Rating: PG-13 for some disturbing imagery
Feedback: Yes, thank you. Melpomenethalia@aol.com
Spoilers: I suppose "Fool for Love"
Distribution: Fanfiction.net and the Bunny Warren. If you're interested, please let me know.
Summary: It's 1885 in Venice, and William, tired of Angelus and his rules, rebels. The repercussions last far longer than anyone would have expected.
Author's Note: This fic is a few shades darker than usual, so fair warning.
Disclaimer: All characters are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.
Dedication: A very big thank you to my faster-that-a-speeding-bullet Beta, Lanie.
William had more than had his fill of obedience. Angelus had threatened him, but he was far past the point of caring about the older vampire's words. For twenty-two mortal years he had lived in fear of one person or another, always with the looming promise that if he stepped out of line, if he didn't keep his mouth shut, if he didn't do exactly as he was told, if he caused any fuss, he'd catch hell for it.
Well, hell had already caught him, and as far as he could see, he had nothing left to lose.
"If you touch her, I swear that you'll regret it, boy."
He could still see the dark look on the face of the taller man… demon… being… whatever he wished to be called. It had been utterly benign: an expression that would have been at home at a Sunday school picnic if he'd been asking the vicar about his new roses. The muscular body had been relaxed and at ease as he pulled off his boots before the fire after a night of preying in the wet streets of Venice, but the eyes had been quite different. The fire had flashed in them for a moment, and they were as yellow as a wolf's. Angelus kept what was his for himself alone. There had been vague hints that if William behaved properly, if he proved himself so completely that even Angelus would be forced to admit he had become one of them, then, only then, would Drusilla be free to choose him.
It sickened him in a way he couldn't begin to describe that the beautiful brunette was held under the older vampire's rules. It was perfectly obvious to anyone who spent five minutes in the same room with Drusilla and William that he was painfully in love with her. Angelus, on the other hand, used the girl and abused her, usually keeping her from the more violent punishments that Darla could devise for her though he quite often visited them on his childe himself later. But there was a secret growing.
When William had first risen to his new life, Drusilla had clapped her hands prettily at her new toy and beamed, but then she had wandered off to see to her daddy. As weeks had drawn on, things had very subtly begun to change. The girl had never been shown the tenderness or devotion that William now lavished upon her, and he suspected that she never even knew that anyone could care for her so deeply as he did. He had begun to eclipse Angelus, just barely, for now she understood. Just as a candle can be thought bright in a dark room, she had doted on the occasional kindnesses and backhanded compliments of her sire. Now, though, William was showing her the sun, and that little flame was beginning to look pale in comparison.
And Angelus had begun to realize it.
Two hours had passed since Angelus had retired to his room with Darla, the door pointedly shut. It had been just over half an hour since William's ears had ceased hearing any signs of consciousness from the duo, and after the evening's activities and the lateness… or perhaps earliness… of the hour, he was certain they wouldn't stir again for hours. With a cautious and silent tread, he made his way deftly down to the far end of the hallway and to Drusilla's room.
Her door was open, and he found her gazing out the window towards the east at the lightening blue. For a long moment he simply stood still and adored her. She wore a long dressing gown of white satin edged in lace and ribbon, the back trailing behind her in a short train. Her face was turned towards the stars overhead as she watched them slowly vanishing into the growing light. Her luxuriant black hair, glossy as onyx, was dressed in masses of curls that reached all the way to the small of her back. Even from the other side of the room he could catch the faint scent of the violet perfume dabbed daintily behind her ears.
It was then that she looked towards the door and saw him standing there, gaping at her like a schoolboy. For a moment he was embarrassed, but then she smiled at him so gently that every other thought was drowned from his mind but the perfect beauty before him. She moved across the room to him, her tiny footsteps silent as petals dropping from a rose, and it was all he could do not to melt into the floor.
"William," she said in the softest whisper when she was only an arm's breadth from him, "what are you doing here so late?"
