming – not quite end of the world kind of things – but bad nonetheless.”
“Isn’t there always?” Xander shrugged. “Some days I feel like we’re in the phone book. Want to take over the world but don’t know who to attack? Call Buffy and the Slayerettes!”
“What did you see?” Angel shot Xander a dirty look.
“Not too many specifics. A nice change, I might add.” A lot of his visions should have come with a parental advisory. “Dru’s going to be key to some upcoming problems. She’s going to give us information we need.”
“Lorne, we do have seers.” Murdoch reminded him. “What makes Drusilla so important?”
“I don’t know, you know? I just get to read and report. You want specifics, talk to the PTB.” He wasn’t used to having his readings dismissed like a cheap well drink. “I see her helping us. If you want to try it without her – be my guest.”
“Lorne – “ Angel stood up as Lorne jerked the door open. “Wait.”
“If you want me, I’ll be cowering in my room.” This time his snit was real and Bette would have been jealous of his exit.
“I wasn’t questioning his accuracy.” Murdoch told Angel. “Merely asking exactly what he’d seen to know that Drusilla will be of help to us.”
“You might explain that when you apologize.” Looking around the room, Angel fixed each of them with a cold stare. “Lorne’s readings are accurate – always. If he says Dru is going to help us – then you can believe that somehow she’s going to help us.”
“After what Lorne told us about Illyria – “ Buffy added her support. “Anything he tells us, we need to pay close attention to.”
There was a long silence in the room as the complications of keeping a non-souled vampire around sunk in.
Willow was the first to break the silence. “I can secure whatever rooms we put her in. She won’t be able to get out or hurt anyone.”
“I’d be more comfortable with the situation if we could move her farther away from the girls.” Even though the girls were all Slayers, Giles felt a responsibility to keep them safe.
“There’s rooms below the hotel.” They had been his last hideaway from the growing gaggle of Slayers – to use Lorne’s term – and the ever present warnings that tingled along his spine and over his skin. “It was a speakeasy back in the 1920’s.”
“You mean the 1930’s?” Willow asked. “During Prohibition?”
“20’s, 30’s – I don’t pay much attention to the dates on a calendar.” Why bother when you were immortal?
“The basement was a speakeasy?” Xander mentally calculated the dimensions. “It’s not big enough.”
“Below the basement. Below the sewers.”
“That’s a lot of trouble to go to just to talk on the phone.” Buffy looked thoughtful. “When was that illegal?”
There was a twinkle in her eye that betrayed her, and both Willow and Xander laughed. Giles merely sighed.
“All right, let’s go see how much work we have to do.” Xander got up from his chair. “We’ll have to bring everything up to code, install some security, put in some really thick doors – “
“You just want a chance to use some power tools.” Willow kidded him.
“Of course. Me man.” Xander thumped his fist on his chest. “Me use power tools to feel manly.”
Angel leaned down and brushed a kiss across Buffy’s lips before getting to his feet. “I’ll be back.”
“And then you can tell me all about this hiding place of yours.”
After Angel had left with Xander and Willow, Murdoch turned to Buffy. “I’d like to speak with Drusilla, if you don’t mind?”
“It’s all right with me. She’s a bit out there, though.” Buffy wanted to have a word or two with Dru herself. Mostly about keeping her mitts off of Angel.
“Giles, did you wish to accompany me to speak with Drusilla?” Murdoch asked his friend.
“We’ve spoken before.” Those memories wouldn’t fade anytime soon. In his dreams, Giles still saw Jenny’s face transform into Drusilla’s as he realized he’d just told her the secret to awakening Acathla.
“Giles has lots of books to look at.” Buffy avoided his eyes. Their past was tangled painfully around that point in their lives.
“General Mallory’s journals should make for fascinating reading.” Giles said softly.
“I look forward to reading those myself.” There was an undercurrent of tension between Buffy and his friend, and while Murdoch was curious, he didn’t want to dig into old wounds.
When the room was empty except for her and Giles, Buffy sat and watched him page through the journals. His back was to her, but she could see the tension even without seeing his face. After several minutes of uncomfortable silence, she got up and went to him. Wrapping her arms around Giles’ shoulders, Buffy hugged him tightly.
Giles rested his cheek against hers and patted her hands.
Buffy wasn’t sure what she’d expected to see when she walked into Spike’s suite, but giggling and singing wasn’t even close.
Lorne and Murdoch were laughing as Drusilla sang and pranced around. On the sofa, Spike kept time with his good hand, waving it in the air like an orchestra conductor.
“Buffy! Come, sing with me!” Dru pirouetted, her skirts flaring out gracefully.
“I’m a little teapot, short and stout!” Stopping her spin, Dru held up an arm. “Here is my handle – here is my spout!”
Buffy backed out into the hall and closed the door. “I must have been really bad in a past life.”
Xander and Willow were quoting the famous "put the candle back" scene from Mel Brooks' classic Young Frankenstein.
The prompts used in this chapter are:
that was the moment when I realized
Chapter 5: Unciatim – Little by little, twisted visions begin to piece together.