Words. Words would be good, he repeated to himself fervently. He wasn't sure of his own name at the moment, let alone why he'd dared to broach the sanctity of her boudoir. Therefore, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"Sun. Coming up. You don't want to be by the window then," he mumbled quickly.
She nodded gravely at him, then turned around once more and shut the thick drapes tightly against the oncoming day.
"Thank you," she said politely as she came back to him. "I forget, sometimes."
Her eyes glowed, reflecting the soft gaslights that burned with a gentle rushing sound in the chandelier above them. Despite the fact he'd been a vampire for nearly five years, completely free of any compunctions of conscience, he felt himself growing shy in her presence. How could she make him feel like he was on fire and dipped in ice at the same time?
"Drusilla," he breathed in the stillness. It was her name, nothing more, but it was the most perfect word he could think of.
"William," she asked in the long pause that followed, "what do you feel for me?"
One trembling hand reached out to brush against her face as he spoke the simple answer.
"I love you."
She began to walk past him, towards the door, and for one awful moment he was again William the poet, spurned by the woman he loved, left to stand alone in the middle of the room with her silence far louder than any rebuke could be. But then, from behind him, he heard the sharp click of the door being shut and the lock turned.
He faced her once again with almost comic quickness, and indeed, she was still standing there, her gaze on the carpet at her feet.
"I love you too," she whispered. "I know I mustn't, but I can't help it. Angelus shall be most displeased with me. I'm a bad girl."
Unable to move, unable to speak, he stared at her. She loved him? Not merely didn't mind him caring for her, not that she was fond of him, but she actually loved him? It took a moment for it to sink in completely, but when it did, the bliss he felt was almost painful in its perfection. He moved towards her with lightning speed, intent on taking her in his arms and showing her how deeply he cherished her in a thousand ways words never could, but she flinched away from him and he came to a dead stop inches from her.
"What is it? You're not afraid of me, are you?" he asked in complete confusion.
She wrung her hands distractedly in a gesture he'd long ago realized meant she was on the verge of tears. "No, my pretty one, not you. Daddy. I'm not to… we're not to be…"
"Dru, he doesn't own you, you know, no matter what he's told you. Run away with me. There's no reason for us to stay here. I'll care for you myself. Please, love," he said desperately.
"He'd find me. No matter where I hide, he always finds me. Always," she half-cried. "Always."
William wasn't exactly clear about what had happened before Drusilla had been turned, but he wasn't stupid either. He was certain Angelus had been completely obsessed with her, and he knew from watching him exactly how relentless he could be. If Angelus took it into his massive head to hunt them down, he very well might.
"Please, Dru," he said desperately, "I don't think I can go on like this. Let me stay with you today. Whatever consequences Angelus gives me, I won't care. Even if I can't make love to you, please, just let me lie beside you. Let me hold you?"
She looked up at him for a moment almost timidly before her eyes shone with a spark of determined rebellion.
His hand reached out to stroke a wayward curl that had slipped over her shoulder, and his fingers felt electrified by the thrill of the simple yet forbidden contact. He wound his fingers around the smooth, gleaming strand, loving the feel of it, relishing being connected to her, and Drusilla moved still closer to him, her eyes shut in a moment of stolen ecstasy. For this moment, this single time, all that existed in the world was this room, the two of them, the feelings coursing through them. He brought his hand around to the back of her neck and grasped her curls, burying his face on the top of her head and breathing in her scent deeply, rubbing his cheek softly against her hair, lost to everything but her, the dizzying nearness of her. He wanted more, but if this was all they could have, he'd make do. It could be enough.
"Pretty picture this. Quite moving. Have to sketch it sometime or other."
Both of them went completely rigid at the sound of the sarcastically purring Irish brogue, but William didn't release his hold on her.
"Drusilla, I've come to spend the rest of the day with you. Darla is rather fatigued, and I have an excess of energy and some to spare. Imagine my surprise to find you're already busy entertaining another gentleman. Poor manners, my girl," he said in a casual tone as he twirled the door key around his finger lazily, -- the tone he usually reserved for those who were about to die horribly.
"You're not touching her," William stated blankly, his arms still around her.
"I believe it was I who said that to you," Angelus countered as his face shifted in a split second from human to demon.
"Please," Dru begged quietly, "it's alright, William. Don't let's make Daddy angrier. The song is starting to play all out of tune."
"I'm not a wet behind the ears pup," he growled at the other man as his face quickly mirrored the other's change. "She's not your property anymore. Never was."
The two males glared at one another through golden eyes, waiting.
Who attacked first would have been impossible for a mortal to tell. Savage growls split the air like a thunderstorm, broken occasionally only by the tearing sound of fangs in flesh, biting bone deep. An end table was broken into matchsticks, and the cream carpet was turning crimson beneath them in a wide circle. Though the younger vampire was lithe and determined, Angelus had him in experience and sheer size. There was little doubt who would eventually win when a scream ripped from William's throat as the other vampire plunged razor-sharp claws into his abdomen and twisted his hand in a vicious movement that would have instantly killed him if he had still been alive.
Drusilla had not stood idly by, though. Insane as she was, she still knew that Angelus would kill William before her eyes if she didn't act quickly. For a moment, she glanced at the remains of the broken wooden table, it's wooden legs within her grasp, but she couldn't bring herself to try to stake the one who, in spite of his abuse and his threats and his cruelty, was still somehow in her mind part of the only family she had left. Inside her own twisted heart, she couldn't help loving him regardless of how little sense it made. Instead, she grabbed up her heavy, metal dressing table chair and lifted it high above her head, aiming for her sire's unprotected back.
Unfortunately, she'd completely forgotten about Darla. The sounds of the fight had disturbed her sleep, and she had decided it might be amusing to watch the brawl. The blonde knocked her off balance with a surprise lunge through the doorway, and the chair fell harmlessly to the floor. Drusilla put up quite a mighty struggle, but the brunette was pinned under hands that, despite their fragile appearance, were imbued with well over two hundred and fifty years of strength, hands that had managed to bring even Angelus to the ground more than once. Whimpering pathetically, Drusilla fought in vain as Darla held her down.
By this time, William's valiant attempts to continue the battle were beginning to annoy Angelus more than anything else. He took advantage of the weapon Dru had planned for him and cracked the chair across William's head, knocking him unconscious. His body was splayed lifelessly across the floor like one of Drusilla's broken dolls, and his face smoothed back into its human form once more.
"Well, that wasn't exactly how I intended to spend the night, but it'll do for a start," he said, kicking the vampire's bleeding stomach forcefully. "No, Dru, I won't kill him this time," he yawned as he stretched languidly, answering the girl's silently questioning eyes.
"And why not?" Darla shot over her shoulder imperiously. "He's been nothing but trouble since the day he was made. We'd finally get a little peace around here."
"Now, now, my dove, William is family, after all. He's an unruly, disrespectful brat, of course, but then he's young. There's time to train him to know who his master is. And if not, I can always kill him later. Besides," Angelus said as he wiped blood from his jaw, "he has his uses. Entertainment, for one thing."
Darla turned her eyes towards the ceiling in exasperation at Angelus's malicious grin. Out of all the men in the world, why had she turned this one who had a ridiculous fixation on mind games? Probably, she answered herself, because you find them almost as amusing as he does.
"How exactly are you planning on controlling him, though? Beat him even more senseless than he already is? Brand your name on him? Starve him until he's as insane as this one," Darla said as she gestured with her head towards the girl still trapped beneath her.
"T'would do no good, none of it. I can't do a thing to him that he wouldn't ignore just to spite me. Headstrong, but he's got his one weakness, as most do, myself excluded of course."
Darla regarded him curiously before the obvious answer came to her.
"Darlin', would you be after leaving me and my wayward childe alone, then?" Angelus requested silkily.
"And miss all the fun?" she laughed.
"Nay, you'll miss little. T'will be a lovely surprise for you when you wake up from a long day's slumber."
"Now you've got me curious. All right then, my Angel, I'll leave you. But I do hope you know what you're doing. I don't relish the thought of waking up in a dustbin."
Darla finally let go of Drusilla, who had gone completely limp, and disappeared down the hallway. The brunette, ugly purple bruises already forming on her wrists, crawled to her fallen William and was about to touch his face when Angelus abruptly picked up the limp body and tossed him into the hallway like a sack of meal. He slammed the door behind him and turned the lock once more before rounding on Drusilla furiously.
"Did I tell you that you could have him?" he asked angrily.
"But, we didn't. We did nothing," she pleaded brokenly, sobbing. "Forgive me for I have sinned!"
"I heard everything, you naughty girl. I know exactly what you didn't do. What bothers me is what you did let him do," he explained in a deceptively calm tone as he righted the chair in the middle of the floor. "I told you not to let him touch you, and you disobeyed me. Unless you want me to grant Darla's dearest wish and turn that boy of yours to dust, you will do exactly as I say. Do you understand me, Drusilla?"
She nodded resignedly.
"Good. Sit, and do not turn around," he said, indicating the chair in the middle of the floor.
She did as she was told and sat facing the dying embers in the fireplace as he moved around the room behind her. She could hear him searching through the drawer of her bureau until at last he found what he had been looking for. The drawer slid shut sharply, and then she felt his presence behind her, one hand resting lightly on her shoulder.
"Don't move," he ordered quietly close to her ear, "and don't speak either. Do you see this?"
He held the object in front of her, and tears filled her eyes as she realized what he was going to do. She nodded her head once again in answer.
"Well, then, let's begin. Let's see, where should I start? There's so much to work with," he said in a pleased voice.
"There we are. What do you think of that, my pretty thing?" he asked as he held the severed curl in front of her face. A tear rolled silently down her cheek.
"Oh, yes, I agree. Your hair has gotten far too long, Dru. Why, I believe poor William had caught his fingers in it, hadn't he? We'll just fix that then," he purred softly as he sectioned off another glistening coil at her temple.
Snip. Drusilla could see the rough ends of her hair out of the corner of her eye. They rested against the hollow of her cheek, and in a moment they darkened with her tears.
"Yes, far too long here as well," Angelus commented gleefully as he took another curl, this one from the top of her head, in his hands and closed the shears around it only an inch from her scalp. "And here, too," he said as the glorious curls spilled over the silk of her dressing gown and slid to the floor in a pile.
Snip. Snip. Snip. Each closing of the blade cut off another of her tresses, one by one. He purposely chose small strands so that it would take far longer, prolonging the process. Drusilla's hair had been very thick, and he delighted in the time it took to so utterly destroy a thing of such perfect beauty. By the time it had been half cut off, Drusilla was crying freely, and her head had begun to shake from the force of her sobs.
"I told you not to move, Drusilla. You're making your lovely new coiffure come out all lopsided," he taunted her as he brought the long hair above forehead before her face and snipped it off inch by inch in front of her eyes until it was no more than stubble at the top of her brow.
There was no rhyme or reason to his cutting, and by the time he had finally grown bored with the game, a few long strands still clung mockingly to her nape while the rest had been reduced to different, uneven lengths all over her head. Drusilla could not see the result, but when he finally left the room and the weeping vampire behind, her fingers felt well enough what she must look like.
It was another two hours before William, still lying in the hallway, awoke to the sound of muffled crying. Blearily, he got to his feet. Many of his wounds were beginning to heal, but several of them still hurt horribly, particularly his stomach. He grasped the doorframe in an effort to remain standing, then lurched unsteadily into the room.
"Dru? You here?" he questioned softly. Please be here. Please don't let him have hurt her, he repeated to himself desperately, not even sure whom he was begging.
There was a small cry from the floor on the far side of the bed and a sudden movement of the tumbled blankets. He made his way carefully towards the misshapen pile of bedclothes and collapsed beside them. From the shape and the scent he could tell she was beneath them and that she was still able to move, for which he was insanely grateful.
"Did he hurt you, love?" he asked tentatively as he reached a hand towards her.
She moved further away from him at the question, and his relief quickly turned to concern.
"He did, didn't he? Come now, let me see. Let me help you," he coaxed gently in a voice he had once reserved for speaking to his timid little sister. Inwardly, anger was boiling in the pit of his stomach, but for now it was secondary to making certain she was all right. With a cautious hand, he touched the bundle before him and slowly began to draw it back.
"No!" Too late, she tried to cover her head once more and hide from the eyes that were surely looking with disgust at how ugly she was now. "I was a bad girl. I was a bad girl. I was a bad girl," she repeated over and over, sobbing quietly.
Gently, he pulled the cover away again and looked at her again, full in the face, forcing her to meet his gaze. His demon was screaming silently at the sight that met him, his girl crying and holding one of her curls in her hands, twisting it desperately. In spite of her haphazardly shorn tresses, she was still utterly beautiful to him. In a moment, Angelus be damned, she was gathered into his arms, kisses being rained upon the course remains of her hair.
"Don't cry, pet. Please don't cry. Shh, now, it's alright. It'll grow back again, and even as you are you're still my best beauty. It doesn't matter at all, my love. Please don't cry. My beautiful Drusilla, you're still the loveliest thing I've ever seen. I love you, my sweet. Shush now."
Eventually, after many long minutes in his embrace, the feeble crying stopped and she drew back from him reluctantly.
"He did this because I touched you. This is my fault. I'll keep my distance from you from now on, I promise."
He rose to leave, but a small hand reached out for him, catching his sleeve firmly in her grasp.
"William," she said quietly, looking at him from beneath her lashes, "it was worth it."
He didn't know whether to weep or smile. After he had tucked her safely into her own bed with the promise of a new dress and armloads of jasmine and she was soundly asleep, he went directly to Angelus's bedroom, breaking the doorframe to get in.
"Well," Darla cooed from her place on the otherwise empty bed, "looks like sleeping beauty finally woke up."
"Downstairs, in the parlor. He had some crazy craving for brandy, so," she began, but stopped when she realized she was speaking to empty air. "Now that was plain rude."
Angelus was indeed sitting in the front parlor, sipping a snifter of brandy and prodding the fire when William stormed in.
"Have a good nap, did you, lad?"
"Why would you do that to her? You know full well that hair and nails don't grow any faster on us than they do on a human since cutting them isn't really an injury. She's going to look like hell for at least a year, Angelus. Was one little embrace worth that?"
He raised an eyebrow at the younger man. "No. But her disobedience, and yours, was."
William lunged at him, but his injuries worked against him and Angelus was able to merely bat him away like a pesky mosquito.
"I hate you."
"Yes, I suppose you do. But you love her, don't you?" he sneered.
"Something you wouldn't be able to understand, you empty-hearted jackass," he spat out, clutching his side.
"Never call me that again. Do you see this picture," he said, gesturing towards a delicately done portrait of Drusilla on the wall. He carefully took it from its nail and brought it toward the injured vampire. "Here, take a closer look."
"I'm not blind."
"No, not yet, though I may choose to remedy that situation if you keep acting like an imbecile. This is an absolute masterpiece of mine. A great deal of hard work went into it. I spent months finding just the proper pose for her, just the right lighting, just the perfect dress. Then, the actual drawing, well, it took me a solid month. Finally, I had made her just as I wanted her to be, my flawless creation. Don't you agree? Isn't she superb?"
The blue eyes took in the portrait of Drusilla, and it was indeed so lifelike that it was nearly frightening. The eyes, in particular, seemed almost alive. "It's her. What else would it be but perfect?"
"Quite true from your opinion. Now, my boy, watch this," he said off-handedly as he threw the portrait into the fire.
The frame blackened in a few moments and the flames quickly ate across the paper, devouring the image with startling speed. In less than a minute, there was nothing left of it but a handful of ash glowing on the stone hearth.
"If you ever try to defy me again, ever try to get her to leave me again, in spite of the great pains I have taken to make her as she is, it won't be a portrait that goes up in flames, boy. You're not strong enough to fight me, and she was completely correct about my ability to find her. You've seen me track prey; you know how it always ends. She will die, and I will make you watch. Are we clear?"
William gritted his teeth forcefully. He knew Angelus wasn't bluffing.
"Good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a surprise to deliver to Darla," he said as he left the room.
William looked dully at the embers of the fire, wanting to kill someone: actually, a very specific someone. He heard the loud laughter of Darla from the upper floor and shuddered as he realized what it must be about, but he knew that unless he was willing to risk Drusilla's life there was nothing he could do. Someday Angelus would pay for everything. He'd see to it.
Weeks passed. Darla, with many a snide remark, cut the rest of Drusilla's hair into a short crop, and when the four of them went out into the mortal public, they explained that the pale girl had recently recovered from a brain fever. It was a long time before William felt safe enough to even hold Drusilla's hand in private, but at least he could speak to her.
One night a few months later, as the three of them were at a society party in Paris that was boring William out of his mind, particularly since Dru hadn't felt presentable enough to come, something quite strange happened. As William grabbed his fifth glass of wine from a passing waiter and threw himself heavily onto a petit point covered gilt chair, a woman sat beside him and stared at him intently.
"You," she said, "are not happy."
He blinked in shock at her perfect, accentless English and decided he may just possibly have found dinner for the night. There was something about her that was vaguely familiar, and quite annoying as well.
"Do I know you?" he asked carefully, peering at the woman through slightly bloodshot eyes.
She giggled strangely. "I get around quite a bit, but I guess I just have one of those faces."
"Yes, right. Must be that," he told himself out loud. Still, if he squinted just right, she almost looked like…
"Anyway, you looked so completely tired with everyone here, and so am I, so, I thought I'd just join you for a little chat," she babbled as she pulled her chair a mite closer. "Now, what exactly is the problem?"
"Problem?" Who was this girl?
She tipped her head to one side and then the other questioningly. "There's always a problem, isn't there? So, tell me why you hate that man over there so much," she said, gesturing offhandedly at Angelus, who was currently laughing loudly at some pathetic joke of an important-looking figure.
"S'that obvious, is it?" he shrugged. Well, what could it hurt? She wasn't going to live to see the dawn anyway. "You might call him… my father, in a very strange way."
"Uh huh," she said, completely unaffected by the fact the dark haired man looked no more than five years older than him. "So, you're angry at your father. What did he do?"
"Won't let me have the girl I love. Wants her all to himself, he does," he slurred a bit as he downed the wine in a single gulp.
"Oh, my, now that's just terrible. I bet you really wish you could do something about it, don't you?"
William looked at the woman again. There was just something off about her, but he couldn't place what. Of course, it would help if the room would stay in focus, but it was patently refusing to do so.
"Know what that old boy deserves? I wish that he'd fall head over heels in love with his soul mate and never be able to touch her. Let him see what it feels like first hand. That'd be rich, that would," William said angrily. "Then he can go straight to hell."
The woman looked at Angelus thoughtfully, a troubled expression on her face as she quietly mumbled, "Now there's a problem I haven't run across before."
"Hmmm. It's possible, but it's going to take a while. Well, William, your wish will be granted someday, I'm sure of it. Just be a little patient," she said as she patted him on the arm. Then, with a strange flourish of her arms, she disappeared completely.
"Huh. Well, that was interesting. How'd she know me name?" he wondered, squinting drunkenly at the vacant spot before he drifted off to sleep, dismissing the entire strange conversation as a hallucination.